Tag Archives: action

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.

Advertisements

Paul’s Preeminent PlayStation Plus Purge – Sky Force Anniversary

Sky Force Anniversary is described as a legendary shoot-em-up, but I unfortunately never really heard of it until I sat down the other day to give it a go on the ol’ PlayStation 3. Over my many years of playing all these dang vidyagamez, shoot-em-ups are a genre I just don’t find myself drawn to…though I do remember playing a lot of Thunder Spirits and U.N. Squadron on the SNES back in the day. Maybe a bit of RayStorm too. Still, if I am to play one of these, I prefer them to not be bullet hell style, as that is just masochism at its finest.

After some minimal research, I discovered that Sky Force is a vertically scrolling shoot-em-up series created by the Polish developer Infinite Dreams. The gameplay is reminiscent of Capcom’s 19XX series and Seibu Kaihatsu’s Raiden series, of which I don’t think I’ve played either, featuring a weapon upgrade system and large end-of-stage bosses. The first title in the series was originally released for Symbian and Pocket PC in 2004 and was ported to Palm webOS (2005), iOS (2009), and Android (2010). Also, the first game in the series was 2D and entirely sprite-based.

You start off Sky Force Anniversary with a fairly powerful ship, shooting down waves of incoming enemies with ease. Alas, as expected, things happen, and your ship loses all its great abilities. It is up to the player to build their battle-ship back to its glorious former self over the proceeding handful of levels. Warning: it’s going to take time, and by time..I mean grinding. The first few levels are not technically difficult, but enemies will take more hits to destroy and you’ll find your ship exploding sooner than expected. Defeating enemies drops collectible stars, which used to upgrade your ship in the hanger between levels, with each upgrade requiring more and more stars, naturally. Despite only unlocking up to the third mission, I found myself replaying missions one and two just to earn more stars and boost my ship a bit. It’s not exactly a barrel of fun, but it gets the job done…slowly.

All in all, Sky Force Anniversary feels slightly more scaled back in terms of overwhelming action, focusing instead more on patterns and the movement of enemies. You won’t experience a thousand and one bullets flying at your ship, but rather a small handful, with other things to track as well, such as stars to collect, people to rescue, boxes to shoot open, and so on. Each level has four bonus goals to complete, such as rescuing people or killing the majority of enemies, though it seems like, at least for the first three levels, these are all the same. Evidently, if you complete all four challenges, you can play an even harder version of the mission.

See ya, Sky Force Anniversary. You were a decent amount of fun for a few levels, but you just aren’t my thing. My favorite part, overall, was the little “ya-hoos” that people screamed when you rescued them off the ground.

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 – Snakeball

I’m pretty sure I’ve never played the original Snake, having only touched some updated version of it on a cell phone many years back. Snake‘s a pretty simple concept: the player controls a dot, square, or object on a bordered plane. As it moves forward, it leaves a trail behind, resembling a moving snake. In some versions, the end of the trail is in a fixed position, so the snake continually gets longer as it moves. Another common take on the mechanic is that the snake has a specific length, so there is a moving tail that is a fixed number of units away from the head. Either way, the player loses when the snake runs into the screen’s border, a trail or other obstacle, or itself. According to the ever-trustworthy Wikipedia, there are over 300 Snake-like games for iOS alone. Oh me, oh my.

Which brings us to…Snakeball. This one evidently uses most of the mechanics of the late 1970s Snake, with the goal being taking balls and throwing them into the hole at the center of the stage. There are variations on this gameplay, but the main goal stays the same throughout, accompanied by a flashy disco graphic style. Stages take place on disco floors that Tony Manero would greatly approve of. You can select between 16 different characters, all with a bunch of color schemes, and, evidently, if you had access to a PlayStation Eye camera, which I do not, you could snap a photo of your face–or anything else you found photogenic–and plop it onto one of the riders. Developed by Gamoola Soft, this is very much a casual game, which is why I played an hour or so of it, saw what it had to offer, and uninstalled it from my PlayStation 3, as per the goal of these themed posts.

There are three main modes in Snakeball: Snakeball, Challenge, and Ball Frenzy. Snakeball is the multiplayer mode, where up to 8 players can play online; however, since this game came out at the end of 2007 and I was playing it for the first time in 2018, a decade later, there was nobody online to play against. Shocking, right? You can battle bots though it isn’t too exciting. The Challenge mode tasks players with navigating through levels to open up a teleporter and go to the next level, with 14 levels in total to complete. Ball Frenzy is basically a remake of the classic Snake, with 10 levels to conquer. The goal of this mode is to collect all 1,000 balls in the level without crashing and destroying the ship.

