Category Archives: PlayStation Plus purge

Paul’s Preeminent PlayStation Plus Purge – Steredenn

Man, it sure does seem like a bulk of the games given out to PlayStation Plus subscribers, at least on the PlayStation 3, are shoot-em-ups…or, if you are hip with gaming lingo, shmups. That word just makes me think of shrimp, but whatever. Some that I’ve already gone through and eliminated from my overstuffed console include Sky Force Anniversary, Titan Attacks!, and Ultratron. Looking ahead, there’s even more to come, namely R-Type Dimensions, Hyper Void, Retro/Grade, Super Stardust HD, and Galaga Legions DX. Ugh, oh boy. Seriously can’t wait. That was sarcasm, by the way, as this is a genre that I just can’t get too excited over, despite there being some pretty good games in it, such as today’s topic du jourSteredenn.

Well, Steredenn by Pixelnest Studio is a roguelike-shmup video game for nearly every console and gaming system; that was easier to write than to list every single one of ’em, trust me. It’s a frenetic and chaotic space shooter, carved out of big, beautiful pixels, with larger-than-life boss battles. The game plays horizontally, with your ship on the left and most of the enemies appearing on the right side of the screen…though not always. You’ll engage in fights against dreadful space pirates in a never-ending combat for your survival, mostly by firing weapons at them until they explode into pixelated bits, and this includes floating meteorites coming your way too. There are four modes to try out–normal, daily run, arena, and superplay–13 bosses to take on, special events, 30 environments, 25 upgrades for your spaceship, 35 weapons, and hundreds of enemies waves to deplete.

I played through the normal mode for a bit and had a pretty good time. I felt way more in control of my spaceship than I did in In Space We Brawl and Sky Force Anniversary, easily navigating between strings of bullets and incoming enemy ships. I like the inclusion of different weapons, though the massive drill attachment to the front of your ship seems a bit over-powered, if you ask me. It does become more bullet hell-esque as you progress further, with each boss ship getting bigger and nastier, though that’s life for space pirates, I guess.

The Daily Run is exactly what you think of it, so long as you are thinking about Spelunky‘s Daily Runs. Basically, everyone gets a go at the same scenario and tries to do their best, seeing where they end up on the leaderboard. My Daily Run featured the Shockwave weapon, which is an up-close sort-of-explosion, and I did terribly, unable to beat the first boss, getting a score of zero, but still managing to place fourth on the leaderboard. I don’t think a lot of people are playing this game on this console.

I tried to find out if steredenn is actually a word, and, as far as I can tell, no, it is not. Unless you follow the Breton-English Dictionary, in which case it is either a “a noteworthy or popular person, often a performer or athlete” or “a luminous celestial body that is made from gases (particularly hydrogen and helium) and forms the shape of a sphere.” Sure, one of those will work in this instance. All I know is that it is no longer installed on my PlayStation 3.

Oh look, another reoccurring feature for Grinding Down. At least this one has both a purpose and an end goal–to rid myself of my digital collection of PlayStation Plus “freebies” as I look to discontinue the service soon. I got my PlayStation 3 back in January 2013 and have since been downloading just about every game offered up to me monthly thanks to the service’s subscription, but let’s be honest. Many of these games aren’t great, and the PlayStation 3 is long past its time in the limelight for stronger choices. So I’m gonna play ’em, uninstall ’em. Join me on this grand endeavor.

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Paul’s Preeminent PlayStation Plus Purge – In Space We Brawl

This won’t be a long post, I promise.

In Space We Brawl is a twin-stick shooter that clearly wants you to play locally with a bunch of buddies next to you on the couch. I have no such buddies, nor enough PlayStation 3 controllers to do such a thing, which is why I was also quick to remove things like Atomic Ninjas and Starwhal. Local multiplayer matches allow for up to four players, and you can even put together teams. There are more than 150 combinations of weapons, such as laser cannons, plasma swords, flame launchers, and guided missiles, and ships to try out. Each map is full of obstacles to also avoid too, such as asteroids and black holes.

