Sunday, October 01, 2017

Chessasaur's September 2017 Gaming Log

September 2017 Gaming - Day by Day (well, the days I'm gaming anyway)

9/02 - Started the night finding a good price at Best Buy on the recently re-released Lego City Undercover game for Xbox One, PS4 and Switch. I bought the game awhile back for the Wii U but, of course, never played it. (So much of my collection is "untouched".) My first instinct was to buy a copy for the PS4...which I did. Then I thought, "What if I don't like the game? Anyone remember Lego Worlds? Maybe I should play it first." So, I cancelled my order, booted up the Wii U, and popped in the game. Wow, talk about a game that got screwed! This is probably the BEST Lego game made and it got stuck on a system with the worst install base. Unlike the other Lego games that are based on some movie or comic franchise, this is its own story and in the context of Lego worlds, it's a pretty good one. The action is mission based, not level oriented, so it's got sort of a GTA vibe (if you were playing as the cops, that is). In a clever move, they've worked in a number of nods to famous movies (Dirty Harry and The Dark Knight so far) that would certainly fly way over the heads of any child playing this. I'd already put this ahead of The Lego Movie in entertainment value and enjoyment. Unfortunately, I have to say the gamepad integration doesn't do it any favors. You have to use it since it sort of doubles as a scanner, map and phone. I don't think I'm going to want to put 15+ hours into this with that to deal with. So....

(Update: After thinking about it, I decided to re-order the game from  Best Buy. What I found is a) I really like the game, b) on the Wii U, you have to use the gamepad, and c) I'd like to stream/capture some of the gameplay and that's too much hassle on the Wii U.)

9/04 - Hellblade. The other day, I was trying to remember the 3 short games I wanted to get through, but could only come up with >Observer_ (which I finished) and Uncharted: Lost Legacy. When I finally remembered it was Hellblade, I felt more than a little apprehensive. The last time I tried this one, I was hopelessly stuck, wandering around the same area, over and over again, getting nothing accomplished. I knew it had to have something to do with these "portals" I kept seeing (really just a couple of trees with an animal skull hung between them) and tonight I figured it out. In a clever bit of programming, walking through these gates changes the playing field to allow access to previously unreachable sections. So, progress was made, but I have to say this game gives me a certain level of anxiety because it doesn't give anything away - no objective pointers, no highlighted objects, no mini-map, no help whatsoever. I always feel like I'm going to miss something or get lost again. I died once in combat because I had forgotten the controller mapping and didn't have time to look at it before the fight. The fighting in Hellblade is as intense (or even more so) as it is in For Honor, but nowhere near as technical. I'll try to stay with Senua, but it's going to be a challenge.

9/06 - Sort of an odd mix tonight. I've been hearing about a definitive version of ReCore being released (turns out it's actually a free upgrade if you already have the game and it's available now), so I thought I'd give it a try again. I say "again" only because I played the demo which allowed you to start the game and play for about 30 minutes. What I remember of it was pretty good and I picked it up last Black Friday for something like $15. The Xbox had my save from the "demo", but I figured I should restart since I didn't recall how the controls worked. It's a pleasant little game, nicely made and easy to handle. At some point I'll probably try to work my way through its 12+ hour length.


I also decided to slip into a bit of Destiny on the PS4. Destiny 2 came out today and by all accounts, it's doing very well. I'll be playing it with my brother later this year or next - no hurry. But, all the D2 hype made me nostalgic, I guess. There's something about the opening of Destiny - the music, the narration by Bill Nighy, the desolation of the Cosmodrome and the memory of first hearing Peter Dinklage's Ghost voice - that all worked to create a feeling that this was the start of something special. I only played to the point where you first arrive at the City, but it was all I needed to feel that rush again.

9/07 - Lego City Undercover. Started the PS4 version. Such a pleasant game to play. Yeah, I know, I'm avoiding Hellblade, but what can ya do? This version looks much cleaner than the Wii U one and the scanner options are all remapped to overlay the main screen without any loss of gameplay. The only "weird" thing is that Chase McCain's uniform is a darker color (ie, dark blue instead of light blue). Not sure why that changed.

9/09 - Lego City Undercover. Other than a really good Shawshank Redemption parody, not much to say. Just a fun game!



9/10 - Lego City Undercover. The Matrix parody actually had me laughing! This is easily the best Lego game made. But, I have to say it's much better not having to use the Wii U's game pad. It added nothing and only made the game less "comfortable" to play. In other news, I finally had time to setup both my Switch and the Xbox One S. Of note...I still have my pre-order for the Xbox One X at Amazon. Just not ready to cut the cord on that one yet.

9/11 - Lego City Undercover. More enjoyable Lego. It's nice to have a game like this that you know you can't really lose at. There are some games that I feel a real anxiety while playing that I'm going to either run up against something I can't beat or I'll miss a challenge that I can't do over. I don't have that "fear" while playing LCU, even though there have been a couple challenges that I had to do over.



