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3rd June 2021: Potatoes Of The Empire

The other Star Wars game I decided to have a crack at is Shadows Of The Empire. I had never played it before this, but I'd read the novel several times, and the urge to see Dash's side of the story meant I had more desire to play this than any of the other games.

However, things took an immediate turn for the worse when I started my playthrough and I got a load of the controls. I know this game is old, but come on. What were they thinking? Pushing the mouse forward and back moves your character forward and back, rather than looking up and down, with no way to change it? What kind of backwards world were the developers living in? At least some other weird things like having the space bar be activate and X be jump were rebindable.

The basic control of Dash was also a bit shoddy, in terms of him feeling like he was running on an ice rink. There was a somewhat similar feeling when I played Dark Forces II a while back, but this was even worse. It was especially bad on one level when you have to traverse a train, which needs you to jump from one track to another. And when in the air, I swear Dash just did his own thing. The amount of times I fell off was just nuts.

So I struggled through to the fight against Boba Fett, during which he killed me when in his ship. And rather than put me back to a checkpoint or the start of that stage, it put me all the way back to the start of the level, which was probably about 30-40 minutes of play time. If I was really enjoying the game, I'd have pushed on and done it again. But I was really fed up by the old shitty controls and lack of interest in Star Wars by this point, so decided to just abandon it. I can't imagine I'd have gotten any more enjoyment out of the game even if I'd got passed Slave I, and I want to keep up my decent gaming momentum this year by getting back to games I enjoy.

Shooting up some Imps in the awesome Snowspeeder

Shooting up some Imps in the awesome Snowspeeder

Can't catch me, AT-AT

Can't catch me, AT-AT

Shooting an AT-ST up the arse

Shooting an AT-ST up the arse

Letting rip with the Outrider's turrets

Letting rip with the Outrider's turrets

Yep, fell off the train again

Yep, fell off the train again

Duking it out with Boba Fett

Duking it out with Boba Fett

30th May 2021: Who Ya Gonna Call?

After playing the first two Ghostbusters games, it only felt right to play the 2009 game through again, especially as I got it for free (and DRM free to boot!) on Epic Games late last year. Now I had already played this through about four times a decade ago on the PS3, making it my most played game on that console. But I thought plenty enough time had passed for a refresher while I was on this Ghostbusters kick.
Also, it's not a super long game, and is a really good follow up to the films, so to hell with it.

I was really looking forward to two things about playing it on the PC: being able to get some screenshots, and also being able to use the keyboard and mouse. Unfortunately, the mouse acceleration in the game is atrocious, which really spoiled my enjoyment of using this control scheme. But still, it was not bad enough to make me use a controller again.

Slimer gives a wave as I bust his ass

Slimer gives a wave as I bust his ass

Just get in the trap you stupid fisherman ghost

Just get in the trap you stupid fisherman ghost

Stay Puft has seen better days

Stay Puft has seen better days

At least I don't have to collect any mucus

At least I don't have to collect any mucus

Can't lie, it was a lot of fun playing through it again, for what might be the last time. Sure, the old annoyances were still there, like the sluggish character movement and the useless team mate AI, but whatever. Just to test the original Ghostbusters, I would sometimes weaken the ghosts and throw a trap down, just to see how long it would take them to do the rest. Frankly, I'm not sure how they're still in business. I mean, I pretty much had to do everything.

While the gameplay has its ups and downs, it's the story and having the original cast reprising their roles that really makes the game shine. Because in truth, without the Ghostbusters skin, this game would be painfully mediocre. Whereas having it link so well back to the 80s films, as well as being a solid narrative follow-up, makes it one of the best movie tie-in games ever in my opinion. I strongly suspect that the new film that's coming out at some point will completely ignore this game as canon, and that will fucking suck.

Was, and still is, the hardest boss in the game

Was, and still is, the hardest boss in the game

Spraying some blue goop at the Spider Witch

Spraying some blue goop at the Spider Witch

Letting the other Ghostbusters do some work for a change

Letting the other Ghostbusters do some work for a change

Shandor's destructor form comes under fire

Shandor's destructor form comes under fire

21st April 2021: Getting My Weeb On

Over the Christmas period I realised I was starting to build up a bit of a collection of quite anime-inspired games, so I gave a couple of them a go. The first one completely failed to convince me to keep playing it more than a few hours. But this game here, while failing to keep me interested back in January when I first tried it, did at least warrant a second look. Though it has been a bit of a slog, especially nearer the end of the game, I have now managed to complete the main story. So while there are other things I could work towards in the game, I'm going to consider it done so I can move onto other things.

