I took the week off from work last week and I really enjoyed my time off. Visited Eureka Springs, Arkansas among other things. Conveniently enough, I played some video games too.
I’m still moving along nicely in Grandia Xtreme. I’ve put about ten hours into the game and really dig the long, fairly challenging dungeons. The combat is fast-paced and I enjoy it so the time really flies by.
Besides that, my friend and I began playing Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers for the Wii. It’s an action-adventure game that has minor co-op integration. It looks very nice but doesn’t control all that great. Most of the gameplay so far has stemmed from set pieces that utilize the unique features of the Wii.
I’ve got a few demos I want to play so I will post some first impressions this week.
Continuing on with game show video games for the Super Nintendo, my friend and I popped in Wheel of Fortune: Deluxe Edition. It was developed by Imagitec Design and published by GameTek in 1994 and I came away with the same feelings as I did with Family Feud. It was a competent recreation of the TV show and we enjoyed playing it, but there are probably newer, better versions out there.
My friend and I entered in our names and chose to be one of six characters. We played through the game in four rounds and a speed-up round, and finally the winner would play a bonus round. Like Family Feud, Wheel of Fortune: Deluxe Edition did a good job of recreating the TV show, albeit within the abilities of the SNES.
When it was our turn, we could spin the wheel, buy a vowel, or attempt to solve the puzzle. When spinning the wheel we’d land on a slot (hopefully not bankrupt or lose a turn) and then pick a consonant and win money depending on how many of that letter were in the puzzle. We could also buy vowels, and lastly attempt to solve the puzzle. If we were right, we’d win the money we had accumulated in that round. The winner after four normal rounds and the speed-up round would continue into the bonus round. Here the winner would pick three consonants and one vowel, and then attempt to guess the puzzle.
I feel practically the same about Wheel of Fortune: Deluxe Edition as I did about Family Feud on the SNES. My friend and I both had a good time playing it, but there is probably a newer, better version available.
Having not played anything multiplayer on my Super Nintendo Entertainment System in a long time, my friend and I decided to hook it up. The first game we decided to play was Family Feud. It was developed by Imagineering and published by GameTek in 1993. The game recreated the TV show well and my friend and I had a good time playing it, but there are probably newer, better video game versions of the TV show.
After giving our families obscenity-ridden names we played the bull’s-eye round. The host asked us questions (five total, one for each family member) and we had to buzz in and guess the number one answer and whoever got it right won money. This round acted to boost our winnings, which only mattered if we wrote down the code at the end of the game to keep playing with the winning family, a neat feature.
After the bull’s-eye round, we played the main rounds of Family Feud. The host asked us a question and we had to guess what the top answers were, just like the TV show. The game continued this way until one of us had surpassed three hundred points, thereby defeating the other team and continuing into the final round, the fast money round.
In this round, two of the winning family’s members had to answer specific questions, aiming to reach a total of two hundred points, and winning the fast money round. If they didn’t crack two hundred points, they would be awarded five dollars for each point.
Family Feud on the SNES recreated the show well, but being nearly twenty years old now, it probably isn’t the ideal version to play. There wasn’t a lot going on graphically; the interface looked fine and was understandable, but the animation for the contestants was terrible. Answering required my friend and I to spell out our answer using an alphabet box, and this worked fine. We only played one game so we didn’t play through many questions, but some of the answers were not that obvious. We had a fun time playing Family Feud, chastising each other’s answers and just horsing around, and are up for playing it again.
After playing a little bit of Mars Matrix my friend and I moved onto another arcade port for the Dreamcast, Charge ‘N Blast. Originally developed by Sega, it was published for the Dreamcast in 2001 by Xicat Interactive. We played through a few stages of the game and grew tired of it fast.
We viewed our characters from behind their backs at all times, always having tunnel vision. But then again, all the action was directly in front of us too. Enemies advanced towards our characters, which were locked onto a horizontal plane. The only movement we could muster out of them was a strafe, shifting them to the left or right, which we had to do often to dodge enemies.
