Luigi’s Mansion: completed!

Yes! After only twelve years, it's done!  And people said it was a short game!

In fairness, it is a short game, and not overly difficult, but it's actually significantly longer than, say, the single-player components of most Call of Duty games.  It's infinitely more charming and fun.  Overall, the game took me about 9 hours to complete, and that was including a bit near the end where I ran around the whole house trying to find the last few boos.  I had collected most of them through normal play, but there were some hidden in Level 1 rooms which I had completed before acquiring the scanner.


The game continued to be inventive, the the last moment.  Puzzles were rare and because of this they threw me - having to freeze a stream to cross it was used in only one place, and was an elegant way to prevent early progress.  Although the game was actually very linear, it didn't feel like it.


The final boss battle was the hardest part of the game by far.  I wasn't expecting Bowser ...


... but it wasn't him, anyway.  It took me a couple of attempts, but finally he was defeated (with me on minimal health).  I actually remembered to capture it on my video box for once.


So, game completed and Luigi happy for a while.  Having seen what he went through, I'm not surprised he's so aggressive in Mario Kart 8.

hmgh

Luigi’s Mansion – a moment of revellry

The game is - necessarily - dark and a bit spooky.  Which made this part, where you start various instruments playing themselves, a welcome break.

Luigi’s Mansion: a competition I never entered

Because I was 12 years too late.

I didn't buy this at the Gamecube launch, opting instead for Super Monkey Ball and Star Wars Rogue Leader. I bought it a few years ago at a car boot sale, and finally I've started to play it.


And it's marvellous. The gameplay is a little dated now, granted, and the controls are taking a bit of getting used to - in particular, the torch control doesn't shine in the direction you point the C-stick, but rather rotates left and right and points up and down; combined with the fixed camera position it makes the frantic ghost catching more difficult than it should otherwise be. Pointing the torch or vacuum up and down seems a little pointless as well. Part of the difficulty comes from the fact that the controls on Luigi's Ghost Mansion in Nintendoland are more like a twin-stick shooter.

But control grumbles aside, it remains very playable. It is a relatively little game, but as with all Mario games it is constantly innovative. You never feel like you've played a section before, and even when the enemies repeat they are presented in a new way. For example, toward the end of my play session I went into a room where the standard enemies were invisible and only showed in the mirror that ran the length of the room.


I've completed the first area now, and well through the second. Apparently the game lasts for about seven hours - which is probably the same as a Call of Duty campaign. Probably less blood.

Luigi’s Mansion: a competition I never entered

Because I was 12 years too late.

I didn't buy this at the Gamecube launch, opting instead for Super Monkey Ball and Star Wars Rogue Leader. I bought it a few years ago at a car boot sale, and finally I've started to play it.


And it's marvellous. The gameplay is a little dated now, granted, and the controls are taking a bit of getting used to - in particular, the torch control doesn't shine in the direction you point the C-stick, but rather rotates left and right and points up and down; combined with the fixed camera position it makes the frantic ghost catching more difficult than it should otherwise be. Pointing the torch or vacuum up and down seems a little pointless as well. Part of the difficulty comes from the fact that the controls on Luigi's Ghost Mansion in Nintendoland are more like a twin-stick shooter.

But control grumbles aside, it remains very playable. It is a relatively little game, but as with all Mario games it is constantly innovative. You never feel like you've played a section before, and even when the enemies repeat they are presented in a new way. For example, toward the end of my play session I went into a room where the standard enemies were invisible and only showed in the mirror that ran the length of the room.


I've completed the first area now, and well through the second. Apparently the game lasts for about seven hours - which is probably the same as a Call of Duty campaign. Probably less blood.

PLAY Margate 2015

This weekend I went to PLAY Margate, a games exhibition which is the little brother to equivalents in Manchester and Blackpool.  It was great; many different types of games all set up to be played with, random competitions, themed areas, and stalls selling stuff.  Obviously I didn't buy anything - cough - but I played plenty.

Chuckie Egg - BBC Model B

Justine's favourite game of all time, and it would have probably been great if I could find the key to go up ladders.  The joystick didn't work; I worked out that the keys V and N moved left and right, and the space bar jumped.  But standing in front of a ladder, I tried every key and none of them made me climb.   In desperation I tried every key on the keyboard, including the Break key which obviously quit the game.  I had to quickly search on the Internet how to restart it ...


