Until Dawn : Rush of Blood

Date Completed : April 22, 2017

I received a Playstation VR for Christmas from my in-laws (who instantly went up a notch on the awesome scale) but I didn’t receive any games so I had to content myself with the demo disc that game with the system.  I started the year off with the laughable goal of spending less than I earn which has sadly been a failure but did prevent me from making any un-budgeted 60$ purchases. While poking around Amazon one day I discovered that Rush of Blood was available for 10$ and since I already had a bundle of crap in my cart for my wife and son’s birthdays ( which unfortunately for my budget are only three days apart ) I figured this game would only be a rounding error.

Rush of Blood is on the demo disc so I knew what I was getting into. Each level consists of a short roller coaster ride where you are armed with two handguns and everything tries to kill you.  This was typically the demo that I’d let friends try when they tested the Playstation VR unless small children were present.  In my opinion it’s a rather sub-part rail shooter that was rushed out to be available for the launch of a new gaming platform.  I wouldn’t have paid full price for it but I figured the 10$ investment would be worth it to have an actual retail game for the VR.  (In true form Sony made the game free to  Playstation  Plus subscribers recently once again proving you should never pay for Playstation software).

I made one minor change to my play style when I started the full retail version of Rush of Blood.  I dug out my Playstation Move controllers and paired them up to my Playstation 4.  It turns out that playing this game with motion controllers MAKES IT AWESOME. I could look at my hands in VR and they would appear to be where I thought my real hands should be.  I could control them independently and shoot two targets at once.  The sense of immersion was complete.  I forgot that I was in a chair in my office and unfortunately I forgot there was a wall to my left.  Once I tried to point my gun at a bad guy only to find that I couldn’t physically orient my arm in the desired direction.  It was because back in the real world the previously mentioned wall stubbornly refused to give way.

I usually played 15-20 minutes at a time before going to bed but the game would get me so wound up I’d have a hard time getting to sleep.  The game is really short so It only took me about two weeks to finish all of the mission.  The short duration of each level was the perfect way to begin acclimating to VR.

  • Is it fun: Yes
  • Score: 5/10
  • Length:  ~3 hours
  • System: Playstation VR (PS4)
  • Genre: Rail Shooter, Horror

 

 

 

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StarFox Zero

star_fox_zero_naDate Completed : June 16th, 2016

I never played the original StarFox but I did play the ever-loving-snot out of StarFox 64 back in my college days.  It ranked with Goldeneye, Mario Kart and Smash Bros. for most played game cartridge.  Unfortunately every StarFox game since StarFox 64 (with the exception of Starfox 64 3D which was a remake and doesn’t count) has been in the range of mediocre to awful.  I wasn’t setting my hopes too high for StarFox Zero and when Nintendo bundled a second game (StarFox Guard) in for no additional cost I began to suspect that once again we would have a dud on our hands.

I thought StarFox Zero was a new game in the StarFox series but I had heard rumors that it was a remake of StarFox 64.  It turns out that it’s both new AND a remake.  It’s a reboot of the StarFox Universe with some new mixed in.  The first mission on planet Corneria  will be extremely familiar to anyone who has played StarFox 64 although halfway through the mission it switches into new content.  It’s a bit lazy storytelling-wis but I can appreciate that the world these anthropomorphized animals live in doesn’t lend itself to many story options.  Rabbits, Foxes, Birds and Frogs living together in harmony in a world where there is nothing to fear except giant floating Gorilla heads?  This stuff doesn’t exactly write itself.

So, how is the gameplay then?  Early on Nintendo marketed StarFox Zero as a game that would use the Wii U Gamepad to great effect.  The only effect however is that it makes it incredible difficult to play.  The motion controls do not improve the experience whatsoever and switching between the TV and second screen is incredibly disorienting.  I’d often be piloting myself into walls or buildings with my kids yelling at me that I was near death.  I attribute all of my failures on this game to poorly implemented controls, and not any lack of skill on my part.  It has been said that there is a difference between ‘challenging’ and ‘being hard to play’.  StarFox Zero is the latter.