9/13 - Played my first Switch game, a demo for a just announced game called (tentatively) Project Octopath Traveler. It's essentially an old school 16-bit JRPG done on a modern console - which means most of it looks like Chrono Trigger except the enemies, which look more detailed. It should make the Retro fans very happy, but I prefer a more modern gaming experience. One thing I realized is that the Switch Pro Controller REALLY needs those PlayBudz! My hand starting hurting after only about 15 minutes of use.

9/14 - Well, the plan was to play either a new Steam game I bought, Asemblance, or more Lego City Undercover. However, after the power went out at 11:12 pm, I switched to a little Steins;Gate on the Vita to help me get some sleep. Power outages always weird me out.

9/15 & 9/16 - Lego City Undercover. Went to a Lego store today. One of the four sales persons I talked to agreed that LCU was a really good game and that a Lego Skyrim-esque one would be "interesting". In game, still amazed at the size of the world they created for a Lego game. Seamless travel around the map.



9/17 - Lego City Undercover. Playing catch-up now since my brother just finished his copy on the Switch. Well, it's not like that's an unusual occurrence. Couple of good movie/TV in-jokes tonight. They'll make good screenshots/vid clips for the blog.

9/18 - Lego City Undercover. Hit my first open-world loading screen - really more of just a fade in/fade out kind of thing. Still very impressed with the overall scale of the game. I will have to play something more "serious" after this one to make up for this softball gameplay.



9/19 - Lego City Undercover. Got to ride a mechanical T-Rex. Was more fun than anything in Lego Jurassic Park...which is sort of sad.



9/20 - Played a little game tonight called Catch Up With My Brother In Destiny. He and I have been playing a mission or so in the early evenings and he's gone from "claiming" to be hopeless at console based FPS games, to routinely beating me in kills and experience points. While the thought ever so briefly crossed my mind that he was sandbagging, I came to realize that our styles of play vary somewhat. While I'm more of a hang back, find cover, pick the enemies off one by one kind of shooter, he tends to wade into the enemy forces, doing melee and Super Charge kills. This allows him to finish more bounties than me (due to the ones that require multiple kills in a short period) but, surprisingly, he doesn't get killed as you might think.

9/23 - Did the first night of my replay through Lifeless Planet. David Board, the game's designer, is trying to get another game together, Lifeless Moon, and is running a Kickstarter for it. I figure the least I can do is try to get some attention for the game by streaming, but I don't have many followers so I don't know how much it will help. I really enjoyed LP and played all the way through it - something I don't usually do. It reminded me of Journey but with a more somber, reflective feeling. The environments are very large and the platforming seems to grow organically out of the landscape. I won't say I don't get "stuck" once in awhile, even having played it before, but the jumps aren't unfair and if I miss, it puts me back at a good point.

9/24 - Lifeless Planet. I think I'm getting through it faster than I originally did, but I still get hung up on some of the less clear parts. I was streaming it, but I didn't send out any tweets - this game isn't a super exciting one to watch. Oddly, I had one person watching me for about half an hour. It figures - I tweet out to multiple retweeters the previous day and...nothing. Just the way it goes, I guess.



9/25 - Lifeless Planet. Well, it was a good run, but I think I have to put LP aside for awhile. The problem was the Dead Forest, but VG Cats, one of my favorite online comics, sums up how it feels:


9/26 - I decided I needed an impulsive game purchase to get me away from Lifeless Planet, and for that I chose Hob. I knew nothing about it other than it looked like a cute 3D platformer and it was made by the folks who did the Torchlight games (which I've dabbled in and liked). What I've played so far is pretty, mildly intriguing, and technically competent, but I didn't really get invested in the characters or the setting like I'd hoped. (Better music wouldn't have hurt.) At the moment, it's a slightly bland puzzle-platformer with attractive graphics and a fair degree of mechanized elements. I'm hoping it grows on me.


9/29 - Lego City Undercover. The game may basically lead you around by the nose, but I'm just having problems getting back into Hob. I needed some time with a game with little challenge and no chance of failure. That can be a comforting feeling. Plus, I got to fly a helicopter in the game - another interesting mechanic I didn't expect them to include.



9/30 - Lego City Undercover. Really wanted to finish this tonight, but just couldn't stay awake long enough. It was good to see that when I thought they were done with movie parodies, they threw in a great Ahnold bit - the construction foreman talks like him and mentions nearly every movie he's ever been in. One more push should finish the storyline. It's been a lot of fun and I have to admit that I might play around in the world even after finishing. After getting all the abilities/characters, it may be fun to wander around Lego City, knowing that you can do anything. And you never know what you might run into.


