Happening now on GameLuv

Now Playing: Gotcha Racing (Nintendo 3DS)

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You know me, always happy to fawn over a little release that looks to have some quirk. That’s definitely Gotcha Racing, a game I’ve had my eye on since its quiet debut at E3. It released yesterday on the 3DS eShop for $5.99 and I grabbed it as soon as I got home from work last night. It’s called Gotcha Racing because it’s all about winning new car parts through a gashapon system. But as I would play, put it down and come back minutes later for “just one more race” I felt like the title had another meaning. After my first hour with the game I wouldn’t call it captivating but it definitely scratches that compulsive itch for progress.

Of course, I wasn’t drawn to a game because it has random loot drops from capsule toys. Gotcha Racing makes a fairly striking first impression when you see it in motion with a strict top-down perspective that spans both screens of the 3DS. The view keeps your car perfectly aligned in the center of the bottom screen, feeling a little like a sewing machine where you’re rotating the world underneath your car. It’s a peculiar sensation at first and a peculiar design choice as the game leans towards realism with its vehicle performance. Each chassis, engine and tire has an impact on acceleration, top speed, brake power, cornering and drift.

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I don’t know if it’s the perspective or the precision of the A.I. racers but I’ve never fought this hard to find the perfect racing line in any other game. Moving up a position is a battle over inches in the early game and if you can cut just a tiny bit more into a corner you’ll secure your spot in the pack. It’s turned out to be way more harrowing than I expected from what looked like a cutesy toy race car game. Grinding out parts from the capsule machine and then combining them to boost stats also seems harrowing. It’s been fun tinkering in the first hour but I can see this process getting elaborate and annoying as you can’t upgrade or sell items equipped to your four loadout slots. This results in temporarily swapping each loadout item to an inferior one, backing out, fusing the items, then going back to each car and re-equipping the new gear. Elaborate!

Gotcha Racing seems like a game I’ll pop in and out of for short bursts or maybe while listening to podcasts. I’m not yet able to move out of the initial F-Grade class because I don’t have a good enough car to win the final tournament. That means re-racing the first three courses over and over until I can win or upgrade my way out. It may not sound like fun but it’s enjoyable to play and fast to load, and there’s always a chance for that Rare Drop to fall out of the machine and make everything instantly better.

I’ll be back with an update once I hit the next noteworthy milestone with the game.

Done Playing: Styx: Master of Shadows (PlayStation 4)

I like stealth games and I like the slightly less dire “stealth-action” sub-genre that blossomed out of it. In fact, I’ve been on a serious stealth game bender since Dan and Drew at Giant Bomb started playing through the Metal Gear Solid anthology in August 2014. But I didn’t do it on purpose. After working through all five Metal Gear Solid games (Peace Walker included) a series of sales and subscription freebies led me from Sniper Elite 3 to CounterSpy to 2014’s THIEF and most recently to Styx: Master of Shadows. It’s a game I’d originally seen at PAX and thought it was doing both interesting new stealth things while also calling back to some of the classic elements I haven’t seen in a while.

And this is the point where I stopped writing and decided to load the game up one last time to record. This “GameLuv Recap” video is much longer than the one I did for Submerged because Styx has a lot going for it but ultimately a little bit more going against it. You can see it unfold in the video above but — tl;dr — I was happy to delete the game off of the PlayStation 4 in the end.

Metal Gear Fan adds more Metal Gear to Ground Zeroes

When Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes first launched people couldn’t help but jump all over it saying “Look, look, this isn’t weird like the other Metal Gear games, Kojima’s lost it!!!”. I admit, you have to dig a ways to get to the weird stuff but when you get there it’s like taking a bite of a chocolate chip cookie and realizing there’s caramel in the middle, and marshmallow fluff, and nougat, and shrimp?

The “Deja Vu” mission is what I’m talking about in particular, a bonus mission you only unlock by tracking down a set of collectibles. While it is 1,000% fan service and filled with callbacks to the original Metal Gear Solid it still kinda doesn’t sit right. Keifer delivers a couple classic lines like he has no clue and though you can swap the skins on Big Boss and the guards for low-poly, PlayStation copies you’re still running around the gritty, Cuban torture facility.

