On Summer Sales

So another summer has started up and with it have come the now annual Steam summer sales. I’ve heard a few people talking about how the offerings this year are kind of lackluster and that there haven’t been very many good games worth buying. I’d tend to agree with this at least in regards to the major publishers, but overall I think there have been some good buys. Heck I’ve made a few myself. More than I was really expecting too. Granted almost every game I bought was under $5 but the point is that there have been some things worth getting, at least for me.

A side effect of the various Steam sales has become that any game that I want on PC is usually just added to a wishlist and I wait to buy it until it is on sale. There are some games I’m fine with buying right away, but these are usually games that I’ve done a lot of research on and really want to play. As I get older I find it harder and harder to want to part ways with $60 for a new game. Especially when the content length of these games are getting shorter and shorter due to the amount of memory it takes just to have better textures and full voice-over work.

That is why I don’t mind picking up the cheap indie titles. Even when they’re not on sale they’re usually cheaper by comparison and there is a good chance the story will be better. That isn’t to say you might not find a dud. I picked a game up yesterday and tried playing it last night and even though I only spent $2 I’m not sure it was worth that. Normally I think the game goes for $20 and the game is certainly not worth that much.

There are also several charts going around trying to explain the “best” way to make purchasing decisions, but I don’t really subscribe to any of those. I just look at whatever is on sale and do a little bit of reading. If the game sounds good and it’s got enough of a discount I might pick it up.

I mean, it’s not like I can’t afford to waste $5 on a game.

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On Adventure Games

No I didn’t say it’s Adventure Time.

I’ve been a bit off about posting for a few days, primarily due to the added responsibilities I’ve had at work the last few days. One of the guys who is primarily in charge of this new development work I’ve been doing is on vacation, and because of this I’ve kind of had to fill in his role a bit. Not that I have to tell people what to do or anything, but I’ve had to pick up his work load.

But that is besides the point. The point is Adventure.

Today I was looking at the Steam sales and the latest round of “Community Choice” winners. The winners as of right now are all point and click adventure games along the lines of the Monkey Island series and Grim Fandango (I love those games). This was probably one of my favorite type of games growing up because back in the early 90’s that’s all there really was. We had Monkey Island, Loom, Indiana Jones and all the old LucasArts SCUMM engine based games. I very much miss those games, but they’re still around, and that genre of game has never really gone away.

So I was looking at the sales and one game stuck out, mainly because it was on sale for $0.49, so I took a look. The series apparently revolves around a female protagonist and her ghost detective buddy. Having recently played and been disappointed with Murdered Soul Suspect this game intrigued me. I don’t know much, if anything, about the plot other than it looks interesting and that there are 5 games in the series. There is a bundle right now to get the first 4 games for $1.99 and that is just to good to pass up. The 5th game is apparently new enough that the cost for that one was $8, but still not asking much.

I’m keeping my eye on the sales in general but I’m always on the lookout for a good adventure game. I’m very happy that DoubleFine is doing an HD re-release of Grim Fandango on the PS4 and I know I’ll buy it.

Now, whenever I actually play these games, which I hope to be soon, I will be saying “It’s Adventure Time” but only ironically(?). Though, if Netflix would get their collective crap in order and a) get more episodes and b) put them in order I’d also watch the show while playing.

On Gaming Roots

So one thing that I have seen other people talk about at some point is what games have been most influential to them in their lifetime. To be honest I’m not sure I could pinpoint exactly what games might fit in to that category for me. Certainly there are games that I just always remember as being my favorites, but I can’t really think of any that really changed my outlook on things.

So instead of writing about games that might have been super influential I am going to talk a little bit about how I got in to gaming in the first place. Keep in mind I’m 31 (for another month) so most of the games I feel got me in to gaming will have come out late 80’s early 90’s. Most of them pre Sony & Microsoft days.

The first time I can remember playing a video game is actually before I ever got my first NES. There was a mom & pop restaurant by where I lived at the time and they had an old 8 bit Mario arcade cabinet. This was the same game as the NES version, just with a different title, “VS Super Mario Bros.“. I don’t recall getting very far, but that isn’t saying a lot since I didn’t actually beat the original Mario game for a long time.

So as I mentioned the first console I ever had was the NES, and I remember having a couple games for it. Mario Brothers, and Track & Field that had the awesome floor mat pad that looked like the mat from Twister. We didn’t have many games, but back then I wasn’t cooped up playing them all the time either. I couldn’t say all the games I ever had for it, I just remember having the Mario games. I still love a good platformer, and that comes from growing up on that genre.

After the NES I got the SNES and the Sega Genesis (not the Master System). My love of platformers continued with both of these consoles but I got my first taste of the Zelda series when I borrowed a friends copy of “A Link To The Past”. I didn’t finish it at the time, though I did eventually. This was also the time when fighting games such as Street Fighter II and the original Mortal Kombat were seeing home releases.

Years passed by and consoles came and went. I can say I’ve owned or played at least a good majority of the various consoles that came out. At least the major brand ones from Sony, Nintendo, Sega and Microsoft. We didn’t really have the money growing up to buy a lot of games so most of them were borrowed or rented at blockbuster. Only in the last few years as I’ve finished up college and got a well paying job that I’ve been able to start buying games seriously.

