Saturday, July 01, 2017

Chessasaur's June 2017 Gaming Log

June 2017 Gaming - Day by day

6/01 - RiME finally got here! Started tonight and I'm already wishing I'd played it before Zelda. Nintendo has really spoiled everyone with the ability to climb every surface. It makes you look differently at any open-world-ish environment. The puzzles are very reminiscent of Zelda games - line up blocks, trigger things in order to open other areas, etc - but having to find a particular route through an area where you can't just climb up rocks feels old fashioned. There also appears to be, like so many other games lately, no discernible story to it. Your character, a native looking child, wakes up on a deserted beach on an island that has mysterious ruins. I didn't even get any indication as to what I was supposed to do - I just figured I'd go to these beacons scattered around and see what happened. As in, try pressing buttons on my controller. Turns out I can "shout", which activates the statues or fire braziers. Wow. It's pretty, it works well, it's not too hard, the day changes to night (for some reason), but I have no idea "Why?".

6/02 - RiME. Okay, moving the gold ball and changing the time of day was sort of cool.

6/03 - RiME. Avoiding the bird thing is giving the game a bit more "meat", but it still is pretty much an anonymous 3D puzzle platformer.

6/04 - RiME. I'll admit the underwater section, where you have to swim from air bubble to air bubble, is kind of cool. Think I'm getting to the last section since the environment changed from a Greek Las Hadas to a jungle temple. Still no clue on the story.

6/05 - RiME. I guess I wasn't as close to the end as I thought. Still going. More underwater sections and machines that remind me of the ones from H. G. Wells "War of the Worlds" story (except his had 3 legs, I think).

6/06 - RiME. Yup, still here. But I have to admit the sections I did with the 2-legged, walking, ball creature/robot/things were...interesting...unique...fun? At one point, several of them "sacrifice" themselves to open doors so I can proceed. When the last one goes to open the a door, the kid gets all emotional and doesn't want it to "die". While I was touched at the time by the imminent, but necessary loss of my "new friend" (I did just give him life a few minutes ago), when I look back on it, it makes little sense - mostly because I still don't have any idea how the mechanical giants figure into the lore of the game. Just for the fun of it, I was streaming and even had someone stop by to look. No chat though. Have to be near the end.

6/08 - RiME. It took a week (minus one day) and the credits rolled. **Spoilers ahead, as usual.** It took me awhile to figure it out, but RiME is the video game equivalent of a Hallmark condolence card - well made, but ultimately not truly heartfelt. The "story" is finally "explained" at the end of game where you realize the boy was lost at sea and the father is still grieving. Things you deal with in the game, like the fox or the robots, are toys and decorations in his room. His journey through the world is supposed to represent the stages of dealing with death - denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and, eventually, acceptance. But when you're jumping and climbing on rocks, "yelling" at statues and fires, avoiding giant birds, guiding robots, swimming from air bubble to air bubble, and solving puzzles, it doesn't really accomplish its goal. Mind you, the game itself is good - responsive controls, impressive graphics, emotionally charged music - I just don't think it needed to be tied to a tale of loss. If there's a deeper meaning to the adventure, I must have missed it. Submerged did the wordless story-telling platformer much better than RiME did.

6/09 - First night of WipEout Omega Collection. Man, this is one otaku-level racer! I'm struggling with just the first few courses. After I turned on the Pilot Assist, I was able to do some decent laps, but I still missed the first time-trial by .43 of a second because I should have hit one or two more boost pads. Interesting note, the arcade game that Dade plays in Hackers, is a SGI rendered prototype of WipEout. Needless to say, 22 years later, the home console PS4 version looks much better.

6/10 - After punting around a couple Xbox One games (SpeedRunners and Killer Instinct), neither of which I liked, I booted up The Cave...and I think I really like it! I've been a bit lukewarm on "funny" video games lately, having not enjoyed Thimbleweed Park or Tales From The Borderlands, but this one strikes a nice balance between comedy and good gameplay, at least in the part I've played so far. It plays like an old-school point-and-click adventure morphed into a controller driven platformer. Puzzles feel like old Lucas Arts ones, but you have to move people around to do things. It's all in 2D so you always know the pieces you need are at hand - you just have to figure out where they all go. It's also not a hand-holding game - you get to discover for yourself what to do at certain points without blatant prompts. I like that.

6/11 - No night gaming due to all the E3 stuff going on, but I did register all my new Zelda amiibo NFC cards (boy, did Nintendo drop the ball on this one!) and used about half of them to get those 3 minute demos of Virtual Console games. I never played Balloon Fight before this (I didn't own a NES back in the day) and I was surprised to see that it was the inspiration for Joust. Who knew?

6/12 - The Cave. What started as a lark is turning into an extended project. Playing more, I got stuck for awhile but was able to figure out the solution (albeit not quite the way it was supposed to be done) and it was very satisfying. This game has a lot of charm and doesn't really demand much from the player (ie, controls are solid, you can't die from a lack of skill, puzzle areas are fairly limited). With all the E3 stuff going one, I feel like I should be playing one of my backlog high-end games...instead I'm playing an old 360 game that has fairly simple graphics. But, a game's a game, right?

6/13 - The Cave. It's sad when a game goes from pleasantly challenging to annoyingly challenging in one sitting. As I'm getting "diminishing returns" on my gaming time "investment", I'm kicking The Cave to The Curb. It was fun while it lasted, but the puzzles got too involved to want to continue. Plus, I felt like I was spending too much time watching my characters run or climb - the levels should have been smaller. Ladders and ropes were getting "sticky" too; it was getting harder to jump off of them cleanly.

6/15 - Booted up Yooka-Laylee for a little bit. They've tweaked it lately and it does feel better than before, but it's still a Banjo-Kazooie clone and I'm not sure that's the kind of game I want to play in this day and age. Speaking of "old games", I thought I should at least give Beyond Good & Evil a try before the sequel is (possibly) released. Even though I'm playing the Xbox 360 HD version, you can still feel the years on this one. Character movements have come a long ways since they started mo-capping everything.Even such basic things as "look" axis inversion needed time for developers to standardize their designs. This game allows you to invert the "look", but only if you change BOTH the X and Y! I actually had to switch back to normal (ie, reversed for me) Y-axis because I had too much trouble with the X-axis being backwards. As for the gameplay, gods-bless the 2000's! Publishing houses had imagination and balls back then. Nothing in BG&E makes any fucking sense and that's what makes it so amazing. Publishers are such pussies now. They won't put a game out unless it's tied to a known franchise - the new God of War, both of the Shadow of Mordor games, and Assassin's Creed 4 should have been new IP's. Don't just try to dress a new system or setting in an old set of clothes.

6/16 - BG&E. Did this during the early evening since SDG&E is (possibly) turning the power off tonight at 11pm. How dare they?! Don't they know we need electricity to pursue our gaming hobby? Don't they know I'm a master gamer and can't afford to miss a single evening of my precious pastime?? In a word...no. Anyway, BG&E is shaping up to be a great game stuck in a previous, previous generation's shell. I'm trying to decide if I should restart and stream it. Wouldn't take much since I'm less than 2 hours in. It's a consideration. Still wonderfully weird! **Late Update**: With the power outage looming, I started up the 3DS and first played Metroid II (why can I not get the jump and shoot buttons right??), then went into Fire Emblem Awakening. And I'm surprised how much I'm enjoying it! I've know about it for a long time, but never gave it my full attention. I think I need to restart it with perma-death - feels like I'm cheating playing without it.

6/17 - Fire Emblem Awakening. Restarted in Classic mode, so I have to be reeeal careful not to let anyone die!

6/18 - Started to play a little Wolfenstein: The Old Blood but got too sleepy. It's been a long weekend. One thing I did start doing: teaching myself to play in un-inverted mode. If I want to be able to play older games (like BG&E, for example) I need to switch back. I know that my preference for inverted Y-axis stems from my early days with flight sims on the Atari joysticks. But these days, I hardly ever play flying games, so I should re-train my brain to handle the standard layouts. I've heard that it doesn't take too much time. We'll see how it goes, or in other words, how painful the transition is.

