Thursday, August 27, 2015

How P.T. Taught Me To Face Fear

Having recently decided to upgrade my PS4 from its initial 500gb hard drive (which really comes out to about 350gb after system "stuff"), I was presented with one issue - P.T., the awesomely creepy demo/game-fragment/trailer is no longer available for download from the PlayStation store. While I could (just barely) deal with not having it on my new super spacious 2 terabyte drive (translation: 1.77Tb), the biggest problem for me was having to live with the fact that...I've never finished it. I had watched a YouTube video of the final scene just to satisfy my curiosity, but it's not the same as doing it yourself.

Now, P.T. is a short experience. I've seen it rated around 90 minutes, so time wasn't an issue. And, I'd basically done everything in the game except the final stage, which Kojima thought players would take months to figure out. (It was more like days. Never underestimate nerds.) It's a tricky process that I had to eventually look up in an FAQ. It breaks down as:

    1. Go through the door and enter the hallway.
    2. Wait for the digital clock to turn to "0:00" (ie, midnight).
    3. Listen as a bell tolls 12 times.
    4. Walk forward 10 paces. (Yes, you can hear the footsteps in this first-person game. Cool!)
    5. Listen to a baby laugh.
    6. Follow the haunting noises to either the phone, the bathroom, or the radio.
    7. Listen to another baby laugh.
    8. DON'T MOVE! Wait for another laugh.
    9. The controller will vibrate. Then the phone rings. You focus on the phone, hear a voice, and get to watch a trailer (or sorts) for Silent Hills, the game we will never see.

I was fine with steps 1 through 5. Six however, was a problem. Well, two problems. First, even with headphones, I didn't feel like the "haunting" sounds were coming from any particular place. Second, and for me the bigger problem was that you aren't alone in that hallway. There's a ghost. A VERY scary ghost! Like The Ring's Sumara all grown-up now and she's filling the whole hallway kind of terrifying!

And if you see her, she's almost always going to "catch" you, "kill" you and send you back to the beginning of the stage.

Then, once your heart rate goes back to normal, you can start back at #1.

I 'd read that if you only moved around while the haunting noises were off and stayed clear of the front area, you wouldn't run into her. But this was getting me no closer to end of the stage. I was being stopped by my own fear.

I tried lots of things. I tried being in different locations when the "haunting" sounds came on. I tried walking backwards 10 steps after the first baby laugh. I tried looking in the mirror when the sounds came on (and one time got a scare when I saw the ghost vibrating right behind me!) I even started trying to trigger the second laugh by talking into the microphone, something the FAQ suggested worked for some people. It makes you feel pretty silly talking to a game, but I was getting desperate. I looked all around that little L-shaped hallway and the bathroom, over and over again, but always freezing and looking at a wall when the sounds started.

Nothing. Nothing worked. I could not get that second laugh.

Then I remembered who I was, or was supposed to be in this game. I knew from the articles and YouTube videos that the protagonist of Silent Hills was going to be played by Norman Reedus aka Daryl Dixon of The Walking Dead fame. WWDD? What would Daryl do?

Then, I knew what I had to do.

Door. Clock. 12 bells. 10 steps. Laugh. Turn. "Okay, bitch. Let's do this!" And when that ghost appeared, I RAN RIGHT THROUGH HER!

And I heard a baby laugh.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

The Official Chessasaur 2015 Playlog #8 - So Long Unremembered (Updated 7/2/15)

I never wanted to be away from this blog for so long. I know I don't exactly have a hoard of readers, but I like to keep track of my gaming so I have something to look back on when the year is over. However, LIFE has a way of getting in the way. Well, I made it back for now. Let's see how much I can make out of a cup  of coffee and an hour.

(I had been working on a blog post that was to be posted before this, but I haven't finished it. It was/is inspired by the announcement in April of a new Star Wars movie and game coming out toward the end of 2015. I spent a fair amount of time playing (or trying to play) old Star Wars games. At some point I'll finish that entry...hopefully before the movie comes out.)