I do still have an old SNES and Sega laying around. I need to find a good, legal way to play these on my tv. I know people always talk about playing ROMS and stuff on the PC but I don’t feel the same sense of joy playing an old game if it isn’t with the original console, or at least the original cart & controller.

I probably could have talked at length about this topic, but I feel like maybe various parts can be discussed individually.

That and I really need to get back to work.

On Kickboxing

A bit off the gaming topics, but as you may know I also plan to talk a bit about fitness stuff. Because I can.

So if you’ve read everything I’ve posted, and if not you should, then you might remember me talking about signing up for a kickboxing class in order to help myself lose weight. I’m not a small person by any means and have quite a bit to lose to reach a “healthy” weight.

So last night was the first official class for me. Went down to the place after work and signed up for the 1 year membership at the low low price of $129 a month. So even if this class is hard I have that money as the incentive to keep going. Let’s just say that by the time I got home an hour and a half later that pretty much every muscle in my body ached. Today I’m still sore but not painfully so.

A bit of a description about what I was doing last night to give you an idea of what this class is doing. Started off with everyone in the class doing jump rope. Now I mentioned I am not a small person, and I probably haven’t used a jump rope since high school, if not junior high so I’m a bit out of practice. You wouldn’t think this, but 10 minutes of that is a long time. I had to stop multiple times to get a drink and catch my breath before starting back up. By the time that was over I was already ready to go home and go to bed. And that was only after 10 minutes.

Since I’m a beginner they pulled me in to a second group to learn the basics so spent the next half hour or some basic footwork and punches. The footwork wasn’t bad, just have to get it down a little bit better. Same with punching, I understand the movements but I’m not used to it yet and don’t have the muscle memory to do it without looking stupid. Last thing they had us doing was some exercise bike time, squats and sit-ups. I felt this was the easiest part because it didn’t involve anything I wasn’t used to.

So after one class, I can say I am probably going to enjoy it, even if I complain a lot. The guys that run the place are all really cool and don’t want you to overdo it. They’re making sure you stay hydrated and take breaks when you have to. My hope s that this will really help me lose the weight I want to lose and get me used to doing stuff that I can do on my own if I don’t stay on after the year is over.

On Murdered Soul Suspect (Review)

Before I start this up, I guested on my friend Bel’s podcast again this past weekend and we discussed some E3 stuff. Go and give it a listen here.

I’m going to be a bit direct here and say that while I enjoyed some parts of the game, overall I feel very disappointed in how this game turned out. From every video I saw prior to release the game seemed to be pretty cool, and I do think that the premise is original and interesting, but that doesn’t save it from a not entirely positive review.

So the structure of this post is going to be the things I like about the game, then the things I felt let down on and how they could have been done better. Keep in mind I am talking about the PS4 version, and as far as I know there is no planned DLC that might expand the game in any way.

Things I Like

So the graphics in this game were really well done. All of the main characters were well animated and looked good, and the transitions between cutscenes and gameplay were fairly seamless. I wouldn’t go so far as to say they used regular gameplay to act out the cutscenes but it’s really hard to tell. The game looks really good in 1080 resolution and there is a ton of details that make everything just look really good.

I also really enjoyed the ambient music because it always felt creepy. Now I can’t say there was a wide variety of music or anything, but I always felt like there was a sense that you needed to be careful while going through a level. The main “enemies” of the game are lost souls that try to “eat” you, and there were several times while exploring that the shrieks they make when they show up made me tense up a little bit.

The last thing that I really enjoyed are the side missions, or at least most of them. The background on the killer, as well as your characters deceased wife, and the ghost stories you unlock by collecting items in the levels are all very interesting to read/hear. Of those the ghost stories are the best because it provides a creepy ghost story to break up going through the level. There aren’t that many of these however, one per level (except for two I think). These are not always easy to find and require some amount of searching, or googling the last one you can’t seem to find and they are worth the effort of finding them.

Things I Didn’t Like

Ok so here’s where we get in to what I thought was disappointing about the game. I’m going to try to talk about what I expected versus the reality of the game.

First off, the game is short. And when I say short I’m talking I beat the game in roughly 8 hours (or less) without trying and I still almost got 100% completion. I think if you just ran through the story and didn’t try to do any collectibles you could beat the game in 3 hours tops. Once I play back through to get the stuff I missed I am seriously considering doing a speed run.

The second thing is the story. Now I will say that I enjoyed the premise, and the story is good, but it is not exactly hard to figure out what is going on either. Having read a lot of detective books in my time I had almost the entire plot figured out halfway through the game. This also makes me feel like the character was a pretty lousy detective before he died because of how obvious certain things are. Now I will admit that there were some things I wasn’t expecting, but the length of the story and the obviousness of it disappointed me greatly. I think that they could have done a lot more here and not only made the game longer, but a much deeper mystery.

