Things I’ve Been Playing Recently

I’m aware I’ve not posted in a while, so just a brief catchup.

Stardew Valley (Switch)

Just reaching the end of Winter, Year 3, and although I’m ready to wed the lovely but crazy Emily, there’s been no rain for the entire season so I can’t see the guy on the beach and buy the necessary amulet. I’ve been making friends with everyone while I wait instead. I’ve also managed to complete Qi’s increasingly more bizarre requests and now have access to the casino. I’ve not won much though.

I think I’m nearly done with the game. Once I’m married I’ll consider retiring, unless it opens up more gameplay stuff. I’m almost 110 hours in and there are other games that need playing.

Super Mario Odyssey (Switch)

800-odd moons now. I’ve completed The Darker Side (but not The Dark Side), and collecting the remaining moons is tedious beyond belief. It’s the least fun Mario game in ages now. But I feel I must get them all, so…

Million Onion Hotel (iOS)

I talked about this for a bit on the ugvm Podcast (which you really should listen to). It’s a 5×5 grid, screen tapping puzzle game that I paid real actual money for and it’s madness. And too hard. I reached the third boss but that’s as far as I’ve managed so far.

Picross S (Switch)

Not very much though. Just the odd puzzle every now and then. That’s not knocking it – it’s how I want to play it!

The post Things I’ve Been Playing Recently appeared first on deKay's Gaming Diary.

Super Mario Odyssey (Switch): COMPLETED!

This is a hard one. Well, not hard in that way (the game is easy – very easy), but hard in how I feel about it.

Unlike pretty much every Mario game ever, Super Mario Odyssey didn’t instantly grab me. Perhaps it was the terrible looking first “world”. Maybe it was the stark art style changes between worlds. I don’t know. Definitely, I started enjoying it in my first hour – but other games in the series I was hooked from the second the game started.

Now I’ve completed it, insofar as beaten Bowser and reached the credits, I can look back and see Odyssey is excellent. But not perfect. And certainly not the best Mario game. I’m feeling a lot like I did when I played Breath of the Wild, actually.

There’s just something missing. A spark of something. Something which Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Sunshine had which is missing here. Yes, I’m saying Super Mario Sunshine is better than Super Mario Odyssey. Super Mario 3D World is too. And so is New Super Mario Bros U, but 2D Mario games are a different beast.

On paper, it’s all there. Blue skies, great platforming, throwback references, varied levels, secrets, post-credits content, the very best controls – the lot. In my hands, it’s a bit flat, a bit off, a bit… wrong. But I can’t put my finger on it.

Remembering the few days I’ve been playing it, very few parts of the game stand out in the way I can fondly reminisce about the clock or the flying carpet or the Koopa race or the penguins or the wing hat or any one of a thousand other things from Mario 64. I know I’ve not played it as much as that game, but aside from the (spoiler) boss in the ruined castle, there hasn’t been anything that wowed me.

It’s probably me.

And it’s so easy. Really, really easy. Again, I’m aware the challenge of Mario games is mainly to get 100% and the straightforward route to the boss is not the hardest path, but I’ve picked up around half of the moons on each level so far and just one of them caused multiple deaths. It’s the easiest Mario game by a long way.

All that said, and I’m sure most people will disagree with my comments, but all that said, it’s a great game. One of the best. It really is. Nothing I can say can detract from that. I think I was just expecting Mario Odyssey to be a contender for the Best Game Ever Made, and in my eyes it isn’t even top 5 Best Mario Games (yet, at least). But that’s OK. It doesn’t have to be.

The post Super Mario Odyssey (Switch): COMPLETED! appeared first on deKay's Gaming Diary.

Stardew Valley (Switch)

Sometimes, I regret buying Stardew Valley. There are many reasons why I might do this, from the fact I already own it (unplayed) on Steam to it being a long time since I got into a Harvest Moon game (which Stardew Valley ostensibly is). The main one? Time.

