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    Alice in Wonderland (DS)    by   jp       (May 24th, 2023 at 17:20:25)

    Huh, this game has so many cool ideas...and they're just sort of thrown in there. The game still looks interesting - strong art direction with polygonal but stylized art...mostly black and white with elements of color to denote either danger (red) or for moments of character-specific gameplay (purple for the rabbit, green for the caterpillar, blue for the Cheshire cat, and orange for the mad hatter whom I have yet to find/unlock).

    You play as a character - any of the above, you switch freely between them whenever you want, and there's Alice - who may not actually be Alice from the books, but the characters sure do hope she is because there's all kinds of trouble un the Underworld. The Queen is breaking everything up into puzzle pieces and it's a disaster for all. Alice is the companion you must protect, she follows you around and you sometimes have to help her climb up or jump over large gaps. The game operates almost entirely via the touch screen and, a few niggles here and there, works pretty well. It's basically puzzle-solving with moments of touch-screen based combat (my least favorite part so far).

    Cool things include:

    a. The game levels are puzzle pieces you navigate between via doors (with card suits on them). Some of the puzzles involve going to the overworld map and rearranging the puzzle pieces so two areas become connected and you can travel between them!

    b. There's chests you can find in the levels with goodies and collectibles and such. I found one that had lots of colors...weird. And then the rear DS camera turned on and I had to find stuff in the environment that matched the color! I was only able to do this by bringing up my ipad and "searching" for the color and pointing the camera at it...which perhaps goes to show that my current environment (at the time) was chromatically bland more than anything.

    c. For some of the puzzles you have to blow into the microphone. They make sense in the context of the game (blowing playing cards that serve as a sail on a teacup, or blowing enemies who are cards that you've beat the armor off...etc). It's a little bit gimicky to be fair, but still - just a reminder of how much cool stuff was in the DS and how many games did make use of it.

    d. The whole game is connected to some Disney "metaverse" you can presumably (I doubt it still works) connect to - through out the game I've unlocked costumes/avatars/things? for this Disney-verse. Just a reminder that this metaverse really does go far back....

    e. I don't have the box with me to check - but I think the game is "Tim Burton"-related? Which is weird because AFAIK there is no Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland...but perhaps there was? Or there were plans that didn't go anywhere?

    I've made it to chapter 2 - but I'm probably near the end. I need to find the Mad Hatter for some reason...but the game might be much longer than I think? I have many of the map pieces, but the game is metroid-vania like in that characters have abilities that allow access to different parts of the world...we'll see how long I play, and how many more surprises there are.

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    Professor Heinz Wolff's Gravity (DS)    by   jp       (May 23rd, 2023 at 10:37:17)

    I wonder what the story behind this game is - I've assumed that Professor Heinz Wolff is a real person and that they somehow got roped into endorsing a videogame? Sort of like the Japanese guy (Kawashima?) who endorsed those brain training games that were such a hit when the DS first game out. I'm also going to guess that this professor is german - just from the name...which would make the whole thing even more odd? Or unusual? Or, maybe the professor doesn't exist and they just made up the character!

    Anyways, it's fun to speculate here - and I guess a few minutes searching would find an answer BUT, it's still perhaps a bit of a sign of interesting times? (the DS years I 'm thinking here)

    So, the game is basically a physics-based puzzle game where you need to touch a "bell" and there's empty space and you get items to place and a ball (or a little wagon) will spawn at a location - and then you need to Rube Goldberg-device your way there.

    At first I thought it was SUPER hard - I had trouble clearing the first few levels because manipulating the pieces you get was really hard (you get certain pieces per level) and then I realized that the trigger buttons do a nice crisp 90 rotation of the pieces and it got a lot easier...

    Interestingly there's a few puzzles I was able to clear with fewer pieces - which is always a nice thing since my expectation at least is that puzzle games like this (I'm also thinking Super Crayon Physics Deluxe) shine when there's a certain amount of open-ness and flexibility that allows for creative solutions and surprise.

    The game comes with 100 puzzles - I did about 20 of them, it's not too long, but there are also some minigames and a sandbox mode. Strangely, the sandbox mode is locked (perhaps you need to finish the 100 puzzles?)...and the three mini games weren't that interesting.

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    Wildfrost (PC)    by   jp       (May 22nd, 2023 at 16:36:41)

    This was a gift for my birthday and I've really been enjoying it. It's hard though - and it's taken me a bit of time to figure out what things are important/valuable and which ones less so. I guess that's a tricky thing with a game that is very familiar in its core gameplay and mechanics. You bring strategies/knowledge from an earlier game and then realize that, oh, it's not quite the same in this one.