Friday, September 01, 2017

Chessasaur's August 2017 Gaming Log

August 2017 Gaming - Day by Day

8/01 - Wow, I actually had some energy to play this evening! Due to a pricing error on PSN, I got a game today called Strike Vector EX for free, so I thought I'd see if I got my money's worth. Overall, not a bad game. You pilot futuristic jet mech-planes and try to shoot down other futuristic jet mech-planes, while flying around giant floating refinery platforms. (The visual scale is impressive!) I played the first three missions and was pleased that they weren't very hard. Also, since there wasn't any gravity mechanic (ie, you could just sort of stop and hover), I didn't spend all the time zooming past my targets. Why this game is rated "M" is beyond me. I guess there must be more violent cut-scenes later in the game and some swearing. I also don't know who would have paid $15 for it (only because it's a game no one has heard of), so it's probably just as well that it was free. The other game I decided to play some of was Mighty No. 9. I was one of the Kickstarter backers, but I kept my contribution very modest (ie, just the game), which turned out to be a good idea. A lot of people bashed this game when it was finally released, mostly by those who were Mega Man fans. For me, I never played any - didn't own a NES and didn't get into them on the SNES or Playstation - so my expectations were pretty low. But, even though MN9 was an okay platformer, I can see where gamers would be disappointed in the finished product. For a project that collected $3.8 million dollars (!), it feels like it cut a lot of corners. Characters have voices, but there's not animation to them, the platforming feels stiff, and it's just not much fun to play. Well, at least I beat the first boss, something I always have trouble with in these side-scrolling games.

8/02 - Tonight was more about proving I could still do something than anything else. I decided to try Twitch streaming a game from my PS2, which I haven't done for a long time. This requires that a number of things work in conjunction with one another. I bought an Elgato Game Capture HD unit sometime ago - it's not the latest model, but it's the only one that allows old pre-HDMI systems to be hooked up for streaming. It also works as a component input upscaler to HDMI, so old consoles don't look like crap on HD TV's. As I have a PS2, Xbox, and Wii, I need to have a component switch (4 in, 1 out). That output goes to the Elgato. From the Elgato, the HDMI goes to a HDMI switch (5 in, 1 out) that hooks up to one of my gaming TV's HDMI ports - this is where I actually play the game.The other output from the Elgato, USB, goes to the computer (which is on the TV's other HDMI port). On the computer, I run OBS Studio (after updating it, of course) and add a video source that feeds from the Elgato input. However, this is where you have to sort of "jiggle the bits" some to get it to work. I usually have to bring up the Elgato software (which you can stream with, but the options are limited) just to check to make sure the Elgato is connecting to the computer. Since the Elgato has HDMI and component inputs, it always picks the wrong one so I have to go in and point it to the right input. Once that's done, I have to make sure OBS is getting a good signal. Last night, it looked at one point like it was a color negative of the original picture. Very weird. A little more restarting of various programs, and I got it all working. This also included getting the aspect ratio correct - these old consoles didn't really know about widescreen. When I went "live", I was happy to see that I was able to run for almost an hour with no dropped frames. I also used the laptop to keep an eye on what the stream looked like. I picked Darkwatch to play since it was the last PS2 game I played when I was doing my PS2 collection play through. Here's a little clip from when I realized that the crossbow in the game was very similar to the one in Rage. (Warning: LOUD!) Click-Me

8/04 - PUBG. Okay, not brain surgery, gaming wise, but it's the new Hearthstone. Pick up and play anytime. And I got my first kills this time! Corner camping may be my best bet for not dying.

8/05 - Played some Atari Flashback Classics Vol. 1 & 2. Some old arcade and Atari 2600 games, Adventure specifically. We shall not speak of this incident again.

8/06 - Tuesday saw the release of a new game called The Long Dark, and it's been making the rounds on various Twitch streams. It's a slow paced, survival game set after a global environmental apocalypse (sorry, no zombies). Stuck in Northern Canada after a plane crash, your principle concerns are warmth, food, water, and not getting eaten by the local wildlife. I'd considered buying it on either Xbox or PS4, but just didn't feel like dropping the $40 to get it. Well, while I was looking at other games on Steam, I happened to pick another survival horror game to look at (after looking at and deciding against Dark Elf). In their usual helpful fashion (read: interest-based advertising), the page included a link to The Long Dark...which it showed as being in my library! According to my purchase history, I bought it nearly 3 years ago on 12/29/14 for $9.99. I "guess" I got it when it was in Early Access on the cheap during their Christmas 2014 sale but never tried it. So, I figured it was time to jump in. The game is pretty frustrating at first because it tells you some things but not others. It tells you about the importance and uses of fire, but not how to heal yourself. Your character keeps repeating, "I'm going to bleed out if I don't do something quick", but until you stumble across a medkit, you have no idea what to do or what you're looking for. On the good side, it breaks the game down into missions that need to be done to move the "story" along. Once that goal is met (make a fire, melt water, etc), it progresses to the next day and saves the game. I can see myself staying with this one for awhile at least, but if it gets to a point where decisions can paint me into a corner (like using a resource at the wrong time and then getting locked out by the auto-save), I might have to bail.

