Wednesday, September 1, 2021

ANGRY BIRDS STAR WARS (iPad2)

 

I´ve always liked to have a portable gaming device in my life. Since my Gamewatch times as a kid (and not so kid actually, since in the last years I´ve purchased a bunch of those vintage mini-consoles on Ebay) there is a number of everyday situations where I enjoyed playing with my PsP, Nintendo DS or lately my iPad2

As a consequence, I tend to keep my latest device of choice more or less filled with apps - and particularly games. Unless I´m hooked somehow on one of them, I don´t play regularly. Only when the situation arises. So, sometimes they can stay untouched for years

That was the case for the last game I finished, Angry Birds Star Wars. I think it was on sale so I said to myself “why not?” and played it on idle times here and there. Last week I found out I was only 10 levels away from completion and decided to finish it once and for all. As the matter a fact it´s not truly done. There are bonus levels I should pay for, and unlockable others that require to achieve X amount of stars. I guess I´m changing my definition of completion on mobile games to “finished all available levels from the initial purchase”

Anyway, it´s basically Angry birds with a Star Wars skin. It does have some new units – modelled after the IP characters – but feel more iterative than innovative. Still, it works and definitively fills up those 10 min you don´t know what to do with while riding the bus or waiting for your next meeting

Friday, July 16, 2021

LEISURE SUIT LARRY - WET DREAMS DRY TWICE (PS4)

 


Sequel to LSL Wet dreams don´t dry - which in turn is a sequel of many other Larry games - It´s another graphic adventure of pretty much the same quality than the former. Maybe less

It´s basically the same game with a new story and setting, plus a couple of UI improvements that don´t completely work. To make things worse, I had to restart save games several times because you could fall in infinite loops preventing progress. Not totally sure if because I play very disorganized - which shouldn´t be a problem - or the saving system can mess up things totally

Why am I playing this series, then? Well, two reasons: First is that it´s one of the few videogames which takes pride on not being politically correct, and has mild sexual references (no nudity). You don´t find that often these days. Second, Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of Loung Lizards was one of the first PC games I ever played, and not supporting the series makes me feel like abandoning an old friend from my teen days

Anyway, you might be lucky and not have tech problems. If so, it´s a fairly standard adventure. If you like the character, then it´s probably a must

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

TACOMA (PS4)

 

A walking simulator of sorts, Tacoma is a nice narrative videogame with some unique elements on it. I am generally interested in that sub-genre because they provide a different pace from action/shooters – so prominent these days

The story is simple but reasonably effective: What happened to the crew of the Tacoma space station, now abandoned. You will find out, watching animated scenes recorded by the resident computer

The game is not superb on anything, but it does his job. Provides 4h of enjoyment and doesn´t ever frustrate you. It´s probably impossible to “fail” it at all. I still think other games of this type – The Stanley Parable, What remains of Edith Finch, Gone Home… - tried to go further, but I cannot NOT recommend Tacoma because it delivers what it promises. If you can find it at a reasonable price, go for it


SID MEIER´S MEMOIR!


Sid Meier is credited to be among the best designers in videogame history. He was the creator of dozens of games - mostly simulators - but he got his credit mostly due to Civilization!, one of the best games ever created

These memoirs are mostly professional. Little is said of his personal life aside from what is relevant to understand certain work decisions. I didn´t recall him being so active in the 80s, but I do remember Microprose as a popular company back in those days. Then, I spent so many hours playing Civilization I am not fully confident to admit

The book also gives you a lot of background info on how was project development at that time, how the decisions were made and the people involved, and how things have changed since. Today we mostly work on genre products, whereas in the 80s each game was supposed to reflect a unique experience, different from other existing games. Ah, youth

I was shocked to find out the "Sid Meier´s" prefix was suggested by Robin Williams, and a number of games were released with it that didn´t actually have so much involvement from him - Specially Colonization and Civilization 2, a game I still today consider myself a recovering addict from

Anyway, it was an interesting reading, not only if you like the character behind but also if you are interested in how things used to be and videogame history in general

https://sidmeiersmemoir.com/


Tuesday, June 29, 2021

KATAMARI DAMACY REROLL (PS4)

 


