Nintendo has come a long way

Got a reminder in my inbox earlier this week that “Prison Princess” was now available on the Switch, and I’m just tickled to see a mildly-pervy game spotlighted under a huge Mario header.

I don’t know much about this particular game, but what I’ve seen reminds me a little of the  “密室のサクリファイス” or “Hidden Room Sacrifice” series of PSP games where you had to solve puzzles to escape a room with the help of a cute girl who always needed to do a lot of crawling under things with some terribly inappropriate camera angles, and that was enough for me to put it on the wish list for “when it’s on sale”.

This game has TWO cute girls locked in a dungeon who you need to direct to solve puzzles, and yes it promises lots of crawling under things.

And they say video games aren’t art.

 

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I am not going to be the very best, like no one ever was

I’m about three hours into Pokémon Black “Version 2” and have passed the first gym.

It was a god-damned virtual bloodbath.  I’m not good at this.  On the other hand, the stuff I am fighting now that I am past the first city is significantly higher-level than the highest level stuff I could get to previously, so grinding should be much easier.

Also wow the 3DS bottom screen collects dust like crazy.

Finally, yes, my starter Pokémon is named “Derpy” and my character starts most of her fights by shouting “Go! Derpy!” and it has yet to not make me smirk.

In other news, both TrueTrophies and TrueAchievements had these “My Year on Xbox” / “My Year on Playstation” things where they chew through your Xbox Live / PSN data and spit out lots of data on how much of your life you spent holding a controller.

I’ll ignore most of it and just post the “completions” bits because they show that I have an unhealthy attraction to anime rhythm games.

I did, in fact, take seven years to get the Assassin’s Creed II platinum.  It had a missable trophy that galled me for a long time until I finally broke down and bought one of the DLC missions solely so I could get the trophy without replaying the entire game.

 

 

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Once more, unto the tall grass

I don’t have a ton of history with the Pokémon franchise, but there is just so damn much fan art based on it that it’s hard to avoid tripping across it here and there – and once you’ve seen the same characters enough times, it’s hard not to get a little curious about them.

Granted, most of the fan art is extremely inappropriate for the target audience, but I think you can say that about pretty much any popular series.

That curiosity led me to play through Pokémon Moon a few years back, and It was pretty good.  Obviously the next step would be to try Pokémon Go or one of the Switch games and we certainly can’t have me doing anything like that.

Instead, I decided to try Pokémon Black “Version 2”, mostly because the main character seems very popular with fan artists and because I figured it would be cheaper.

Actually buying the game was… well, more of a challenge than it should have been.  For some reason, even though it came out after the launch of the 3DS, it was still a DS game.  Nintendo makes SOME DS games buyable via the WiiU Virtual Console, but this isn’t one of them, and you can’t buy any DS games on the 3DS eShop.

For extra fun, apparently bootleg Pokémon cartridges are super common and tend to come with fun side effects like not being compatible with the 3DS or not being able to save games or, well, you know, work.

So, buying a copy of this 2012 game in 2019 took looking through a few sites on How To Spot Counterfeit DS Games and then taking my 3DS over to a local used game store that would let me put the cartridge into my system and verify that it would (a) launch and (b) had a saved game in-place.  Having passed both tests, I paid forty bucks for the thing and then sat on actually playing it for several months.

Then I had to look up how to delete the existing save data so I could start a new game.  To the young lad named “Brandon” who previously owned this cartridge, I apologize for giving all of your painstakingly-collected virtual monsters the one-way-trip to oblivion, but there was only one save slot and I needed it.

Anyway.  I started it today.  Got about twenty minutes in.  Collected my starter Pokémon after carefully looking up what all three of the starters look like when evolved – I did not want to repeat the mistake I made with Moon, where my adorable kitten monster turned into some weird pro wrestler thing towards the end of the game – and got myself on the road to becoming the Unova region’s next Pokémon Master.

Side note: it was mind-blowing to realize that it has only been a few years since this:

Was an entirely uncontroversial question.  The 2010s were a weird decade.

Anyway, I am looking forward to this.  Apparently I am going to need to look up vulnerabilities on my own, or something?  Moon had handy “this move will really hurt your opponent, you should use it” tips that I quite liked.  This does not.  I am probably going to be crushed by random virtual five-year-olds for a while.

