Friday, September 30, 2016

First Impressions: Clustertruck (PC)

[Disclaimer: I received a copy of Clustertruck courtesy of the developers through the Clustertruck sub-reddit,  Everything that I have to say here are my own words and are not at all influenced by either the developer or the fact that I was given a copy of the game free of charge.  Additionally, I was not directed to say only positive things about the game, nor was I given talking points or specific things to say about Clustertruck in my review.]

Clustertruck is a game that I have been following for a while, and one that I had previously wanted to talk about sometime after the alpha was released earlier in the year, but I became forgetful and never finished or published that article.  It has been an interesting and exciting year and-a-half (I think) watching the developer/creator/director Wilnyl take this from a concept to a fully fledged game that was released this last Tuesday (9/27/2016) on Steam.  I did play through the alpha build a bit, but only as far as I was able to get, due to my lack of skill in the truck jumping arena.

For those of y'all who are new to Clustertruck, I would highly recommend watching the trailer below, as the pictures I took will not do the game justice at all.  It is a game about jumping on the back of Mack Truck type trucks towards a goal, without touching the ground as they drive across varied landscapes which become more and more ridiculous.

So what if I took 20.005 seconds longer than the #1 ranked person!
This is what Clustertruck is.  Basically.  I will also mention that while this game is a whole Hel of a lot of fun, it is equally frustrating in the same way that a hard level in BIT.TRIP RUNNER is fun yet frustrating.  The never ending soundtrack (with the song only changing for each stage) definitely helps with the frequent restarts of the levels.  Sometimes while watching people go through levels, I will begin to doubt my own video game playing abilities and whether I should just throw in the proverbial towel, or if I should just keep at it and hope for the best.  I should probably have also mentioned that Clustertruck is a speedrunner's wet dream.  The faster you make it across the trucks, the higher of a score you will receive and you will be ranked higher on the leaderboards for all to see, or not see in my case (in one level this morning, I was ranked around 25,000).  I am not entirely sure how the "score" though in the picture is calculated as I did receive points, but maybe it's additional points beyond what you would get for normally finishing the level?  Like points above par?

So Clustertruck is broken up into nine stages made up of 10 levels with each stage having its own introduction to new gameplay elements, obstacles and environments.  The first stage (Desert) did a great job of introducing different concepts that only become more complicated to deal with in the later stages/levels.  There are a couple of stages so far that have felt that I hid a wall and took a lot more time to figure out than previous levels, 2-7 for instance, which I have attempted at least 20 times.

Yeah, this is what I am dealing with.  In one attempt, two trucks exploded after careening off of heir wooden structure, something that had not happened before in many other attempts on this level.  It was kind of surprising, but then wasn't when I forgot to jump (or double jump in my case, which is mentioned below)over that wooden barrier there in the distance.

There are also a number of abilities you can "equip" that can further help you, such as a double jump which is self explanitory, a hookshot that functions in a similar manner to Link's weapon from Ocarina of Time, a freeze ability that lets you freeze all trucks in their current place, and many more that I will not list here.  What is awesome, is that these abilities you have to purchase using points you earn in the game.  It actually reminds me of the cheats in Goldeneye 007 on the N64, that only after putting time into the game are you granted the ability to use "cheats."  

Where I feel that I am most lacking, is my control.  Watching videos and speenruns, it definitely seems like people have a lot more control over where they jump, and how they are able to launch themselves off of trucks towards the goal.  I realize that a fair amount of the available videos have people using unlocked abilities, but overall, I feel like I am very spastic when it comes to how I play.  I guess it just boils down to "getting gud."

Before I finish up here, I should also mention that the few times I have looked up at the fps (frames per second) counter, I am averaging between 28 - 36 fps, which some people will tell you is broken and unplayable, but I will tell you that that is not the case.  Even though the game defaults to "Fantastic" graphics settings, I am quite happy with the game running as it is on my system (Windows 10, Intel i5 2.60GHz, 8GB RAM).  I have not come across the game crashing or stuttering, so at least from my own experience, the game is stable.

