Monday, July 11, 2011

Monday Musings - 11th July, 2011

Hey dear readers. Musings is a tad late this week as i woke up early to go over to a mate's house to watch the Destination X PPV. Not really worth the money, but if you like wrestling, i really recommend checking out the 4-man match with Austin Aries, Zima Ion, Lowki, and Jack Evans. Really awesome stuff! Anyhow, let us talk games, and thus muse upon them.

Continuity 2 (Iphone)

I used to be editor over at My good friend Andrew is now editor, and a new feature of the site is that he makes a 'Best of' video for each month. For June, there was this game he reviewed called Continuity 2. I bought it cause it looked fun ($1.19, why not?), and have been having a blast.

It's a puzzle platformer. There's a door. There's a key. Get the key, open the door. There are also coins. They're a secondary objective. At the end of the level, you get three badges of honour. One for completing the level, one for collecting all the coins, and one for beating the level time. I don't care about the time badge, but have been making sure i grab all the coins in every level.

Anyways i should explain more about the game. By double tapping the screen, the level zooms out and you see the level is printed on tiles that you can swap around. If the edges of two tiles match up, you can double tap back to the game and travel between them. This neat little mechanic is added to by relative gravity. Whichever way you hold the iphone, that's the way gravity works. These additions keep ramping up world by world. I'm on world 5 and levers have been introduced that open different doors depending on how the wires are placed between tiles.

This gets Dave's seal of approval (seal may not be entirely valid).

Earthbound (Snes)

I've discovered the second sanctuary and have Paula in my team. Her addition was one of trial. I remember it was soon after receiving my first party member in Mother that i stopped playing the game. Luckily here in Earthbound i have overcome this initial hurdle, but man, there's nothing worse than being level 20 and having a level 1 character join your party who you then have to keep alive.

Now kudos to the designers as the first hostile area you enter, the exp is high enough that you can level Paula up to a decent level with only a few fights. Still, you have to be very careful. When i finally defeated the Sanctuary boss, Dave (i named my character after myself. I picked 'don't care' for the other three) was level 24, and Paula was level 13.

See i have this problem with magic in RPGs. Well any spell or attack that makes a number of something go down. This is easiest to explain with mana (or pp as its known in Earthbound), so we'll stick with that. I'm a packrat. I don't like to spend mana as i think i might need a large amount at a moment's notice. Now i have noticed that in many RPGs mana either replenishes quickly or there are ways to get it back, and usually it's beneficial to use as much as you can (kind of like that school of thought in RTS games that you should never have spare cash as you should always be spending it). It took quite a few deaths in Earthbound for me to finally start having Paula use her psi attacks every round, and combat has gone much more smoothly because of it.

Beat Hazard (Steam)

How about that summer Steam sale huh? So many great titles at great prices. Enough shilling for times that have come and gone, let's talk about one of my two purchases in the sale this week, Beat Hazard.

I love Audiosurf. I like to think i'm one of the early adopters of the awesomeness of this game, discovering it way back in 2008, but who really cares. It's an amazing blend of combing a person's personal music collection with gameplay and impressive visuals. If you've played it, you know what i'm talking about. If you haven't, it's really cheap on steam and worth the price. Buy it dammit!

Ok so i saw Beat Hazard. It advertised itself as a twin stick shooter using your own music collection. I was intrigued. The game plus its DLC was $3.50. I dived in. I played 20 mins and will probably never load up the game again.

Here's the thing. It's not a bad game. I actually really enjoyed the time i played it. It's just the game physically affected me. After 20 mins, my eyeballs felt like i'd been awake for three days straight, and my heart was pounding with adrenaline. I don't think i can continue to play the game for health reasons. I'm guessing it's the onslaught of colour and particle effects in time with the music. The beam that shoots out from your ship changes constantly and boy is there a lot of visual information taking place on screen.

Aside from a solid gameplay base, the game has exp which upgrades your rank, and you can unlock perks that affect gameplay. There's also multiplayer, which probably is really fun. There's a lot here for the price.

Here's my recommendation then. If this sounds intriguing to you, give it a try. If you can get through a gaming session without feeling like your eyes and heart are going to explode, all the power to you. Enjoy this game. I think i feel safer with the transient motion of Audiosurf's roller-coaster ride.

The Witcher (GoG)

It's been a little while since i've played The Witcher. It's funny cause where i saved, i was pretty much right near the end of Act 2. There was a revelation, a small amount of questing, a showdown boss fight... and then as Act 3 begins, it seems a lot of stuff went down in the meantime. This is actually a problem i had at the end of Act 1. The big choice you had to make at the end of Act 1, it felt like i had missed out on a lot of information that would have helped me in my decision making. What happens before Act 3 is different. You're out, and story happens.

I think it's the pacing that's getting to me a little. Act 2 had a quest where you had to gather stones to open up a tower. I thought it was a neat side quest so i spent the time collecting the stones. The last stone was said to be luck based, as in you'd get it when you didn't expect it. Ok, i thought... a little lame, but i'll continue with the main quest line and come back to this. Well it turns out that the tower becomes part of the main quest line, and you get the final stone as a plot point. It just felt to me that there should have been a greater hint in game that either the tower was part of the main quest, or that the stone will be found on its own, because the quest tracker does show you where you get the final stone, it's just again, you had to wait till the plot was ready for you to receive it.

We'll see if this pacing issue continues to irk me in Act 3, or if i'm just nitpicking.

Final Thoughts

After last week's musings, i thought a bit about my thoughts on Earthbound (redundancy!). I lauded the game for removing the need to fight lower level monsters by having your character automatically win. I must admit, while this is great, it does take away one joy in RPGs i've discussed before. That's the idea of levelling up and then returning to earlier areas and cleaning house. It really gives you that sense of power, and the feeling you've progressed and grown a lot (one great example of this is the three bandits outside Firestone in Borderlands. Oh how they gib once you've levelled up a lot and come back).

Now the argument could be made that Earthbound does the same thing. "Look, i'm so powerful now, i don't need to waste my time with such creatures". I think though that Earthbound accomplishes this better in the caves. In both sanctuary caves so far, after i've defeated the boss, afterwards all the creatures run like hell to get out of my way.

What do you readers think? Do you enjoy the power in RPGs of returning to low level areas and asserting your dominance? For those of you who have played Earthbound, do you enjoy the idea of not having to deal with low level monsters? Do you think that game still holds a sense of power through this? This section is for my final thoughts, but i definitely want to hear your thoughts as well.

Till next week, happy gaming all!

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