    The game is both a rogue-like deckbuilder and a (simple) tactical game - everything runs on turn-counter based timer system. Every time you play a card (or ring the bell to get a new hand of cards, unless the bell's charged - because it's also on a timer): the turn counter triggers. For all characters on the field, it counts down by one, and they all act on the "1". There's some exceptions to this (snow condition that freezes the regular turn counter), but it's a neat system because you want to get characters out there asap, some characters are better than others, but they also (the better ones) have longer turn counters - so they act fewer times! Enemies are on the same system as well. So, that system is neat and it took me a while to start to pay REAL attention to the situation (characters are arranged in two rows, like in Warsaw, but you can freely move them around - which is often necessary because if your main character dies, it's a game over)

    So, here's some things I've had to learn:

    (a) you can get more characters (after a battle, you choose a path on a map - sort of like Slay the Spire), but they're also cards. So, the crown upgrade is amazing - because they start on the field, so you save a turn, which is great. (it means they can start counting down to act sooner)

    (b) There are charms, that you can add to cards that add abilities, initially I was dismissive of them - but now I realize their value in that they don't add cards to your deck! Bad thing is that they're random - when you get new cards you often choose 1 from 3 options. Here you get whatever - and there are definitely some that are better than others.

    (c) It's hard to trash cards. I actually had to unlock the location on the map for trashing cards, and you never know if/when it'll come up. So, generally, you want to gain few cards, prioritize characters and spend coins for a crown if you can so they come out at the beginning.

    (d) If you have a tight/small deck, you can effectively heal your characters by withdrawing them from the board, they go back in the deck and, presumably you can draw them the next turn (again, if your deck is small!) It's an interesting tactic - and I've had to use it a few times. If you characters get knocked out - they show up as injured (weakened significantly) for your next battle, so that really sucks.

    So far the furthest I've gotten is dying on the 3rd boss! It was a surprisingly good run and I felt quite lucky. I don't know how many bosses there are - perhaps I was about to win? I've gotten to a point where I can, with a bit of regularity beat the first boss...but it's still a really hard game.

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    Horizon Zero Dawn (PS4)    by   dkirschner       (May 19th, 2023 at 08:23:25)

    Finally finished this last night. It has its ups and downs, and I probably shouldn't have played another open world game with stealth, crafting and etc. after playing Assassin's Creed Odyssey. My girlfriend called it "jank Assassin's Creed." It's different, of course, notably for the unique worldbuilding, story, and the giant robots. Well, any robots. Assassin's Creed has no robots. But Horizon Zero Dawn has no Templars. But it does have a cult. The comparisons are endless.

    Anyway, you play as a young woman named Aloy, an outcast from her tribe with a mysterious connection to the past. If I say too much about the plot, I'll spoil things, but suffice to say that the overarching story is really, really interesting. It's revealed bit by bit, such that I often thought I understood what was going on, and then it would reveal another layer. In the latter quarter of the game, you get a ton of answers and learn so much about the history of the game world. The way you learn about the world must mirror the way that its inhabitants, or humans in general, knew nothing, and then made discovery after discovery that illuminated the darkness.

    The sense of discovery isn't just the story, but the gameplay as well. Yes, the open world is beautiful, etc., etc., but there are giant robots everywhere! They are like "species," meant to resemble animals: some have herd behaviors (like horses), there are robot crocodiles, robot bulls, giant robot killer sandworms, robot pterodactyls, robot T-Rex, robot velociraptors, and a giant spider mech that looks like something out of Metal Gear. As you progress through the world, you encounter ever more dangerous robots and, if you're brave enough, can learn how to override them to make them fight each other (very entertaining).

    Combat is largely bow-and-arrow-based, with various types of ammo that have various effects. There are other weapons, bombs, traps, and so on, some of which have novel uses. For example, you can lay down trip wires, then herd robots into them. Honestly, I barely used anything except my bow and arrow and my spear. The spear is useful for stealth. You can hide in tall grass, lure enemies, and stealth kill them (humans or weaker robots) or override them (robots). I guess I played the game a lot like it was an Assassin's Creed game. But I generally found the crafting, looting, and upgrading systems tedious, so I didn't bother. Another neat thing about the combat with robots is that you can shoot off parts of them. Robot firing missiles at you? Destroy its rocket launcher. It might even pop off for you to pick up. Need materials for crafting fire arrows? Shoot the incendiary containers off the backs of robots. It was fun to slowly dismantle the bigger robots like this.

    Overall, it was neat to play Horizon Zero Dawn. I enjoyed the overarching story the most, but the moment-to-moment gameplay was fun too, with combat being an intense affair, especially against the more challenging robots. Segments where you have to clear human bandit camps were less inspiring. Side quests and characters were also pretty uninspiring, and I did stick mostly to the main storyline. There is a sequel out that I don't think I'll play, though I wouldn't mind reading about it.