 

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I played something that wasn’t an MMO.

Technically I play 30 minutes or so of Overwatch every night, and that’s not an MMO, but let’s set that aside and talk about me actually playing a game with a defined start and end and stuff to do in the middle, because that’s been a rarity of late.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t a GREAT game, but what the hell.

I originally bought Shantae for the GBC back in 2002 or so, and didn’t much get on with it. It had a cute heroine, but I kept being stuck in a loop of being damaged – needing to grind money for healing items – maybe getting a little further in the game – needing to grind again, and so on.  I spent most of my time with the game running around two or three screens, killing the same enemies and not making any progress.

There have been a few games since then.  I haven’t played them, because most of my experience was colored by the first game.

On the other hand, “Half-Genie Hero” was on Xbox Game Pass a few months back, and it looked cheerful and colorful at a time when I wanted to play something cheerful and colorful, and I wound up really liking it.

Then I decided to go back and try some of the earlier games, leading me to Risky’s Revenge.  Originally this was a Nintendo DSi game, I guess?  Anyway, I played the PS4 version and it was… well, it was better than the GBC game.  I had to resort to a walkthrough after a few hours with it, mostly because I kept running into situations where I had no idea where to go next, and that took some of the frustration off.

I mostly stuck with it for the cute characters and the funny writing.  That was worth it for me.  If it didn’t have charm on its side I probably would have dropped it with no guilt.

Looking at the trophy stats for this game, I kinda think a lot of people got stuck and decided to just drop it instead of resorting to a walkthrough.  There’s a trophy you get about five minutes into the game, and 97% of people have that one.  Only 17.5% of players actually FINISHED it, though, and it’s not like it’s a terribly long game.  I took a hair over six hours even with getting lost, and there’s a trophy for finishing it in under two hours.

I’ll probably give the third game in the series a try at some point.  I’m kind of curious to see which quality-of-life changes I liked in Half-Genie Hero were around for game #3.

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This is why I shouldn’t play MMOs.

So, Sony sent out one of their little year-end gaming summary emails.

In short, I should not play MMOs.

 

…especially as this doesn’t count the hours I clocked in the Mac client, which were numerous.

A CHARITABLE estimate is that, including those hours, I “only” put in the equivalent of 25 weeks of a full-time job.

 

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Baud Attitude’s Games of the Decade, Part 3 (Final)

Welcome to part 3 of the Baud Attitude Games of the Decade list, which honestly is two parts too many.  Still, I must share my incredibly accurate and insightful opinions with the world, or at least the few of you who actually read this thing.

10. Doki Doki Literature Club (Team Salvato, 2017)

Yes, a short and free visual novel is in my top ten games of the decade, but explaining more would run the risk of spoiling it. It opens with a disturbing content warning that leads into a high school romance story that is so sickly-sweet that you may manage to forget about the warning by the times things start to go… badly.

09. The Last Guardian (Team ICO, 2016)

Do you like the idea of trying to solve puzzles while relying on a giant cat/bird thing with entirely too much of its own personality? Can you completely surpress your fears of heights and falling and falling from heights? Can you deal with the crushing sadness of clambering over the decaying ruins of a once-great civilization with only the vaguest hope of a happy outcome before you?

The Last Guardian is one of those games that seemed doomed to never actually come out and didn’t actually sell all that well when it finally did, seven years after its original announcement. So, you may not have played it. You should do something about that.

08. Assassin’s Creed: Rogue (Ubisoft, 2014)

I love me some Assassin’s Creed, and picking the absolute best game in the series is dead easy to do. Unfortunately, Assassin’s Creed II came out in 2009 and is ineligible for this list, so let’s go with the runner-up.

Rogue is… well, even for a series that makes a habit out of slapping a new coat of paint and a new cast of characters onto the previous entry and hoping you don’t notice, it’s a pretty blatant example. It’s Black Flag, just set in the northern Atlantic with better naval combat and with a more-likable main character.

Oh, and the cities are better.  Black Flag had a lot of tiny villages to it, which is a shame in a series where climbing tall things and jumping off them is one of the selling points.

It even sticks in some story beats that retroactively make Assassin’s Creed III less awful, and I would not have thought that possible.