I first did a few of the “challenges,” which are more or less tutorials. The writing around these is snarky and somewhat aggressive, like when the game congratulates me on being able to use my thumbs to move the ship around. Gee, thanks. I’m not a big fan of being made fun of when trying to have fun playing a game, and I’ve seen this type of snark too often lately. It’s becoming exhausting, if I’m being honest, and it just feels lazy overall.

You can add bots and adjust their difficulty to your matches if you don’t have anyone else to play with, which I did. I left them on “medium” difficulty and found myself exploding every few seconds. I also didn’t find the shooting very satisfactory or even effective, but maybe I attached the worst gun in the game or something. Either way, I didn’t have a good time, and so that was it for me and In Space We Brawl.

Remember, in space, no one can hear you uninstalling a game from your PlayStation 3.

Oh look, another reoccurring feature for Grinding Down. At least this one has both a purpose and an end goal–to rid myself of my digital collection of PlayStation Plus “freebies” as I look to discontinue the service soon. I got my PlayStation 3 back in January 2013 and have since been downloading just about every game offered up to me monthly thanks to the service’s subscription, but let’s be honest. Many of these games aren’t great, and the PlayStation 3 is long past its time in the limelight for stronger choices. So I’m gonna play ’em, uninstall ’em. Join me on this grand endeavor.

Paul’s Preeminent PlayStation Plus Purge – Unmechanical: Extended

I’ve tried playing through Unmechanical twice now, once on the PC and the second time on my PlayStation 3 with the Unmechanical: Extended edition. I feel like I got as far as I did in both games, which was not very far along if I’m being honest, stopping around the same point, somewhere deep in the mines section. I really wanted to like this puzzle-topia starring an ultra cute robot, but the puzzles eventually became too much for my tiny brain to figure out. Some are logical, and some are physics-based, but if all I’m doing is looking up solution after solution online, I don’t see the point of playing a game at all.

Unmechanical: Extended is a somewhat enhanced version of the original game, with an additional episode included to complete. This is first and foremost a puzzle adventure that combines tricky puzzle solving, exploration, and an engrossing if depressing atmosphere set amid tubes and machinery and underground tunnels. Taking place in a world of flesh, rock, and steel, your robot’s journey to freedom requires you to solve a great variety of puzzling challenges. Alas, my robot friend will never be free, and for that I am deeply sorry.

The controls aren’t too complicated. There are only three real options when you are controlling your robot buddy: moving it with the joystick, pushing a button to get a basic hint, and every other button on your controller activates your tractor beam; however, you have to hold down the button to keep your tractor beam engaged, and the beam can help move objects or activate levers. Some puzzles are self-contained in solitary rooms, while others are spread out across multiple areas, requiring you to travel back and forth, which can be quite frustrating and confusing, depending on the state of your memory.

Unmechanical: Extended is actually more than frustrating. Talawa Games clearly knows how to craft intricate puzzles, but the reliance on backtracking is a big ol’ bummer. The game’s world could have been a little more fleshed out, and the environments and additional robot critters all look rather bland or same-y. I don’t think I could really tell you what the actual plot is other than…escaping something, and maybe the additional content explores this further. It also sounds like there’s little to no replay value here, not that I’ll ever know. Lastly, the hint system. This should theoretically help players move forward, but the hints appear as thought bubbles or sometimes just a question mark, which feels too obtuse more than helpful.

Maybe one day I’ll give this another go, though I suspect I’ll get about halfway in and then give up because I just don’t have the energy to watch YouTube walkthroughs for the more complicated and involved puzzles. Sorry, Unmechanical: Extended, I just don’t have the energy.

Oh look, another reoccurring feature for Grinding Down. At least this one has both a purpose and an end goal–to rid myself of my digital collection of PlayStation Plus “freebies” as I look to discontinue the service soon. I got my PlayStation 3 back in January 2013 and have since been downloading just about every game offered up to me monthly thanks to the service’s subscription, but let’s be honest. Many of these games aren’t great, and the PlayStation 3 is long past its time in the limelight for stronger choices. So I’m gonna play ’em, uninstall ’em. Join me on this grand endeavor.

