Monday, May 21, 2012

Monday Musings - 21st May, 2012

Hello all. I'm gathering most people's game playing week has consisted of a good dose of Diablo 3. Mine did too... kinda. Read on and find out. Let us muse.

Limbo (360)

Since my quick review went up late last week i don't feel i have too much more to say about the game. I will say that the final puzzle took quite a bit of trial and error, and like many of the later tough puzzles, i felt a sense of jubilation when i finally bested it. That was immediately shattered with an, "Aw, is that it?". This is especially interesting considering i felt like the game had been dragging in the last hour or two, and overstaying its welcome. I guess that overall i was sorry to see the experience end. It's the sign of a good game when you end up wanting more when it ends. That happens so rarely with me because i don't finish many games. Most i do end up finishing, there's this final slog to the end, and i will admit that on the way to the finish line, Limbo did invoke that reaction...but overall, i do have a pleasant memory of the experience, so there's that.

The ending however.. hmm, i dunno.

Diablo 3 (PC)

So the entire household where i live bought their collector's editions, and here i am a poor destitute gamer who to feel part of the release, re-downloded his copy of Diablo 2. Then i got the great idea to use one of the many guest passes available to try the game out. The problem here is evident. When the guest pass ended after i defeated the skeleton king, i was even more depressed that i couldn't afford and play this game. The art style is so beautiful and the gameplay is so straight-forward and stream-lined. Some may not like it, but the customisation in the attacks in each class make for many choices of play style, and the best part is it can be changed on the fly. Yeah sure I haven't played enough to really see the fruits of this system for good or ill, but my short time with it was quite positive. The crafting system also seems interesting. It's like instead of gambling your money away trying to grab good gear, you gamble crafting your gear, and thus you have another use for all the weapons and armour you pick up and are going to sell anyway. I guess the grey area comes between scraping your spoils for components, and getting enough money to cover training your crafting skill (and I don't even have any idea how runes or gems or all that work).

Needless to say, I wish I could afford Diablo 3. I think once I get stable again, it's one of the first things i'll save for.

Terranigma (SNES)

I've not played as much Terranigma this week because of everything else, but I have bested the Spain portion of the game, so I would like to take this opportunity to talk about Bloody Mary. My housemate Pierce had talked up this boss as the only boss that magic is useful on in the game, mainly because she is a boss encounter that is very difficult, and that you will remember. Now magic in Terranigma is an interesting beast. You obtain special rocks called Magirocks throughout the game. With a little bit of gold, you can craft these rocks into rings that will unleash spells (that once used will give you the rocks back). I mainly use the rocks to craft grass pins, which will give you full health (it's useful when you run out of healing items), as I found hitting things to work better (I usually favour melee over magic in most RPGs).

I've been half using a walkthrough while playing Terranigma. The guide i'm using suggested that before entering Bloody Mary's dungeon, to use your Magirocks on forging Elec Rings (as it's a screen covering attack... kinda like a summon spell). I kind of gloated to Pierce after using the first ring when fighting this boss. “This is supposed to be a hard boss?” Yeah, I was kind of a dick. I guess I couldn't resist. Each Elec Ring hit her fairly hard, but soon I had used all the rings I had crafted, and she was still alive.

This is where my gloating came back to bite me in the ass. Pierce laughed as Bloody Mary's magic gems obliterated me, causing much loading of save states (I don't know how i'd play this game without the aid of the emulator. Save points are so far apart and not in dungeons at all). He was amused as he headed to bed, leaving me to continue my uphill climb against this boss that I had suddenly come to respect. Part of my problem was over-reliance on the jumping dash attack. It would cause me to hit the gems on my way through attacking. The standard dash attack however would hit Mary twice and I would be immune to the gems as I travelled through. Now Pierce had told me to use the dash attack over the jumping dash many times, but I keep reverting back to it as I find situations where it does a significant amount of increased damage. I guess the temporary invulnerability always trumps damage output. After a little more fighting, I had bested Mary, and I felt like I had overcome a great challenge. I now too tell tales of Bloody Mary. This was it. Heed it well.

I have left things as I travelled across the sea to the new world (called 'Freedom'), and this is where we leave Terranigma for this week.

Sine Mora (360)

So what happens when Grasshopper Manufacture make a shoot em up game? Sine Mora, that's what. A game with an incredible sense of style, memorable boss fights, and mechanics that revolve entirely around time. It's also hard as balls, at least to a player like me who is not well versed in the playing of crazy shmups. I've played for a couple hours and am up to level three (the levels usually consist of a couple different sections of game, such as a big boss fight with a Victorian house train or a giant mechanical logging machine named Papa Carlo).

The way the game works is that killing enemies add to the level timer, and getting hit takes away from the level timer. You have a bar of bullet time which when triggered allows you to dodge the crazy bullet spray with ease. Over-reliance on this will of course dry it up and then you're left to your own reflexes (which always astonishes me on how sharp I can dodge stuff when I have to in this game). Couple this with collecting weapon upgrades (which fly out when hit) and you have a lot of fun, if not frustrating gameplay. It's one of those challenges though that I find myself playing to rise to. If just that I want to see every boss fight the game has to offer. I shudder to think of what the final boss is like. They are one of the more exciting and memorable portions of the game.

One thing is that there seems to be a rather detailed story accompanying the game, but as it is told in blocks of text dubbed in a fake language, I have had no interest in following it, and I find myself fast forwarding the cut-scenes to get to the gameplay. A shame, because I want to know why i'm playing a grizzled old Bull or a Cat lady interchangeably. Perhaps i'll look into it in condensed form online when I finish with the game.s

Final Thoughts

To start with on the final thoughts section this week, I want to plug my new retrospective on Goblins 3. Boom!

There has been a discussion amongst the writing staff which I would love to open up to my readers as I find it quite interesting. Basically it's what constitutes a retro game in your opinion? I won't tell you what we settled on, but I will lay out my thought process on things.

Possibly the greatest jump in videogaming was in the mid 90s with the shift from 2d to 3d. It might make an ideal point to classify everything before that point as retro (and I must admit that when I think of retro, I think of the eight or sixteen bit eras). Then again, a lot of those early 3d games could easily be seen as retro, especially by today's standards. Hell, with how quickly technology progresses, games from ten years ago could be considered a little retro. This is where the discrepancy lies. And also, who's to say in ten years the advances won't be such that make today's games look just as dated as those early 3d titles?

I do think of retro as around 1978 – 1997, but the constant shift forward of our game technology, and the ever changing landscape means that we will have to constantly re-evaluate our definitions, especially as gaming gains more and more history as the years go by (by changing landscape, I mean did anyone see the explosion of motion gaming, and then the explosion of tablets and the app store? Who knows what the next ten years holds).

As always, i'm interested to hear your thoughts. Let me know in the comments and till next week, happy gaming all!


  1. retro game = one that you can't buy new anymore + isn't as good as you remember it to be ;)

    1. I'll agree with the first point and contend the second :p