Head over Heels - CPC 664

A game I've never given enough time to, but will certainly be doing so in the near future.  I started from the very beginning and realised that without graph paper I wasn't going to make a dent on the game.

Manic Miner - Spectrum

I've always found it overrated, but that might be because I didn't play it at the time and only experience it after being used to the platforming on consoles.  Fixed jumping paths and overly tight timing isn't a huge amount of fun.

Mine Storm - Vectrex

I've never played on a Vectrex, and was very pleasantly surprised with this.  Graphically it looks fantastic, and the way the game expands on the Asteroids template by introducing enemies that move towards you, fire back, or move quickly around the screen.  The controls were very tight indeed, and I managed to reach the fourth level before losing my first - and indeed my last - life.



PGR4 - Xbox 360

They had a competition for the best time around a certain circuit.  I only managed to get within 5 seconds of the winning time - I need more practice!

Hang On - Master System

Talking of competitions, there was a more formal competition where you had to record high scores for three different games.  Hang On was the first; I'd been playing the 3DS version a few days before so thought I would do OK but the Master System game just felt all wrong and as a result my scores weren't great.  I still got 28th highest score of the weekend, though!


Kung Fu Master - NES

Kung Fu Master was the second game, which I did rather better on despite never having played before - 6th highest of the weekend, and setting a high score on the machine I was using.  It's a relatively simplistic game, but I quickly worked out that punching an enemy gives 200 points while kicking gives only 100 - so I was able to work through levels building up points quickly.

Pop n Pop - PlayStation

Again, I'd never played this but quickly got the idea.  Challenge mode sees you working on two sides of the screen simultaneously, firing balloons upwards to form groups of three or more.  It took a little while but I soon worked out how to set up combos, which gave many more points and extended my playtime.  In the end I came 8th on the leaderboards.

Sonic the Hedgehog - Master System

I played through the Green Hill Zone mainly to amuse a couple of toddlers who were watching, managing to get through without dying.  Some people say that this game is better than the Mega Drive games; they are wrong.  It's still good though.



Sonic & Knuckles - Mega Drive

As part of the same display as the MS game, they had Sonic 2, Sonic & Knuckles, Sonic Adventure, Sonic and the Secret Rings, and Sonic Generations - representing the evolution of Sonic.   It's quite telling that the later games - other than Generations - were being less played.  I had a quick blast through the Sandopolis Zone, which is where the previous player had left off, and was reminded how much fun it was. I may need to go and play the Xbox 360 versions some more.

Street Fighter Alpha - Saturn

Similar to Sonic, there was a display showing the evolution of Street Fighter.  They didn't have a version of the original game on display, starting with SFII on the SNES, but I chose to try Alpha, a game I've not played before.  Initially I tried to play as Final Fight's Guy, before realising I didn't know any of his special moves and losing in the second fight.  I then tried Ken, and fought through four fights, before losing when the computer used the special gauge which is something I've never quite worked out.

Crazy Kong - C64

A hilarious rip-off on Donkey Kong, which basically changed the layout of some of the levels and made everything brown.  That latter bit may have been the C64 though.

Micro Machines 2 - Mega Drive

A couple of games against three random opponents in the multiplayer arena.  I won two and lost one, which felt like an achievement given that I had no idea of the courses before racing.

Defender - Arcade

I'm not sure I've played this before, actually - it was more complex than I was expecting. I'm sure I've played something very similar but without the humans to rescue, and given that that is a central mechanic, it must have been a different game.  Anyway, I played through a few levels of this before dying.

Crazy Taxi - Dreamcast

I got an A licence!  Mainly because I did a drift into a wall and sat there racking up points for 30 seconds, half way through my run.  It's amazing how much of the map I can remember, and despite the joypad having seen better days I managed a few limit cuts on the way down the hill.

Samba de Amigo - Wii

The music in the hall was too loud to be able to play this properly (or Donkey Konga, which kept hearing the clap sounds constantly), but I can't understand why they were showing the worst version of this.  Why not the arcade game, or the Dreamcast version?  And why has this never been released for Playstation Move?

Tomb Raider II - Playstation

A few minutes of exploring Venice, which took me back to the Christmas when I got my Playstation. I still prefer TRII to the first game, even if the rest of the world is the other way around.

Super Mario Kart - SNES

I still prefer later games to this.  Mario Kart 8 is just so much better.  They actually had quite a few of these in a display, but I've played the others to death and have them all at home anyway.


