Tag Archives: Disney

LEGO The Incredibles needs to be a bit more flexible

Hey, remember when I played The Incredibles on PlayStation 2 and mostly hated everything it had to offer? Well, the good news is that LEGO The Incredibles is forty-five times better than that hunk of junk…though it still has its own issues to deal with. That said, it is one of the better LEGO games of recent memory, and I’m looking to hit 100% completion on it real soon, which is a lot more than I can say about LEGO City Undercover.

LEGO The Incredibles is a fairly fun-filled adventure that puts you in control of your favorite characters from the franchise, along with a bunch of familiar faces from other Pixar films, such as Sulley from Monsters, Inc. or Merida from Brave. You’ll have to team up as the superhero Parr family to conquer crime and relive in LEGO form the unforgettable scenes from The Incredibles and The Incredibles 2 movies. Strangely, the game starts with levels from the second movie first, but I guess that’s because this game was tied with the theater release of The Incredibles 2. I greatly enjoyed the sequel, but my heart will always call home that first flick…so it was a bit of a bummer to have to go through the game backwards.

It follows the standard format of most modern LEGO games now, which means there are long-as-heck story-related levels to complete, each with their own collectibles to find, along with a large hub world to run around in and complete other smaller tasks, such as time trial races or defusing bombs. A part of me feels like the hub world is quite small when compared to things like Middle-earth from LEGO The Lord of the Rings or even the multiple islands in LEGO Jurassic World, but maybe that’s because you can zip around it rather swiftly if you use any character that can fly. You can purchase a number of vehicles too, but again–why drive when you can zip through the skies, with or without a cape (no capes!)?

Something I did enjoy greatly in LEGO The Incredibles is getting to play as all the different superheroes, not just the Parr family, most of which are long dead by the time things get going in the first film. For instance, the game mixes things up so you can have a partner on Nomanisan Island, and your go-to-pal is none other than Gazerbeam. Sure, sure, he’s definitely dead in the movie due to taking part in Syndrome’s droid’s battle education, but at least now you can put a voice to the character and see how his powers work. Others to definitely try out include Dynaguy, Apogee, and Firebreak, who I used the most to fly around New Urbem. There’s a wealth of lore to dig through, and I got excited every single time I unlocked a superhero from the past; that said, Voyd is kinda cool too.

One of the elements of LEGO The Incredibles that gets truly repetitive is clearing out crime waves in each district. Basically, to rid the city of crime, you have to complete teeny side missions out in the hub world, such as “put out 10 fires” or “defeat three gangs of X’s goons,” and then beat up whatever iconic supervillain is behind it all. Once you do that, that district reveals all its collectibles on the map, gives you a Pixar Incredibuild to do, which just consists of a lot of button mashing, along with a red brick. The only beam of bright light among all this is that it is presented as a breaking news report, and the TV anchor uses every pun in the book to get the job done. I love puns.

LEGO The Incredibles is a good amount of fun, but some of that fun is watered down by really long loading screens, story levels that never seem to end, and repetitive elements, like crime waves, mindless combat, or doing Incredibuilds solo and having to mash the build button for four separate characters. Ugh. Still, I’m having fun with all the various superheroes (Old Lady is fantastic, too) and a few of the Pixar characters, though now I just want a LEGO Toy Story. That might actually be a thing that could happen with the forthcoming film on its way, and they already have a Woody model, along with three other films to build off of and–sorry, sorry, you caught me monologuing!

2019 Game Review Haiku, #1 – LEGO Incredibles

Mash all the buttons
Sit through longest loading screens
We’re incredible

And we’re back with these little haikus  of mine. Go on, gobble ’em up. However, if you want to read more of my in-depth thoughts about these games that I’m beating, just search for them by name on Grinding Down. As always, enjoy my videogamey take on Japanese poetry, even if they aren’t instant classics, such as the works of Matsuo Basho, Yosa Buson, or Kobayashi Issa. Hey, not everyone gets to be that great.

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.