Currently I have put 107 minutes in Clustertruck and I could see this being a fun game to show friends and have them attempt when they come over, similar to Super Meat Boy.  It could be a fun party game, I just have to beat enough levels so I don't come across like a casual player (again, like in Super Meat Boy).

So in closing, I really like Clustertruck for how I play it.  If I were into speedrunning and cared more about the leaderboards, I might enjoy it more, or I might hate it more since there is currently at least one person (Lamdin) cheating their way onto the #1 spot with a time of 0:00:000 for all of the levels between 1-1 and 2-7.

I have also failed to mention that there is a level editor included with the game and I have only briefly tooled around with.  Like Super Mario Maker, I highly anticipate that there will be a slurry of nearly impossible levels added to the Steam Workshop in the coming days/weeks/months.  That I am not so much looking forward to, but Wilnyl has already released one custom stage, so there is hope that not all of the levels will be clusterfucks.  Which actually brings me to another point, that the developers are very active in the community and there have been a number of updates since the game was released three days ago.

Okay, that's it.  If you are at all intrigued at anything I have had to say about Clustertruck, I highly recommend looking further into the game for yourself and then picking up a copy.


Wanted to leave y'all with this screenshot of rock pillars collapsing on me with the goal in sight.  I did make it out.

P.S.  I wanted to add that often while playing Clustertruck, I will find myself leaning while trying to land on a truck, lifting my feet off of the ground hoping for a higher jump.  It reminds me a lot of playing Mario Kart and turning the controller (SNES, N64) hoping that somehow the game will understand that I need to make sharper turns and that by turning the controller will somehow allow me to achieve this maneuver.  It's quite funny catching myself doing this and not realizing it.

P.P.S.  Lastly, if you purchase Clustertruck, you will also receive a pre-alpha copy of Totally Accurate Battle Simulator (TABS), which comes across like the battle simulator that was used in the Lord of the Rings, but with rag doll physics and so much more hilarity.  From what is currently available, TABS is a puzzle type game where you purchase troops with a limited income to go up against an attacking force, last figure standing wins.  I will most definitely post an article sometime next month.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

MTG: Kaladesh Prerelease

I'm at the point now, that whenever a new Standard Magic set is released, I like to attend the prerelease event.  Magic Prerelease events are held at comic and card stores around the world, and they include specialized packages and prizes.  It's basically a Magic tournament, and I've had fun at the four I've attended so far. 

Most recently, this past weekend I attended the prerelease for the new set, Kaladesh at our local midtown comic shop, Big Brother.  This is my preferred comic shop, which recently moved to a new location after a fire.  The new location is great, and they had a good room for the tournament.  

I did poorly at the tournament. To qualify for a prize, you had to, at least, win 2, lose 1 and draw 1.  I won one game, and lost three.  One of the losses came against my friend Ghost, who also didn't qualify for prizes.  This made me feel better.  While I was disappointed I didn't do better, it was not a lasting feeling.
I find this new set interesting, but I didn't get a good set of cards.  My two best rares were in completely different color sets.  Depala, Pilot Exemplar and Nissa, Vital Force  I actually opened two copies of Depala, but only one vehicle card!  And it was a bad vehicle.  Nonetheless I chose to build my deck around Depala, because I had about 6 other dwarf cards, and I felt that was enough.  It almost was, but not quite.  I am excited to play this set some more, most likely in Magic Online.  But maybe in person at a Friday Night Magic event.

My biggest goofup of the day was when I tried to play a second Depala, forgetting that I could only play one copy of a legendary creature at a time (also forgetting that Depala was Legendary at all).  My opponent graciously let me take that move back.  After that, I decided that I would prefer to have fun, so I joked around a lot with my opponents.  My first opponent was pretty serious, but my following opponents were more relaxed, and I was able to make them laugh.  And lose.  But I don't mind so much.   