6/19 - I didn't actually get any gaming in because I was trying to figure out why the fan in my PS4 was running and the box was hot while it was in "rest" mode. I checked and it didn't look like anything was downloading, so I figured it needed to be dusted out. Yes, there are numerous YouTube videos about dismantling and cleaning out a PS4, but I settled for just dusting out the back with a can of air. This produced more dust than I expected, to be honest. Dust, in general, is something I wonder how much the console makers consider. I'm particularly worried about the new Xbox One X. That system has a ton of heat producing hardware packed into a surprisingly small box. Once a year or so of dust builds up inside the case, is the cooling system still going to be able to keep the system from overheating? You can tell that Microsoft over compensated in cooling when they made the original Xbox One so that they wouldn't have to deal with a RRoD issue again. While this meant the system was made overly large and heavy, it has the advantage of being graveyard quiet. By comparison, the PS4 is annoyingly loud. It's funny that during the previous console generation, the PS3 was always touted as being so much quieter than the jet-engine sounding Xbox 360. The more things change...

6/20 - Some nights, things don't work out the way you expect. Started by unwrapping a few new games because if there's one thing I learned from all those DLC cards lurking in my unopened game boxes: don't hesitate! One of them, the Bulletstorm game, still used the QR code for the Kinect. I wish they all still did that, but since they figure hardly anyone has those anymore, why bother? Since I had the Xbox One on for entering the codes, I decided to play more BG&E. And that's where things went sour. For an old-school, semi-open world game, you can get lost very easily - or at least not know where you're supposed to go next. Gotta say, this game is trying my patience. It may be a classic, but I think it might be more retro than I want to deal with. I'm going to try an FAQ to see what I was missing or a YouTube. Did use Beam Mixer to see what the archived streams look like.

6/21 - As a change of pace, I decided to give Lego Worlds another go. I'd tried it back when my bro was in town and we quickly found the multiplayer unplayable - neither of us could figure out what we were doing. But, before I gave up on it entirely, I wanted to try it single player. Lego Worlds was one of a few games that had a significant presence at last years Twitch Con. Guess they were expecting it to be a good game to stream. Unfortunately, it doesn't work for me. Maybe it's because I'm not a Minecraft player. This game has a lot more in common with that ultra-popular game than building things with Lego's or even the other Lego movie tie-in games. It's hard to control the 3-dimensional nature of placing blocks while moving your character and camera around. It always felt like I was fighting it. I'd have much preferred something that would have given me unlimited Lego pieces to build with. Well, at least I tried it again.

6/23 - With the PS4 in "limbo mode" (ie, I'm waiting for tools to open it up so I can clean it out), I looked at my installed Xbox One games and picked Unravel to play. Ah, the adventures of Yarny! I remember one of my podcast people being really excited for Unravel to be released...until he actually played it. Now I see why. I don't know how I can be so stuck so early by something as simple as a teeter-totter and a rock. The nighttime cold pills I took probably didn't help and I started to fall asleep in my chair. I'll have to try it again tomorrow.

6/25 - Unravel Not content with being stuck on that rock (so to speak), I went back for more adventures with Yarny. There are some games that are very hand-holding at the beginning and then decide, at some point, that they've said enough and the rest is up to you. Never mind that they leave out crucial mechanics for solving puzzles - you'll be fine, it assumes. In this case, it was that the yarn bridges you could create were not just for making little trampolines; you can also use them as ramps! So, I made it through the first two chapters and my feelings about the game are mixed. First off, the game looks amazing! Everything (grass, thistles, wood, rocks, crabs, etc.) is photo-realistic and the physics of the yarn make you quickly forget you are playing a computer game. Yarny is cute, but doesn't give off any particular personality. The platforming challenges can get frustrating, but it feels real good when you figure out what needs to be done. The "story", however...well, I know they are going for something very sentimental regarding loss and the relentless passage of time, but the pictures you "recover" during the game look like bad stock photos for generic greeting cards. I feel less than no connection to the people in them or what they represent. I would guess that the designers intentionally picked images which were nonspecific so they could be relevant to anyone, but it seems they've drifted toward a relation to no one. If I continue playing, it will be for the platforming challenge, not the overall story.

6/26 - Unravel. Ugh! I'm done with Unravel. The swinging, yarn throwing, drowning in water thing is getting old fast. Pretty to look at, frustrating to play. I guess it didn't help that I was playing very late to try to forget about the awful John Wick 2 movie we watched, but I still think I'd have thrown in the knitting needles at this point anyway.

6/28 - It's always weird when I boot up a game I think I've never tried, only to find a save file showing I had played it before. This was the case when I started Dead Space Extraction on the PS3 (it was included with the Dead Space 2 Limited Edition). This was a ported Wii title and the switch from motion controls to thumbstick targeting is both good and bad. One the one hand, head shots are easier on multiple targets because you can just leave the cursor at head level and fire. However, you are supposed to pickup items during the game's on-rails movement sections which would be easy with the point-and-shoot Wii controller, but not so much with the DualShock 3. My biggest surprise (since I hadn't gotten this far before) is that your character DIES at the end of Chapter 1! (Ooops, spoilers, my bad.) It does make me want to keep playing, but I'm really wondering if I should go back to a Wii platform.

6/29 - Just a little Limbo, my play anytime game. Should I switch to Inside?

6/30 - My poor PS4 Pro. It gets so little love. Figured I should take pity on it and at least update the firmware (since it isn't my primary PS4 anymore, it doesn't get auto updates). First thing I did was to try (and delete) a couple PS+ free games that were downloaded to it - Killing Floor 2 and Spy Chameleon. The former was impossible to read at the distance I sit from the TV (about 15') but the latter was playable, if a bit simple. Then I started up Rez Infinite...and was happy! What an incredible experience that is - light, sound, vibration! I've loved it since the PS2 days when it was the most expensive used game I'd ever bought (it was hard to get back then). If I were ever to want to use a VR headset, it would be to immerse myself in that cyber space.

Media Highlights...and Lowlights

June's screen shots, all of RiME, are HERE.

WipEout from Hackers (1995)



WipEout Omega Collection from PS4 (2017)


RiME is a gorgeous game. Here is it in action:





While I ran out of steam for Beyond Good & Evil, it's worth putting in a little video to show how wonderfully weird the game is:


And finally, a couple of videos for Unravel. You can tell by these just how remarkable the graphics are...I just wish it was as fun to play!



Miscellaneous Musings

Hmmm...nothing here this month. Have to muse more in July. Ack! Just remembered it's Comic-Con month coming up! It would be nice to find a developer or two to meet/get autographs from. Still very fond of the Suda 51 auto I have on my PS3 copy of Shadows of the Damned.

Monday, June 26, 2017

The Second Coming of SNES

June 26, 2017 - Nintendo rocks my world with the announcement of a Super NES Classic Edition! Following in the footsteps of the NES Classic, this unit will have 21 pre-loaded games, includes two controllers, sells for $80, and releases 9/29/17. And like the NES Classic, it may have a very short sales period, the reasons for which can only be guessed at. Nintendo may have already said (via a report on Kotaku) it will only ship units through the end of the year. I guess Nintendo hates money!

Like the NES Classic, the Super NES Classic is super tiny:


Words can't describe how I feel about this little grey and purple box! The SNES was my first "real" console, the one that got me away from mainly Atari 800 and PC gaming. Yeah, I'm old enough to have played on an Atari 2600 - a lot, actually - but back then it was more of a way to pass the time until you could get to an arcade where the really good games were. While everyone else had NES's (and later PlayStations), I was playing on the Atari 800, Atari ST, and a 4Mhrz CGA graphics PC. My wife surprised me with the SNES as a birthday gift and from then on it was setup in the living room, cords running from the coffee table to the TV. (I can't tell you how many times it got yanked onto the floor by passing feet - that old SNES could take a beating and never quit. Young'ins will ask, "Why didn't you put it next to the TV in the entertainment center?", to which I'll tell them, "Because they didn't have wireless controllers back then, dearie" and watch their eyes fill with disbelief.)