Brave’s videogame transformation is not surprisingly rote

I’m sure I wasn’t alone in being slightly baffled as to why Brave, that character action romp from 2012 developed by Behaviour Interactive and published by Disney Interactive Studios, not to be mixed up with another similar-sounding series, was being offered as a Games for Gold freebie this month for those on Xbox One and Xbox 360, but then I realized it is probably the closest thing Microsoft has that’s Irish-like in honor of St. Patrick’s Day. I mean, let’s look at the facts–Scotland is totally near Ireland, and Kelly Macdonald’s deeply relaxing and soothing accent might as well be coming out of a banshee’s mouth. I guess those are all the facts.

Actually, no, another fact–I love Brave. I’m specifically talking about the animated movie here, the one where Princess Mérida, determined to make her own path in life, defies a custom that brings chaos to her kingdom. Granted one wish, she must rely on her bravery and ultra-good archery skills to undo a beastly curse and bring about peace to both her kingdom and family. That said, I do not love the videogame version of Brave, though I have just about squeezed every bit of entertainment from it by the time this post goes public. By that, I mean I popped all but one Achievement, the one for beating the game on its hardest difficulty setting.

This tie-in take on Brave doesn’t follow the film’s events scene by scene. Instead, it’s kind of a side happening, with Mérida chasing after her mother, now in bear form (uh, spoilers?), and discovering that a magical blight has befallen the land. To stop it, she’ll need to defeat Mor’du, along with a number of generically traditional evil creatures. There’s under ten levels to get through, and you’ll do them linearly, and they are all linear themselves, following almost the same exact progression, but more on that in a bit. The story never really becomes its own thing and never rises above an excuse to have a bunch of monsters to destroy; at least the hand-drawn cutscenes are more interesting to watch than the ones using in-game graphics, which, and this is not uncommon for this generation, are extremely ugly and lacking life, character. I mean, the inside of any castle section might as well be from the chopping floor for Demon Souls or Oblivion.

Brave‘s gameplay is far from courageous or anything unique. There’s running around, jumping on platforms, loosing arrows, and hitting plants and enemies with your sword. Oh, and I can’t forget the section where you play as her bear-mother Elinor, or the parts where you control her bear-brothers to solve beyond straightforward puzzles involving levers and switches. Honestly, I was surprised to discover that this kind of played like a twin-stick shooter. Using the right stick, you can loose an arrow in mostly any direction and change the element it is based on–earth, fire, wind, or ice–which is necessary for affecting the environment, as well as dealing more damage based on an enemy’s weakness. Fire boars hate ice, for instance. That said, the arrows sometimes don’t go where you want them to, and it reminded me a lot of trying to hit enemies in the background in Shadow Complex.

Look, this is obviously a family-friendly title, and thus, the action is okay, never trying too hard to be more than a standard affair. On the default difficulty, it never, ever even came close to challenging. My go-to plan for dealing with enemies was to fire at them from a distance and then, if they got close, double-jump and stab downward into the ground with Mérida’s sword for a damaging slam move. The only time it ever got tricky was when there were multiple enemies on screen with different weaknesses, requiring you to either switch your element out on the fly or take on a single set of enemies out first. The final boss fight–or rather final boss fights–have a bunch of these, but by that point in the game, Mérida is full of upgrades and more than capable of taking a few hits.

Speaking of that, the upgrades are what one expects in these types of games–more health, deal more damage, element effects last longer, potions restore more life, etc. They each require a specific amount of gold, which you earn from defeating monsters and cutting up flora. One playthrough alone of the game will probably only net you enough gold coins to buy maybe one-third of all the upgrades. So choose wisely or, if you are like me and want every Achievement, be prepared to grind out some money, and this includes purchasing the co-op specific upgrades. The ones you definitely want early on are increasing your power move meter more quickly, either from dealing damage or receiving it, the range at which you suck up gold coins, and the minion-summoning power for the earth element.

I’ve not played many of these tie-in games to Pixar/Disney properties I love because, well, they are often not what I want. Here’s a link to my thoughts on that The Incredibles game, which still hurts to think about today. I can’t say I was surprised by how Brave turned out, and I’m only holding out hope now on the rumor of a LEGO-based game for the upcoming The Incredibles II. That said, I’m sure if I ever get a copy of the videogame takes on WALL-E, Up, or Toy Story 3, I’ll foolishly give them a honest chance, forgetting all the missteps I’ve seen along the way up to this point.

