Steam Rollin’

So, fellow Backloggery member LordoftheReDead started a ‘Recommendation Rotation’ and asked people to recommend games for him to play… and I decided to steal his idea!

…Well, kind of.  When I look at my hulking backlog, I see one section that stands out as uncontrollably bad… and that’s my Steam games.  At the moment, I have one hundred and twenty one unbeaten games in the category… that’s a fourth of my backlog right there!  So, I had people from around the internet pick up to three unfinished, beatable games from my Steam list, and the list below is the result of that list.  I’ll throw them all in a randomizer (the games with more than recommendation get an extra number/tally), and I’ll play whatever game the program gives me!

Because of the games chosen, I’ve decided to allow myself two rules:

  • The long RPG rule – for any game longer than twenty-five hours (that’s probably only RPGs), if I feel I need a break, I can run the randomizer again and have another game under the twenty-five hour threshold to play alongside it.  I must beat both before moving on.
  • The rougelike rule – Rougelikes are a genre I’m pretty much terrible at, and a genre that can frustrate me easily.  As such, when one of the rougelikes come up on the randomizer, I can play another game of my choice alongside it.  I must beat both before moving on.

Finally, here’s the game recommendations!

Cave Story + [Info]
“Something Something you should play Cave Story because it’s a classic something something.”
Portal 2 [Info] [Post]
“But yeah, Portal 2 is a recommendation without hesitation. I wasn’t as awe-inspired as most were by the original but I think 2 was great.”
NyxQuest [Info]
“NyxQuest I’d recommend if you could possibly emulate the Wii control scheme (if that’s possible? I don’t know PC nowadays) otherwise the slow-pace may not be as engaging, but it’s a good relaxing puzzle game.”

Portal 2 [see above; +1]
“I’ll go on and politely demand that you include Portal 2. It is very funny, has good puzzles with a difficulty that isn’t too easy or too hard so that you feel like a genius just often enough, mechanics are a lot of fun to play with. Also, co-op is a good time.”
Neverwinter Nights 2: Platinum [Info]
“I’m a huge fan of the DnD video games. This one offers excellent DnD role-playing, lots of adventure and treasure, intriguing storyline, likeable sidekicks. If you liked the first NWN, this one is even better.”
The Witcher [Info]
“It is wonderfully gritty, has a really cool and developed world, thanks to the novels its based on. I remember you have to deal with some gray moral choices, and the game does a good job of not being all ‘good vs. evil’ on you. There were also a handful of parts where you could change some story outcomes. I really liked the story too.”

Ys Origin [Info]
Half Minute Hero: Super Mega Neo Climax Ultimate Boy [Info]
Awesomenauts [Info]

Portal 2 [see above; +2]
Recettear: An Item Shop’s Tale [Info]
“Judging from the picture on the backloggery site you like anime, so I assume you’d get a kick out of this fine little game”
The Binding of Issac [Info]
“It’s such an addicting game. A single completion may only take you a few hours, but multiple completions expand the game and there’s so much random variety it never feels the same.”

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City [Info]
Torchlight [Info] [First Impressions]
Crysis [Info]

The Longest Journey [Info]
“An adventure that features very interesting story and characters. I very easily felt in love with this game.”
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic [Info]
“Seriously, finish the game. What’s wrong with you? And me?!”
Grand Theft Auto: Vice City [see above; +1]
“Ah, such a good game. For me this is the best GTA to date. It had the best feeling and setting of them all. And the story is not bad. Very Scarface influential, if you have seen the movie and like it, you will enjoy the game also.”

