Category Archives: randomness

I’m floating in a most peculiar way in Jetpac’s space

Y’all should know by now that I’d  do nearly anything for a free game. Some things I won’t do include swimming with sharks, eating an entire jar of mayonnaise, or going on one of those roller-coasters where you are dangling in the air from shoulder straps, your feet inches away from smacking into something solid and breaking into a thousand pieces. Otherwise, so long as I don’t end up in a lot of physical pain, I’m game.

And so, during this past week of E3 2017 shenanigans, there was a chance to earn Rare Replay, No Time to Explain, The Final Station, and a bunch of other digital rewards for zero dollars by simply watching Microsoft’s press conference live through Mixer, its streaming service formally known as Beam. Alas, I was too late to catch the conference, but there were other chances to participate throughout the week.

Of all those goodies, Rare Replay is the “game” I was most excited to receive; it’s a big collection of Rare’s history, a company that, after reviewing its portfolio, I have actually had little contact with, but appreciate their humor and love of colorful graphics from afar. I think I have only ever played one Rare game found in the collection, and that was Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts. Outside the collection, I’ve enjoyed Marble Madness, Donkey Kong Country, Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy’s Kong Quest (sorry, not you, Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong’s Double Trouble!), and that opening level repeatedly on an emulated copy of GoldenEye 007 (please don’t arrest me). So there’s a lot to try out for the first time in this collection, and I have no intentions of playing through it in chronological order, but I did start it all off with Rare’s first game Jetpac, back when the company was called Ultimate Play the Game.

Jetman’s plight in Jetpac is one that pre-dates Groundhog Day, the film, by about ten years, but surely was an inspiration to anyone thinking about what it meant to be stuck in a time loop, repeating the same day and tasks again and again. Jetman must assemble his rocket (which spawns in installments scattered around the map) and fill it with a select amount of fuel before taking off to the next planet. This procedure is then repeated, over and over, with no end seemingly in sight. In addition to this, Jetman has to defend himself from the planet’s native aliens, which a varied and have different attack patterns. Some move diagonally, and others lock on to the tiny astronaut and follow him around the screen. He’s got a ray gun that shoots horizontal lasers for defense, and things like gems can be collected for bonus points.

By and far, my favorite thing about Jetpac is its wraparound world. You go to one edge of the screen, cross over, and appear on the other side. This is extremely handy when trying to avoid a group of enemies or make a shortcut to the rocketship. I’m sure this wasn’t the first game to do this, but I’m too tired to look up when Mario Bros. came out versus this game. Regardless, it works, and I have to say that, some 34 years later, the game plays pretty great. Jetman is pretty quick to move around, and the only problem I had was with collision on the platforms, which made him bounce back, often right into an alien enemy I was trying to avoid. The repetitious gameplay gets old, but one has to remember that this came from an era of high scores and bragging.

Thankfully, Rare Replay throws in some additional things to do, both in their milestone quests and snapshot features. Milestones are things like “kill X number of aliens” or “fill your rocketship up with fuel X times” while snapshots make things a little more tricky. One took away Jetman’s laser gun, forcing you to maneuver on your own quick wits, and another tasked him with completing five wraparounds in a row without dying. I happily completed all of these and popped every Achievement related to the title.

There are other games in the Jetpac series left to try out in Rare Replay, but I don’t know what I will tackle next. I suspect I’ll save some of the collectathons for later in life, when I have the time and am in a find shiny things kind of mood. Either way, I highly recommend you check out Jetpac and to not be put off by its age or graphics, of which I think the latter is pretty cool. The sound effects department is lacking, but I absolutely love the bright, crisp colors–the blurry screenshot above doesn’t do it justice, I know–and there’s a surprising amount of strategy and skill involved in bringing canisters of fuel to and fro. Certainly more than I expected when first launching it, and it’s always great to see where a company started. Here’s hoping Sea of Thieves incorporates some elements from Jetpac, like bringing bits of grog back to your ship one glass at a time until there’s enough to get the entire crew wasted and off to some other island.

The games of E3 2017 that have me keyed up

E3 2017 is not technically over yet, but a majority of the big announcements and reveals have come and gone, with Nintendo swooping in yesterday to present a world where a hat can Mario-ize any object, living or not. It’s a fascinating gameplay hook, one that does now have me interested in owning a Switch far down the road. Forget vapor champers and 4K streaming and how good rain looks in your driving game–that hat is where it is at. Still, not a single one of my wishes was granted, and for that I’m a sourpuss. Just kidding, all–I love videogames, even the ones I don’t like, and there’s never been a better time to be playing these digital thingies.