Well, as they famously say in Scotland, lang may yer lum reek, Brave. I never want to play you again.

Only Friday can get you safely past the pirates

I think Disney’s 1960 Swiss Family Robinson film, a tale of a shipwrecked family building an island home, which is loosely based on Johann David Wyss’ 1812 novel The Swiss Robinson, is my only association with the subject material, besides a random episode or two of Lost in Space. Also, during the last Disney trip, though this has not been drawn yet, Julie and I explored the Swiss Family Treehouse attraction a bit, though I mostly dealt with a pushy family of three that simply had to get past me on those narrow rope bridges only to stop a few feet ahead, block the path, and stare at stuff. Thank you very much.

That all said, I’m here to tell y’all about Friedemann Friese’s Friday, which is a solitaire deck-building card game, which tasks you with optimizing your deck of fight cards to defeat hazards and make it past the pirate ships circling the island. Yes, another solo tabletop game, a specific market niche I’m digging as of late; see my post on Dungeon Roll for more. If the game’s name doesn’t clue you in, you play as island native Friday, not Robinson Crusoe, and your job is basically to babysit the bearded man and ensure he doesn’t do anything stupid and grows stronger in order to better prepare him for the grand escape. This island is your home, and you know it well.

Setup is painless and quick, and I was able to fit everything inside a single dinner place-mat. An entire session lasts around fifteen to thirty minutes depending on your actions and how long you spend analyzing the cards you’ve used versus the ones left in your decks. During a turn, Robinson Crusoe will attempt to defeat hazard cards by playing fight cards against them, with the higher number winning. These hazards range from trying to get to a damaged wreck via a raft to exploring the island further to fighting off hungry cannibals. If he is successful, the hazard card will flip and become a fight card; this is now added to your discards of fighting cards and will eventually get shuffled back into the deck. However, if you fail to defeat the hazard, Robinson loses life tokens, represented by what look like tiny wooden green leaves, but also gets the opportunity to remove some of these under-performing cards from the game entirely. There are three phases, each one being more difficult than the previous, and if Friday can keep his island comrade alive long enough, eventually he’ll battle one of the two pirate ships lingering in the ocean.

Spoiler alert: after about five or so games, I’ve still not managed to get to the final pirates phase. Grrr. Let’s blame it on Friday’s communication difficulties. The closest I’ve gotten is the third phase, red in color, but cannibals destroyed Robinson Crusoe quickly after he lost too many health points getting there and went home feeling sated. Friday is a game of choices. Sure, there’s luck and randomness involved like in many other card-based games, but it really does come down to issues like pushing forward for more cards at the expensive of life points to get that hazard card as a fight card or losing a fight on purpose to rid yourself of cards like “Distracted (-1)” and “Weak (0)”. I’ve not figured out the perfect strategy, but removing bad cards from the game as early as possible seems obvious though not always easy to do. For one game, Mel kept a sheet of paper and tracked what cards remained in my fighting deck so I’d know whether or not I even had a chance at winning a fight; this is both allowed and encouraged, as the instructions explicitly say that Friday is not a memory game and goes on to list out every card in your arsenal for you to be aware of.

One of the things I really like about Friday is its overall footprint. Everything you need to play comes inside a tiny, square box and, as mentioned above, you don’t need a ton of table space to play. The cardboard deck mats are great for organizing where everything goes, and the instructions are pretty clear, though I did have to watch a couple playthroughs on YouTube to fully get how you handle both winning and losing a fight, as some bits weren’t entirely clear. In the end, I’m a fan, and whenever Friday eventually helps Robinson Crusoe sink a pirate ship, I’ll shout it passionately and aggressively from the top of the island for all to hear.

As always, I’m all ears for any solo card/board games that you enjoy and therefore think I might too enjoy. Scythe has already been recommended.

