Hello gamers! Welcome to the third installment of the Buy it/Avoid it Report! Over the past month or so I've been playing a lot of handheld and downloadable titles. I've also been catching up on my new favorite comic, Fear Agent
. If you're a fan of pulp science fiction, I highly recommend it. Once I finish that, I'm forcing myself to power through Chuck Palahniuk's Pigmy
. Here's a excerpt from early in the book because I find it hard to describe the way it's written:
"For official record, host father present as vast breathing cow, blowing out putrid stink diet heavy with dead slaughterhouse flesh, bellowing stench of Viagra breath during cow father reach to clasp hand of operative me. From tissue compress rate of father fist, bone-to-cow ratio, father contain 31.2 percent body fat."
So, that one's a slow read for me. Anyway, here are some other things I've been up to. If you're curious about the previous issues, you can find links in my sidebar below the pangolin.
Let's do this!
The Pokemon games and I have been together for over 10 years. Back in the late 90ís, we were hot and heavy, often falling asleep in each otherís arms after hours of intense love making. Over the years though, things have gotten a bit stale. We hang out with the same group of characters every time we go out. We tell the same jokes, go through the same routines. I kept telling myself that if things didnít change soon, I was going to walk out that door and never look back. Then one night, Pokemon White
showed up on my doorstep wearing a shiny new cartridge and told me that she had changed this time, for the better. She found a new circle of friends and broke a bunch of her old habits. As we embraced, I could feel that the spark had returned. This time, things would be different.
Okay, enough with the metaphor. If you didnít gather from the above paragraph, things in the land of Pokemon have changed! The world is now rendered with polygons instead of sprites. They threw Pikachu and his buddies out on their asses and replaced them with over 150 brand new characters. Not only that, but the static images we had all gotten used to in battles have been spruced up with *gasp* animations! Overall, things just feel more streamlined and fresh, yet still familiar. You have to hand it to Nintendo - they know how to keep a series alive. To those wondering why this was put on the regular DS with the 3DS less than a month away - think about the inevitable Pokemon ĎGreyí version. Iíll bet you good money itíll be a 3DS exclusive, chocked full of new features and improved graphics. Shit, I'll buy it!
BUY IT if you swore youíd chuck your DS through a window the next time a wild Geodude appeared.
AVOID IT if you'd prefer to save moves like ďLickĒ and ďSweet KissĒ for the bedroom, where they belong.
PixelJunk Shooter 2
I recently had the pleasure of playing through the first PixelJunk Shooter
and I found itís balance of liquid physics, combat and puzzle solving to be a wonderful experience. It managed to put a unique spin on a concept that has been done to death. However, itís abrupt ending left me wanting something...more. I was obviously ecstatic to find that, not only was a sequel in the works, but it was coming out soon! With all those pesky tutorial missions out of the way and the standards of game play in place, the sequel could really layer on the complexity and carry this series to amazing new heights! Unfortunately, as I came to find out, a perfect fantasy can rarely materialize into a reality.
The reality is that PixelJunk Shooter 2
is a fairly predictable sequel. It rehashes a lot of ideas but still manages to bring some new content to the table. One of the new ships they introduce turns a few of the stages into a Dig Dug
simulator. While I caught myself smirking at the reference, I also feared that the creativity well at Q-Games had run dry. Thankfully, that thought subsided as I made my journey deeper into the caverns. While trapped inside a giant beast, the walls of its stomach pulse with life. Glands lining its intestines produce a corrosive acid that gives you only a few seconds to find water before your ship melts. This creates more than a few sphincter-clenching escapes. The later levels of the game have you manipulating light sources in an attempt to illuminate tunnels and power ancient machinery. All in all, PixelJunk Shooter 2
found a way to carve itís own path, but it went in a different direction than I had hoped.
BUY IT if features like ďEXPLORATION!Ē and ďPHYSICS!Ē have you reaching for your wallet.
AVOID IT if you only bother with shooters if theyíre of the first-person variety.
Letís get one thing out of the way right now - these guys made Henry Hatsworth in the Puzzling Adventure
. If you arenít aware of the DS game Iím referencing, you should stop reading this immediately and track down a copy of that game posthaste. Itís fucking boss. Monster Tale
, while not quite the same brand of awesome, is still really good. The game play is a mix of ranged and melee combat, both of which can be upgraded throughout the adventure. This gives you access to an addicting and robust combo system that allows you to beat multiple items out of a single enemy. Other major character upgrades are bestowed upon you by ancient statues found throughout the environment, a la Super Metroid
. In fact, the map system and backtracking requirements are also reminiscent of said game.
