Starlink: Battle for Atlas (Switch): COMPLETED!

You know what? It’s actually pretty good. I assumed, due to the dismal sales and very little game news fanfare, that Starlink was rubbish, but in fact it was a lot of fun.

Coming out just after the death of Plastic Game Tat (Lego Dimensions, Disney Infinity, Skylanders) was a bad first impression, but I picked up the Switch starter kit with physical Star Fox ship (which is obviously Switch exclusive and adds a bit to the story) for just over a tenner a while back and decided to give it a go this week. If they’d not bothered with all the figures and ships – as I didn’t – this probably would have sold much better.

The gameplay is pretty simple. Jet from planet to planet clearing out the bad guys (get rid of spires first to make the “boss” easier), all the while making friends, building outposts, and basically gaining territory from the enemy. Once you’ve done enough, you can build special towers, build one in each region of the solar system and you gain access to the final boss area, then go in and shoot him.

The core mechanics of gaining ground and allies, while fending off the attacks, are almost real-time strategy-like, and the combat is simple but fun. It’s not a fantastic game but it’s sadly overlooked and deserves a play. It’s a bit Star Fox, a bit No Man’s Sky, and a bit musou, but it works well.

The post Starlink: Battle for Atlas (Switch): COMPLETED! appeared first on deKay's Gaming Diary.

Hyper Sentinel (Switch): COMPLETED!

I’ll be honest, shooters are not really my bag, and I was never a fan of Uridium, which this is clearly a modern(ish) update of. Sure, there are shooters I do like, and I’m a fairly recent convert to the Church of Fantasy Zone, but I’m just making my stance clear.

I bought Hyper Sentinel because it code me about three pence. And that’s not even an exaggeration – it was 9 cents on the US eShop, and I had some Gold Points to bring it down even lower. The first few attempts at playing it were foiled by a crash-to-black screen, but eventually, I managed to get past that.

Each level is one screen high and several screens wide, with a sort of space ship or something that you fly over. The aim is to shoot all the targets on the ship, which triggers a boss fight. Beat that, and you do the next level. Do all 13 levels, and that’s it. And that was it – it wasn’t hard at all.

I think the point is, well, points. It’s an arcade game so you play it like a score attack, which isn’t really for me. I’d have preferred more levels instead, but what is there was fun enough.

The post Hyper Sentinel (Switch): COMPLETED! appeared first on deKay's Gaming Diary.

Astral Chain (Switch): COMPLETED!

I always like the idea of Platinum games, with their amazing combat and bonkers stories, but I rarely hold them in the high regard a lot of other people seem to. Bayonetta is a great game, but is it worth the heaps of praise it gets? I’m not sure. The Wonderful 101 was, well, Wonderful, but it was a way from perfect despite the reviews.

Astral Chain, though, is really something special. I think, being half “adventure” and half combat has helped, with the story and setting being allowed to shine via the slower paced police work. The combat is complicated and rewarding, and reminds me a lot of the way you control your heroes in The Wonderful 101, as they’re in a chain of sorts, as your Legion here is chained to you. You’re almost as acrobatic as Bayonetta, and there’s also a couple of motorbike sections like that game, but they’re thankfully much better executed (and looking) in Astral Chain.

The adventure sections provide a fair bit of humour, with silly police missions like cat and balloon rescue interspersed with more serious stuff. In the early levels, the combat (especially against larger enemies) tends to take place in the sparsely rendered astral plane and sometimes your police investigations drag you there. It’s a neat way of both providing a large open area to fight in, rather than the enclosed streets of The Ark, and to reduce the number of scenery polygons needed to be pushed around so the big foes can look incredible. It’s a very, very good looking game, especially for a Switch game.

I wasn’t going to buy Astral Chain, but I saw it really cheap and picked it up on a whim, and I’m glad I did. I hope too that the world teasing in the epilogue, coupled with how well this sold, will mean we get a sequel.

The post Astral Chain (Switch): COMPLETED! appeared first on deKay's Gaming Diary.

Vice: Project Doom (Switch): COMPLETED!

I’d never heard of this game before, and I only gave it a go as I noticed it on the NES Online service thing on the Switch today. Surprisingly, it was actually pretty good.

I say surprisingly, because it very much reminded me of two terrible games I’ve played recently: ESWAT and Ninja Gaiden. Somehow, though, it’s much, much better than either of those. It has the same sort of platforming, bosses, and even a plot not too dissimilar to Ninja Gaiden, as well as interstitial dialogue like both other games. It plays much better, though, with tighter collision detection and baddies that don’t constantly respawn if you move one pixel back and forth.

