Category: Now Playing

Help, I’m drowning in the pool of my own back log

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This screenshot has nothing to do with the post, except that while I was typing up all the games I’m playing I remembered how Shawn told me Zoombinis was on Steam. Crap, I wanna play this too!

Hi guys. Long time, no write. You may recall me as being the woman who was strangely obsessive about a certain marine arcade game at the boardwalk. Still in love with it, by the way. So, you may be thinking that I probably haven’t been up to much, gaming wise. Actually, this post is a legit SOS because I have so many games that I need to either pick up or finish it’s unreal.

So, let’s see what I’ve got on my docket right now…

Thimbleweed Park – A game in the spirit of the 90s point-and-click adventure titles that Lucas Arts used to put out. I have an impressions piece I’ll be posting about this.

Yooka-Laylee – I’ve been waiting on this for forever. Reviews are…not good. Mostly they’re complaining that it’s very 90s to early 2000s adventure platformers. Way to miss the point, guys. That’s exactly what people wanted and why they kickstarted it to begin with. Anyway, the frame rate issues that people are reporting kinda scare me, but I’m going to remain optimistic.

Persona 5 – Yeah, so this game alone will end up being more than a hundred hours. Which would be perfectly fine…if this was the only game I purchased this year. Anyway, I’m about seven hours in so far and I’m really pleased with it so far. It’s so stylish it hurts and the soundtrack is of course, brilliant. But I have no idea when I’m going to find time to finish it. Maybe in twelve years. Just in time for them to re-release with bonus content or something.

Story of Seasons: A Trio of Towns – I feel so bad for neglecting my farm. Totally going to woo Ford, by the way.

Psycho Pass: Mandatory Happiness – I have the collectors edition of this dang thing, too! It’s really good. It’s just that whenever I lay down to play it in bed on my vita (yes, people still own those…or at least, just me), I end up falling asleep.

Runner2 – I just got this off Limited Run Games and I played it for a solid hour. Strangely soothing for my anxiety.

Flinthook – Hopefully will be nabbing this off Limited Run Games in a couple days. Found out this game exists from Fangamer, when I saw their awesome t-shirts. Ironically that is how I found out about Thimbleweed Park. I think their marketing teams need to step up their game a bit…

Ray Gigant – Another vita title I’ll be nabbing off Limited Run Games if I can manage to remember.

SERIOUSLY WILL SOMEONE PLEASE HELP ME FINISH SOMETHING BECAUSE THEN…

Zelda: Breath of the Wild – Haven’t even TOUCHED IT yet. When will I be able to?! I still have WORK I need to do, guys. And then worst of all…

Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood – Let’s be honest. I’ll be playing this, mainly. Because it’s an MMO, which means it’s a horrible time sink.

I think I might just cancel my pre-order for Fire Emblem: Shadows of Valentia because let’s be REAL. I’m never going to play it. Not at this rate. Nope. Maybe I’ll get around to it in 2024. I don’t need to buy anymore games for another five or six years.

…But I know that once Supergiant’s Pyre comes out I’ll be throwing money at it. Geez, it’s feast or famine with the gaming industry. Last year I didn’t even really play anything other than Final Fantasy XIV because there was nothing interesting to me coming out. Now it’s a torrential downpour of games. What are you all playing? Are you collapsing under the weight of your back log or are you somehow managing?

The E.D.F. Deploys on PlayStation 4!

Earth Defense Force 4.1: The Shadow of New Despair launched yesterday and we dug right in! It’s a gussied up version of EDF 2025 that was released last year on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 but those are some satisfying gussies. Check out 46 minutes of some early gameplay featuring remixed missions, new features and vehicles. Oh yeah, the echo-y reverb only lasts for around 8 minutes. Using multiple headsets with microphones on PlayStation 4 is a little confusing.

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.

[Gotcha Racing is developed by Arc System Works and published by Natsume. It was released on the Nintendo eShop August 27th, 2015 for the Nintendo 3DS.]

