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Cube

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Everything posted by Cube

  1. The unfinished Game Boy Colour port of Resident Evil is crazy They didn't try to skip on features or make it 2D (like they ended up doing with Resident Evil Gaiden), they went ahead trying to make the whole experience on the CBC. The fact that it functioned as much as it does in the unfinished version is an astounding feat in itself. Driver 3 for the GBA is also far more than what you would expect from a handheld port
  2. Your 2021 Gaming Diary

    Hades Not too long ago, I played Transistor, which had a gameplay style I didn’t like (pausing to plan combat), but surprised me in how much its charm, style and gameplay all made me end up enjoying it a lot. As someone who isn’t a fan of roguelike games, I decided to try Hades as I thought I could end up enjoying it a lot. As with all of Supergiant’s games, the aesthetics in Hades are gorgeous, with a lovely artstyle, amazing music and great voice acting. Every screen is stunning to look at, and the characters are all incredibly charming, with lots of great dialogue as the various Greek gods (and other characters) comment on things you have done. You play as Zagreus, the son of Hades, who wants to escape the underworld. You will fight room-by-room throughout four areas, facing a boss at the end of each one. While it is possible to finish on the first run, you will almost certainly die, getting sent back to the house of Hades, giving you a chance to talk to people and prepare for the next attempt. Throughout each escape attempt, you will collect different resources, boons (powers) from gods and various other upgrades. Most of this is temporary and will only last for one escape attempt. The different powers you get, which will alter how you play the game and the tactics you’ll use, and the weapons you can unlock will keep the game feeling fresh. The three main resources you will keep at the end of a run are darkness, keys and gemstones. The keys will unlock new weapons and talents, the darkness will let you upgrade talents and the gemstones let you add helpful elements to the maps, such as rooms with healing. The downside of this is that it just turns into a game of just grinding until you think you’re good enough for the proper escape attempt, just collecting the various resources you need until you’re good enough to go. However, I actually never got to that stage. The various boons from gods, along with other upgrades you can find (such as a Dedalus hammer, which upgrades your weapon in different ways) can vary massively in usefulness depending on how you play the game, making each run extremely luck dependent. I was focusing on a grinding run when I ended up getting an extremely powerful batch of powers. First was a second attack for my special attack, which dealt a lot of damage to all enemies nearby, then some boons which improved my special damage and added a critical hit chance (which seemed to also apply to the extra attack, too), then on top of this a boon which improved chances to get a second critical hit on an enemy and some which improved healing. This meant that I could mash the Y button and breeze through all the encounters. Now, there is a lot more you can do after a successful escape attempt, there’s more dialogue to be found. I messed around a bit afterwards, unlocking the final weapon, along with a system that lets you upgrade the weapons. You also unlock a set of modifiers, which add additional challenges to mix things up, but ultimately playing through the same areas just doesn’t appeal to me, especially as it seems it’s more about grinding or just getting lucky than it is about learning how to beat the game. I did really enjoy my time with Hades, even if it ultimately felt that the game itself decided it was time for me to beat it, and loved talking to all the characters. The core gameplay itself was fun, it’s just that the main elements of the structure of the game aren’t for me. I Am Fish From the creators of Surgeon Simulator and I Am Bread comes I Am Fish. It’s a platform game with the “frustrating control” style of gameplay, hiding its difficulty behind an incredibly adorable graphics style, which looks way too nice for a game about fish that want to escape to the ocean. Four fish: a goldfish, pufferfish, piranha and flying fish, are fed magical bread while living in a pet store, gain intelligence and become friends. Three of them get purchased and taken to different homes, while the goldfish gets transferred into a small fish bowl and placed on a higher shelf. Although a bit of artistic license is taken and fish bowls in the game’s universe are perfectly spherical with a watertight lid. While Surgeon Simulator, I Am Bread and other similar games are difficult due to purposefully bad (but still functional) controls, controlling the fish in I Am Fish is pretty simple and feels very responsive (although there is an option for a ridiculous control scheme). The dilemma is that you’re always controlling the fish itself, and the fish starts off in a ball. As it takes time for the fish to swim to the edge of the bowl, it means there’s a delay in moving, which you will have to calculate while manoeuvring around. If this was a game about moving containers around and you controlled the container, the controls would feel pretty sluggish and bad, but the idea of controlling the fish means that you understand why things feel delayed, and as a result the controls themselves don’t feel delayed. You’re playing as the fish, not the bowl. Most of the time, there’s usually a path to follow, with some visual clues finding the way (and checkpoints that are clearly marked from a distance so you know you are heading the right way. The bowl smashes very easily, so to get down from high places, you’ll have to figure out the route down. You won’t be spending all of the time in a bowl, as you will swim through various bodies of water like ponds, lakes, puddles and sewers, and end up in other containers, the most common being mop buckets and jars. The mop bucket is the easiest container to move, but the jar will cause the most frustration. In the jar, you can’t just move in the direction you want by swimming that way, you have to push forward at the left and right corners of the jar to turn it around, then in the middle to push it forward. It’s very difficult to get used to it, but quite rewarding when you get the hang of it. One you finish the goldfish’s missions, you get to play as the other three fish, all with special powers. The pufferfish can puff himself into a ball, rolling along the ground for short periods and launching himself out of the water, the piranha can bite and destroy certain objects and the flying fish can, well, fly. Well more glides, soaring between different