Friday, March 30, 2007

Theme Park: no blurgh yet

The DS has been out for over two years now. How can it possibly have taken this long for EA to realise the potential of releasing Theme Park for it? It's an obvious application for using the stylus and twin screens. It's be really hard for it to go wrong, you'd think.

And you'd be right.

This is the best version of Theme Park ever made. Everything's just so intuitive. You can see the stats for all the rides on one screen while still seeing what's around the ride on the other screen. You can just drag the stylus across the screen to lay a path and a queue. Setting the handyman's zones is really simple, something which always seemed a chore before. You can instantly see what your visitors are thinnking by tapping them. Tapping your mechanics makes them work faster!

I went through the tutorial first, and didn't have to be told how to do what was being asked of me. It just all works. And it works on the train, or even on the sofa while watching something on TV.

I've not made anyone vomit yet. But given the amount of litter on the ground, it can't be far off.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Yoshi's Island DS: Completed!

On the way home my train was delayed, and I managed to complete the main story line of the game. The last few levels were really hard, and I ended up with only 50 lives left. That being said, though, the final boss was disappointingly easy. In retrospect, all of the bosses were easy to defeat once you understood what you had to do. With the final boss - or rather, the final three bosses, as is traditional in Nintendo platformers it seems - it was immediately apparent what to do.

I'm not sure I'll go back to complete the secret levels I've unlocked now - I ought to give the game back to Stewart after all! - but there seems to be a fair amount of content I've left locked. Certainly a worthwhile game, but I'm not going to buy it for myself ... I don't fancy playing through the whole thing again to get to the same stage! Memory cards are such a good idea ...

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Yoshi's Island DS: baby Bowser

Baby Wario's gimmick of having a magnet was bad, especially since it often didn't actually work. Baby Bowser's gimmick of being able to fire fireballs is pretty good, apart from the fact that I keep on melting the platforms I want to stand on.

And the fact that he's used in an ice world, which involves slippy platforms and lots of deaths. I lost 25 lives on one level section alone. Not fun in the slightest.

I'm on to world five now.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Yoshi's Island DS

I've been away for the last week, and my friend Stewart lent me Yoshi's Island DS to take away with me. Actually, shouldn't that be Yoshis' Island, given that there's more than one Yoshi? Hmm.

I completed the first three worlds while away, and the fourth is full of some very nasty levels indeed. It uses the two screens well, it's lovely to look at and some of the platforming puzzles are really tricky. I've died loads, but have over 90 lives in reserve at the moment, and never have I thought that dying wasn't my fault. It's really great.

Which is surprising, given the poor reviews it's been given, and the fact that it's not an in-house Nintendo production. It's by Artoon, who are a bit of a mixed bag. This must be one of their best, though.

It's not all good, though. The most used button is B - for jumping. So why when you get to a menu screen, does B cancel the selection? Stupid. The multi-baby switching which gives you different skills is used in some places to good effect, but often you need to choose your baby before you see what's ahead. Daft.

Other than that, it's a really good game, definitely a worthy sequel to the SNES original (and GBA port). After I finish it and give it back, I'll be back onto New Super Mario Bros.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Monday, March 19, 2007

Desert Strike: completed!

The last level was rather hard, with big gun things all over the place, and I died lots. Well, I say died, but whenever my helicopter started to explode, I'd reload the last save, so as to keep playing. A few clever missions, with blowing up a nuclear weapons factory being a little bit dubious in terms of safety. I dropped my copilot off to capture the madman (not Saddam at all, oh no), but instead he got captured and somehow transported to the runway in the northeast corner of the map, where he was loaded onto the bomber.

I went up there and blew a big hole in the side of the bomber, and he ran out to be rescued. Then the bomber started to roll down the runway. Now, I may not be an aeronautical engineer, but surely taking off in an aeroplane with a hole in the side isn't such a good idea?

I didn't give him a chance to find out though; I hit the plane with hellfires and hydras, and just as it started to explode I got hit by a tank and my helicopter started to fall from the sky ... but too late, as the final cutscene came up.

Rah rah rah go America aren't we great.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

King Kong: completed!

I was right. I found my way out of the dead end, and we ran past a chapter end to arrive at the wall. Ann climbed up to let the bridge down, but got caught. Then, as Kong I run through the village and rescued her, then ran out of the cave and got caught. You are meant to, of course.

And then to New York - escaping from the theatre, running through the street avoiding the army's cannons, and finally carrying Ann to the top of the Empire State Building. I think I did rather well, bringing down six planes before they killed me. End of the game. Apparently, if you unlock all the extras you can actually win the last chapter, keeping Kong alive - but I'm a long way off of that.