Fallout 3 ImageFallout: New Vegas Image Fallout 3/Fallout New Vegas (PC/360) - Speaking of announcements, Fallout 4 is now a thing this year too. Or at least it's planned to be - I'm betting on a delay into 2016. Anyway, the renewed interest got me going on Fallout 3 again, but I started to run into some crashing issues on the PC version. Turns out that Fallout 3 isn't really happy with Windows 7. So, I figured it was time to at least dip my toe into the sort-of-sequel, Fallout New Vegas. (Note: I did this with a serious amount of trepidation. My foray into the wastelands with Victoria, my Vault dweller, consumed my imagination, and the journal I wrote for her is something that still has not seen the light of day.) I tried FNV on both PC (via Steam) and the Xbox 360 - it gave me some initial issues on PC, but I think it plays better with mouse and keyboard. I like that the world isn't as bleak (okay, it's not paradise) and that the game is a step or two above Fallout 3's design. I can see getting into the game some more, even though I don't feel the same kind of connection to my character. But, I'm still just starting out.

-NekoAtsume- Image NekoAtsume (iPad) - A quick note here on a little iPad game. All in Japanese, and you just feed cats and buy them toys. Oh, and you can take their pictures. Dumb fun!!

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt Image The Witcher 3 (PS4)- I think that the Best Buy Gamer Club Unlocked thing may have been a mistake. Not that it isn't worth it - it's a great deal. It's just that I have bought games that I would have waited on before so now I have this massive open world game that I have played about 3 hours of. However, even a little slice of awesome is grand. It controls much better than Witcher 2 and comes with enough background info in a little booklet to fill you in to what is happening in the world. A very pretty, well designed, well supported action RPG that I really hope I get a chance to dive into and just get lost in. Think GTA with swords! And the developer has set the new standard for what a game should come with - more than what some "collector's editions" include.

Final Fantasy XIV Online: A Realm Reborn Image FFXIV (PC) - Well, this is why I probably didn't play more of Witcher 3. The Neverwinter Knights have taken on the successor to FFXI. At first, a new MMO seemed so pricey, but it works out to about .50 a day - cheap fun when you think of it that way. We've been playing for almost 2 months now and it's just like old times, just with better graphics and music. Everything in this game is either faster or easier to do than FFXI, which is a welcome relief. The only downside is that nearly all the story content requires reading paragraph after paragraph of text. It's easy to skip, but then you do sort of feel like you are just doing the mechanical parts of the game.

LEGO Jurassic World Image Lego Jurassic World (PS4) - As a huge dino-nerd, I had to see the new Jurassic Park movie (which was really good, by the way), and, of course, I had to get the game the day it released (thank you Best Buy again). As of this writing, I've played through the first 3 movies and I plan to finish it soon. The game is good, in general, but I still can't help feeling that they ruined something when they started using the voices of the movie characters. I miss the days of pantomiming Lego figures. Also, I remember the original Star Wars Lego game being a bit more challenging. They've made the Lego games more of what they were before originally - kid's games. Still, I really enjoy the dinos and seeing what they do to "recreate" the movies is fun. I'll probably sell this copy back and rebuy it around Black Friday when it will likely be $20.
**Update**: All done and returned to Gamestop for credit. I guess I should clarify that "all done" means I finished the movie missions - not that I spent gods-knows how many hours trying to get all the collectibles. That's never been something I've wanted to put my time into. The designers obviously put the most work into Jurassic World and even added new dialog from (I think) the original actors. This made it a better experience and playing it after getting the various mechanics down in the first three "movies" also helped. You also get to play as the dinos more - running as a raptor or a compy has a very satisfying feel to it. And I have to say I felt like I was a kid at Sea World when I got to run around the Jurassic World park area, but there was still the feeling that I was playing a game that didn't really take any skill to beat. It also broke a couple of times; once when I fell through the world in a gyroscope car and once when I got a jeep stuck on a rock. It will be interesting to see if they put out a patch or DLC for this one. It will be on my Xmas shopping list since by then it should be cheap.

