We’re sharing what games are trending in our own personal zeitgeist in this week’s edition of We’re Just Playing…
It’s been kind of a weird week. I’ve lost track of what day it was, a shower may have slipped through the cracks, and my wife Greta is angry with me because apparently that’s not her name. Whatever. The whole thing got me thinking, I haven’t been as focused as of late. I’m scattershot. My attention span is awful on a good day, but lately, hoooboy, know what I mean?
So, did anyone else buy drawful 2 because it was like a penny on the Nintendo eShop, only to discover—oh shit—this involves my phone too?! Yeah, pass. Hard pass. I immediately backed out of it, never to return. I mean, I can’t say that for sure, but I’m pretty confident that this will remain true for all eternity.
Hidden gems lurk in the eShop, but they’re buried under a pile of shovelware. I also purchased another cheapie called Ghoulboy that I played for all of one minute before I decided the controls from jump and attack were reversed (in my opinion) and couldn’t be changed. I eventually went back to it but haven’t formed an opinion on it just yet. So is it or isn’t it shovelware? To be continued, I suppose.
I’m still chipping away at Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, but I’m gonna keep that story to myself for now since I’ve officially committed to doing a full scale Mainlining of the series (it’s only two games) in the not too distant future.
Mostly. I’ve been looking at people’s Animal Crossing islands online. I don’t own the game, although I admit I’m getting sucked into admiring other people’s creativity, similar to how I play Mario Maker to experience the work of others, as opposed to creating something myself.
There are some very cool Twin Peaks inspired locales already. Most of them are Red Rooms from the Black Lodge, but I’ve seen some Double R diners and one dimly lit One Eyed Jacks as well. I dunno. I may get the game after all, just because I’m uncharacteristically getting sucked into all the buzz about it. Despite the fact I may never understand the appeal of voice chatting with someone while gawking at a fireworks display happening in a video game, I do see the sense of community and creativity to be a good thing for people who just want something to focus on. What’s everyone else focusing on today?
So glad you asked, Johnny. Firstly, Drawful is actually a standalone release of one of those party games from the Jackbox Party Pack series. Basically, you can connect to an internet room using a code provided by the game, and people can participate with their phones. It’s a great series, and has provided me with plenty of laughs. Of course, in this age of quarantine, you would have to play it online, instead of in a room with friends and drinks.
Secondly, I have also been fighting buying into the Animal Crossing hype. The only other one I’ve played is Wild World on the DS when I was much younger. The problem with the series for me is that you are actively punished for not playing for at least a while every single day, and with my schedule, there are days where I simply don’t play anything. It’s a great series, just not for me anymore.
This week I’ve been bouncing around a lot trying to figure out what I want my next long-play to be. For one, I’ve started playing Jak And Daxter: The Precursor Legacy on PS4. A 4-game pack available on PSN for about 20 bucks that included the original trilogy and Jak X: Combat Racing. I remember playing the series at a friend’s house when I was younger, but never owned a PS2 myself, so this is a convenient way to catch up on the beloved series. The first game is a straightforward collect-a-thon 3D platformer, and it’s fun enough. I find that games of this type tend to grate on me if I play too much of them, unless it’s the Mario series, but that’s because Nintendo puts such an emphasis on making movement fun. In J and D, movement is fairly standard but unremarkable, and the camera is awful as well. You can’t tilt it up or down without entering first person mode. Still, I’m enjoying my time with it and look forward to playing some of the other games in the series.
Also on sale for dirt cheap on PSN was the original game in the survival horror series Siren. It takes place in—get this—a spooky, fog ridden Japanese town where some kind of ritual has gone horribly wrong causing people to turn into shambling monsters. Yes, this is from the creator of Silent Hill, and it has a really unique twist that’s put to good use called Sightjacking. Essentially, you can tune your vision to the monsters, or other characters, and use that to find out where danger lurks. It’s truly unnerving to be walking down a path and use Sightjack only to see yourself walking up that path. It means you’re in danger. It’s a fantastic idea. The game proper is rather clunky, though, with awkward controls and drawn out, exaggerated animations, as well as hilarious voice acting that is for some reason British and a story that takes zero time to explain anything. It’s essentially a stealth game since you can only stun the monsters instead of killing them, but despite the fact that it hasn’t aged well, I’ve been enjoying myself so far. It’s spooky as all hell and the environments are still unnerving.
As a final note, playing Jak and Daxter made me want to go back to Super Mario Odyssey for a night (keep an eye out for our coverage in the coming weeks!). I tooled around the first kingdom with all the hats, and I really have to say that Nintendo absolutely perfected Mario’s movement. I don’t think the game is quite as good as his space adventures, but as far as the controls and sense of freedom goes, it’s probably the best 3D Mario platformer. Maybe I’ll focus on doing more of the side content.
I also joined in on the Drawful 2 action. Since it was free on Steam, my friends and I played a few rounds. We prefer Quiplash, and quickly transitioned over to the better Jackbox game.