The third thing is that you are a lousy detective and there is no real punishment for brute forcing your way through the solutions. The way the detective stuff works is you go around the area collecting clues, and then you have to select which of those are the most relevant. Each time you get it wrong you have to go back in to the “mini game” and try again. The problem is there is absolutely no risk here. There is a little rating system at the bottom that each time you mess up you lose a badge, but there is no reward for getting a 3 star rating either. So there is absolutely no risk in just picking items until you get it right.

The fourth thing is probably a personal opinion issue, but I felt the game was too restrictive. By this I mean the levels were very “on rails” in that while there was some exploring to find the collectible your investigations are restricted to the one room of the level. The most freedom you have is when you are exploring the town for side mission stuff. And that is there just to keep you from blowing through the game super fast. I feel like this is probably the worst problem I had with the game. I feel like if this had been a much larger, more open world kind of game that I would have enjoyed it a lot more. That is not to say I didn’t enjoy the game, I just think there could have been a larger area to work with. I know the plot of the story revolves around the one town, but I am pretty sure the real city of Salem contains more than a handful of streets. The other thing is that for all the talk about freedom to move around buildings, you only ever have access to the handful related to the story. There is no finding ways in to other houses to do side missions.

The fifth thing is a specific type of side mission, and this is helping other ghosts move on. The way they made the game sound in the videos I’ve seen made it sound like this was going to be a larger aspect to the game. But here’s the truth. There are 4 ghosts you help out. That’s it. 4 (not including story, including story maybe 7). Almost every ghost you run across either doesn’t realize they’re dead or have no interest in moving on. You can talk to them and find out how they died, or why they’re doing what they’re doing (apparently most ghosts are stalkers). I was hoping for a greater amount of these types of side quests and the game would have greatly improved if there had been more of this.

The sixth thing is there is no map. This is a minor complaint though, as you can find maps online. But at the point where I was trying to collect stuff I missed it was very hard to find a specific location (the docks) because you get turned around easily. If you’re not looking for the alley that leads to it you’re going to miss it.

The last thing is that the game just isn’t hard. I mentioned this a bit with the there is no reward stuff, but really the game just isn’t challenging. You only ever have to deal with three of the “lost spirit” enemies at one time, which is only challenging in that if you get caught you’re pretty much screwed. But once you get the hang of it they don’t present a challenge anymore. All defeating them involves is getting behind them and doing a quick time event. The other type of enemy is basically hands that are coming up from the ground to pull you down. All you have to do is not walk on them. And that is not a hard task. The final level involves you having to get across the room in 20 seconds dodging these things, and you can do this without even running and still have plenty of time. I understand that maybe they were focusing on the story more but the game was just too easy.

I feel like I’m missing something but this already turned in to an essay.

Oh, and last thought, if you’re skills are supposed to be amplified in death, why couldn’t my character use the gun he had holstered to shoot the “lost souls”? I know it doesn’t fit the story or anything, but that just seems absurd that you can smoke as a ghost but you can’t shoot your ghost gun.

Maybe it’s because the killer pumped all your bullets in to your chest.

Final thoughts – I still enjoyed the story, and I think it is worth playing through once, but try to get it used or on a Steam sale for the PC version.

Final, Final thought – I would love to see this game done as a more open world type game. Even if the graphical quality had to be lowered it would mean a more interesting game.

On..So I won an award

Owly Images

So this is a thing that happened.

To be honest I wasn’t really expecting this at all, and in part this was something that happened because I’ve been greatly encouraged by the number of people that have been coming by to read this blog. If people hadn’t come by to read or leave comments I would have found it a lot harder to continue posting.

So for everyone that has been coming by, I owe you a lot of thanks because it helped me come back everyday and write something even if I didn’t always know what to talk about.

I especially want to thank my friend Bel who introduced me to the initiative and set a good example on daily writing for me to follow.

On Okay Nintendo, You Win

Today’s post is going to be a bit short. I actually almost forgot to write anything at all to be honest. As things usually go today was a fairly busy day at work starting off with a nice long meeting that almost put me to sleep followed by a mad rush to do a few code changes and lots of SQL scripts.

So as I mentioned previously, this week is E3 week and all sorts of announcements are coming out and game trailers are being released. One of the games that I’ve been waiting a long time to hear about is the new Zelda title on the Wii U. Now, here’s the thing, I don’t own a Wii U. Up until now I have not felt like there has been enough of a reason to buy the system. I know there are some great Mario titles out there, but that just isn’t enough for me.

Now that they’ve announced a new regular Zelda game (I’m not counting Zelda Hyrule Warriors as canon) I finally have a game I want that system for. I’m not going to go out and buy the system right away though, I’ll wait to see if there is a special edition console first. Zelda has been and always will be a system seller for me. Twilight Princess was the reason I got a Wii on release day, even if I didn’t finish it. And the new 3DS title “A Link Between Worlds” is why I got the 3DS special edition.

Zelda has always been one of my favorite games ever since “A Link To The Past” on the SNES. I’ll admit I’ve never finished the NES versions, and I’ve not played every game in the series but I’d like to remedy that at some point.

So all I have to say to Nintendo at this point is, “Shut up and take my money”.