I think one of the big advances that the SNES brought to console gaming was the concept of long term games. Prior to the SNES, games were either play-til-you-died arcade style games, or very short adventures, like the Atari 2600 game, uh, Adventure. I might be reaching a bit with that, but for me it was one of the big differences.

The games coming on the Super NES Classic are (along with my opinions):

  • Super Mario World - For me, the greatest Mario adventure ever! The culmination of everything Nintendo learned from the first 3 games, upgraded to be a 16-bit masterpiece.
  • Super Mario Kart - Probably the most accessible one of the franchise and destined to be most played game on the mini-console.
  • The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past - The only Zelda game I've ever finished. This is a game I want to play again.
  • F-Zero - This is the kind of game, a balls-hard racer, that some gamers will boot up, crash a lot, then move onto something else.
  • Super Metroid - I really want to think I'll get into this one enough to finish it. It's a tough game though.
  • Star Fox - See my concerns below. Other than that, I welcome more space travels with Fox McCloud and the crew.
  • Star Fox 2 - Everyone was shocked by this. The story goes that its original release was aborted because it was too late in the SNES life cycle and Nintendo was launching the N64. I probably have the ROM somewhere, but I've never tried it.
  • Street Fighter 2 Turbo - I'm not a big fighting game person, but this one was one of the best.
  • Super Punch Out - Also not a sports fan and never played the original NES game, but I'm looking forward to trying it.
  • Super Castlevania IV - I generally suck at Castlevania games which is why I never got this one.
  • Donkey Kong Country - I could just put this on and listen to the music. It's so good!
  • Mega Man X - Mega Man never was part of my gaming life (I was a Mario man), so it should be interesting how I do with it.
  • Kirby Super Star - Probably the most Japanese game out of this bunch. I picked it up on a whim at a Warehouse discount bin back in the day. One of my daughter's favorites, and a weird mix of various mini-games. Today's gamers will find it hard to categorize.
  • Kirby's Dream Course - In my opinion, the oddest choice here. A strange sort of mini-golf-esque puzzle game. Not a lot of fun, to be honest.
  • Final Fantasy III - What we now know here as FFVI, one of the best, from what I've been told.
  • Yoshi's Island - More notes below. Fun and colorful if you can put up with the crying Mario baby noise.
  • Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars - Wow! This collection really pulled up the great ones. At the time, Nintendo went out on a limb with this cross-over, taking a 2-D platforming character into a full on RPG. And it worked!
  • Secret of Mana - A deep JRPG. Never had it myself, should have gotten it, and looking forward to trying it.
  • Contra III: Alien Wars - I was never much of a Contra guy - kept dying too much.
  • Earthbound - Geez Us. Could this collection have had a greater line up? I own the original cart and the game on Wii U VC, but I'd still buy this unit if Earthbound were the only game on it.
  • Super Ghouls N' Ghosts - Remember what I said about F-Zero? Probably goes double for this one. As much fun as hitting yourself in the junk with a hammer.
There are some interesting emulation issues that I'm assuming Nintendo has addressed. While the upscaling and HDMI output on the NES Classic was remarkable, they'll have more work to do with some of these games. Ones like Super Mario Kart used the Mode 7 graphics option of the SNES hardware, and games like Star Fox used the Super FX chip which was actually built into the cartridge motherboard. There was also a special chip made for the original Yoshi's Island. I'm sure there will be a lot of scrutinizing by tech-nerds of how well Nintendo has done their job.

For now, we can just wait until outlets like Amazon and Best Buy put up (hopefully) pre-orders. The NES Classic didn't have any and most wanna-be buyers never saw one out in the wilds. I personally only got mine through Best Buy Online. The Super NES Classic will be the hottest Christmas present this year and the ultimate "get" for any and all scalpers. It's going to get ugly out there.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

PiSsed-off 4

This is going to be a short post that will chronicle the problems I'm having with my PS4.

How things were before 6/16 - My PS4 is setup on a 3-in-1-out HDMI switch connected to my gaming TV. The other devices on the switch are my main PC and an Xbox One. Most of the time I boot up only the PC. When I boot up the PS4, the HDMI switch automatically pops over to that input. When I want to use the Xbox One, I have to manually click the selector button on the switch to that port. No big deal. When I've finished playing on the PS4, I put it in Rest mode with the USB ports still active. When I do this, the system runs for a little bit (less than a minute or two) to cool down the components, then it goes to "sleep" (no fan noise). The exception to this state is if it is still downloading an update.

Then, SDG&E pulls the figurative plug on the night of 6/16.

The next time I try to boot up the PS4, it complains that it wasn't shutdown properly. Yeah, I've seen that before - it doesn't like being "unplugged" while in Rest mode. (Hey, who does?) Everything seems fine after the rebuild, but later, long after I've put it back in Rest mode, I hear the PS4's fan running. On top of that, the case is warm and so is the air blowing out the back. What the heck? Interestingly, I think the HDMI port is still active - I don't get that automatic port switching anymore when I boot up the PS4.

So far, I've tried:
  • Turning off the Rest mode USB charging power
  • Picking a desktop theme that's not dynamic
  • Dusting out the console from the back and sides with an air-can
  • Rebuilding the databases from Safe mode (which puts all the PlayStation apps at the front of the queue, by the way)
Nothing has helped. And when you go looking for answers via Google, you find a lot of misunderstandings as to the state of the system when it's running in Rest mode. People think you are just downloading files, or they say, "Well, my system runs for a few minutes and then stops". None of that helps, folks!

At this point, I figure I can:

a) live with it - I won't want to leave games suspended when I play, which means it will take longer to get back into them. Not the best choice, in my opinion.

b) try to open up the PS4 enough to dust out the heat sink, in the assumption that it's too dusty to cool properly. There are lots of videos on YouTube about taking a PS4 apart and I guess it's not too big of a deal? However, I think I'll skip the parts about removing the heatsink and changing the thermal paste!

c) try putting in my old 500gb drive, letting it update, and seeing if that "fixes" the issue. If it does, it also means I'll have to completely reinitialize my 2TB drive because something has gotten borked with the software on there. (One sort of plus of doing this is, I can move P.T. to my PS4 Pro. I read that moving games will not affect your old disc, but will overwrite everything on the new system. This is fine because I haven't put much on the Pro yet. I have also read that drives can't be put in different systems - they are encrypted to only work in the systems they are setup in. For this reason, I should probably do this one before opening up the box since if I "break" my old PS4, I'll lose P.T. forever!)

Update #1 : It's gone. P.T. is gone. I tried putting the old hard drive in and I guess the hardware has been upgraded too much for it to boot. All I have left is memories of Silent Hills. Well, at least I finished it once. *sigh* Anyhow, I tried standing the PS4 on its end, but a) I hate how that looks, and b) it did nothing to help reduce the heat while in Rest mode. Looks like the next step will be to open her up and see how bad the dust is. I ordered screwdrivers and they should be her on Saturday or Sunday. Until then, I'll either play on the other consoles or just turn the PS4 off when I'm not using it. I still might do a complete software reinstall just to make sure the system isn't corrupted at some level.

Update #2: The screwdrivers got her on Saturday (go Amazon!), so I popped the box open and this is what I found:




This is what roughly 3 1/2 years of gaming looks like. Not pretty. For the record, this is the YouTube video I used to get safely into the system:



Very helpful and concise. I originally planned to dismantle the system further but between this YouTuber's suggestion and another video I watched that went further, I decided I didn't have the courage to take it apart that much.

Using Q-Tips and an air-can, I cleaned it all out. After reassembly and hook-up, it was a) much quieter, b) ran cooler, but c) still didn't go into full Rest mode. Time to re-install the operating system.

PS4's actually make this very easy. You download a 900mb-ish file, stick it on a USB flashdrive, plug it into the PS4, boot the PS4 into "safe mode" (which is easier to do than on a PC), hook-up a controller, pick the bottom menu option, and about 15-20 minutes later, you're done! Of course, before you do this, you need to backup all your saves and capture gallery items. Since I'm not in the middle of a game, I don't really have a need for save files - I've either finished a game, or will need to restart any game that I've been away from for more than two weeks. Just easier that way.

