What game are you playing?

I can see why Skyward Sword might disappoint. The sky compares poorly to Windwaker’s ocean; there just isn’t that much on those floating rocks, whereas every island in WW had at least some secret or puzzle to discover. The surface areas feel small and constrained next to the expanses of Twilight Princess, and are often just a pretty corridor to walk down. The desert is a bit of an exception, but it is awkward to navigate.

It’s still a Zelda game, though. It’s still fun to find all those little secrets. The dungeons have been pretty great so far, and I do like the combat quite a bit. I agree with you about the textures and the music, and I will add that I really like the cut-scene animation, which really brings out the personality in these characters. Zelda crushing on Link in the opening hour is very charming, and sets up your journey and hers very nicely.

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I remember getting Skyrim 10 years ago and having a blast with it. By day I was working in retail at GAME exchanging stories with colleagues by night I was picking a direction on the map and just exploring, literally chasing butterflies. It was an enchanting experience and that opening title music is probably up there with the Halo music in terms of heady days of game related nostalgia.

In the decade since, The Witcher 3 definitely trumped Skyrim by providing a more nuanced and probably bigger open world seen through the eyes of a more cyncial hero and I think Red Dead 2 definitely had some sublime moments (in amidst the usual rubbish side quests) but the fact that you can play Skyrim on a Switch or VR is a miracle quite frankly, since it is the kind of game that wants to give you everything.

Can’t say the same for Fallout, but I’ll definitely be here for Elder Scolls 6. I’m hoping Starfield has the same sense of wonder that the Elder Scrolls games have.

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Got some nice component cables to hook my Wii up to my modern TV and good lord was it worth the money. Awooga. Metroid Prime looks really crisp and now that I can actually see what the heck I’m doing the game is much more fun. Didn’t realize how much the clarity of presentation was affecting my enjoyment.

If your Wii games look blah and you don’t have a Wii U, or use the Wii as a GameCube, or were 15 hours into a Prime playthrough on a Wii on a CRT before you had to move and dang it you didn’t even take the Wii U anyways… I would recommend investing in some component cables.

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I’m deep into an Inscryption run that is so good it’s probably going to be my game of the year, depending on how it all wraps up in the next couple (?) of hours. But it’s a game that is so good in part because of the tricks and surprises it pulls so that’s all I’m going to say on it for now.

Other than that I’m digging Halo Infinite’s multiplayer. Like a lot of folks though I’m grappling with the battle pass and progression system. It’s not just that it’s slow - it’s that only being able to make progress via challenges can make individual matches feel inconsequential. Unless you have a challenge that requires you to win a match or lines up with the objectives of whatever mode you’re in, your performance - or your team’s success - don’t matter. Ironically, I imagine this was intentional - that the idea was to build progress around challenges so that it didn’t discourage people who were struggling with wins, no matter their skill level.

Worse, your challenges can actively encourage you to play against your team’s interests, like if you’re in an objective-based mode like capture the flag but your challenges are all about kills with a particular weapon or destroying a vehicle. Those things might be incidentally useful - enemy team dead, can’t capture your flag! - but it’s not directly tied to winning the match.

It got me thinking about how in The Past :tm: games like Halo wouldn’t really have progression systems. Your armour was your armour, maybe you could slap some paint on it; I think it wasn’t until Halo 3 that things started being more customisable, and even then there was a fairly limited set of gear that was mostly unlocked by specific achievements rather than by a rolling set of battle passes or complication progression systems. You want a reward for finishing a deathmatch? Your reward was that you just played a deathmatch! The game itself is the reward!

Still, times have changed, and I hope they take the feedback on board and tweak some stuff. Other than some weapon tuning related quibbles (the plasma carbine is terrible!) I’m really enjoying Halo, so the progression system is the one major weak spot I’d point to.

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As a recovering Destiny player, I’m really hoping that 343 doesn’t add more progression mechanics as a result of this feedback. I would love for there to be a big multiplayer shooter that’s about having fun shooting instead of entirely being a metagame about grinding xp and various currencies.

I’m hoping they will add a Slayer playlist for people doing specific challenges or not wanting to do objectives and that will help things a lot. I got my first rank in 3 matches last night, which doesn’t seem that slow to me? Especially because your rank doesn’t really matter since it’s just for cosmetics. Also, the challenges I have gotten seem like relatively simple things that don’t make me play nearly as “wrong” as Destiny’s challenges tend to.

