Tag Archives: action adventure

Resolve an ancient conflict on Wuppo’s quest for a new home

I have way too many games on Steam, and the good bulk of them I have no memory of how they got there. Some were probably freebies, and others cost money or were purchased during a sale. The easiest guess is that many of them came from one of the thousands of gaming bundles I’ve participated in, but the when and where escapes me each and every time I scroll down my list and pause on a name that just seems completely foreign to me. Today, we’re going to talk about Wuppo, a game I have no memory of buying, but I guess I did because…well, it is there, installed on my Steam library, and it looks like a really cute, colorful platformer.

After being kicked out of its apartment home for making another mess via an ice cream cone, one lonely Wum, which is a type of round, featureless creature native to this world, must travel far and wide to find a new place to live. From the metropolitan haven Popocity to the cavernous Bliekopolis, this Wum will discover magical places and encounter strange creatures along the way. Now, this Wum is no traditional hero and only by using its wit and charm, along with the help of a handful of items, can it truly succeed. That’s the main gist of the story, and it’s told through in-game dialogue that is both lively and quite fun to read, reminding me instantly of Pikuniku and Night in the Woods. You’ll also learn more lore by collecting film strips to watch.

Wuppo starts out easy enough, but don’t let its cute aesthetic and bouncy music fool you–the difficulty quickly amps up once you encounter your first boss battle. Fights require a decent amount of precision movement alongside the memorization of enemy patterns, and it doesn’t help that the jump button is on LT, which takes some getting used to, especially if you like double-jumping all the time, which, in this game, is a must. Your main attack consists of firing guns in a setup very similar to your average twin-stick shooter, so you use the stick to both determine the direction and angling of your firing. It takes a little time to get used to, plus you can switch out your gun for other weapons or items to hold, such as a bird that feeds you information at specific points.

Let’s get into the controls a bit more…because they are important. You have controls for basic movement, an action button that does whatever you need in a given context, and a dedicated button just for whistling, which is never necessary, but appreciated nonetheless. Your Wum’s health meter is justified as “happiness,” and you can increase it by making new friends, watching film strips, or eating your favorite food. The game is mostly an adventure platformer, and you’ll be making some large jumps or timed jumps to get to new places. There’s a map you can view, but I honestly didn’t find it satisfying or felt like it grounded me in this world. Maybe I’m just reading it wrong.

Wuppo is pretty hands off. It hardly ever guides you to the next place or quest, leaving it up to you to work out how to progress, which can result in some bits of frustration. Occasionally, there are moments where it is hard to make out specific buttons or levers to pull, as well as what the pathways are, making you feel stuck for no other reason than clarity. Items are placed in your inventory non-ceremoniously, and it’s up to you to figure out how to use them and where to use them, which some players, like Dark Souls fans, might like, but I don’t have time for all that.

Currently, as shown in the picture at the top of this post, I’m trying to find specific items for an altar, which is proving more difficult than I initially imagined. We’ll see if I ever complete this task or just move on to something else. I do like the look and vibe of Wuppo greatly, but it isn’t hooking me too hard besides its playful aesthetic, and there are plenty of other platformers to try out in my Steam/Twitch libraries.

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GAMES I REGRET PARTING WITH: X-Men: Mutant Apocalypse

I love X-Men, and I loved X-Men. I probably don’t love it as hard as I did as a young, lonely child with a wild imagination, but that’s okay. Not everything lasts forever, and that’s why nostalgia exists. Growing up, I had plenty of X-Men action figures, two VHS tapes–namely X-Men: Pryde of the X-Men and X-Men: Night of the Sentinels–that I watched over and over again, to the point of almost burning them up, and, of course, countless collectible cards, ranging from Jim Lee’s X-Men Series 1 to SkyBox’s X-Men Series 2 to X-Men ’95 FLEER ULTRA and even more. If you were at all like me, then you know exactly what I’m talking about; if not, oh well, move along. So it was natural for me to be excited about anything X-Men-related when it came to videogames, which brings us to X-Men: Mutant Apocalypse…for the SNES.

In X-Men: Mutant Apocalypse, Charles Xavier sends five of his beloved X-Men to sabotage various operations and structures on the Genosha island complex to liberate mutants in captivity. Further investigation reveals Queen Brood and Tusk are involved in this matter and headed by the titular Apocalypse. After defeating all evil forces on Genosha, Xavier discovers that Magneto intends to destroy Genosha from his space station Avalon. To prepare for the confrontation, Xavier tests the five X-Men in the Danger Room to defeat holograms of Omega Red and Juggernaut. After passing the tests, the X-Men go on separate paths inside Avalon to face and defeat Exodus and then battle against that non-magnanimous Magneto. It’s like a multi-part string of episodes from X-Men: The Animated Series, and I was into it.