After all that, it gets bonus points for exploring the Templar/Assassin relationship from the Other Side and pointing out that, hey, a bunch of people that call themselves Assassins and go around stabbing people aren’t ALWAYS the good guys. Shock!

07. Nioh (Team Ninja, 2017)

What if you made a Souls game, but with fast combat and mission-based rather than open world, and what if it was set right around 1600 in Japan when things were starting to really pop off?

Oh, and throw in loot drops. Lots of random loot drops, exploding out of downed enemies like so much sparkly joy.

Then you take all of your loot to a blacksmith and mash it together to make slightly shinier weapons and take those new shiny weapons back to take another crack at the mission that just wrecked you and probably die anyway but you got a little closer to the end this time and then you repeat that until you are watching end credits. Bonus points for having massive bosses stolen from a particularly dark season of GeGeGe no Kitaro.

That’s Nioh.  Admittedly, it’s not for everyone.  It opens with a rather tedious level set in the Tower of London, and getting through the game’s first two “real” bosses is an experience rather like having your face held to a belt sander until it starts to feel good.  I’m not going to fault anyone who decides that they can spend their time better doing literally anything else.

I played it on the normal difficulty, played it AGAIN on the hard difficulty, and went back for another pass at the difficulty above that. I don’t DO that kind of thing.

06. Super Mario 3D World (Nintendo, 2014)

I’m not a big Mario fan. I have problems with judging distance and relative velocity, and the Mario series is all about correctly judging distance and relative velocity in order to not fall to your death while you are trying to rescue Peach from Bowser YET AGAIN.

I bought the version of the Switch that came with Mario Odyssey, enjoyed it a lot, and went back to play the WiiU entry in the series, which I turned out to absolutely love.

Oh, and you’re not rescuing Peach. She’s actually fine. There’s kidnapped fairies or something? But most importantly Mario can turn into a cat.

Hopefully it gets a Switch release at some point.

05. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe (Nintendo, 2017)

Honestly I AM NOT A BIG MARIO FAN and this list was not sponsored by Nintendo. I bought Mario Kart 8 Deluxe because I was going to have a few people over for food and videogames and Mario Kart is consistently recommended as a good game to have a few people over for. I had virtually no preconceived notions as to what I was getting into when I did so, and the sheer quantity of tracks and imagination put into this game blew me away. I wound up spending enough time with Mario Kart 8 to grind through all of the races in the game’s first three difficulty levels and even now occasionally go back to play online against people who are WAY better than I am.

04. Splatoon (Nintendo, 2015)

Not. Sponsored. By. Nintendo. Really.

I’ve already mentioned that I’m not a big fan of online multiplayer PVP games, and yet this is the second one in this list. I will take being willing to try new genres as a sign of growing as a person as I get older.

Splatoon, at least, is a game where killing The Other Guys isn’t really the point of the game. I mean, sure, knock yourself out if you feel like knocking them out, but the game is going to give the win to the team that can stick to the objective of making sure that the map is covered in paint of YOUR glorious color and not the color of the opposing team. It’s cute, the matches are short enough that you can’t get ground down too much even if you’re on the losing side, and the way that the paint mechanic ties into reloading and stealth and movement is just a joy.

There’s a Switch sequel. I didn’t get into it as much. I should probably give it another try.

03. Horizon Zero Dawn (Guerilla Games, 2017)

Not. Sponsored. By… oh, good, we’re moving on from Nintendo-published games. That’s a relief. Was starting to feel a bit of a corporate shill.

So. Horizon Zero Dawn, another take on the Ubisoft open-world formula but with GIANT CHROME ROBOT DINOSAURS and a really good sci-fi story that I thought I had entirely figured out about five hours into the game and was completely wrong about and absolutely the best villain of the last I don’t know how long. My game of the year for 2017, and that was a year full of amazing games.

One of the best things about Horizon is that it didn’t NEED to be anything more than “here’s your bow, there’s some giant chrome robot dinosaurs, how about you kill some of them?” but they spent so much time filling the game with background lore explanations that, by the end of it, the giant chrome robot dinosaurs make perfect sense.