There were three characters we could pick from, each with different weaponry. Each character had three weapons that were attributed to different buttons (X, Y, and B). As the title suggests, we had to charge our weapons to blast the enemies. Using the analog stick we moved our cursors around the screen targeting enemies. And to fire our weapons we pressed one of the three buttons (selecting a weapon) and once it was charged pressed the A button to release, hopefully nailing the enemy. This was confusing at first, but even after getting used to it, still cumbersome.
Charge ‘N Blast grew stale quick. Lacking much of a setup, there was nothing but the quality of the gameplay to keep us interested, and we didn’t find the mechanics all that fun. However, I will return to the game and complete it as it seemed easy, and probably short.
Ever since I was young, I’ve been a fan of shoot ‘em ups. Perhaps it’s because my dentist has had a Galaga arcade cabinet forever, and I’ve played on it since I was young. I was anticipating playing Mars Matrix for the Dreamcast, but after a friend and I played it for a little bit, I’m cool on it.
Ever since the days of Galaga, shoot ‘em ups have become a little more complicated. Mars Matrix falls into the subgenre of the bullet hell shoot ‘em up. These games are typified by the insane amount of enemy bullets on-screen, literally hundreds to thousands, making it seem impossible. But it’s really not. With Mars Matrixit seemed my friend and I had to focus on dodging more than aiming at specific targets.
After a bit of setup, we picked our ship, determining our standard weapon. Each ship’s standard weapon was different and we had the choice of mashing the fire button, or holding down an auto-fire button. This option was nice as it allowed us to focus on dodging. We also had a strong laser that had the same options. Lastly we could hold our fire button to create a barrier that would absorb enemy bullets and then fire them back, which proved useful when bullets covered the screen.
Even though bullets covered the screen the majority of the time, I still thought the game looked rather poor. I’m not a technical wizard or anything, but Mars Matrix looked awfully blurry and I assume the game has a low resolution, causing this.
There were a few different modes to select from; some multiplayer, some not, but what might bring me back is the shop. As my friend and I played we built up a cache of money that we could spend to unlock features in the shop. These honestly didn’t seem that great; unlocking Score Challenge stages or the ability to play with more lives, but it’s something else to do besides simply playing the game.
My friend and I were only able to reach the second stage (out of six) and we really didn’t have a great time with the game. I will give the game a second chance and hopefully beat it, but I really don’t think I (or we) will have the drive to see it through the next time we play it. Mars Matrix was developed by Takumi Corporation and originally published by Capcom as an arcade game in 2000. My friend and I played the Dreamcast version which was published by Capcom in 2001.
I’ve decided to move my In Between Posts posts to Sunday instead of Monday. I guess I believe the week begins on Sunday, and that fits the purpose of these posts better.
Anyways, I played two demos last week and finished Advent Rising. The demo for Catherine kept me interested in the game, while the demo for Dead Block was enough for me.
Now that I’m finished with Advent Rising I will focus on Grandia Xtreme for the PlayStation 2. Grandia Xtreme was a spin-off of sorts for the Grandia series; it plays more like a dungeon crawler than a traditional role-playing game where you go from town-town with small dungeons in between. I’ve enjoyed it so far.
I also played a little bit of Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcey EP on my iPod. I bought it about a month ago and started playing it, but as I’m prone to do with iOS games, stopped. I took a few long breaks at work and will hopefully finish it soon.
As far as posts for this week go, I’ll probably have some demo impressions up, and maybe a review for Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP.
Dead Block is a downloadable action-strategy game for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3; I played the demo on the PS3. It is set in the United States during the 1950s. Just as rock ‘n’ roll is coming to prominence, a zombie outbreak has occurred. Controlling three separate characters I had to survive a zombie onslaught while attempting to find all the pieces to guitar set. Once found, I would play a simple rhythm minigame to complete a stage.