Right, so. The player takes control of five X-Men who each have their own objectives, as well as different moves and capabilities activated by certain control combinations. There is a limited number of lives that count for all five X-Men and not one individually. That said, similar to Mega Man, the levels may be played in any order. At the end of each level, you fight a boss, and the next three levels are linear and require each boss level to be defeated. This is followed by two straightforward boss battles in the Danger Room. Finally, only one of the X-Men can be selected, each one going through a different end level. Thankfully, after beating the first five stages, a password can be acquired. The game has health pickups, as well as the option to gain extra lives by collecting three “X” icons hidden throughout each stage. Otherwise, it’s a straightforward action game where you destroy anything and everything in your path, usually with mutant powers.

Here’s who you get to play as in X-Men: Mutant Apocalypse:

  • Beast – Possesses superhuman physical strength, agility, and an ape-like appearance…if, y’know, apes had blue fur.
  • Cyclops – Produces powerful, uncontrollable beams of concussive force from his eyes, forcing him to wear a specialized visor at all times.
  • Gambit – Has the ability to manipulate kinetic energy and charge objects with it. He’s also skilled in card-throwing, as well as hand-to-hand and staff combat.
  • Psylocke – She can use her telepathic powers to form a “psychic knife” from her fist. She’s also an expert martial artist.
  • Wolverine – A gruff mutant possessing superhuman senses, enhanced physical capabilities, adamantium coated bones and claws, and regenerative abilities.

For me, I was sold the instant I knew I could play as Gambit. He was always a favorite of mine growing up, and I still think there is a coolness to the character now, even if I haven’t kept up on any of his storylines. I also enjoyed Beast a great deal, hanging upside-down and punching minions in the face. The pixels were big for X-Men: Mutant Apocalypse, almost zoomed in, which meant you didn’t get to see a ton of the environment around you, but you got a nice closeup of Cyclops firing off his laser blast. It definitely helped make these characters seem larger than life, which, for me at that age, they certainly were.

Now, around the same time as this game, there was another X-Men game, but it was for the SEGA Genesis. A system I did not own, but frequently played on at my then-best friend’s house. This was X-Men 2: Clone Wars, and it seemed to be the cooler-looking one of the bunch, much like how Mortal Kombat had blood on the Genesis and sweat drops on the SNES. In this one, you controlled a select few X-Men as they attempted to thwart the alien Phalanx from assimilating all of Earth’s inhabitants to their race. It played differently, and I still can’t pinpoint why I felt like my SNES title was inferior to it, but the feeling remains.

Either way, sorry, X-Men: Mutant Apocalypse, for trading you in. I do have a bunch of other X-Men-related games in my collection that remain untouched, shame on me, and I hope to get to them soon, as well as procure a copy of X-Men: Destiny, which might become a rarer thing down the line.

GAMES I REGRET PARTING WITH is a regular feature here at Grinding Down where I reminisce about videogames I either sold or traded in when I was young and dumb. To read up on other games I parted with, follow the tag.

Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, a big ol’ boring collectathon

I started playing Assassin’s Creed Syndicate when I came home from the hospital last August; I’m still playing it. It’s a long one, bloated with things to collect and many uninspired missions that I no longer even care about completing the way the developers clearly want me to, but I like finishing things that I start, and so I’ve stuck with it still despite it being really boring. Those are both my words and Melanie’s word; the poor thing has had to endure watching me run around like a maniac in search of every single collectible. I’m currently in sequence 8, with one more sequence to go, along with a few Achievements to unlock because, at this point, I’ve put in a good chunk of work to unlock them already…might as well see them pop.

Assassin’s Creed Syndicate is set in a fictional history of real-world events and follows the centuries-old struggle between the Assassins, who fight for peace with liberty, and the Templars, who desire peace through order. The story is set in Victorian-era London and follows twin assassins Jacob and Evie Frye as they navigate the corridors of organized crime and take back the city from Templar control. Naturally, this being an Assassin’s Creed game, you’ll run into many a notable figures as you stab and loot your way to victory, such as novelist Charles Dickens, biologist Charles Darwin, inventor Alexander Graham Bell, political theorist Karl Marx, nurse Florence Nightingale, Duleep Singh (the last maharajah of the Sikh Empire), Sergeant Frederick Abberline of the Metropolitan Police Service (known for his investigation of Jack the Ripper), and Queen Victoria. Phew.