Paul’s Preeminent PlayStation Plus Purge – Hustle Kings

As a young lad growing up in Smithville, NJ, I lived just down the road from our local community swimming pool and clubhouse. No, really, I could walk there in about five minutes tops, and there was a path behind a neighbor’s house that lead through a stretch of woods that I became quickly familiar with once I had a bicycle and a job at the ice cream parlor appropriately named Scoops. I’d often go to the clubhouse by myself and play pool; hey, it’s easier to play pool solo than it is ping pong. And for those that don’t know, pool is a cue sports played on a table with six pockets along the rails, into which balls are deposited. There are many variations to try, but I’m most comfortable playing eight-ball or nine-ball or just failing hard at trick shots.

Moving on, Hustle Kings is a pool game, and, based on what I learned from the training events section, a rather complicated one…if you want it to be. The game features lush, photo-realistic visuals and 3D gameplay to ensure that a digital game of pool feels just like the real thing, minus the smoky environment and stench of beer-drenched college-goers. When you’re ready, you can even test your skills against fellow fans and wannabe hustlers via online multiplayer matches. Or maybe not, anymore, as I was glancing at a Trophy guide and noticed that servers for the PlayStation 3 version are no longer functioning. Biggest shrug ever.

Some of the things you can do to enhance your pool game other than just hit the cue ball with your stick is putting backspin on it or honing your shot for the best angle or learning how to curve around a specific ball to hit another one into the pocket. It’s a lot of setting up your shot and then hoping everything works out okay; there’s several different camera views to help with this minutiae. I played a couple of free play games and did almost none of this and had a decent time still popping billiard balls into pockets, all while avoiding the eight ball until the very end. I will admit to using the hone shot option a lot because, just like in Peggle, it’s good to know how the ball will move from this singular action.

I honestly don’t have too much to say about Hustle Kings; it’s probably fine, and if you are a big pool fan, you’ll love how intricate your shots can become. For me, it’s too much, and now I’m trying to find this old Flash-based pool game I used to play online while avoiding work at an office gig back in the heydays. This is, not surprisingly, an impossible task, as there are countless online pool games you can play, and many of them all look the same. If you know any late 1990s/early 2000s online pool games that might be what I’m talking about, hit it up in the comments below.

Hustle Kings, side pocket, don’t chicken bone this cinch. Yes, I totally looked up a list of pool terms.

Oh look, another reoccurring feature for Grinding Down. At least this one has both a purpose and an end goal–to rid myself of my digital collection of PlayStation Plus “freebies” as I look to discontinue the service soon. I got my PlayStation 3 back in January 2013 and have since been downloading just about every game offered up to me monthly thanks to the service’s subscription, but let’s be honest. Many of these games aren’t great, and the PlayStation 3 is long past its time in the limelight for stronger choices. So I’m gonna play ’em, uninstall ’em. Join me on this grand endeavor.

Paul’s Preeminent PlayStation Plus Purge – Q*Bert Rebooted

This will be a mighty big shock to some of you, but I have never played the original Q*Bert. Well, now I have, but you know what I mean. When I’d go to arcades at my local shopping mall, which is now mostly barren of any signs of life, I’d focus more on things like The Simpsons, X-MEN, and Mortal Kombat II, and even then, games like Pac-Man and Centipede seemed too retro for my blossoming tastes. Shame on me. I mean, Q*Bert isn’t some holy grail, but it does feel like a solid piece of gaming history, one that everyone should at least experience once.

Q*Bert Rebooted is a package of two games. It contains a port of the classic arcade game alongside a new playing mode that uses hexagonal shapes, increasing the number of possible movement directions to six. Woah, boy. Additionally, the rebooted mode features new enemy types, including a boxing glove that punches Q*Bert off the levels and a treasure chest that tries to avoid him as if he hasn’t showered for days. The game has five different stage designs spread across 40 levels, which contain three rounds and a bonus round for collecting gems; you have five lives to complete all four parts. Those gems can be spent to unlock different skins for the Q*Bert character, and completing levels multiple times while reaching specific time and score goals awards you with stars that enable access to more levels.