Did you know that, for a time there, Trophies weren’t a thing on the PlayStation 3? They kind of only came around after the Xbox 360’s Achievements system began picking up steam as Sony wanted in on the extra stuff action. A lot of games got patched to include poppable Trophies, and all games going forward seem to now have ’em. However, Snakeball was not one that got graced with a patch, and so it is just this very straightforward experience that is mostly fine, but a bit lifeless and repetitive and lacking goals.

I’ll probably play some strange, updated version of Snake down the road. It’s inevitable. However, that said, I’ll probably never touch Snakeball ever again.

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.

2018 Game Review Haiku, #21 – Brave

This princess thirsts for
Generic monster fodder
Her bow screams–Mor’du!

For 2018, I’m mixing things up by fusing my marvelous artwork and even more amazing skills at writing videogame-themed haikus to give you…a piece of artwork followed by a haiku. I know, it’s crazy. Here’s hoping you like at least one aspect or even both, and I’m curious to see if my drawing style changes at all over three hundred and sixty-five days (no leap year until 2020, kids). Okay, another year of 5–7–5 syllable counts is officially a go.

Echoed World is only the start of Algiz’s plight

I played Echoed World for two reasons, maybe three. One, I thought, based on its few screenshots, that it looked real pretty, like Monster Tale at a higher resolution or a piece of sci-fi concept art brought to life. I haven’t played it, but I can see a comparison to Ori and the Blind Forest as well due to its hand-painted graphics. Two, it’s available as a free download on Steam. And the maybe three part…well, it kind of reminded me of the character-driven platformers of yesteryear, like Jak and Daxter, Metroid, and, uh, Rocket Knight Adventures, which I do have a liking to. You know, you control a unique-looking hero and traverse an environment for some big and bombastic reason. Either way, that’s what I went in with, and the game–really, a demo, a practice sliver–didn’t exactly live up to expectations, but I think there’s promise here.

Echoed World was created as a student project, with the team putting it out for free in hopes of receiving feedback from players. You know, like me. Well, here I am, doing my civic duty. It sounds like most of Team DOTS had no previous experience with game development, churning out Echoed World over a few months of tutored game development classes. In that regards, it is impressive; in terms of something you play, it is less so, but I am no developer myself, only a player that plays.

The best thing Echoed World has going for itself is its world and opening cutscene. See, the creator of this place made a decision to split his almighty power up into seven Architects because of reasons. By doing this, he became nothing more than just an observer, a mundane human being. These Architects reshaped the world so that it brimmed with beauty and energy; however, the Architect Tyr was obsessed with perfection and struggled to make life as good as everyone else, deciding to steal the beauty from other planets. You play as the Architect known as Algiz, who can no longer create brand new life, but is still able to manipulate life that’s already been created. This process requires many sacrifices as he makes his way across a slowly dying world.

In total, Echoed World took me about 20 minutes to see to completion, but that could have probably been more like 15 minutes since I ended up having to reload a section due to a physics error, more on that in a moment. It’s a puzzle-based platformer where mechanics and story are bound together. You move generally left to right and make your way to the end of the level. Usually, there are some obstacles in the way, such as a large gap you can’t job; however, Algiz can borrow life from something nearby and put it into the dead tree stump by the gap to make it grow and create a bridge. There are also doors that need a specific amount of life energy to open, requiring you to take back life you’ve already used and store it inside until you get there. Lastly, on two occasions, a monster will attack you, and your only way to combat it is by manipulating the environment so that it falls into spikes and dies. None of this is challenging, and the monster sections are a little underwhelming, but I could see these ideas being expanded into more complex puzzles, especially if you had to juggle both monsters and stealing/dropping life into the world simultaneously.

That said, technically, performance-wise, Echoed World is not great. Jumping is vital to a platformer, obviously, and the jumping here is beyond bouncy and unresponsive. I never felt fully in control of Algiz and where he was landing. At one point, he got stuck on the edge of a platform, and the game didn’t know what to do, so I was stuck, body half inside a rock, unable to do anything but reload the whole section. Also, there are collectibles to find, swirling balls of light, six in total, but after I got stuck and had to reload, the game seemed to forget that I had already found four by that point and started me back at zero, despite picking up what I believed to be the fifth collectible. It was strange. Lastly, Algiz is not affected by any of the game’s lighting, which looks odd when inside a dark cave and the character model is cartoony bright and vibrant, like a new layer in Photoshop at 100% on top of another more subdued layer.

Anyways, that was a lot of words for a game that honestly is just testing the developmental waters. I hope my criticism is well-received because, again, I think there’s something here. Echoed World just needs more time and polish.

2017 Game Review Haiku, #95 – Dead Horizon

Gain max redemption
Bonnie Starr aims to shoot true
Style high, old town

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.

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.