Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars: playing online

For something old, with a much-improved sequel, SARPBC has an active online community.  I hosted a game, and found five people joining me very quickly - and just as with Rocket League, playing online multiplies the fun several times.

While recording gameplay on the PS3 is still tricky, SARPBC does allow you to save replays.  I scored the overtime goal in this match - after many close calls.

Friday, October 07, 2016

Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars: evolution of a masterpiece

I was surprised to learn that Rocket League was actually a sequel to a PS3 game by Psyonix called  Supersonic Acrobatic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars.  With such a catchy title, it's hard to see why it never took off to the same extent as Rocket League did.  Having said that, apparently it was downloaded on PSN over two million times, so if anything it just goes to show how I don't keep up with trends any more.

Anyway, when I found this out I saw it was on sale on PSN for £1.99, and since I got Rocket League for 'free' via PS+ I thought I would try it out.  It was only after I had bought it that I discovered that there's an extensive trial version which I could have tried for free, since the way PS3 games are sold on the store is ludicrously complicated.

It's ... not bad.  The essence of Rocket League is there, and many of the pitches and arenas are recognisable from the sequel.  There is a single-player mode which is different from the standard tournament I played through in Rocket League - here there are minigames and a tournament of varying rules and opponents, which I have already played through once but am likely to do so again.  As with Rocket League, the game comes into its own with the online side, which is great fun but finding a match is a pretty bare bones experience, reminding me of Half Life deathmatch servers from 2002.

But the cars feel less weighty and solid, it's slower and less precise, and there's either awful screen tear or quite a poor (and varying) framerate.  The controls feel a bit untidy, and aerials are much harder to pull off.  It is a great demonstration on how controls can make or break a game.

I'll probably complete the single-player game and play a few more online matches, but other than that it'll be back to Rocket League.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Professor Layton vs Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: a great witch arises

You know, this game was keeping my attention, but unfortunately Pokémon X intervened and took up the cartridge slot in the 3DS - and, of course, there was the perennial issue with the 3DS of picross games.  With the launch of the new Phoenix Wright game on the eShop, however, I thought I ought to go back to the Layton crossover and try to finish it.

When I last played, I had just defended Espella in court and she had been subsequently accused of not being just a witch, but the great witch.  And so I went off to examine the town for clues, solving puzzles along the way.  I searched for, and found, a cat, running into the High Inquisitor along the way.  Layton was summoned to the storyteller.  Wright went to see Espella, and then to the scene of a murder three months previous.

The storyteller appeared flummoxed on how Layton and Luke had appeared in the town; he hadn't written them into the story.  He was keen to write them out, though.

He hinted that he was going to kill Wright, so Layton sped over to the alchemist's house, where the murder had taken place.  It wasn't Wright that was cursed though; Layton has been turned into a golden statue.

Statue?  No, it's Layton.

So, off to court now to prove that Maya - the only one in the room with Wright when the witches appeared and cast the curse - isn't a witch herself.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

An old-fashioned game save


Friday, August 12, 2016

No Man's Sky: Bangaio One

I started on Bangaio One, a forest planet with temperate climate, abundant flora and some fauna.  In fact, one of the first things I saw as I turned around the survey the land was a pair of tyrannosaur-type creatures on a nearby hill.  Luckily they didn't run over and attack.

There is little grass on Bangaio One, with the ground covered by short bushes and leaves.  Parts of the ground are more barren, allowing you to glimpse the orange and red dust beneath.  The air seems clear, although in the distance you feel there is a bit of a lack of visibility.

The relatively leafy ground made spotting some creatures tricky.  The Bangaioan Jawbreaker was well-camoflaged and hid in the bushes; the Thundercatian Bangaioese Boar was more visible.

As night fell, the sky darkened to a deep green; the two dinosaurs had not moved from their positions.  I crept near them to harvest some flowers.

After fitting up my ship, I went for a fly around the planet, watching the sun rise over a rocky outcrop.  And then I pushed off into space, looking back to see my planet as I did so.