As with all early arcade games, the core concept is fairly simple. Q*Bert begins each level atop a pyramid of cube platforms from an isometric perspective. By hopping up and down and across, he changes the color of every square he touches. Your main goal is to color in all the squares; once you do, you’re off to the next stage. However, getting in the way of this goal is a variety of enemies, such as red balls that drop from the top of screen, along with a pink snake who chases after our leading orange blob. There are also non-lethal enemies that will go over squares Q*Bert has already touched, returning them to their former color. Also, you can fall off the side, losing a life, which leads me to…

I hated the controls in Q*Bert Rebooted. I would start with using the analog stick on my PlayStation 3 controller, but then occasionally switch to the directional pad. Both often resulted in me jumping off the side of a hexagon, which was never my intention. Sometimes I wanted to go left, but it would make me go left-up. I never felt super confident moving around the board. Also, the sound Q*Bert makes when plummeting to his death is beyond upsetting. Try7ing to jump on the floating discs to the side, which bring you back to the very top of the level, became a giant risk every single time.

Still, I am glad I finally got to play both the original version of Q*Bert and the rebooted one. The music is super catchy, and unlocking skins is always fun, especially when you can play with fun versions like Q*Zard and Q*1000. That said, with many arcade games, it’s not gonna stick around with me for too long. See ya down the hexagonal road, Q*Bert.

Oh look, another reoccurring feature for Grinding Down. At least this one has both a purpose and an end goal–to rid myself of my digital collection of PlayStation Plus “freebies” as I look to discontinue the service soon. I got my PlayStation 3 back in January 2013 and have since been downloading just about every game offered up to me monthly thanks to the service’s subscription, but let’s be honest. Many of these games aren’t great, and the PlayStation 3 is long past its time in the limelight for stronger choices. So I’m gonna play ’em, uninstall ’em. Join me on this grand endeavor.

Paul’s Preeminent PlayStation Plus Purge – Sparkle 2

I never played Sparkle 1, if it was even called that, but I can’t imagine it being too different from Sparkle 2, today’s game du jour for being on the chopping board. I feel like I’m making a good dent on this sojourn of mine to rid myself of all these PlayStation Plus titles, but there are still so many left on my PlayStation 3 to go through. Woe is me, I know. How I must suffer at the hands of all these freebies of varying quality.

Anyways, Sparkle 2 is a marble shooter action puzzle game–woah, that’s way too many adjectives–that tasks you with eliminating snake-like lines of colored balls by matching three of them to make them vanish. Yup, it’s a match three, but the twist of the lines moving along a path helps keep the experience somewhat fresh. I say somewhat because, well, there’s only so much that can be done with a match three style game. I dip into these every now and then, such as with Tumblestone, Frozen Free Fall: Snowball Fight, and Adventure Pop, but never hang around for too long. Actually, the only one I truly continue to check in on these days is Gems of War, and that’s probably more because it reminds me so much of Puzzle Quest, where I really got hooked.

Evidently, Sparkle 2 comes with a story, a reason to match all these differently colored marbles. See, a long time ago, five enchanted keys were created. The keys were scattered around mysterious lands and still remain undiscovered. Many have come to find them, but alas, so far, all have failed. Now is your chance to shine and find these keys and unlock their secrets. It’s either that or join the endless ranks of souls forever trapped within this fantasy land. It’s honestly not much to go off of, but it is at least something, a thin carrot on a stick to chase after. That said, after finding two keys, I still don’t really follow the plot one bit.

I played Sparkle 2 for at least four hours, finishing about thirty or so levels and finding two of the five missing keys. How do I know I put that much time into it? Well, one, there’s an in-game timer, and two, you get a Trophy for playing that long. Go me. The game’s controls are thankfully tight, which they need to be if you are going to try and shoot marbles as quickly as possible at moving targets. There’s no guide though, so you have to do your best to line things up, and some power-ups help more than others. I really liked the one that turned into a bunch of fireflies to clear out multiple balls at once.

Well, I’ll fire one more colored ball, this time at Sparkle 2 itself, eliminating it from my PlayStation 3 and making room for whatever PS Plus game is next to cross my path.