This game is Trials Of Mana, a game that came out on the PS4 last year.

I didn't really know anything about this game before playing it other than knowing that it was a remake of an old JRPG from the early 90s. I didn't even read anything about it or the Mana series until I was well into the last half of the game. Turns out that this is a remake of the third game in the series, but luckily knowledge of those other games is not really required.

From what I can gather, they have been very respectful to the original when making this new version, something which, in my opinion, is a double edged sword. While fans of the original probably appreciate what has been done here, the sheer levels of early 90s Nintendo cheesiness are at sky high levels, and the story and dialogue are at times laughably bad. It really wouldn't surprise me to discover these things are direct from the original, as it seems no work has been done to improve or modernise them. Things are not helped at all by the fact that the new voice acting is also fairly lacklustre for the most part.

Compare this to the FF7 remake from last year. While quite a lot of effort was put into paying respect to the original story (at least for now - who knows what will happen in the future), the characters and their dialogue were dramatically improved, plus the voice acting was really good.

So forward I stepped into this franchise for the first time ever, picking the amazon Riesz as my main character, Angela the sorceress as companion number one, and the beastman Kevin as companion number two.

Wait. Did you just say Kevin? Kevin... the beastman?

Why yes.

Yes I did.

What's with these eyebrows?

What's with these eyebrows?

Merchants get their groove on<br /><span class='skye'>(webm video)</span>

Merchants get their groove on
(webm video)

I'm not distracted.<br />Honest.<br />Nothing distracting here.<br />What was I saying again?

I'm not distracted.
Honest.
Nothing distracting here.
What was I saying again?

Angela gets zappy

Angela gets zappy

Good job there's no fall damage in this game<br /><span class='skye'>(webm video)</span>

Good job there's no fall damage in this game
(webm video)

Wow, this gigantic bird-turtle-thing sure can swim<br /><span class='skye'>(webm video)</span>

Wow, this gigantic bird-turtle-thing sure can swim
(webm video)

As it turns out, the remarkably stupid name of one of the characters was far from the worst thing about my team. Riesz turned out to be an absolute bore, and as dumb as a bag of rocks to boot. Kevin was just as stupid as Riesz, with his only character trait being "me hungry". Angela was the most interesting of the trio, and the one I ended up preferring to control in battle, but even she was mainly just an irritating, entitled little princess who only seemed to get excited about going shopping.
Urgh. Not good.

The story was odd. An absolute multitude of different evil factions are all fighting against each other to claim something called the Sword of Mana, which will give the wielder insane power over the entire world, and you are obviously out to stop them. To do this, various magical elemental stones must be visited and activated, and their imprisoned monsters battled. I got a bit lost trying to keep up with who was who in all of the different factions. Each enemy force had leaders, and goons, and ultimate evils they were trying to raise, and I mostly just tuned out, preferring to run around twonking things.
I do give the game credit for having the enemy factions going against each other in the story, though. Indeed at one point, there is a large battle between three factions at the location of the mana sword, and its a shame we as the player don't actually get to see it.

So what is the actual gameplay like? Hmm. I'd say it was mostly pretty good and sometimes pretty bad. It's a third person combat game, which allows you to pause in order to use magic or items. So in this regard, it's quite like the FF7 remake, but more simple. And like that other game, there are similar things that annoyed me. For example, there is a delay in performing an action such as dodge if another animation is playing out. It's a problem with games that I keep rattling on about, but it's something that narks me. The other thing is that it's one of those games where the characters step forward, or sometimes even jump forward when they attack, meaning they can sometimes just step right passed their target and miss entirely.

The other main thing about the gameplay that annoyed me was only in certain locations. See, you often get indicators on the floor a second or two in advanced whenever an enemy is going to do a big attack, giving you the time needed to run or dodge out of it. However, I found that in sand or snow environments, these indicators were really hard to see, making battles here more difficult.

In truth, the main problem with the game was the slow load screens, of which there were many. So freaking many. This, as well as constantly re-visiting the same areas on the map, and constantly fighting the same enemies, made the game drag on for far too long. So while it was a perfectly fine game to play through, if it was shorter by a quarter or even a third, I'd have had a far better and more enjoyable time. As it was, I really had to knuckle down and wade through the last parts of the game.