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I can second this but with a Dreamcast. I got one of those boxes that exports the DC’s VGA signal to HDMI, hooked it up to my modern TV, and fired up a few things I hadn’t played since 1999-2000 when I was playing them on an old cheap CRT TV over composite video, and it was honestly kind of shocking how nice it actually looked.

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Hey,

So a couple of my friends play League of Legends, I started Wild Rift on mobile and really enjoyed it! Then I moved up to the full PC version and it’s really pushing Guilds to join and all that. I’m still pretty new, but I have a really good win ratio in PvP (5 wins, 1 loss).

If anyone here knows of a Waypoint-related guild or has a guild that doesn’t mind someone learning the ropes in their guild let me know!

I was intending to play more Heaven’s Vault, but somehow realising that I never played Infinifactory has diverted me sufficiently that I’ve been going down that route instead the last week or so.
In general, Infinifactory feels like it is - a mid-period Zachtronics game (post-SpaceChem, so you have multiple metrics on which your solution is judged, but pre-TIS100 and the improvements in solution editing from then on). The unique thing is, of course, the 3d element, which makes routing much easier: the first problem is even designed to illustrate this, with a mismatch of inputs and output orderings which would be much harder to resolve if constrained to mere 2d placement. However, it feels like it’s not fully exploited - there’s still gravity, for a start - and the Zachtronics tradition of “unlocking new pieces” as you proceed but then letting them be used to solve earlier problems post-hoc means that it’s difficult to really be sure how close to optimal you’ve been the first time into a problem (because maybe those superior solutions in the histogram were people coming back later with more block types available than you have right now).

The next step is to get into the wild world of Dreamcast modding that is still kicking. One of the most common points of failure on a Dreamcast is the optical drive. Luckily we’ve reached the point where a few people have created physical optical drive emulators (ODE) and it’s a very easy mod to do assuming you can get your hands on one (no soldering just a screwdriver). The main person who most people swear by (GDEMU) only sells them off of his wordpress website with preorders opening up randomly. There is another one that’s come along in recent years called MODE which works for both a Saturn and a Dreamcast but it’s pretty expensive compared to the GDEMU. Anyway the upshot of all this is you can burn your discs to an SD card and launch all of your games from the console and not worry about disc swapping.

Also I have not personally tried it but I know people really like this adapter for getting bluetooth working on a Dreamcast using modern controllers that came out last year. You do need to read the directions because it has a bit of nuisance to it is my understanding but the people who make it are really responsive and monitor various forums and reach out to people who have trouble and often push out new firmware based on helping these people out to increase the compatibility list. Writing this up I decided to order one so I guess expect a review in a day or two lol


Also I beat Hitman 3 and I am so very very sad that they have managed to not make a good Hitman movie yet because it ended in a way that I was incredibly happy with. I started out on that first game not really caring about the story but by the time I was through the second I was hooked. Forget 007 and his shitty womanizing behavior because somehow IO managed to get me to care about a murder machine who only shows slight emotions towards his childhood friend and his handler.

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Ok I was cruising through the early rounds of the new DOOM: Eternal Horde Mode, feeling too good about myself. Those last level stopped me in my tracks and I can’t wait to give it another when I’m back from a week of travelling.

Also, the blitz and traversal rounds get pretty damn cool towards the end. There’s one where you gotta swing up the meat hook, grab hammers charges in the air and then immediately use it to slam down onto floating platforms of enemies. It’s a whole ass minigame and makes you realize just how much cool shit you can do with the tools the game gives you.

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I was an absolute numpty a few months ago and bought myself a copy of Max Payne 3 for 360 not knowing that it wasn’t backwards compatible. Lo and behold, they enabled it a few days ago, so I’ve gotten to dive back into one of my favourite games.

First things to address, everyone who took issue with the frequency and implementation of the cutscenes is a boring youtuber type guy who gets mad when the FOV isn’t 140. The ‘it takes control away from the player’ argument is such a tired one and in Max Payne 3’s case, completely undermined by the fact that Tony Scott movies fucking rule.

Max Payne 3 has such a pace to it as a result of the fact that all you do is kill and watch Rockstar’s best Man on Fire homage. It’s such a propulsive game because it doesn’t hew to the Naughty Dog/Call of Duty action game orthodoxy of Pixies pacing: Loud > Quiet >Loud. It just seethes along nicely, and then the quietest moments are when the game is pouring scorn on both Max and the game’s own existence.

