Category Archives: questions

Antenna’s quadrupedal machine searches for answers to loneliness

gd final impressions antenna game

The really dangerous part of playing numerous short, free indie games is that, if I don’t get to writing about them immediately, I forget a lot of details. They lose that initial woah impact, and my memory is not all that it is cracked up to be these days, and I blame knowing too many Game of Thrones family trees on that. For example, I completed Antenna a couple weeks ago and, other than a tricky puzzle involving matching rhythmic audio tones, I’m having trouble remembering much of what unfolded. Or maybe that’s exactly what LWNA’s Antenna is supposed to be–a mysterious adventure into the unknown, where the darkness hides the light, where you are just as lost as the quadrupedal machine you control.

In terms of story, it’s more of a question–am I alone? This is what our leading robot ponders and then sets out to answer. It scans the radio spectrum for answers, hoping to be heard, while also wondering if it is meant to be heard. There’s a lot of ambiguity to Antenna, and this is especially clear in some of the radio chatter you pick up, which hints at life elsewhere, but never stays long enough to prove the theory true. I’m okay with there not being a whole lot here, as it is, in this case, more fun to wonder than it is to know.

Yet here’s what I do know. The game has a simplistic, but stunning look, one that continues to impress me since the hey-days of 2010’s LIMBO. The forefront is all dark silhouettes and white pupils, and the backgrounds are misty, murky swaths of muted color. Just enough to make you believe there is more in the distance, even if you’ll never get there. Antenna‘s in-game world is not massive or that diverse, but you’ll move your four-legged tank beast across empty plains where radio towers grow, as well as underground, and your imagination will fill in the necessary gaps. I imagined this place as some failed project to build a station on another planet that all got left behind, with our little WALL-E wannabe left to keep things going.

Naturally, a large part of Antenna‘s world and mechanics revolve around sound, which comes from…Arddhu. Not sure if that is a person or company or magical lost city in space. Either way, make sure you have the volume turned up, though I did find a few parts of the radio static hard to listen to or just a wee bit too sharp for my delicate man ears. When not solving puzzles based around specific sounds, there’s a good amount of atmospheric, ambient sound, like drips of water on metal pipes or the cling-clang of the robot’s legs as it walks.

Interestingly enough, the game requires extensive use of a keyboard, as well as the mouse wheel, to be played. No controllers allowed whatsoever. Originally, I tried playing this in bed on my laptop, with no mouse, not realizing how essential it was to even begin the game. You’ll do a lot of holding in keys and pressing other keys simultaneously, and at one point it felt like a game of finger Twister as you tried to keep everything in place, but still do one more action. There’s also some puzzles to be solved, but they most involve finding a particular pitch or tone and matching it with another to turn on some machinery or move to the next scene. Alas, the game didn’t run great on my ASUS laptop, stuttering from moment to moment and dropping audio occasionally, but I was able to see the whole thing through regardless.

I don’t know. Antenna‘s a neat thing from newcomer studio LWNA, and it’s free, so I can’t not recommend you at least give it a try and see if the sensation of uprooting a tower piece by piece using the powers of your fingers and keyboard gets your senses all thingy. I mean, it did for me, but to each their own. I might not have picked up on the game’s meaning or subtleties, but I like its look and courage the developers have for dropping something like this out into the wild with not much behind it in terms of description. May we never be alone, surfing the airwaves, praying that someone else is out there doing the same exact thing. Though I’d be totally okay with being a spider-esque, tower-building robot.

How do you pronounce Serge in Chrono Cross?

say my name Serge_FMV

Yesterday, I finally got around to kickstarting my goal of finishing these five videogames some time this year, starting off with Chrono Cross. It’s an RPG I’ve played countless times before, but always only up to a specific point; generally, it is around the time you switch, for story-related reasons, from controlling Serge to controlling Lynx. Tara recently replayed, too–well, back in October 2011–but she ended up getting stuck somewhere. I don’t remember where. Maybe she can elaborate in the comments below. I dunno…I just lose interest after awhile, and then something new and shiny takes hold of me, and I never return, which is a shame as it is one of my favorite gaming adventures thanks to its stellar soundtrack and versatile combat system. I blame myself more than the Frozen Flame.