A Hands On Preview of PONCHO

What is PONCHO? Since I first saw it six months ago all I knew was that it looked gorgeous and was mysterious as can be. Having finally laid hands on a preview build of the game I’m happy to bring you some of an answer to that burning question. Like that indie darling, Fez, PONCHO is a mysterious, 2D, platforming adventure with brain-tweaking dimensional gameplay and lush pixelart visuals. But those high level characteristics are where the similarities end.

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At the outset you’re given the most succinct of explanations: mankind rose up, created self-sustaining robot life… and then went extinct. Centuries later you wake up into a new world as Poncho. Cities have fallen into crumbling ruins, nature has taken over and the remaining machines may have evolved on their own. Part of the game’s charm are the tiny, pixelated details like robotic caterpillars that wriggle like clockwork and mechanical frogs that bound out of the bushes. Did mankind create robot animals or have the machines grown to fill in the gaps? It’s just another of the questions that so easily cross your mind as you poke around while the perfectly fitting, lo-fi chiptune soundscape washes over you.

Besides being the only robot in sight wearing a poncho, you also have the unique ability to leap between Z planes — background, middleground, and foreground — at the press of the shoulder buttons. The story intro and tutorial for this mechanic make for a damn striking first impression but I don’t want to spoil any of that. The defining difference with the gameplay compared to similar titles like LittleBigPlanet or Mutant Mudds is that you can change planes anywhere there is line of sight between the overlapping layers. The effect is mesmerizing as planes ripple back and forth, changing transparency and scale as you rapidly move between them.

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Beyond mechanics, the real point of PONCHO is simply to explore, and I love that. You arrive in a forest and you can head any way you want, periodically running into scholarly bots who spew existential quips about the meaning of life and the absence of the Maker. As you explore you’ll find shimmering pickups scattered around and cleverly tucked behind the multiple planes. Eventually you’ll come across a warp gate that lets you access new zones but you’re always free to come back because, chances are, there’s still stuff to find. Those pickups can be swapped for keys (from one of the best shopkeepers ever) and used to unlock new paths. There’s also an NPC who shows you how to awaken his dormant followers and rewards your efforts with a new ability.

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Moving platforms are also present and you probably guessed they aren’t the traditional kind. These platforms jump in and out of the three planes and were incredibly challenging for me to navigate. The color coding as they move is helpful but in my time with the game I never managed to really nail it. It’s a bit of a bummer but for a game with no combat (love it!) I suppose some aspect of it has to be challenging. PONCHO is no slouch when it comes to precision platforming and while I am no master, the moments where I got into a groove sure made me feel like one.

This build has a few other surprises that I’m not going to detail but they do hint at a bigger game and more narrative. The complete history of this post-human world may never be laid bare but it looks like we’ll take part in some interesting stories on the search for the Maker.

I’m thrilled to have finally played PONCHO and even more excited to say the magic didn’t wear off. I’m just as clueless as before about what’s happening but still as excited as ever to explore and find out. Developer Delve Interactive and publisher Rising Star Games just recently announced the game will be out on Steam this September with Wii U, PlayStation 4 and Vita versions alongside or close behind. I have a hands on video of PONCHO up if you want to see the game in action (which you should) and will be back once it’s released with more Now Playing impressions as I work through it.

Everybody SPLUNKAAAH!

I haven’t had much time for writing or working on Promo Man posts but I did manage to record some time with my current game of choice: Minna de Spelunker Z. It’s a Japanese exclusive, free-to-play update of a 2009 remake of the venerable NES original… so of course I’m into it!

This was my first attempt at streaming from our new PlayStation 4 so the quality isn’t nearly as high as I’d like but hopefully it’s watchable and entertaining. I think I cover all the basics so treat this as a guide if you’re interested in trying it yourself and let me know so we can play multiplayer!