The following is a list of the games announced at E3 this year that have got me all full of excitement and curiosity. They are in no particular order, and no one company “won” E3, especially not Sony, which definitely only won the “Did Not Win” category. Sorry, y’all, if that was confusing, but it’s true. Look into your heart, and you’ll see it’s so.

A Way Out

I enjoyed what Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons did, both thematically and gameplay-wise, and I think I’m going to dig A Way Out‘s focus on cooperatively escaping from prison. This comes from Hazelight Studios and will be published by Electronic Arts. Josef Fares, the game’s creative director, spoke about this project passionately and with excitement, and it is difficult to ignore that and not let yourself stir at the thought about distracting guards and crawling through a tunnel of poop in the middle of a thunderstorm to taste that freedom air.

Anthem

I’m glad there’s not a new Dragon Age game coming from BioWare. I’m still working on that last one, though I hope to complete it this year. No, I must complete it in 2017. For those wondering, I’m around 60 hours in, maybe three-fourths of the way through. Anyways, this, this Anthem, sure looks a lot like Destiny and Dragon Age/Mass Effect, but it’s third-person and seems more focused on exploration that bragging about some sick gun I found in a cave. I’m interested for sure, but if this is the kind of game that requires a full team of peeps all the time to enjoy…well, count me out. Either way, curious to hear more.

PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds

I’ve watched a lot of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds over these last few weeks, fully understanding that I myself might never play this Battle Royale-inspired extravaganza. I don’t believe it requires that big of a machine to run, but now I don’t have to worry about even attempting this on my ASUS laptop because it’s coming, exclusively, to the Xbox One this year. I’m so ready to find a quiet, hidden hole and sit in it until the number of participants left on the island rapidly depletes and then stumble into a firefight unprepared and get killed unceremoniously. You heard it hear first.

Super Mario Odyssey

New Mario is new Mario. And this one keeps on surprising, with the reveal of Mario’s hat friend Cappy able to take over people and items in the environment for Mario to use. It instantly made me think of Brave Fencer Musashi and how you could steal abilities from enemies to help you on your journey. A Nintendo Switch is most likely a long way’s off for me, considering I can still get Breath of the Wild for my little used Wii U, but whenever I do eventually acquire the device, this will be an obvious purchase.

Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga + Bowser’s Minions

I’m pretty sure I have a digital copy of Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga on my Wii U. Let me go check. Yup, definitely do. I think I got it a while back by redeeming some Nintendo Club points before that system vanished. Anyways, naturally, I bought it and have not played it. Looks like I can continue to hold off because an enhanced remake for the 3DS is coming out soon, and that’s probably the better version to play at this point in time.

Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle

The turn on Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle happened fast. It all started with people scoffing at the inclusion of guns on the hands of Nintendo’s sweet, innocent original characters, the absurdness of Rabbids wearing costumes to look like those characters, and the fact that no one really knew much else about the game other than its title and that Mario was ready to shoot something. Well, now we know–this is XCOM plus Nintendo silliness. I’ve always been intimidated by permadeath-driven strategy games, but this tone seems gentler and more fun, so I’m interested in seeing how it plays.

Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology

Sigh. Radiant Historia has long been a game I’ve put on my “I will play this game this year” lists…and have failed to do so. Boo to me. The thing is, I really like it, but it’s a game about time travel and manipulating past events, and at this point I’d be totally lost going back to my years-old save file. Might as well wait for Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology, an enhance remake for the Nintendo 3DS. I wonder if it’ll have any StreetPass functionality.

Well, that’s that. I’m sure I’m forgetting a few key names here–there’s been a lot to keep track of these last few days–and don’t be upset that Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, Days Gone, and that new God of War aren’t here. The hard truth is that I have never been excited for them and never will be.

But that’s just me. Now I’d like to hear from y’all…what games are you most excited for, whether this year or slated for 2018? And on a scale of 1 to 100, how upset are you that Suikoden VI is still not a thing?