bodies of water. There are 12 levels with the individual fish, all of which are great fun. They’ll all have some really tough moments, but there are lots of creative ideas that make them worthwhile, along with the satisfaction of having bested the game. You’ll swim through swers, shops, farms, markets, hospitals and more. There’s a surprising amount of variation for a game with a simple premise, and background details and story elements that you can overhear from humans talking. After all the fish are in the ocean, you’ll get one final mission where you can swap between all four fish. I wish there were more levels played as a group as I really enjoyed the puzzles in this one, utilising the abilities of each fish to progress. There are puzzles in the individual levels as well, but they’re more straightforward as you only have a limited amount of tools. I Am Fish is a surprisingly fun game, the difficult controls make a lot of sense and there’s an immense amount of charm in the game, with some really fun and unique ideas you’ll encounter in each level. It does have some issues, such as checkpoints occasionally being really far apart, and seagulls being annoying (like real life, I guess), but I think it’s definitely worth checking out. skateBIRD SkateBIRD is a Tony Hawk-style skateboarding game featuring birds (including a Tiny Hawk). For a fun premise like that, a game doesn’t have to be astounding to be enjoyable, it just needs to have decent gameplay (even if it’s mostly copied from another game) and some fun levels, missions and dialogue. That’s what I was hoping for from skateBIRD, nothing mind blowing, but a cheesy, fun experience. Sadly, I ended up very disappointed. Starting up skateBIRD, you’ll get to customise your bird, choosing from many different types of bird (all control exactly the same), hats and various other accessories. You can’t rotate the bird, so you won’t know what some of the back accessories look like until you start playing. There’s a lot of fun things to choose from, with more to find hidden in levels. You’ll skate through five different levels: a studio apartment, the top of a building, an office, a server and a different studio apartment. The majority of the game is just grey and brown, and there’s very little in the way of background detail to look at. It’s all very drab. To make matters worse, there’s some kind of effect (depth of field perhaps) that makes things not directly next to your bird look like a blur, so most of the time the only things you can see clearly are the bird and floor. The texture of the floor itself (and other scenery) is fairly low quality, while ramps made out of magazines (and the cat photo) are extremely well detailed, creating a mitchmatch of things that just don’t fit. The levels themselves have very little structure to them, different areas don’t flow into each other very well and you won’t find yourself chaining combos between different sections of the level, instead focusing on just getting a score in one small section. The missions also rarely use the levels well. In Tony Hawk games, sections of levels seem specifically designed for missions, while in this it seems they just came up with random ideas for missions and just worked them into somewhere in the level. Missions will involve getting a high score, doing specific tricks or collecting objects. There’s a “arrow” in the shape of a bird at the bottom of the screen that tries to lead you towards objectives, but doesn’t take into account that thing can be on a higher section of the level, meaning you have to take a long route to try a different height. The dull colour scheme also means that items don’t stand out, and there’s no highlight or “glow” on them. There’s one in particular where you find paperclips and they’re difficult to see even looking directly at them (the image below actually contains most of the paperclips). The cutscenes are (apart from two or three instances) focused entirely on the birds, so won’t show a rough overview of where you need to go. I haven’t even touched on the core gameplay yet. Take one of the older Tony Hawk games (before they added things like tricks while grinding) and this aims to function in the same way. Sadly, everything feels floaty – not “better air due to bird” floaty, but in a slow and delayed way. There are a lot of corners, nooks and crannies that your bird will get stuck on, grinding only works when it feels like it. One big difference between the gameplay of Tony Hawk and skateBIRD is the “FANCY” meter. As you perform tricks, it will fill up. This isn’t a combo meter (although that also exists), but determines your speed and how high you can jump. Crashing or bumping into something will reset it completely, although sometimes the game likes to reset it on its own. Filling it up also feels very inconsistent, sometimes a small amount of tricks on the ground is enough, sometimes doing 5 kickflips and a spin off a ramp won’t add anything. As having a high FANCY metre is necessary, the issues with it, and the control issues that can cause it to empty, lead to a lot of frustrations, and will require you to reset the missions a lot. It’s a really horrible game mechanic that isn’t fun in any way. Restarting missions a lot also comes with other annoyances. The music in skateBIRD is surprisingly good, starting off with some odd but entertaining tracks where people give bird facts in tune to music (it feels a bit Jet Set Radio), with a bunch of rock songs you can unlock throughout the game. Starting a mission, restarting a mission and ending a mission will make the game skip to another track, you’ll unfortunately mainly hear the start of each song a lot. The starting cutscene for each mission will play every time, and you’ll have to tap A repeatedly to skip. There’s also another really odd thing about the start of missions: the place you start at (and respawn if you have to reset when you get stuck) seems to be the position your bird is in for the cutscene. This means that for a lot of missions, you start off facing away from where you need to go, sometimes facing a wall or a few times just aimed right at a drop (which means if you mash A to skip the dialogue for slightly too long, you’ll jump down when it starts and have to restart again). The dialogue is mildly amusing. I didn’t encounter anything hilarious, but it would be entertaining enough if the gameplay was fun. One really nice feature is that you can “birbify” the words with a slider. The more “birb”, the more it sounds like a kid being silly with purposefully misspelt words and bad grammar. For skateBIRD to be an enjoyable experience, all it needed to be was a semi-decent Tony Hawk clone. Sadly, the gameplay itself is incredibly frustrating, inconsistent and, frankly, a complete mess. It’s something you would expect from an Early Access title, not the final release.
