Games You Played Today: Actress Again: Current Code (Part 1)

I highly hope that’s actually a joke and not a bug and you’re supposed to get the star with the vanish cap or something

I’d considered that and will report back if you’re right! The Chain Chomp kinda flails around differently each time, doesn’t always hit the wall but…there is a switch on a platform above the star. Maybe that’s it? If it is a joke, I admit it’s kind of a good joke.

dragon warrior 2 is like. really good.

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no spoilers before March

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in japan it’s actually called dargon warrior 4

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What do you like about it? I enjoyed the beginning of the game where you learn about the characters. It’s pretty funny! But the dungeons start to feel really cruel at a certain point.

played the first chapter of gabriel knight 2, the FMV one, which is an interesting case study in how vgame screens are “read” - like every screenshot i’ve seen of it somehow looked both boring and grotesque at the same time but ingame it sort of works, because you’re looking at everything in this very fragmented way anyway? convinced me i need to try the tex murphy games later at least.

i was expecting to miss the lovely pixel art of the original but it turns out the new style does have some distinct pleasures of its own. i enjoyed seeing doofy live-action hunk gabriel knight wandering around annoying authentically cranky-seeming germans while making this stupid face

image

one accidental side quality of the photo graphics is that it makes pixel hunts more difficult since i guess real life has no obligation to be readable. i got stuck for a while on a puzzle which depends on you realising you can click on one particular dark blur on someone’s desk that turns out to be a walkie-talkie.

anyway the werewolf stuff isn’t too exciting so far but i do like the fish out of water aspect of the plot and the way the adventure game structure turns out to play well with the situation of living somewhere without knowing the language. will keep playing while trying to forget i’ve just noticed he looks exactly like one of the lesser kennedys.

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Hotshot Racing: a slight, undemanding Greatest Hits of Model 1 Racers that feels like a visual presentation of the early 90’s unless tuning the difficulty to Expert. The AI rubber-banding brings a shallow sense of competition and makes placing 1st less of a fist pump and more of a ‘I win, I suppose…’

The key to getting the most out of the experience is to nitro boost while drifting for more nitro (gained through drifting) however the corners, as with the tracks in general, are far too wide to ever give a sense of skill or accomplishment

The characters and collectible vehicle skins are pure fluff and add nothing of value

Yakuza 0: walked into a Don Quijote and was transported 15 years into the past from the same song playing on the store radio in my aborted Yakuza experience on the PS2. I don’t know if I’m curious enough to stick with it but I might give it more time than a couple of hours

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I picked up Inertial Drift since I’m on a really crazy racing game kick lately. It’s a lot of fun! It got me because of the review blurbs that compare it to Ridge Racer 4 but it’s got it’s own unique thing going on. The menus are stylish for sure, it’s got a future 90’s vibe going for it which may or may not work for you. Multiple story modes (might be where the RR4 comparison comes from the most) but the main gimmick is it’s a twin-stick drifter; i.e., you steer (barely tbh) with the left stick but the right stick controls your drifting. It works surprisingly well! It’s very arcadey of course, the twin-stick thing makes it feel even more videogamey than Ridge Racer but it’s a lot of fun. All of the cars feel unique to control. Definitely recommend!

I also dipped into Tokyo Xtreme Racer Drift 2 which is also very stylish and cool in a way that’s quite a step above, say, Xtreme Racer Zero. It’s also significantly harder. While Inertial Drift above plops you in a tutorial and makes drifting as easy as can be, Drift 2 offers zero assistance in this regard and Drifting is really damn difficult. I could also see it being extra rewarding so I’m gonna try to stick with it. What’s really cool is there’s a day/night system where during the day you do sponsored events, hit up the shops, check your email and BBS (it’s no Front Mission 3 here by any stretch but it’s still cool), etc. At night, the gloves are off, you can head to various parking lots and see who’s hanging out, chat and challenge them to duels. The whole hanging out in parking lots vibe is very unique to this and what’s really drawn me in. It got terrible reviews when it came out here but they look to be purely because of the difficulty so be forewarned.

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Yeah TXRD2 is really on another level when it comes to trying to replicate the atmosphere of a moment in time (turn of the century Japanese mountain racing communities). It’s got so much heart and will always stick with me.

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Planet Alpha plays similarly to Inside and Limbo but rather than being a child in a drab nightmarescape you’re an astronaut on a lush glow-in-the-dark jungle planet like the one from Avatar and it’s being invaded by 1950’s Sci-Fi movie robots. You’re stuck in the middle, puzzle-platforming your way through danger, avoiding the bad guys etc.

It’s pretty decent, and a real treat to look at. Damn shame my install seems to have hit some gamebreaking bug where it refuses to load further level geometry, leaving me only with a lethal void to jump into. (I’ve confirmed that in the spot where I’m at, I should just have a bunch of scenery to run through to get to the next section. Only for me, The Sidewalk Ends so to speak).

I have no desire to replay the whole game up to the point I’ve reached just to see if a new game will solve the problem, nor do I particularly feel like reinstalling it and seeing if that works. Sooooo I guess I’m done lol.

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I’ve been playing a lot of Minecraft.