It’s an Assassin’s Creed game, which means it does all the same things previous ones have done, but on a grander scale, this being on the Xbox One and not the Xbox 360. It’s got main missions, side missions, a thousand collectibles, gear to upgrade, income to earn, gangs to upgrade, skills and perks to unlock, and so on, just like Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag–maybe the last one I’ve truly enjoyed–Assassin’s Creed II, and Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood. I wasn’t thrilled with Assassin’s Creed: Revelations, and all I remember from it is that is focused heavily on bombs. Anyways, taking place in a bustling place like London, the buildings are bigger and more closely connected to each other; to help get around somewhat faster, both Jacob and Evie have access to a grappling hook device that shoots a zipline from one place to another. This still doesn’t make all the running around fun or that much quicker, as climbing can still be iffy, with the occasional leaping off of rooftops to your swift death below.

Here’s something funny I’ve been doing while running around from one place to another simply to collect a pressed flower, a poster, a beer bottle, or a chest full of crafting/upgrade ingredients. I’ve been telling Alexa–that robot lady everyone seemingly now has in their house–to play a playlist of polka music. Honestly, it makes all the to-ing and fro-ing much more enjoyable, because it’s not like any interesting dialogue is happening at this time, and getting from A to B can often take a couple of minutes, depending on where you are and whether or not there’s a fast travel viewpoint nearby. At some point, I have to give up the notion that I’m going to open every single chest in this game because…there are just too many.

Combat in Assassin’s Creed Syndicate is still a button-mashy mess. You can string together a couple of combos, as well as counter an incoming attack from a different enemy, but only if you time it just right. Then, some enemies, require you to break their stance by stunning them before you can begin a new combo. This sounds par for the course, and it is, but things go sour real fast the minute you have four or more enemies attacking you at once, as well as snipers on rooftops that you have to dodge. I eventually began using hallucinogenic darts from a distance to get enemies to fight each other, with me sneaking in at the end to finish off the remaining survivors. It’s not the coolest way to go about it, but it works. Also, while the skill trees make it seem like Evie is the sneaky one and Jacob is the more aggressive combatant, both play exactly the same way and can unlock the same abilities for fighting…so there’s really no point in having two playable characters other than for story-related reasons.

Looking at my games to install list on the ol’ Xbox One, I still have Assassin’s Creed III to play. Also, this month, we’re getting a free copy of Assassin’s Creed: Rogue from Games With Gold. Ugh. I’ll never be done with this series. Plus, there’s the newest ones, Origins and Odyssey, which, according to podcasts I’ve listened, sound like they are too big for their britches. Can’t wait. Part of me enjoys the idea of a collectathon, but maybe only one that is both not this big or a bit more fun to play. Heck, I enjoyed collecting 10 eggs recently in Dear Cousin more than anything I’ve accomplished in Assassin’s Creed Syndicate. Please pray that I’m finished with this beast sooner than later.

I’m in it to win it with Minit

Minit was one of my top 10 games that I didn’t get to play in 2018. I have actually had a copy of the game installed in my Steam library since getting it via the Humble Day of the Devs 2018 Bundle, and yet, the irony here is that, for a game where each session of actually playing the game only lasts for sixty seconds, I never found the time to play it. Sure, I’m to blame there, but it’s not like I have anything super serious going on in my life currently. Well, the good news is that, according to this very post on Grinding Down, I have now finally played a bit of Minit. Not enough yet to win it, but I’m in it…still.

For those unaware, Minit is an action, puzzle-driven adventure thing developed by Jan Willem Nijman, co-founder and one-half of Vlambeer, Kitty Calis, who contributed to Horizon Zero Dawn, Jukio Kallio, a freelance composer, and Dominik Johann, the art director of Crows Crows Crows. It is based around time. Basically, the premise is that each of the player’s lives only lasts for one minute, resulting in tiny sessions of exploring the world over sixty seconds at a time. With each interval, the player will learn more about the environment and gain new items to help progress further and further. Inching forward slowly but surely is the name of the game.