As well as the platforming, there are a couple of Spy Hunter-like driving sections. These aren’t great, and actually play out more like a vertical shooter than a driving game, but they’re easy and quickly over. There are also a few Operation Wolf style shooting levels, which are OK but obviously suffer a bit as you can’t use a lightgun.

So yeah, it was surprising. Not the best NES game by any means, but above average and I’m amazed I’d never seen it until today.

The post Vice: Project Doom (Switch): COMPLETED! appeared first on deKay's Gaming Diary.

The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening (Switch): COMPLETED!

It can’t be that long ago when I last played the original (well, DX) version of Link’s Awakening, I thought to myself. After all, I remember most of what I’m supposed to be doing. It turns out it was more than eight years ago. It also turns out I’d not remembered quite as much as I’d thought.

This Switch version is a shot-for-shot remake of Link’s Awakening DX. All the same enemies, all the same weapons, all the same characters, and the exact same map. What has changed only modifies things. Most obviously, there are the new tilt-shift rendered toy-like graphics, with everyone looking like little plastic dolls. It works really well. Then there’s the continually scrolling world, rather than being flip-screen (apart from in dungeons – some rooms still switch) which actually makes the game map appear somewhat smaller than I remember.

Of course sound in massively improved too, but the other big change is the controls. On the Game Boy, you only had two buttons – A and B – to use weapons. You kept having to go into the menu and swap them out. This was pretty tedious, especially if you needed three weapons at once, and out of sheer laziness meant that the shield rarely got used. In the Switch version, some weapons are permanently tied to buttons, which means you can always use your sword, shield and pegasus boots without swapping them in, and you still have two action buttons for other things. I generally found keeping Roc’s feather on Y and then just changing the use of X when needed worked best for me. Having a shield at all times makes the game one hell of a lot easier.

In fact, I found the whole game very, very easy, only dying twice. Of course, some is down to the shield and easier controls, but no doubt much is because I remembered a lot of where I needed to go and what to do. Although I did lose Marin for a while which made me think there was a bug. There wasn’t – I had just lost her.

As much as I really enjoyed the game, and I must stress that it is really good, I can’t help think how good Oracle of Ages and Oracle of Seasons would be using this engine, as they’re even better than Link’s Awakening. I’m hoping they do those before Breath of the Wild 2!

The post The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening (Switch): COMPLETED! appeared first on deKay's Gaming Diary.

Untitled Goose Game (Switch): COMPLETED!

Being a horrible goose is the best. And oh what a horrible goose you can be. I mean, you can’t kill anyone or anything (at least, I couldn’t when I tried), but you can make everyone’s life hell for a bit by stealing their stuff, breaking their stuff, and using their stuff to cause them stress and and upset.

You’d be upset too if a goose chucked your lunch in a lake, or took a stool away from you just as you sat down.

It’s not a hard game, nor is it a long game, but it’s a unique, silly and very funny game. Think Hitman crossed with Metal Gear Solid only you’re a goose and instead of killing anyone you have to steal toilet paper and break a dart board.

I’ve completed it (which took about an hour), but that unlocked a sort of New Game+ with a load more objectives, so I’m definitely going to go back in and do those.

The post Untitled Goose Game (Switch): COMPLETED! appeared first on deKay's Gaming Diary.

Adventures of Bertram Fiddle Episode 1: A Dreadly Business

I started this about a month ago, but totally forgot I was playing it. Then I realised that Untitled Goose Game and Link’s Awakening were out tomorrow and I remembered I had some unfinished stuff to do first. Turns out I was very near the end anyway.

Bertram Fiddle is a point and click adventure game set in Victorian London, complete with mutton chops and Sherlock Holmes and a murder with a severed head as a clue. Bertram himself is a mostly incompetent detective slash adventurer, and he takes it upon himself to solve the murder.

Since it’s a point and click game, I couldn’t help comparing it to The Secret of Woolley Mountain, which I played recently. That game had more puzzles in it, and felt a bit longer, but suffered a little graphically and with variably successful voice acting. The art in Bertram Fiddle is much better and the spoken dialogue is much, much better. The humour and gameplay of both games is great though.

