Don’t Stop Beheading

ngs_boxI finished Ninja Gaiden Sigma this weekend, though I was eventually forced to swallow my pride and drop down to Ninja Dog level.  In retrospect, it was the right decision, but I might have held on a little longer if there were a few more save points, or at least more reasonably-placed save points.

Say, directly before the first Alma fight.  That would be an excellent spot for a save point.

AFTER dropping down to easy mode, I still managed to die often enough that I felt some sense of accomplishment when the credits rolled.

I understand now why this game has gotten such praise.  Setting the combat system aside, I loved the way the world is laid out once you get to Tairon.  It’s not quite open-world – the story is very linear and you can’t go looking for side quests – but it’s almost always opening up new parts of the city without closing off old ones.  There are a few places you can’t get back to, of course, like the chapter 3 airship, but most of the city remains available to you right up until the penultimate level.  For example, I was all the way to chapter 16 when I remembered a chest in chapter 5 that I’d missed during my replay, and I was able to run back through the city to collect its contents.

The mandatory magma level was a pain.  I will say that.  Also, the level which involved a lot of swimming through tunnels, that was a pain too.  That’s two levels out of 19 that I wasn’t fond of, so that’s a pretty good ratio.  I’m also not fond of the control scheme tying one of the game’s most critical attacks to pressing the square and triangle buttons at the same time, because I couldn’t find a way to hold the controller comfortably and still hit these regularly.  I’m going to chalk this up to the limitations of 42-year-old finger joints, and use the excuse as a salve to treat the burning feeling of needing to drop the difficulty level.

I immediately started Ninja Gaiden 2 Sigma (Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2?) after finishing, so I think that speaks to how satisfying the first was.

projectdivaf2ndI also managed to hit my first “completion” goal with Project Diva f 2nd, getting GREAT+ on all songs on Normal, and I’m actually a little down on the game.  I kind of get the sense that the Vita version took second fiddle to the PS3 version – the heavy use of scratch notes makes a lot more sense if it was designed around the dualshock, and the game is much more forgiving of late notes than early notes, which makes sense if it’s trying to adjust for LCD TV lag.

I’m not fond of the Technical Zone mechanic in this iteration.  It didn’t strike me as too bad when they implemented it in Miku’s first Vita outing, but I had far too many runs in 2nd where missing a note or two at JUST the wrong time dropped me from getting a low GREAT to a high STANDARD.  Looking back, I really think the second and third PSP games had the best scoring/progression system.  The first was great for an introductory outing, but overly dependant on getting huge combos during Chance Time.

It’s a bloody shame, because the song list is fantastic, but I really think the series took a step down in fun level and it has me worried about future games using the same engine.

journeyFinally, one advantage of taking forever to get around to games is that I got to play through Journey for the first time with the recently-released PS4 version.

It’s a really pretty game and doesn’t take more than a couple of hours to play.  It could use just the VAGUEST hint of a tutorial on how the jumping/flying works, but I may just have been being particularly thick-headed on Sunday morning.

I’m not a fan of the semi-enforced multiplayer mode, and eventually wound up going offline in order to feel comfortable exploring the world at my own pace.  Surprisingly, the multiplayer DID work even though I’m not a current PS+ subscriber, so apparently there are some exceptions to needing to pay for play online.

I’m hesitant to say anything about the game other than that it’s terribly good.  If you’ve got hardware that it will run on, I’d say it’s a must play.

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