All in all, I enjoyed myself, got to interface with the Magic community outside my usual kitchen-table friend group.  And I was not disappointed in the community.  I can't wait for the next set  Who knows, maybe I'll even attend a Friday Night Magic.  


Wednesday, September 28, 2016

MIDI Week Singles: "In The Pines" - The Walking Dead: Season Two - A Telltale Games Series (PC)

"In The Pines" from The Walking Dead: Season Two - A Telltale Games Series on PC (2014)
Label: Self Released / Bandcamp
Developer: Telltale Games

Due to something not working correctly with the uploading of the video for today's MIDI Week Single, I will simply direct you to a link, and not just any ordinary link either!  This link will take you to the bandcamp page for Telltale Games composer Jared Emerson-Johnson and animator Janel Drewis, where you can download the track that you would normally have been able to hear in today's article.

When I first came upon this song, it was actually in 2014 during the end credits for Episode 2: "A House Divided."  I was not one of the apparent many who first heard Nirvana cover "In The Pines" way back in 1993, so I was not part of that new generation whom this song was introduced to.  And I actually prefer the version from The Walking Dead over Nirvana's cover, partly because it was the first version of the song that I had heard, but also because here, this arrangement of the song I find to be more innocent with the "little girl" being an actual "little" girl akin to Clementine and not the young woman with all of the sexual connotations that have been interpreted therein by other arrangements and covers.  Then of course there is the 1940s/50s Lead Belly arrangement, which is much less dramatic than either of the two aforementioned versions, but to each their own.


P.S.  So what lead up to this snafu, was that I had accidentally selected a picture to upload when I was supposed to select a video, and now it is permanently trying to upload an image file whenever I select a video file.  Who knows.  Hopefully I will have this Blogspot video issue figured out by next Wednesday and everything will be as right as rain.  

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

MIDI Week Singles: "Area 1" - Blaster Master (NES)

"Area 1" from Blaster Master on the Nintendo Entertainment System (1988)
Composer: Naoki Kodaka
Album: No Official Release
Developer: Tokai Engineering

I landed on "Area 1" as the song for today, mainly because of the few times that I have played Blaster Master, I have only had the time and patience to make it through the first area/zone and have only barely touched the second one.  There are a number of other very catchy songs from the game too, such as "Area 2," "Area 3," and "Area 6."  

With "Area 1" though, I get a very strong Metroid and Mega Man, which is applicable considering the gameplay does seem to take a bit from the exploration of the Metroid series and you do play as a helmet wearing character shooting an energy canon/gun/pistol weapon.

Because this game was developed in the early days of video game soundtracks (and possibly because of the games poor sales), the music from Blaster Master was never officially released, so you will have to settle for rips of the audio.  This is also the reason why there is not a classy title for "Area 1" like "Start Blasting" or "Into the Deep."  But, if modernizing is more your thing, San Diego, California resident Jessie Bishop has arranged the NES Blaster Master soundtrack, (not the Blaster Master: Blasting Again PSX game, which does have its own soundtrack though).

90,000 Watts of Dolby Sounds

Monday, September 19, 2016

Eleven Days Left In The Month Update About Last Week

My original plan for today's post was to either write about the 3DS game Fantasy Life since I finished it last night on the flight back from Nor*Cal or a review about the first of two licensed Elder Scrolls books, which I just finished reading this morning after our cat decided that 10 minutes outside was all he wanted to spend after wanting to go out all morning; and very vocally letting us know that he wasn't yet outside, which was where he wanted to so badly be.

Then a neighbor's yard workers started to use their manly gas powered gas tools and I know I could close the open window not three feet from my head so as to dampen the noises, but again, the cat is perched on the sill and panickingly (sp?) gazing out as one of the various hired out city trucks removes our weekly build up of filth, debris and recyclables.  