  3. Apparently it wasn't intentional, but I always thought that Dreams of Absolution was based on Green Hill Zone
  4. Your 2021 Gaming Diary

    Halo 2 The pacing throughout Halo 2 seems really off. The first Arbiter section really drags on (especially the Banshee part, which is very dull), and the game feels like it ends before it's supposed to (I’ve played Halo 3 before, so Halo 2 ending and leaving an unexplained gap in between felt really odd, too). It seems like you’re building off to a big climax...and the main character just leaves and takes himself out of the Halo 2 story. The gameplay feels a bit mixed. When it flows nicely, it’s a ton of fun, but some sections just drag a bit and it just feels like you’re going through the same rooms again and again. There are also sections where it’s extremely difficult to tell apart enemies and allies. You also seemed to be forced more into using certain weapons throughout the campaign, with fewer human weapons. One big problem was that the voice lines were really difficult to hear, characters would be talking in the middle of big battles, with explosions happening on two screens, so you end up missing a lot of dialogue, and the Master Chief Collection version completely lacks subtitles during gameplay. There’s still fun to be had in split screen, but I think this is the weakest Halo game I’ve played so far (all FPS ones up to Reach). Halo 3 Even though it hasn’t been upgraded to support widescreen in co-op, the gameplay in Halo 3 is still a ton of fun, it feels incredibly smooth and is simply a joy to play. The gameplay is mixed between shooting and vehicles in a way that keeps the whole game feeling fresh, with different scenarios. It gives you different weapons, but never feels like it is restricting your choices, and there’s usually a mix of human and covenant weapons. The second player being The Arbiter also makes it feel more like true co-op, although he does seem to have very little relevance to the story itself and does feel more like a background extra. I do really like that the developers realised that, while flying is cool, long flying sections do get tedious, so we get one main short flying section, followed by an optional one where you can jump onto scarabs, and there were sections that feel like you have a bit more freedom to how you approach it. Again, there’s the issue of no subtitles, but dialogue seemed much easier to hear, and I still absolutely love the enemy dialogue in this game, something which none of the others have managed to replicate the tone of.
  5. Apple's Attorney brought him up at some point and said that it would not be appropriate to show the regular version in court. The transcript of what it's referring to: https://www.theverge.com/2021/5/10/22429267/epic-v-apple-fortnite-app-store-trial-peely-day-6
  6. 57. Team Sonic Racing Original Platform: Xbox One, PS4,Switch, PC Version Played: PC Where to get: Nintendo eShop, Xbox Store, Steam, PlayStation Store Taking things in a different direction from Sonic All Stars Racing and Transformed, this kart racing game is entirely focused on the Sonic franchise, but with a twist of its own: you play in teams of three. While it does present some problems, it has some really interesting ideas. Characters are split into three types: Speed, Technique and Power (similar to Sonic Heroes and Sonic Riders). Speed characters have the highest top speed, technique characters can go over rough terrain with no penalty and power characters can smash through obstacles without taking damage. They all ultimately feel quite balanced, and you can make further customisation to your cart to change stats or colour styles. The racer on your team in the highest position will leave a “trail” behind them, any teammates following the line will build up a boost, which activates when they move out of it. If you coordinate well enough, you can technically keep leapfrogging each other. You can also pass item boxes between you (which can also increase the power of some items). Doing these team actions will build up your ultimate gauge, which you can trigger an Ultimate power, which makes you invincible and faster for a short period, and works even better if all three people on a team activate it at once. All the items are based on Wisps, which is a neat idea for items, but unfortunately their icons aren’t very clear, so it’s not as easy as some games to remember what each one does. Different skill types also have their own unique wisps. These are more impactful than in the previous games (especially in speed types), but if an ally swerved in front of you, you get a little boost to recover much faster, so it’s a nice little touch. Team Sonic Racing has a story mode called Team Adventure. Bizarrely, this is single-player only (I was expecting up to three players locally, especially as it’s literally got the word “Team” in the mode name). This is where one big problem with the team gameplay impacts you the most: you’re reliant on your AI teammates to be good. You can sometimes perform really well and get first place, pass back every single wisp to them and still not win the race. Having to rely on AI racers also means that local multiplayer feels a bit off, due to having your performance affected by how well your teammates do. The ideal way to play Team Sonic Racing is to organise groups of 6, 9 or 12 people to play online, with voice chat set up between each team, which is a lot of faff to do. You can play without the team mechanics, but if you’re turning off the main feature, you may as well play Sonic Racing Transformed instead. The 21 tracks are split into 7 locations. The new locations all look stunning: Planet Wisp, Glacierland, Sandopolis and Rooftop Run, and the individual levels feel distinct (although all Plant Wisp levels look quite similar).I really love the three Rooftop Run levels, all with a completely different atmosphere. Glacierland is a brand new icy location, with lots of floating ice crystals that look like more detailed versions of the Laser Wisp crystals from Sonic Colours. Unfortunately, the other three locations are Seaside Hill, Casino Park and Final Fortress. These nine tracks are returning from the Sonic All Stars Racing games. The visuals have been completely updated and they look nice, but the layouts are the same and they’re all locations we’ve seen before in Racing games. I also find it odd that there’s a complete lack of classic themed tracks. While some main Sonic games have leaned on nostalgia too much, a kart racer is one time where it should lean on nostalgia. Team Sonic Racing is a very solid kart racer. It has some extremely interesting mechanics which are implemented really well, and the new tracks in it are incredibly good fun. It’s main issue is that the main mechanic only works if you have the right amount of people to play with, and even then the story mode can’t be played as a team. 58. Sega Superstars Tennis Original