The only parts of this game that I really enjoyed were the parts where I wasn’t piloting any of the new vehicles, or looking at the gamepad (Essentially only the parts that played like StarFox 64).  It’s a shame because this game really presents itself well, and my kids really enjoyed watching me play it.  If you are not the one stuck fighting the control scheme StarFox is a lot of fun to watch.  If Nintendo released a patch that fixed the problems with the controls I would recommend this game.  In it’s current state I suggest you pass on it.

It’s worth noting that the game also came bundled with StarFox Guard for no additional cost.  I haven’t tried Guard yet and I’m not even sure what it’s about.  It may add a little more value to the whole purchase if you’re on the fence about it, but after playing the main game it’s hard to get too excited about anything else that came in the same box.

Is it fun: Meh
Score: 5/10
Length:  5 hours
System: Wii U
Genre: Action / Rail Shooter

 

 

 

Dead Space : Extraction

Date Completed: January 13th, 2016

I originally played Dead Space : Extraction when it came out for the Wii.  I’d been tricked into buying the Wii ‘Zapper’ peripheral by Nintendo’s clever marketing scheme and I wanted at least one game that used it.  I was surprised that I ended up enjoying the game and when the PS3 version came packed in with Dead Space 2 for free I couldn’t pass up the deal.

The PS3 version is identical to the Wii version except for an upgraded resolution.  This doesn’t end up making the game look a whole lot different because all of the models and textures remain the same as they were in the Wii version.  The game also uses the Playstation Move controllers instead of the Wii controller but controlling the game felt the same assuming I had a decent calibration.  Finding a good spot to place the PS3 camera was always awkward but I finally found a box and a chair that put the camera at the right height.

I played most of the missions alone but I did manage to badger my sister into playing a few missions while she was staying at my house over the Christmas holiday.  My sister’s only statement was “Gross.  I wont’ be playing this again”.  I was also able to talk my wife into playing a level and she expressed similar sentiments.  Rated M games aren’t for everyone.  Needless to say I didn’t play this one when the kids were up.

The game consists of about 10 levels, each takes about 30-45 minutes to complete.  Voice acting isn’t always top notch, and the character models were meant for an older system but the story is decent and the game play is fun.  It’s worth a look, unless you’re one of those anti-rail shooter people.

Is it fun: Yes
Score: 7/10
Length:  ~5 hours
System: Playstation 3
Genre: Rail Shooter

Kid Icarus Uprising

Date Completed: September 19th, 2012
(International Talk like a Pirate day, ARRR!!!)

In a time not long ago when the 3DS didn’t have any games available except for 3rd party crapware Kid Icarus Uprising was announced for the 3DS.  I suppose I bought into the early hype for the title and while I’ve never been a Kid Icarus fan in the past I found myself believing that Kid Icarus was going to be the game that made buying a 3DS worth the money.

When launch time came closer a 3D remake of the original Kid Icarus was made available as a pre-order bonus and when I discovered that the game came with a 3DS stand I knew I would have to buy it.  I love peripherals.  I’m that guy.

Kid Icarus is a great game with a few major design flaws.  Each level has an aerial portion and a land portion that is played on foot.  The aerial portion is played on rails and is quite fun but it’s a bit too simple to make an entire game on it’s own.  The land portion of the game takes up the majority of the time and it is awful.  Your character (Pit) is controlled with a combination of the stylus, the analog pad and the left shoulder button.  If you are burdened with a normal human hand you may already suspect there is no way to comfortably use these controls together.  For that reason Kid Icarus comes with a stand peripheral to make the experience more possible.

If only we had these things built into our hands.

I found that the stand did help a little bit but the only way to use it effectively is to place it on a table top which sort of defeats the purpose of a portable console.  I played most of the game while sitting on a couch and there was no good way to use the stand.  I did find that the stand makes a really good iPhone stand when sitting at my desk at work so the peripheral is not a complete waste.  I just don’t see myself using it for gaming.