I have already been back a few times but I know one day soon I shall say goodbye for good ... unless they can add the functionality to revisit places you've been.

Thursday, August 04, 2016

Pokémon X: I may have the Rumble Badge

There was a bit of mucking about in Shalour City, running back and forth to the Tower of Mastery and the gym.  I was anticipating a long slog up the tower, similar to the ghost towers of other games, but after winning the gym badge and being told to go back up the tower, in fact it was a simple slope to the top.  There I was given a Lucario with mega evolution.  Mega evolution seems to make your pokémon change colour a bit and become stupidly overpowered.

Lucario in hand, I left the city and started to travel East, but in real life I got off the train and some time over night my 3DS ran out of battery.   I can't remember when I saved.  I hope I don't have to repeat the gym, although beating the fighting trainers only required one of my pokémon - Vivillon, who could one-hit-kill with a Psybeam.

Monday, August 01, 2016

Assassin's Creed Revelations: completed!

I actually completed this a while ago, but it's taken me ages to get around to writing about it - and getting the screenshots off my capture box.  Plus, you know, there were some after-game parts I wanted to get around to, including an achievement for catching the taxman which occurs once in a blue moon.  I may write about those separately.

The main game first, then.  The storyline, pulling together the missing parts of Altäir's life with the later years of Ezio, was probably the most coherent yet, although the modern-day parts, with Desmond in some sort of coma, were less successful.  The story missions seemed more varied and tighter than in previous games, but the amount of extraneous guff seemed too high - the tower defence games and constant need to send assassins to the Mediterranean were not optional enough and felt entirely superfluous.

The city of Constantinople wasn't as interesting as Rome, partially due to a lack of countryside and ancient ruins.  There was possibly more variety in buildings, but I found myself constantly having the refer to the map to work out where I was, whereas navigating Brotherhood's city was second nature by the time I finished the game.  The poor draw distance from viewpoints didn't help.

Having said that, the game on the ground is stunning to look at, and I enjoyed the parkour more than before, largely due to the hookblade which allows you to make large jumps with little fear of damage. I noticed I played the game slightly differently as well - making more use of the hiding places and running from enemies, rather than simply engaging in the fight until they were all dead.

The one weak point in the story was the involvement of Sofia Sartor, who came across as naïve and hopeless at several points throughout the game.  Her kidnapping was a cliche too far.  It wasn't made clear why she was so interested in Ezio's books, and the limited involvement the two of them had didn't establish any sort of relationship.  Ezio continued to ignore her and hide away throughout, which makes the idea that there would have been any sort of romance extremely unlikely.

But she helped him find random books, so that's alright.

The end credits went on for hours, over a dull background of the destroyed animus hub.  Which was then rebuilt, so you could continue to play and find stuff.

Which I did.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Pokémon X: lost in Reflection Cave

I've not written about Pokémon X before, and yet have fifteen hours logged to it.  Partially that's because I've been rather lazy with my gaming diary, and partially that's because Nintendo have prevented you from posting screenshots to Miiverse, which in turn means I can't post them here.

Anyway.  I don't have a great record with pokémon games.  I have played Yellow, Sapphire, LeafGreen, Pearl, Black, and now X.  I have never completed one; I have reached the Elite Four on the first four games listed, and on Pearl I managed to beat them - only to get defeated by a champion and sent back to the beginning.

Yet I keep getting drawn back in.  Maybe it's that I love the beginning game - exploring the map, catching pokémon and filling up the pokédex.  The gyms to start with are generally easy, and the main problem you can have is being too powerful, with a team who just KO any rare wild pokémon instead of letting you catch them.

And so it has been the case with Pokémon X, except the game seems to be progressing a lot slower than previous iterations.  I have played for 15 hours, and have only cleared two gyms.  The journeys between gyms are not only longer - multiple long routes each time - but also contain more sidequests and distractions.  It feels a bit Assassins-Creed-ish.  I am trying to ignore anything not important, outside of the usual pokémon collecting and levelling, but I fear that I may end up with an underpowered team.  We shall see.

