achtungexplosiv: (Default)
In between jetting off to chilly climes, going through the Champions Online archetype rotation, popping into Anarchy Online for it's halloween activities and hitting up Rift now I'm starting to approach end game, I've been playing bits and pieces of other games.


First up is Zelda: Four Swords, DSiware released for the 3DS and free to all with a 3DS, DSi or DSi XL as part of the 25th anniversary celebrations. It's a limited time release and will be vanishing mid-february.

4 swords logo

It's primarily meant to be played multiplayer with up to 4 people playing differently coloured Links, workign together to complete each area of the game. It can be played singleplayer as well, with two Links both controlled by you. This is a little tricky at first: you can switch between them with the R shoulder button and you can set one to follow behind the other, or stand around wherever you left it. The trick is to get the hang of issuing these orders and swapping between them smoothly and quickly. Each Link can hold only the 1 special item beside a sword, and using the right item (and thus the right link) for a particular part becomes critical. In addition, each Link is measured on how many coins it collects, damage it inflicts etc. These all give a score at the end of each area. (Beyond that, I've not yet discovered a use for coins beyond a fee to raise you á la Fairy if you die.)

The emulation for the 3DS is basic. It's not 3D and doesn't suspend properly either, as it was directly ported from the original 2002 DSi version. It's got a tutorial area that explains how the game works and what items can do, which is helpful. Some of the items are funny, like the magnet and many of them are ye olde staples from almost any Zelda game you care to name. It held my attention for a while but ultimately as there's no real story or point to any of it beyond progressing through areas because they're there, I got bored.


Bunch of Heroes is an indie-ish PC game available on Steam. It's very simple: pick a character, team upw ith a friend or two, pewpew enemies and complete objectives in each area. The graphics are cartoony, it's filled with ridiculous puns and there's action to be had all round.

Bunch of Heroes logo

As a co-operative game, it's something of a twin-stick shooter but in an Alien Swarm style more than anything else, mechanically-speaking. WASD to move, mouse to aim and fire. The primary enemy here is zombies (inifinite numbers thereof), you have limited ammunition though there are crates to bust for drops. Nothing groundbreaking here and in fact I got fairly bored of it after the first area.


For the daily commute, I have been at the mobile gaming again on my Android. Minecraft Pocket was finally released for all Android platforms (an iOS version is out now as well) after it's Xperia Play exclusive offer finished and I picked it up as my first paid app.

Minecraft Pocket logo

It's a very pared down version of Minecraft (now officially released) - Minecraft classic essentially. it's purely creative mode with no monsters, health, equipment or resource gathering. You simply select what blocks you want to build with, run around the world you create and build things. The size of the world is also very much reduced, though you have forest, water, mountains, trees and so on.

You can multiplay over wifi or bluetooth, with one phone hosting a server that others can join. As a note, by default your map will be a publically available server unless you turn that off! I've not given the multiplayer part a go as yet.

It runs my HTC Sensation somewhat hot, I have to say, and the graphics start to glitch after a while though that is rectified by pausing the game, switching back to the home screens, then hopping back into the game. It's quite the battery drain as well. I also don't like the D-Pad controls too much, though as these things go they're fairly good. I haven't yet fully adapted to the complete loss of tactile feedback from a capacitive touchscreen when using controls that used to be physically pushed (moreso for the analogue controllers of the later consoles).

Overall I've found it to be fun now and then for building something silly but it really ought to have a flight mode enabled so that it can be a pure building simulator, given all the other aspects of Minecraft's gameplay are gone (adventuring, circuitry, combat etc).

Next up:

I've been playing more of the Alchemy games on my 'droid and I'll be giving those a go-over soon.
achtungexplosiv: (Default)
From the earliest days of the Nintendo Game Boy, I've been a fan of handheld gaming. Travelling around London is an endurance test for children and commuters alike and the entertainment offered much needed respite and interaction. Sneaking it into school in my bag and using the old linkup cable to duel others at breaktime used to be a favourite past-time of mine and to my credit I was only ever caught once.

My best friend pursuaded her parents to buy her a Sega Game Gear when they were released and after my initial jealousy was overtaken by curiosity, I was satisfied to find it's games were mostly lacklustre and battery life was horrible. An Atari Lynx was the pride and joy of one of the boys in my class but it was heavy and clunky, with over-hyped games to boot. I didn't budge from my position when the new wave of slimmer, coloured case Game Boys hit and even the Game Boy Colour didn't impress me enough to begin the long negotiations with my parents to acquire one. Besides which, by then I was a total SNES head and eagerly awaiting further news of the Super CD. I could live with the ol' classic handheld when out and about.

