Monday, September 5, 2011

Monday Musings - 5th Sept, 2011

It's September and all the big releases are starting to drop. For a poor gamer like myself though, i keep going with old games in my backlog, steam sales, and cheap imports. Every now and then i'll splurge on something, but that hasn't happened for a while. Anyhow, let us begin to muse.

Kirby's Epic Yarn (Wii)

This was a split purchase with my sister mainly cause it had co-op and you can't die in the game (this was a great bonus for her). This was also the #1 game i had wish i played last year, and boy has it not disappointed. I think i need to begin with the music. This is the big stand out feature for me so far (we're on world 4 at the moment). Each level has such amazing music. It's orchestral, it's catchy, it's astonishing... and the developers know this. Each level has 3 treasures and the final treasure is always a disc of the music for that level so you can play it at your leisure.

The actual game is great fun too. The yarn aesthetic gives everything an amusing and playful feel, and the sheer amount of crazy contraptions Kirby and Prince Fluff can turn into is astonishing. The not being able to die would make the game boring, or so one would think, but not so. See, through the level you're collecting gems (the game calls them beads, but they're gems). Every time you're hit you lose a bunch of gems, although like Sonic and his rings, they can be collected up again if you're quick. The amount of gems you have warrants you a bronze, silver, or gold medal on completing the level, and for boss levels, if you get passed gold, you earn an extra patch.

After every level, you are given a patch that Kirby throws to affect the world in some way and open up the next level. This adds excitement to the end of each level as you're curious as to how the world will change with every new patch, and many of the changes are quite humorous and entertaining. So now you see why the addition of a patch for completing a boss fight with a full gem bar adds a sense of tension to a fight that should have none because you can't die. A really clever solution.

And of course arguing over gems and throwing each other around during the level is both hilarious and maddening. Nintendo games really do bring out the worst in people. :)

Metro 2033 (Steam)

This was cheap on the weekend and was gifted to me by my friend James, which i really appreciate as i've been hearing good things about this for a while. I've only played about two hours, but so far it's very atmospheric and the way the game utilizes lighting is incredible. I was also quite pleased at the difficulty select screen.

There was a couple of choices with ranger in front of them. A quick google search told me that this was added in a later patch, and the ranger mode uses more realistic damage, so a couple shots can kill both you and your enemies. I picked this option immediately. I've always been a fan of the more realistic FPS (realistic in terms of damage). The original Operation Flashpoint, and Rainbow Six games where a single bullet to a vital region could take both you and your enemies out. It adds a level of gravity to the gunplay that i find missing in most FPS' i play.

Despite the game playing with monsters and mutants, i haven't really felt a tense horror vibe. There's more a bleakness and element of survival. You find yourself scrounging for ammo off every corpse you find just so you have enough bullets to make it to the next area... and when you exit the metro system to go up top? Breath-taking.

The game also utilizes taking control away from the player for short cut-scenes incredibly well. I'm looking forward to more of this as play progresses.

Fallout: New Vegas (Steam)

It turns out i just needed a short break from the game as i'm back in and having fun again. How about those Deathclaws huh? I went to the quarry to grab some eggs and man, even at level 22 with some awesome guns and companions, those things are dangerous. I managed to kill off about five of them, and then an alpha came up and swiped my head off with one blow. I think i shall return to the quarry when i level up some more.

Escape (PC)

I followed the link on Destructoid over the weekend to this. It's an infinite wall climbing game that uses the esc button to jump. What's amazing about this is how the pressure with which you press and hold esc affects your jumping and sliding. Very fine tuned and this is pretty addictive because of it. It can be played here.

Final Thoughts

Originally playing Escape i felt a little depressed. You see, i often have a few neat ideas for video games running through my head, and if i ever stick with learning how to program long enough to make any of them a reality, i just might turn a few heads. Sadly the idea of an endless wall jump was one that's been rattling around in my brain the last couple of months, and so even though when it comes to game ideas, "you snooze, you lose" is all too truthful, and while escape is amazingly made, i felt that twinge of annoyance and regret.

The same thing happened with VVVVV. A game where you press a button to switch gravity in order to get through levels was one that myself and a few fellow game students at Bond had in 2008. We started planning the game but our plans fell through, and again when VVVVV was released, while i thought it was pretty awesome (even though i get stuck on one of the early game screens every time i try to play it), there was that jealousy that someone had actually followed through on creating a game similar to an idea i had toyed with.

Now of course this is just sour grapes. Hell i could still make my two games based on these mechanics and i think my spin on them would differentiate enough from Escape or VVVVV to be worthwhile, but that would require following through and completing a game (or how to program). It's the same with novels and screenplays too. You got to hand it to any work that is finished no matter how bad it is, as that person actually finished something. There are heaps of people with talent and potential for talent that will never have their work known because they can't finish a project.

Ah well, i'll continue to dream of games and plan when i'm going to start programming... and take solace in the fact that the big daddy of my game ideas, that's been in my head for years hasn't had anything like it released that i know about... for now :)

Til next week, happy gaming all!

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