Tag Archives: water

2018 Game Review Haiku, #24 – The Flood

Find serenity
Amidst destruction, simply
Enjoy the journey

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.

Advertisements

You have 10 seconds to survive Sonic Blast’s underwater levels

I played some Sonic Blast the other day, and I almost beat it. I’m not going to tell you why I had the sudden urge to play a Sonic the Hedgehog game, nor why I decided to pick that one of all my options. The game originally appeared on the Sega Game Gear way back in 1996, but also later managed to eek its way on to the Sega Master System…but only in Brazil. Huh. Nowadays, it can be found on various other platforms through collections, even as recent as a digital download on the Nintendo 3DS. My version is found deep inside the 2004 release Sonic Mega Collection Plus for the PlayStation 2, which I got almost three years ago during a PS2 shopping spree.

Sonic Blast clearly wanted to–pun intended–ape the same style of pre-rendered graphics from Super Nintendo’s big 1994 release Donkey Kong Country. For sure, those Rare titles had a look, even if they haven’t aged well. However, to ensure that details are visible, both sprites for Sonic and Knuckles are bigger than their counterparts in earlier titles, which results in a “zoomed in” look. This means you get to see less of the level on the screen and will often not know what is coming up, whether it be a bunch of rings, an enemy, or a death pit of spikes. I also had this problem with Mega Man: Dr. Wily’s Revenge and Metroid II: Return of Samus, both of which put all their effort into ensuring you see the game’s hero up close and personal at the sacrifice of gameplay.

And, well…it’s a Sonic the Hedgehog game. You generally move left to right across the screen, jumping, collecting rings, avoiding enemies, and searching for the spinning signpost that signals the level is over. Usually, to get there, it’s a complicated puzzle path. There’s not much new here overall, though you can also play as Knuckles from the get-go, which I did not do. Sonic Blast is relatively short, about five zones long, with each zone made up of a couple levels and a boss fight against Doctor Eggman that tasks you with jumping on his spaceship’s windshield several times to crack it open.

I got all the way up to the Blue Marine Zone, which is the fourth zone. Alas, it’s mostly underwater, with bits of ancient ruins, like crumbled columns, in the background to begin questioning yourself on the true nature of this beast and whether it all takes place on Earth. Also, there’s a bunch of pipes that shoot you this way and that way and all around with fervor and strong water currents to deal with. Here’s the kicker: you’ll drown if you stay in water for too long. If you need air, you can either get out of the water, find an air bubble, or travel along one of the previously mentioned suction tubes.

Drowning in Sonic the Hedgehog games is not whacking the originality ball into space. It’s been there since the beginning, with a wonderfully haunting ditty to remind you that death comes at your fast and there’s no time to do anything about it and you’ll never get to see your loved ones again and the end is oh-so near. That’s whatever, but my main beef with the mechanic specific to Sonic Blast is that…you have no indication of how much air you have left. If you linger too long under the water, you’ll eventually get a 10-second timer on top of the screen silently counting down to the Blue Blur’s demise. That classic piece of music I linked to above does not play. Considering the maze-like design of this zone and limited options for filling up Sonic’s lungs, I was frustrated and lost all of my lives and continue credits in this one section, having had zero deaths up to this point as the difficulty wasn’t all that challenging.

Wait. Okay, no–I had to look up a video walkthrough to confirm I wasn’t missing something, that this was user error, and it sort of was. See, if you stand Sonic over an area where tiny air bubbles are coming out of the ground–because of science, duh–it depletes your number of rings. I guess that means you are briefly buying more oxygen, but it’s not very clear as there’s no meter or picture or even animation from the Legendary Blue Hedgehog to indicate anything is happening; a sound effect would have gone a long way. But just like how Sonic’s air supply was depleted, so was my interest in playing further, seeing as this dropped me unceremoniously back to the title screen.

In the end, my forty or so minutes with Sonic Blast was anything but that. What? You had to know a joke like that was coming. Anyways, maybe one day I’ll feel inspired to go back and finish off its final acts, knowing what I know now about air bubbles and rings. Or maybe I’ll try another Sonic the Hedgehog title in my PS2 collection, considering it has something like 20 games in it, albeit not all star the Blue One and some must first be unlocked. Or perhaps I’ll never touch anything Sonic the Hedgehog-related ever again. All are likely options.

Bound from cloud to cloud in Scaling the Sky

scaling the sky game thoughts

Look, I’m just going to start this off by urging you to go play Scaling the Sky for yourself right now: http://www.scaling-the-sky.com.

It won’t take up your entire day–or even your entire morning–and I also feel that it is important to grok the jumping mechanics as they are different enough to separate this from a blatant clone of running and jumping along the cloud platforms in Super Mario Bros 3. Oh, and did I mention this plays in your browser? So no excuses.