I’ve got just about four hours under my re-playing belt at this point, but I’ll save my musings and love and admiration stuff for a separate post. For now, let’s talk about something that Tara and I can’t agree on: how to pronounce Serge’s name. To me, I say it like “surge of water,” and given what happens to him in the alternate realm…well, that fits. Tara, however, pronounces it like “ser gey,” with a flair to the whole thing. I’m not so sure how I like that. Since this is the PlayStation 1 and voice acting was extremely limited back in the day, we don’t ever hear anyone say his name out loud, especially since the player can also change it to Pauly or Potasio or whatever they feel like calling our blue-haired silent protagonist. And so I turn to you, dear Grinding Down readers, to voice your opinions.

All right, hopefully there’s a poll below for you to click on. I don’t make many of these so I’m not too confident on how to embed ’em. If it’s there, say your peace:

Today just might be Monster Tale’s day

Monster Tale is an adorable Metroidvania game that, if the Internet is to be believed, comes out today on March 22, 2011. A few months back, I originally saw a projected release date of March 1, 2011, and when that day came and went without so much as a Monster Short Story, I tracked down some peeps at Majesco Entertainment and asked them if they could kindly spoil the release date as all the Internet was then saying was some time in March 2011. The nice peeps at Majesco were nice and got back to me, but they could only confirm that the Internet was to be trusted. A couple days later I noticed that both GiantBomb and IGN had updated their respective pages to indicate that today is Monster Tale‘s day.

Alas, I’m not going to rush out to the stores later and see if it’s sitting high and mighty on their NEW RELEASES shelves for several reasons. 1) I busted up my back golfing over the weekend and cannot physically rush anywhere 2) I’m still plugging away at several other Nintendo DS games, namely Pokemon White and Radiant Historia, which both require devotion and time 3) and lastly, the nice peeps over at Majesco Entertainment asked for my mailing information after I emailed them so that they could put my on the request list.

What does that mean? I don’t really know. But maybe they took a look at my blog and liked what they saw and want to send me a copy to review. I’ll wait a few days to see if anything arrives, but if nothing comes by the end of the month, I’ll most likely go grab a copy so that I’m well stocked for my MoCCA trip to New York City the second weekend of April.

Man, looking at some of these screenshots again reminds of just how adorable this game is gonna be. I’m holding out hope that it’s a crazy deep adventure with a cute skin. Guess we’ll find out soon enough…

Being a Devil and True Mortal in Fallout 3 isn’t tricky at all

Well, I did it. I saw the chance, and I took it, and I think I’m somewhat okay with it despite the fact that the way I unlocked True Mortal was most definitely 100% evil. First, let’s ooh and ahh over these two Fallout 3 Achievements I pinged back to back last night:


Devil (20G): Reached Level 30 with Bad Karma


True Mortal (20G): Reached Level 30 with Neutral Karma

Mmm pretty. And here’s how I got them. I leveled my bad karma girl Samantha up to about 3/4s of Level 29 by tossing some Nuka Grenades at Super Mutant Overlords and watching them–from a safe distance–burn. Then she fast-traveled back to Tenpenny Tower wherein Sam rested until about 1:00 am. Using some Stealth Boys (I left my ninja invisibility suit in my room), Samantha crept towards those sleeping in their beds and proceeded to murder each and every one of ’em, snagging a meaty bonus thanks to the Mr. Sandman perk. Then, right before slitting Mr. Burke’s throat as he dreamed about big explosions and punching puppies, I saved my game. Then I had her slice, and bam, Level 30 achieved with bad karma. Reloaded my game to do it again, but this time, for my perk, I picked the one that re-sets your karma to neutral. And that was that. Rather easy, and I’m thankful to not have to grind from Level 20 to Level 30 on my third play of Fallout 3, as that is simpy the longest, hardest part to do.