Legend of Grimrock [Info]
Magicka [Info]
The Longest Journey [see above; +1]

Cave Story + [See above; +1]
“OH YES YES YES. I have had this game for the longest time now, and over the summer my internet was out one day. I happened to have Steam already on, so I glanced through my library for something to play. I had heard that Cave Story was pretty awesome, so I picked this and started playing. A few days later, and I was done, exhausted, but in love. There’s probably nothing to dislike about this game, truly. The story is dark (and kinda sad actually), the characters are amusing and very likeable, the pixel art is glorious, and the music…….oh, the music! So good! ^_^”
Dungeons of Dredmor [Info]
“Woo! The most punishing and yet amazing game ever. You will die. A lot. Make sure to play on Dwarven Moderation or higher (WITH PERMADEATH) for some fun times. Lots of references to all sorts of things (with probably the funniest one being to A Game of Thrones/A Song of Ice and Fire), some crazy items, and just overall very enjoyable dungeon crawling goodness. If you can stand Dredmor (the guy, not the game’s endless supply of diggles being thrown at you) you’ll probably like this game a lot like I did. Just be warned that it’s hard if I hadn’t already said that. ;D”
Q.U.B.E. [Info] [NOTE: Because this game causes me motion sickness, I’m unable to play it. Sorry!]
“A weird game, with no story whatsoever (besides a strange and yet cool ending), but some really cool puzzles. A bit like Portal but also not like Portal. It’s based on manipulating different colored tiles if I were to describe it somehow. Really great progression of difficulty too! :)”

FTL: Faster Than Light [Info]
“Bah, reasons…pfft! :p”

Hotline Miami [Info]
“Saw thread title, quickly ran down your list in search of Hotline Miami … Now insisting you play Hotline Miami.”

Half Minute Hero: Super Mega Neo Climax Ultimate Boy [see above; +1]
Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet [Info]
“I thought this was going to be tough, but then I saw these gems on your unfinished list.  All three of these games are excellent and completely different from each other gameplay-wise.”

Legend of Grimlock [see above; +1]
“ROCKS!!! :)”
Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee [Info]
Binding of Issac [see above; +1]

Jason Clement
Cave Story + [see above; +2]
“That was one of my favorite (originally) Wiiware titles, and I highly recommend it if you like Metroidvania games. :)”

BIT.TRIP RUNNER [see above; +1]
“Just because its a blast to play…not a major challenge or anything though.”
Jade Empire [Info]
“One of my all-time favorite games from BioWare.  If you have any interest in ancient China, you will love this game.  It’s a lot like Knights of the Old Republic, but maybe even better.”
Sacred 2: Fallen Angel [Info]
“I played several hundred hours of this game and it was enjoyable.  If you don’t have a ton of time, skip this game for now because it takes a lot of time to get places in the game.  It’s a great time killing game…very addictive.”

Shadowgrounds: Survivor [Info]
“It’s a top down shooter that’s pretty fun. It’s got a somewhat horror vibe going for it and tons of things to shoot. Should take you 5-6 hours to beat.
Crysis [see above; +1]
“Pretty, and the game play has a lot of freedom. Switching between the different modes on the nanosuit opens so many fun options. Shouldn’t take you longer then 10 hours to beat.”
Hard Reset [Info]
“If you’re familiar with Painkiller it’s in the same style of gameplay, though more story driven. Kiwi doesn’t know how long it is (a dog broke the hard drive it was installed on and Kiwi never got back ’round to going through it again)”

Stars Wars: Knights of the Old Republic [see above; +1]
Jade Empire [see above; +1]
“Because BioWare”
Torchlight [see above; +1]
“Because it’s the best Diablo-like game in a long time.”

The Longest Journey [see above; +2]
Machinarium [Info]

Marcus Estrada
The Longest Journey [see above; +3]
“Because it’s good :). Well, I think it is a really nice modern point and click adventure game and for the most part it doesn’t make you grasp at straws to figure out what to do.”

The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition [Info]
Machinarium [see above; +1]
Ys Origin [see above; +1]
“Two great adventure games and a super fun action RPG. ;)”

Cave Story + [see above; +3]
Grand Theft Auto: Vice City [see above; +2]
The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition [see above; +1]

Costume Quest [Info] [Post]
“Play Costume Quest, as you can complete it in a single evening.
Grand Theft Auto: Vice City [see above; +3]
“Play GTA Vice City in celebration of its 10 year anniversary which is happening RIGHT NOW.”

Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath HD [Info]
Torchlight [see above; +2]
“Fun Diablo/Bastion style game….if you’ve played D3 or Bastion and are tired of those kind of games its skip-able but should def go back and play sometime.”