Microsoft - Xbox One 1TB Halo: The Master Chief Collection Bundle - Black - Larger Front Xbox One Console - I chalk this one up a really impressive E3 conference and an equally good sale. Did I "need" it? No, but that's not the point. I do want to play the new Tomb Raider and there are other exclusives coming out that I would like to play. It's not as huge a box as I thought it was, but I do wonder about the controller. It seems less solid than the 360 one. The D-pad is gone, or rather it is just 4 buttons now, and the batteries go into the unit instead of hanging on the outside. The menus  of the itnerface are challenging to navigate, but I'm sure I'll get used to them. I put it in the living room because that's where I'll need it for racing games and Rock Band 4. At least they added a headphone jack to the controller ala PS4. All I needed to add was a footstool so I didn't have to sit all the way back on the couch.

Friday, May 15, 2015

The Official Chessasaur 2015 Playlog #7 - Playstation Plus and Cats

Aaru's Awakening Image Aaru's Awakening (PS4) - Someday, when I decide to no longer pay a yearly fee to Sony for Playstation Plus and am unable to play all the "free" games I've gotten, this will be one of the ones I won't miss. Mind you, it's not a bad game at all. It's a very well made 2D side-scroller with simple mechanics, excellent art style, and innovated design. However, like soooo many games I'm playing this generation, it's too damn hard! I got stuck on basically the sixth "world" (let's call it 2-3, in Mario levels) because I wasn't fast enough to jump, jet (like double jump), shoot a teleport orb, and then keep myself out of lava while watching for the right moment to jump to the orb. A single platform, that's all I would have needed to make it through this level.

*** Insert Rant Here*** : What is it with games these days? Developers seem to relish punishing players and the gaming media fuels the fire by praising their efforts. Or is it an intrinsic machismo of gamers that they need a harder and harder challenge to show off "bigger thumbs" to their rivals? Whatever it is, I'm getting tired of running into games that look intriguing but require a level of skill (or long-term commitment) that I don't have. Please, give me a game that doesn't make me feel like a klutz with a controller!

MonsterBag Image Monster Bag (PS Vita) - A cute, if somewhat IRRITATING game where you play a little monster (shaped like a bag, I suppose) who is trying to get back to his owner, a little girl. You do this by jumping between people standing in a line, throwing them things they need, but you have to make sure they don't see you move. (Apparently they can't feel you land on them.) It's a unique concept, but I got stuck on the third level when they put in a person with really tiny eyes. Rage quit time.

**Update #1**: I went back to this one and got a little further. It's not as hard as I thought at first, but it still is pretty challenging. I do love the cartoon like quality of the graphics!

**Update #2**: As much as I thought I'd be able to move on from this one, I kept coming back...and I'm so glad I did! It's now another game I finished in 2015 and one that I will look back on with fond memories. The story just got stranger and stranger (as in "...and then the Apocalypse happened!" kind of strange) and by the time I got to the end, I was in tears. I guess I'm just a sucker for a story about a girl and her trusty backpack/monster trying to keep her safe. In some ways, the game reminded me of Limbo, but with a much bigger and better emotional payoff. (I'll always maintain that Limbo did everything great right up until the end.)  I also enjoyed that the developer, IguanaBee in Chile, didn't hold back on the cartoon violence, and the difficulty never got too bad. I did have to look up a couple puzzle solutions, but only to speed up the process. Interestingly, I started playing this one because it was a Beyond podcast "book club" selection, and when they talked about it, they were most put off by the death animations taking too long. While I saw a lot of those, I never felt it was something that would make me stop playing.

Catlateral Damage Image Catlateral Damage - I not only backed this game on Kickstarter, I chipped in enough money to get a picture of Olivia, one of my kitties, into the game. It's a very simple 3D game where you play a kitty doing naughty things - knocking stuff off shelves and tables, biting plants, and generally making a mess of houses, museums and grocery stores. Items are low-res but the environments are fairly large and it runs smoothly. And, of course, there are the pictures of all the kitties (and a doggy or two) that people (like me) paid to have in the game. When you find a picture and knock it down, it gets added to the game's gallery that you can view from the menu. Needless to say, I'll be playing until I find Livy's pic.

