Category Archives: first impressions

Nelson Tethers: Puzzle Agent is solving mysteries in Scoggins, Minnesota

puzzle agent first impressions

I think Fargo is a really great movie; I remember the first time I saw it, some ironically cold, wintery night in my freshman year of college, on one of those many weekends my roommate went home to see his parents and friends and left me to my lonesome–which, in the grand scheme of things, was perfectly fine by me. We were not meant to be. I had the lights off, the volume up, and my eyes glued to the screen. It’s a humble movie about small people committing big crimes, all for, to quote Marge Gunderson, “a little bit of money.” So far, I’ve seen the first episode of the Fargo TV show and really liked it, so here’s hoping it comes to Netflix down the line.

Anyways, that intro paragraph exists because I played a bit of Nelson Tethers: Puzzle Agent last night, which clearly takes inspiration from Joel and Ethan Coen’s 1996 cult American crime flick. Both are set in Minnesota, and both rely heavily on accents and smallfolk quirks to sell the setting’s personality. Granted, one deals with murder and kidnapping, and the other an accident at an erasers factory, so there are some slight differences in tone, but a mystery must be investigated nonetheless. Which brings us to the titular Nelson Tethers, who works for the Puzzle Research Division of the FBI; this is his first field assignment, and he’s humble enough to really want to do a good, thorough job, impress the higher-ups. As soon as he arrives, Tethers begins to see that this quiet, snowy town has a few extra secrets slinking in the shadows.

Puzzle Agent is a puzzle-driven adventure game in the same vein as the Professor Layton series. There’s a story at play, but to see it unfold, you’ll have to solve seemingly random puzzles–though some are definitely more themed for the plot than others–and these range from jigsaws to answering a question based on a specific set of rules. I think I even ran across a “bug grouping” puzzle that I also recently found in Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy, which I need to get back to sooner than later. You can collect pieces of chewed-up gum (gross), which act as hints for puzzles, and naturally, you get rated for how many hints you used and how many wrong answers you submitted. Other than that, you’ll question people via your trusty notepad of topics á la L.A. Noire and examine scenes, though there is no inventory to manage.

Visually, Puzzle Agent is a delight. It has this wonderful art style from the creator of Grickle Graham Annable, which is a really cartoony look, and you can see it so when the cutscenes zoom in on characters and you can make out the pencil lead in their outlines. As an artist, I dig this, though I get why some might not. Environments are detailed where it matters so far, and the illustrations for the puzzles get the job done. Speaking of that, when you submit an answer, you get this fantastic animation of your solution being zipped off to HQ for review, as well as a ticking number tallying up how much taxpayer dollars you are spending on this. It’s probably the slickest element of the entire game’s presentation, and yes, the character animation is meant to be so rudimentary. It’s for effect.

Not to keep comparing it to Professor Layton, but that series is really the pinnacle of puzzle-based adventures, and so there are a few things I wish Puzzle Agent did more like them. For starters, often, the text for the rules or question you are trying to solve is found in a sub-menu, meaning you have to constantly keep clicking back over to remember what your goal is, whereas the Professor Layton games, mind you, they are on a system designed with dual screens, keeps the information right in front of you at all times so you can read and solve in unison. Secondly, the game will not auto-complete a puzzle if you find the right solution; you have to hit submit to see it through, which has already lead to me second-guessing a few choices here and there.

Alas, I kind of spoiled a little bit of the game as I went searching for a good image to use on this blog post, but regardless, I’m still excited to see how everything plays out in Scoggins, Minnesota. I don’t think it’s a very long game, so maybe I’ll finish it over another sitting or two. What’s even better is that I apparently also have a copy of Puzzle Agent 2 on Steam, waiting for me immediately after. I guess I got both of these through a bundle at some point, but have no memory of such a purchase. Or maybe I bought them in a fever-driven state of consciousness. Hmm. Let’s just end on another Marge quote: “I’m not sure I agree with you a hundred percent on your police work, there, Lou.”

There’s nothing zen about Koan’s keys, spikes, and fall damage

koan capture

In Koan, you play as a rather impatient disciple that only wants to climb higher up the mountain and become stronger. The passive ways of your master are bewildering, especially all that sitting and meditating and thought-inducing speeches about patience and looking within one’s self. And that’s it for the story here, though I think there are hints of other stuff, like that off-handed comment from your master about…uh, killing Buddha if you see him. Yeah, no idea if that is going anywhere, seeing as I got as far as “The Dream of Effectiveness” level before my lunch-break ended.