The demo began with an introduction reminiscent to that of a TV show, and sure enough, each stage in Dead Block begins that way, as if each stage is a TV episode. I began playing as a construction worker named Jack Foster. I thought the camera was too close behind him, frequently making it hard to see things directly in front of him or on the ground.
He was inside a house and I first had to put wood over windows to prevent zombies from getting inside. I soon ran out of wood and had to break furniture for more lumber; I thought this was a novel idea. I was then tasked with searching the house. As I did so I came across much more furniture to break, windows to board up, and other objects that I could search inside of. Inside these objects I would find nuts (necessary for building traps), keys, and hopefully a complete guitar and amplifier set.
There are three total characters that I could control and switch between on the fly, although only two were present in the demo. Besides Jack Foster, I could play as Mike Bacon, an overweight boy scout. I was able to summon him to any area of a stage and he would proceed to break furniture and search for items. In other words, my ally was able to take care of himself.
Dead Block didn’t have the most original premise (remember Stubbs the Zombie in Rebel without a Pulse?) and really it didn’t have the most original gameplay. After all, it pretty much is the zombie mode from the Call of Duty series. But at ten dollars it’s not too pricey and I found the demo pleasant, but I don’t have any interest in playing any more of Dead Block.
Advent Rising is kind of an important game. It was supposed to be the first in a sci-fi trilogy, and garnered a lot of prerelease buzz, but flopped critically and commercially. It was developed by GlyphX Games and published by Majesco for the Xbox and PC in 2005. I played the Xbox version and came away mixed about it. I really enjoyed the narrative, but didn’t care for the combat until the final hours of the game. And overall, the game just lacked polish.
I thought Advent Rising began and ended well. The setup and conclusion of the narrative is particularly what drove my interest in these parts. The middle section of Advent Risingreally took a lot out of me. Perhaps it was because of the depression-like funk I was in during that section, but I just wanted the game to be over. A couple hours from the end however, I was absorbed back into the story and the gameplay.
Advent Risingbegan with little introduction, throwing me right into the shoes of Gideon Wyeth as he travelled to a human outpost in space. Soon after arriving he met up with his brother and fiancé. Gideon and his brother were there to escort a group of human ambassadors to a meeting with an alien race called the Aurelians. The Aurelians told them of the threat another alien race, the Seekers, pose to humanity. They want to destroy it.
Soon after, all hell breaks loose. After surviving the destruction of a planet, Gideon is told by the Aurelians that humans contain mystical powers and through the course of the game, Gideon unlocked many deadly powers.
The first power Gideon obtained was Lift. With it I could lift enemies and throw them around. This was quite easy to do, and rewarding to watch. I controlled Gideon from a third-person perspective and could lock on to targets by flicking the right analog stick their way. Once locked on, a bracket would display around the enemy, changing colors depending on their health.
Flicking worked for the most part. I enjoyed the immediacy of switching targets, but found it hard to target a specific enemy when I encountered them in groups. When firing a gun, Gideon would auto-target enemies (although the bracket didn’t appear around them) but to use his powers, I had to manually target an enemy. A lot of the time I would flick the right analog stick compulsively, checking for nearby enemies. I would’ve appreciated some sort of indicator that let me know there was an enemy in range.
Lift was the only power Gideon had for a while. The next he learned was Surge. Using Surge I could shift gravitational energy in a focused direction, or so says the manual. I only used Surge a few in the game but it was effective against large mechanical enemies, especially when I was out of ammo for my guns.
I believe the next power Gideon learned was Aeon Pulse. With it he shot energy pulses from his hands, very effective indeed. With Negate he threw up an energy shield, which I used once or twice. Time Shift was a favorite of mine. Gideon would instantly bolt into an enemy. This was very strong and allowed me to shoot from enemy to enemy very quickly. The last power Gideon learned was Shatter. Shatter was very similar to Aeon Pulse. With Shatter Gideon shot ice particles from his hands, which was also very effective.