Yesterday's Worlds #7 - Constantine

Constantine Image Constantine (Bits Studios\THQ\2005) - Once in awhile, the passage of time can be a good thing. In my case, it helped both the Constantine movie and the game....but in the case of the latter, only so much.

When I first saw the movie many years ago, I didn't know anything about the comic so I was more than a little lost. Since then, I've watched (and enjoyed!) the NBC TV-series which has helped me better understand Constantine's personality and the world around him. When I watched the flick the other night, I was amazed how much I enjoyed it, and also slightly horrified at how badly Keanu Reeves portrayed the character. It took another, more talented actor to show me what Constantine was really like. Reeves (or rather his direction) was so stunted that I didn't get a feeling for what Constantine was like.

Similarly, I had tried a demo of Constantine, the PS2 game, back when I used to get Official Playstation Magazine demo discs (those were good times). I remember being somewhat bewildered by the gameplay and actually thought it was intrinsically broken. What I think it was, after playing the full game some, was that my PS2 gaming skills at that time were so rudimentary that I was just overwhelmed. Well, that and they did sort of drop you into a fight in "Hell L.A." without much introduction.

Interestingly, the game starts out with a nearly shot-for-shot recreation of the opening of the movie (with an even passable KR sound alike). Then, unfortunately, the game shifts gears to its own story, one that seems like it might be going in the same thematic direction as the movie but with different characters and settings. It made me yearn for Batman Begins - say what you want about that "stealth-lite" game, but it kept to the original movie storyline and that was a plus. I was able to get through a few of the missions, but got bogged down in an endless trek around an underground basement (with, of course, sewers) and have decided to skip the rest of the game. I have nothing against older games, but I need to feel that there's a reason to play them instead of newer, more sophisticated titles.

Friday, April 17, 2015

The Official Chessasaur 2015 Playlog #6 - At the end of Dead Space 3

Last night I finally got to the end of Isaac's story - or at least as much of it as currently exists.

A couple of years back, I played the first Dead Space game, and in atypical style (for me), I finished it. It was a great survival-horror/sci-fi adventure that was brought down a little by clunky movement, awkward zero-G action, and a story that had the lead character, Isaac Clark, basically bossed around the whole game doing everyone else's jobs. But it was still entertaining.

Earlier this year, I got the bug to go back and play the sequels. (At some point, I thought that playing all of a particular series of games would make for a good gaming goal this year.) Dead Space 2 fixed many of the movement and control issues of the first - objects were particularly difficult to position in #1. But, overall, I never really connected with the story. Isaac is "haunted" by the memory of his girlfriend who died on the Ishimura, and other than a final battle with her (sort of) she's not a threat at any time. Meanwhile, most of the exploration and combat takes place on a space station with generic hallways and room design. What I did like was the inclusion of more personality for Isaac and the addition of a new character, Ellie. She rescues Isaac at the end of Dead Space 2 and their relationship is a major part of Dead Space 3.

Dead Space 3 is a full-on, summer blockbuster, thrill ride! The design team at Visceral put a huge amount of effort into the game to make it as exciting as possible. You could tell that they wanted to surprise you with something new to do or overcome at every turn. Other than the combat sometimes, it never got repetitive. Add to that the ongoing situation between Isaac and Ellie (they threw in a love triangle as well), and it was a game I had to finish.

The DLC...well.... Ok, I had to play Awakened since it was basically an epilogue to the game, but at least I got it cheap. I sort of wish that it didn't exist though, because it's the last thing I'll remember most about playing Dead Space 3. It did little or nothing to extend the story other than to say that everything that Isaac did in the main game was worthless (ie, he didn't stop the Marker signal) and that the Earth, in the end, gets screwed anyway. Add in that a third of the gameplay takes place in reused sections of Dead Space 3, and you get a poor ending to a great series.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Official Chessasaur 2015 Playlog #5

Framed Image Framed - (iOS / ~2 hours / Status: Completed) - So, the fabled creator of Metal Gear, Hideo Kojima, called this his Game of 2014. That was one of the reasons I decided to pick it up. Also, I think I got it for free on some sort of one day giveaway deal. For the most part, I liked the puzzle mechanics - you move comic panels around in order to help spies elude police; very unique. It's like an interactive comic, but without any dialog. However, it could have used a bit more instruction as the game progressed. To up the difficulty, you get to levels where it's necessary to move the panels after you've started the action, but it does a very bad job of letting you know when you can move the panels. There were a couple of puzzles that I solved just by luck and shoving things around - probably not what the developers had in mind. I'd like to see a Framed 2 someday that actually had characters and told a story.