8/08 - I didn't realize that a new game was coming out today that I was interested in - a digital only release on PS4 (and PC) called Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice. After watching a little gameplay on Twitch, I decided that I should give it a try. (I'm not a big fan of digital download games, but sometimes you don't have any choice.) The developer calls this a "triple-A indie" and I'd have to agree - it's got amazing production values for a $30 game. It's also got a truly cinematic style; there are no context prompts or tutorials. You either have to read the "Controls" help section or listen to the voices in your head which sometimes give you hints. Watching the Twitch stream actually helped me figure out the best way to fight. The game has you playing a mentally unbalanced Celtic warrior who is on a quest to get a Viking god to raise her dead lover (whose skull she is carrying around...and sometimes talks to). So far it's been a combination of puzzle solving and pretty brutal combat. And it's really working for me!



8/09 - No gaming tonight, but a stark realization that I need a bigger external drive on my Xbox One. I've been planning on getting an Xbox One S  for the new 4K TV and am looking to trade in one of the old Xbox One's I own. Since I might as well keep the white one (Gamestop gives you $100 regardless of color), I need to switch out my gaming station unit. So, I figured I'd just move games from the internal drive to the external drive - until I saw that the 1TB drive was over 90% full! I don't really want to delete most of the games I have on there because it takes so long to reload them (most games are over 40gb, which also explains the "bloat"). I'll probably get a 2 or 3TB drive, transfer the games I have using a PC and a program I found, then put the "leftover" 1TB drive on my PS4. Just have to wait for one to go on sale.

8/10 - Nothing really played, but did some "game management" on the living room Xbox One. Turns out you can select to download DLC that hasn't gotten automatically loaded. Also checked out the characters I created with Rock Band 4 and found that at some point Harmonix had added items from Mass Effect Andromeda, Fallout 4, and Battleborn. Very cool, but sort of sad because I don't know if they ever told anyone about them. I'm now the rocking Space Cowboy!



8/11 - Another night of "video game maintenance", I guess? I've got a new 4TB external drive up and running on the Xbox One on the gaming station, and moved the last 4 games off the internal drive. Nice to still have 3TB free after all that. I also started Hellblade again, this time on the PS4 Pro and a) it looks better (no surprise) and b) this time I'm playing without subtitles (it makes the "voices" in Senua's head seem more like their in my head when playing with headphones). Plus, I found an option to lower the difficulty to "Easy". What's weird is that by default, it's set to "Auto". What kind of difficulty setting is "Auto"?

8/13 - Things I hate: Getting reward "crates" in games and not knowing how to access them! Yes, For Honor, I'm talking to you!

8/14 - PUBG. I really need to not play this before bed.

8/15 - Not much to tell. Got a late start as we watched Alien: Covenant tonight. Tried playing Adr1ft, but I guess it doesn't like Bluetooth audio. OBS feels the same way. Did a quick run through of the Cat Quest demo. Cute, but not my thing.

8/16 - Bought a Switch. Why? I'm not sure yet, but since I had nearly $200 in GameStop trade-in credit, I wanted to buy something new instead of just using it to get an Xbox One S...which I really don't need. I'll probably buy a One S cheap at some point for the 4K-ness of it all. Lots of deals on those. As for the evening, finally got around to entering in my beta codes for Star Wars: B2 and CoD:WWII, which I got for doing the pre-orders. The Star Wars one was easy, but CoD required logging into the Activision site. At least I got the codes in while I could still read the GameStop receipts - they fade quickly.

8/17 - Dug out my old copy of Destiny for the Xbox One. It's been a long time since I booted it up and Bungie has put in a couple new cutscenes (or voice overs, at least). Nice, but they seem to be geared toward players who have already finished the core part (or more) of the game. Oh, well. Still feels good to put on the Guardian suit again. Also tried out Slime Rancher which I have ONLY because it was free with Xbox Gold. Not sure if it's too Playschool for me.

8/18 - Adr1ft. Finally got it working with a non-Bluetooth headset and even decided to try streaming it. Not a bad game, but very slow - aside from floating around, you need to read log entries (or I'm assuming you need to). I don't mind reading stuff, but most of what I saw didn't look like it was going to help. Also, a) why can't I hold a spare oxygen canister in my left hand, and b) why is my space suit made of porcelain? Every time I bumped into anything, the visor kept cracking.