By the end of the game, I had all these powers at my disposal, on top of whatever guns I found. The guns and powers each leveled up individually as I used them, unlocking alternate fire options and getting stronger with each level. At the beginning, guns and melee attacks were the only option for Gideon. Then it was Lift and guns, but towards the end, when I was unlocking powers and leveling them more rapidly, I dropped guns altogether. I had become lethal using powers alone.
I was satisfied with the final hours of Advent Rising. I was super powerful and was using my powers very effectively, making short work of groups of enemies. The narrative was coming to end in an interesting way too. In all honesty, it’s made me look back at Advent Risingliking it more than I really did. But honestly, I didn’t really find the combat that enjoyable, at least until the end.
I was very interested in the narrative from early on. I wanted to see how humanity would overcome, and how the Aurelians would assist in defeating the Seekers. I didn’t really care for any of the human characters however because I thought a lot of their dialogue was immature. The visuals weren’t terrible considering it’s a 2005 release, but much of the texturing was very bland and many of the indoor environments were similar. The majority of the cutscenes were poorly directed and by this I mean looked like bad machinima. It’s easy to tell the camera was controlled by human hands as it swooped through small scale battles and environments very poorly.
Advent Rising was a mixed bag for me. Once I had all the powers and had them decently leveled, I was lethal and enjoyed destroying scores of enemies with interesting powers. But the game was a chore for me for a large chunk of my playthrough and the game wasn’t that polished. The narrative is what kept me going and it’s kind of sad to think we’ll most likely never see how it was supposed to be continued. But then again, Advent Rising is a mediocre third-person action-adventure game at best and hardly recommendable.
So last week the demo for Catherine was released. I downloaded it on my PlayStation 3 and got around to playing it the other day. With the barrage of prerelease media I’ve seen about the game since its original announcement, to the excitement the crew at Giant Bomb has for it, I was interested to finally play it for myself.
The demo began with little introduction. Immediately I began tackling what looks to be Catherine’s primary gameplay. I controlled a thirty-something man named Vincent. He was having a nightmare and had to scale an enormous wall to escape from a massive creature.
The wall was made out of blocks that I could push around and pull out when I needed to. Vincent could only climb one block at a time, and his path was not always conducive to climbing. Frequently I would have to push blocks to the side, or pull some out from in front of me; Vincent would grab onto the ledge instead of falling down. Blocks would levitate as long as they were touching on a corner, which means they can defy gravity.
The demo contained two stages and they each lasted five to ten minutes. I racked up a score along the way and was graded at the end of both stages; I can already foresee trophies, achievements, and leaderboards. From the prerelease media I saw for the game, I didn’t expect to like the gameplay that much. As long as the stages keep introducing tricky maneuvering, I anticipate not growing bored with the gameplay by the time the game is done.
So why was Vincent having a nightmare? Well, recently young men who probably weren’t totally loyal to their partners have wound up dead in their sleep, and Vincent might not have been the most faithful to his girlfriend Katherine.
There are two major cutscenes in the demo for the game. The first shows Vincent and Katherine having a talk after his nightmare. Katherine wants to discuss marriage with Vincent, but he likes where they are, it’s easy he tells her. In the second cutscene, Vincent is at the bar with his two friends. They discuss relationships and the mysterious deaths that have been happening.
The demo ended fairly abruptly as a scantily clad woman appeared. After this the demo showed a mash-up of cutscenes and gameplay from the rest of the game. This final cutscene piqued my interest in seeing how Catherine unfolds.
Catherine is being developed and published by Atlus. It’s scheduled to come out for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 on July 26, 2011. I’m very interested in the game, but would ultimately recommend playing the demo for yourself to decide if you would buy right away.
Well, no posts last week. I was in a depression-like funk and played about an hour of Advent Rising. Not enough to get too far, but I’m definitely within arm’s reach of the end. I hope to complete it and write a review this week.
I did play the demo for Catherine last week and will post my first impressions for it for sure. Well, short post today.