Anyway, I’ll be getting Episode 2 from the eShop next time it’s on offer (which, given Astral Chain, Untitled Goose Game and Link’s Awakening are all being played is hopefully not too soon) and if you’re a fan of this genre then Bertram Fiddle is definitely worth your time.

The post Adventures of Bertram Fiddle Episode 1: A Dreadly Business appeared first on deKay's Gaming Diary.

River City Girls (Switch): COMPLETED!

Probably my favourite side scrolling beat ’em up of all time is the Scott Pilgrim Vs The World game on the Xbox 360. Although I still have it on my console, it has now been delisted, so can’t be bought any more. What I liked about it, aside from bloody everything, is the upgrades and food items you could buy – just like in the NES River City Ransom game it is clearly a Scott Pilgrim themed homage to.

So when they announced River City Girls, which is literally a followup to River City Ransom, which also has modern pixel graphics like – or actually, surpassing – Scott Pilgrim, AND it was being developed by Wayforward, one of my favourite devs, I couldn’t not get it, could I. So I did. Immediately it was released.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem you can play the arcade games. Or can you?

And today, after playing through it completely in co-op with my daughter, we completed it. And it was incredible.

Even more incredible than I was expecting or hoping for. From the fantastic graphics and animation, to the perfect voice acting, the humour, the cut scenes, the manga comic flashbacks, and such a brilliant sound track – plus of course the punching people in the face which is so well executed and with so many unlockable moves it never ceases to be enjoyable.

The floor is la–uh, lots of toys you shouldn’t stand on.

There are boss fights that seem impossible, but which then aren’t after you’ve nailed the tells and routines, bonus missions for the creepy Godai, and – and! – toilets. The game literally has all the things I want from a game. And now we have unlocked… spoilers… and there are still some hidden statues to smash and a new game mode to start, there’s still more to do.

The post River City Girls (Switch): COMPLETED! appeared first on deKay's Gaming Diary.

Wonder Boy in Monster Land (Switch): COMPLETED!

I thought I’d completed the Master System version of this a few months ago, but it turns out it was actually May last year. How time flies! This version is the Sega Ages remaster of the original arcade version, which I’d expected to be virtually the same as the Master System on (albeit with better graphics), and although it was very similar the differences still threw me.

For a start, it’s a lot harder. Like, several difficulty levels harder. This is for a number of reasons, not least that the timer runs down much more quickly and unless you’re legging it through the levels at full pelt (which you can’t do) you will definitely lose a lot of health – you lose a heart every time the egg timer runs out. The bosses also seem to require many, many more hits. Even with the best sword in the game, they’re just sponges. Then there seem to be more, and trickier, levels too.

This is probably the hardest boss in the game. He chucks out smaller clones who then chuck ice at you.

But it has some features the Master System didn’t. You can continue when you die, which is more than useful (until the final level where they don’t let you any more), and if you decide to restart the game from scratch, this Sega Ages version allows you to start with the equipment you had previously. This means you can get hold of the best armour, boots, shield and sword much more easily. As I said though, the bosses are so hard that doesn’t help with them so much.

When I finally reached the final level I had the choice of getting the bell (to find my way through the maze) and the ruby (to make the final boss a lot easier). I went with the ruby and hoped I could remember the route. Thankfully, I could! The dragon wasn’t too hard (way easier than bouncing mushroom guy or Snow Cong & Chums, for sure), and then the game was over.

He does that thing where when he’s dead he just changes form and you have to fight him again. Sigh.

The post Wonder Boy in Monster Land (Switch): COMPLETED! appeared first on deKay's Gaming Diary.

PictoQuest: The Cursed Grids (Switch): COMPLETED!

It’s another picross game! But this one is different! And isn’t by Jupiter!

Sure, it’s still picross. PictoQuest adds light RPG elements to the formula though, with items and powerups and baddies to “fight” by completing rows and columns in the grids.

Which all sounds perfect, until I completed it and realised I’d totally ignored absolutely everything to do with the RPG stuff as it’s entirely unnecessary and does nothing. Sure, perhaps if you’re very, very, very slow completing the levels there’s a slim chance you might die, but other than that this is almost exactly like a Jupiter picross game. I didn’t use a single item, die, or even pay attention to what the baddies were doing. I did buy the extra hearts from the shop mainly as something to spend my accrued money on, but I didn’t need them as I was rarely damaged.

As a picross game, though, it’s great. It’s just everything else that’s pointless.

The post PictoQuest: The Cursed Grids (Switch): COMPLETED! appeared first on deKay's Gaming Diary.