Hitman GO Image Hitman Go (iOS / ~30 mins / Status: Aborted) - I really seems a shame to use the Hitman license to market a chess-like puzzle game, but I will say the graphics were outstanding for a tablet title. Definitely not what I was expecting though in the way of gameplay.

Ori and the Blind Forest Image Ori and The Blind Forest (PC / ~3 hours / Status: Abandoned?)  - There should be a rule, nah, a law, that game developers shall be forbidden to create beautiful, whimsical games with cute characters that are hard as balls to play!! I bought this off Steam after hearing just glowing reviews for it's charm and graphical quality. And yes, it looks awesome, like an old fashioned hand-drawn Disney cartoon. And yes, I was moved to tears by the opening sequence. all came apart for me. Truth be told, I've always sucked at games like Super Metroid and Castlevania. I'm just not a really good side-scrolling platformer gamer. I've played a fair number over the years (mostly in the SNES days), but I guess I stayed toward the easier ones. This game gives no quarter. After about 3 hours of enemies that took half my hit-points at once, getting hurt by water, and having to use up power-ups to save, I gave up. A real loss as I'm sure the ending of this game would have been wonderful to see.

*** Update: Well, maybe I was a little too hasty on my verdict here. I was watching a stream yesterday of someone playing Ori and was somewhat heartened to see that they got stuck in exactly the same place I did! With some help from the other watchers, he got through it and I saw what I had missed. So, that evening I reinstalled it and decided to try some more. Mind you, it's still harder than I think it should be, but if I take it in small chunks I might be able to get through more of it.

I have over 900 games in my Steam catalog and last night decided to hit up a couple, just to see if I could find a diamond in the rough. No such luck this time.

Wrack Image Wrack (PC / ~ 1/2 hour / Status: Aborted) - It would be rude of me to say too much negative about this game because it's apparently supposed to be an "old school" FPS - like Doom, but cel-shaded. So, saying things like "the writing is juvenile", "the controls are primitive", and "it's not worth my time" would just be a slap in the face of the developers who slaved over this game. Moving on...

Super Toy Cars Image Super Toy Cars (PC / ~ 1/2 hour / Status: Aborted) - I'm always up for a racing game, no matter how cheesy, but I still wonder what the big draw is for toy cars driving around a kid's bedroom floor. Seems like I've seen it too many times before. Anyway, the controls on this one were not as tight as they needed to be and I found myself hitting the track walls much too often. Fortunately, I probably got it in a bundle deal. No major loss.

Monday, March 09, 2015

The Official Chessasaur 2015 Playlog #4 - The Order: 1886

When I first heard about The Order: 1886, I was intrigued but cautious - I'd heard that early builds of the game had real problems.But the idea of fighting werewolves in an alternate history/steampunk setting as King Arthur's knights was, to say the least, something different.

Then, when it was released, the prevailing comment was, "It's really short!" This got me thinking I should probably try a Gamestop rental and, as it turned out, that was enough to get through the whole game! Mind you, my gaming time isn't extensive - I play maybe 1 to 1 1/2 hours a night, so this took me no more than 8 or 9 hours.

Not that I'm complaining; I enjoy being able to actually finish a game. But aside from that, this game was an incredible visual experience that cannot be understated. As an example, here is a video I made while walking around the Round Table. Notice that each knight's shield is carved into their place:

Everything in this game screams DETAIL from the clothing to weapons to miscellaneous Victorian era room decor.