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    Signalis (PC)    by   dkirschner       (May 19th, 2023 at 08:02:20)

    Signalis is a really great retro survival horror game with strong Silent Hill vibes. The presentation is pixelated, artsy, and stylish. The story is creative and confusing. If it weren't told with such slick presentation, the story would be less enjoyable, but I was rather curious to sort my understanding of what was going on (note: I did not understand what was going on). The gist of it is that you're a Replika, an android created from an original human personality. Because humans are flawed, so are Replikas, and, long story short, the Replikas all go insane in the mining facility where most of the game (supposedly) takes place. You encounter nightmare after nightmare, attempting to survive, trying to find a Gestalt (human) who you have some connection to. You'll also encounter other Replikas who are not quite dead or insane, like the facility administrator, none of whom are helpful.

    The gameplay is classic survival horror. You have some guns and melee weapons, limited ammo, a couple tools, and solve a lot of puzzles. One unique thing is that enemies can "reactivate" after being downed, but you can permanently kill them with fire. I did this exactly twice, and it was during a boss fight against the Mynah unit. The Mynah activates two basic Replikas, and will keep activating them throughout the fight no matter how many times you shoot them down. If you set them on fire, then the Mynah can't reactivate them. I cheesed the fight, actually. After burning the Replikas, I just stood behind a pillar while the Mynah tried to shoot me, got tired, and became vulnerable. I shot it until it got back up, and I blocked line of sight again behind the pillar while it fired into the pillar, got tired, became vulnerable, and repeat until dead. It was generally easy throughout the game to run circles around slow enemies, especially when there was an object in the middle, and I was surprised this Mynah boss was dumb enough to fall for it too.

    In these kinds of games, you usually have a small inventory, but in Signalis, you have a REALLY small inventory. Six items. At save points, there is a chest that stores infinite items, so you will find yourself often, especially toward the end of the game, running back and forth between save points swapping items from your inventory to the chest. There is a lot to pick up for how limited your inventory is. It added to the tense survival mood for most of the game, but became tedious toward the end when there were a lot more enemies, no maps, and elaborate puzzles. Indeed, the latter one-quarter to one-third of the game has no map, which presents an additional challenge. Prior to that, the map was really useful and well designed, with color coded doors for "been there," "haven't been there," "locked," and "broken." I liked the level layout a lot of the mining facility.

    So yeah! I wouldn't have played this but it sounded really solid from reviews, and when I signed up for Xbox Game Pass, there it was. Definitely a standout in this genre. Enjoy trying to figure out what the end means.

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    GameLog hopes to be a site where gamers such as yourself keep track of the games that they are currently playing. A GameLog is basically a record of a game you started playing. If it's open, you still consider yourself to be playing the game. If it's closed, you finished playing the game. (it doesn't matter if you got bored, frustrated,etc.) You can also attach short comments to each of your games or even maintain a diary (with more detailed entries) for that game. Call it a weblog of game playing activity if you will.

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    Super Mario World (SNES)    by   Chewbacca

    No comment, yet.
    most recent entry:   Friday 25 January, 2008

    In Super Mario World for Super Nintendo, the player or players (the game enables a one-player or two-player mode) are in control of either two characters by the names of Mario and Luigi. These two characters are able to jump, run, grow, and even receive powers such as the ability to shoot flame balls or the ability to fly. The main goal is to avoid ‘bad guys’ and to work your way around obstacles in the many different levels to further your way into the game.


    This game would have to be one of the most enticing games to ever be created in my opinion; I couldn’t put the controller down! This game is really fun not only alone, but as well as with the two-player mode. You automatically build a bond with your partner as you attempt to further yourselves through each level, pushing each other and getting psyched up. Mario (and Luigi alike) is able to do many things that enabled me to make ease of things. One beneficial factor within the game included the ability to hop onto Yoshi (a green little dinosaur with an appetite) and eat bad guys who approached me. Mario is able to grow from being small, run really fast, fly, shoot fire balls, and I’m sure further into the game more powers will be available. Mario is very well rounded and with this, I was able to solidly get through levels getting coins and extra lives.

    The amount of constant flow in the game was very much present. It’s a simple concept; I would start at the beginning of a level and finish at the end. This beginning/end flow resonates throughout each level of the game and makes the players eagerly wait for the next and the next level. When playing, I played with an audience of four people, and what was interesting was that not only the players were the ones who were into the game, but also everyone watching was really into the game. At times I would look over and the audience would emulate Mario or Luigi’s movements with their mouths or heads because they were so into it. Super Mario World is a very social game and I think that is what really makes this game one of the best.

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