Wednesday, 29 January 2014

First Parts

Only three games beaten since last time; work slows things down a bit on that front.

The Walking Dead - Episode 1 was free on Xbox Live some time ago, so of course I picked it up, and now I've gone through it. I've heard a lot about how good it is, so I had high hopes, which were quickly fulfilled. It's difficult to for games to really create emotion in their players, but Telltale have done a good job here, immediately drawing me in with an amazing opening. Some of the emotion seems a little easily manufactured, but other than that I was happy to play through the couple of hours in this episode and I'd like to pick up the rest sometime. It may even be on sale soon, what with the second season coming out right now.

The other game I beat is Ultima I: The First Age of Darkness, which I started dabbling with sometime last year. Decided it was time to actually finish it, and then all of a sudden it was over. When you boil it down, the game is actually quite simple, with only a few steps in the goals you need to do. I like to compare it to the original Final Fantasy, as a good counter-example to the ridiculous WRPG/JRPG wars that rock the internet occasionally. Both games let you gather the gems/crystals in pretty much whatever order you want. Maybe FF could have done with a first person space simulation too? Maybe not. Anyway, I beat it with a Human Fighter (yawn), not that the classes or races are particularly difficult.

I immediately started planning a speedrun after beating it. I streamed a couple of attempts yesterday on my channel but both of them ended at Mondain, who posed no trouble during my first playthrough. If they hadn't, I probably would have been able to win in about 45 minutes, which means it could be a lot less than that, even. Posted a new topic on SDA in case anyone else has some smart ideas.

Almost forgot to mention that I beat Mystic Heroes - it has a truly obnoxious final boss that took a few attempts, but otherwise the game was pretty smooth. If you've played a Dynasty Warriors game before, you might be surprised how many adventure-y elements there are in this game, like platforming and permanent stat boosts from killing enemies. It's not bad, it's just not great, and it lags strangely.

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

High Octane Game Beating Action

The gaming doesn't let up! Here's an update.

Blinx: The Time Sweeper is a game I remember very fondly from my school days, where I'd go to a friend's house and attempt to take on this incredibly unforgiving game. Most of the game's difficulty comes from its controls, which are 'loose' at best. I've been playing a (different) friend's copy on my Xbox 360, and... it doesn't emulate it very well. Most levels run at about 80% speed, in some spots the game slows down to around 20%... this might make it easier in some ways, but no gamer wants a variable framerate. Anyway, I'd played the first few worlds months ago, but I got around to it recently and now it's sat with a nice shiny Beaten sign, though not Completed, because I didn't even get half of the Cat Medals. The last boss is very random and frustrating. Despite all the problems I still like this game. I'd like to run it someday, probably only possible once I get a real Xbox.

Next up is Symphony, an odd game which takes the concept of games like Audiosurf and Beat Hazard and wraps it in a campaign you can actually finish. Essentially it creates shmup-like levels which vaguely match up to the beat and dynamics of the music you choose. I had to stop playing this for several months while they fixed a bug that made it unable to display enough drive letter icons for me to actually browse to my music. Then I realised that a hardlink would allow me to browse to it from C:. After I did this and beat the game, they patched it so that it shows more drive letters. That's life. It's a fairly good game, nothing special. If somebody could produce a more precise algorithm I still think this genre of game has potential.

Seeing as I beat Sonic CD a few days ago, Emily suggested also beating Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode I as I bought it in some random sale in months past. So I did. Massive amounts of design ripped off from earlier games, some really halfhearted boss fights, the requisite few really fucking annoying levels and a final boss that had me yelling at the scream. That's not a recommendation. It's not a terrible game by any means, but if you own any other 2D Sonic game then it's probably better than this.

The last game to fall before I write this is Mega Man X: Command Mission. This another game I played a big chunk of last year and decided to finish up - I was just about to start Chapter 8, so I only had 3 to go. Went fairly smooth; one of the bosses took an annoyingly long time to defeat but I was never in any danger. Then, the boss rush was totally pointless, just gave me some more XP I guess. The final bosses were scary at first, but not all that difficult; overall this is a serviceable JRPG. Of course, that comes with the usual proviso that the voice acting and plot is terrible, so skip cutscenes, even if this is your first playthrough. It's not worth it; there's no character development or denouement with this game, unlike Enchanted Arms.

I only had four games to report on beating, but I may as well mention that I started another - Mystic Heroes, a PS2 game by Koei. Yes, it's like Dynasty Warriors. No, it's not as good. It's based on some incredibly popular Chinese fantasy novel which I know nothing about, so I'm sure a lot of it is lost on me, but it plays like DW with what little finesse there is taken out. Also it's a bit laggier and I'm not sure why. I'm already at 6-3 so there's probably only a few levels left. Watch this space.

Saturday, 18 January 2014


Gaming has been fast and furious since my trip to America. In those 17ish days I have beaten, count it, TWO GAMES!! On that pace my Backloggery goal should be finished in, oh, a few years.