Oh look, another reoccurring feature for Grinding Down. At least this one has both a purpose and an end goal–to rid myself of my digital collection of PlayStation Plus “freebies” as I look to discontinue the service soon. I got my PlayStation 3 back in January 2013 and have since been downloading just about every game offered up to me monthly thanks to the service’s subscription, but let’s be honest. Many of these games aren’t great, and the PlayStation 3 is long past its time in the limelight for stronger choices. So I’m gonna play ’em, uninstall ’em. Join me on this grand endeavor.

Paul’s Preeminent PlayStation Plus Purge – Another World

Another World is an adventuring classic. At least, it seems so. It’s also known as Out of This World in North America and Outer World in Japan, which has only confused me for years because I always thought those were different, unique games…or parts in a series. Nope, they are one in the same. For those that don’t know, Another World released in 1991, and it’s a highly cinematic action-adventure platforming game designed by Éric Chahi and published by Delphine Software. The narrative involves Lester, a young scientist who, as a result of an experiment gone wrong, finds himself on a dangerous alien world where he is forced to fight for his survival.

Here’s some things I just learned about Another World, after giving it a few goes on the PlayStation 3 via the Another World – 20th Anniversary Edition version, which us PlayStation Plus users got for free this past September. It was developed by Chahi alone over a period of about two years, with help only on the soundtrack from Jean-François Freitas. Chahi developed his own game engine, completing all the game’s art and animations in vector form to reduce memory use, with some use of rotoscoping to help plan out character movements. Both narrative-wise and gameplay-wise, he wanted the game to be told with little to no language or user-interface elements. The game was originally developed for the Amiga and Atari ST, but has since been widely ported to other contemporary systems, including home and portable consoles and mobile devices…which is how I am playing it some now twenty-plus years later after always being curious about the legendary beast.

Still, I couldn’t get too far in this one, especially once it became necessary to fire guns at enemies and dodge incoming bullets while also creating shields to block said projectiles. I did okay kicking and jumping over the weird alien worms that fall from the ceiling, as well as running away from the dark-black hulk that chases you at the start of Another World. After that…everything just needed to be too precise for me to figure out. Plus, once you died, which always only took one wrong move or hit, you had to do the whole “rock the cage” bit again, and then try to hit your marks perfectly or be evaporated before you even knew what hit you.

Well…I just watched a full playthrough on YouTube (with no commentary), with a run-time of just over thirty minutes, which includes multiple deaths and restarts. Yeah, I don’t think I would ever have figured some of this stuff out. There are walls you can blast open to let you into new areas, but I don’t see how you’d be aware of them at all as they don’t stand out and the game itself never tells you what you can or cannot do. In one way, that’s freeing and awesome; in another, completely frustrating. There’s a whole section set in a cavern that is blowing my tiny little mind. I get that adventure games are all about exploring and trying your options out until they run bone dry, but again, with no text or inventory system…it’s seemingly impossible to know what is possible in a strange world like this. Also, all your actions require repetition to perfect.

I’ll give credit where credit is certainly due. It looks like Chahi created one fantastic sidekick more than twenty years ago, an alien being who communicated only through gestures and a small lexicon of syllabic barks and encouragements. I think its name is Buddy, but don’t put my feet to the fire on that. I’d place it next to similar strong standouts like Agro, Vivi, and Yoshi. Another World absolutely wrings every ounce of its low-detail scenery, flipping between perspectives and just overall presenting a world unknown to anyone. It’s strangeness is what kept me watching, wanting to see where it all went…which, to be honest, I didn’t fully follow, but I greatly enjoyed the journey from a distance.

Oh look, another reoccurring feature for Grinding Down. At least this one has both a purpose and an end goal–to rid myself of my digital collection of PlayStation Plus “freebies” as I look to discontinue the service soon. I got my PlayStation 3 back in January 2013 and have since been downloading just about every game offered up to me monthly thanks to the service’s subscription, but let’s be honest. Many of these games aren’t great, and the PlayStation 3 is long past its time in the limelight for stronger choices. So I’m gonna play ’em, uninstall ’em. Join me on this grand endeavor.