Legend of Grimlock [see above; +2]
“This game came out of nowhere for me but it is fantastic. I’m a big RPG fan, but I’d never played one of this type (the dungeon master-esc type) and I loved it. I’m eagerly awaiting a sequel or expansion, really ANYTHING more. This is, no kidding, my GOTY for 2012. Can’t really recommend this enough to fellow RPG fans (and your completed list leads me to believe you are one).”
Portal 2 [see above; +3]
“Expands on everything that made portal great. One of the few series that actually make me laugh.”
Worms Reloaded [Info]
“This depends on a few things. If you’ve already played Worms before, then there isn’t much of a rush (it is still worms) and whether you have others to play with or not. But Worms is a fun party game or for just playing with one other person.”

Capsized [Info]
“A pretty 2D platformer game with cool weapons and enemies and harder levels the deeper in you go.”
Aquaria [Info]
“A very pretty 2D open world game with beautiful visuals and music plus an amazing story narrator that pulls you into the story and world. This is a massive world to explore so it could take you a while to beat.”

Vampire: the Masquerade – Bloodlines [Info]
“The story’s amazing, and the choices you can make are the stuff that Mass Effect wants to be; they really make an impact on the world. Speaking of, the atmosphere is great… you’ll fall in love with the world and its inhabitants.”
Costume Quest [see above; +1]
“I know you like Double Fine, from how much you like Psychonauts, so this is a good choice to play. It’s a dark game, but the candy-coated atmosphere plays off it well. And hey, it has a class system too!”
Just Cause 2 [Info]
“JUST CUZ’ B) (two)”

Hack, Slash, Loot [Info]
“Hack Slash Loot sucks, so play that for like… 20 minutes, hate it, and call it complete. That’s a quick game down.”
A Valley Without Wind [Info]
“A Valley Without Wind is… kinda dull, but if you start it up, give me a yell. I’ll play with you. It’s perfectly playable at the very least.”
The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition [see above; +2]
“They’ll be quick simple games that’ll be worth a laugh.

Machinarium [see above; +2]
Portal 2 [see above; +4]

Of course, since I need to write more, I’ll write a post about them when I beat them.  Keep an eye out!

Wii Want 2 Play w/ U

As you all know, the Wii U came out recently. The successor to the casual gaming hit Wii, a lot of questions linger in the gamers’ minds… Is the GamePad useful in the games? Will third parties support it? Will lightning strike twice?

…I don’t really have the answers to those questions, but I can tell you one thing: The hardware sure is fun to play with.

Getting the system set up is pretty easily. All of the wires and pieces are either clearly labeled or clearly explained in the instructions. In fact, all of the instructions are easy to follow, making it easy for those that don’t have much experience setting consoles up to be able to put together.

All the accessories that come with the Wii U are nice, too. The holder/charger is my favorite piece: If you want to set it up, you can charge the GamePad and keep it upright at the same time. You don’t need to use it, either, and can just use the regular stand and plug the wire at the top for the GamePad to charge.

Speaking of the GamePad, it’s remarkably light. I have small hands, and I find it easy to hold and control the action on the pad’s screen, although sometimes I lose my grip a little and I can’t hold it straight. Also of note is that the GamePad needs to be charged via AC; unlike the 360 and PS3, you can’t plug it into the system. This can be either great or terrible, depending on if you have outlets available, but it didn’t affect me in any way.

After getting it set up, I finally get to turn on the system. The console slowly takes you through the steps of setting up the system, setting the GamePad to be used as an alternate remote control, and after the infamously long update, make a Nintendo Network ID. The process is simple: You create a Mii (or import one from the 3DS or a QR Code), input some information, and NIntendo sends you a confirmation code via e-mail that you input later. You can create multiple accounts, which helps to keep settings and save files separate. Although I can’t test it myself yet, it’s assumed that all accounts can access any downloadable game on the console.

Okay, now to the real fun. We have the console updated, and an ID created, and now we can actually play on the Wii U. The first thing you’ll notice is the Miis swarming your screen. The Miis say things, or show off pictures… and this is the Miiverse at work, which I’ll get to in a bit.

