Tag Archives: physics

Paul’s Preeminent PlayStation Plus Purge – King Oddball

They truly named King Oddball appropriately. This comes from 10tons, which you might remember from a previous Paul’s Preeminent PlayStation Plus Purge, one on Sparkle 2. Seems they enjoy making their strange puzzle games, though this one is focused more on physics and destruction than matching colored orbs and finding keys in a fantasy realm. Still, it’s goofy, and I personally love that; give me all the weird gaming experiences out there.

King Oddball tasks you with ending the world with boulders and…well, your tongue. Which is probably as long or longer than a giraffe’s. The titular King swings a boulder back and forth with his tongue, but it’s up to you to decide when to release it and at what angle. If you time the release accurately, you can crush as many targets as possible with each boulder toss. The concept is simple, but it quickly grows more complicated because you only have so many boulders, plus the inclusion of other obstacles can impede your tosses. You’ll need to master King Oddball by anticipating how boulders roll, bounce, and launch from exploding crates. Physics–it’s a good time. Also, make sure you take advantage of collapsing structures.

The overworld map is broken into a three by three grid, so, y’know…nine squares. Each square is its own set of contained levels, often with a theme, such as grenades or dealing with helicopters, and there’s about 15 or 16 levels to conquer before you can move on to the next square. I completed all of the far left three squares and a little bit of the top middle before deciding that I’d seen enough of King Oddball. I was able to jump on the tile that contained my progress statistics, which, if you really wanna know, look like this:

  • Time played: 00:28:17
  • Total throws: 300
  • Levels lost: 55
  • Levels won: 47
  • Foes destroyed: 311

With the main quest progress sitting pretty at 36%, I think I’m okay moving off of King Oddball. It’s quite fun, really, and more than just an Angry Birds clone, which is what I was initially worried about. I probably could plow through the remainder of the game in a few hours, but I’ve got other things to take care of than throwing boulders at tanks, even if it is quite enjoyable, especially when a boulder bounces back high enough to hit the King and you get a free boulder from it.

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.

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Cut the Rope, grind out some free Achievements

I’m a curious fella, and so I like to download a range of freebies, judging nothing by its cover or title or clearly-designed-for-mobile artstyle, from walking simulators to platformers to physics-based puzzle games. Like Cut the Rope. Now, I got Cut the Rope as a free download on the Windows Store back in November 2016, many moons after everyone probably already played it on their phones. Or somewhere else. No, really. Allow me to list a few of the places you could have already played ZeptoLab’s indie darling from October 2010: iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Leap Motion, BlackBerry 10, Symbian, BlackBerry PlayBook, DSiWare, Mac OS X Browser, BlackBerry, Nintendo 3DS (Nintendo eShop), Chrome OS, Firefox OS, Nook, iPad, and so on. I’m sure I missed a few platforms too. Sheesh.

Cut the Rope‘s objective, from its title alone, should be self-explanatory, but there’s a little more to it than simply snipping some string. Sorry, I love alliteration. Your true goal is to feed candy to a little green creature named Om Nom while collecting stars. The candy just happens to be tied up by a bunch of ropes, and by cutting them and using other elements in the level, like bubbles and puffs of air, along with general physics and momentum, you must guide the candy to Om Nom’s gaping mouth. You can use your finger to cut by swiping it across the touchscreen, but I’m cooler than that and played it on my laptop so imagine the same sweet maneuver, but done on a less-than-stellar trackpad. Boom goes the dynamite. It actually works fine, with the bonus of not having to look at my phone any more than I already do.

I was initially under the impression that Cut the Rope was like nearly every other free-to-play iteration built around getting three stars in a level out there–y’know, Angry Birds, Bad Piggies, Crush the Castle, and on for infinity. Nope. Well, not this version from the Windows Store, at least. If anything, this is Nintendo’s take on free-to-start, with only the first six levels of the first two worlds available for play and the remainder under lock and key. I thought I’d get the whole game and just have to occasionally close some advertisements or deal with an energy meter that limited how much I can play. Turns out, my play time was constricted, to only 12 levels that clearly hinted at fun gameplay and a super cute aesthetic, but I found one way to milk this cow for all it ultimately had. Ew, milk. I must think of a better metaphor for next time; anyways, I’m talking about Achievements. They’re those digital rewards I’m still somewhat interested in popping for the games I play.

Yes, despite only have access to a few early levels, I was able to unlock nine of Cut the Rope‘s 19 Achievements. Not bad for zero pennies and maybe an hour and change of my time. These Achievements revolved around doing tasks a specific amount, such as cutting X ropes, popping X bubbles, and losing X pieces of candy and were easily earn-able through repetition. Find a level that quickly lets you cut, pop, and drop, do it, restart, and the cycle is formed. I was also able to pop “Tummy Teaser,” which tasks you with getting Om Nom to open his mouth 10 times in a row in one of world 1’s basic levels, using a piece of candy on a single rope and having it swing back and forth in front of the teeny green beast for a bit. Strange enough, the Internet said this could only be done later on, in the full version. So this just proves my amazing prowess.