Random shooter game - 3DO

An illustration of how far first person shooters have become.  I have no idea what this game was, and searching for screenshots has turned up nothing. 


It was just a bit dull.

Pong - Binatone

A game against a random man.  We were both hopeless and unable to control the bat.


Arkanoid - Arcade

And another game I was hopeless at, having lost my ability to control with a paddle wheel.  After losing the first game very quickly, I lasted a bit longer on my second attempt and even got onto the high score table.  The last position, but still.

PLAY Margate 2015

This weekend I went to PLAY Margate, a games exhibition which is the little brother to equivalents in Manchester and Blackpool.  It was great; many different types of games all set up to be played with, random competitions, themed areas, and stalls selling stuff.  Obviously I didn't buy anything - cough - but I played plenty.

Chuckie Egg - BBC Model B

Justine's favourite game of all time, and it would have probably been great if I could find the key to go up ladders.  The joystick didn't work; I worked out that the keys V and N moved left and right, and the space bar jumped.  But standing in front of a ladder, I tried every key and none of them made me climb.   In desperation I tried every key on the keyboard, including the Break key which obviously quit the game.  I had to quickly search on the Internet how to restart it ...


Head over Heels - CPC 664

A game I've never given enough time to, but will certainly be doing so in the near future.  I started from the very beginning and realised that without graph paper I wasn't going to make a dent on the game.

Manic Miner - Spectrum

I've always found it overrated, but that might be because I didn't play it at the time and only experience it after being used to the platforming on consoles.  Fixed jumping paths and overly tight timing isn't a huge amount of fun.

Mine Storm - Vectrex

I've never played on a Vectrex, and was very pleasantly surprised with this.  Graphically it looks fantastic, and the way the game expands on the Asteroids template by introducing enemies that move towards you, fire back, or move quickly around the screen.  The controls were very tight indeed, and I managed to reach the fourth level before losing my first - and indeed my last - life.



PGR4 - Xbox 360

They had a competition for the best time around a certain circuit.  I only managed to get within 5 seconds of the winning time - I need more practice!

Hang On - Master System

Talking of competitions, there was a more formal competition where you had to record high scores for three different games.  Hang On was the first; I'd been playing the 3DS version a few days before so thought I would do OK but the Master System game just felt all wrong and as a result my scores weren't great.  I still got 28th highest score of the weekend, though!


Kung Fu Master - NES

Kung Fu Master was the second game, which I did rather better on despite never having played before - 6th highest of the weekend, and setting a high score on the machine I was using.  It's a relatively simplistic game, but I quickly worked out that punching an enemy gives 200 points while kicking gives only 100 - so I was able to work through levels building up points quickly.

Pop n Pop - PlayStation

Again, I'd never played this but quickly got the idea.  Challenge mode sees you working on two sides of the screen simultaneously, firing balloons upwards to form groups of three or more.  It took a little while but I soon worked out how to set up combos, which gave many more points and extended my playtime.  In the end I came 8th on the leaderboards.

Sonic the Hedgehog - Master System

I played through the Green Hill Zone mainly to amuse a couple of toddlers who were watching, managing to get through without dying.  Some people say that this game is better than the Mega Drive games; they are wrong.  It's still good though.



Sonic & Knuckles - Mega Drive

As part of the same display as the MS game, they had Sonic 2, Sonic & Knuckles, Sonic Adventure, Sonic and the Secret Rings, and Sonic Generations - representing the evolution of Sonic.   It's quite telling that the later games - other than Generations - were being less played.  I had a quick blast through the Sandopolis Zone, which is where the previous player had left off, and was reminded how much fun it was. I may need to go and play the Xbox 360 versions some more.

Street Fighter Alpha - Saturn

Similar to Sonic, there was a display showing the evolution of Street Fighter.  They didn't have a version of the original game on display, starting with SFII on the SNES, but I chose to try Alpha, a game I've not played before.  Initially I tried to play as Final Fight's Guy, before realising I didn't know any of his special moves and losing in the second fight.  I then tried Ken, and fought through four fights, before losing when the computer used the special gauge which is something I've never quite worked out.

Crazy Kong - C64

A hilarious rip-off on Donkey Kong, which basically changed the layout of some of the levels and made everything brown.  That latter bit may have been the C64 though.