I've just arrived in Shalour City, where I believe there is a new gym.  People are talking of a strange tower, though, so I suspect I may investigate that first ...

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Assassin's Creed Revelations: a change of scenery

I've not played much of this recently, since gaming time has been limited and the PS4 controller is always there screaming "Rocket League!".  However, I did manage to progress with the story, largely because I last left the game on a boat to Cappadocia - a town built inside a cave.  There wasn't much to distract me there, with a few data fragments spread around and little else.  The missions were generally easy, with the difficulty coming not from the missions but from the soldiers on rooftops, which were the most effective way of getting around.  I rescued the spy, caused explosions, and killed the big fat man.  Back to Constantinople!

Thursday, April 07, 2016

Psycho Fox: completed!

I've heard many great things about Psycho Fox, and I'm sure that I've played it before, possibly at William Davis's house when we visited him after returning from Kenya, back in 1990.  I didn't remember much of it, though.

A predecessor to Decap Attack and Magical Hat Flying Turbo Adventure, Psycho Fox is known as one of the better Master System games.   It's easy to see why.  When you compare it to other games at the time, there's a great sense of momentum to the character, and the controls are perfect, so you feel that every death is your own fault.

It took me a couple of lives to get in my stride and work out what was happening.  Initially you have a single hit before you die, and you have to be pretty cautious when progressing through the levels.  However, by hitting the eggs (using a comic extending arm animation) you can sometimes find a black bird companion who not only gives you a projective weapon, but also acts as a second hit point.

So far, so Mario.  The two main differences are that first, when you throw your companion he lands on the floor and then returns to you, and second, all the time you're not holding on to the bird you are reduced to a single hit again.  So you have to be quite careful when you throw him.

As the bird returns to you, he continues to kill any enemies.  There are some parts of the game where this is used to good effect, where a row of enemies can be killed as long as you are standing on the same level as them.  Getting onto that level can be the hard bit.

Having mastered the basic mechanics, and without the need to play the whole game in one sitting (due to the wonders of emulation), I had little trouble with it.  Yes, I lost the occasional life, but by playing through relatively slowly and taking the top route where possible I was able to find treasure which allowed me to play the bonus game between levels, which often gave me extra lives.

In fact, by the end of the game I had 20 lives remaining, partially due to getting 5 bonus lives a couple of times, and partially due to finding eggs with lives inside.  The first time I found such an egg I ran away from the life - it appears as a flickering version of yourself, and you ave to catch it, but I didn't realise this until one ran into me.

The levels were slightly varied, between blue and black backgrounds and the floor sprites.  Some levels outside were set more in the sky, with clouds to jump on; others relied on collapsing platforms and ice floors (which caused their own problems with the momentum).

As well as collecting lives in the bonus game and in eggs, there were other items that could be collected - some sort of star, a stone staircase thing, and a green bottle marked 'S'.  Experimentation during the last set of levels showed that using the staircase thing enabled me to change character, to a hippo, monkey or tiger.  The monkey had a higher jump, the hippo a lower, and the tiger the same as the fox.  I saw no other difference between the characters, but recognise that the monkey may have been useful during some of the earlier stages where high jumps were required.  There were some areas blocked off by boulders, and I wonder if the hippo could have broken through them.

The star seemed to be some sort of smart bomb, and the potion might have been invincibility but I never quite worked it out.  The only time I tried it, the game corrupted itself into a glitchy wall (which I eventually jumped through to continue the level) so I never tried it again.

So, after a few sessions (with save states made between them) I completed the game, only learning half its secrets in round 7-2.  Maybe I'll go back to it one day to take a different route through some of the levels - especially in the later levels, there are many different routes to go and I suspect quite a few secret areas to find - but for now I'm happy to finally understand why this is considered to be such a good game.