Part of The Original Plan also involved an apology for not posting a MIDI Week Single last week or another article on Friday and here I present to you (or "you all" if there are more than one) my excuses for our lax in our duties.  Last Wednesday (9/14/16), I was having a hard time deciding what song to feature on our weekly column and I literally sat at my computer from nearly 11 am - 4:47 pm listening to songs from video games that I had not listened to (at least since I re-uploaded everything to iTunes last November, which also includes a couple game soundtracks each month that I decide that need to have or realize that I have them on Steam and have yet do actually listen to them.  I think part of it was burn out and frustration leading to burn out which lead to frustration, and so on.

Last week was also a bit more hectic and stressful than usual weeks as school/internship/work things were coming to a proverbial head which lead my mind to not being as productive as I would have liked.  Driving 94.9 miles (152.7267 km for you Celsius folks out there) round trip for a job interview and then flying out the same day was more than I usually deal with.  So Conklederp and I flew down to the aforementioned Nor*Cal so we could attend the wedding of a family friend on Friday and the resulting beverages from Thursday night through Sunday afternoon lead to no post from me on Friday.

I know that missing a post here and there is to be expected, but I feeling even more guilty when it is a MIDI Week Single, especially in this last year which has seen more missed posts than I would have liked, which then leads me to feeling let down and all introspectively annoyed with myself.

Oooooooooooooookay, moving on before this goes in a completely different direction than I am able to reel myself back from.  But Wednesday will be another MIDI Week Single and we'll get back into regular postings.


Monday, September 12, 2016

First Impressions: The First Signs of Rust (PC)

[Disclaimer: I wrote this article back on August 11th, but because I had wanted to post articles that I said I was going to write in August's Monthly Update, I did not post this article when it was first written.]

I picked up Rust during the "Humble Survive This Bundle" and I am very excited to try this game out, especially after my confusion/frustration with Day-Z.  I had also brought this game up to Conklederp a while back and about their implementation of their new character generation system where your gender and ethnicity was decided for your by using some algorithm or just pure randomness.  Both Conklederp and I both agreed that people having to "live with" the choices that they are born into as far as your ethnicity was a very cool mechanic as a way to have the in game population be filled with more than just white men.  The modern definition of gender identity though is somewhat more of a difficult concept to in a video game so having your character either male or female, again is something that the player will have to deal with.  Basically, Extra Credits said it a lot better (although since this was posted back in May 2015, women have been introduced as playable characters, but still chosen for you).

That being said, I joked to Conklederp that I really liked this idea that I could hypothetically be "forced" to play as a black woman (being the gender that I am not and an ethnicity that I am also not).  With this in mind, I then said that I'll probably end up as a white male, if for any other reason than because I do not actually care too much about either my in-game gender, ethnicity, or race.  In a number of The Elder Scrolls games I have played as nearly every race and gender, so I am not overly concerned with how I am viewed by others in an online community.  In regards to Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, I do not recall hearing an outcry that you were forced to play a black male; although maybe there was, but it was over shadowed by a cup of hot coffee?

My main point in writing this is because I am about to boot up the game for the first time and I wanted to put down my initial thoughts about the gender and ethnicity "controversy" over characters being forced to play whatever gender and ethnicity that is picked for them (and forced to stay as that identity is attached to their Steam ID).  So when I come back, I will reveal what it is that I have been assigned with.  (August 11th, 2016 - 18:51)

It is now 19:39 on the same day (August 11th, 2016) and I have an answer for you.

Yup.  Jaconian is a bald black man with a reasonably sized box over my equally bald testicles and penis because this is a family friendly space on the internet (is it though?).  This picture actually happened during my second life since I was killed during my first life while standing in a puddle of water trying to figure out the key bindings and where/how to invert the y-axis.  Which brings me to dying.

I died a lot.  Well, I died four times with my longest life lasting 15 minutes 31 seconds and my shortest life was 1 minute 19 seconds.  Yes, the game tells you how long you were unkilled, who killed you and with what you were killed with.

That 15m31s life probably could have lasted longer, but I had climbed all the way up an "abandoned" tower after trying to chase the location of a downed helicopter (so that I could find some sweet ass lootz) and wanted to see if I could jump into the body of water below me and survive a la Skyrim.  I couldn't and I died screaming while clutching whatever mass of uncrumbled limb was still attached.