In the 14 days I have owned Stardew Valley, I have somehow racked up 45 hours of play. That’s over three hours a day. That sort of commitment isn’t sustainable, not least with Super Mario Odyssey due to materialise in a week’s time. Already, Fire Emblem Warriors, effectively best game ever candidate Hyrule Warriors in alternative trousers and nailed near the top of my Must Own list has evaporated. I’ve not even bothered to order it. Stardew Valley has pwned me.

How has it done this? Somehow, the tedium of the game is like heroin. Each in-game day is around 15 minutes long and mainly consists of these “fun” farm-based tasks: Harvest crops, plant seeds, water everything, collect eggs, milk cows, make mayonnaise and cheese, check my crab pots, recycle rubbish, check on mushroom farm, sell produce, scythe grass to make hay, chop down trees, wear high heels, suspenders and a bra. Then the next day, do it all again.

If I finish my main chores early enough, like if it rains so I don’t need to water anything, or I’ve nothing to harvest, I might do some tedious fishing. Or venture into the mines and do some tedious mining. Perhaps I might go and tediously gather some wild flowers, or perform some tedious fetch quests. Or I might tediously top up my stocks of iron or gold ore, or tediously make some more chests to tediously store my crap in. There’s a chance I’ll then tediously need to manage my chest inventories and ensure I’ve put all the same type of item in specific chests because sure – the game is tedious already why not OCD it up a notch and make it even more tedious? Repeat all this ad tedium.

If I’m unlucky, there’ll be a major village event which encroaches on my embedded timetable of tedium. I’ll have to give up a whole afternoon to talk to all the other residents about sodding easter eggs or jellyfish or god knows what when all I really want to do is plough through my daily checklist so I can spare the time to attempt another five level mine descent. And then apparently you can woo other folk and become their friends? Who the hell has time for that?

And don’t get me started on the horror of having to upgrade your tools. I can’t do without my watering can for two whole days! My crops will die, Clint. They’ll die. And it’ll be your fault because you’re a terrible blacksmith and anyway, Clint, Emily will never be interested in you with your sweat and awful facial hair and you can’t even man up and talk to her. Clint you loser.

The whole game is horrendous. Stardew Valley is no relaxing farm simulator, as you perhaps might suspect from a Harvest Moon clone. No, this is repetitive slave labour with time-based stress. Don’t have time to water everything? They die. Don’t time your crops to grow before the end of the season? They die. Forget it’s gone midnight and you’re not home yet? You collapse and Linus the Creepy Hobo robs you blind (and probably does worse while you’re unconscious). Stress! And the constant worry that anything you produce might be needed at some point in another season or by a villager so you can’t sell anything you don’t have multiples of. And what if I cut down too much grass and it doesn’t grow back and I haven’t enough hay over the winter and Buttercup dies? More stress.

Somehow, I’ve endured 45 hours of this. I’ve completed my first Stardew Valley year, and am about to hit my second summer. My farm consists of a badly constructed L-shaped “planting area”, a silo for hay, a barn with two cows and a coop with three chickens and a duck. I’ve a mushroom cave, trees producing various mucuses (mucii?), beehives, lightning rods, and large areas of wild grass for hay harvesting. My house has beer, pickle, cheese and mayonnaise making facilities and is rammed full of colour-coded chests. I’ve many planned goals for buildings and produce, and I hope to reach the bottom of the mine soon. I have the minecarts up and running, and have renovated three rooms in the Community Centre. I seem to be making progress, but I still feel like I’m treading water and actually not getting anywhere. Not only that, but I’m getting nowhere on other games too because Stardew Valley is spilling over.

And you know what? I’m loving it.

The post Stardew Valley (Switch) appeared first on deKay's Gaming Diary.

SteamWorld Dig 2 (Switch): COMPLETED!

I’m a big fan of the first SteamWorld Dig. I’ve bought and completed it twice, in fact. The “digging genre”, such as it is, has always appealed to me. Ever since playing a demo of Diggers on the Acorn at high school, I’ve been drawn to them – Mr Driller, Miner Dig Deep, and SteamWorld Dig being the headliners.