At first, Koan seems like a simple puzzle platformer, but then you learn the power of meditation. Through it, after collecting little spinning circles of energy, you can create blocks in the level to act as platforms or climbing points. The trick is that they only last for so long, then returning to their energy form to be collected and used again. You use WASD (or the arrow keys) to move around and jump, but pressing S or down has the disciple sit. From here, you can use your mouse cursor to select where you want to place an energy-based platform, depending on the number you have collected so far. And thus, your goal in each stage becomes using these temporary platforms to make your way to the exit, without falling to your death or landing on spikes. Oh, and sometimes you gotta collect a key or not get shot by projectiles.

Initially, I found the controls to be pretty stiff and jittery. Unfortunately, that feeling never let up, with the discipline occasionally moving forward too much too quickly…or not at all, despite buttons being pushed. Thankfully, for the most part, you’re never in a rush, and the mellow atmosphere and soothing pluck of strings in the background encourages you to take the time to take in your surroundings and plan your course accordingly. A couple levels involve grabbing a key before it falls off into nothingness, and those prove the most troublesome. I’m not also convinced I grok the hitboxes for the disciple and things like spikes, as a few times I died though it didn’t appear like I had stepped on something bad just yet.

Visually, Koan is pretty despite occasionally looking a bit too…videogamey. Yeah, I couldn’t think of a better descriptor. I mean, the backgrounds look like pieces of traditional art, depicting city structures and natural scenes…but just that. Art. The watercolor backdrops clash with the rather obvious climbing blocks and shiny golden keys and doors though I do like the minimalist look to the discipline and master.

Maybe I’ll go back later to Koan and see if I can get past “The Dream of Effectiveness” level. Until then, I’ll just meditate on the key-falling-through-shot-glass puzzle’s solution and hope the answer appears before me like a puff of cloud, voiced by Morgan Freeman, guiding me onwards.

Must repair the Thievius Raccoonus in Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time

sly 4 early impressions woo

When I got my PlayStation 3 earlier this year, it was mostly because of Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch, a game I’ve dabbled in here and there, but just don’t have the time to commit to properly. However, all along, I’ve had my sights on Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time, the long-awaited fourth game in the comically colorful sneakfest franchise that I’ve ate up since the PS2 days. Well, it took me some time, but I finally ended up nabbing a copy, along with Metal Gear Solid: The Legacy Collection, several weeks back for a pretty good deal from GameStop, but I told myself I couldn’t play until I at least put Primal to bed. And lo, that also finally happened.

Right, okay. Thieves in Time picks up immediately after the final events of 2005’s Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves, so you best brush up on that game’s story details or you’ll be a bit confused as to why Penelope is not hanging out with her new boyfriend Bentley. Anyways, something is wrong with the Thievius Raccoonus, a book containing all Cooper history and secrets; words are just vanishing from its pages, forcing Bentley to get the gang back together and uncover who is behind the wrongdoing. This eventually leads to them using their iconic van, which can now travel through time thanks to some nifty enhancements by Bentley and Penelope, going back to different specific periods to rescue some of Cooper’s ancestors.

I’m actually burning through Thieves in Time as I’m wont to do with these types of mission-based collectathon sneak-platformers, now just starting in the third world, which is stuck in the cold, frigid Ice Age. There’s dinosaurs and penguins, so it’s pretty much like Pennsylvania right now. The previous two worlds were set in the Wild West and Feudal Japan, and you are basically given a large hub world to run around, collect things like bottles and Sly masks, return treasures to your HQ, and pick up missions. Or you can also just kind of run around and explore, which I like to do for a little bit before starting the first mission. Get a lay of the land, y’know. Find as many clinking bottles as I can because I must have all the bottles.

The original PS2 games were developed by Sucker Punch Productions, but the company eventually moved away from the master raccoon thief to shooting aliens with guns and men with superpowers. Thieves in Time was developed by Sanzaru Games, the same company that previously ported the original games into HD versions for a special PlayStation 3 collection. I might have to get those one day, despite already having all the games. Grrr, but Trophies. Hmm. Anyways, Sanzaru Games seems to have the right touch, as one might not even realize the switch in developers, as Sly Cooper runs, talks, and plays just like he always has, with a bombastic story, zany, anthropomorphic characters, and goofy one-liners and puns that many might sigh at, but I enjoy greatly.