Well, I guess you could say that my overall first impression of Rust is that I oddly had fun, despite being naked and afraid and frequently beating objects with a rock because my presumed unlit torch didn't make as much of a satisfying sound when I hit things.  During the 15m31s life, I did manage to find a box with a bottle of water and two chocolate bars.  I ate one of the bars and felt that I should save the other for when my hunger level dipped low.  I didn't make it that long.  Because I died.

There will be a more detailed First Impressions article to come later after I have spent more than my current 38 minutes trying to figure out the game, how to interact with objects before I die (because people will just straight up murder you), and then tinker around with the graphics so that I'm playing at slightly more than 18 fps, which is doable, but we'll see what one step below "good" does.

He Couldn't Take Another Day

Sunday, September 11, 2016

MTG: Some cards from Eldritch Moon and a new Deck Idea

Lately I've been cooking up this deck using mostly cards from the latest two sets, Eldritch Moon and Shadows over Innistrad.  I'm really into this idea, more so than I have been for a while.  Unfortunately, the magic world moves so fast that it's almost time for the next set to rotate in, so I'm already feeling a bit dated.  Additionally, I don't actually have anyone to play Standard decks against, so my playtesting is limited.  But I guess I just like making decks, so I'm going to describe my idea to you:  

"Horse and rider are often of one mind..."
"..But until this morning, I never saw them be of one body"

Lone Rider/It that Rides as One
This card has a really sweet design.  He looks like a transporter accident.  He's also really powerful if you can get him to flip.  This guy was my inspiration for this deck, along with Neglected Heirloom.  From there, the synergies seem to come naturally, and now I'm just trying to balance it right. 

Neglected Heirloom
this card can be quite powerful, assuming you can make it switch.  Ideally, this will switch with a lone rider at the end of turn 3, which will make it really f-ing powerful.  7/7 first strike, trample, lifelink, to be specific. 

Alms of the Vein
This card is generally considered pretty bad, not good enough to justify it's place over some other card.  However, it does what I need it to do, which is gain 3 life, which will flip the Lone Rider.  This can happen on turn 3, right after the rider comes out.

Grotesque Mutation
This also can work to flip the Lone Rider.  It will gain you 3 life, and can protect the creature with a little bit of toughness.  I may just switch out the Alms for Mutation.  I do like that Alms has a madness cost, though I'm not sure that's a good enough reason.
The flavor on this card is better too, since the Lone rider actually does go through a mutation

Heir of Falkenrath
This card is really easy to transform, and its low mana cost means that it can flip the neglected heirloom quickly and consistently.  Discard effects sort of force madness cards into the deck, but there are a few good ones that synergize (alms, nearheath, murderous compulsion).  

Nearheath Chaplain
This card has 3 power and lifelink, which could easily trigger the flip for lone rider.  It also has the ability to exile from the graveyard and put two 1/1 flying spirits into play.  This is good for hte late game, because I can attach leftover equipment to them, which gives them a reasonable amount of power.  For this reason also, Nearheath Chaplain makes a good discard choice for Heir of Falkenrath.  

I'm still looking for an appropriate topper.  Considering Abundant Maw, which I can get out early by sacrificing a Twins of Maurer Estate, but that's not really a finisher, it's more of a quick-kill style that needs very specific circumstances to work. Also want to include Olivia's Dragoon, for repeatable discards, Slayers Plate is another good equipment, and Sigarda's Aid helps get that equipment out.   

Well, it was fun to talk about my deck ideas, and I realize how very very much detail there is when talking about Magic.  It pretty much forces the game to have an 'insider' quality. Unfortunately, I don't see any way around that.