It’s a pretty novel idea, executed extremely well. Other games that have done something similar to this, such as Half-Minute Hero, surely exist, but I haven’t played them. So, for me, Minit has been a truly exciting game to play. One, it’s a ton of fun to play, and the time limit never feels restrictive; in fact, as my little hero’s time winds down, I find myself getting excited to try exploring a different path on the next go. It is quite freeing. Two, I absolutely love Minit‘s look, which is clean and unobtrusive and does not end up distracting you too much when searching for something to do to make progress. Third, the usage of various home bases makes exploring new areas pain-free and getting around much easier.

Minit has you playing as a small bird-like pixel character–he kind of reminds me of a duck, but, y’know, a pixel duck with nothing more than a bill to go off of–who lives in a black and white world and is cursed with only ever living for a single minute. Despite all that, it’s an action adventure game just like The Legend of Zelda, with puzzles to solve too. The good news is that various actions do have permanence in the world, so dying doesn’t mean it was all for naught. For instance, finding key items to open up more progress stay in your inventory when you are reborn, and if you previously helped someone with a task, they remain helped. Thank goodness. This would be a much more cruel and nearly impossible game to play if you were forced to accomplish all this over again in your short-as-heck life.

According to How Long to Beat, Minit is a short game, roughly three or four hours long. I’ve already put about an hour and a half into it, so I guess I am halfway there. Although it has now been a week or so since I played it, and I fear I might have forgotten where I’m supposed to go next. I’m at the inn, looking to fill it up with patrons. Hmm. Wish me luck, and then, after about sixty seconds, wish me luck once more.

Anodyne’s dream world is perfect for wondering and wandering

Over the weekend, I beat Anodyne, and I still remain conflicted over how I feel about the game overall. I liked a lot of moments and puzzles and found others beyond frustrating; I had to look up several walkthroughs online just to keep going and figure out what I needed to do next, and that is something I desperately try to avoid doing when playing anything for the first time. I don’t know. It’s a strange game, set in an even stranger world, where characters say the strangest things to our leading lad Young, and it’s up to you to determine if what they say matters or not. I don’t think they did.

First, what is Anodyne? It’s an action-adventure game clearly inspired by the original The Legend of Zelda, or even The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening, developed by Analgesic Productions, the same team that brought us Even the Ocean and All Our Asias. It was released on PC some years ago, but just came to consoles recently, which was a pleasant surprise. The game begins with little explanation as Young jumps into a dream-like world via a main hub area…for some purpose. Once there, a somewhat terse and shrouded Sage sets him off on a mysterious journey to open gates, defeat evil monsters, and collect a good number of cards. All right then.

Whereas the general tone of things like The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening and The Legend of the Skyfish are colorful and positive, upbeat, all about adventuring forward and seeing new sights, Anodyne is the opposite. The vibe I constantly felt as I put in over six hours into this dark adventure was one of unease. There’s an unsettling cloud that hangs over every screen, every word that these oddball NPCs spew out at Young, words that seemingly have no purpose other than to take up time or make you wonder. I always felt like I was intruding, disturbing the environment in some way, even on the screens that were complete dead ends. There are tormented characters, and I honestly don’t even know what Briar, the final boss, was all about, but he was certainly disturbed, along with a pain to fight.

Something I love is that Young wields a broom, not a sword. The broom can still be used to attack enemies, but it is also used for puzzle solving, picking up puffs of dust to use to navigate waterways. There are a bunch of upgrades you can get for the broom too to change how it functions, the last one being a real post-game changer. In terms of puzzles, you are usually looking for a key or a way to hit a switch or, even trickier, get an enemy to hit a switch for you. They are never too hard to solve, and I found the jumping parts in the acrobat dungeon to be the hardest to time and nail perfectly. Some frustration comes from the map and seeing rooms with exits you can’t seemingly reach.

The game’s retro look and subtle soundtrack works well for Anodyne‘s vibe. The 16-bit graphics–and, at times, 8-bit–will never blow your face off, but there’s a comforting feel to many of the screens, hearkening back to the good ol’ SNES days with games like Secret of Mana and Final Fantasy III. It makes exploring every nook and cranny worth it, even if all you get is a dead-end screen, and the sound effects of hitting a slime with your broom are satisfying. I did notice some weird flickering on the menu screen, especially when viewing the cards you collected. Other than that, Anodyne plays exactly like it looks like it should play.

I popped all but two Achievements, and I’m okay with that. One is for finding a bunch more cards, which is something you can only do post-game, but I’m not feeling the desire to look around this world more. The other is for beating the game in under three hours–no thanks. Still, in the end, I’m glad I played Anodyne, even if I might not ever truly know how I feel about the experience. That said, I most certainly will be playing whatever comes out of Analgesic Productions next.