Happening now on GameLuv

Done Playing: Tetris Twist (Browser)

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I’ve been a little fixated on Tetris lately so I gave the announcement of Tetris Twist more than my passing oh-they-made-a-new-one reaction. It’s also free and browser-based and built in HTML5 so there’s no need to install a dubious plug-in. That makes for a pretty low barrier to entry. Unfortunately, the biggest “twist” in Tetris Twist is the mobile gamification built around the classic gameplay, despite not being playable on a mobile device. I present the evidence:

Exhibit A: a sprawling world map of bite-size stages
Exhibit B: a 3-star rating system based on score
Exhibit C: excessive ads

What this amounts to are 90-second sessions of Tetris bookended with a commercial or sometimes a blank box where a commercial should be that requires you to refresh the entire page. This goes on and on in chunks of 20 stages, each based around a new city with a new gameplay element. The first “world” introduces score cells that sometimes force you to fill up the well with junk on purpose to reach and clear them. The combination of pre-set garbage lines and score cells adds just a little strategy to the familiar game of Tetris.

There are promises of intriguing mechanics like Gravity Mode and Hourglass Mode that I’d like to see but they’re buried behind constant commercial breaks and a finicky new control scheme. Also very mobile-centric, the default controls use only the mouse and two buttons to play. Left click drops, right click swaps out your Hold piece and there is no rotation control. Instead, the silhouette of your rapidly sinking piece “sticks” in different configurations as you move the mouse around. It enables faster play and makes risky T-Spins effortless but it fails when the speed ramps up or precision placement becomes critical. Lo and behold there are classic keyboard controls which the game never points out but the mouse is what it was clearly designed around.

Like so many other free-to-play iterations on classic franchises (I’m lookin’ at you Plants vs Zombies Adventures and SimCity Social), Tetris Twist has me torn up. I liked playing it, even with the funky new control scheme, but the constant interruptions and brief stages turned me away before I could get to the interesting new parts. But you don’t have to take my word for it, Levar, because it’s free! Try it for yourself and let me know if it gets any better after Stage 40.

Unboxing that Metal Gear Solid V Soundtrack on Cassette Tape

So that $50 edition of the Metal Gear Solid V soundtrack arrived and I did a quick unboxing video. I’d have appreciated it more if I weren’t reeling from a migraine and struggling through the absentminded haze it brought, but here it is! Definitely a functional cassette tape packed in with another MGSV soundtrack on CD.

The album is called ‘The Lost Tapes’ and contains most of the original music found scattered around the game world. It’s my favorite collection of music from the game but it’s not the all-inclusive album I thought it was. Looking through the liner notes I finally realized what the deal must be: all the songs (and most of the credits) go to lead composer, Ludvig Forssell. ‘The Lost Tapes’ seems to be a personal production of just his music and even includes new songs not found in the game.

It’s great to finally have an official release for some of these songs and the new tunes are a nice bonus. I’ll probably be writing more about it over on Original Sound Version one of these days.

I Paid $50 for a Cassette Tape in 2016

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Would you look at this little beauty right here? Not only is it a Metal Gear Solid V soundtrack on a cassette tape that looks just like the ones in the game, it contains the soundtrack I’ve been after since the game was released. You know, the soundtrack I spent a week recording and editing out of the Companion App. The soundtrack that is hidden around the game’s open environments on cassette tapes tucked away in remote camps and dark corners. The soundtrack that people thank me for uploading to YouTube on a daily basis. It’s finally real, official and (most importantly) better mixed than my recording!

Somehow I missed the news and the thing’s been out in Japan for a month so I quickly jumped on the Limited Edition package this morning at Play-Asia. If there’s one playlist I’d pay $50 to hear coming out of a cassette tape in 2016, this is the one. Of course, it also comes on a CD because let’s not be totally crazy here. Expect many more photos, an unboxing video and probably a review over on OSV when it arrives in a few weeks.

On a side note, Metal Gear Solid V now has four official soundtracks: The 2-disc Original Soundtrack, the Vocal Tracks album with all the vocal themes from the series, an iTunes exclusive Extended Soundtrack with 5+ hours of music and now The Lost Tapes.

“Boss. That’s too much music.”

Kaz… I’m already an audiophile.”

Achieving: Double (Weekend) Happiness

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It was a weekend of Trophy pop-ups for some very long-in-the-works accomplishments! I’ve had Guitar Hero Live since Christmas and I’d been playing it in fits and starts until the recent news about the development studio’s downsizing and restructuring. The best part of the game is it’s always-on, 24/7 streaming video channels which, naturally, will be the first money-sucking part of the game to get the axe sooner or later.

Of course there’s a progression system to the thing and Trophies tied to milestones like reaching the max level, strumming 1,000,000 times and playing for 24 hours. On Sunday I somehow managed to score 50 million cumulative points within an hour of hitting the level cap. Reaching Level 20 was all I was really after before the game gets shut down and with that scratched off the list I can focus on that one million strums thing. Man, that’s nuts.

As you are no doubt painfully aware, Spelunker World is the other game I’ve been playing for ages. Between the Japanese and US versions I’ve officially been at it for over a year as of early April and I finally — fiiiinally — accomplished two goals as old as time itself. I’ve now completed every one of the game’s 100 nightmarishly deadly levels on my own. There were a few continues used on some of the really fiendish and drawn out ones but I didn’t even blow that many Moon Stones getting through it all.

Though the benefit of teaming up in Spelunker World is immense I still stick to offline play most of the time, that’s why it’s taken this long to get ranked MVP 100 times. MVP comes from a combination of things: most points, having picked up the most keys or litho-stones and rescuing more dead players than everyone else. With more and more players topping Level 100 it’s getting harder to get MVP rank but, just like Guitar Hero, I managed it in the same weekend as finishing off the main levels.

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