8/19 - Steep stinks. Well, it doesn't actually smell, but it's going to be traded into GameStop soon. Just boring, to me anyway. Endless mountains aren't fun. Switched over to >Observer_. This one is going to take some patience. Rutger Hauer - making his video game debut from what IMDB would indicate -  does the voice of the main character, but either he's going for overly gruff or he's just gotten really old. This one is made by the same group that did Layers of Fear, which felt like you were always on the move, going room to room. This one involves more searching in a single location, using two different types of sensors and analysis tools. A little tedious? Well, it's still early. Looks like about 6 hours, so at least it's not real long. On another note, PS4's don't play well with external hard drives. First, you have to plug them in the front which looks messy, and second, if you put the system in "rest" mode, it disconnects the external drive so you have to repair when you reconnect it. Xbox handles externals much better. Oh, well.

8/20 - >Observer_. This must be the year for really strange games. First, there was Here They Lie back in April, and now I've got this one in August. I really should have captured some in-game footage, but frankly I wouldn't know what or how much to show. Observer is made by the same studio that did Layers of Fear and, in keeping with their style, there doesn't seem to be any chance of "death". There also isn't any form of combat, but there is some light puzzle solving. The rest is just pure mind bending, jump scare weirdness! Games like this must hard to program because most game engines are designed to simulate the real world. When you are trying to break the rules of reality, and especially when you want to do jump cuts like a movie, that requires a whole new set of parameters. The one thing that will keep me going on this one is that Rutger Hauer is the main character. Old sounding or not, he's still one of my favorite actors. Oh, and I pre-ordered an Xbox One X Scorpio Edition from Amazon...and from Best Buy. Obviously, I'll only end up getting one, but from where? Or will I bail on both?

8/21 - >Observer_. A very frustrating night. When I got on my PC, I found out that I was 20 minutes late to get a SNES Classic pre-order from Best Buy. This was bad enough, but then I wasted more time seeing if they would release additional units - the page kept changing from "Coming Soon" to "Pre-order", but they never had anymore. I want to get as many SNES Classic systems as I can - and I have no intention of selling ANY of them! Ok, "as many as I can" isn't quite right; I just want one for Sarah, one for me, a spare for Sarah, and a few for my friends if they can't find one. This console-of-sorts is epic in it's selection of games and their importance in video gaming history, at least in my opinion. When I finally got around to playing >Observer_, I got caught up in doing this annoying 2D puzzle mini-game, With Fire and Swords: Spiders. I don't know what it has to do with the game (if anything), but I'm already stuck on level 4.

8/22 - >Observer_. Okay, no more SNES Classic pre-order hunting. Back into the game. A really weird game!



8/23 - >Observer_. This game is really pushing my buttons...but not in a good way. This developer is known for letting you interact with lots of stuff for no particular reason or purpose. That gets tedious after awhile. I did finally find out that you can die - at one point I had to hide from a "creature" in a maze of office cubicles or get killed. I'm also not sure if there are side-quests or if everything is related somehow. I am (well, my character) is stuck in this run down apartment building that is under lockdown. The main goal seems to be finding out if my son is dead or not, and if so, who killed him. But, at one point, I found a woman in a machine that was apparently trying to transfer her consciousness to the body of a brain damaged child, and a) I don't know if it has anything to do with the overall story, and b) I don't think I "finished" the segment - I really couldn't tell! Add to that getting stuck in dark hallways trying to target certain parts of the room (like doorknobs) and getting turned around easily, and I really wonder if I want to finish this one.

8/24 - >Observer_. When I played Layers of Fear (which got a nod in this game), I wasn't really mentally invested in the story. However, the ending was extremely satisfying and made my overall view of the game much better. I REALLY hope that I get that "lift" before the end of >Observer_.

8/26 - >Observer_. The weird journey continues. Going to have a whole gallery of crazy pics after this one.

8/27 - >Observer_. Had to stay up til 1am, but I finally finished it. Honestly, if it weren't for Rutger Hauer being in it, I'd probably have bailed before the end. (THIS YouTube video is a nice BTS piece where Rutger mentions Observer is his first video game after two previous projects fell through.) The tagline for this game was, "What would you do if your fears were hacked?", but I never really felt as though anything like that ever happened. The game has been getting good reviews, but if you think I'm leaning toward "overrated", you'd be right. There's no combat, minimal puzzle solving, and a few evade/sneak sections with "game over" results for failing, but the reset is just walking around multiple bizarre environments. Sort of a grand tour of outlandish computer graphics. The ending took way too long to get to and there was more trudging through sewer tunnels than there should have been. By the end, I felt I "understood" the story and I made a final choice that I felt kept with the main character's convictions, but it didn't have any particular emotional impact. There was a lot of extra material  in the game (notes on computers mostly) that would have taken a long to read and I doubt if would have added much. The stuff I did read wasn't of much use. There were also these cards you could collect with what I'm assuming were the design staff with PhotoShopped implants on their faces. Cute, but I only found 17 of 69! And I looked around a lot. I think Layers of Fear was a much better game because it had more focus - a crazed artist looking for macabre items for his grand masterpiece. This was more like a wandering old man, jacking into other people's minds, not to use their fears against them, but just to see what they knew. Here is my screenshot album from the game: CLICK ME.