platform: 360, PS3, Wii, DS Version Played: 360 Where to get: Second hand The basic tennis matches in this are fairly solid, if fairly standard. You have a few different types of shots, and run back and forth hitting the ball. As you hit the ball, you will build up “superstar” mode to build up, where you can activate a special power – although oddly I found that Sonic’s ability (Super Sonic) made it easier on the opponent, by swinging the ball to the centre of the court instead of the sides. If you don’t like it, you can make it longer to charge or just turn it off. While the normal matches are nothing special, in the singleplayer mode, you will encounter lots of different ways to play. You will have to play a lot of matches and tournaments to unlock it all, but it’s well worth it. Some minigames are a bit dull (the Sonic ones especially, as they’re just walking around and don’t involve hitting the ball), but others can be a lot of fun. In the Super Monkey Ball missions, you’ll progress through different kinds of hitting monkey balls into holes by hitting them with a tennis ball, before ultimately playing snooker trick shots by hitting a cue ball in a way so it hits another ball into a hole (and you can’t pocket the cue ball). Each mode builds up on its concepts like this until you get to the “main mode”. The Puyo Puyo mini game is incredibly good fun, and you have to hit Poyo pieces to get rid of them (hitting blocks of the same colour will get rid of all of them). House of the Dead and Virtua Cop require you to hit enemies with tennis balls, while Chu Chu Rocket works well as tennis. I think it’s a shame that you have to play though some of the duller parts of Sega Superstars Tennis in order to get to the minigames, because the events you do unlock are a ton of fun.
  7. House buying is the worst

    It's with someone else. We've just had a formal offer for the mortgage company (the part we were worrying about the most)!! Survey looks good (minor issue with the garage). We've had a list of contents which includes all the fitted blinds (vertical blinds on all windows except bathroom, which is a roller blind), CCTV, alarm system and some other things. Got more stuff to sign then it's on to negotiating a date.
  8. Platinum have said that they want to show off Bayonetta 3, suggesting that it's in a decent point of development. The voice actress has further stated they she can't give any further details, so could simply mean that this is the last game.
  9. The wisps are used a lot more when looking for Red Rings, which are really fun to find, and unlock some fun levels in the Game Land section.
  10. God of War: Ragnarök (2022)

    I think that the dream/vision being BOY's imagination of what Thor would look like is all it needs to be honest.
  11. Forspoken (24th May 2022)

    After hearing the music in the trailer, I thought it sounded like Bear McCreary, and it turns out I was right. I'm really looking forward to the album.
  12. Nintendo x Lego collab

    I might have a look at the instructions for the micro worlds, those bits look awesome.
  13. 55. Sonic Colours Original platform: Wii Version Played: Xbox Series S Where to get: Xbox Store, PlayStation Store, Nintendo eShop This is what I want from Sonic games in terms of structure. I personally don’t like to be forced to go through “padding” just to reach the end of a game, so Colours’ method of just letting you go through the main levels and defeat the final boss is perfect for me. Even so, Colours is so enjoyable that I choose to complete all I can because it’s simply fun to do. Sonic Colours is based on the “boost formula” of Sonic Unleashed, but slightly more refined, especially on big turns. I did have a slight issue of sometimes doing a homing attack when I wanted to do a double jump, but you can set homing attack to a different button if you want to. The big addition to this Sonic game are the Wisps, which are power-ups that temporarily give Soinc different abilities, such as shooting forward as a Laser, rolling up walls as Spike or turning blocks on or off as Cube. They integrate into the Sonic gameplay very well, although as a lot of them are designed to work in a 2D environment, it does impact the level design, as Sonic Colours has a lot more 2D segments compared to Unleashed (which isn’t a problem for me, just some people prefer the other way). You have six zones, each with six acts. Act 1 is typically the “main event”, while Act 2 sometimes feels like a “cut” section from Act 1, as the level starts exactly where Act 1 ends. The other four acts are typically shorter, usually focusing on a particular wisp or gimmick, although sometimes these are sort of “repeated” content, as they will take part in sections of Act 1, but with different obstacles (some are completely new segments). Where I think the levels truly shine are with the Red Rings. Hidden throughout every stage are five Red Rings. These are optional to complete the same story, but will unlock new things. These utilise the Wisps heavily, and encourage you to find different routes. Taking a slower pace to find them doesn’t feel like you’re not playing the game “properly”. You can reach sections where you can’t go back, so you will have to replay levels, so I found myself attempting to find a quicker route in sections where I had the red rings. I especially liked the more Wisp focused levels for finding the Red Rings. The reward for these is unlocking levels in the “Game Land”, which has a “Sonic Simulator”. This included seven more zones, each with three stages. There is no “theme” to these zones, all taking place in a cubic void, but it’s sort of a whole game’s worth of Sonic levels as a bonus extra. To me, Sonic Colours is one of the stronger Sonic games. The core gameplay is fun to play and the Wisps add to the gameplay instead of trying to provide a completely different gameplay style. I much prefer being able to complete a game and having lots of optional content on top. 56. SegaSonic Popcorn Shop Original Platform: Popcorn Machine Where to get: Unavailable A Sonic game that was installed in a popcorn machine. I had to provide my own popcorn as my PC lacks the “popcorn maker” component. After you insert your money, you get to pick your flavour of popcorn: butter, salted or curry (curry sounds very intriguing), then you play a quick minigame to run away from Dr Robotnik as he attempts to stop Sonic from making some popcorn. If Dr Robotnik does catch up to Sonic, then Sonic will dodge on his own, as the game won’t stop you getting popcorn if you fail. Next up, you have to rotate a crank to stir the popcorn as Dr Robotnik tries to punch some, once this is ready, Tails will fill a cup and go off-screen to give it to you (if you had the actual popcorn machine, that is). It’s an interesting novelty. There’s not much actual “game” to it, but it’s still technically a game, and would have been a fun amusement in an arcade.