Wednesday, September 7, 2016

MIDI Week Singles: "Darksiders Theme" - Darksiders (PC)

"Darksiders Theme" from Darksiders on PC, PS3, PS4, ,XB360, XBOne, Wii U, & Linux (2010)
Composer:  Mike Reagan & Chris Velasco
Developer: Vigil Games

Yet another game in a series that I have not played and until recently, had not listened to the soundtrack either.  I have the game on Steam too (Humble Bundle I believe) and all I can tell you about it is that there is something to do with either Death, a Reaper, or similar Horseman of the Apocalypse type character and that it involves a horse.  And maybe a big sword.  And now I can say it includes a bombastically large soundtrack complete with choir (which I typically consider to be a good thing).

It took me a bit to figure out what this piece (from about 53 seconds in) reminded me of, and it is Tyler Bates' score from 300 (2006), which was taken/borrowed from Elliot Goldenthall's score from Titus (1999); specifically "Returns a King" and "Victorious Titus" respectively.  Maybe this reminiscence just adds to the cinematic aspect of the song and now I have built up the game to be some mash up of the action from 300 coupled with a Shakespearean drama story (although I am not familiar with Shakespear's Titus Andronicus or know much about the historical figure). It probably helps that both Mike Reagan and Chris Velasco have written music for the God of War series (of which I have only played one title on the PSP).  Yeah, I think it is time I booted up that game, all due to the opening track being pretty damn awesome.


Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Monthly Update - September 2016

Hello Again,

A new month rolls in, and it's time to summarize the previous.  The only video game I'm playing these days is Super Mario Galaxy, which Jane and I are moving through at a steady pace.  It's a delightful game, with really great design and editing.  Most every piece seems to be put there intentionally, with no filler.  I'm glad we decided to play this game.

Other events in my life include my cat having dental surgery last week.  He had to have two teeth removes, as they had been going through a process called 'resorption' which is a painful process of flesh turning into bone.  No fooling.  So, out go the teeth, and what remains are some gaps in his gums, all sutured up.  I've had to feed him painkillers and squirt food out of his sockets.  He really doesn't like it.  The good news is that he's doing well, and in another week, should be good as new, and in less pain, so overall it's a good thing.  

Going back to a more technological subject, I bought myself a new phone and got a new phone service.  I picked up a Moto G3, the latest in the series from Motorolla.  It is a much, much better phone from my previous phone-- it is a delight to use.  Responsive, high resolution, devoid of bloatware, I couldn't ask for more.  Plus, I was able to sign up to Republic Wireless, which is a pretty inexpensive service.  I was already paying $25 for crappy service on Virgin Mobile (which I don't recommend) but now I'm paying $20 for 1GB data and much better service.  All in all, I am very happy with my cell-phone device and service choices.

I'm still playing lots of Magic: the Gathering, it occupies much of my idle thoughts.  I find it much easier to pull up Magic Online or to sort through my cards, than to do other things that I might do for entertainment, which includes video games, unfortunately, since there are many interesting ones out there.

That being said, I've been reading more lately, which is even easier than playing Magic.  I just read a comic called "Monstress" which was fantastic.  I also read "Zot!" volume 2, by Scott McCloud, one of my favorites.  And now I'm reading a novel by Haruki Murakami, called 1Q84.  So far, I really enjoy it, and I miss it when I'm not reading.  Unfortunately, the library copy I have is hardcover, and over 1000 pages, so I don't bring it to work with me.  Instead, I read a digital copy of 'A Storm of Swords' on my phone.  It's been fun re-reading the Song of Ice and Fire series in reverse order.  Definitely a lot of cool stuff happens in 'Storm,' and this time through I'm more patient, and really have been enjoying the incredibly detailed mythology.  Sooner or later, Jane and I will sign up for HBO Now and then I'll catch up on the TV series as well.

Speaking of Television, Jane and I just started watching 'Steven Universe.'  We had run out of Bob's Burgers episodes, and wanted something light.   Steven Universe is bright and colorful and short, and generally light, however, it also has some pretty sweet visual design and mythology.  I'm hooked.  The show is slowly unrolling its mythology, detail by detail, and Jane and I are already speculating and discussing what we know.  It comes across as a children's show, but is deceptively deep.  I recommend it to anyone with a deep appreciation for children's fantasy adventure cartoons.  