My E3 2017 wishlist because a boy can dream

It’s one of the best times of the year, with E3 kicking off this weekend, followed in a month by Awesome Games Done Quick. In short, time to watch a lot of livestreams. Either way, I’m always excited to hear about new developments in the industry, even if I ultimately never procure many of the new machines or play a majority of the big name games to come. It’s fun being in the know, and I love the nightly interview segments with a mix of industry peeps over at Giant Bomb. Still, I do have some desires for this year’s event, and they are as follows:

Borderlands 3

Look, it’s time. It’s beyond time. No one really got into Battleborn, so Gearbox needs to accept this and move on to the thing that retains a strong fanbase to this day–the Borderlands series. Specifically, the one where you collect a million guns and shoot them at cel-shaded enemies, not the one where you talk your way out of a bad situation into a worse scenario. I’ve been dipping my toes back into Borderlands 2 over the last few months, but a service built solely for these new consoles would be extra great, and I’d love to see something along the lines of Hitman contracts with new raid-like bosses to attack every few weeks instead of a lackluster DLC package.

Death Stranding

We already know this game exists, but I want more info on it. Especially since Mel and I have been working our way through Hannibal and I’m finding Mads Mikkelsen to be highly watchable as an unpredictable villain. I’m still curious if it’ll play like Metal Gear Solid 4 or be a completely different thing. I suspect Hideo Kojima really likes stealth action, so it’s a good bet, but he himself can be unpredictable. I don’t expect the narrative to be clear until the game is out and played through multiple times; I just want to know what the running around is like. Either way, tell us more.

The Elder Scrolls VI: Valenwood

Fallout 4 did not take hold of me and never let go. Instead, I played it, enjoyed a decent chunk of it, beat it, murdering a lot of people to my dismay, and have not really gone back to the thing. I’ve thought often about returning to Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, but that would require booting it up on my Xbox 360, and I don’t want to do that. I’d rather wait for the next installment. Which, maybe, might be set in Valenwood. I don’t know. Your guess is as good as mine, but Bethesda is hosting its own press conference again this year, so maybe we’ll get some updates about what is next from their blockbuster high fantasy RPG time-eater. There’s probably going to be a Doom sequel too for those believing that lightning can strike twice in the same spot.

LEGO james bond

Rest in peace, Roger Moore, my favorite 007, but maybe we can bring you back to life in LEGO form. There are still plenty of LEGO games I haven’t gotten to play yet, but if this thing became a reality it would move right up to the top of my priority list. Traveler’s Tales could either do like they did with LEGO Harry Potter and split this across multiple games, or, if they loved us even just the littlest bit, put out a super compilation of Bond’s best and coolest movies for us to play through. These have everything a LEGO wants: colorful cast of characters, cool gadgets and gizmos, enhanced vehicles, and globe-trotting adventures.

Picontier

I don’t remember when this “slow living miniscape RPG” was announced, but it was some time back. Immediately, it reminded me of Stardew Valley and Rune Factory, which is great, and it was destined for the Nintendo 3DS. It’s also now coming out for the Nintendo Switch. When that is, I do not know, but I love the retro look, and having this kind of experience on the go is really appealing to me. Hopefully we’ll get some more concrete coverage during Nintendo’s streaming hours. Or it’ll just be a tiny tidbit hidden in some press release that goes out after their Nintendo Direct vid.

Suikoden VI

This is never going to happen. I know that, you know that, Konami knows that. But still, a boy can dream. Is it too much to ask for a game with an empty castle that one can fill up with people they meet along their way to stop an evil thing from becoming the ultimate evil thing? No, Dragon Age: Inquisition–you do not do the job well enough.

Right, right. What games are you looking forward to hearing more about at this year’s E3? Speak up and share your wishlist in the comments section. Be sure to include Suikoden VI and get it trending on social media.

A King’s Tale is not your typical childish bedtime story

Chances are, I’m never going to play Final Fantasy XV–and that’s fine. I’m still currently plunking away at the original Final Fantasy, trying to earn enough gil for that mythril sword, and a part of me thinks that, after that, maybe I should try tackling Final Fantasy IV again. I have it on my Nintendo DS and played for a bit way back when I got it for myself as a birferday gift, but never stuck with it. Shame on me. This is me shaming myself publicly, so no need to add to the dogpile. Anyways, Final Fantasy XV is fascinating from the outside-looking-in. I mean, it stars what appears to be an upcoming indie hit boy band as they drive around some fantasy land and slash up monsters. In one way, I appreciate that, and in another, I want nothing to do with this timesink.