Once I got the basic initialization stuff setup, I put the system into Rest mode and...it worked just like it used to! So, I guess the ultimate culprit was the power outage from the 16th that corrupted something on the disc. It still needed the cleanout since it was sounding too much like a jet engine during gameplay. I guess I'll just have to do the maintenance once in awhile.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

E3 2017 Bethesda Conference Thoughts

Some random thoughts on the Bethesda 2017 E3 Press Conference:
  • Not having any interest in VR, the opening items of Doom VFR and Fallout VR didn't do much for me.
  • The Elder Scrolls Online: Morrowind. Kind of old news guys. We already knew it was coming. Was it worth getting video of 7 or 8 streamers for a combined total of maybe 15 seconds of screen time?
  • The Bethesdaland narration is already getting annoying at this point.
  • The Creation Club will allow modders (and Bethesda) to get paid for their work. Probably a good thing?
  • The Elder Scrolls: Legends...for people who want to play Hearthstone with Elder Scrolls lore and art.
  • Okay, they are making a Skyrim for the Switch. Interesting. And it has amiibo support for Link Breath of the Wild costumes! I just heard the price of Link amiibo's tripling.
  • A Dishonored 2 "expansion"...with my favorite character from the Dishonored DLC's - Daude, voiced by Michael Madsen. Guess I'll have to hurry up and play D2.
  • A new eSport game that I can completely ignore because I'm not young enough and fast enough to play, Quake Champions!
  • Who put a f*ckton of Resident Evil in my Evil Within?! I played the beginning chapter of The Evil Within 1 and it didn't look anything like this horror show. On the good side, I didn't see a single tripwire bomb, so I'm sold. Twitch scream-stream gold in the making.
  • After a live action video shot with an Instagram filter and '50's costumes, it's...Wolfenstein again! Not sure what "The New Colossus" refers to, but B.J. is back to liberate America from the Nazi's. He wants to make America great....NO NO NO, I'M NOT GOING THERE!
  • And they are all coming out this year?? Wow, that's a lot of games to pump out in 5 months (figuring they want them out before Christmas). If I had to make a bet, I'd say they delay Wolfenstein 2. A) The Evil Within 2 wants to hit a specific date because it's a Friday the 13th, B) Wolfenstein will have to contend with two other shooters - CoD:WWII and Battlefront II - around the same time.
  • Final thought: Who was working the sound? Either the audience was asleep or unimpressed because you couldn't hear hardly anything from them. 

E3 2017 Xbox Conference Thoughts

Just some random stuff:

  • The name "Xbox One X" is going to drive sales people nuts. Too close in sound to "Xbox One S".
  • It's pretty!
  • Well, it better work with all the Xbox One accessories. Duh!
  • Forza 7. Meh. Where did they get two hot looking driver chicks? And did you notice they couldn't stay off the curbs?
  • Soooo...it's a Porsche. Hooray.
  • Lots of games to announce.
  • Want. Metro. Exodus!
  • Anyone who doesn't think Assassin's Creed Origins looks phenomenal is in The Nile. (hahaha...oh, nevermind) Did you see the giant snake?? Shades of Conan the Destroyer. Oh, and do you think Jean Guesdon will ever be able to live down the "Xbone" slip up?
  • PUBG on a console? No, not really. Sniping will be impossible.
  • Deep Rock Galactic looks like a multiplayer No Man's Sky.
  • Yeah, State of Decay 2! Not sure what they added from the first one, though.
  • The Darwin Project. Cute name, but not interested in another Overwatch.
  • Minecraft in 4K? Why???
  • Dragon Ball Z Fighters. Not my thing, but it looks like you are playing the cartoon.
  • The Black Desert MMO looks like Final Fantasy. I actually thought it was at first.
  • The Last Night looks a bit too pixelated for my taste, but I'd be willing to give it a try.
  • The Artful Escape has a cool look to it that reminds me of Yellow Submarine. Looking forward to it.
  • Put Code Vein on my Wishlist. 
  • Sea of Thieves looks like a lot of fun with friends.
  • Tacoma coming in less than 2 months!
  • Cuphead FINALLY! I'd be more interested if it weren't supposed to be so hard.
  • Super Lucky's Tale. Did we just timewarp back into the 90's? Should have called it Conker: The Early Years.
  • I predict that Crackdown 3 will under perform due to lackluster gameplay. Nothing I saw reminded me of the things you could do in the first one.
  • Ashen looks really creepy!
  • Life is Strange: Before the Storm. Guess I have to play the first one now.
  • Extended Shadow of War gameplay. A lot going one. I think the orcs sound too...Aussie?
  • The new Ori game had me cutting onions. I just wish I could have done better with the first one.
  • I audibly gasped when I saw the original Xbox logo! Yes! I know it won't be all of them, but I'll take what I can get.
  • Woah! $499. Well, it is A LOT of hardware. A PC with that kind of guts would be well over twice as much. Day 1 buy? Probably not, but I won't say I won't impulse buy it.
  • Geebus! Anthem gameplay looks like you're watching Avatar. I'm guessing it's not multiplayer, just multiple team members controlled by AI. Thought the characters talking about drops was sort of cheeky.

Thursday, June 01, 2017

Chessasaur's May 2017 Gaming Log

May 2017 - Game stuff, day by day

5/01 - Prey Demo. Well, I don't hate it as much as I did before, but I'm still not ready to re-pre-order. And "hate" is probably too strong a word. This time around, I took my time, read all the emails, and got a better handle on who I am and why I'm there. I've also gotten better at fighting the mimics, even if I get hit a bit more often than I've got health packs for. I made a bad choice to use my first neruomod for engineer repair skill when I should have put it into improving effectiveness of health items. Live and learn.

5/02 - When I went to Redbox today to rent Rings, I was given the option to get a free game rental. Figuring, "Hey, why not?", I looked at what they had, and after mentally deleting the games I already own or sports games I wouldn't play in a million years, I was left with Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Wildlands and For Honor. My first instinct was to go with Ghost Recon because it's a genre I know (ie, a shooter). I've watched a few streams of For Honor and thought it looked interesting, but I'd heard it was hard to get into and other than multiplayer, there wasn't much to it. However, I figured that I'd only have a little while to play and Ghost Recon would probably need more time to get past just the opening cut-scenes. So, I chose For Honor...and I'm so glad I did! I'd heard a podcast recently where they were talking to the lead creative designer and this game is something he'd wanted to make for a long time; basically his dream game where melee combat was handled in a realistic manner. (His words were, "I want to put a sword in your hand!") I'm always more interested in something that a person has put their heart and soul into. It's a very different sword combat game than something like Diablo or Dark Souls (for different reasons), but it was easy to pickup with very helpful tutorials and responsive controls. I think that it must have been reworked quite a bit since launch - it required a 9gb patch on install! The single player campaign is set in a world where war has been raging for a thousand years between knights, samurai, and vikings...so I'm not going to try to defend its story merits. It's just a convenient excuse to get everyone fighting. Anyway, the game is gorgeous! You can get lost in the details of the fighters and the ruins you're battling around. Just awesome! I finished the first chapter and went over to look at multiplayer, figuring I'd just get myself swiftly executed before bed, and couldn't get a match! This game came out in February, less than 3 months ago, and the multiplayer community is that dead? Well, I'm going to get a copy to play the single player game more. A labor of love game like this should not be forgotten so soon.

5/04 - Star Wars Day! Had to do the obligatory Star Wars game, of course. In this case, Battlefront on the Xbox One. I bought the Ultimate edition (to get the season pass cheap) digitally (a rare thing for me) as this is the kind of game where you want to play a bit then move on to something meatier. Looking for the disc just takes more time than it's worth. I have to say I'm getting better at the "run around and shoot people" thing - I even got a number of kills in real multiplayer as a Stormtrooper by standing up on a catwalk and waiting for the Rebel scum to come through a doorway. Sneaky, but whatever works. I also tried out Beam (Microsoft's answer to Twitch) and I'm still trying to figure it out - you get an address for your stream, but I don't see the usual channel page stuff. It's fast though; there was almost no lag between my motions on the Kinect webcam and the corresponding actions on the webpage viewed on my PC! I'll have to look into it a bit more. (Do they do an automatic Twitter link?)