The Game Boy Advance was the first to budge me from my trench, translucent casing and all. Handheld SNES - win! By then, Nintendo was in full handheld refinement swing and was releasing a new model every other year; limited editions, different shapes, different colours, smaller, bigger, backlit, frontlit, folding and so on (most notable of which was the popular Game Boy Advance SP) finally culminating in the Game Boy Micro. A business model they've kept up to this day. My cynical side kept me using that old GBA unit for years until after Sony had entered the console market and Sega bowed out. By this time, the Nintendo DS and the Sony PSP were here.

I really rather liked the DS with it's touchscreen and dual screen capability because I could instantly see all sorts of uses for it to provide a different gaming experience. The PSP continued along the upping power and graphics stakes whilst Nintendo took a step to the left. I was gifted with a blue DS chunky not long before the DS Lite was released and was happy about it because in my opinion, the DS lite looked like it was some plastic thing found at the bottom of a cereal box (or would be if they hadn't banned cereal box toys as being a health and saferty hazard) and couldn't play my GBA games.

That ol' blue brick served me well through the DS Lite, the DSi and the DSi XL years until finally the next step was taken and Nintendo announced the 3DS.

3-D handheld gaming sounded to me like a total gimmick. 3-D vid cards needed glasses and the prototype 3D TVs demanded you sit pretty still in order to see the effects. I was moderately intrigued but most of the hype passed me by. That is, until I got the chance to test one out shortly before christmas 2010: I was hooked. The displays were clear, the stylus was a lot less crappy than the original DS stylus and above all the 3D effects were very robust. My only major complaint was the introduction of region locking, in my opinion a real downer but not enough to put me off the handheld entirely.

I eagerly awaited it's official release in April and I remember that hot and sunny friday well as I took an extended lunchbreak to snap up the last Aqua unit in the square mile. If I'm out of the house, it comes with me; London being packed full of people, I'm almost guaranteed a Streetpass hit once I hit the tube. Think I'm up to 74 Miis I've met by Streetpass wireless, mostly on my commute. It's such a daft thing, but it's funny to see what people have come up with (the best one I've collected is a scarily accurate Admiral Ackbar), to trade puzzle pieces and to take part in the incredibly silly castle adventure. That sort of thing isn't normally my style but for some reason I've found it compelling...
The 3D camera is fun. Low resolution but some of the images I've got have captured the depth of a scene extremely well. The wireless setup is mostly easy to use if a bit short range, and the Opera-based web browser is quite alright though nothing to write home about.

Most of all, the 3D function itself works extremely well in my view; my eyes 'lock in' very easily to find the 3D and I can move the DS around without losing the 3D depth unless it's a sudden sharp jolt. It's certainly enough to deal with average bumping about on the bus, but not if it gets smacked by someone's elbow. I've used mine a ton so far and not had eyestrain issues, so I've no idea where the 'OMG MY EYES R BLEEDING!!1!' fuss came from.

The biggest downside is battery consumption. In sleep mode it's fine and will last ages even with the occasional infrared pulse for Streetpass. The annoyance is if it's suspended because a game is on pause, or it's connecting over wifi even if you're not actively using the wifi function. Other irritations include original DS games not suspending if you want to hop to the Home menu - you have to quit out, strong light glaring off the glassy screens and the aforementioned region locking. But aside from those, I less-than-three my 3DS easily as much as I did my original ol' Game Boy.

So, is that a 3DS?

As requested by Razz, a picture of a 3DS

I play on my commute, and over quiet lunchtimes in a shaded spot. I get asked now and then if the blue thing I'm playing with is a 3DS, usually followed up with a request to look at the 3D. On the release day as I was standing on the northbound Northern Line platform at Bank on my way home, I had no fewer than 3 people come over and ask me questions about it. I've succeeded in getting the 3D effect in action to work for everyone who's asked too. Yesterday, a young girl in a wheelchair squealed in delight when she saw me sitting on a bench playing with it, having instantly recognised what it was a mile off, and after I'd demonstrated it to her with Ghost Recon was begging her mother to buy her one. Heh, oops... It seems as if people are intrigued at what the 3D effect looks like, and often are surprised that they don't have to wear 3D glasses in order to see it. It amuses me at any rate.

And now I'm off home, hopefully collecting another Mii on the way...


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May 2012

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