So. It wasn't as good as Beyond Good & Evil, which isn't that much of a surprise, but it's certainly one of the best film licences I've played. The two-character dynamic worked really well, and that really captures the way the film works too, with an uncertain line between which is the right and wrong side, survival and exploitation. It was a little too simple, with many of Kong's battles relying on running away, hammering on Y to turn him into a fury, and then hammering A to attack the enemies. I liked the limited ammo (but unlimited bones spears) of the human game, although it was rare that I ran out before the next gun presented itself.

The motion and voice acting was great, and the character models were really recognisable, especially Carl. The story differed a lot from the film, but was the better for it. It's a game based around the licence, not based around the film.

King Kong: we're almost at the wall!

Ann says it as if it's a good thing, but this probably means I'm near the end of the game, which is a shame because I've really enjoyed it. I've done loads tonight - fought 3 V-Rexes as Kong while protecting Ann, seen Hayes die, sent Jimmy off on the plane, rescued Ann, and am now on the run from Kong while also being chased by villagers with burning spears. I seem to have come to a dead end at the moment, which is why I've taken the first break for three hours ... so much for every 15 minutes. Really I ought to go to bed now, but, well, we're almost at the wall!

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Desert Strike: the madman's getting away!

Well, that was a waste of a load of Hydras. I should have guessed that you couldn't destroy his speedboat, since that would rather ruin the next level ...

Level 3 completed. Level 4 is nighttime, and the objectives aren't set out, other than the first two. Let's save those oil fields.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Hotel Dusk: Room 215: completed!

My hunch was partially right, partially wrong. It's a bit of an unsatisfying ending, really, with lots left up in the air, concerning Grace and Bradley and Evans. I almost wish I hadn't completed it, so that I could at least imagine that the ending was more final. Still, I suppose that it's more realistic this way. Life's not perfect.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Hotel Dusk: Room 215: thwonk

Chapter 10 starts off in an interesting way. Ouch, indeed.

On the chapter title screen, the time is listed as "2am - " ... this may well be the last chapter.

Hotel Dusk: Room 215: getting ahead of myself

Halfway through chapter 9 now. Someone fainted, and I was blowing like a pillock into the microphone to resuscitate her, when I realised that Kyle's face was on the other screen and it was just another 'close the DS' puzzle.

Previous to this I've finally got access to room 111, and have been finding all the apple paintings just like I did in my first half an hour in the game - of course, then I wasn't allowed to look at them closely enough. I'd even noticed that there wasn't a painting with just one apple on it anywhere.

And I think I've guessed one of the big overarching storylines - let's just say that one character is the same person as another character who Ive not met yet. If I'm right, it's been very clever, but it's going to be increasingly frustrating watching Kyle be spoon-fed clues until I want to just shout "Get on with it, man!" at the DS.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Hotel Dusk: Room 215: I've been here for days ...

The in-game timer's broken. It records how long you've been playing, but it doesn't pause the timer when you close the DS, which is what I've been doing, instead of saving and quitting.

So, apparently, it's taken me 330 hours to get to midway through chapter 8.

Wii Sports: once, twice a pro

After a tense tennis match this morning, I'm now a pro at tennis - with a skill score of 1071 - as well as at bowling - with a skill score of 1070. Indeed, last night I got a new bowling record, of 204. Very pleasing.

I think I'm going to start concentrating on baseball now. I can't consistently hit it in any particular direction, which is very annoying.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Hotel Dusk: Room 215: chronological inconsistency

I'm on Chapter 6 now, and have tied up a few storylines - Martin Summer's deception, and Jeff Angel/Damon. The game still feels a little contrived in places, with Kyle being interested in really off things that don't matter. And I can't see why he has an issue with Iris. I certainly don't.

It's pretty well scripted, though the fact that you can't skip the text forward really annoys. It scrolls just a bit too slow, and tapping the screen or pushing in the d-pad does nothing. As a result, conversations seem a little too long-winded, even when they're not. There's one iffy bit that just sticks out:
  • Helen stayed at the hotel ten years ago, and not since.
  • Dunning bought the hotel five years ago.
  • Rosa was hired by Dunning some time after this.
  • Rosa claims to have spoken to Helen last time she was at the hotel.
Maybe I'm being too clever for my own good and this'll be explained later. We'll see ...