My quest for comfort didn’t end with the stand.  I read up on the Internet and I found that the Circle Pad Pro attachment is compatible with this game.  I finally managed to find a used one for below retail price on eBay.  Sadly I learned that while the Circle Pad Pro does work with Icarus but it only allows you to subject your right hand to the same mistreatment as your left.  If Nintendo had released the 3DS with a built-in second analog this wouldn’t be a problem.  Alas, it looks like we’ll have to wait for the 4DS.

The game has high production values, high quality graphics, an extensive amount of content and an entertainingly cheesy script with lots of fan service.  Missions run anywhere from 15-40 minutes long but there is no way to save progress mid-stage.  Since missions took so long I frequently had issues with the 3DS battery running out mid-stage.  I also would frequently be unable to finish a stage in a single sitting so I’d have to pause the game and suspend the 3DS until I could get back to it.

This game looks great in 3D.

There is a TON of extra content outside of the main game.  Weapons can be purchased, sold, fused and equipped.  There is a trophy board for hundreds of achievements.  There are physical augmented reality cards that can be collected, scanned and imported as idols (which can then be viewed in 3D).  Steetpass mode allows you to exchange weapons with other 3DS owners you pass close enough to (I picked up my best weapons from the Wii U Event).

Augmented Reality!

The game is fun, has high production values and lots of extra content.  The poor control scheme for the on-foot portions of the game keep it from being great.  I think it would have made a better Wii U launch title.

Pros

  • High quality graphics.
  • Entertaining story / script.
  • Lots of extra content.

Cons

  • Controls designed to destroy your hands.
  • Missions are too long with no mid-point saving.
  • Circle Pad Control support is for lefties only.
Is it fun: Yes
Score: 5/10
Length:  ~13 hours
System: Nintendo 3DS
Genre: Action

Medieval Moves: Deadmund’s Quest

Date Completed: July 21st, 2012

Oops! Looks like I forgot to blog about this one.  July was a busy month.

The gist of the game is that the fine developers of Sports Champions have taken the Archery, Fencing and Frisbee games and turned them into a Fantasy themed fighting game. Young Deadmund must make his way through several levels and fight the armies of the Undead to save his Kingdom from an Evil wizard.  He’s armed with a sword, a shield, a bow an arrow and later on he will pick up throwing starts and most excitingly DYNAMITE BABY.

Controls are pretty spot on.  Throwing star mechanics are pretty much the same as throwing a Frisbee in Sports Champions.  The Sword works like expected and the bow and arrow works like expected.  I especially enjoyed the dynamite mechanic.  You hold the move controller up to your mouth and cover the glowing ball like you’re blowing on the fuse.  THEN YOU THROW THE DYNAMITE BABY.  The game can be played with a single controller or with two controller.  I tried both modes and I found that the game was harder with two controllers but it felt more realistic and enjoyable.  I ended up completing the game with two.

The level design is boring and lacks color but the enjoyable action makes up for it.  This game also supports 3D but I found it harder to aim the bow and arrow in 3D mode (I had to close one eye) and in general I didn’t think added depth added any immersion to this game.

I didn’t try out all of the multiplayer modes but the ones I did try were boring and my associate and I had an annoying tendency to punch each other while swinging our swords around.  Maybe a fun drinking game but if you’re sober it’s probably best to stick with Mario Kart.

Overall I think the game is good fun and now that it’s been heavily discounted I fully recommend it.

Pros

  • Fantasy combat game based on Sports Champions mini games.

Cons

  • Somewhat boring level design.
Is it fun: Yes
Score: 7/10
Length:  ~5 hours
System: Playstation 3
Genre: Rail / Sports

Starfox 64 3D

Date Completed: 6/3/2012

When the 3DS was announced I said to myself “HOW AWESOME WOULD STAR WARS ROGUE SQUADRON BE IN 3D?”.  I haven’t been given the gift of Rogue Squadron yet but I do have a remake of Starfox 64 to play, which is a different kind of awesome.