Other than lengthy load times, I’m loving everything Thieves in Time is throwing at me. Well, maybe not the Grizz, just yet. But the missions are varied and short enough to gobble up quickly, and I can’t truly express the joy I feel when Sly jumps in the air and I press the O button and he instantly lands on a roof edge or wire or pointy thing. Sneaking is fun, as is pick-pocketing. You can go out into the hub world as Sly, Bentley, Murray, Carmelita, and one of the Cooper ancestors, regardless if they have a mission to attend to, and they all play very differently. Maybe, if anything, there are too many different special moves to remember across the slew of playable characters, plus Sly can put on time period costumes to perform additional actions. I like the jailbird outfit, because he can roll around on the ball and chain.

My plan is to get all the way to the final world and its final boss mission, and then go back to all the previous worlds to collect the remaining treasure, bottles, Sly masks, and locked safes. I collected all the stuff in the previous games despite not having Trophies to prove it, but I swear I did, and this one must follow suit. Perfect for putting on a podcast and just collecting leisurely. I suspect I’ll get there soon enough, as Thieves in Time does not appear to be very long considering I’m already halfway through it, but that’s okay. Quality over quantity, really. And the quality here is strong.

Doritos Crash Course 2, now with free-to-play gimmicks

doritos-crash-course-2-screenshot_1000.0_cinema_640.0

Over the years, I’ve stepped away from Doritos. It all really started when I got seriously ill the day Obama was first sworn into office–not because, just using that day in history to place you in the moment–and ended up vomiting a lot back in my teeny, tiny studio apartment before passing out for hours in bed while FX continuously played Troy for like six to eight hours. It was a nightmare. And I had eaten some Doritos Cool Ranch chips earlier for lunch that day, and well…they weren’t any better coming up. Ever since then, I’ve fully stayed away from all things Cool Ranch–called Cool American in Sweden, something I learned recently from Giant Bomb–but have, on occasion, enjoyed a Nacho Cheese chip now and then.

But I’m not here to just talk about chips. Doritos does other stuff, too. Like videogames. Well, they support folks making games and use their name to brand it. If you’ll recall with me, back in late 2010, a game called Doritos Crash Course was released for free on the Xbox 360. It was surprising, for sure, an energetic mix of timed platforming and region-related spectacle, but fun all around. As well as free. It’s now been a couple years, and we’re getting the sequel for free too, though it has changed quite dramatically, even if it looks and–for the most part–tastes the same.

Instead of having levels based around specific regions like the United States or Japan, they are now built thematically. The first one is a jungle, maybe Mayan-based. And the second one appears to be snowy. Don’t know what the other two look like. Originally, your goal was simply to get to the end of the course in the best time, avoiding pitfalls along the way; now, as you run left to right, you can collect Stars, tackle secondary objectives, and use alternate paths to get to the end faster and much more successfully. Stars are used to purchase things outside of the level–these can be Avatar accessories, which do come with a stat and flavor text, or additional levels, side paths, and jinxes. And then this is where Doritos Crash Course 2 shows its free-to-play side, with you being able to buy additional Stars with real money. Well, real money that you turn into Microsoft Points. But still: microtransactions.

Just like in Happy Wars, I can easily ignore all the FTP gimmicks until it gets in my way of actually playing the game. So far, that hasn’t happened, though it looks like I’ve have to return to previously completed courses to find hidden stars if I want enough to unlock more levels. No big deal. I just don’t want to have to pay for power-ups or extra Stars in hope of progressing forward. The game suffers from tiny text syndrome, which makes reading some of the level requirements and secondary objectives dang difficult, but when in full screen, the game is pretty and runs smoothly. You can now run up walls, too, which I don’t remember being in the original, and it can be tricky, though Tara found a way to squirrel hop from wall to wall which is pretty effective. Hey, we also played some local multiplayer, too, which zooms out extremely far, but we were still able to run and climb with the best of ‘em.

Looking forward to checking out more. Oh, and it is still a ton of fun to slide down a slope, jump to a trampoline, and fly over some deadly obstacle to finish in first place. Mostly because my Avatar whips out an electric guitar and jams.