5/05 - Didn't do too much tonight, but I think I'm done with the Prey demo. It's a good game, but for some reason it isn't getting my interest (or my money). I'm not sure if it's a feeling of "been there, done that" space station shooter, the downright ugly models for the main characters, or the over the top "horror noise" when a mimic shows up, but I'm taking a pass on it for now. Maybe when it hits the $20 price point I'll give it a go.

5/06 - Edith Finch. Want to get back to this one and finish it up. Frankly, I'm hoping it makes some sense before the end. If it doesn't, I won't be upset - it's been an interesting ride.

5/07 - Edith Finch. More wandering around. I don't think this game is ever supposed to get scary, not that it has to for me. I do wish that games wouldn't give you the feeling like they are wrapping up...then go back into exploration mode again.

5/08 - Edith Finch. And done. Like a lot of the odd games I play, this one will take some time to process. It's hard to call something like this a "game" since, from what I can tell, you can't win or lose. The experience is just interactively triggering the next mini-story. While you are in each mini-tale, you need to provide some input (focus a camera lens, fly a kite, propel yourself in a swing, etc) but success is only measured by the continuation of the narrative, which deals with a particularly unlucky family and their assorted methods of demise. A "thing" like this can be appreciated for the variety of unconventional mechanics it contains, but by the end I felt the whole "thing" to be less than the sum of it's parts. One part in particular I found pleasantly reminiscent of Tales from the Crypt and Creepshow. The YouTube link is below.

5/09 - Started Little Nightmares tonight and I can't help but think I'd feel very differently about it if it had come out before Inside. LN is trying to do everything Inside did (spooky puzzle platforming) with an added measure of 3D to the environments. Unfortunately, I don't think it works as well. There's an elegant simplicity to Inside's puzzles - if you fail at them, you're just not doing it right. If you fail a puzzle in Little Nightmares, it's likely because you didn't angle your avatar correctly and went off an edge the wrong way or you haven't looked around the room enough. Like Inside, I have no idea who my character is or why I'm where I am, but, like I've mentioned, Inside did it first so this feels like an unnecessary sequel.

5/10 - Little Nightmares. Six's journey continues. Mind you, the only reason I know his/her name is from what I've read outside the game. There's still no "story" to speak of yet. Probably never will be. Is that a "thing" now in indie games? Apparently this is a very short game (HLTB put it at 3 hours) so I should be done fairly soon, even with my propensity for dying a lot.

5/11 - Little Nightmares. Creepy chef time! Made for a good PS4 capture highlight (see below).

5/15 - Little Nightmares. After a little holiday break, got back to it. I'm done with the chef's (I think) and probably(?) near the end. Still keeping with my desire to not finish a night stuck on a puzzle. Keeps me up a bit late, but it's worth it to know I won't come back to a previous night's failure.

5/16 - Little Nightmares. As I suspected, I was able to finish up LN tonight. It's very much like Limbo and Inside - a dark themed, puzzle platformer with no recognizable story elements - and Little Nightmares is both better and worse than the other two. LN allows movement in more than two dimensions, which makes for more variety of environments and more challenging puzzles. However, sometimes the puzzles are more challenging because you have to work in 3D. Aiming projectiles, jumping off platforms, and walking narrow beams is a lot harder! Graphically, I'd say Limbo still has the best atmosphere, Inside has the edge in animation, and Little Nightmares wins for enemy character design and environmental lighting. Plus, the whole game takes place aboard a giant ship so all the rooms constantly roll slowly back and forth. (Good thing I don't get seasick!) But for endings, Little Nightmares beats them all! I was a little afraid (as I get with games like this) that I'd hit a point where it was too difficult for me to win, but the end battle was a perfect set piece that was just hard enough that it took some time to solve without being frustrating. And, while it was still very cryptic, the final moments were incredibly rewarding!

5/18 - Little Nightmares. Wanted to try something that I've heard other gamers do - restart a game as soon as they finish it. I also wanted to see if I could open more "extras" - in this case, concept art images. What I found is that a) I could get through some areas much faster than before, b) areas where I failed (repeatedly) were more frustrating, c) unlocking concept art seems to be tied to just catching and hugging the little hat guys (not easy), and d) in Little Nightmares, the extras you unlock are considered part of your save...which sucks because I deleted my save to start over! That's enough of that then.

5/21 - Haven't played much this weekend because Nagano threw his back out again...or the doggie equivalent of that, but I did manage to dip my toe back into Zelda, This was partially motivated from helping my brother, who has been struggling with getting into the game himself on a new Switch. Plus,  it's easy to forget details from early in the game when you haven't played for awhile. Also, I got back into Steins;Gate...but I don't know if it constitutes a game. Pretty much just a visual novel. Bad part, I lost my saves so I had to start over. HLTB says 23 hours? I doubt I'll stay with it that long.

5/22 - This happens from time to time - I see a game on sale, realize I have it on a different platform, and decide I should give it a shot to see if I want to buy it again.This time it was D4: Dark Dreams Don't Die, which I have on Steam, but is currently on sale for Xbox One for less than $4. The game was originally designed to operate with the Kinect 2.0 and, from what I've heard, is one of the few that really worked. For that reason alone, I'll probably drop the few bucks to get it because it was fairly hard to navigate with the controller and it's another one of those bat-shit crazy Japanese games you can't help but just love.

5/23 - Zelda. Always nice to be able to just drop back into Zelda for a little while. Did another shrine and tried to make it to a cliff overlooking a tower (so I can glide to it instead of climbing all the way up), but things didn't go quite according to plan. Back to Kakariko village for some cooking and fairy catching.

5/24 - Another case of SIGS, Sale Induced Gaming Selection. In this case, it was Darksiders: Warmastered Edition. The Xbox One version turned up on Amazon for about $12, but I already have it on Steam (it was a free upgrade because I had the original). Time to see if I should buy it again. I'd played Darksiders a little a long time ago when I got it for the 360 and didn't really understand it, if that makes any sense. I hadn't played many button-mashing, attackers from all sides sort of games and I put it aside pretty quickly. Nowadays, I've played more games like that so I figured I should give the remaster a try. It looks amazing compared to the almost cartoony original, but the action is still pretty much mash-mash-mash the attack button. I played until I got to a boss that I wasn't sure how I was supposed to beat and decided it was time for sleep.

5/25 - Darksiders and Zelda. I had to go back to Darksiders for a little bit - at least enough time to kill that "blue dragon" that I stopped on. I don't like ending something on a down note; I'd like to think I can play better than that. And (with a little strategy help from a walkthrough) I got him. Not sure if I'll play more, but it does have some good points. Played Zelda before bed and finally got to the Faron tower...via a roundabout climb and lucky parasail to just near the top. Nobody down below even knew I was there! But...I really need to strike out north from Kakariko and get to that other researcher. It's the next mission on the main story quest. (Update: No, it's just a side quest.)

5/27 - Zelda. Two more shrines done and moving closer to my next quest point. Also, I found that thorn bushes burn nicely.

5/28 - Zelda. A shrine and a tower. Not bad for a night's work.

5/30 - As I'm waiting for RiME to get here, I figured I'd give Tales From the Borderlands a try...and that will probably be as much as I play of it. I remember playing the demo for a short bit and deciding that I'd rather try the whole game, but now that I have, I feel like I'd just be pushing through it for the sake of finishing it. I know a lot of people really liked it, but it just didn't "click" with me. Maybe I'd like it more if it wasn't a comedy? (There were very few laughs in The Walking Dead Season 1, one of my all time favorite games.) It didn't help that the (basically) QTE sections were made more difficult by trying to first find the cursor on the screen, then position it in the right zone to press a button. I could try it on the PC with a mouse, but I don't know if the story is what I want to spend time on. Probably not.