Well, this looks like a good stopping point.  It felt good to sit and write (when I was supposed to be working).  Got to grab that impulse while it's there!   As always, I want to write more, and I promise to try.


Monday, September 5, 2016

Game Review: Gunman Clive 2 (3DS)

It has been a while since I first started Gunman Clive 2 on the Nintendo 3DS, so it looks like it was sometime between January 29th, 2015 when it was first released in Nintendo's eShop and September 3rd, 2015 when it was ported to Steam.  But it was not until July 2016 that I finally got around to beating the final boss, which was a bit of a convoluted pain in the chaps.

Due to the length of time it took for me to complete this game, I am going to keep this review fairly short, or at least much shorter than my previous review of Bases Loaded and Mega Man 4.  Being the second game in the Gunman Clive franchise, there were some changes to the formula that was established, as well as the inclusion of a new playable character (whom I have played less than 10 minutes and I will get to why in a moment), but the gameplay is pretty much the same as it was before.

In GC2, you take on the roll of either Gunman Clive, Ms. Johnson, Chieftain Bob, or the Duck (of whom I have not played as yet).  Gunman Clive, Ms. Johnson, and the Duck all play the same as they did in the first game while Chieftain Bob attacks with a spear in melee only attacks.  So now you can see why I hardly spent much time with Bob in a game where I normally try and stay as far away as possible from the bosses.

A few noticeable changes from the first game is the inclusion of mounts in a handful of levels, and these are not optional mounts either, but required if you want to last more than 1.47 seconds into the level.  The most memorable (and flippen adorable), was the stage where you get to ride a panda bear.  And if the level were not so infuriating as you try to figure out how to get that damned panda to climb/scurry up buildings faster, there would be a lot more time spent ogling the that adorably chubby ursine.  And then there are the levels where you get to ride a Triceratops, a Pteranodon, and of course horses.  I very  much enjoyed the inclusion of these various species, especially since for the terrestrial mounts, they were not reskins of the same type of mechanic, but each operated in their own unique fashion.

The level design borrowed a fair from more recent 2D platformers such as Super Meat Boy,  Donkey Kong Countryand VVVVVV.  There was even an homage to Tetris in one of the levels, which was not too difficult to figure out (but the later part of the stage frequently killed me so I was forced to do the Tetris area more than a few times), which left me enough brain power to appreciate how the area was designed.  I recall there being a fair amount of homage throwing around going on, but not so much that I felt that I was playing every other "classic" game on the market and not Gunman Clive 2.

As stated in the games trailer, Gunman Clive 2 uses color a lot more than the first game did, although the rough sketch presentation of the game and its characters is still present, something that I very much enjoyed.  The 3D effects in the game are a bit more polished than the first game, but here I tended to have the 3D effect on only about 75% of the time, and had it turned off during the boss fights (more often than not) so that I could focus on not dying (see the next paragraph).  And lastly, I wanted to talk about the music, once again composed by Arne Hörberg, who also wrote the music for Gunman Clive 2.  All of the music here is still very much in the same vein as the first Gunman Clive (and the soundtrack still being only $1 is a flipping steal), even during the levels and stages that play as homages to other games.

Thinking back on how I played Gunman Clive 2, I spent a total of 3 hours 34 minutes (just four more minutes than the first Gunman Clive) and I found that I played for an average of 15 minutes each time I played.  However, I think that that average was brought down by some of the boss fights (The Top Hat Dandy Man, the Flying Death Copter turned Ballerina Mech, and the final boss, the Shadow of the Mechlosses) where I would attempt to beat them and then give up after maybe five minutes, which translates into maybe 10 tries.

So if well made action platformers with a western/sci-fi theme are your thing, I would recommend picking this up either through the Nintendo eShop, or through Steam if you do not have a 3DS or WiiU (for the Gunman Clive HD Collection).


Friday, September 2, 2016

Monthly Update: September 2016

Well, it's September.  It only seems like 30 days ago I was commenting on how surprised (and yet not) I was that it was August, and yet, here we are.