This week I finished Twin Breaker: A Sacred Symbols Adventure. Yes, I played a new game and reviewed it for 25YL. It’s nothing revolutionary. Twin Breaker is an indie brick breaker clone. A throwback to Arkanoid. After the review went up, I was close to completing the platinum trophies on PS4 and Vita. Took me only a week total for both. Twin Breaker was an enjoyable transition game that was perfect to play in short bursts.
I started two games this week; both from signature Playstation franchises: Uncharted and God of War. Golden Abyss, for the PS Vita, is my first Uncharted game. I heard the touchscreen controls were annoying and forced. Numerous times the main protagonist of the series, Nathan Drake, traces charcoal drawings on different artifacts. Sony wanted to show off the touch screen on the Vita, so they force you to literally trace on the touch screen. I can see how that can be annoying. The other gameplay elements are fine. The combat is nowhere near as smooth as Killzone Mercenary, but the game makes up for its imperfections with quality acting performances and charming characters. I’ll be adding the Nathan Drake Collection to my backlog very soon.
My PS3 was lonely so I dusted it off and started God of War 2. I was in the mood for hacking and slashing enemies. The sequel continues the quality experience from the original. These PS2 originals hold up quite well. Unlike Uncharted, I purchased the entire God of War franchise without playing any of them. So far I’m happy with my purchases.
I feel somewhat left out for not having bought, and subsequently abandoned Drawful 2, but in my defence it wasn’t on sale for a penny here in Blighty. I did however, take a punt at Pikuniku which was reduced to a similarly ‘rude-not-to’ price.
The game is a colourful, physics-based platformer, in which you control ‘the beast’—essentially an oval with gangly legs who controls exactly as you’d imagine an oval with gangly legs would. Aside from a floaty jump, your main way of interacting with the world (and its inhabitants if you’re feeling cheeky) is with an indignant kick. The kick is used to move rocks onto switches, press buttons, as well as a whole manner of kooky, context-specific scenarios.
Ultimately the charm of Pikuniku is not in its platforming, or controls (neither of which are very good), but in its sense of humour and writing. The game’s plot involves a seemingly friendly corporation who are more than happy to give out ‘free money’ in exchange for ridding villages of their natural resources and crops. With the help of a small group of rebels, it’s your job to uncover the corporation’s sinister intent and put an end to their exploitation.
The dialogue in the game is sharp, witty and offbeat in that classic Earthbound style that indie developers seem to love. Not only that, but the visual humour is fantastic too as my three-year-old daughter will attest. At a couple of hours in, I already feel like I’ve gotten my moneys worth from hearing my daughter belly laugh at me kicking an unsuspecting villager for the umpteenth time.
Beyond that, I’ve also been playing the Bravely Default II demo which released alongside the recent Nintendo (mini) Direct. From what I’ve seen, I seem to be in the minority in that I thoroughly enjoyed it.
The demo begins with a warning that the difficulty has been ramped up to allow players to experiment thoroughly with the games Final Fantasy-esque job system, and they aren’t kidding. In the four hours or so that it took me to reach the end, I died more times than I have in some entire JRPG playthroughs. Bar the initial goblin enemies, every subsequent enemy you encounter is more than capable of wiping out your party in a couple of turns. It’s pretty bold for a demo to require you to grind out levels to progress but I found myself embracing it.
The demo allows you to freely explore an Arabian-style town, a smallish world map area, and a dungeon culminating in a boss battle. Mechanically, the game is very much a Final Fantasy VI era JRPG with the odd innovation. The series’ signature ‘BP’ system for instance, allows characters (and enemies) to save up and unleash numerous actions in a single turn. It took me a while to figure out how best to utilise this small but important addition but by the end I was taking down powerful enemies with relative ease.
In terms of presentation it’s a bit of a mixed bag. The monster designs are good and well animated in combat. The heroes put in me in mind of The Wonderful 101 with an almost toy-like chibi style. The town has a nice watercolour aesthetic. Everything looks a bit janky though, sometimes blurry, sometimes jaggy, sometimes cheap. Hopefully it’s something that can be addressed for the final product. The music is stellar however and the voice acting is just the right level of hammy for this kind of thing.
All in all, I’m looking forward to the full game releasing and I’ll certainly be picking it up when it does. Having completed the demo though, I’m now left with a JRPG shaped hole in my life. I’m currently eyeing up my unopened copy of Dragon Quest XI S but with Final Fantasy VII Remake just around the corner I’m not sure that’s a such a good idea.
Maybe I’ll just have a quick go…
Oh yeah, I’m also playing the Bravely demo, and it does have a “cheap yet pretty” look to it. I barely touched Bravely Second on the 3DS, so I didn’t remember BPs, or the Tales of conversations the characters can have during the walking sections. Which I think are important because, how else would you know the silver haired guy was in his forties? I thought the man was like, early to mid 20s, and he’s all like, “Uh, this desert heat!” after a quarter mile.
Bravely Default was a messy game but the battle system carried it.
Conor O Donnell
Agreed on Bravely Default. The ending slog really soured me on the game.
Must not focus on other games. Must finish Resident Evil 3 remake review…