Thank goodness then for A King’s Tale: Final Fantasy XV, which I finished in under two hours. In, out, done. If only all Final Fantasy titles could be this succinct. Just kidding. I do like long-as-the-day RPGs, quite a bit. It’s just that there are currently way too many of them to eat up at once, and so they all end of sitting, untouched, painfully ignored. I believe this thing was originally a pre-order bonus for those getting in on the Final Fantasy XV action early through their favorite retailer, perhaps GameStop only, but now it has been given out to all as a free download on the Xbox One and PlayStation 4. Maybe the PC, but I’m too lazy to confirm that. Either way, it’s zero dollars…and not at all an RPG.

A King’s Tale: Final Fantasy XV takes place thirty years before the events of Final Fantasy XV, for those curious and fearful of spoilers. Young Noctis can’t fall asleep and asks his father, King Regis, to tell a fairy tale brimming with fantasy and adventure. Anything but another boring, generic bedtime story. Regis begins with a peaceful day being disrupted when monsters raid the royal capital of Insomnia. Young Regis is joined by Weskham and eventually Cid and Clarus, where they travel to the plains of Duscae only to discover a mysterious cave where their true enemy resides. Sounds like a decent setup for…a retro-style beat-em-up in the veins of Streets of Rage and Final Fight, with some modern mechanics thrown in for good measure.

Yup, you walk from left to right and beat up enemies in your way. These enemies are, of course, taken right from the Final Fantasy mega-verse, so be prepared for lots of Coeurls, Behemoths, Goblins, and so on. Plus that ever-so-cute knucklehead Tonberry. There’s a pretty deep combat system here, with combos, counters, and Regis being able to warp around the screen wicked fast to keep the action moving and avoid dangerous swarms. Certain enemies will block specific attacks, which prevents too much mashing from happening and keeps you on your toes. As you level up your combo meter and refrain from getting hit, you can call in companions to perform special attacks, and if you continue to level it up even more, eventually you can user Armiger, which brings together all your buddies for a powerful, sometimes screen-clearing move. There’s also magic spells–lightning, ice, and fire–though I used them fairly infrequently. Lastly, in some areas, you can summon Astral entities to obliterate your foes, and these obviously look pretty good, but shouldn’t be relied on for surviving the moment-to-moment encounters. For most of the game, paying attention to enemy types and what type of attacks you are using are key, as is rolling around to grab health pick-ups when needed.

The story is ultra thin and throwaway. The bedtime tale for Noctis basically ends with a talking tentacle monster trying to steal some crystals. I’m sure if I knew more about Regis and his buddies I’d have picked up on more details via their conversations, but I rushed through most of it to get to the good part–fighting. After you beat A King’s Tale: Final Fantasy XV, you can access Dream Battle Special Challenges. These are one-off challenges, each with their own requirements and varying levels of difficulty. Some ask you not to take any damage (yeah right) and others are more focused on doing something X number of times. I did a few, looked at the remainder, and decided that it was better for me to quit while I was ahead.

All in all, A King’s Tale: Final Fantasy XV was a nice, short distraction from my usual mainstays on the Xbox One. I’m still not interested in digging into Final Fantasy XV, but that’s okay. There’s plenty of other Final Fantasy titles in my backlog to get to, and, if anything, I’m now hungry for another 2D beat-em-up. Shank 2, perhaps? Now there’s a game I’ve let sit ignored for far too long.

Hilariously, baby’s first Platinum Trophy is for Invizimals: The Lost Kingdom

Games I’m probably going to get before 2017 ends

We’re inching our way towards the middle of the year, and so far, of the new games released for 2017, I’ve actually gotten a couple. Go me. Namely the re-release of Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King for the Nintendo 3DS and Night in the Woods, which I’m taking my sweet time playing. Other than that, a lot of the big AAA titles have come and gone and will most likely pop up on my annual list of games I didn’t get to play come the end of this year. Still, there are a few I’m keeping my eyes on and will probably get so long as the bank account doesn’t run dry. I don’t need many as my backlog is still ready to burst at any moment.

And now I’m going to briefly touch upon each one. Don’t be shocked when you see that most of them are for the Nintendo 3DS, also known as my beloved confidant.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Mmm a new entry in the The Legend of Zelda series, and one that many, many critics seem to love. This is going to be my reward for finishing up the second chapter of Death, Divorce, and Disney, which has been a little tough to focus on these last few months as life moves forward. I don’t have a Nintendo Switch, so this will join my mighty collection of retail Wii U games, which includes Super Mario Maker, Wii U Fit, and whatever Mario platforming game the system came with that I’ve never bothered to try. What an honor, and what a difficult couple of months it has been trying avoid a lot of details about this game on the Internet. It’s already out in the *ahem* wild.