  14. That was the exact same day as Sonic GBA.
  15. Super Monkey Ball Banana Mania

    Now I'm definitely going to get the game! Although I do think the bananas should go towards unlocking the extra stuff, or even simply keep a record of your highest banana count for the stage. Edit; a follow up tweet mentions the bananas will be used to unlock stuff. That said, they still should allow the option for lives for those who like such a thing.
  16. It sounds like you can avoid most of those glitches by not switching between levels on different planets as quickly as possible. Or, in some cases, by not using a pirated version in an emulator (which is where some of the footage is from). It seems unlikely that people will encounter most of these while playing normally. Hopefully they can still patch the issue that is causing it. It sounds like some level assets are loaded in the selection menu, and quickly going in, backing out and choosing another interrupts the load, so it only partially loads the stuff for the new area, so might be a simple fix for them if they can make it so you can't change level until it has finished loading properly. I played though the game on a Series S, incredibly fun experience, and only encountered one extremely minor bug. It feels just like Colours, but just a bit nicer. By biggest issue is that the cutscenes aren't upscaled very well. Currently working on finding all of the red rings.
  17. 53. Sonic Forces – Speed Battle Original Platform: Android/iOS Version Played: Android Where to get: Google Play, Apple App Store. Another sequel to Sonic Dash, kind of. This takes the autorunning gameplay and put it onto specially designed courses, where the object is to race to be the first to the finish line, avoiding obstacles and using power ups to battle other racers. For a while, I wasn’t sure if I was racing real people or not. They have names of other people, but I know from other mobile games (like Mario Kart World Tour), that these are often fake and you’re just racing AI using random people’s names. The lack of any ability to play with friends is also usually a sign that there’s no actual online multiplayer, and none of the racers seemed to act like real people, and were really easy (to the point I even did one race while cooking, occasionally swiping and hitting loads of obstacles…and still won). That was until I got to around 1000 points into the ranking system (1st place gets you around 27ish points), all of a sudden the game got much more challenging, and the opponents moved around more, used similar tactics to what I had been doing, used power ups more and just acted more human. I suspect that initially I was paired with AI disguised as players before it started pairing me with real people. If the racers were balanced and it didn’t have horribly aggressive microtransactions and loot boxes…it could be a pretty fun mobile game. But it’s not balanced at all. In order to facilitate the many kinds of microtransactions, the game is based around unlocking and upgrading characters, so you’ll just face opponents with outright better (or worse) characters. This is done by collecting “cards”, you need X amount to unlock them and then Y more to upgrade them. It varies between characters and some cards are a lot rarer (with others only available in special time limited events). I did end up getting quite a few characters within a few days: Sonic, Classic Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, Amy, Silver (I got so, so many Silver cards), Charmy, Omega, Vector ( @Glen-i, Vector is actually in this horrible mobile game TWICE!!), and Tangle (a character from the comics). One interesting omission is Infinite, the character introduced in Sonic Forces. However, once you’ve got most of the “common” characters, progression is probably extremely slow to get more. Unless you pay for them multiple types of premium currency, loot boxes or (some some characters) deals that unlock a specific character (Shadow was available when I paid for £4.49, which is quite a lot). I think it would be nice if the final patch of the game let you play against AI and choose the level you want to play, but ultimately, I think that the servers will just be shut down at some point and the game will be unplayable. 54. Sonic Pinball Party Original Platform: Game Boy Advance Where to get: Second Hand A pinball game that has a story. After Dr Robotnik’s last defeat, he’s set up a pinball tournament. As Sonic, you take part in the tournament. The tournament has 16 players, but you’ll only encounter Knuckles, Tails, Amy and Metal Sonic (the other ones are just to tease you). After you win the tournament, it turns out it’s all a trick and you have to face Dr Robotnik (in a pinball match). First up you’ll have to face Knuckles on the Neo Green Hill Zone machine and get 10,000,000 points. Progress will be very slow until you follow the arrows, three loops and hitting into the right hole will get Dr Robotnik to spawn, then hitting the ball into a hole will destroy him and get you the 10,000,000 points. Then Tails, who calls Sonic a moron, and has glowing red eyes because its brainwashed (I like how Knuckles has been fooled to fight Sonic so many times that they didn’t even bother brainwashing him). This time you need 15,000,000 points in 5 minutes on the Casino Paradise Zone machine. This is when you’ll find out that all the Sonic tables are exactly the same, just with different colours. So you’ll be doing exactly the same thing to get Dr Robotnik to appear and defeat him, potentially twice, as it’s by far the best way to get points. Next up is a brainwashed Amy, and you get to play a completely different table, based on NiGHTS. Points aren’t important here, you just follow the instructions until you win. The final stage of the “tournament” is against Metal Sonic, where you have to beat all seven stages of the Sonic table. To defeat a stage, you do the same thing I mentioned above to defeat Dr Robotnik. So you need to do this same pattern seven times. Then Dr Robotnik will challenge you, you have 5 minutes to score 30,000,000 points, so three more goes through the same thing. Throughout the story, you’ll have repeated the same exact actions around 13 times. It’s incredibly tedious and boring. Completing this will get you a Samba De Amigo machine. The three tables have hidden minigames and features like multiball to discover, but ultimately following the instructions will net you by far the most points. It’s just a pretty bad game. By far the best mode of Sonic Pinball Party is the options. Here is a sound test with the music, which features renditions of Songs based on the classic games, Sonic Advance and some extra tracks like midi versions of Super Sonic Racing and Live & Learn, all using the GBA’s capabilities quite well. On reflection, it makes the music in the GBA Sonic port even worse as Sonic Pinball Party had some pretty good versions of some of the music.