Final Fantasy Dimensions was the first to fall. I mentioned before that I thought I was near the end, and I was. My final time was around 45 hours. The last few hours were plot and boss-heavy, so there wasn't much to do other than double-cast Flare and attack a lot. I think the last boss was a little too easy; I didn't feel particularly threatened at any point, and I'm pretty sure I didn't revive anyone either. Now that I've finished it, I think it's a fair game, probably about as good as FFV. Might replay for a better time at some point.

Of course, it wouldn't be a Lag.Com blog post without acquiring more games than I beat. We went to Gamestop to buy some cases for the new 2DSs (Emily already managed to slightly break mine, so the stylus doesn't stay in the case anymore :p) and I was annoyed to notice they didn't have any PSP games out. However, they did have a list of stuff printed out, so I scanned through it. Nothing I really wanted, until right at the end where there was a useful "WARHAMMER: BATTLE F" listed. It was only $3, so I decided to grab it, and soon enough had a used copy of Warhammer: Battle for Atluma on my hands. If you've never heard of this, you're not alone; it's a computerised version of the Warhammer Fantasy card game. It's also really hard; the AI is good and your starting deck is as strong as theirs. I haven't managed to win a match yet. Someday!

It was inevitable that after buying Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag that I would buy the Season Pass for a discount on the DLC. This also happens to give some kind of time-limited discount on Assassin's Creed: Liberation HD, which I dutifully picked up yesterday. Annoyingly, I haven't heard too many good things about the original OR the port, but I'm sure I'll enjoy it at least. Bloodlines wasn't anything special, but the lore of the game world keeps me going. I wonder why they decided to drop the 'III' from the HD title?

Xbox Live's "Games with Gold" campaign marches on, and impelled me to acquire Sleeping Dogs for zero dollars, which the internet passively tells me is pretty good. Another one to get round to eventually.

Aside from Dimensions, I've also been continuing to play Final Fantasy Anniversary Edition to completion. I've done all four bonus dungeons now... I think I did them in the wrong order, because the FF5 callback bosses were a lot harder than FF6's. Then again, the random encounters were the other way round, so whatever. I haven't tried the last (and hardest) bonus dungeon yet, but I'm sure it'll fall to the might of Paul, Emily, Marc and Jess after enough plugging.

Another title I've had on my Android tablet for a while is Chaos Rings. I knew nothing about it, other than it being an RPG of some description which has spawned a reasonably successful series. Once Dimensions fell, it was a natural progression. It turns out to be a fairly fast-paced game with difficult combat choices and an absolutely bat-shit plot. I did wonder where it was going with the whole 'gene' and XX/XY thing... Done one campaign, started the next. The 'Achievements' screen indicates that there are four campaigns, which then merge together at the end.

Lastly, I beat Sonic CD on XBLA a couple of days ago. I fixed the past in a couple of zones, but I didn't do it for an entire stage, so no achievement for me! It's quite short, fun and easy to pick up, if you can get past that incredibly dickish bouncy floor stage.

Wrote down routes for Ultima Underworld 1 & 2. Haven't played yet.

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

A New Year, an Old Resolution

So, last year I made a bunch of resolutions and failed all of them, except going to Crystals for Life. I'm going to copy the same list and hope I actually do some more this year. Here's a recap.

Read all the books I got for Christmas
I finished Les Misérables a few days ago, so now that's out of the way I have plenty of books to get through. I also got 4 more this year, so...

Finish FF X-2, XII, XIII for Emily
My furthest XII save is just before the Laboratory. X-2 and XIII will be from the beginning.

Submit a speedrun to SDA which isn't Arcomage
I have several runs to work on and finish. I'm most interested in Enchanted Arms right now but there are plenty of others which can be done.

Go to Crystals for Life
Doing it again this year! I'm going to be running Ultima Underworld 1 & 2, which is a lot of work to remember. I already know how to do UU1 but the route has since been improved so I'll have to study it. Speedrunning UU2 is completely novel to me.

Get my Backloggery Unfinished percentage to below 65%
I just added all the games I got from Emptytye and for Christmas, so Unfinished is now at 78.3% - at my current total, that means I need to beat about 137 games this year. Sheesh.

So, actual game progress. Started Pokémon X in our New Year's hotel room and picked Fennekin because I think it looks the least dumb of the starters. I'm surprised how different this game is to Diamond, seems to run a lot faster, and the 3D graphics work really well. Odd to see Pidgey etc. right out of the gate, but it doesn't matter that much to me. Naming my pokémon after League of Legends characters.

There's a game called Face Raiders which comes preloaded onto all 2DS/3DS handhelds, it's a simple shoot things thingy with some augmented reality thrown in. The face deformation is pretty amusing and I've beaten the first three levels so far; I have Emily, Marc and Jess as well as my own face to shoot. It's not bad, especially for the low, low price of free dollars.

Finally, I've been playing Final Fantasy Dimensions a lot lately, because I really want to get it over with. It's not a bad game, but the dialogue is extremely grating. The job system is very similar to FFV but with an inbuilt grinding limit. The plot is eh, the difficulty is about right, though I'm sure there's some way to break it wide open with the right ability combinations. I'm 38 hours in, and I feel like I'm nearing the end.