If you need more convincing or are curious what words I’ll use to describe this 2D skywards climb, then please, stay. Read a while. Research shows that Scaling the Sky was created by William Felkner, Chelsea Howe, and Michael Molinari during the 48 hour SF Indie Game Jam 2013, and it’s a surreal little experience that surprisingly says something by the end of it, and gameplay basically boils down to jumping from cloud to cloud, jumping out of floating pools, and leaping into rainbow elevators to move on to the next area. That might not seem like a whole lot to go off on, but it is very enjoyable.

You play as a woman stuck on a small, tropical island. Eventually, after discovering there is nowhere else to go, you travel upwards, to the clouds. Naturally, these clouds have buoyancy, which makes jumping on and off of them a bit tricky. When you enter a cloud from below or the side, you are rocketed through it at a quicker clip, propelling you up and out, and this technique will be extremely handy in the later sections where the transporting rainbow beams are seemingly just out of reach and you need momentum to get there. You’ll also enter pools of water hovering in the sky, giving you a tiny leap upon exiting the water. The game is controlled completely by the arrow keys, with left and right for movement and up for jumping.

Scaling the Sky is a fairly simple platformer, but elegant and soothing, with much thanks for its soundtrack, and missing a jump is never harshly rewarded. But when you do nail each jump, especially later when the clouds have dissipated and all you have to work with are large and small bubbles of water, going from one to the other successfully really feels like scaling the sky. Visually, the game is colorful, but limited in its art. Sorry to say, but it initially looks like MS Paint, and the clouds sort of appear like someone just used a large circle eraser on a blue background a couple of times. Though, when you land on or exit the cloud, tiny little puffs sneak out, which is a nice touch. Our sky-climbing woman is garbed in orange, making for a fantastic contrast against all the blue hues of the sky and water pools, and her hair and clothes are constantly moving in the breeze. It’s not going to wow you with its look, but it plays phenomenally and tells a mature, elegant story about the continuous movement of water.

Let’s spend today drinking these crazy videogame drinks

It’s St. Patty’s Day, and I’m terribly sad. There’s one less wonderful Irish lass celebrating in full on green today. In fact, I’m so terribly sad that I think I might need a drink after work is done. In honor of that statement, here’s some of my favorite videogame drinks. Chug away, my dear bros and brozettes!

Moonshine ON YOU CRAZY DIAMOND

To be honest, moonshine has never touched these innocent, hobbit lips of mine in real life. However, in Fallout 3, I pretty much do whatever I want, and sometimes I just want to get crazy drunk and go to town on some mutated natives with a shovel. Moonshine is the strongest alcohol the Lone Wanderer can guzzle in Fallout 3, and it raises charisma and strength by 2 points each while reducing intelligence by 2. Just like in true life. There’s also a good chance you’ll get addicted to it–but it’s worth it.

I’M SUCH A Caffeine

Basically, every single drink you can buy at the Delicious Cup is up my alley. Especially direct coffee. I’ve had four cups already today, with the possibility of three still to go. Sometimes, I even visit that depressingly empty bar (except on Saturday nights) in Animal Crossing just to have some java despite knowing it has absolutely zero effect on gameplay. Such is the life of an addict, I guess.

HOGWARTS IS FULL OF JUICEHEADS

This was so much fun in LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4. Players had to gather a number of items and throw them into a cauldron bubbling with a disgusting green mess. Only after all items were gathered could they then transform into other people, and it wasn’t just for show and tell–sometimes it took a special someone to get past locked doors. Wish I could turn into someone else right about now. Spoiler: it’s Hagrid. I wish I was Hagrid.

STRIKING TWICE

Looks like lightning can strike twice, or at least it does in Penny Arcade Adventures: On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness, Episode One (whew!). With this bottle of zip and zap, your character’s speed is enhanced by 50%. Krrwhack!

MORE LIKE A BLOODY HARRY

Blood…featured strongly in every vampire game ever created. A vamp’s gonna do what a vamp’s gotta do. Personally, I dislike the taste. Too irony.

WATER IS SIMPLY WATERFUL

Hey, it’s water. Most of us drink this in true life, and it’s equally delicious in the Capital Wasteland/Mojave Wasteland. Especially if you can find purified water because, no doubt, it tastes much better when free of radiation. Also helps wash those crunchy squirrel bits down. Otherwise, dirty water it is, and yes, I’ve drank from broken seats to stay alive. Wouldn’t you? Lots of other games feature water as a main way of healing: Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones, Pokemon White/Black, Harvest Moon, and Dark Cloud, to name a few.

Yeah, this has been a weird post, I know. Like I mentioned earlier, I need a drink. Ugh…