What I’d like is a game like Minecraft but where blocks take about 10x as long to collect and you can only carry a very limited number of them. I want to be forced to engage with the peculiarities of the landscape around me but my brain has thoroughly adapted to the idea that the Minecraft world is made of a flaky powder and the easiest way to get out of a cave, for instance, is to just dig a path up.

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Played through Jotun, an Epic freebie from a few months ago. You’re Thora, dead from drowning at sea and denied dying in battle, challenged to fight 5 jotun to earn your place in Valhalla. Took me about 3-4 hours? I’m bad at boss battles, probably more like 2 hours for someone experience with 2D action brawlers. I liked it, thought it was pretty chill for what is essentially a boss rush game.

Move set is grim, only roll, slash, and heavy (must be charged). Roll can cancel heavy but not itself, which makes for tense moments trying to dodge out of the shadow of a jotun’s telegraphed attack

The game is surprisingly and delightfully sparse. The lead-up to each jotun battle is recovering two of their tunes from thematic stages, and they’re almost all devoid of enemies. I liked the ruined dwarven city where the inhabitants would grunt & flee to the next area to amass and attack in a horde.

There’s a couple of special moves that you optionally unlock, can imagine completing the battles without them but the only one you’ll get without searching is healing.

Also, Thora is a woman, and 3/5 jotun are female-presenting, surprising touches I didn’t expect from a French-Canadian studio making a Norse game.

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Still high from my SMB kick I tried out Super Mario Bros. The Lost Levels or SMB2 (JP). It’s got cool changes and it makes me wish the skid sound effect was in the original. I imagine this was released at a time when most players were pretty competent at SMB after tonnes of practice and so the starting difficulty is relatively high. However, I think this game is generally more cruel where SMB would be encouraging. There’s a lot more situations (even within the first 3 worlds) where you really have to push what is possible with maximum jump height and they slam together the water and ground enemies into the same levels. I’d be fine with this if the ramp up in difficulty was more gradual but it put me off persisting through it.

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Finished Paradise Killer. I was hoping for a little more out of the trials & ending, since the game makes it clear that people who already left the island could easily be complicit and definitely knew about the crime(s). I wish there were some way to at least address that. (Or to address the Syndicate’s activities as a whole–I’m pretty sure that even if you pick all the most heretical options, you still won’t have any option to object to your organization’s use of abduction, slavery, and murder.) (Those are very light spoilers and don’t actually say anything about the actual suspects.) I do appreciate how much latitude you get to determine which individual you’ll hold responsible for which crime, but overall the focus is clearly on the investigation itself rather than the trial. This is no Phoenix Wright game; suspects may propose alternative explanations for the evidence you’ve collected, but beyond determining the truth of the “official” report, you don’t really need to contradict their claims.

One of the first things you do is look down at the Island as a whole from a very high vantage points.

Would you be excited to explore this area? It’s bigger (and more detailed) than it might look from this vantage point, and there are basically no invisible walls. This is the question you must ask to determine whether Paradise Killer would be worth playing. In order to make correct deductions about where to search for clues feel significant, you have to be able to search the wrong areas, but it’s not fun to waste your time with a fruitless search, so there are currency pickups and setting detail collectibles and such scattered all over the place.

The downside of this approach is that it puts you into the “collect everything” mindset, which kind of brute-forces the investigation side of the game. It’s the A Short Hike issue all over again. Maybe it would work better if you set out to deal with the criminal investigation only and deliberately avoided exploration other than when pursuing specific leads? Hard to say; I definitely found at least one piece of evidence in a location that I wouldn’t have thought had any connection to the case until I had that evidence. Seems like a difficult balance to strike.

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All these embarrassingly low case clearance rates, detectives just need to run around the whole map finding all the icons. So lazy!

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started digging into yume nikki due to the polls. fanart of its more creepy or gruesome content has been a part of my internet background noise for probably a decade and I’ve always figured I could vibe with it if I can actually maintain my attention for the exploration.

it’s both interesting but kinda gruelling to canvass through the looping environments. is the gruelling feeling important?

I don’t think I can exactly express how but this has felt worth it for some of the places I’ve found

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It’s clear that at least a meditative pace is important to make it not feel like simply scrolling quickly through an tumblr of cool art. At some point the experience gets more gruelling than it strictly “needs to be” for aesthetic appreciation I’d say, but in another way it’s still necessary as a side effect of the dynamics that make it feel like you’re discovering hidden depths, and also for formal consistency (like nobody is asking Yume Nikki to provide a map or fast travel, right).

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I just think the part where you get the boat and the world opens up and you just have to wander around and figure out how to get everywhere is this really great, adventure-game like puzzle. and the game is remarkably well balanced so far? like I’ve heard a lot of people complain that it’s brutally difficult but that hasn’t been the case for me yet… and it feels less grindy than the original too. I just think it’s really terrific. maybe the difficulty spikes when you get to rhone or something, we’ll see.

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Super Mario’s 35th Anniversary sent me down an emulation rabbit hole this weekend. Here are my standouts:

  1. There’s a user-friendly tool called sm64nxbuilder that compiles the Mario 64 PC port using a ROM. The version I’m playing has improved textures, widescreen support, and a functional analog camera.
  2. The Citra emulator will run 3D Land at 720p (or higher) and it supports the Switch Pro controller. I actually started it up on the 3DS before thinking “there has to be a better way.” It hitches for me a bit, but I still prefer the emulator.
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