But yeah, ringing these twelve levels dry for Achievements with the music turned off and something else occupying my ears was the most fun I could come up with for Cut the Rope, seeing as the gameplay didn’t hook me enough to purchase the rest of the levels. I ran into this problem before with Can You Escape, also from the Windows Store, so I have to start being a little more critical in my downloading decisions because something labeled free might not always mean complete. That said, let the countdown begin until I inevitably grab Cut the Rope 2, which, in its description, says this:

SWEET! Cut the Rope 2 has arrived and you can enjoy the full adventure for FREE!

Uh huh. Sure.

Natural ability and magnetism only get you so far in Teslagrad

teslagrad_screenshots_0008

I’m not officially committing to anything here, as committing to tasks in the past has not worked out phenomenally, but 2016 is hopefully going to be the year that I actually make a dent in my PlayStation Plus backlog instead of simply day-dreaming about doing so. That said, my digital collections on the PC and Xbox 360/One also continue to expand daily, proving to be strong competition for my attention. Regardless of that, I’d like to think we’re off to a decent start so far, with Rain and The Unfinished Swan already getting played and put away for good. I suspect I’ll be going after the smaller indie titles first than, say, that copy of Batman: Arkham City that scares me to even start.

Y’know, like these little critters:

  • Quantum Conundrum
  • Closure
  • Lone Survivor: The Director’s Cut
  • Stealth Inc: A Clone in the Dark
  • Stealth Inc 2: Clone of Thrones
  • Puppeteer
  • Vessel
  • Unmechanical: Extended
  • Chariot
  • …and even more that I’m forgetting to list!

Also, looking at that list of names all together really hits home that many of these smaller titles blend together in my brain. I don’t know the difference between Vessel and Closure at this point. So we’re not starting with either of them.

Well, this is probably only amusingly strange to me, but check this out. At the beginning of 2016, as mentioned before, I played a game called Rain, which is about these little children being chased by monsters through some nameless Eastern European town as it rains like crazy. Flash-forward a month or so, and I’m giving Teslagrad a chance, which is a game from the funnily enough named studio Rain Games. It also opens in a similar fashion, with a young boy running from the king’s angry-looking guards in the Kingdom of Elektropia as the weather takes a turn for wetter pastures. Eventually, the boy ends up inside a maze-like tower, where he’ll discover special powers, as well as the rich history behind the kingdom’s many conflicts.

Let’s see. Teslagrad is a colorful, 2D puzzle-platformer. Magnetism and electromagnetic powers are the key to solving many of the game’s puzzles and finding new paths to take through the mystical tower. So far, the game features minimal combat segments, though I did fight a massively mechanical owl with a cage for a body in a boss-like fashion. Instead, it’s mostly about electric-based puzzle sections and precise platforming and teleporting. Yes, teleporting…though you can only dash forward a small distance and not through every substance in front of you. The tower can be explored in a non-linear way  though I wish there was more direction or sign-posting to confirm you are making progress and not simply wandering or revisiting areas in uncertainty.

Here’s what I’m totally into when it comes to Teslagrad. The art style betrays you, because the colorful characters and environments quickly become menacing and frustrating, all without changing their look. Honestly, I went into this game fairly blind and assumed it was an adventure game of sorts, not one that relied heavily on quick reflexes and using your noggin to move platforms to and fro. This is a good thing, as it is fun, once in a while, to be deceived. Solving a tough puzzle is satisfying, but figuring things out occasionally requires simply trial and error tactics. Ultimately, it requires timing and patience. Every now and then you’ll stumble into a cinematic cutscene, which is presented within a mini theater using cute cutouts and minimal animation.

Now for the stuff that is both driving me mad and further away from the game, to the point that I suspect I might walk away from this if things don’t improve in my next session. It’s a little too open, with next to no hints pointing you in the right direction, other than up the tower. The map is mostly useless, represented as simply large colored squares and rectangles that do not tell you much about the space or if there are any collectibles left in there to grab.

I actually think I’m nearing the end of Teslagrad, having just taken down the third boss of five total. Oleg took many, many tries, probably somewhere in the thirties. Alas, there is nothing too puzzle-tricky about the boss fights. There’s a pattern to each that’s easy to see, but it must be carried out hair-width precision three times. The repetition does not result in excitement, but rather frustration, as one tiny mistake will cost you the entire encounter. I don’t plan on getting all the scroll collectibles, despite each one being tied to a Trophy unlock, so perhaps I’ll just grit and bear it and head down as straight a path as possible to the last two bosses. If I’m successful, you’ll know it by the birth of a new haiku.