  18. Your 2021 Gaming Diary

    Psychonauts 2 Fifteen years after the first game (with a VR-only short game bridging the gap), Psychonauts 2 picks up the store a few days after the end of the first (it’s about the same gap I had between playing both games), with Raz joining the Psychonauts and trying to discover who hired Dr Lobotto, a villain from the previous adventures. The first game has a unique charm to it, with creative levels, wonderful humour but also tackling some deep subjects. And Psychonauts 2 just picks up exactly where it left off in terms of feel, but also still feels up-to-date in terms of controls and presentation. The writing and voice acting are both top-notch. No returning character sounded “off” and it feels like the games could have been released shortly after each other. The humour returns as well, although while mental illness is still a big part of the game, the subject of mental illness is never a punchline for a joke, and is treated a bit more seriously. Despite this, Psychonauts 2 is still as funny as the first, finding other things to be humorous about. Platforming in Psychonauts 2 feels very precise. The levitation is more predictable, but with the downside of being less useful than the first time. Instead, this leads to Mental Connection, a new ability where you can grapple between “stray thoughts”. This ability is introduced in a level where some of the connections list subjects and linking two together can change their thoughts on a subject. Throughout the level you have a horrible feeling that you’re doing something terrible (it shows what peer pressure can push people to do), and you feel the desperation when you have to fix it later on, seeing the damage you’ve done to this person’ mind. That said, there are some connections that don’t “work”, but I found myself trying all the wrong pens first to hear the dialogue. The levels are all extremely varied again, with some utterly wonderful settings. And some downright disturbing imagery – the mouth/teeth stuff in the first level is horrific, in a good way, and it always looks detailed. It’s always a joy looking around each level, which makes hunting for the collectibles (which level you up, but aren’t required) nicer. You don’t have to collect these the first time in a level (and most likely can’t due to needing later powers), and can return to them even after the end of the game, although a lot of set-pieces are unavailable and you can teleport between the disconnected parts of a level. One clever thing is that any collectibles that were in these sections get relocated, so you can’t miss any. Each mind depicts some form of mental issue, loss or regret. Some are caused by the psychic nature of the game, while others are just real issues, such as alcoholism. The journeys into people’s minds and helping them on their path makes every level wonderful to play though, and I really like how the real life issues aren’t always just an instant fix, but is just the start of their journeys, with them getting help from others outside of you entering their minds. It merges fictional settings and real life issues extremely well. Outside of the main levels, you get to explore the headquarters of the Psychonauts, along with the surrounding areas. It’s quite large, lots to discover and a few side quests, as well as talking to the wonderful character, including Raz’s family, various agents and Raz’s fellow interns. I loved using clairvoyance – a power that lets you see the world from someone else’s perspective – and seeing how they view Raz, as his image changes to a drawing depicting him in a certain state, or as something else entirely. Some are obvious, while some I don’t quite know, such as one agent who sees Raz as a cigarette dispenser. These images, as well as “figments of imagination” in the levels can also provide some early hints about some of the revelations throughout the game. On top of platforming, there will also be a lot of combat. You can assign up to four powers at once, quickly switching them out for other ones with a “power wheel”. I found myself trying different combinations, and there’s a lot of options you can do. The enemies are based on different sorts of ideas, such as bad moods, regrets, doubt and panic attacks, with quite a bit of variety for you to face. You can find ways to “chesse” the combat a bit, but I just found it fun trying different things. Psychonauts 2 is an absolutely wonderful game. It works extremely well as both a sequel to a 15 year old game and something brand new, with the whole adventure being a marvel from start to finish.
  19. House buying is the worst

    Now it's signing loads of stuff via solicitors....all of which is done by an app, which is just strange.
