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    Runbow (PS4)    by   jp       (Nov 28th, 2021 at 10:32:16)

    Running and Rainbow. The name of the game is a pretty good explanation for what you're supposed to do. We played "co-op" for a few hours in the campaign/adventure. As a team we're all trying to get to the end of the level - first player there "wins" and in the grand scheme of things there's a rectangular grid where each tile is a level and we're trying to trace a path from the start tile (first challenge/level you do) to a "S" tile which has the boss. There are 4 S tiles (all far away from each other) and presumably when you beat the last one you "win" the game. We did three before we started to get tired - the levels were also getting harder overall beyond the 3-tiers already evident (green, yellow, and red).

    As for gameplay, there are different characters but AFAIK they're all the same. No special abilities or anything like that. The main gimmick/twist is that there's a background color "sweep" (in a flat color) that affects things in the level that are that color. When the sweep is green, everything that's green is invisible and doesn't exist. So, platforms to land on but also enemy lasers. So, there's a frantic pace of rushing to the end but careful timing is also important so that you can land on/avoid/etc. whatever level objects are there to either help or hurt you.

    I was mostly annoyed by the fact that you can interfere with the other players - often knocking them out of the level which was annoying, especially in the harder ones were we were struggling to get to the end. On the other hand, there was much laughing at this too.

    The game does come with a bunch of other modes, but I'm not sure we'll be all that interested to try them out? I only bought the game because of the couch co-op and I'm not sure we were all that enthused enough by it to play a bunch more?

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    Carto (PS4)    by   jp       (Nov 27th, 2021 at 18:59:01)

    I played a few hours of this about a year ago, and I picked it up again a few nights ago and finished it.

    The game is adorable in how it looks, and the story, and so on. Very cute, likeable and calming. The main draw for me though was the game's core mechanic (and the puzzles associated with it).

    The game has two modes - in one you're wandering around on a 2D map and can interact with objects and characters. In the other, you're looking at a map that's made up of square tiles (a la Carcassonne) and you can pick up the tiles, change their location and rotate them around. Sometimes (mostly in the beginning of the game) you find little sheets of paper in the world which are actually new tiles for you to place. Later in the game you have to arrange the tiles on the map to "unlock" a new tile that will suddenly appear. There are certain rules for how you can place tiles - mostly about different kinds of terrain lining up (you can't place if they don't line up - e.g. a road up against a forest). Furthermore there are some "interior" and underground locations where the same mechanic is used - inside houses (a hut, a multi-room library, underground tunnels and rooms) and there are some neat interactions between them. For example in the underground rooms you can't move/pick up the tiles, BUT each underground room is associated with an overground tile so you have to move THOSE (overground) ones to get the orientation underground that you need.

    The game has a neat progression system in how the puzzles get slowly more complicated or introduce a "new" type of solution/answer and I enjoyed how they didn't overuse the same puzzles over and over again. Also, the longer I played the "lazier" I got - taking advantage of the tile moving to, for example, relocate the tile I was on to be closer to the tile I wanted the character to go to, but I couldn't be bothered to walk that far (not that far, actually, but still). There's a bunch of secret little things you can do but I enjoyed the following puzzles:

    (a) Noticed a tile with a blue bird in the corner, then another. Turns out there were 4 tiles with birds and when I placed the tiles such the all the bird corners were together a secret puzzle piece popped out.

    (b) At one point you're asked to solve a super easy version of the towers of hanoi puzzle, then a slightly more complicated one and finally a REALLY long one (that's probably impossible with the space provided). The 1st two were on three mats in the same room, but the last one had a huge tower and mats in three rooms. The "answer" was to swap the rooms such that the starting room (originally on the left) was now on the right. It worked!

    (c) One of the challenges required putting a fish-shaped lake together from a bunch of "lake parts" - and then, following a kids drawing on a sheet of paper, re-arrange the lake parts into four specific fish shapes and fishing that type of fish from the lake with that shape. I thought this one was neat - but I had trouble getting all the shapes right even after I had figured out what I had to do.

    There were some more annoying puzzles as well - one where I left a mostly empty tile in the center when I actually had to leave an empty space (no tile) in the center. Sigh. Also one where I had to rotate pieces around so they lined up with lines on ice that the character (Carto) would slide on - all trying to get to an object used to decorate a snowman. This one I solved more through trial and error than actual puzzle solving. Again, sigh.

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    Vader Immortal: Episode III (PS4)    by   jp       (Nov 23rd, 2021 at 18:48:02)

    Final episode!

    Still nice and short and sweet. I'm guessing some people complained about it being too short, but I really enjoyed the length - perfect for one session with the dojo to spend more time if you wanted.

    Again some new gameplay - now adding a scene with "do this motion in the air" - it was actually a cool moment as I used the sword-lightsaber to "wake up" a robot army that was going to help with things.

    This episode added shooting! (as a more commonly occurring thing) Mostly it was from force-grabbing blasters and then I would blast away at stormtroopers. Also grenades, but I didn't use those much. You also use the force in a battle against a commander in a TIE fighter - deflect his shots, damage the fighter, then use the force to finish up with the damage. Yes, it all takes a lot of suspension of disbelief (why don't I use the force on other things? etc.), but overall super fun. Oh, you can also start throwing your lightsaber - but perhaps this was introduced in Episode II?