Sunday, March 04, 2007

King Kong: down the rapids

I've just finished a long section of this where I had to run up a valley, avoiding brontosaurus legs, and killing carnivores in order to get some fire to burn through some bushes. Getting up there was fine, but on the way back for some reason the dinosaurs weren't moving, which made it a lot easier. When I got back to Hayes and Carl, they were shouting at me to be careful, with two massive brontosauri just standing there, looking perplexed. I threw lots of flaming bones at them, which all got wedged in their side, and they still didn't move. Most amusing.

We found Jimmy, and got on some rafts down the river ... and now we're being chased by two or three T-Rexes, who don't die no matter how many times you shoot them. It's just a case of trying to distract them by killing other things for them to eat, and hitting them with spears so they hesitate and your raft can get out of the way.

I've not managed it yet.

King Kong: hear me roar

It's really odd that I seem to be able to control this almost OK. Even when it comes to running around firing, I'm only slightly inept. Able enough to get through, in any case.

I seem to have died quite a lot, but luckily deaths don't put you back too far. It's an enjoyable game, with a good mix of action and puzzly bits. One part in particular had me confused for ages. There was a door and I had to find two levers to open it. In front of the door was a clearing, in which two dinosaurs were eating. I had to lure the dinosaurs away by throwing dead meat one way, then run through where they'd moved from to set fire to some bushes to find one of the levers. The other lever was covered by spiders which, again, I had to lure away by spearing a giant fly and throwing it to the other side of the room.

I've also played as Kong, chasing Ann through the jungle and fighting dinosaurs and big flying bat things. He's in third-person and it's much easier to control him.

29% done now.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

King Kong: the movie

Not the game of the movie, just the movie. I watched it this evening, see?

Erm, it's got a completely different plot to the game. How odd. Rather good, though, I thought.

King Kong: Skull Island

Raaaaaaaaaaaggggghhhhh! RooooooooooooorrrrggghhhhhhH!

No, that's not my King Kong impression, that's my anger at finding out that this is another first person game with non-customisable controls. Why? Why can't developers recognise that some of us want to look with the left stick and move with the right? Imbeciles. I expected better of Michel Ancel too - after all, he gave us Beyond Good and Evil.

For some reason, maybe because this isn't really a shooty game but more of an exploratory one, I'm coping better with the controls than normal - though it's still not ideal, and I keep on finding myself running into walls or so on. Anyway.

I've landed the boat, skirted around some cliffs, and then was attacked by giant enemy crabs. Luckily I was able to target their weak spot for maximum damage. I made my way through the jungle and ancient villages with Ann, and was then captured by tribesmen and tied to a stake. I came too just in time to see Ann being taken off by Kong. Carl the director rescued me, we ran off and now I'm being attacked by dinosaurs, apparently 14% through the game.

It's a very pretty game, if a little dark. The other characters tell me to look "up there", don't point where they mean, and then after I've looked around they've disappeared. That might be the controls' fault though.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Hotel Dusk: Room 215: clever mechanics

There's not too much I can write about this without giving the story away. What I can say it that's it's great to have a different story to the usual videogame cliches, although this does seem to be a bit convoluted. I'm now well into the third chapter (6pm - 7pm) and there's a bit too much going on - concurrent storylines - which I hope will all get pulled together at the end.

One thing I do want to comment on, though, is a really clever use of the DS. Having done a jigsaw puzzle, Kyle remembered that on the back of one piece of the jigsaw before was some writing. He wants to see the other side of the completed jigsaw, but he needs to turn it over without it falling apart. The game shows you the completed jigsaw on the 'top' screen and a blank table on the touch screen.

It took me a bit of thinking before I realised that you had to close the DS up, and then open it again. Very clever.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Desert Strike: massive difficulty spike

Some would have a fit over the fact that I'm not playing it the way it was designed, but I'm really enjoying being able to save after every part of each mission, rather than having to complete a whole mission at once. I only ever reached the third level of the original Mega Drive game, so I'm hoping to do better on this.

I probably won't though, given my current idiocy. I got to a point on level 2 where I had to attack the chemical plant - but when I went near it, I got bombarded with bullets and missiles, all of which seemed to do about twice the normal damage. There was a danger zone around the plant, and I was struggling.

On my tenth or elevent attempt, I managed to complete the mission by shooting and running, unloading hellfires into the plant (and hydras when I ran out of hellfires) and then running away before the mobile guns found me. It wasn't easy.

Then halfway through the next mission (finding and capturing SCUD commanders) I realised I hadn't destroyed the power plant. Destroying this would have killed the power around the chemical plant, removing the danger zone and making it muc easier.

Dur.

I've finished level 2 now, and will be starting level 3 soon. It's set more in a city. Hoorah!