Looking back at August, I feel that most of my gaming time was spent playing either Fallout 3 and any one of its DLC packs (Broken Steel, The Pitt, and Point Lookout, although I still have a handful of sidequests left on the Maryland coast; actually, I probably still have some sidequests in the other DLC's as well and I haven't even started Mothership Zeta), Fallout New Vegas, which had its own ball of shit to deal with in the form of crashes (which will all be covered in a post later this month) due to common game bugs and the program apparently not happy with Windows 10.  

And speaking of Windows 10, any time I booted up Fallout 3, I was greeted with the following message to the right.  What is amusing first off, is that the Fallout 3 game is referred to as an "app," which is probably due to something in the Windows 10 language when referring to a program.  Then clicking the "Learn more" bit just downloads a Games For Windows - Live set up, which is doubly amusing since GFWL has been removed from a number of games on Steam, and the setup is basically the Windows Marketplace Client. This has also been the first instance that I personally have come across where Windows 10 has not liked something about a game that I have been able to play on previous versions of Windows.  I did have issues when I tried unsuccessfully to reinstall and run Diablo II, but colors started wigging the fuck out.  Warcraft I and II both did not like the attempt to be installed either; the last time I tried reinstalling Warcraft was on Windows XP, so I cannot comment if it would be without issues on either Windows 7 or 8.  But as I mentioned last month, Neverwinter Nights was able to be installed and ran perfectly.

Speaking of games not working (kind of), I also booted up Darkness Within: The Pursuit of Loath Nolder which I had been very excited to play, but there was one hitch.  I start the game, am greeted by a quote by H.P. Lovecraft (typically a good sign) and then notice that the mouse control was not inverted, which I was not surprised about.  Under the Options menu, I look through the Gameplay tab and do not see anything about "Invert-Y" or "Invert Mouse," so I look under "Advanced" and there is nothing.  I exited out of the game, checked the forums through Steam and apparently other people have been unable to find a way to invert the mouse/y-axis.  I then went looking for a config text file (where I know under some circumstances, altering the text can lead to inverting the mouse (which worked well for System Shock), but I could not find the correct file, only a very limited windowed application.  This has lead me to determine that the game is stuck in standard/normal/nigh-on-ass-difficult-for-me-to-play controls.  I may give it a go, but if it is anything more than Dear Esther and requires me to look around faster than my abilities on a Saturday night with a head full of NyQuil, then back into the unplayed vault it will go.  I also dipped a bit into The Hat Man: Shadow Ward  which I played for about 40 minutes and will probably garner a short Game Review article later in the month.  Or maybe next Friday.

In the world of the 3DS, I have been playing a lot of Pokémon Picross seeing as how I spent the better part of the month saving my picrites up to buy that damned "Mega Pencil," which thankfully has infinite uses and isn't a one-off item.  Now it's off to the earlier stages to do all of the puzzles that require the Pencil as well as redo the puzzles that require a mega evolved Pokémon.  And speaking of Pokémon, I was finally able to start Pokémon GO all with super much thanks to Breiber (for lack of a better name at the moment, which is his Gnome Bard character in our D&D group) who gave me an older (but new for me) phone that is capable of playing the hardware restrictive game.  I have not been walking around as much as the Internets would have had me believe, but that could also just be that I am a bit of a homebody who does not need to thrive on social and outside interactions.  So yeah, team Red (Valor apparently), which actually stems from the fact that I got Pokémon Red when The Kid and I first got the game back in 1998 or '99.

Lastly, I wanted to comment that I felt I did a pretty decent dent in the posts I listed last month that I said I wanted to talk about during August.  I had an article written about Gunman Clive 2 at about the 80% mark that should have gone up on Monday, but that will now have to wait until. . .Monday after all, just a week late.  And no list this month, because I'm currently sitting on a couch bent over so my gut's resting on my lap and I believe I've covered everything that I think I want to have covered.  

So let's plan on all of that then.

"Well Fuck Him Then."