Unlike many of the games I have raved about so far, Horizon sold over ten million copies so you have probably already played it. If you haven’t, it’s in the Greatest Hits lineup so you should be able to pick up a copy for roughly the price of a meal for two at McDonald’s.

02. Bloodborne (FROM Software, 2014)

If you look back at my comments on Dark Souls II and how there weren’t any other Souls games on the list, you may be raising an eyebrow at this point. Technically Bloodborne is NOT a Souls game and I did not lie to you.

Much like Nioh, Bloodborne is Souls-But-Faster, discourages blocking in favor of just getting out of the way of attacks, and gets away from the generic knights-in-plate-armor fantasy setting in favor of something a little more interesting – in this case, a sort of Lovecraftian Victorian England thing, with occasional trips into complete freaking nightmare.

I loved it enough to get the Platinum trophy, which involves finishing the base game three times and spending hours beating my head against “optional” challenge dungeons, some of which were just seriously unfair. A SPECIAL shout-out to the ones you have to play through with your health cut in half and where a single hit from any of the bosses is almost always enough to kill you.

I WOULD DO IT AGAIN.

01. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (Bethesda, 2011)

Hey, you. You’re finally at the end of the list. And you’re probably disappointed. This isn’t a super-obscure cult favorite or anything, it’s a game that everyone played to death years ago, but that Bethesda keeps porting to new platforms instead of making an Elder Scrolls VI.

So, sue me. This is my list and I’m sticking with it.

I originally got Skyrim for free from a stranger on the internet who decided to raffle off a copy and… well, really didn’t care for it at all. I don’t think I even made it out of the tutorial. It was kinda ugly, especially the character models, and the combat was meh and it just did not stick.

Then I read an article about all the different sorts of mods people were making for it, and discovered that I could swap out the Lore Appropriate But Ugly character models for Hot Babes With Perfect Skin and I gave it another go.

Some time passed…

…and then, after I finished my second play-through, my beloved and eternally-suffering wife suggested that if I started a third pass she was going to do horrible things to me and to my gaming PC and that was about the point where I figured I should call it good and get on to the important task of waiting for the next game in the series.

Still. Waiting.

Skyrim is one of those games, like Just Cause 2, where there IS a main story that you are occasionally reminded about, but the world you are wandering through is just so perfectly designed to distract you away from it that you can be forgiven for completely ignoring it. You’ll be walking down a path and notice that there are some flowers just off the path that you can pick to make potions out of, and while you’re over there you get a little indicator on your HUD that there’s a cave nearby that you can check out if you go just a little further, and you clear out the undead critters in that cave and find a dead man’s belongings with a letter in them that leads you to something else, and suddenly you are half the world away from that initial path and the whole Saving The World From the Draconic Scourge thing has completely slipped your mind.

11/10, would mod in hot chicks in bikini armor and save the world for a third time.

That’s it! 2020 awaits, with new consoles and new titles to anticipate.

I hope you’ve enjoyed … actually, let me set my expectations a little differently.  I hope you FINISHED reading.  I had some fun going through the last ten years of backlog progress and picking out my favorites, and I am going to try not to think too hard on how much I could have gotten done with my life if I hadn’t spent so much of it with controller in hand.

Remember, if I left off your favorite game, I probably had a dumb reason for leaving it out or simply didn’t manage to finish it.  Feel free to print out my list and write over it with a sharpie or something.

 

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Baud Attitude’s Games of the Decade, Part 2

Continued from Part 1, here’s games 20-11 of the Baud Attitude Games of the Decade list, starting with a “Don’t play this in the dark” game that I am still rather proud of finishing.

I even played some of it in the dark.

20. Amnesia: The Dark Descent (Frictional Games, 2010)

I like horror games, but Amnesia: The Dark Descent nearly broke me.

You wake up in a creepy castle with no memory of how you got there – this is not a spoiler, it’s literally the title of the game – and then you spend your time being chased around and frequently killed by enemies that you can’t look at because they can see you better when you’re looking at them. It gets double marks for making you manually open doors and having all of the doors open TOWARDS you, generally meaning that you are backing towards something that is chasing you while you are trying to escape it.

It’s not the most visually-amazing game, but the sound design… eeesh.  Whoever is responsible gets my firm admiration.