On the GamePad screen are the various functions, apps, and downloadable games, styled similar to the 3DS. You can click on the icon to start the application, or hold on it for a second or two to be able to organize them. It’s simple enough. At the very bottom, outside of the boxes are the functions that Nintendo deemed most important for the system, including Notifications, TVii, and more… and this includes Miiverse.

Miiverse is a truly wondrous thing. People can post short comments, screenshots, or hand-drawn pictures on various little ‘communities’ (there’s a community for each game and app). These Twitter-like posts can be seen by the world, and you can ‘Yeah!’ them (Miiverse’s equivalent to liking). You can follow people whose posts you like, as well as easily see your friends’ posts. It’s remarkably easy to waste a lot of time in Miiverse, looking at peoples masterpieces and comments, checking in on what your friends think of the games they’re playing, and posting your own comments. A lot of people are constantly posting, too, so Miiverse isn’t likely to become stagnant in a while.

The best thing about Miiverse is that you can post things while you’re actually in a game. Unlike the 3DS, which can’t multitask, you can stop in the middle of a Wii U game and post about it in the Miiverse right then and there. This usually gets it tagged with the area/level you’re in, and you can even post a screenshot with your comment. Making the application so accessible makes it worthwhile to actually use for your little gaming quips.

Another application that was important to me was the Wii Channel. You can’t simply put in a Wii game and start playing from there; you have to launch the Wii Channel first. The Wii Channel is basically a Wii emulator. When you launch it, you’re taken to a Wii menu, complete with some basic channels and the data transfer channel, so you can transfer all your Wii data up. From here, you can launch any Wii games, in addition to any Virtual Console and WiiWare games. It’s important to note that the Wii Shop is not integrated into the Wii U’s eShop, so if you want a VC or WiiWare game on the system (that you’re not transferring), not only will you have to go into the Wii Channel to get it, but you’ll need Wii Points to buy it. This is a little annoying, considering that the eShop simply uses money for their transactions. You also can’t make it so that the WiiWare and VC games able to launch from the Wii U menu, so that’s an added annoyance. However, it could be far worse, and there could always be updates in the future to make the Wii Channel more streamlined.

As for the eShop itself, it’s really easy to navigate. Anyone that has tried to find stuff in any of Nintendo’s past stores will know that it’s a massive pain to navigate, but this one is different. The eShop separates full and indie games clearly, as well as easily providing information about the games at hand. I haven’t quite figured out how to add a game to my wishlist, though…

So, to put it bluntly, the Wii U’s pretty awesome. I wasn’t able to check out all the functions (I don’t have any TV/movie watching services at the moment, and I’ve yet to play an actual game), but it seems Nintendo really stepped up their game. The interface is easy and fun to use, there’s no more tedious Friend Codes to remember, and it’s easy to hold the seemingly over-sized GamePad in your hand. Of course, great hardware has to be backed up by great software in order to really succeed, and that’s something Nintendo will have to show in the coming months in order for the Wii U to flourish. The Wii U does have a solid grounding in its hardware, however, so here’s to hoping that the system has the chance to succeed.

What do you think of the Wii U thus far, from your own experiences or others’ opinions? Awesome? A failure to be? Only caring about how the games themselves play? Let me know in the comments!

Backloggery Game Club – Metal Gear Solid 2

[The Backloggery Game Club selection for November 2012 was Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, the 2001 sequel to the PS1 classic.  It’s a well-received game and a great sequel, though certain aspects (or rather, characters) make fans a little less than happy with it.
I myself played the original Metal Gear Solid 2 back in 2006, and while I was terrible at it, I found it quite the enjoyable experience, even if the story got a little incomprehensible near the end.  Now, over six years later, I’m tackling the game again, hoping to remember plot intricacies and trying out the ‘Substance’ version.  This is my very in-depth, spoiler filled chronicles.  If you’re looking for something spoiler-free and more concise, go ahead and click me.  Now, let’s get to good stuff!]