Save your daughter and as many flashlight batteries as possible in Ascension

ascension impressions

Bundles, bundles, bundles–you can’t turn right without walking into one these days. That can be, at times, a bit annoying, especially when one has wallet issues or an ever-growing backlog, but the latest bundle shouldn’t be a problem for anyone with a working computer: The Free Bundle. Yup, that’s right. Free. No minimum, no “beat the average price” tier rewards. Just a list of some indie games and the buttons to download them. Currently up are six games, of which I’ve downloaded the four I’m most interested in: Ascension, Celestial Mechanica, Abobo Big’s Adventure, and Treasure Adventure Game.

For today’s post, I’ll be talking about the first one mentioned there. Before I begin, I have to state that I think it has an unfortunately generic name, as Googling “Ascension” brings up a rather popular CCG or talk of the forthcoming God of War: Ascension. Nothing for the indie game comes up on the first page of results certainly. Oh, and there’s totally an XBLA indie game of the same name out there. Ultimately, I think Atticus Ascends would have been a better title, but that’s just me. Otherwise, it’s hard to track anything down about the little indie horror stab in the dark. To get the screenshot above, I had to navigate to the developer’s website, and even then there was not much in the form of media, but that’s just a small gripe from my perspective. If I was to ever do a second post on the game, I’d have to take screenshots as I played for myself–the true horror!

Ascension is surprisingly good. Well, at least I was surprised at the quality of the gameplay, the look, the controls. Just about everything, except the story, which is kind of by-the-books. It’s a psychological horror game where you play as groundskeeper Atticus, who has brought his sick daughter Viola (or is it Violet?) to work on the day of a terrible accident. Separated from her, he must find his way back before something else reaches her first–dun dun dunnn. You control Atticus, wandering floors of some building, reading notes left by others, searching for items, like flashlight batteries and key cards, and avoiding zombie-like monsters by sneaking past them in the darkness. Or maybe killing them with an axe; I’ve not yet figured that part out.

The game has a really nice look to it. Cartoonish, painterly at times, but capable of style, with great lighting effects from your flashlight, especially when it begins to dim and weaken from low batteries. A nice touch. All text is dished out in a lackluster typewriter font, with the typewriter sounds to boot, which leads me to question who is telling the story here: Atticus or an unknown author. Some scenes, like saving your game or speaking with your daughter, are presented in a larger shot than traditional gameplay. These are nicely done and help give more dimension to the characters. In the end, I just wish there was a map. Lone Survivor had one, even if it was a riff on Silent Hill 2‘s apartment building maps. It helped nonetheless.

I played up to the part where Atticus has to navigate through the Cold Storage area. Without a map, I quickly became lost after so many hallways and doors, and then the monsters kept killing me despite the ax I was wielding. Holding your breath only works if they haven’t seen you, so the moment you are spotted, it’s kind of over. Death isn’t a complete end, but it does throw you out of the loop for a bit. I might hop back into it again and try once more; I don’t expect it to be a very long game, but I might need to read up some more on how the combat works because I don’t think I have it down well enough to survive. Anyways, again, Ascension is good and free, so go download it from the Free Bundle (31 days to go!) or the developer’s website. And conserve your batteries; I mean it.

You can play Happy Wars for free, but it might not make you happy

In a dramatic twist, Happy Wars came out over the weekend with little promotion from Microsoft. Considering it’s a free-to-play tower defense game, where the real income stems from players buying new weapons, armor, and accessories with actual money–well, real money converted into Microsoft Points ridiculously converted a second time into Happy Tickets–you’d think they’d want to let people know the thing exists. Instead, I learned about it from a forum post on Giant Bomb, and then had to sift through menus (and submenus!) to figure out where to download it from. Not ideal, I assure you, and considering I just watched Indie Game: The Movie the other night, placement on the e-marketplace is vital. Especially around launch time.

Happy Wars is a free-to-play tower defense game, with a single player story and online multiplayer matches. War has broken out between…uh, people that dress in white, and people that dress in black. Or something like that. That’s the overall gist, but some story-based missions focus on other topics, like a stolen princess or a mad scientist and his army of crazy red robots. Cute, cartoony graphics help emphasize the happy part of these wars, as does most of the loot, such as a sword made from a dead fish, a flower petal shield, and a stat-boosting pencil you can stick in your avatar’s hair. The look of the game is not going to astound you, but it won’t also annoy you, being just right for this sort of experience of capturing spawn points, building deadly turrets, and using class-based action skills. Reminds me a bit of Quarrel and Costume Quest and something else.