8/29 - Hellblade. Sort of a wasted evening since I couldn't seem to figure out where to go next or how to get there. Some Viking magic stuff going on that I don't understand yet.

8/30 - Just some light weight gaming - Everybody's Golf. This is the PS4 version of the next game in the Hot Shots Golf series and plays about the same - it just looks flashier. I played 9 holes and came in 16...out of 16 players. Going to take some getting used to.

8/31 - I tried starting Last Day of June, the next game from Murasaki Baby's creator, but the vibe I was getting was that this was going to be a VERY depressing (though ultimately uplifting) experience which I didn't feel ready for. So, I just played more Everybody's Golf. Seems it has enhancements for PS4 Pro. Have to try that.



Miscellaneous Musings

Backlog and Front Loading - I sometimes wonder if I'll ever get to a point where I can stop buying new games and work on the ones I have. At least I can sometimes talk myself out of certain games by just reminding myself that I have, for example, nearly ALL of GTA V to play! That covers a lot of ground by itself.

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Chessasaur's July 2017 Gaming Log

July 2017 Gaming - Day by Day

7/01 - Tonight was a V.G.O.N.S which sounds like an alien from Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, but actually stands for Video Game One Night Stand. A V.G.O.N.S. involves taking a new (to me) game out for a few hours of fun...then never playing it again. In this case, it was the remake of LucasArts classic, Full Throttle. While I appreciated a number of improvements to the old systems of point-and-click adventure games (like the ability to highlight key objects in the environment), games like this are tedious to play when you get stuck on the puzzles. I left it at the point where I had to lure a junkyard dog away from some bike parts I needed. The worst part was getting chased away over and over and over again, having to watch the same animation for it every time. I could (and probably should) play this kind of game with a guide, but it sort of defeats the object of playing a puzzle game.

7/03 - For awhile, I'd been thinking about loading The Beatles Rock Band onto my gaming station Xbox 360 so I could chill some nights and just play Beatles songs. So that's what I did. Of course, loading the original game was not a problem, nor was getting a guitar controller synced to the system. The problem came when I wanted to load the additional song DLC I bought many years ago. Since music licensing exists only to make life more difficult for everyone, the in-game Music Store was closed down because the "license" to sell the DLC had expired. The only way to re-download the songs now is to go through your entire Download History and find them! Not a fast process. Worse, if you didn't buy them back then, you can't now. This is probably the saddest loss from the Great Rhythm Game Collapse. The Beatles Rock Band game was the high watermark of the genre; a marvel of content and execution. In a different world, a better world, there would have been games like this celebrating all the great rock and roll bands. I've actually played very little of this RB title, mostly because I've always seen it more of a single player experience - you can't create or modify a character, and even the ability to alter the music (with the whammy bar) is removed - and I just didn't get around to it when the 360 was in the living room. Playing Beatles songs is like a massage for your soul. I finished the night with one of my favorites:


7/04 - Not much gaming today, but I did get a chance to try Dragon's Lair HD on the PS3 and a new game, Vikings: Wolves of Midgard. Dragon's Lair was sort of a disappointment; while the cartoon animations brought back waves of happy nostalgia, the mechanic for selecting which direction to move is now a D-pad graphic in the lower left corner. The original game used lighted areas that you had to move toward and they overlaid the animations. This kept you looking at the action, instead of now where you have to concentrate on the corner of a widescreen picture. Ah well, at least there's an option to just watch the whole "story". Vikings, which I only played a tiny bit of, is very Diablo III-ish. I'll have to try a bit more to see if it's worth my time as, so far, I don't feel it's substantially more entertaining than D3. Interestingly, Vikings is one of these new $30 titles - feels like an attempt to fill in the gap left in the market when the mid-range publishers went out of business.

7/05 - Vikings. This is turning into an enjoyable little diversion. The game is very much a Diablo clone, but a) that's not a bad thing, and b) they've added an Exposure element to the formula. Since this is Norway (presumably), it gets very cold there; ergo, you need to watch out how cold you get. Staying out in the snow too long fills your Exposure bar and if it fills up, you take damage. Campfires will warm you up, so you have to watch the map to see where the next one is. Combat is pretty simple - just press the X button to fight - and you have two different weapon sets to switch between. I can deal with simple. What is hard to take is the dialog! Bad writing is hard enough to suffer through, but WHY do they have Vikings with Cockney accents?


