Currently Playing, January 2017

As an alternative to a catchup post, here’s a catchup post. Only it’s more to declutter my game playing mind after a flurry of new games obtained over the Jesus Birthday Period. Got that? Right.

So for Christmas I got four Switch games – Splatoon 2 (which I’ve covered already), Super Bomberman R, The Lego Ninjago Movie Video Game and Fire Emblem Warriors. Because my wife is the most excellent of wives.

I also got quite a bit of eShop credit, and spent a bit of that on Gorogoa (also covered) and a game I’ve had my eye on a lot, Blaster Master Zero. I also accidentally bought the Ghostbusters and Lego Batman story packs for Lego Dimensions.

Oh, and because I had some Steam credit and because Cool Ghosts made me want them, I’ve picked up Passpartout: The Starving Artist and The Norwood Suite. Like most games they may sit unplayed until I buy the Switch version in the future instead. Ho ho.

Mainly, I’ve played Splatoon 2. I completed single player, and have reached Level 4 online.

With my daughter I’ve played quite a few matches of Super Bomberman R and I’m pleased to reveal that whatever was “wrong” with it at launch has now been fixed. Aside from the graphical style (which has never been good since they stopped using pixels), it’s Bomberman. And Bomberman is great.

I’m not actually sure I remember what the issues everyone had with the  game back when it came out now, but I’m not seeing anything now. It’s fun!

Once I finished Splatoon, I moved onto (again with my daughter) The Lego Ninjago Movie Video Game which as well as having the most ridiculous game name ever, is actually a little different to other Lego games. You have lots of fighting moves at your disposal, and instead of red bricks you have XP to obtain that levels you up giving you “powers” to unlock in a sort of skill tree. It’s early days yet (we’ve only done the first few levels), but I’m liking it a lot so far.

And finally, I’ve played a bit of Passpartout: The Starving Artist. Yes, I know I said it’d probably sit unplayed – and it might yet – but it’s quirky and silly and I love making crap art and selling it for peanuts. I mean look:

And of course, I played some more Stardew Valley, but as I posted the other day, I consider that “completed”.

Other than that, I got given a few games by @IndieGamerChick as part of #indiexmas. First up, was a game called Gunmetal Arcadia Zero. It’s by the same team as You Have to Win the Game, which I coincidentally, played, enjoyed and completed recently. This game is a lot like Zelda II and Castlevania II, and has a familiar NES feeling to it. It’s pretty good so far.

Also from her was Kid Tripp for the Switch. Yep, she (and the devs, Four Horses) gave away a Switch game! It’s a simple “forced runner”, but with lovely blown-up pixel graphics. There’s a nice rhythm to each level, albeit not a “musical” rhythm like, say, Bit Trip Runner, and it plays well. It’s just so very, very hard.

Finally, another game (also from Four Horses) is Digger Dan DX for the 3DS, a homage to Boulderdash. Judging from the number of levels, it’s huge! I’m enjoying it so far.

And that… is everything. I think! Phew, eh? For now, I’m going to try and slim this lot down to a couple of titles just to make it manageable. Ninjago will be one, and for the moment at least, Passpartout will be the other. Find out soon if I actually do this or not!

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Bye-Bye Box Boy! (3DS): COMPLETED!

You know, the positive thing about having my Switch stolen by my daughter is it means I get to play other games on other systems now. Like this, which I bought ages ago when it was on offer then promptly forgot to do anything with it.

Like the first two Box Boy! games, both of which I really enjoyed, Bye-Bye Box Boy! is a puzzle game where you create a chain of boxes and use them to traverse a level, avoid dangers, press switches, and so on. For the most part, it’s the same as the other games, but some worlds here have new gimmicks, like teleportation boxes, baby boxes you have to help navigate to the goal, bomb boxes, and remote control boxes.

It’s also a lot easier than I was expecting. I managed every single level, without struggling, collecting every crown on my first try. Of course, now I’ve completed it there are more – no doubt harder – levels that have opened up, but I don’t remember the other games being as simple as this. Maybe I’m just wise to the tricks now.