Kevin gets scrappy<br /><span class='skye'>(webm video)</span>

Kevin gets scrappy
(webm video)

Goremand looks like he's taking a dump

Goremand looks like he's taking a dump

Some fancy harpy hovering skills<br /><span class='skye'>(webm video)</span>

Some fancy harpy hovering skills
(webm video)

What the fook is this thing?

What the fook is this thing?

That's some bad breath there my dude

That's some bad breath there my dude

Angela goes for the big twonk

Angela goes for the big twonk

28th March 2021: My Mortal Weakness Rising

All done with another PS4 game, this time in the shape of Immortals: Fenyx Rising. This is a 3rd person action and exploration game set in a total cheesecake version of Greek mythology, where Typhon has stripped the Gods of their powers, meaning you have to step up to put things right.

It was strange at first to find that, even using a controller, there was a mouse pointer on the menu screen. Out of interest I plugged in a mouse and keyboard, and to my delight found out that this is one of those rare console games that support such inputs. However, I soon grew frustrated, as the mouse lag was so bad that it was making me feel sick. It must have been at least half a second between moving the mouse and seeing the action happen on screen. Totally vomit inducing.
With a sigh, back to the controller I went.

I enjoyed the game well enough for the most part. The combat is fast and fun, with lots of different types of attacks and item builds available. I also quite liked how fun and silly the game was, and with the exception of Hermes, who could be irritating, I also liked all of the characters.
However, I'm still not sure about the humour in the game. I mean, it wasn't really funny, even though it was trying hard to be. But it was fun that it was trying to be funny, if that makes sense?

The puzzles were a bit weird, though. I don't remember it ever seeming hard to solve the actual puzzles, but I do remember getting a bit annoyed with having to run around and find the pieces you needed to solve the puzzles, like a rock or a ball, for example. I don't like things that purposefully waste my time.

Twonking a bear

Twonking a bear

Getting ripped

Getting ripped

Meeting my boy Phosphor

Meeting my boy Phosphor

Fenyx plays with her balls

Fenyx plays with her balls

Mood of the day = purple

Mood of the day = purple

Fenyx gets ready to squeeze some New Year's juice

Fenyx gets ready to squeeze some New Year's juice

Very early on in the game, you gain a companion bird named Phosphor. This dude and I got on very well, and I based my entire combat strategy around him. I would use my stamina to constantly call Phosphor to attack. Whenever he attacked, he would also heal me. Then my gear was set to give me loads of stamina back every time I went in with the sword, which was also upgraded to do as much damage as I could afford. This strat worked a treat all through the game, so you can imagine my frustration when I went into the final fight against Typhon and found Phosphor was not available. It made the end fight a much longer slog as I had to constantly back off to use healing items, instead of just tanking and chopping my way through the threat like I had been doing up to that point.
Maybe if I'd created a more skill-centric build I would have been alright.

But then again, I would have needed actual skill for that tactic to work.

By far my biggest gripe with the game was the traversal. Sheesh. What an absolute ball ache it is to move around the world in this game. Until you've got more fast travel points open, getting from one place to another means a lot of foot slogging, or taming a slightly faster mount. The problem is there are always ravines or cliffs in the way to wherever you want to go. This sucks when climbing up the myriad of walls or rocks, or gliding just a short distance, drains your stamina in no time, especially early in the game. You have to constantly plan your routes to make sure there are enough stopping points to get your energy back. It fucking sucked.
And by far the worst place to get around in the game is the final zone in the north of the map. Even later in the game with more stamina and abilities, that area makes it as hard and as frustrating as possible to scale that mountain. I gave up trying on my own, and had to resort to a walkthrough. Felt like a right muppet.

But still, it's done, and I can move on to the next one.

Just going for a glide with my best bro

Just going for a glide with my best bro

Uh oh, the idiot found the photo mode

Uh oh, the idiot found the photo mode

Hit this thing so hard its arm came out the other side of its body

Hit this thing so hard its arm came out the other side of its body

Twonking a Cerberus

Twonking a Cerberus

Auditioning for the next Tron movie

Auditioning for the next Tron movie

Rumbling with two automatons<br /><span class='skye'>(webm video)</span>

Rumbling with two automatons
(webm video)

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