5/31 - Well, RiME still hasn't shown up. I'm beginning to get the feeling that non-AAA games don't get regular physical releases anymore. At least not on the day they are supposed to be released. Maybe that's just the day they start shipping from the warehouses. Anyway, I thought I'd give the Xbox One version of D4 a play with Kinect - they way it was "meant" to be played. I basically played the same section I did from earlier in the month; that is to say, the first chapter. It took a little bit to get the Kinect setup correctly. I have it under the TV/monitor, but also had to put it on a little box to raise it up a bit. After I moved back from the desk some, it picked me up pretty well, but I had some issues with the sensor "seeing" my hand. It would detect it, but when I tried to hover over an icon, the hand graphic would jump around making targeting a pain. And no, I don't think it was me shaking! Grabbing things was another matter - I didn't realize how stiff my hands have gotten until I had to "grab" items on the screen by making a fist. Sucks to be almost 56! Once I got into the game, it was definitely a better experience with the motion controls, even when they didn't register 100% of the time. The one downside was the fairly frequent "motion hints" that told you what you were supposed to do at a given time. It takes you out of the narrative when everything basically stops until you do the motion that the game requires. Well, it's better than the controller version where I was constantly triggering the "turn" command - that really got on my nerves. I also wasn't ready for the voice "participation" parts (you have to actually speak the line you want your character to say from a list of responses), but it was kinda cool and worked every time. It would actually be a cool thing to put into the Telltale games...and might have been added to Xbox One versions if Kinect hadn't been marched out into the middle of the Microsoft campus and shot through the back of the head. Twice.

Media Highlights...and Lowlights (Changed to "Media" this month because I wasn't Twitch streaming. Maybe in June.)

This month's screenshots are HERE.

The Creepshow from What Remains of Edith Finch (Props to the devs for getting the Halloween theme!)



A little escape in Little Nightmares



Miscellaneous Musings

Finish ups - As May starts and I read over April's log, I realized I need to go back and finish What Remains of Edith Finch. Want to do that before getting into Little Nightmares. (Update: Finished both this month!)

Finishing Moves - Now that I've sort of made a habit (or at least an attempt) at finishing games I've started, am I letting it adversely affect my desire to play something like Zelda that I know is very good, but will take a lot more time to finish than I can provide?

Saturday, May 06, 2017

Chessasaur's April 2017 Gaming Log

April 2017 - Game stuff, day by day

4/01 - For something completely different, I decided to jump into Here They Lie. It's a PSVR compatible title (no, I don't own or want a PSVR) that can be played on just the PS4. I saw it on sale earlier this year and decided it looked pretty twisted. I wasn't even close to realizing how twisted! This will definitely end up being the weirdest shit I'll see in a video game this year...maybe ever! It makes as much sense as three David Lynch movies randomly spliced together, but I have to admit I'm making progress in the game to whatever end it will be. I captured some screenshots and video clips, so I can share some of the over the top psychosis. Games like this always make me wonder how the people who made them can sleep at night without going insane. I'm just playing this for a few hours - they had to live with it for months!

4/03 - Zelda. This was the first night where I really felt frustrated. I'm supposed to go to locations in Hyrule were Princess Zelda took "pictures" with her "camera" (hey, it's a video game, they can do whatever they want). But either I'm missing some sort of clue as to where I'm supposed to go, or it's just plain hard. I've only found two stables and I've spent most of the time running around on foot, trying not to get attacked. It's hard enough to figure out how to line up landmarks, but if you have to avoid monsters too (and there are more at night, of course), it gets pretty tedious. And I don't even know if I'm anywhere near where I'm supposed to be (ie, too close, too far away, has the land changed in 100 years, etc.)! Plus I need to make food, which takes time. I'd do some of the side quests, but the last one I did just got me a 50 rupe gem. I don't want to resort to just looking things up. If I can't figure out something this early in the game, I'll probably move on. No shortage of things to play.

4/05 - Started the night with a PC demo of The Silver Case, an early SUDA51 game that was remastered for Steam (and is coming out on PS4 in a few weeks)...that I apparently played back in August of last year for 26 minutes? I have no memory of doing that, but I wanted to try it since I had the PS4 version on preorder. After playing the demo for about 15 minutes, I wondered, a) why I forgot I played this, and b) why I would have wanted it for the PS4? I quickly canceled my preorder because there's no way I would want to play anymore of it. I'm sure it's a good game - I'm a fan of SUDA51's games - but I've got so many other ones to play that I don't have the patience for a PS1 era game at this point. If I did, I'd try to finish Silent Hill first. (Point: Why the hell hasn't SH been remastered? Oh, yeah, Konami. I forgot.) After that, I played some Zelda and started to explore the areas I've opened. I'm looking for interesting landmarks and sidequests (which show up as little !'s in red circles by NPC's). I've also started to make notes about things I've seen and quest clues. I have a feeling making rupes in this game is going to be important - I did two things that required me to fork over 100 rupes each time! And there was another 60 I spent at an inn. Need to find items I can gather and sell at high prices. That's why I need to make more notes!

4/06 - Here They Lie. Got back into this one since I figured it would be over soon...and it was. Another game finished in 2017, but I have to admit, it was short. Also, the back half of the game didn't live up to the same level of bat-shit weirdness of the first half. Yeah, it was bizarre, but more on a psychedelic trip way - twisting tunnels, impossible perspectives, and a boat ride to the Twilight Zone! There was also a section that was almost a stealth challenge - I had to avoid creatures, but if I got caught, I went back and had to try it again. Most other times when I "died", the game moved me to the next section...or to a totally different section. Who knows? The ending was, like the rest of the game, basically only understandable by whoever thought this up (and maybe not even them!). I'm not unhappy I played it. It didn't take up much of my time and there were "things" I saw in there that I'll not soon forget. Not for everyone, but I do like the weird shit.

4/07 - Zelda. This game unfolds itself in the most amazing ways! It doesn't hit you over the head with anything - you have to pay attention to the clues and do the little things as well as the main story beats. I caught a new horse and am keeping with the GotG theme. This one, a grey mare with a spotted butt, is Drax.

4/08 - Only had a short time to play, so gave one of this month's PlayStation Plus freebies called Drawn to Death a try. The art style is based on all those doodles kids do during class on folders, notebooks, and textbooks. It looks really cool...but underneath, it's just another multiplayer online shooter - Titanfall and Battlefront all over again. Well, at least I didn't pay for it and the tutorial was amusing.

4/09 - Zelda. Highlight - climbing to a shrine at the top of a fantastical cliff overlooking the ocean, then paragliding down to the shrine in the waters below, having to switch off between free falling and gliding so I didn't run out of stamina...and nailing the landing! Oh, and getting a one arrow killshot on a bear that was trying to eat me. During the day I tried a little of Thimbleweed Park. Sadly, this might be another Kickstarter game that I can't stand. The comedy feels forced, too aware of itself. And the voice overs are a dilemma - I'd rather they weren't there. I can't get  into the feel of a retrogame when they are on, but it seems a waste not to use them.

4/10 - Another Kickstarter delivered - Yooka-Laylee - and I figured I should give it a try. I was a fan of (but never played a lot of) the Banjo-Kazooie games from the N64 days. They were fun 3D platformers and the environments were, in some cases, ahead of their time in scale, but part of me never really took them too seriously. I certainly never considered trying to collect all the stuff you had to in the game - collectathons were never my bag. But, when I heard about all the retro-game hype building around Yooka-Laylee (it was being made by the same Rare crew that did the Banjo games), I jumped on board the Kickstarter. Now that I have the game, I'm not sorry I did, but I don't know how much I'll play of this one. First off, the "voices" they used (basically just sounds) are really irritating. Also, I don't know if I care about the "plot", even if it doesn't really matter. I got too sleepy to continue for very long, so I'll have to give it another try later, but currently, it could suffer the same Kickstarter Kurse that all the other ones have.