SteamWorld Dig 2 was a thought-free instant purchase then, but if I’d not bought it the overwhelmingly positive reviews would have made it difficult to resist.

A cursory glance of the game shows little has changed since the first title. You’re a steambot (although not Rusty any more – he’s gone missing), and you have to dig down in a mine. The more you dig, the more you need upgrades to assist. However, after you’ve played it for a bit you realised it’s not just about depth – there’s more to explore here.

Instead of a single shaft, there are a number of separate – albeit linked – areas, each themed. A more powerful axe is less important this time around, with rocket boots and a grappling hook becoming the essential tools for getting around. Larger, more open spaces replace much of cramped mining, but there’s always something, and some reason, to dig.

Smaller rooms, filled with puzzles or navigational challenges, pock the mine and reward you with items that further boost your skills. Cogs can augment your abilities over and above the standard bought upgrades, reducing water use or making your pressure grenades more powerful, for example.

The gameplay is perfect. After every “run”, usually when you’ve found another return tube (which acts as a warp point), you sell your ore and gems, bump your powers up with the money and cogs, then return “just to get to the next tube”. And the next tube. And the next tube. It’s addictive, and soon enough eight hours have passed and I’ve completed the game.

But still there’s more. My completion stats say I’m just 53% done, and Image & Form tell me there’s a whole extra section if I make it to 100. So of course, I’m going to make it to 100%.

The post SteamWorld Dig 2 (Switch): COMPLETED! appeared first on deKay's Gaming Diary.

Sonic Mania (Switch)

Yes, this again. I’ve now completed it with Sonic and that Idiot Fox together, with all the Chaos Emeralds.

That is all.

The post Sonic Mania (Switch) appeared first on deKay's Gaming Diary.

Sonic Mania (Switch)

That’s the game completed with Tails and all the Chaos Emeralds now. During the process of doing this I also managed to get all the Gold medals on the Blue Spheres bonus levels.

Which means the only thing I have left is a run through with Sonic and Tails together! Not really looking forward to that. Tails on his own is tolerable, but when he’s following Sonic round he has a tendency to kill you.

The post Sonic Mania (Switch) appeared first on deKay's Gaming Diary.

Lego City Undercover (Switch)

After 48 hours (that’s about 17 hours less than on the Wii U), my daughter and I have 100%ed it.

It was excellent. Certainly, it crashed quite a bit. And there were the usual bugs and things which meant getting stuck or having to redo levels, but it was a lot of fun, especially now it can be played with two players.

I did wonder if we’d come across the most frustrating of all bugs when we got to 99.9% complete and had nothing left to do. The stats show we had all the red bricks, gold bricks, characters, levels, and vehicles. Thankfully, I realised that helicopters (and the like) aren’t included as vehicles on the main list, and we’d collected but forgotten to buy one. Phew!

The post Lego City Undercover (Switch) appeared first on deKay's Gaming Diary.

Sonic Mania (Switch)

With all the Chaos Emeralds collected, I ran through the rest of the levels and faced the true final boss. Or rather, bosses. One of them appeared to be Big the Cat in power armour.

And I beat them.

The post Sonic Mania (Switch) appeared first on deKay's Gaming Diary.

Sonic Mania (Switch)

With all the Chaos Emeralds collected, I ran through the rest of the levels and faced the true final boss. Or rather, bosses. One of them appeared to be Big the Cat in power armour.

And I beat them.

The post Sonic Mania (Switch) appeared first on deKay's Gaming Diary.

Sonic Mania (Switch)

That review I said I was going to do? It’s here.

In other news – I’ve got all the Chaos Emeralds! The special stages are pretty hard, the 4th and 6th ones especially so. Somehow, the 7th was very easy and I completed it on my first go without even gaining much speed.

Now to play through the rest of the game for the proper ending!

The post Sonic Mania (Switch) appeared first on deKay's Gaming Diary.