In college I made the grave mistake of loaning my Nintendo 64 to the guy who had the BIG TV.  I only had a 13-inch set so it seemed like a good idea at the time.  Unfortunately what ended up happening is that my friend would beat my games overnight and when I came over to play them I’d find all of my save files completely mastered.  In spite of my great enjoyment of Starfox 64 I never officially beat the game.  With the release of Starfox 64 3DS that wrong has now been righted.

The game is exactly as I remembered, with some minor improvements, and a full 3D effect.  It sports some new kind of motion control, which I found to be awful so I immediately turned it off.  There isn’t much new with the single player.  You just blast your way through the story line and then you win.  It only takes 5-10 minutes per level, and about 10 levels per play through.  Some of the missions fork off so you can’t visit every mission in one play through.  To get the BEST ending though you have to play through a specific series of missions.

The multiplayer is supposedly the part that got the biggest upgrade but I still can’t convince anyone I know to buy a 3DS so I have not been able to experience it yet.

Starfox 64 is the greatest Starfox game of all time and a 3DS remake is a welcome addition to the 3DS library.

Pros

  • Best Starfox ever, in 3D!
  • You can turn off the motion controls.

Cons

  • Not much ‘new’ about it.
Is it fun: Yes
Score: 8/10
Length:  ~2 hours
System: Nintendo 3DS
Genre: Rail Shooter

Resident Evil : The Darkside Chronicles


I have never been a Resident Evil fan myself but I have many fond memories from college of my roommate screaming like a little girl while playing the original.  When this game was announced I decided to finally try out the series. I had been hoping for a game I could use my Zapper peripheral with for awhile and like many Wii owners I had been desperate to find a decent ‘mature’ title to play on the system.

While playing this game I learned a lot about myself, and how I’ve changed over the years.  Mainly, I no longer have time to play games like I did in college so instead of going for 100% completion I will try and rush through a game as quickly as possible.  Unfortunately this means that I missed out on several important features like THE ABILITY TO UPGRADE YOUR FREAKING GUN.  The game kept getting progressively more difficult but I didn’t notice until the last level of the game there is an upgrade menu for your weapons and once you’ve invested all of your upgrade points beating the game becomes VASTLY EASIER.

Resident Evil Darkside Chronicles is a rail shooter that retells the events of Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil : Code Veronica as well as introduces a new storyline.  The game can be played with up to two players and works well with the Zapper peripheral.

My favorite part about rail shooters is that you really don’t have to think too much.  Blowing up zombies can be a great way to relieve the tension that comes from being the father of a 2 year old.  Hitting zombies in their weak spot (a dime sized spot on their foreheads) will cause their head to explode and their neck to spout a geyser of blood in a very satisfying way.

The game features some pretty epic boss fights, although with up to five alternate forms and no extra ammo some might say the boss fights are a little too epic.  I constantly found myself running out of ammo, although if I had upgraded my weapons in the beginning of the game, maybe my ammo would have lasted a little longer.

The only real irritation I had with this game was that the camera was extremely jiggly.  The Wii pointer is already a little hard to aim, enemies already sway back and forth, adding a jiggly camera to the mix is just mean.

Overall I had a lot of fun playing the game.  I’ll probably keep it around and play it multiplayer when I have guests over who might appreciate senseless zombie slaughtering.  I caught my father-in-law checking out Claire Redfield’s backside during the retelling of Code Veronica so maybe he’d be up for a few levels.

Not Claire’s Backside
Pros
* Killing Zombies is Fun
* Epic Boss Battles
Cons
* Jiggly Camera
* Too Epic Boss Battles
Is it fun: Yes
Score: 7/10
Length:  20 hours
System: Wii
Genre: Rail Shooter