7/06 - Vikings. Well, it was fun while it lasted. The second area to explore was basically like the last one, but without snow (and the Exposure mechanic). Lots of X button mashing, no really interesting loots, and rehashed enemies from the last zone. The only real difference was the boss at the end and that fight was very simple - beat two guards and the chieftain. Time to move onto something better.

7/07 - In the interest of showing that I actual play the games I buy, I felt that it was time to justify my $40 expenditure for Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy. Crash wasn't a series I did much with until the PS2 generation and even then I remember having to get rid of Wrath of Cortex because the loading times were so bad. So now I'm playing the remastered PS1 games and they remind me that my reflexes aren't what they used to be. However, once in a while, I do get it right:


This came after numerous (and ignominious) deaths by falling off things I clearly should have seen. If Sarah were playing these, it would be art. Me, it's a high definition train wreck!

7/08 - Crash Bandicoot. It's nice that there are 3 games here since I'm stuck on the first one. I've gone over to the next one to see how I get on with it. So far, it's been easier, but I'm also at the very beginning of the game, which is always easier. The hardest thing (other than missing jumps, of course) is trying to figure out  the right "mechanic" to deal with the various creatures I'm trying to avoid. I don't know if they included these hints in the manuals (something old games always had), but I'm guessing they left it to the gamer to figure it out. These were the early days of consoles; more had to be discovered on one's own.

7/09 - Crash Bandicoot. Well, after getting stuck on some of the levels on #2, I switched to the third one, Warped. More interesting environments and a bit more variety of courses, but these games still fall into the "memorize or die" mold. I remember having to do this sort of thing back in the SNES platforming days and it was lots of fun...20 years ago. I might have to see if I can get Sarah interested in them. I'd love to see how she would handle them. It might also be a way to get her playing on the PS4; something that will let her play Kingdom Hearts 3 when it (eventually) releases.

7/10 - Crash Bandicoot. Didn't have too much time to play tonight, so I kept with Crash and I think I'm going to put it aside for now. The trilogy, as a whole, is a good deal - lots of nostalgia, pretty graphics, mostly good controls - but I think I want more depth to my game time. Also, I was a little disappointed that in the 3rd game, Warped, the 8th was basically a rehash of the 3rd (or 4th) stage. Up to that point, all of the levels had been fairly unique. Oh well, it was still fun to play and I figure I can always drop back into it for a quick bit of fun. CLICK HERE to see my highlight of the night - winning a race by the narrowest of margins. Oddly, this gameplay clip isn't what you usually do in Crash Bandicoot games - most of it is platforming.

7/11 - Time for a change of pace; from the cartoony world of Crash Bandicoot to the post-something-really-bad-happened world of Metro 2033 Redux. I played a tiny bit of this before it was remastered, so I had a little idea what to expect - in other words, I wasn't surprised to "die" right at the beginning. I've read a rough translation of Glukhovsky's book and I am impressed how closely the game is following the story. So far I've just had to fight off some, uh, mutant werewolves, I guess? I'm still trying to deal with not using inverted Y-axis and I'm, unfortunately, wasting a lot of ammo. Oh, and there was that other "experience" I had...CLICK HERE to see what happened. Also, I've gotten back into a little Twitch streaming (which is why these are Highlights) and I thought I was doing pretty good. I had one viewer for almost the whole show and as many as 3 at one point (but no one chatted). I was thrilled to have the one viewer...until I realized it was MY computer sitting on MY channel. Oh well, on the good side, it made it look like I did have a viewer and maybe that helps. I guess I might have a couple of my devices "watch" my stream just so it doesn't "look" empty.

7/12 - Rough work day, homework, pre-bedtime discovery of massive cat barf incident - these are the things that lead to late nights and the need for a game that fits your brain like a comfortable pair of underwear. In this case, it was some more of Inside, a game that demands little expertise and complements an already dower mood.

7/13 - Inside. Just some comfortable filler while the bod recovers from the rigors of the past week and girds itself for the coming madness of the Khan!

7/16 - As I'm trying to build up some sleep reserves before SDCC, I only played a little of a new game I got recently, Golf With Your Friends. Nice and simple miniature golf game which may work for our little group. It reminds me of the one I used to have on the Atari ST. Ah, the simpler old days.

7/19 - Due to SDCC 2017, gaming is at a minimum. I did get a chance to play a little of No Man's Sky on the PS4 Pro...and it looks like an entirely different game!