Micro Machines 2 - Mega Drive

A couple of games against three random opponents in the multiplayer arena.  I won two and lost one, which felt like an achievement given that I had no idea of the courses before racing.

Defender - Arcade

I'm not sure I've played this before, actually - it was more complex than I was expecting. I'm sure I've played something very similar but without the humans to rescue, and given that that is a central mechanic, it must have been a different game.  Anyway, I played through a few levels of this before dying.

Crazy Taxi - Dreamcast

I got an A licence!  Mainly because I did a drift into a wall and sat there racking up points for 30 seconds, half way through my run.  It's amazing how much of the map I can remember, and despite the joypad having seen better days I managed a few limit cuts on the way down the hill.

Samba de Amigo - Wii

The music in the hall was too loud to be able to play this properly (or Donkey Konga, which kept hearing the clap sounds constantly), but I can't understand why they were showing the worst version of this.  Why not the arcade game, or the Dreamcast version?  And why has this never been released for Playstation Move?

Tomb Raider II - Playstation

A few minutes of exploring Venice, which took me back to the Christmas when I got my Playstation. I still prefer TRII to the first game, even if the rest of the world is the other way around.

Super Mario Kart - SNES

I still prefer later games to this.  Mario Kart 8 is just so much better.  They actually had quite a few of these in a display, but I've played the others to death and have them all at home anyway.


Random shooter game - 3DO

An illustration of how far first person shooters have become.  I have no idea what this game was, and searching for screenshots has turned up nothing. 


It was just a bit dull.

Pong - Binatone

A game against a random man.  We were both hopeless and unable to control the bat.


Arkanoid - Arcade

And another game I was hopeless at, having lost my ability to control with a paddle wheel.  After losing the first game very quickly, I lasted a bit longer on my second attempt and even got onto the high score table.  The last position, but still.

Super Mario Galaxy: completed!

Mario landed harder than normal.  Was it arthritis setting in?  Or had gravity been tampered with, maybe in an effort to get him to stay?  The toadstool blinked as if he was trying to remember something, then with a large sign shuffled towards me.  As he had done previously, he handed over a letter - maybe the same one, as the wording was identical.  There were five more lives enclosed, though some were starting to decay.

It had only been a year and a half, but the space station seemed to be creaking.  I looked at the map, wiping the layers of dust off, and realised that I had no idea how to find any more stars.


I saw that in the engine room there was a question mark over a grey star, but on arriving at this room I couldn't work out how to collect this rather than the previous star.  I assumed it was hidden on the same level, but I had no idea how to go about finding it.


There was a boss level sitting unplayed - a lava world.  But no, what was I doing?  I had 74 stars, was I going to try to get all 120 before facing my foe?  I didn't know if you even could get all 120 beforehand, and even if you could then I would never reach that point.

The time had come.  Peach had been languishing for seven years, Bowser waiting patiently for his plans to be finalised.  I ran down the path towards Rosalina, my burdens suddenly relieved.  I was going to finish this, and everything else was optional.  It did not need to happen!



The space station turned into a spaceship, and I was on my way to the castle.  It seemed to be well preserved, maybe due to a slowing of time at the centre of the galaxy. My seven years may have been mere minutes.


Bowser implied not.


The final battle was long and hard.  It took me ages to work out how to hit Bowser during the first part of the fight - having to work out where to stand to hit his head as he rolling towards me was tricky.  I managed it after losing two lives, and the last part of the battle seemed easy by comparison.


And that was it.  The star gleamed over the pole of Bowser's miniature planet, slightly corroded by time.


I ran to it, desperate to escape before the world disintegrated to dust.  Escape I did - though the end credits sequence was a bit odd, with Mario, Peach and Bowser waking up outside the castle in its grounds.  Everything seems to be connected.


Except, of course, that's not the end, and there are still many stars to collect.  New galaxies opened up, purple comets appeared, and Rosalina welcomed me back with a knowing wink.  45 more stars are needed to unlock something, it seems, and many of those will be up in the top of the space station, as well as following comets around.

Not right now.  I went back to the lava boss world, so I could be sure there wasn't an empty existing galaxy, and completed that.


Then I found myself at the gate world, where I was introduced to red stars and purple coins.  The flying controls are pretty awful - in fact, I've found the controls overall hard to adjust to, after my lengthy break.  A number of deaths falling off the side of the world or running into enemies that I should have been able to avoid.