  20. 50. Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric Original Platform: Wii U Where to get: Wii U eShop One of Sonic’s infamously bad games, based on a cartoon spin-off with designs that are unliked (especially Knuckles), I went into it expecting a horribly broken mess. The first thing I noticed is that there’s a lack of one important thing in the main gameplay: speed. While it fails at that main aspect of Sonic, everything else was…actually pretty fine. I actually found myself enjoying Sonic Boom, and with the post-launch patches isn’t actually that buggy, the only odd thing encountered was everyone warping near to Sonic, but even big games like Mass Effect have that issue for followers. In Sonic Boom, you swap between Sonic, Tails, Knuckles and Amy at will (although in some segments they’ll split up so you’ll have access to two of them), utilising their different abilities. Personality wise, Sonic and Tails are pretty much their usual selves, while Knuckles leans completely into the “dumb musclehead” persona that Knuckles was slowly becoming in the main games. Amy is drastically different, dropping her obsession with Sonic and having her interest in archeology being the reason why everyone is looking into the threat. She acts as a surprisingly confident “second leader”, often giving her idea of what to do and everyone following. I really like Amy in this game. For abilities, Sonic can spindash up quarter pipes and use homing attack, Amy can perform acrobatics to traverse thin walkways and triple jump, Knuckles can climb up rocky surfaces and Tails can glide further and fly up using fans as well as deploy a small robot to hit switches. Everyone feels unique while using the same moveset and are all utilized well. Some sections will also give you two ways to progress, designed for different characters, so you can choose who you prefer. While I do think a run button is definitely needed, I still enjoyed the platforming, it always felt precise and I never felt like I died because of the camera. I think deaths are slightly too lenient, as you respawn straight away instead of at the last combat and your only loss is scrap that you use for upgrades (similar to how the LEGO games work), but I prefer that when compared to a frustrating system. Combat is another big part of Sonic Boom. Like the platforming, it’s basic but enjoyable. You have a standard attack, special ability, grapple beam and dodge. Some enemies will temporarily shield themselves so you have to avoid attacks, but most of the time you can get away with just spamming homing attacks or Amy’s hammer. But if you want to mix things up, you can. Tails is more unique in combat as he uses ranged attacks. Sonic Boom has one element of speed, and that’s in the “road” segments, with boost rings that propel you forward as you dodge obstacles. These sections are fun, but like a lot of the game, are also quite basic. Between each level you have to traverse the overworld, which feels a bit empty and could have done with some more NPCs (even if you couldn’t talk to them) as there’s a rather large town with around 3 residents. This section is where a run button is needed the most, as it feels especially slow as you’re out in the open. Overall, Sonic Boom isn’t a bad game, just fairly average. I enjoyed my time with it, which is more than I was expecting based on its reputation 51. Sonic Drift Original Platform: Game Gear Where to get: Sonic Adventure DS, Sonic Mega Collection Plus An extremely basic kart racer made for the Game Gear. Because of how big the screen is, Sega decided that there was too much to handle and had all the gameplay take place on the lower third of the map, with the background and map taking up the rest of the screen. You drive through three cups, all of which have tracks based on the same six levels from Sonic 1 (16-bit version, not the one on Game Gear), with different layouts. They all feel exactly the same, though, with the background being the main thing different. The backgrounds do look very nice, though. Dotted along the tracks are a few powerups, such as a spring jump and an invincibility that speeds you up and seems to last for almost an entire lap. That’s about it for Sonic Drift, there’s not much interesting about it. 52. Sonic Eraser Original Platform: Mega Drive (via Mega Modem) Where to get: Unavailable. A Sonic game that was only released in Japan via the Modem for the Mega Drive, through the Sega Game Library service. It’s a shape matching block puzzle game (which is nice, as it is colourblind friendly), although has very little to do with Sonic other than his sprite appearing in Vs mode. Blocks of four shapes will fall from the top of the screen, you can’t rotate the block itself but can change the order of the shapes within the block. Once they fall down, any groups of two will vanish, and the game will speed up over time. I’m not a big fan of games like this, but found Sonic Eraser to be enjoyable. On top of the regular mode, Sonic Eraser has a few different ways to play. While in a regular game, each individual shape will fall down, the Block mode has each “block” stick together, only falling when combos are made. There’s also a “doubt” mode, where a random shape will turn into a white square once it has fallen, adding some randomness. Round mode contains 40 puzzles. It will give you an initial setup with some special spinning blocks. You have to remove these by matching them up, which is done by removing the shapes around it. Finally, there is Vs mode which can be played in 2 player against a computer. As you play, your Sonics will battle and if you knock the opponent out, you win. The computer seems very bad at the game as I didn’t have much of a problem defeating it. And while the music in the singleplayer modes are bad…the versus music might be the worst Sonic music:
  21. Xbox Game Pass (Console & PC)

    I think it might be the best game made by a Microsoft owned studio, possibly edging out Nuts & Bolts.