What’s a Metal Gear fan to do? If you’re Cosy Connoisseur, you mod the PC version of Ground Zeroes to lock the camera to an isometric perspective and then edit a few runs together with classic sound effects and music. Even though he “wouldn’t recommend actually trying to play this way” it makes for a more authentic “Deja Vu” mission than Kojima himself created.

Done Playing: Submerged (PlayStation 4)

So I finished playing Submerged and then spent some more time decoding its language and story. This is usually when I’d write up a Done Playing post to sum up my thoughts and experience with it. Buuuuut, since the PlayStation 4 makes it pretty easy to plug in my good microphone and record right to YouTube I decided to try a video thing. I’m calling it a “GameLuv Recap” for YouTube because I can’t rightfully say I’m done playing when the video is of me playing, right? I also get way more views on YouTube than hits on the site here, so video it is!

It’s definitely not as poetic as my writing tends to be but it’ll give you a nice overview of the game, the mechanics and the world. I’ve got at least one more of these videos coming to give Styx: Master of Shadows some closure as well.

Prepare Yourselves for Life-Changing News from Spelunker Z!

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It’s that time of the month again: time for the ~hot~ headlines from the bang-blasting world of Minna de Spelunker Z! You should really be playing this game, everybody.

As the Seiken Densetsu 2 promotion winds down over the next two weeks we’ve got new ones starting up. Continuing the trend of ultra-Japanese cross-promotional loot are several items from Shin Jigen Game Neptune VII. That means Hyperdimension Neptunia to you and me, an RPG series that has seen a surprising number of U.S. releases since its PlayStation 3 debut in 2010. The cute new gear is available from August 19th through September 23rd on stages 1-6 through 1-10. And I basically just typed that up so I could remind myself over the coming weeks of where to find them.

Elsewhere in Spelunker news is the announcement of a ghost bustin’ community event that runs from August 20th through September 2nd. As players hose down ghosts across all the game’s stages we’ll slowly begin unlocking new rewards. Since I can’t even put money into the game if I wanted to these events are a great way to get free candies and cakes to trade in for sweet loot without grinding out all the pieces.

 

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Finally, we’ve got the teaser image for the next Spelunker-cross-collaboration that’s coming September 17th. It’s… I dunno. The busty character with the thick collar and pink hair is familiar but I just can’t place it. We’ll also be getting a Championship Mode on September 17th that promises “ultra-high degree of difficulty stage” with powerful special items as the reward for surviving. I can’t wait to throw myself against that… and then go back to playing The Phantom Pain.

Achieving: Platinum, finally

Can you believe it’s been nearly two and a half years since I posted about a dumb achievement? The proverbial itch has apparently been scratched. Over the last console generation I played most everything on Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3 exclusives I did dive into weren’t usually the ones to get Platinum trophies. So here I am in 2015 all proud that I basically just played a ton of Rocket League.

You’ll hit most of the trophies in the game just by playing it for a while. The unlocks come at the end of almost every five-minute match. Blasting around after the ball you’ll inevitably hit one in while driving backwards as well as bump an opponent into the ball for a goal. Many of them you can unlock just by setting up bot matches. But the ones that took the longest were finally playing online with a friend (aww, how sad) and racking up 50km on a single set of decorative tires. It finally popped though, in the middle of an uneventful match, and now I have a Platinum trophy and Yay and whatever. Let’s go play some more Rocket League already!

Achieving: Tales of Pointless Self Reward in Games retold in brief posts whenever we feel like it.

Natsume confirms Gotcha Racing for 3DS is out August 27th

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I dug the 3DS out of its tomb at the bottom of a plastic bin just the other day to see if I’d missed the release of Gotcha Racing. Since I first saw it at E3 there’s just been a special somethin-somethin about the top-down, cross-screen racing game that’s captured my interest. It turns out I didn’t totally flake out and miss it because just today Natsume has confirmed it’ll be out on the 3DS eShop on August 27th. Yay!