Disney Magical World 2 and the grand return of so many stickers

disney-magical-world-2-gd-early-impressions

According to my records, I’ve played Disney Magical World 2 for a little more than half the amount I dumped into the first game, which has the honor of being one of my most-played games on the Nintendo 3DS, bumping elbows with other critical darlings like Animal Crossing: New Leaf and…Netflix. I’m not even near a 50% completion rate. That first game was a super addictive life simulation thing with more than two handfuls of quests to constantly be working on that came out right at the time I needed it to most, and the sequel is all of that again plus more. I got it and Pokémon Moon shortly around the same time last year, and I haven’t touched the latter for more than a couple of hours in November. Sorry, my cute l’il Rowlet baby, I promise to be back shortly.

Once more, you the player, using either a custom character or the Mii that is on your Nintendo 3DS, arrive in Castleton and are magically the only person able to help everyone with their multitude of problems. These include reuniting a musical band of sea critters in The Little Mermaid‘s realm, ensuring Pooh has enough hunny for a picnic, helping those seven dwarfs clean up in preparation for Snow White’s arrival, and so on. There’s a bunch of new, big name worlds to explore–alas, still not an inch for The Incredibles–and each realm is ripe with materials to collect, characters to interact with for special items or side requests, and larger story missions that take you to dungeon-like locales to fight off ghosts using your magic wand. A couple worlds, like Lilo & Stitch and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, feature mini-games too though they aren’t worth spending a lot of hours on.

The main goal hasn’t changed beyond collecting Happy Stickers. Sure, you can grow your café, earn lots of money, tend to a garden, and find new recipes for food, furniture, and clothing, but it continues to be all about them stickers, which are earned by completing specific tasks, such as catching so many fish or clearing a specific number of episodes. Ultimately, these dictate unlockable content or areas and what quests you can take on so it behooves you collect them as you go so you can have more to see and do. Everything feeds into one another, so, no matter what, you are always making progress, which is a thing I love. At the beginning of the game, you’ll see areas locked behind a high number of stickers and think getting there will be impossible, but all it takes is time and dedication. By the end, there’s so much to juggle that you’ll think back at the lengthy opening and how little you could do then and chuckle.

Here’s what was taken away in Disney Magical World 2, much to my dismay: collectible pieces of art every day, whether animation frames or original movie posters, from characters all over in Castleton. Instead, you gather puzzle pieces, and once you acquire a full set and the respective border, you can visit the themed land in the Dream Realm, which mostly exists for silly pictures, but also gaining a bunch of “like” points in one big gulp. “Like” points buy stat buffs, special recipes, and missing puzzle pieces through random chance. I’m not a huge fan of this trade-off. Art is cooler. Also, the dungeons are much more linear with claustrophobic challenge rooms instead of open, almost maze-like corridors to run down and discover enemies or items. When you throw a good party at the cafe, you can now do a song and dance with your guests, which, again, seems to only exist for picture taking. The real reason you throw a big party is to get those characters to permanently show up on a daily basis in Castleton.

So, spoiler territory here–and yeah, I consider this spoilery because if it was something I had known about beforehand it would have definitely lessened the woah factor for me when it happened–but credits roll in Disney Magical World 2 immediately after you earn all 100 stickers and return to the castle square. However, just after that, you are presented with another bunch of quests to keep working towards: pro stickers. These consist of more of the same (build X many pieces of furniture, wear X number of Ace Ensembles), but there are a few others that do demand some time and effort to unlock. Each of these stickers comes with a special item too when you earn it, such as new themed wands and Easter clothing/furniture. I figured the game was mostly over, but nope.

Speaking of Easter, that’s the next time the game will switch over in terms of look and events, starting on April 1. So far, it changed for Halloween and Christmas. I was hoping for at least something for either Valentine’s Day or the month of leprechauns, but alas, no. I wonder if Rabbit from Winnie the Pooh‘s realm will play a prominent role during this upcoming time. Either way, even with the new pro stickers to go after, I won’t be playing this as much until the seasons alter and offer some new outfits/items to enjoy. I really have to get back to Pokémon Moon and then there’s the upcoming remake of Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King.

2017 Game Review Haiku, #11 – Disney Magical World 2

2017-gd-games-completed-disney-magical-world-2

Back to Castleton
Farm, help, dress, build, dance, profit
Even more stickers

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.