For this playthrough, I decided to play on Very Easy mode.  Many gamers will shake their heads at me in shame, but here me out.  I’ve never been good at stealth games, and MGS2’s somewhat complicated control scheme make me even less confident at my abilities.  I wanted to make sure I had fun with this playthrough, and it not feel like a slog, so I figured going for the easiest mode was my safest bet.

Of course, I decide to play both the Tanker and Plant missions.  The Plant mission is the main game, of course, but the Tanker mission provides both the opportunity to learn the controls and to play as Snake… and how could I pass that up?

The game starts with a nice CG scene, and gets wordy for quite a bit afterwards.  I’m not going to go into it, since it’s quite the information dump. So, right before Snake starts his reconnaissance mission, however, the party’s crashed by soldiers attacking and quietly taking over the ship.  After more chit-chat, it’s figured that they are Russian soldiers.

Finally, I gain control and can begin the game for real.  Such lengthy expositions could bother some, but I play JRPGs, so I have no problem with it (yet).  Anyway, the game explains a few controls, but it’s better to check the game’s controls area in the main menu to figure out the more advanced maneuvers.  I struggled with the controls for a bit, but not as long as I thought I would be.  Soon enough, I snuck up on the first soldier and held him up.  It took a couple more tries to not tranq the man immediately, but I finally got a dog tag from him… and so begun the insanity.  I never tried for (or didn’t know about) dog tags the first time through, so I figured this would be a fun thing to do.  I’m certainly not going to get every tag I can, and I won’t put myself in danger, but I want to see how many I’ll get.

Anyway, the tanker mission is a pretty quick, linear area; perfect for learning the game’s controls and to learns the tricks of stealth.  My first death resulted in running haphazardly into a bomb after being told NOT to run into it, so it was a quick lesson learned.  Olga was also a kind of annoying boss fight, but I got through it with time.  Eventually, I get to the part where you have to sneak past a bunch of soldiers listening to a speech on a time limit.  I failed many times, mainly because I was too hasty, but I got through it was it being too painful.  Unfortunately, I missed out on seeing the Marines in underwear, or so my roommate tells me.

Before beginning the ever-important mission of taking pictures of a giant robot, however, I uploaded the pictures I took throughout my tour of the tanker to Otacon.  He was mainly unresponsive, though that picture I took of the woman excited him.  He was… less than happy about the muscle man, though.  After getting the pictures, though, the story got pretty crazy:  Ocelot did his whole usual “I betray everyone!” ordeal, steals the new Metal Gear model… then his arm gets funny.  Of course, in the first game Ocelot lost his arm, so him having two again was a little weird… but it’s even weirder that it’s Liquid Snake’s arm, and that the arm starts possessing him.  Anyway, Ocelot (or Liquid, or Liquid Ocelot) steals the Gear and leaves the Tanker, and Snake, to sink.

The game shifts forward two years, with the familiar voice of the Colonel giving Snake his mission objective:  The terrorist group Dead Cell has taken over the clean-up facility Big Shell, and Snake has to neutralize the threat.  Snake sounds… a little off, however.  Almost like someone trying to imitate the man… which was the case, as when the Colonel alerts Snake of his codename change, the voice almost sounds… whinier.

So, Raiden.  Oh, Raiden.  I… don’t mind him too much, really, but I can understand the outcry.  The game gives very little indication of this new character at all, let alone that you’re going to play through the bulk of the game as him.  He’s a stark contrast to Snake: A rookie (though he’s had TONS of VR training, whoop-de-do) pretty boy, he really doesn’t stand up to the badass that is Solid Snake.

The game then spends a fair amount of time introducing characters.  Rose is Raiden’s girlfriend that pretty much nags and brings up relationship issues in the middle of this important mission, and the so-obviously-not-Snake Pliskin is a man with a few secrets of his sleeves (not of them being him being Snake, of course).  The members of Dead Cell are… odd, to say the least, much like the members of FOXHOUND once were.