But how does the game play? Well, that could have used a little (or a lot of) help. Basically, this game is a third person shooting game and most of the time you are fighting people (rebels, ruffians, and employees of the treacherous United India corporation). There are few battles with werewolves and they come in only two flavors - rush attacks and QTE heavy boss battles. When you are actually shooting, the weapons "feel" very satisfying and the cover-based combat is entertaining, but it seems that there should have been something more meaningful to balance out the excellent art design, character voice acting, and musical score. There's also little explanation on why/how the knights of Camelot are still alive in the 19th Century or how some of them are knights now in the first place (like Lady Igraine or Marquis de Lafayette).

Some of the design choices were questionable, like the one where you have to position a cursor with your right thumbstick, then press a face button...with the same thumb! There were also places where your character, Sir Galahad, moves very slowly and can't run which can be very frustrating. The game is VERY linear - you are forced to follow a specific path the entire time and the only options you have is which enemy to shoot first. (I was really annoyed when, at one point, I entered a room and was made to drop a good weapon I was carrying in order to pickup a sniper rifle and do a specific mission before I could continue.) As such, there is virtually no replayability to The Order, which is sad considering how gorgeous it looks.

The story itself is somewhat easy to see how it's going to unfold. The only "shocking reveal" was something that I really didn't understand the significance of. The rest of the plot twists were only surprising to the main character.

However, all that being said, I liked playing The Order because it was very cinematic - the level of detail on the characters and world made you feel that this was more movie than game. (Maybe the couple of chapters that were nothing but cut-scenes helped that feeling.) The length of the game was actually a plus considering the game play wasn't very deep, but I do think that there are many gamers that would be put out to pay $60 for this short an experience with no replay value. If it does well enough, I think we can look forward to a much better The Order: 1887.

Monday, March 02, 2015

The Official Chessasaur 2015 Playlog #3 - Let's Just Call This February

It's not that I haven't been writing entries this's just that I haven't finished any (yet).

In an effort to make sure that something gets out for the month, here's a rundown of February's gaming:

Apotheon Image Apotheon (PS4 / ~3 hours / Status: Abandoned) - Well, I tried. I really did. But as great as this game looks, I'm just not going to get any farther in it. I could have used an easier setting since I kept running out of health potions and decent weapons (they wear out!). There's also the usual (by now tedious) 2-D sidescroller level design trope that shows which direction you need to go, but, of course, you can't just get there directly. You have to go up or down (or both) before you find it. I will admit that the game wasn't too punishing (ie, when I died in an area, the things I'd destroyed and the enemies I killed didn't respawn) but overall it just felt too much like work. On the good side, it was "free" with my Playstation Plus membership and it will keep me from buying it from Steam.

The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask Image The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask (N64 emulated / ~2 hours / Status: Abandoned) - I spent some time getting a bunch of old N64 games to work along with a USB adapter to use an original controller, but the experience is just too dated. Majora's Mask requires a lot of coordination in your actions during a 3 day cycle. Could I do it? Sure. Do I want to put in that much time? Uh, no. (In a shocking case of gross hypocrisy, I have to admit to buying the 3DS remake this last week. This is what I get for buying that Best Buy Gamer Unlocked membership. 20% off new games is a strong motivator when it's a game you know won't come down in price anytime soon. Well, at least I've heard that if I was going to play LoZ:MM, this is the way to do it.)

Angry Birds Epic Image Angry Birds Epic (iPad Mini / ~6 hours / Status: Active) - I think this may be the first year I spend a large amount of time pad gaming. I've usually been against tablet games because of the lack of decent tactile feedback, but there's something to be said for the ease of play and the quality of the visuals (iPad screens look gorgeous!). ABE is an amusing, light-weight tactical RPG in the vein of a Final Fantasy game, but with no reading! It's F2P, but I've already broken that and thrown a few bucks their way in exchange for some coins. Ah, it's a slippery slope, I know.