Still excellent though.

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Nano Assault EX (3DS): COMPLETED!

I was sure I’d played and completed Nano Assault EX long ago, but no. I saw it on my home screen when moving stuff around and decided to have a look at it, and then realised I’d not played it.

It was probably one of the games in that excellent Nintendo Humble Bundle from a while back.

Anyway, over a couple of days I completed it. Like the Wii U version (which is actually different, much to my surprise) it’s pretty short, but it’s a lot of fun and looks incredible. With the 3D on full, the graphics are so impressive that I’m baffled how the 3DS manages them.

It’s actually a bit longer than the Wii U version too. I think that only had four “areas” of four levels each, whereas this has six or seven areas with four or more levels in each. I think it’s quite a bit easier too, but since I’m terrible at shooters, I’m not complaining.

I would say, however, that I can’t recommend Nano Assault EX anywhere near as much if you don’t have a New 3DS, or at the very least a Circle Pad Pro on a normal 3DS. That C stick is essential for playing it properly, as it’s very much a twin-stick shooter.

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Nano Assault EX (3DS): COMPLETED!

I was sure I’d played and completed Nano Assault EX long ago, but no. I saw it on my home screen when moving stuff around and decided to have a look at it, and then realised I’d not played it.

It was probably one of the games in that excellent Nintendo Humble Bundle from a while back.

Anyway, over a couple of days I completed it. Like the Wii U version (which is actually different, much to my surprise) it’s pretty short, but it’s a lot of fun and looks incredible. With the 3D on full, the graphics are so impressive that I’m baffled how the 3DS manages them.

It’s actually a bit longer than the Wii U version too. I think that only had four “areas” of four levels each, whereas this has six or seven areas with four or more levels in each. I think it’s quite a bit easier too, but since I’m terrible at shooters, I’m not complaining.

I would say, however, that I can’t recommend Nano Assault EX anywhere near as much if you don’t have a New 3DS, or at the very least a Circle Pad Pro on a normal 3DS. That C stick is essential for playing it properly, as it’s very much a twin-stick shooter.

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SteamWorld Heist: The Outsider (3DS): COMPLETED!

A short one, this! SteamWorld Heist’s DLC, The Outsider, was on offer this week and somehow I’d not previously bought it. I righted a wrong and did that, and then played through and completed it.

It’s not a separate story as such, more an expansion. There’s a new character (The Outsider, of course), once you’ve repaired him, and then five or six new missions strewn across the map. To go with these there’s a new selection of hats to find and a handful of new weapons and stuff.

One of the levels is an interesting three way fight between yourselves, the Queen’s guard, and the Vectron forces. You can of course allow both other sides to pretty much eradicate each other, then move in to mop up. So I did that.

Short, but well worth digging the game out for again!

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SteamWorld Heist: The Outsider (3DS): COMPLETED!

A short one, this! SteamWorld Heist’s DLC, The Outsider, was on offer this week and somehow I’d not previously bought it. I righted a wrong and did that, and then played through and completed it.

It’s not a separate story as such, more an expansion. There’s a new character (The Outsider, of course), once you’ve repaired him, and then five or six new missions strewn across the map. To go with these there’s a new selection of hats to find and a handful of new weapons and stuff.

One of the levels is an interesting three way fight between yourselves, the Queen’s guard, and the Vectron forces. You can of course allow both other sides to pretty much eradicate each other, then move in to mop up. So I did that.

Short, but well worth digging the game out for again!

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The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons (3DS): COMPLETED!

And that, following its pair – Oracle of Ages – from a few weeks back, means that the two best Zelda games have been completed. Again. Like Ages, I originally completed Oracle of Seasons right near the start of this gaming diary’s life. Back then, I finished Seasons first, but this time reversed them.