Speaking of that, I need some help. I used a good karma beard dude named Pauly for my first playthrough in Fallout 3, and a bad karma redheaded woman named Samantha for my second playthrough. Not sure what direction I want to go in for my third. I do know, however, that I want to get Dogmeat as early as I can, as well as focus on either melee weapons or unarmed to get a different outlook on the gameplay. Here’s a male/female version of what I’d like to use stat-wise:

MALE/FEMALE CHARACTER

Name: Jimbob Jollywag or Babs or Tyrion
Race: ??? (African American, Asian, Caucasian, Hispanic)
Karma: Neutral
S.P.E.C.I.A.L. skills: Strength 7, Perception 5, Endurance 6, Charisma 5, Intelligence 6, Agility 5, Luck 6
Tag skills: Melee Weapons, Repair, Explosives

With this, I’d be focused on whacking people to death with batons and baseball bats, repairing my whacking sticks, and tossing grenades when things get too tough. I’m sure I’ll sneak a few pistol shots in, too, but I don’t want to go down the same small weapons path as before. Not sure what early perks I’d take though. Suggestions?

And I’m definitely open to suggestions for names and/or what a character should look like. Consider this the beginning of a Let’s Play that you’ll never see the rest of!

For help with this mockup as well as a good idea as to how this character would progress, I used the Fallout 3 Character Creator website.

Admitting to videogame rage

I think it’s official: Grand Theft Auto IV makes me videogame rage. Not like this or this, mind you, but it seriously gets on my nerves and even has gotten me uttering phrases like “Oh come on!” and “Fuuuuck!” when alone in my apartment. That’s not a good sign. Just ask my neighbors.

Last night, I spent 40 minutes on a single mission–it’s called “Museum Piece” and it involves escaping a museum heavy with enemies and then avoiding further detection from them once outside in the public park–and then failed thanks to unclear directions. Inside the mansion, I meticulously took out every goon shooting a gun my way, a process which took some patience and a lot of crouching.  I’d already previously failed the mission for running blindly around a corner and was not going to let that happen yet again. But it was worth it because I had a full thing of body armor still and was ready to venture outside.

So I exited the park in hopes of hi-jacking a car for getaway purposes. My original ride got blown to bits from a tossed grenade. I don’t get three steps across the street before two black cars zoom by and run me over. As Niko slowly gets to his feet after this traumatic event two goons pump shotgun blasts into him. Body armor and health vanish instantly.

When you die, you are revived back at the hospital and pay a small fee. Not only that, but all the ammo I used on the mission is gone, as well as that 40 minutes of my time. I can restart via a text message or reload to at least get my ammo back. Neither option sounds appetizing after all that worthless work.

Seeing as I’ve done several posts on GTA IV and my hating on it, some might be wondering why I keep playing. It’s simple. I’m a masochist. Also, I bought the game with hard-earned money (eh, it was $12.00 used)  so I might as well experience it.

Honestly, I’ve never griped about so much in a single game before. I could go on for days about GTA IV‘s faults. For instance, why did Rockstar design the Xbox 360 controls to be horrible? You press Y to steal a vehicle, but if you want to say take a tour or cab ride…you hold Y. But if you don’t press it down hard and fast enough, guess what? You just stole a helicopter and taxi cab when you were just trying to play the game. Fun, fun, fun dumb. Why not instead, just like when you want to buy a hot dog or soda, press the left bumper? WHY NOT?!

I enjoy Liberty City’s openess and the sandbox potential, but maybe I just have to take off the blinders and see GTA IV for what it is: not a game for me. The mission structure and harshness of lost time, money, and bullets for failure is just too punishing. Maybe Saint’s Row is more up my alley?

XIII for $2.00–yes or no?

So, while browsing the bargain bin of PS2 games yesterday at my local GameStop, I found a copy of XIII…for $2.00. Yet I did not buy it. Instead, I came home and searched for some reviews. Talk about being scared of the Recession, eh?

XIIIboxcover

Anyways, what do you think? Is XIII worth the $2.00 (plus tax)? Seems like a stylish FPS with a somewhat stereotypical plot.