4/11 - Zelda. I'll admit, I got a little off track tonight. My intention was to do the two shrines I tagged last time, but they turned out to be tough battles that I'm either not equipped for or experienced enough to complete. I then tried out the amiibo support with the real Zelda ones and got a whole bunch of cooking items, a good sword, and a nice bow. Since nothing in this game lasts for very long, getting good weapons is essential. I also wanted to try the combat training shrine again, but it looks like you can't play shrine challenges over again. So, I bounced around Hateno village for awhile. However, I need to get myself in gear and head over to that gate. It's the first location that matches the pictures I have and it will allow me to continue the main story line.

4/12 - Zelda. My plan was to get to that gate tonight, and I almost got there...but then I made a bad decision and a worse jump, ended up in the river, and had to warp back to Kakariko or drown. (Falling into the water is hazardous if you're not near a shore.) I also saw what might have been a shrine underwater, so I'm guessing I'll get the power to get there at some point. When I headed back, I decided to check out another area on the way and got sidetracked trying to catch either a ram or a deer I needed to open a hidden shrine. (I got that clue from a parrot-man playing an accordion - go figure.) It's probably the ram, but even with food on board to make me stealthier, I wasn't able to sneak up on one. I did get to a new shrine (and lost some fairies in the process), but I don't think I have the skills to solve it. So, back to Kakariko for the night.

4/13 - Zelda. Well, I made it to the gate and now I know what these "memory" locations look like - something very similar to FFXIV single-player destination challenges. Not the most comfortable feeling, but they're harmless. Mostly. Interestingly, mineral deposits don't respawn. Too bad because that would have been a good source of income. The monsters don't respawn either, so I guess I shouldn't complain. I got a fancy new tunic for finding that first location, but now I'm not entirely sure where to go next. I guess to find Robbie and open up new zones. Just have to find a tower I can climb without getting killed.

4/14 - Zelda. Found another "memory" location tonight. It was the one that I thought would be easiest when I started - a landscape with two distinct peaks in the background. Turns out I was, originally, way too close. I also missed a detail in the picture that I picked up on when I was closer to the right spot - a ruin atop an island. Now I just need to track down the other ten!

4/15 - Zelda. Found a shrine and tagged the Lake tower! Always very satisfying to open up a new area on the map. And I see another shrine and tower to work on next time. Progress is being made.

4/16 - Zelda. A little during the day while I was showing my brother the game. Did the shrine I tagged last night. At least I could figure this one out!

4/18 - Zelda. Not a great night. Almost died a few times in a new area and had to reset to saves. But these thing happen.

4/20 - NFS: Rivals and Carmageddon: Max Damage on the new PS4 Pro on the new 4K 65" LED TV. Life is good...even if the games weren't.

4/22 - Battlefield Hardline has a Stoddard in it! But he's a bad cop???

4/23 - I saw a sale for Monstrum and found out I already had it for Steam. So, I downloaded it and gave it a spin. FPS survival horror (I never know if I should use a controller or M/Kbd - went controller) with a rouge-like twist; when you die, you lose your stuff, and reset to a random but similar area on board this deserted ship - but you keep your "notes". The monsters, which I'm guessing are aliens, are very creepy, but the ship has a more primitive FPS game look to it. Not bad, but I don't think I'll push to finish it. I also decided to take a punt on PUBG (ie, PLAYERUNKOWN BATTLEGROUND). It's the newest hot Twitch game that is eating King of the Kill's lunch. And I can see why - better movement, more weapons, more vehicles, along with better and more satisfying bullet hits. Yeah, games like this are fairly vapid (ie, no story), but it's deeper than Cookie Cats Pop.

4/24 - Tonight was the first time I could play What Remains of Edith Finch...so that's what I did. Somehow I gravitate toward these kinds of games - ones like Gone Home, The Vanishing of Ethan Carter, Everyone's Gone to the Rapture, etc - walking simulators with some light to very light puzzle solving. In a way, these are the most relaxing games to play as there is virtually no chance of failing. On the other hand, they are, of course, not very challenging. Oh, well. I'm not sure what this game is going for yet. I wouldn't call it a "horror" game, but it seems to be leaving the door open to something very creepy. It also doesn't seem to be going for a "coming of age" vibe, but I can't be sure either. So far, I've taken a child's "spirit journey" (for lack of a better term) where I was a cat, an owl, a shark, and a sea monster. I thought this was a VR game originally and it does act like one, or at least as much as I know what they are like - never tried one personally.

4/25 - Instead of playing, I had to do the mandatory New 4K TV Graphical Demonstration. In other words, we watched Avatar on Blu-Ray. Pocahontas never looked so good!

4/26 - Alien Day! Can this day get any better?? #1 - Forza Horizon 3 announces a Hot Wheels expansion coming out in just a few weeks! #2 - An announcement from former Criterion devs who are (finally!) making a Crash Mode game, due out next month.  #3 - The Call of Duty: WWII trailer just dropped and it looks fucking awesome! CoD started as a WWII game back in the early days of FPS's (along with Medal of Honor), but no one has really made a serious one since the advent of the super-consoles we have now. The in-game scenes in the trailer look like something right out of a Hollywood war movie. I can't wait!!

4/27 - The Prey demo came out today and I tried it out on the new PS4 Pro. If I had it on pre-ordered, I'd be canceling it right about now. Weird story, weird setting, annoying enemies, and too much to look/read/search. I've got other games I'd rather play and I am just not "clicking" with this. Okay, I've only played about 45 minutes, but it's giving off a vibe that's something more like Deus Ex: Human Revolution than Doom or FEAR. Not my Prey. (Guess I should try the old one, eh?)

4/28 - I got the new release today, Little Nightmares, but didn't play it tonight because...we were told that SDG&E was going to possibly cut our power between 11pm and 6am! (Update: It never happened.) Instead, I played some Corpse Party: Blood Drive on the Vita. Part visual novel, part chibi adventure game? Very confusing so far as to how much "gaming" I'll be doing, but playing it at night in the dark is just the right setting. The audio is very creepy with headphones - there was a point where I was sure someone was talking to me while I was lying in bed!

4/29 - Getting back into the Prey demo. Now that I know it won't cut off at the 1 hour mark, I'm taking my time and reading/searching everything. I don't know if it's going to make it any more interesting for me, but it's worth a shot. Tried some more Corpse Party before bed...but it's hard to not fall asleep doing that.

4/30 - No night gaming, but I did try Zelda on the Wii U gamepad...and didn't like it. The screen is too small to make out some of the details. I also don't like playing it on the big TV in living room, but that's because a) we have a big room, and b) my eyes (or should I say "eye") are crappy. So, the Wii U got moved back to my gaming station.

Twitch Highlights...and Lowlights

Imgur gallery of screenshots from Here They Lie : CLICK ME

And here are a few clips of some of the REALLY freaky visuals this game has to offer.

The Choice



Just Desserts


Death by Balrog



Boat Ride of the Mind



Miscellaneous Musings

A Zelda State of Mind - I guess I've been going about it the wrong way. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is not a sprint; it's a hiking adventure along the Appalachian Trail with unlimited time and supplies. I think I'm just beginning to understand that from my experience on the 3rd and what I've heard on my podcasts. I need to explore the areas I've opened, find sidequests to expand my perspectives, pick small local goals for activities, prepare supplies, hone my fighting skills, find more temples, get to know the lay of the land. At first, I'd seen people talking about the storyline being 30 or so hours. But now I'm hearing about gamers being in Hyrule for over 100! There's that much to do and see! BotW is defining a new standard for open world games. If I play through nothing else this year, it has to be this game. I just have to take my time.

Saturday, April 01, 2017

Chessasaur's March 2017 Gaming Log

March 2017 Day by Day...well, days I gamed, anyways

3/01 - Horizon. I actually felt like I played the real game tonight and it was a better experience. This was the game that people had been talking about and looking forward to - Aloy, the red haired warrior, fighting it out with mech-imals. Oh, and there are real animals too - I shot a bunny, I'm ashamed to say. The dialog still seems out of place, but the action of the game can get past that. On the downside, however, I've read that this is a 30-50 hour game! It seems very unlikely I'll want to play this one for that long, especially with Zelda and Andromeda coming out THIS SAME MONTH!