If you don’t remember, tower defense is not one of my favorite gaming genres. It’s a lot of building and waiting until one side tips the scale just enough to wash over their forces. So that part is kind of boring to me, but there are some aspects here that I do like. Such as leveling up items, earning loot, and completing mini challenges during a match. Of the three classes–warrior, cleric, mage–I prefer being a warrior, rushing into the thick of things and using thrown stones to stun opponents before I cut them to pieces. The other classes all have their uses, but I’m not terribly comfortable with them just yet. Give me time. Plus, of those three, I have the better equipment so far for the warrior. Also, the roulette wheel called the Spinner is a wonderful way to spend all your hard-earned Happy Stars; just like in Borderlands 2 with their slot machines, I can’t resist testing my luck. It is a nice feature for those that don’t want to spend really money on item packs to try and get something better for their characters.

There are some problems though. The single player experience is severely hampered by a strange level rank restriction. You beat the first story mission, and you are immediately slapped in the face with a note that says you can only play the next story mission once you’ve achieved a rank of 6 or higher. You can only increase your rank, from what I can tell, in multiplayer matches. Seems simple enough; however, the problem continues from there. Not sure if it just had to do with server issues or initial launch problems, but connecting to an online match or getting one started from the ground up was extremely hit or miss for me. My system kept trying to “connect with Xbox Live…” over and over again before ultimately booting me out of matches that looked promising. I did eventually get a few games in after many attempts, but once you beat the second story mission–made up of two smaller missions really–you are again told you can’t continue playing solo stuff until your rank is 11 or higher. Eep. Back to multiplayer, I guess. Either way, this experience is fairly frustrating, only softened by the fact that I did not pay any more for this game or give it any money so far. Maybe the online matchmaking will shake itself out over the next week or so.

Oh, and free game means free Achievements, none of which have been too tricky to unlock:


First Victory (10G): Get 1 victory in any game session


The Legend Begins (10G): Receive mention in Hero Pop-up in a Quick Match or Co-op mode


Mod 0 (10G): Level-up an item


Rich Man (10G): Get 30 items

I’m not having a great time or a terrible time, but I’d also like to see more of the game before calling it quits. Especially the single player missions, as I don’t have to rely on anyone but myself to get the job done. If you’re on Xbox 360, definitely give this a try, as it won’t cost you anything but a download. Just be aware that after the tutorial and training missions, you’ll be locked out of most content until you can up your rank, and getting online matches to connect is consistently wishy-washy at the moment.

As Happy Wars is the first dip into free-to-play games for Microsoft’s platform, it’ll be interesting to see just how long this war really lasts. I think there’s promise here, some good and bad, but maybe not enough hooks to really keep a crowd coming back. Or I could be completely wrong. Again, these sorts of gaming experiences are generally not for me. Time will surely tell.

Back to Pandora in Borderlands 2

Alas, because I have a day-job and get sleepy right around 11:55, I did not make it to the midnight release of Borderlands 2 at my local GameStop, the one where I pre-ordered from. So, I went after work, which only made the day seem longer, and got lightly berated by the employee behind the counter. He said, and I quote, “Looks like you’re about 20 levels behind everyone now.” Couldn’t deny it, but that’s okay–I’ve got the weekend to catch up with the world, but it really doesn’t matter too much considering I am going at it solo instead of co-operatively.

Borderlands 2, from what I’ve experienced so far, is more Borderlands. Hence the Internet absolutely nailing it by dubbing Gearbox’s latest bonerfart… Morderlands 2. I fully support the name and will continue to do so until the game turns itself upside-down and shows me something truly original. As is, it’s more of the same, which is a conflicting emotion, as I absolutely loved–with a few caveats–the original title. Heck, I was still playing that thang all the way up to only a few weeks ago, quitting at Level 61 with no chance of slaying Crawmerax the Invincible on my own. And more of the same thing should never be a problem, especially when it fixes a few of those previously highlighted caveats, but one does have to wonder if this sequel’s entire focus was on fixing the bad and keeping everything else the same instead of enhancing it tenfold.