It's completed, in that I've rescued Peach and her long-term incarceration is over.  I've seen the end credits.  I've not completed every star - I've not even played on every level - but I'm happy with that.  For now.

Pikmin 2: completed!

After a long break, I decided to go back and try to finish this before it was lost forever.  I had completed the first two areas, and had a remaining debt of just 105 doodahs.  It shouldn't take too long, thought I.

Straight away I found another bit of treasure outside in the Perplexing Pool.  It was on a high ledge, which could only be accessed by yellow pikmin due to their added throwing height.  I had to throw them up to a platform, walk around myself, and throw them up to the top.  The treasure was worth 100 pipplies.  So close.


So I went down into the shower room, a cave system which required me to have water, fire, electric and poison pikmin.  I didn't take enough poison pikmin for the first few levels, as half the enemies were spewing purple gas and I had to fight through with my little band of twenty.  The levels were quite inventive though, with a good use of previous enemies and some new ones - floating jellyfish in particular - thrown in.

Of course, after the first level I had made over 10,000 jinglies, but I wasn't going to stop there.  One of the frog enemies killed about 25 of my pikmin in a single jump; an electric jellyfish killed more.  Half way down I found a level which let me regenerate some more pikmin, and it randomly gave me some more red ones.

Which was annoying, as I managed to clear out the entire cave apart from one treasure - a set of false teeth underwater, which required twenty pikmin to move.  I had only 14 blue pikmin left.

The boss was hard as well.  A larger version of the wibbly slug on the surface, which meant I knew I had to attack the flower on the back.  It killed a large number of pikmin, and I'm still unsure of the best strategy to beat it, but I got there with brute force.  I went back to the surface, and ...



The end-of-game scores are presented as a leaderboard, hinting that other people should play this copy or I should go back and do it all over again.  Maybe not.


There's more game to play though.  Louie's been left on the surface; Mr Boss Man says he'll go back to get him.  There are a fair few treasures in the Perplexing Pool to collect, and a whole new area has opened in the top-right of the map.  I may well be back.



Gaming moments: E

Essential Sudoku DS (DS)

After competing 999 picross puzzles, there was one left.  Surely the pinnacle of difficulty, it's surely going to be a trophy or medal or something special.  Oh no, it's really easy and it's a pie chart.  A bloody pie chart.

Earth Defense Force 2017 (Xbox 360)
Earth Defense Force 2017 Portable (PS Vita)


Both games have many highlights, but the thing I will remember most is the mission in which you are sent into battle against the massive walking fortress.  I destroyed more of the city than the fortress did while trying to attack it, and finally the mission ends with you withdrawing because your weapons aren't powerful enough.  Sorry I broke the Space Needle for nothing, guys.

Exit (PSP)

One of the characters you have to rescue is very fat. I called him Fatty.  I pushed boxes onto him.  He died.

Ecolibrium (PS Vita)

Playing on the train, on the tutorial.  And then the game requires me to look around 180 degrees with my Vita to see the animals behind me.  Not going to happen; never loaded up again.

Endless Ocean (Wii)

I recently went back to this as part of the "Au Revoir Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection" drive, which was pointless as the only online mode it has is to connect to a friend who is simultaneously playing the game; that will never have happened.  Anyway, during my brief play I watched the most stilted and awkward cutscene ever made.

EyeToy: Play (PS2)

Accompanying the cleaning suds game with "When I'm Cleaning Windows" was a work of genius. 

Endless Ocean: tickling fish

As part of my Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection goodbye tour, I went back to the seas in the Endless Ocean.  I couldn't work out what was going on at all; I wandered the boat looking for how I could play multiplayer, found that I had a dolphin companion, and went diving.

My dolphin seems to be able to bury his tail in the sand.


I swam around for ages, looking at random fish and managing to uncover their names by touching them.  Except sometimes that didn't reveal their names, and some fish I had already seen.




The area I could swim in was pretty limited, and I kept finding caves that I wanted to explore but they were too far outside the "target area".  Pretty fish kept swimming away.


Eventually I decided to try to find the multiplayer again, so returned to the boat. I have no idea why my character has a ponytail.  I eventually found the ladder leading to the Wi-Fi enabled sea, only to find that it would only let me join an existing friend who was online at the same time.  I don't know anyone else with the game.

I wandered back to the back of the ship, only to find the most stilted conversation ever.  No idea who she's talking about here.