Eventually, I get to the point where you have to diffuse bombs.  I suppose it’s a decent way to make someone go to all the struts and possibly collect goodies, but I found it tedious, especially since after every other bomb there’s another scene from Peter Stillman about the damn things.  Eventually, though, there’s a point where it’s revealed that the bombs were decoys and that the real bomb is elsewhere, and Stillman sacrifices himself to stop the explosion from destroying Big Shell.  While honorable and a way for the man to repent for his past sins, I cannot completely understand why he had to die, as the second bomb in the set was easily neutralized with the coolant.  Maybe I misunderstood something.

So then Fatman plants yet another bomb and you have a limited time to get to him… but first you have to ‘fight’ Fortune.  She’s known by that name, and also ‘Lady Luck’ because no bullet can ever hit her.  Basically you get to run around for a couple minutes trying not to get killed until Vamp shows up.  Raiden ‘kills’ Vamp with a bullet that ricocheted from Fortune’s… anti-bullet field or whatever it is, but the player quickly learns that Vamp NEVER dies… and is a massive pain in the ass.

Back to Fatman, once you get to him he’s the game’s first real boss.  This is the first time I notice that my aim and general playstyle is a lot calmer than the last time I played a Metal Gear Solid game.  My skills are nothing to really brag about, but it’s leagues better than how I used to play.  Considering that, I was able to tranq Fatman to death easily enough.

After that, it’s time to infiltrate the core of Shell 1 to find Ames.  The cyborg ninja gave me the outfit, but I have to find a certain gum myself, which is far from difficult.  The hard part is figuring out who Ames is–luckily, I found the man with the first man I used the directional mic on.  After more cutscenes, Ames dies (of a heart attack, how familar), Ocelot discovers and almost kills Raiden, but the ninja saves the day and I waltz away unharmed.

And… I almost forgot what happened after that.  We meet Solidus for the first time, who seems to recognize Raiden, and also identifies Pliskin as Solid Snake (le gasp), then I fight a plane.  Then I save the President, who grabs Raiden’s junk and is surprise that he’s a man, gives us information and then gets killed.  More cutscenes happen, eventually the player learns that Big Shell is only a front for Arsenal Gear, a huge Gear that houses a lot of weapons and the Patriots’ AI or something, and Otacon (who was introduced a little earlier) reveals that his sister is needed to stop the Gear from activating.  To be honest, a lot of this became a blur, as the info dumps happened often and the information was hard to piece together.  It’s fairly obvious from the start that something’s fishy about the mission, but it’s at this point that things are barely starting to reveal themselves.

So, getting to Emma (Otacon’s sister) is a problem, seeing as the bottom of Shell 2 is flooded from the explosion from earlier.  This introduces swimming to the game… while not terrible, I had a lot of trouble swimming through tight areas, which made things all the more stressful when taking Emma back through the area.  Otacon reveals that she’s been afraid of water ever since she almost drowned (reasonable enough), but that makes taking her through the flooded area less than easy.  Emma herself is a nice enough girl… even if she follows in her brother’s footsteps a little too closely for comfort (peeing herself, wearing glasses when she doesn’t need them, and other stuff).

Let me pause for a minute here to just emphasize my hate for Rose.  Really now, all of the conversations between her and Raiden talk about their relationship… and the poor guy has to deal with it all in the middle of a very important, possibly world-changing mission.  It all comes to a head when Raiden is escorting Emma, with Rose getting more than a little jealous of the weapons specialist.  The girl’s afraid of water and was injected with something that numbed her legs, and Rose is going to get upset that Raiden holds her hand to guide her along?  I don’t really feel any sympathy for Rose here.

Back to the story, we learn a little about Emma and the GW AI that she built, but it’s really more important to get her to the computer room to stop Arsenal Gear, since Otacon can’t break through the system.  After sniping enemies so Emma can cross an unstable bridge, Vamp in his annoying immortality appears and starts choking the poor girl.  After pumping even more lead (or tranquilizers) into the guy, he falls and stabs Emma.  Obviously not being as badass as our heroes, she’s not going to live, but she does make it long enough to install the virus into the AI… even if it only gets to 90%.  Emma’s death is really quite heartbreaking, and especially so when Otacon doesn’t honor the girl’s final wish until it’s too late.  However, there’s little time for grief, as the Big Shell is sinking with the activation of Arsenal Gear, and the hostages from earlier still need saving.