Anyways, in Borderlands 2, you get to control one of four new characters who are following in the footsteps of the original foursome. It’s five years after the anti-climatic events of the original game, with a man named Handsome Jack trying to steal the fame and glory, claiming he’s the one who originally opened the Vault. Besides taking over the Hyperion Corporation and proclaiming himself the Dictator of Pandora, he also left you out in the snowy landscape to die. Thankfully, you didn’t die, and you’re out for revenge, as well as to complete numerous side quests.

As Borderlands 2 came closer to release, something inside me changed. I flipped. I went from soldier to siren. In the original game, I played only as Roland the Soldier, using his turret to both deal damage and heal me immensely. Okay, okay–I tried the other three classes long enough to get their specific Achievements, but that was it. But I was perusing the online skill trees for the new characters, and something about Phaselocking seemed like a lot of fun. So, I’m Maya, and I’m learning how to play a little differently, as I always relied on a tossed turret to save the day. Now I need to Phaselock tough enemies, kill them fast, and regen health until my power refreshes. Pistols and SMGs are my mainstays currently.

Things I’m loving about Borderlands 2 right now are how dynamic and fluid the mission log updates itself on your HUD, with completed objectives being checked off and swooshed out of the way for whatever comes next. Picking up ammo and money automatically is pure genius and should have been there from the get go, but it doesn’t seem to always work. Comparing weapons is easier, but still not perfect for me and can be a little confusing managing one’s inventory at times. Also, once you get to Sanctuary, you get a bank (previously only added in via DLC) to store weapons you aren’t ready to sell.

Hit Level 10 recently while helping the Firehawk out of a bad situation. Got three holdable weapon slots unlocked, as well as extra room in the backpack. It’s all following in the same path as the original game, more or less. And here are a few Achievements unlocked so far that I dig:


New in Town (20G): Completed the mission “Plan B”


Better Than You Were (10G): Reached level 10


Phased and Confused (20G): Phaselocked 100 enemies


Tribute to a Vault Hunter (15G): Got an item from Michael Mamaril

That final Achievement listed above has a really sad, but touching story to it, making me appreciate just how much Gearbox, as a company, appreciates us, the gamers. You can learn more about Michael’s story here.

Okay. Those are my early impressions, and I’m sure I’ll be back for mid impressions and late impressions at some point. It’s that whole “one more quest” aspect that can’t keep me away despite it all being so familiar.

Playing the Ludum Dare 22 Winners, #1 – Frostbite

Um…yeah, my bad. I kind of forgot that this was a mini-challenge I put upon myself back in March 2012 right after the winners for Ludum Dare 22 were announced. I played through the top nine entries fairly fast and meant to get to the overall crowd-pleaser right after, but other stuff came up and then that was that. It was gone from my mind, gone from existence. That is until I was scanning my long–well, relatively, I guess–list of games on Steam over the weekend and saw the title Frostbite, a flood of reminders hitting me all at once. Oh yeeaaaah. Oh riiiiiight. Remember thaaaaaat. Also, considering that the Ludum Date 24 contest is happening right around now, I should wrap all of this up.

Frostbite comes from a user named saint11. Here’s what he says of his creation:

A post apocalyptic soldier in a watchtower going mad on a nuclear winter, seeing things and with some serious memory problems.
A simple platformer, maybe a little too serious and pretentious :D

The main deal about Frostbite is this: two meters to pay constant attention to. One is for your health/hunger, and the other is for how long you can survive the harsh cold. They deplete at an alarming rate, and can only be refilled by eating found rations and hovering near a burning trash can. You are you, a nameless soldier, armed with a gun and the ability to jump, as well as the power to see ghosts. Unfortunately, your wife went out into the cold some time ago, never to return, and you’re off to find her/make it to the city.

It’s very good. I played three times, each instance getting a wee bit farther. The first time, I died from hypothermia. The second time, a sentry bot shot me dead. The third time, I ran out of bullets and accidently fell into some frigid water. However, that was it. There’s no checkpoint system from what I can tell, and so even though each time I made it closer to the city, I still had to start back at the beginning, which isn’t ideal. You fall into a zombie-like patten that way, moving in a manner that is unnatural and free of fun. The platforming is fine, and the idea of a limited number of bullets, which you need to shoot walls open and stop enemy ghosts and bots, gives the game some bonus stress. Mainly, that hunger/cold mechanic is solid, and I could see this evolving into something much more.