If I have a problem with it, it’s maybe that all the weapon handling is very goofy with the benefit of hindsight. Max doesn’t have an invisible backpack of guns, so any rifles are carried in one hand while firing pistols. Dual wield and Max drops whatever rifle he was holding in the off-hand. Problem is, Max always transfers to a pistol for the incredibly frequent cutscenes, so you’re constantly transferring back to your shotgun or rifle when the game transitions back to gameplay. It makes him seem super indecisive? It’s kind of endearing though.

Similarly, all weapon types share the same ammunition. A beretta takes the same rounds as an 8-round(?) revolver. A G36 takes the same rounds as a FAL, to the point where they both have the same armour penetration (which becomes a big deal towards the end of the game) . The animations for tactical and empty reloads are the same. I know this is all extremely lame gun-nerd shit but this game is really into the fact that it models every individual bullet and shows that shit off in slow-motion. That being said, those slow-motion kill cams are so stupid and gnarly that I can’t help but giggle whenever they hit.

In a lot of ways, the aspects of this game that people all agreed were really impressive at the time like the weapon modelling and the animation don’t really impress like they used to, while the stuff that was polarising has aged like wine. If this game was released today it would be right in line with where we’re at culturally in terms of attitudes to wealth, colonialism, and American empire. I’m alternating between watching Succession and playing MP3, and that shit is harmonious.

It’s also a game that simultaneously could only be made with a Rockstar budget AND the only game in their catalogue that actually walks the walk when it comes to the satire/critique elements. Well, there’s Manhunt of course a.k.a the second best Rockstar game. It’s also the last Rockstar game where they clearly felt they had something to prove, which is the saving grace of all of their pre- GTA V output.

I still love Max Payne 2 a bit more because I’m a freak who likes post-modernism, but Max Payne 3 holds the fuck up.

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I have been playing nothing but Skyrim this week because y’all got me thinking about it again. I stand by everything I said before, but the mods “Ordinator” (perk overhaul) and “Apocalypse” (lots more spells) fix most of the problems I had with the game. The perk overhaul mod I have used in the past changed too much and wasn’t as good, so I’m pleasantly surprised with this one.

With those mods, you have a lot more variety in your toolkit without making you strictly more powerful, so playing on Expert is fun and challenging. The main thing I want from games is to absolutely destroy everything in a dungeon while always being an inch away from death because things can easily kill me, but I simply don’t let them.

I’m using light armor and a two-handed axe, so I’m very much a glass cannon, but it’s actually working out pretty well so far. Spoilering the details of my build because it’s long:

Summary
  1. Ordinator updates the Block tree to work with weapons, so I have literally any defensive options while using a two-handed weapon. I have perks that make timed blocks (basically a 1 sec parry window) block additional damage, stagger the enemy, and temporarily increase weapon damage. Parrying bosses with a giant axe feels amazing.
  2. Ordinator updates the two-handed weapon tree to be all about power attacks. Power attacks do more damage, so I want to do them frequently, which means stamina management is important.
  3. I’m using conjuration to summon atronachs, which are basically my only ranged attack. Apocalypse adds a lot more summons, so I also have a few others for other situations. This gives me additional damage, ranged damage, and a decoy.
  4. Ordinator also makes Shouts give speech experience and the speech tree has perks that affect your shouts. Shouts recover some health, magicka, and stamina based on their cooldown and temporarily boost weapon damage. Also, Fus Ro Dah is such good crowd control! Love to throw an enemy across the room and smash them with a giant axe while they’re trying to stand up.

Since I’m playing on the second-highest difficulty and using light armor as a melee character (without sneaking), enemies can easily kill me if I mess up my parries, get surrounded, or get hit multiple times by a boss. However, if I dodge or parry the enemies, manage my stamina correctly, use my renewable healing resources effectively, and maybe summon someone to help with bosses, then it goes pretty smoothly and feels great! All of that is to say, apparently what I want from Skyrim is open world Dark Souls, so I guess this is how I’m preparing for Elden Ring.

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I have never played Max Payne 3, but now that it’s playable again on a system I own, I might change that. Everything here sounds pretty compelling.

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My brain has allowed me to settle for at least a little while on Jedi: Fallen Order. I like this game. There’s a lot you can criticize about it, but those things either don’t bother me or are part of why I like it. Now, I haven’t played any of the Souls games, or Bloodborne, or Sekiro, and doing so might change my opinion.

I understand in those games everything ties together figuratively and literally, so level design and layout are as much products of the narrative as ways of giving the player unique and meaningful challenges and experiences. J:FO is, to quote another, a videogame-ass videogame. Levels are often beautiful, but they’re laid out in no believable way whatsoever. It is intended to be traversed by no-one other than the player. You know there will be a chest round that corner off the main path. It will contain an unexciting cosmetic item.