3/02 - I spent some of the evening doing something I've meant to do for ages - prep my phone for use by Sarah so she can listen to music or play games on it. We have a concert to go to tomorrow night and I felt, as a responsible parent, I should FINALLY be prepared. When I got to gaming, I just didn't feel like going back to Horizon right now. It's not that I didn't like what I played of it, but I'll be getting Zelda tomorrow and the reviews have been off the charts! I'll have to at least start Breath of the Wild and see what everyone will be talking about on my podcasts very soon. So, I booted up the Wii U to make sure it still worked, dug out the pro-controller so I could charge it, and ran through a little of the remaster of Twilight Princess. It looks fantastic! I'd say it looks even better than the remaster they did for Ico, and this is a similar kind of upgrade - old gen to new. But for now, sleep.

3/03 - Zelda Day!...except I did have a concert to go to, for which I'm NOT complaining. It was a very good show and one of the few things I can share with my daughter. I ignored the clock and actually played the first opening bits (small bits, of course) of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild...and that's the LAST time I'm going to write out the full title! The game looks awesome but it's going to take a little while to get used to the controller (I'm using the Wii U Pro controller) since the buttons are set out differently. I've never really used the Pro before, so I'm hoping the battery life will be up to the challenge of getting through the whole game...which is sort of my goal. At least I'm going to stay with it until the 21st with Mass Effect Andromeda comes out. Then I'll have to decide which game to concentrate on until Persona 5 hits.

3/04 - Due some late FFXIV gaming, I didn't have time to play any console stuff in the evening. But that's okay - we beat the level 40 boss in Palace of the Dead!

3/05 - Got a very late start so decided to dip a toe into Torment: Tides of Numerna...and almost slipped into a coma trying to play it that late! Lots of reading. Multiple choice answer, RPG role-playing. And that was just the character creation section! Sad, but I don't think I can play this sort of game anymore, even if I did back it on Kickstarter. Interestingly, by the time gaming-time rolls around these days, I'm sometimes too tired because we've all be playing Palace of the Dead in FFXIV which is more like an action RPG. Okay, it's not Dark Souls, but it's more action than we usually get in a normal play session.

3/06 - Zelda. I feel like I really started playing BotW tonight. The degree of open-worldness is just starting to sink in and it's a bit overwhelming! Zelda games have typically been fairly linear - you have to do something or have an item to open up something else. Here, you can do whatever objective you want in whatever order you decide. You have equipment that wears out, food you can make to restore health, and the weather on high mountains can kill you if you don't find shelter! Any mountain can be climbed, but you have to have enough stamina to hold on. It really makes you plan your explorations in advance. According to HowLongToBeat.com, the main story is about 30 hours. I might have to make Zelda my game to beat in 2017. That would make it only my second Zelda game completed since Link to the Past back on the SNES.

3/08 - Zelda. Got a late start, but still did two more the of the opening shrines. They basically give you your special powers, one at a time. Neat design. The world is filled with little things to find that you don't have to find, but when you do, they are a delight! And bravo to a game that allows you to climb virtually any vertical surface. It must have taken the playtesters an unbelievable number of hours to put this world through its paces. One shrine to go!

3/09 - Zelda. Has there ever been a higher rated game that was sealed off from gamers by it's platform? You either have to already have a Wii U (they don't sell them in stores anymore) or buy a Switch (if you can find one) plus a decent controller (the Pro, which is about $70). So, price to play Zelda on a Switch is roughtly $450 ($300+$60+$70+tax) It's terrible that more gamers won't be able to enjoy Breath of the Wild.

3/10 - Mar10 Day! But no gaming tonight since we played FFXIV late and tomorrow is SDCC 2017 Returning Registration Badge Sales. Oh joy.

3/16 - Zelda. Opened a new area by climbing a tower. I do wish that weapons didn't break so easily. Can't really fight very many baddies before having to switch weapons. Plenty to find, but still getting used to the "mechanic". The paragliding is really fun!

3/17 - Zelda. Caught my first horse tonight! All I could come up with for a name was "Groot", but I like it. He's (I think it's a "he") a pretty sturdy mount so the moniker fits.

3/18 - Zelda. Sort of got off track trying to climb mountains, but that's easy to do in this game.

3/19 - Zelda. Concentrated on the Kakariko Village. Visited the stores, cooked foods, and caught all the chickens for the guy with a serious cuccos fixation. It's a Zelda thing from way back - the chickens I mean. Noticed a cool blending of styles in this game - some things like flowers and grass are animated when you get close to them, but rocks and walls bare more of a resemblance to textures in something like Ocarina of Time (ie, almost murky). It's comforting in a way to still have that in a new Zelda game.

3/23 - Well, I ended up with Mass Effect Andromeda after all. Big surprise. Actually, I got more interested in it after watching Twitch streams. So, that's what I played tonight. It was about the first 90 minutes and I can see where the reviewer I read was coming from. The writing is more suited to a sci-fi B-movie. It's amusing, but takes you out of the gravity of the situation that started this whole "initiative". It plays well and should make a nice game to play in between Zelda sessions.

3/25 - No night gaming, but we spent a long time in FFXIV finishing a major battle and then went through some Free Company drama. War (and "club mentality") never changes.

3/28 - Zelda. It was nice to get back to playing something outside of FFXIV (which also got played a little tonight). The world for Zelda is HUGE, but it doesn't take a long time to get from one area to another. Weapon degradation is getting bad, but I can start picking up stuff from using the amiibo's I bought. No reason not to. Amazed at how inventive the game is. I was trying to sneak around a large bokoblin and he picked up and threw a smaller bokoblin at me! He did it to do damage to me and to get the bokoblin into the fight quicker. Also had to carry a torch from one side of this village to the other, but I had to wait to the rain to stop before I could begin doing it.

3/30 - All the talk recently about Sniper Elite 4 got me wanting to buy it...which would be foolish since it's still $60 and will certainly drop in price in a few months. Also, I have SE3 which I got super cheap (in a collector's edition, no less) but never played. Sooooo....that's what I did. And I liked it! I think that the Sniper games get stuck in a sort of sim-like perspective - people don't want the tedious part of sniper warfare where you sneak around trying to get just the right shot. Sniper Elite 3 (and even more so in 4, from what I've heard) is like a 3rd person shooter where you can snipe as well as do small arms combat. There's lots of little tricks, like using the sound of a miss firing generator to cover your rifle noise, to make it a bit more interesting than just a cover based shooter. I don't know how long I'll stay with it - might just be tonight - but it's a fun diversion from Zelda and Andromeda (which may stay on the back burner for now until I get through Link's adventure).

3/31 - Ended the month with a game I backed on Kickstarter, Rain World. It's always nice when they actually ship...however, this is another one that I probably won't play much of. Like Dragon Fin Soup, Earthlock, Planescape: Tides of Numerna, Neverending Nightmares, etc, as soon as I start playing, I pretty much realize the game is not for me. Rain World is no different. It's a cool looking platformer (reminds me of Ori and the Blind Forest), but the controls are only okay, the character direction is minimal, and there is no checkpoint system - you die, you restart the level! The slugcats maybe cute, but they're not enough to save the game for me. Well, I tried. I'll have to do a post sometime on stuff I've backed and what the outcomes were.


March 2017 Twitch Highlights...and Lowlights

Killing a sawtooth...with fire! CLICK HERE

Link learning the ropes. CLICK HERE

Miscellaneous Thoughtful Meanderings

March Madness - For someone with too many systems (ie, me), this is a wonderfully, horrible month! Just the three big releases (Horizon, Zelda and Mass Effect) alone is staggering - three open world games in a month's time! If I didn't have a PS4, I wouldn't have to worry about Horizon. If I didn't own a Wii U (or couldn't get a Switch), I wouldn't care about Zelda. Mass Effect Andromeda would have been the only one that would get me if I was just an Xbox One or PC user. There's just not enough time to dig into all these titles! Time to retire and play games all day, right? I mean, who needs food or healthcare? Okay, a big bag of rice, a bottle of ibuprofen, and I should be able to pay the other bills to keep the power on and the Internet connected. What is blood selling for these days, I wonder?