Dying Light Image Dying Light (PS4 / ~2 hours / Status: Delayed Purchase) - When I heard about this game, my excitement dwindled rapidly at the prospect of an open-world zombie game (something I dearly wish Rockstar would make!) coupled with a Mirror's Edge kind of parkour movement style. So, in true Smart Consumer fashion...I "rented" it from Gamestop. I'll admit that it was not love at first play - this game breaks a fundamental gaming law, namely that you press-AND-HOLD the Jump button! I was also annoyed at the idea that I couldn't just fight the zombies. However, to my surprise, I really started to like the gameplay and realized that fighting the swarms of undead wasn't an option and that I was okay with it. Much like some of the scenes in The Walking Dead, hordes of zombies are not something you battle on the ground even if you have guns (they tend to run out of bullets). I played through a handful of the starting missions and then decided that I'd rather return it so I could play it from the beginning at a later time (when it's cheaper, for example). Plus, I'm still way into...

Dead Space 3 Image Dead Space 3 (PC Origin / ~8 hours / Status: Active) - I'm still having a good time with DS3, mostly because I'm hoping Isaac and Ellie will end up together at the end. Yeah, strange reason to want to keep playing a third-person, survival horror shooter, but at least the game's writers should be happy. What I could do with less of is some of the silly "puzzles" they've thrown at me. One involved moving cargo out of the way of a ship-board transport. I thought I'd just use my kinesis power and move stuff or attach rockets like I did in DS2. No. In this one, I find a control panel that allows me to rotate two pieces until they can connect together like Tetris blocks - and they forgot to put into the PC version what the activation was to get them to pair! (It was space-bar, by the way.) Most of the puzzles I've found were obviously designed for twin-stick controllers, but I'm managing. Other than that, I still wish the weapons had more of a punch (even on Casual they are wimpy) and the lack of active save points has led to some annoyingly long game sessions.

**Update**: In preparing this blog entry, I looked over the above paragraph and, while the "complaints" about the puzzles were justified, I think that, overall, it doesn't convey the feeling that I have been getting from playing DS3, especially last night's session...which would be HOLY FUCKING AMAZE-A-BALLS!!! I mean this game has been good, really good! The first hour was better, action and setting wise, that almost all of Dead Space 2 put together. It really feels like I'm playing in a blockbuster sci-fi movie. (An Amazon review I saw said it was the "Michael Bay" Dead Space game. Fine with me.) But last night I played (spoiler alert) the part of the game where you fly this barely operational shuttle down to the planet where you hope you can stop the Marker's effects. If games get more exciting that that sequence, I don't know if I could handle it! Dodging space junk, mines, and keeping the ship on course, worrying about every little bump and bang. Then it catches fire! Then it starts falling apart! Just before hitting the planet surface, Ellie gets sucked out of the side! CRASH! After this fiery reentry and "landing", I'm alone on a freezing planet and have to run between piles of burning wreckage to keep from dying of the cold. Plus there's monsters chasing me, other wrecked ships that are falling apart around me, I'm trying to find Ellie, not die, following flares she's left in the snow (she's alive!!), and then this giant necromorph pops up from over a cliff and grabs me!! (I don't mind fessing up to a full-on shriek about that time.) More monsters, more cold, hide in a shelter, run through a derelict structure, avoid another giant necromorph grab (smaller shriek this time), find another shelter, run around it looking for the way in, getting colder, shoot monsters, keep running, Find Door, OPEN DOOR, IN!! When I finally got to this stopping place for the night (well, early morning), I realized that I was still vibrating from the adrenaline in my blood stream! That is something I've NEVER had happen in a game before! Only February and I might be playing my Game of the Year.

Nintendo - Wii U 32GB Console Super Mario 3D World and Nintendo Land Bundle - Black - Larger FrontThe Wii U is here! - Well, I actually bought it back in 2014 and it's been sitting in a box for all that time, but it's setup now. It took awhile before I felt I needed to get a Wii U, in the first place. But, over the YEARS it's been out, there are now some games that I want to play. The first one that got my attention was ZombiU, then Mario Kart 8, then...well, it's hard to say, but cheap game prices helped. The initial setup of this system was shockingly difficult. I mean, the Wii U is only one generation removed from the Gamecube, a system that required nothing more than power and a TV hook-up. The amount of updating that was required to get the U up to speed was embarrassing. Anyone who is not very tech savy (or patient) might never get it working. I haven't done any gaming on it yet, but I'm looking forward to at least getting to play through Earthbound on Virtual Console.