It didn’t make a lot of difference. The extra heart carried over from the more puzzley Ages helped a little in the more combatty Seasons, but that’s all. I did make the mistake of not playing Seasons for just over a week, meaning I’d forgotten what I was supposed to be doing. I admit, I resorted to reading a guide but only to remind me. I did’t make that mistake again.

Seasons seemed easier than I recall. Backtracking was more of an issue than my memory suggests, mainly because of the lack of useful warp points (aka the seed trees). Warp points exist of course, but they never seemed to be near where I needed to go. I ended up using the same two or three and then walking the long walk instead. Maybe if I’d figured out the routes across Subrosia it wouldn’t have been such a trek.

After beating Onox, the final boss, I went on to fight Twinrova. You can only do this once you’ve completed both Ages and Seasons, but I’d done that. Finally, the half-developed form of Ganon needed to be defeated. I was sure Twinrova was difficult last time around, but it seems my memory was faulty again and it was Onox I struggled with before.

And that’s that. Definitely still the best Zelda game(s). Fact.

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Picross e7 (3DS): COMPLETED!

Maybe I miscalculated, or maybe my picross skills are now honed to the point where I complete puzzles on autopilot, but it turns out Picross e7 was actually shorter than Picross e6. Not much – 27 1/2 hours compared with about 28 hours, but it was still a surprise.

Like before, there’s some “cheating” going on by reusing the same pictures for both the picross and mega picross modes, which is a shame. Also, you don’t get many “bonus” puzzles for owning other games in the series – just 15 in total. It’s the same as before, but there are 6 previous titles now, not 3!

And that’s all there is to say, really. It’s more picross. And there’s an excellent toilet in it.

picross e7

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The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages (3DS): COMPLETED!

Last time I completed Oracle of Ages was almost 12 years ago, not long after I started this gaming diary. You can read my post about that here. Since then, I’ve played a lot more Zelda games, but in my mind the Oracles games have always been the best. Would my memory hold up, in light of Link Between Worlds and Breath of the Wild?

Actually… yes.

Ages is not without faults. Changing weapons is perhaps the biggest issue, especially on boss fights. Swimming controls, in particular once you pick up the mermaid gear, could be much better. Warping between the past and present, once you have the right tune, takes just a little too long. Having to remember where everyone and everything on the map is, for later reference, is difficult.

But most of these don’t really matter. The item swapping is a product of its time: The Game Boy Colour only had two buttons, after all. What is still outstanding is the game itself. In particular, some of the puzzles are genius. I wonder about the brains of those who created them, notably the Mermaid’s Cave dungeon. Not only do you need to contend with some of the more fiendish riddles, but you also have to leave the dungeon, change era, and return. I also must have spent four or more hours in the multidimensional nightmare that is Jabu-Jabu’s Belly. Raising and lowering water and a one-way system broke my brain several times.

From what I recall, Oracle of Ages is the more cerebral of the two Oracles games. Difficult puzzles, but generally easy bosses, with Oracle of Seasons being the opposite. It certainly seems to be the case given what I’ve said, and that all of the bosses – even the final one to a lesser degree – were incredibly easy. The only problems I had were figuring out how to damage some of them, which again bears out the puzzle-based nature.

So is it better than Breath of the Wild? I mean, really? It’s certainly a better Zelda game, yes. It doesn’t have the scope, beauty or freedom of the Switch title, but it is a purer, tighter, more focussed Zelda experience. But then, Breath of the Wild isn’t a true Zelda game in my eyes.

Seasons next!

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The Battle Cats POP! (3DS): COMPLETED!

Well that was very easy. An abundance of cat food meant I could easily max out all my cat character classes, pay for items to ensure I always got treasure on each level, and use that treasure to make myself even more powerful.

battle cats

It was so easy I barely even took damage on my base for the entire game. I used the “Cat God” special power just once, and that was only to see what it did. I suffered a single defeat, due to forgetting to pause the game when I put it down for a few minutes.

All that said, it was pretty good fun. I’m still baffled as to why the “game delay” stuff remains when there aren’t any IAPs to bypass it, but it didn’t affect me in the end.

battle cats

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