19. Sakura Dungeon (Winged Cloud, 2016)

If I was making a list of “most influential games”, 2014’s Sakura Spirit would be on this list. It wasn’t a particularly good visual novel, and you only got about two hours of reading for your ten bucks, but it caught the eye of just about everyone when it hit and lead to a flood of cheap and naughty video games, most of them visual novels or match-3s where your efforts were rewarded with lewd anime illustrations.

Sakura Dungeon stands out in the crowd because it took a visual novel engine and turned it into a competent first-person dungeon crawler, naturally one where you were rewarded with lewd anime illustrations.  It wasn’t completely original – it was basically a revamp of 2013’s Demon Master Chris – but that earlier game was limited in its audience by being confined to Mangagamer and similar sites.  The Sakura series was proudly on Steam.

Also the main character is a hero who wakes up a demon lord with the intent of killing them but then one thing leads to another and you wind up besties and team up to repel alien invaders to save the world. 10/10 would fight lewd anime girl monsters for 20 hours again.

18. Batman: Arkham Origins (WB Games Montréal, 2013)

Picking a single “best Arkham” game is a regular Sophie’s Choice scenario.  I can rule out Arkham Asylum because it was published in 2009, but after that?

All of them are games  based around letting you live the fantasy of being a billionaire playboy who beats the hell out of the disadvantaged criminal element, and honestly that’s the sort of escapism I can get behind at times.

Anyway, I have no complaints to register with either Arkham City or Arkham Knight, but I went with Origins solely because it had the best boss fights.  It was also the first where I actually got the knack of the combat system.

Yes, I managed to finish the two games before it without knowing how to do a simple combo. They’re not exactly hard games.

Sophie’s choice all sorted out, then.

17. Mario+Rabbids: Kingdom Battle (Ubisoft, 2017)

I love the Rabbids. I know that kind of ruins any sort of credibility I might ever have aspired to, but I cannot help laughing at their particular brand of dumb.

Taking the Rabbids, mashing them together with Mario characters, and making an X-Com knockoff with them? It shouldn’t have worked. It worked brilliantly. Rabbid Peach was a particular highlight, which is probably why they built an expansion around her.

16. Gravity Rush (Team Gravity, 2012)

It’s a game about a girl named Kat, with a cat named Dusty, who solves small problems for people and also saves the universe.

Despite suffering from memory loss and living in a sewer tunnel, Kat’s main superpowers are sheer optimism and cheerfulness and a willingness to drop everything to help people and also she can redefine gravity in her immediate vicinity and suddenly “up” becomes “down” or possibly “left” and she is falling into the air At Speed, generally flailing quite a bit and occasionally killing completely innocent bystanders who never get mentioned again by anyone who doesn’t want to personally discover how the last guys died.

Originally a Vita exclusive – so nobody bought it – it got a PS4 release that also nobody bought. I finished it on both and it’s one of my few Platinum trophies. Wasn’t a big fan of the sequel, but the original is top-notch.

15. Overwatch (Blizzard, 2016)

I’m not one for multiplayer-only PVP games, but I AM a sucker for giant stompy robots. So I bought Titanfall when it was heavily discounted in, like, 2015?

Titanfall has very little to do with Overwatch, but it taught me that I could enjoy entirely-multiplayer games as long as I got positive feedback in the form of filling up progress bars at the end of every match and as long as mecha were involved. And Overwatch has a girl that rides around inside a mech and another girl that IS a stompy robot, and there’s a progress bar that occasionally fills up and goes PING and then you get to open a loot box full of cosmetic items for every character you DO NOT play.

Seriously, I would like to start a brand new Overwatch account at some point, play 20 or 30 matches as a single character, and then drop like a hundred bucks on loot boxes. I suspect the fountain of loot that came out of those boxes would be distributed to every character except the one I’d played those matches on in a way that would defy any reasonable statistical distribution. But I digress.

Anyway, that complaint aside, Overwatch has become one of my “I need something to distract myself for like half an hour while I work out” games and was largely responsible for me going to my doctor and having her say “Huh, your blood pressure is where I want to see it”, so it deserves a spot here.

14. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Nintendo, 2017)

Most of my attempts at playing Zelda games before Breath of the Wild ended shortly after finishing the tutorial, at which point I would breathe a sigh of relief, put the controller down and promise to get back to the actual game part at some point. I never actually got back to the games, and I figured I would just never GET the whole Zelda thing.

Then came BOTW, and it turns out that taking a mix of Ubisoft tower-climbing and map-unlocking and Bethesda-style running around and completely ignoring the main quest and slapping a Zelda skin on the whole thing made for a Zelda game I could actually have fun with. Bonus points for not having a terrible tutorial and for hiding the frustrating mandatory stealth missions far enough into the game that I was too invested to quit by the time I reached them.

13. Nier: Automata (SquareEnix, 2017)

In general, I HATE games with multiple endings, and Nier: Automata has over twenty endings, at least five of which are mandatory if you want to see the whole story.

Fortunately, most of the rest are silly “bad” endings.

For example, one mission starts by being ordered to go and help another character.  If you simply choose to go the other way instead, abandoning them to their fate, you get a Game Over and the end credits roll.  You can get a second by eating bad fish and dying.  I got a few of these naturally through play, decided the process of getting the rest would be too tedious, and watched them on YouTube.

Even setting those aside, it took a fair amount of effort to keep playing through the game’s “B” and “C” routes to get through the story endings.

On the other hand, it has hot robot girls, massive bosses, Platinum-style melee combat, bullet-hell shooting, weird abstract wireframe puzzle-solving, MOOSE RIDING, and a story that beats you over the head with increasingly-depressing endings before you finally get to a spark of hope. Also, it later inspired a really enjoyable raid in Final Fantasy XIV, which brings me to…

12. Final Fantasy XIV: Shadowbringers (SquareEnix, 2019)

…Yes, it’s another MMORPG expansion. And, believe it or not, it didn’t wind up in this position just because I wanted to take advantage of the segue opportunity from talking about Nier.

I got back into FFXIV earlier this year, which was probably a bad move if I’m honest. MMOs are a genre for people with WAY too much free time on their hands, or at least for people who can set a lower priority on almost every other aspect of their lives. You know, like school and work and basic social interactions.

Still, FFXIV kind of discourages the grind mentality through a number of daily and weekly lockouts and has a solid single-player story. It’s worth playing as a Final Fantasy game, not just an MMO, and the Shadowbringers expansion may just be the best Final Fantasy I’ve ever played.

Full disclosure: I’ve really only played I, VII, X and a little bit of II and VIII. AHEM.

It has the best villain, anyway, and I would recommend anyone interested in a really good Final Fantasy game with a really good villain plan to set aside three or four hundred hours of their lives to start the game from scratch and grind through the base game and the previous two expansions so you can play Shadowbringers and see for yourself.

You can play through the Nier raid once you’re done with that. It will be fun!

Side note: I really didn’t play many games released in 2019 this year, so let’s just go ahead and save me writing a separate Baud Attitude Game of the Year post and say this is it.

11. Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin (FROM, 2014)

Spoiler: This is the only Dark Souls game in this list. If you’ve gotten to this entry and said “Well, at least he’s putting Dark Souls II down here at number 11 where it belongs”, you may be disappointed. I genuinely like Dark Souls II the most of the trilogy, despite the world not making any sense in places and the whole Adaptability stat mess.

Look, I’d have Demon’s Souls on here if it was from this decade. Does that make it any better?

Anyway. Dark Souls II was my third Souls game, and the first where I really got into the multiplayer aspects of the series – in fact, I quite believe that the game is designed around encouraging multiplayer in a way that the other entries were not. Coming from the first Dark Souls, the opening to II is brutal – you have very little direction in which way to go, you have limited healing options, and the early zones LOVE to swarm you with pain-in-the-ass ambushes.

Then you get to the Cardinal Tower Bonfire, probably your first Bonfire after leaving the game’s hub town, and there’s a friendly merchant right there and the ground is CARPETED in summon signs, every one of them another player offering to help you push further into the world. It’s like, we’ve all stuck it out to get this far, let’s go together from here.

The Fume Knight from the DSII expansions is also has my favorite boss of the series, or at least the one that was most satisfying to finally take down.

Part three tomorrow! What incredibly brave and unusual choice will I make for the ULTIMATE GAME OF THE DECADE?

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