7/24 - Done with SDCC for another year, it's time to get back to a some gaming. I've been interested to at least restart Alan Wake after all this time, partly because it was the subject of some news lately. The game was being pulled from digital sales markets due to a music license that had expired. Remedy, the studio behind the game, stated that it wasn't possible to replace the song (or songs, for all we know) because of the way they were used in the game. After a few minutes in the game, I could see why - there is music playing in nearly every scene! I also forgot how not-exactly-great the controls were. A single press of the left bumper button does a "dodge", but holding it down puts Alan in "sprint" mode. So every time you want to run, you end up sort of ducking and it looks pretty silly. Another thing I had forgotten was that the very beginning of the game foreshadows the somewhat confusing ending. As the game starts, Alan quotes Stephen King, saying (in paraphrase), "Horror isn't supposed to make sense. If it did, it wouldn't be scary." Hearing that alone made replaying the first part worth the effort. I also forgot how well the proximity interaction feature worked - to talk to an NPC, you just stand next to them. A very seamless and natural way to handle conversations.

7/26 - Another One-Night Stand - this time, Dungeon Siege III. Don't get me wrong. I was actually pretty impressed with the game and was enjoying it. It plays a lot like Diablo 3, but with much better voice acting. Back in the day, our little gaming trio (me, my wife and my brother) played the first two DS games on networked PC's. (I'm actually not entirely sure we finished the second one.) The games were fun to play and at least the first one had a mechanic I haven't seen in another game since. In it, you could "follow" another player and then the game would run your character like a companion NPC, fighting along side whoever you were "protecting". I'm not ashamed to admit that there were times back then that I would link to my brother's character...and nap in my chair for 10 to 15 minutes. Hey, you have to get rest in when you can and we had a toddler back then. That aside, DS3 is a sold game, the RPG guts having been handled by Obsidian. What hasn't held up as well over the years is the character models (they look like people painted by amateur artists), the fact that NPC interactions are always posed the same way, and the gameplay, which got very repetitive, even after just a couple of hours. (Click HERE to see what most of it is like.) Basically, you walk along a path and enemies rush at you in groups. You fight them off, walk a little farther, and...well, you get the idea. I really liked that there was a button to press to show you which way to go to complete your quest (it was really easy to get turned around), and the story dialog in the game was tailored to fit the background of one of four different characters you picked to be at the beginning. It was a nice touch. I may have to boot up the PS3 version just to see if the graphics are better - I like to think I'm not that hung up on graphical quality, but if you compare this to something like Dead Space, which was from the same generation of consoles, it comes up pretty short.

7/27 - Dungeon Siege III. I wasn't really planning on going on another "date" with DS3, but she was available and I only had a little while to play. Plus, she does show a gamer a good time, if not a fancy one. I did try out the PS3 version and a) the graphics aren't any better, and b) I tried running a strictly melee character and didn't like the combat - guns are definitely the way to go. I might have to break it off with DS3 after this, but ya never know if I might have to give her a booty call again. I mean, take a look at this "art":


7/28 - Feeling a little out of sorts, I decided to pull out the Vita and do some sofa gaming. The game I picked was Three-Fourths Home and I don't know if I really understand what it exactly is. You are holding a conversation with your family while driving, which consists of keeping a finger on the back touch panel, advancing the story with the right bumper, selecting responses with the left thumbstick, and confirming with the X button. If that sounds uncomfortable, that's because it is! This is more interactive fiction than game and I'm not sure at this point if the ending will be worth the finger contortions required to finish.

7/29 - Except for a little bit of #1 (or #2, can't remember), I've never played any of the Saint's Row games. So, for whatever reason, I thought I'd give Saint's Row III: Gat Out Of Hell a try...the last expansion to all the SR games. Go figure. Basically, it was a brief experience a little reminiscent of the GTA games, but with worse graphics and demons all over the place. I will admit that the flying aspect (with dark angel wings) was sort of cool, but I had a lot of trouble with the controls. I'll put this in the "well, I gave it a try" category.

7/30 - No real gaming session today. Did a quick PUBG run and made it to the top 10 without getting shot or shooting anyone else - the barrier got me. Played a tiny bit of Mighty Number 9. Tried a little bit of Ziggurat which turned out to be a super hard FPS with a horrible POV - about 3 inches off the floor.

Miscellaneous Musings

Thought it might be time to change the format a little, so I'm embedding vids and screenshots in the text instead of just dumping them in all at the end. I'm also highlighting (ie, bold effect) the names of the games in each entry. I was going to put the boxart pics back in like I used to, but it's too much work to download the image, save it, then insert it.

Has anyone ever made a game where your character is a blow-up doll?

Doldrums - I don't know if it was Comic Con interference or just my mood in general, but I'm having trouble picking a game to really get into. I'd like to dig into something that I feel like I can realistically finish and will be rewarding. Looking over this month's entries, I've been all over the place. Dungeon Siege III is something I know I could get through, but I just don't feel like it's worth that much time - too old, and too much of the same thing over and over. Big open world games are great, but I just don't have the hours it would take to make a meaningful dent in one. I don't know how I made it 100+ hours in Fallout 4, but I doubt I can do that again on my current schedule.

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?