It’s lovely. It’s soothing and pleasing. It’s a big obstacle course. The environmental puzzles and jumping challenges are nicely constructed and satisfying to traverse. It knows that it kind of doesn’t matter what the reward is, only that there be one. Sometimes you have to solve a more elaborate puzzle to get something, or fight a mini-boss, and that’ll get you a meaningful upgrade or a heart-piece equivalent. It’s very low stress. It’s quietly eager to entertain.

Combat isn’t all that systemically interesting- barring a couple, the unlockable moves tend to mostly awkward to use, so you stick to basic slashing, and trying to get parry-counters in. That said, enemy design is mostly very good, and the game knows how to mix up different types to keep things fresh.

I like the story stuff, too. Both Cal and Ceres are believable as people who have each been through some awful stuff, and are finding ways to cope. It has a good droid.

I downloaded it on a whim, so thanks to my brain’s random impulses for picking a good one for me.

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One of my biggest complaints about the combat in J:FO is that there wasn’t anything that explained what the heavy attack is for. Does it do more damage, but is only an option in certain windows? Is it more likely to stagger an enemy? Am I supposed to use it against a blocking enemy?

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It does do a bunch more damage, at least. The tutorial suggests using it for weaker enemies, and it certainly will instantly deal with most basic Stormtroopers, or smaller animals. I find I struggle to find windows to use it in a duel or against a bigger monster- not just because you need to find a longish window (possible after some big unblockable stuff, like space-goat charges on Zeffo), but also because it costs Force. You can unlock a second hit following a heavy strike, and I’m not sure I’ve ever landed it.

The variant where you hold the heavy attack button and you do a dash followed by a powerful strike is a solid way to open a fight, though. One of the few alternative skills I get use out of.

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It’s great! I’d recommend playing it on easy your first time through though. The difficulty is definitely tuned for mouse-based aiming.

I can report back now after playing 4 hours of Sonic Shuffle that this adapter works well! Sadly it only supports the newest Xbox controller wired only at the moment but it connected fine wirelessly to my Switch Pro Controller and PS4 controller.

Sonic Shuffle still has the worst writing of any Sonic game possibly. I think it’s trying to be philosophical about dreams at some points but it is just laughably bad. Overall I still find it to be a fun game and a good alternative to Mario Party. The card mechanic is still the better than dice I would argue and I think the VN style mini events are interesting but fall short by not always offering you any choices.

So, I spent a few more hours on Heaven’s Vault today, almost 2 weeks after my first dipping of my toes into the water.

The apparently divisive “sailing the currents to your destination” minigame (which I find really relaxing, but apparently enough people complained about being slow and tedious that Inkle added a “skip to the destination” button a week weeks after launch…) takes up a lot more time than you expect, but I think that’s okay.
I’m still not completely convinced by how natural the “deductions” system is for determining when Aliya is “certain” that a given word is translated correctly [essentially, you have to use it in enough phrase translations, and then suddenly she’s okay with it] - there’s a couple of candidate translations I have right now which are obviously correct, given their context, but which Aliya isn’t “certain” of yet.
In one case, this also exposes a bit of the edges of the generally very solid IF structure - in one case, I made a hypothetical translation of a piece of text, which implies the existence of a place if my translation is correct. I immediately got an entry for “hypothetical location of place with the name you just translated”… which means that the game has spoiled for me the fact that I got the translation perfectly correct, before Aliya could ever be certain it was true. (In this case, I’d not seen one of the words before - and haven’t seen it again yet - so she definitely shouldn’t be sure this is what the place is called…)

Otherwise, I’ve enjoyed the narrative structure a lot - it’s not as “packed” as 80 Days was, but there’s more flexibility and paths than a lesser game would have. For example, I went and got the injured “worker” Yazi, took him to Renba’s dig site… and then after he and his love Sya tried to strand me on the planet, thwarted their hijacking and then was allowed to rescue them anyway and let them choose where I dropped them off. But at every one of about 5 decision points there, I can see how the game might have moved entirely differently (within the storylet) if I had made one of the other choices I had.

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Speaking of the branching choices, the game does have a New Game Plus. IIRC, you keep your dictionary but the puzzle phrases get longer, or something like that. At any rate, it’s a way to experience the alternate paths while not making the translation game completely trivial.

Oh, yeah, and the game’s writer wrote a two-volume novelization of the game: Parts 1 & 2 – inklestudios

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