All right. There’s your winner for Ludum Dare 22. Should I try to find the winners from 23 and give them some coverage or just skip on ahead to the newly finished 24 contest?

Everyone talks in the LEGO Batman 2 demo for the 3DS

Of all the LEGO videogames in my collection, I have to say that LEGO Batman is not my favorite. It was harder to get into due to not following a movie or comic script, as well as dealing with the fact that I’m no hardcore fan of the caped crusader and his many plights. Also, a lack of characters to play as–limited mostly to just Batman and Robin–was not made better by the inclusion of different wearable suits to solve puzzles. I played it, and I played it to completion back in August 2009, but that was the last time I touched it or thought about the black sheep in any great capacity.

Before I go any further, as a non-spoken rule when ever mentioning LEGO Batman, I feel like I must share this l’il comic I did many moons ago, which Tara was, by pure luck, talking about the other day. I think it hits the mark for all LEGO videogames, both past and those to come. Anyways, here:

Right. I mean, every LEGO videogame so far has its own brand of fun and excellent co-op moments, but if I listed them all in a High Fidelity sort of way, LEGO Batman would be at the bottom. If I remember correctly, you got to play as the villains for a bit after completing the game, but by then I was just going for 100% completion, so whatever.

Last night, while watching the Nintendo 3DS live showcase–which, mind you, neglected to give any love to Animal Crossing 3DS, a title able to sell millions and millions and millions–watchers were informed that a free demo for LEGO Batman 2: DC Superheroes was availabe on the Nintendo eShop. Off I went to use up my limited number of blocks.

Hey, true fact time: this is the first LEGO videogame I’ve ever played on a handheld. I know.

Right. The demo begins with a cutscene, and the first thing that jumps out is that all the characters now talk. Gone are the days when LEGO boys and girls would mumble and gesture their way through a scene. It’s a little weird at first, but the silliness is still prevalent in the tone of dialogue and antics of the characters. In short, you’ll quickly forget that they couldn’t talk soon after. There’s an award ceremony happening, and just before what’s-his-name can get some shiny trophy the Joker shows up with his motley crew to ruin the party. Bruce Wayne disappears while the Joker monologues, literally popping back into the room via the Batmobile. Then the game part starts and…it’s a LEGO videogame level. That might sound a little negative to you, quiet reader on the opposite side of this screen, but it’s mostly not. You punch stuff, you collect studs, you flip switches and construct things and switch between characters for different skills. I also had to do battle with Poison Ivy, The Riddler, and The Joker.

However, one aspect really stood out, and not in a great way. Since this is my first LEGO videogame on a handheld, I don’t know if this has been a series staple or if it’s new for LEGO Batman 2: DC Superheroes, but the actual earning of the esteemed SUPERHERO reward, which is given to players that collect a specific amount of studs in the level, is severely underwhelming. On the Xbox 360, it is presented with a nice-sounding boom and a flashing of the title across the screen. On the Nintendo 3DS, the words just quietly appear on the screen with zero pizzazz. All that work…slighted.

So, all in all, LEGO Batman 2: DC Superheroes is certainly serviceable, but I think I’m going to save my blue/purple LEGO studs for LEGO Lord of the Rings, which is more than likely coming out this holiday season to ride The Hobbit‘s curtails.

The Sea Will Claim Everything in its first hour of clicking

My dream goal would be to cover all the games that came grouped in Bundle in a Box‘s first package for The First Hour, but my time and sanity are running lower and lower with each new day in June that comes to pass. It really is amazing that I’m typing these words here at Grinding Down at all. If anything, I’m happy to report I played an hour (and then some more) of The Sea Will Claim Everything, a unique-looking point-and-click adventure game set in the fantastical realm known as the Lands of Dreams. Click that previously linked sentence to see how the sixty minutes went.

The sad news is that I dragged my feet with this review and the bundle is now over; The Sea Will Claim Everything will not be available for a little bit until Jonas Kyratzes can set up a webshop. So, if you are interested in it and didn’t purchase a bundle, you’ll have to now wait. Sorry, little dreamers.

But stay tuned, as I am going to continue to play The Sea Will Claim Everything and will let you know how it all turns out.