Unfortunately, they still haven’t released any more direct feed footage and not even new screenshots so the impact of the game may be lost with just these two images. Nevertheless, I’m planning on picking this up on the 27th so look for some kind of recap in the coming weeks. If you’d like to know more about the game, click on in. I’ll just leave Natsume’s whole press release here since I’m too exhausted at the moment to edit it down. (more…)

Beat Bop brings Interactive Music and Management to the Clicker Genre

I wouldn’t say I’m a fan of “clicker” games, the growing genre where you tirelessly click on things to slowly, but exponentially, increase your income until numbers in the millions are flying out of everything on screen. They’re usually too mundane for me but set one up about music with a soundtrack that changes based on your clicking speed and suddenly I’m interested. That’s the concept behind Beat Bop, a new clicker game coming to Android and iOS in August from the Australian studio, Fliptus.

In the free-to-play game you start out as a lonely, hopeful street musician plucking away on a street corner with big dreams of superstardom. As you click to collect coins you’ll soon be able to pick up new band members, buy out promotions, start selling merch, and deal with broken instruments and media scandals. Of course, there’s a huge array of costumes and gear to buy as well to customize each member of your band. All this tapping action is set to unique music that changes with each venue which evolves as you add members (and instruments) to your band.

There isn’t a lot to hear from the game just yet but the above gameplay trailer gives you a glimpse at how it will sound and play when it’s released later this month. With an interesting hook I might actually give this one a shot and at least report back on the interactive music portion.

KatyCraft: Express Your Rocket League Obsession in Real Life

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This one is a co-craft between Katy and I featuring my current online, multiplayer, team-based, sports competition of choice: Rocket League. I know, none of those things are stuff I usually go in for but, man, this game is fun and hilarious. It doesn’t hurt that it was “free” with PlayStation Plus as well, otherwise I’d never have touched it. Anyways, here’s a university-styled shirt design we brainstormed. It’s more simple than my grander design (which is maybe still forthcoming) but I like it. You can get it in a variety of colors and styles but classic blue or orange would be my recommendation.

You guys, Katy makes a lot of awesome stuff. She’s on Red Bubble, Storenvy, Etsy, and Gumroad with stickers, cross stitches, shirt designs, jewelry and more. It’s not all video game related either, she’s got your fandoms covered!

Decoding the Language and Story of Submerged

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When it comes to finding secrets in games I usually don’t last long before turning to a FAQ or forums. Chasing down tchotchkes is fun for a while but when it comes down to the last few I always prioritize my time over energy exerted. In contrast I seem to willingly hook myself on deciphering real and fictional languages in games. Dinosaur Hunting and Spelunker Z are both Japanese exclusives with small fan bases so understanding them required me to put in the work to climb the language barrier. Once the cipher was discovered in Fez I was right there with everyone else, jotting down symbols and translating the esoteric poetry.

For Submerged it was an excuse to stick with the game after finishing the main adventure. The story is easy enough to piece together as you slowly unlock new pictograms drawn by Miku. Her journal details the story of how she and her brother ended up in this strange city as well as the creatures and landmarks she discovers. The really interesting part is the “City’s Story”, a collection of 60 pictograms that are hidden throughout the game and tell the greater story of what happened to this world. Every pictogram is accompanied by four alphabetical characters and with the promise of more context I couldn’t help but have a go at decoding it.

So I did. I’m no master codebreaker or linguist though and I’m definitely not bragging. Ed Orman at Uppercut Games clearly did a lot of work to create the alphabet, but it wasn’t hard to decode. After he dropped a hint about the game’s logo I was off and crackin’. Since all the words are based on English it was easy to sound out and guess at the rest and after a couple mix ups I had my cipher.

If you’ve finished the game and want to know more, have a look at this gallery. But be aware: SPOILERS! Even seeing the pictograms gives away most of what you get out of the game. If the idea of a sunken metropolis and a game of exploration is at all interesting to you I recommend playing it yourself. Then come back and we can chat. If that doesn’t bother you then, by all means, click on in!

I’ve translated every bit of text I could find in the game including the achievement icons. My rough alphabet cipher is also included if you want to do some decoding (or encoding) of your own. Maybe use it for your fan fiction, I dunno.