Culdcept Revolt

For something like four or five years, I’ve been carrying around a folded index card in my wallet. What’s on it, you ask? I’ll tell you–videogame names. Specifically, the ones to be on the lookout for either at used game stores or yard sales because, as my hair gets lighter and my brain heavier, the memory of all these funky titles is not as strong as it used to be. One title on that list is Culdcept, a turn-based strategy video game that shares some features with things like Monopoly and Magic: The Gathering. There was a PlayStation 2 version that I missed out on, but now there’s a new entry in the series for the Nintendo 3DS. I’m all about collectible card games, but digital is the way to go moving forward, so sign me fast. It comes out on August 29, 2017.

Ever Oasis

Ever Oasis is a new action-adventure RPG from the mind of Koichi Ishii, the creator of the Mana series. As you explore the desert and solve puzzling dungeons, you’ll gather resources to build up your oasis with the water spirit Esna. Allies will join your cause and use their skills to slay larger-than-life bosses. Your oasis is your kingdom, and you’ll get to choose which shops to build, stock their inventories, collect a share of the profits, and keep villagers happy by fulfilling requests. The graphics are colorful and cute, and the combat appears to have some depth to it other than mashing attack. It’s been compared to Fantasy Life, which is all I needed to hear. This will be out on June 23, 2017.

Miitopia

Look, I’m actually a big fan of the StreetPass game Find Mii–and its sequel Find Mii 2–which are mini-RPGs that require you meeting people in real life to make progress through each dungeon. In the end, you can earn new hats for your own Mii to wear, which is always fun. Anyways, Miitopia seems to be something like that, but now a full retail release that, I’m assuming, won’t rely entirely on StreetPass-ing people. I’m down with that. Sounds like you’ll cast these Mii characters in various roles across the kingdom, manage friendships, and give them jobs with distinct stats, abilities, gear, and a custom look. So, part Tomodachi Life too. The main quest is to defeat the Dark Lord and restore the stolen faces of the citizens of Miitopia. I’m so going to put my Shaq and Ron Swanson Miis to work. Miitopia drops on July 28, 2017.

Dragon Quest XI

This one is potentially unlikely, considering there’s been no announced released date for American shores, but I think we might hear something about that come E3. Japan gets it this summer for the PlayStation 4 and Nintendo 3DS, the lucky bastards. Something I’m super excited about for the Nintendo 3DS version is that graphically it features a different style than the PlayStation 4 version, showcasing 3D graphics on the top screen and 16-bit styled sprites on the bottom screen. Otherwise, it seems to maintain a lot of the traditional elements that make the Dragon Quest series both quirky and enjoyable. Again, no U.S. release date announced yet. I’ll let you know when it is slime to pre-order.

Marvel Heroes Omega

I have a bunch of the Marvel Ultimate Alliance and X-Men Legends games in my collection, still untouched. However, I did play a ton of Diablo III: Reaper of Souls on the ol’ Xbox 360 and really enjoyed the changes for console. Marvel Heroes has been heading in this direction for a good long while, and while it is free on PC, I’ve not been able to devote the hard-drive space to it. So I’m looking forward to the free-to-play version called Marvel Heroes Omega on Xbox One and PlayStation 4. Me thinks I’ll be going with Squirrel Girl because no one is better than Squirrel Girl. That’s just a hard fact, deal with it. This is tentatively scheduled for release in Spring 2017. Hey, that’s kinda now-ish.

And that’s all I can think of for the foreseeable future. Granted, E3 draws near, and I’m sure there will be some surprise reveals for the holiday season that I might be interested in. I’m not expecting Elder Scrolls VI or Disney Magical World 3 any time soon, but maybe something else might look interesting enough to keep a sliver of my brain occupied until it is released. We’ll see. I’ll say it again, that I really don’t need any more games to play. Oh, also, I still wanna check out both LEGO Worlds and LEGO City Undercover. Sigh.

What games do you plan to still pick up in 2017?

2017 Game Review Haiku, #39 – The Evil With Us

Monsters left and right
Grind out gold, better your knife
Only upgrade knife

I can’t believe I’m still doing this. I can’t believe I’ll ever stop. These game summaries in chunks of five, seven, and five syllable lines paint pictures in the mind better than any half a dozen descriptive paragraphs I could ever write. Trust me, I’ve tried. Brevity is the place to be. At this point, I’ve done over 200 of these things and have no plans of slowing down. So get ready for another year of haikus. Doumo arigatou gozaimasu.