  22. They probably forgot the "U".
  23. I think this is my biggest disappointment so far. It's one of the ones that I haven't played, but isn't considered to be terrible like Sonic 06 or Sonic Boom (other Sonic games I've yet to play). 49. Sonic Heroes Original Platform: GameCube, PS2, PC Version Played: GameCube Where to get: Second hand Sonic Heroes takes on the trend from the Adventure of having many playable characters and ups the amount to a whopping 12. They’re all set into teams of three: Team Sonic (Sonic, Tails, Knuckles), Team Dark (Shadow, Rogue, Omega), Team Rose (Amy, Cream, Big) and Team Chaotix (Epsio, Charmy and Vector). The most notable thing about Sonic Heroes is that you play as a whole team at once, with you changing the “leader” at will. Each team has three kinds of characters: Speed, Flight and Power, each with a different formation. In Speed, the characters will line up behind the leader, with power they will be at the leader’s sides and in flight you have the hilarious image of them standing on top of each other. Unfortunately, each team doesn’t feel that different to each other, and some abilities are a bit strange. Knuckles, for example, uses his glide to get height from fans, but Vector and Big also have this ability, even though it’s a bit odd. A bit more variety in the powers would be nice, but the levels would have to be designed with the different powers in mind. Instead, the main portion of each level is built for all teams. To reach the ending, you have to play the game as all four teams (and collect the chaos emeralds). You play on slightly different versions of the same levels, so you effectively have to beat the game four times. Teams Sonic and Dark are versions of the main levels where you just have to get to the end, Team Rose has shorter and easier versions, and Team Chaotix has to complete boring tasks (like collecting 10 things), so has flowers that can be used to warp back to the start if you miss anything. So you’ll be replaying each stage a lot. On top of this, the way to access the special stage is rather difficult: you need to find a key in act 2 and make it through the rest of the stage without falling or getting hit, which is easier set and done. For the most part, I quite like the stages. There’s a good variety, all with their unique looks and feelings. Casino Park is the main exception, it felt really out of place as most levels feel like part of a world, while Casino Park doesn’t feel like it’s connected to anything else as it’s very abstract, and the pinball segments are a nightmare due to the physics of Sonic Heroes. Those physics are pretty much broken. Nothing feels consistent in Sonic Heroes, and it feels you can make the same jumps with different outcomes. One one segment of Lost Jungle, there was a grind rail that drops you on a vine. I had to re-do this bit many times due to later sections, but occasionally Sonic would just miss the vine and shoot off in a different direction. And this is a part where you just hold B. The homing attack is a lot less reliable than the Adventure games, and while moving between grind rails is much better, jumping onto them is very hit-and-miss. I also encountered a strange issue where Tails became unavailable during Casino Park during a pinball segment, and I had to jump to my doom because there was no way to progress. Making matters worse is the camera angles, especially during the fly stages. The camera pretty much points upwards, so you can’t see where you’re landing half the time. Sometimes the bottom character even dangles at the bottom of the screen, leaving no space to see the platforms you’re supposed to be landing on. Another issue are that some ramps are designed for the speed character, and if you use the fly character you can overshoot the platform you’re supposed to automatically land on. It’s a big shame because without these issues, Sonic Heroes would be a lot of fun (even with the repetition). The buggy nature of the game just leads to many unfair deaths, made worse by the low amount of lives in the game and some checkpoints that are very far apart. Whenever I finished a difficult level, I just felt relieved that nothing glitchy happened more than a feeling of satisfaction that you would get from a fair difficulty. I’d love to see a remastered version, as with some bug fixes and extra checkpoints, Sonic Heroes could be a really good game. One thing I do have to give credit for is the soundtrack. The stage music is great (except for Casino’s Park out of tune music), and the songs are great, especially the final boss music “What I’m Made Of”.
  24. Your 2021 Gaming Diary

    Psychonauts Originally released in 2005, Psychonauts is an action platformer all about people with psychic abilities. Despite it’s cute graphics, the world of Phychonauts is surprisingly dark, but deservingly so because it’s entwined into the game and doesn’t feel like it’s there for shock value. You play as Raz, a circus runaway who infiltrates a psychic summer camp. The teachers (who are part of a group of psychic secret agents) are impressed by his abilities, so let him tag along until his dad can collect him. He makes friends (and enemies) and uncovered a nefarious plot. While the designs of all the characters are cartoony and colourful, they feel very real. I was very surprised by the kids in the game, as they do somewhat understand adult things (just like real kids), some of them just care about making out while others even struggle with deep things like suicide – the latter of which is only something you find out by talking to them, not paraded out in the open to go “look how edgy the game is”. It feels like Psychonauts tackles real trauma, from the perspective of kids and adults. One key element of Psychonauts is entering the minds of other people, starting with the teachers, who will teach you abilities. You start off being able to perform acrobatics and a double jump (learnt from being in a circus), and learn some attacks like a pyrotechnic attack and a shooting attack, along with other abilities like a shield, invisibility and telekinesis. One key power is levitation, where you move around on top of a ball, letting you jump higher and slow down your descent by using it as a balloon. Later on, you’ll be entering the minds of other people, including patients of a mental asylum, and helping them out with their issues. This setup means that Phyconauts has very unique and creative levels, all with their own style. The objective isn’t as much as getting from A to B, but to solve the objective of the level. One level lets you be a giant monster, smashing buildings, while another has you help someone play a board game, interacting with it at three different scales. One level that does need a specific mention is the Meat Circus, the last level. Here, the difficulty ramps up massively, as the game has you playing timed segments while introducing new platforming tricks that are either new, or were barely used apart from the tutorial. One segment has you racing up to protect someone (who is constantly yelling for help with an annoying voice), so you’re trying to figure out what to do and failing means you start at the beginning of the segment. This is the only notable place where the camera was an issue. This version is also the “easier” version, so I can’t imagine the frustration playing the original version of it. That level is really the only main negative of the game, the rest of it is wonderful, with great humour alongside the dark themes. It’s still very fun to play. I’ve played A Hat In Time before and I see now that it got a lot of inspiration from Psychonauts. If you like platform games, I highly recommend giving Phyconauts a go.
  25. Xbox Series S | X Console Discussion

    Mad they're still releasing it when it clearly isn't ready yet. Yet strangely a year ago, everything was nearly ready and it just needed some polishing.
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