Otacon goes to save the hostages while Raiden and Snake figure out how to get into Arsenal Gear.  This is a great time to reveal that the ninja helping out Raiden this whole time was Olga, and… well, Snake may not actually be on Raiden’s side.  When Raiden comes to, he’s in the enemy’s hands, and Solidus reveals to the imprisoned man his forgotten past:  That he was actually a child soldier, and apparently one of the best, too.  The details are pretty gruesome, and the conversation with Rose afterwards is rife with emotion.  The twist is pretty surprising, and acted out well.  You can’t help to feel the intensity of the whole scene.

Of course, then you traipse around arsenal Gear naked while the Colonel calls with utter nonsense every five seconds to equal out the seriousness.

After meeting back up with Snake, I finally get to the final push.  It’s revealed that Rose is pregnant and a spy, the Colonel’s just part of the GW AI, and about five or six revelations that cancel the previous twist out.  You get to fight alongside Snake, which would have been cooler had I actually used my sword and Snake wasn’t such a good shot.  You can to fight a bunch of Metal Gear RAYs at the same time, which was pretty epic, Fortune runs out of luck (but not without using some psychic powers), and everything was just a test by the Patriots, those that rule everything behind the scenes of America.  I’ll admit I didn’t understand everything my first time through, and on the replay I caught on to a lot more, though I still feel I missed some things.

All of this accumulates to a final sword fight with Solidus.  It’s pretty epic… well, if I was using the sword.  I wasn’t going to have a single death on my record, dammit, even if it meant punching Solidus to death.  The ending was pretty neat, and dropped a pretty big bombshell after the credits rolled.


Playing through the game in general, I think I should have played on a higher difficulty mode.  I was terrible at this game when I first played it, but I guess I’m good enough at games in general that I probably could play through the game well enough on Easy mode… or if I’m ambitious Normal mode.  I spent the majority of the game being haphazard during gunfights and boss battles, which is something that a stealth game doesn’t really promote.  Still, I was able to fully enjoy the game, so it was still worth playing for me.  All the neat secrets are fun to find, too, and playing on a easier difficulty allows me to explore and see a lot of them.

Stat wise, in the twelve hours I played, I never killed a single guy, earning me the ‘Pigeon’ codename.  I got about twenty dogtags, which isn’t much, but it’s a nice start to a collection I’ll probably never complete.  I didn’t get a bandanna or anything, though.  No infinite ammo for me I guess.

I’m surprised with how well the game’s held up, really.  While it’s ten years old, I didn’t really feel it was that dated.  I had a good time remembering this and that and being surprised at what I didn’t remember, too.  Metal Gear Solid 3 is still my favorite of the series, but Sons of Liberty is no means a bad game.  A great first month for the Backloggery Game Club!

A-Z Challenge: Wizorb

Wizorb is an interesting little game.  While it’s a block breaking game like the famous Break Out, it does something few games in the genre try to do… and that’s change up the formula.  Wizorb is something you haven’t played before, and it’s the unique features and charm that makes the game what it is.

First off, there’s a story.  An evil ‘presence’ threatens the land, and only the wizard Cyrus, with the power of the magic Wizorb, can defeat him.  It’s pretty barebones, but for the genre, it’s pretty surprising.  You’ll go through various levels, with the typical RPG themes like a forest, volcano, and so on, breaking blocks and defeating enemies.  Every level leads to a final boss stage, where you have to dodge the monster’s attacks and hit the moving foe and knock their health to zero.  It’s all very exciting, and with the colorful pixelated graphics, it’s a joy to look at, as well.

Another aspect of the game is rebuilding the town of Tarot, which you find destroyed at the beginning of the game.  Your score helps you get more money, and the money you use to help rebuild the town.  This will get you various rewards, such as extra lives, a shop to visit, or just the fuzzy feeling inside for helping a (virtual) person out.  There’s also a fair amount of secrets in the game, and trying to give enough money for a certain, expensive object will give a lot of replayability.