I played Katamari Damacy for the PS2 many years ago, and liked it so much I tried to play all sequels/ports there were. Probably pirated copies, but it might have been one of the first games with whom I followed my “If you finish a pirate game, you buy it”

Just recently I found out there was a remastered version on the PS4, and thanks to the Summer sales it was fairly cheap. So, taken by nostalgia, I bought/finished it

It is still Japanese videogaming at its best/worst: Insanely original, but also bizarre. The basic gameplay works fine, although I could think of a number of potential improvements to controls. However, knowing how Japanese approach their designs, they probably tried them all and failed. I still feel the handling of the Katamari a bit cumbersome - specially the fixed camera - but let´s admit it´s a difficult concept to make it work in the first place, so I´m willing to think they did their best and I should just enjoy the final result

The story is absolutely pointless, and the art direction flashy, colorful and inconsistent. And that´s probably what they were trying to do in the first place. It is enjoyable, it is creative and you should love it or leave it. I chose loving it


Wednesday, June 23, 2021

SYNDICATE (PS3)

 

I kinda remember the 1993 Syndicate as a “not my cup of tea” game. Not sure what was the issue: Maybe the controls, unclear objetives… I don´t recall. Anyway, years later the IP was in EA's hands, who decided to revive it as a FPS. Maybe it didn´t resonate on me when it was launched in 2012 because of my lack of interest on the original, or simply because it wasn´t successful

Anyway, years later I got a copy and – since I am trying to finish up all PS3 games before Sony discontinues the console – thought I could give it a try. Overall it´s a solid game. There is nothing fundamentally bad on it, just nothing truly memorable. But certainly enjoyable if you get your hands on it under full prize

On the bright side, the weapons design is very solid. All guns feel powerful and helpful in most situations. The “breaching” abilities are not amazing but they do the trick to offer some variation on the basic gameplay. Enemies are not particularly clever, but they do move a bit looking for better positions enough as to perceive that developers put some work on them. Visually speaking is very decent, probably above most other PS3 titles

On the dark side, like I said there is nothing remarkable in the game. A pity, I am a big fan of “Bladerunner´s style” stories whenever available. Maybe because of that I tend to dislike bright and clean cyberpunk (Mirror´s edge / CDR Cyberpunk) because they don´t communicate to me the feeling of a rotten society, or suffering proletariat. The story is not bad, just predictible, and the Hollywood talent don´t hurt but also won´t sell me the game by themselves

There is a fair number of glitches – I almost had to restart the game from the beginning if it weren´t for the online automatic saves, I couldn´t experience the coop mode (the servers are completely abandoned), and there is a number of weird decisions that detract from the final enjoyment: Loading times, so-so metagame, and a cuestionable choice imho over which elements to include in the normal HUD and which on the DART mode (bullet time)

Anyway, it´s still a decent shooter that should please fans of the genre or SF aficionados. Otherwise it won´t change your life


Sunday, June 13, 2021

DONUT COUNTY (PS4)

Donut County was one of my wishlist games. That means I´m not so interested on it as to buy it full price, but if at any point it´s on sale I´ll consider it. I found it very cheap recently on PS4 and I thought to give it a try

It currently holds 75-79 in metacritics depending on the platform. That makes you think it´s a good game but not memorable. I believe I know why: There is practically no challenge. Even if you try, the worst thing that´ll happen is not progressing. The game will wait patiently until you find the next step. This is against the classic design approach of punishing players so they appreciate better the triumph of overcoming the challenge

Donut County plays in another league: There are no difficulty levels, the main mechanic – a sort of reverse Katamari Damacy – don´t feature a timer, and you can almost go through most levels just moving the cursor randomly. As such, you can finish it in 2-3 hours and becomes an easy platinum. I am not convinced that´s such a bad thing. Some gamers don´t want any trace of hardcore challenge at all, and appreciate relaxed experiences without rubbing on their faces how bad they are

The story is cute but shallow, much as its visuals, and there are little options for replayability. All in all it´s a good indie game for those on the opposite spectrum of From Software (Souls series). Won´t change your life, but it´s honest in offering a new mechanic, wrap the game around it but don´t drag the game beyond of that mechanic´s limits