    In all a light, fun and thoughtful experience. You're invariably the "good guy" (even if you're a pirate/scavenger) so it was weird when I learned that I could also do the "channel lightning" (dark side power!) though the whole choking people/creatures with the force also seems a bit suspect (from the "I'm a good guy"). It still works in that, well - Vader is worse, but I was a bit confused by how I was doing "dark side" stuff all the time... and, we hear Padme's voice!

    The dojo was tougher than episode II, but now you could get the lightning attack (which was super fun to use!) and also double wield! (two lightsabers, one in each hand). The double wield was neat for a while, but I think the force+lightsaber combo was the best for me.

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    Vader Immortal: Episode II (PS4)    by   jp       (Nov 23rd, 2021 at 18:36:52)

    I was curious if this episode would be "more of the same", and NO!

    I kind of want to say that this time around the emphasis was far more on using force powers, at least in terms of the main gameplay. There's some lightsabering, with a really cool "old-timey" lightsaber that has wisps of smoke when you turn it off! I don't know why I enjoyed that detail so much.

    The dojo was more of a highlight this time around as I realized that I could (and should) be using the force (one hand) and the lightsaber (other hand) together for maximum bad-ass effect. You really do feel like a Jedi master as there are multiple things going on and I just felt on top of it. I did have to give up on the "force throwing" since it was really wonky in terms of aiming. It worked sometimes, sometimes did not and overall took too long to get "right".

    I also really appreciated (since I tried them out) the different accessibility settings - these related mostly to skipping things that were more likely to get you dizzy/nauseated. I'm glad they're there and it was interesting to see how the experience changed a little.

    The twist at the end of the episode? Saw that from a mile away, but still.

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    Rock of Ages III: Make & Break (PS4)    by   jp       (Nov 23rd, 2021 at 18:27:04)

    I was really excited to try this out because it looked weird and strange and interesting. And it is weird and strange and looks absolutely amazing. I love the Terry Gilliam-era Monty Python-inspired art and animation. It really makes the game feel special and different and unique.

    I am curious about it being the 3rd in the series - the tagline is "make and break", where making refers to the fact that there is a level editor and you can share your levels with the community and so on. Pretty neat stuff even if it took quite a bit of getting used to the interface for the level creator. I wonder if the designers used their own tool for making the games' levels? (this is what I understand Media Molecule did with Little Big Planet and more recently Dreams). The break refers to playing the actual game which is hard to describe (in part because there are different modes).

    I think the main mode is sort of a Super Monkey Ball meets Tower Defense game. In this case, when you're the ball (or rock) you need to navigate a circuit to ultimately knock down a stronghold's door. Do enough damage (destroy it) and you win. It might take multiple ball/rocks to get there (depending on what rocks you have unlocked and which one you chose). The tower defense part comes in that your opponent (usually AI) is trying to do the same thing (roll their rock towards you stronghold) and you need to lay down obstacles in the path to disrupt, slow down, etc. their progress. You can't ever really stop the enemy - if the roll off they just respawn (same as you) but slowing them down can really change things. So, if you're really good at the rolling you get more "hits" than your opponent - and you can make it easier by being more effective in slowing them down. You have a budget of gold to purchase obstacles with more gold slowly accruing over time (there are also mines to quicken that, etc.). The levels really are like Super Monkey Ball ones in that the path is usually a bit narrow, there are turns, twists, jumps, etc.

    The feature that most surprised me was that once you've destroyed an obstacle (with your rock) - nothing can be built in its place! This also applies to your obstacles. So, there is a certain amount of foresight/planning that goes into playing this well.

    The other modes include a time-trial and a skeeball (try to land the ball in the skeeball thingie after rolling down the level for more pts than your opponent). And, I might be forgetting a mode?

    Anyways, I played them all and was starting to wrap my head around the interface (I was often confused as to which direction the enemy ball was coming from - which is important in order to orient your defenses correctly). I also started to learn about how not to deploy some obstacles and so on. I even cleared the first "world" (age?)...but I got to the Roman one...and the game hard crashed on me (blue screen) too many times for me to want to continue playing. I also had a few hard freezes.

    I definitely LOVED the main campaign interface - you're ship sailing around a beautiful map with water and...nice music/sound. It's hard to describe, but I thought it looked SO neat.

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    Random

    Guitar Hero 2 (360)    by   Lunshine

    No comment, yet.
    most recent entry:   Saturday 9 February, 2008
    Gamelog #2

    GAMEPLAY

    Even after playing Guitar Hero 2 for an extended period of time (somewhere around 4 hours), I still found it extremely fun and interesting to play. The only criticism I have is that if you cannot defeat a particular song, playing that song over and over again can get a bit tedious and, as a result, the player might give up for awhile. I, however, was determined to reach the end of the game and was ecstatic about sometimes barely making it through a final song.

    DESIGN

    I believe one of the good design elements of this game is the guitar controller and the steep learning curve of the game. If you happen to be really good at Guitar Hero, you will soon find that many of your gaming friends will worship you like a god. This, in a way, is a glory reward through games as systems of rewards. The steep learning curve is such that mastering the game is a very difficult thing to do - and very few have actuallly succeeded.

    In more detail regarding the guitar controller, this controller actually makes you feel like you are playing in an actual concert in front of the crowd. When you succeed, the video crowd cheers for you and if you fail, the crowd boos you off the stage. The controller and star power function allows you to enter the magic circle more quickly and immediately be entranced by the game. When the star power is deployed, your character begins to do amazing power-ups on stage and it is easier for you to maintain your "life." Surprisingly, this also allowed me to strategize throughout the game and determine how I could effectively make it through a difficult song. I had to be very careful where to deploy my star power.

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