Wizorb is such a treat to play through; sometimes the stages can get a little tough, but it’s worth soldiering through just to enjoy the rest of the game.  With so much to see and do, it’s really one of the games I’ve enjoyed the most so far in my challenge.

A-Z Challenge – Ys II

Ys is a series that I absolutely love.  Its something about the fast-paced, fun (and difficult) action RPGs that keep me coming back for more… even when the formula’s been changed up.  The series has indeed had some changes that, while minor seeming, mix up how the games are played, the most recent of the addition of party members.  With the series evolving over time, is it still fun to play earlier entries in the Ys series?

Ys II is a direct sequel of Ys I, and you have to play the first one to understand why on earth you’re on a floating island, and other plot points.  Therefore, I won’t go into the story here, but it’s overall a good plot for a game of its time.  On the prequel, Ys I is a short adventure, but it hasn’t aged too well… while the first and second have the same general mechanics, II adds magic and other things to spice the game up a bit, making it the better game by far.  Still, it’s worth the six hours or so to get to the second game.

Fighting is a simple procedure:  Ram into the enemy until one of you falls.  There’s no attack button… you literally run into the enemy to do damage.  There is a trick, though; you have to hit the enemy not dead center, but a bit to the side, to avoid taking damage yourself.  It’s simple, and once you get used to it, it’s a joy to seemingly run recklessly into enemies and watching them fall under your blade.  However, if simply attacking at a break-neck fast pace isn’t enough, there are also magic spells to collect and use that add a bit of fun.  Just don’t accidentally set the townspeople on fire.

Ys II is a bit longer than the first game, and also much more difficult.  The addition of the magic spells make it so you can have actual strategies while fighting, instead of having to grind to just the right level or find the next equipment upgrade.  The game has no qualms about beating the crap out of you within seconds, but it’s what can make the game the most fun, as you can always expect a challenge.  Despite the changes over the years, at least this Ys game is still worth a try.

A-Z Challenge – Rune Factory: Tides of Destiny

The Rune Factory series is a bit of an oddball.  A spin-off of Harvest Moon, you get a fantasy-eque, story driven game… but filled with all the farming and relationship building of the mother series.  The nice blend of dungeon exploring and plant growing make it easy to see how the spin-off became popular.  Eventually, the Rune Factory series came out with games that weren’t part of its main series.  The first was Rune Factory: Frontier, and the second… well, was this game.

For a sub series that deviates from the core franchise, Tides of Destiny diverges even further.  The game is much more story based:  I won’t go into specifics, but you’re given a clear goal and are given story quests to constantly work towards that goal.  While all of the Harvest Moon/Rune Factory games have a ‘winning’ point, few make it so obvious than Tides of Destiny.

Also, something that many fans might be disappointed in… there’s no actual farming.  Sure, you can grow crops and whatnot, but the extent of you doing that is waving a wand to create seedlings.  The rest, you make monsters do… you can recruit monsters to grow crops (what kind you get depends on the monster and its happiness), harvest them, and provide materials themselves (such as milk, wool, and… ore, oddly enough). It’s certainly a change from the other games, and one that not everyone’s going to like.

Tides of Destiny focuses way more on dungeon exploring and fighting, and that’s what you’ll be spending the most time with.  There are a lot of islands to explore, with materials and treasures to get, and the action-based fighting does pretty well.  Weapons can feel a little unbalanced (magic can wreck a lot of enemies easily… and the extra stamina use is worth it), and a couple times the game can throw you into a frustrating situation, but once you get the hang of it fighting as fun and fast paced.

This Rune Factory entry is a long one… it took me about 80 hours to get through the main story, though I had a lot of trouble tripping an event flag and 20 hours was spent trying to do that.  It’s unfortunate, because you can’t start dating or even choose your gender until after that point–for reasons that make sense, of course, but it’s still a bit of a downer.  For my first time into the entire series, I found the game fun and addicting (except for that 20 hour period above), but I can see how fans and veterans of the series would be less than happy with the entry.  It seems to be a ‘love it or hate it’ sort of game.