Those elements above would have been more than enough for me to play and enjoy the game just fine. However, the developer decided to throw a pet raising sim into the mix - a fairly ballsy move but it paid off in the end. Your companion, Chomp, is with you through the entire game. Heíll casually aid you in combat on his own but you can assign his more powerful abilities to the L and R shoulder buttons to give you direct control when necessary. He learns these by gaining experience and evolving into 30 unique forms. Luckily, Chomp will eat, heal and interact with objects on his own, leaving you to practice your juggling skills on some helpless turnip-looking thing.
BUY IT if you feel that classic platforming and RPG elements are the peanut butter and jelly of great game development.
AVOID IT if the old school game standards, like backtracking and grinding, leave you bored to tears.
God of War III
Every once in a while, I play a game that I know isnít for me. I make this exception when a game receives so much unanimous praise that I end up feeling stupid for not giving it a shot. Itís an uphill battle for any game I play under these circumstances because A) Iíve already decided that I wonít like it and B) itís been built up so much that it canít possibly live up to the expectations. This is what happened with God of War III
. There are many things about this game that irk me. Without listing them all Iíll just say that I feel that the sheer volume of quick-time events in this game is borderline retarded.
There are a few things that really blew me away though. Some of the set pieces are simply jaw-dropping and gave me a great sense of scope. The real beauty of this game is in the environments and backgrounds. The rain and lighting effects are truly gorgeous. While I found the overall character design to be fairly inconsistent, there was one in particular that was surprisingly awesome. Hephaestus (played by Rip Torn) was incredibly well done and the only character that actually felt genuine to me. Kratos was still an angry douche, void of any redeeming qualities. I feel they should have added a little depth to his character over the course of three games but I suppose thatís not what the God of War
series is all about.
BUY IT if youíre the type of person that thinks 98% of the worldís problems could be solved with careless dismemberment.
AVOID IT if you feel like QTE boss battles are just annoying cutscenes that you can fuck up.
I recently found a 500 Nintendo point voucher in my wallet that I had long forgotten about. This, along with the 300 points still left over in my account, sent me on a quest for a new WiiWare title. I settled on BIT.TRIP RUNNER
, mostly due to Destructoidís own Jonathan Holmes. The man loves his BIT.TRIP
. A friend of mine said it was his favorite game of the series, so that didnít hurt either. After clearing some space on my Wii, I finally downloaded this beast.
The goal in RUNNER
is simple: get to the end of the stage. Getting there in one piece, however, requires a monk-like level concentration. Your character runs along at a set pace, forcing you to jump, slide and kick your way through various obstacles with perfect timing. Any mistake sends you back to the starting line, no questions asked. With a minimalistic presentation and no modern day luxuries (e.g. checkpoints) youíre left with nothing but pure, concentrated difficulty. The few times I felt anything resembling confidence, RUNNER
promptly bitch slapped me back to my cold, dark reality -- Iím bad at this game.
BUY IT if your body is covered with the scars and self-inflicted wounds of your past mistakes.
AVOID IT if you enjoy believing that youíre a good person with above average gaming skills.
Xbox LIVE Arcade
Youíll have to forgive me if this mini-review smells faintly of ignorance -- Iím ashamed to admit that Iíve never played a Diablo
. I played a lot of Tekken
in the early 2000ís and never had a decent PC. Well, regardless of my past gaming transgressions, Iím living the dream now! Torchlight
is a dungeon crawler featuring randomly generated levels, endless hordes of creatures to slay, and a cubic fuckload of loot. The most welcome feature in my eyes, is the pet. As youíd expect, itíll aid in battle and can even be taught basic spells. Your furry companion also serves the wonderful purpose of being a mid-dungeon loot mule. The thought of my loyal bobcat dragging a 250 lbs sack of helms and swords all the way to town and haggling with the shopkeeper for a decent price makes me smile.
Those who are concerned about the transition from PC to console have nothing to worry about. Multiple skill load-outs can be customized and are easy to switch between. The inventory screen neatly displays your items, highlighting their statistics and effects. Deciding what to keep and what to sell is a breeze. The main hub town has a nifty enchanter dude who will add new effects to your weapons and armor for a price. With each successful enchantment however, the terrifying risk of un-enchantment grows larger. Itís a tempting system thatís burned me more than once.
BUY IT if you're tired of getting that annoying ďdisc read errorĒ message when you put Diablo II in your Xbox 360.
AVOID IT if you liken playing a PC game with a controller to masturbating with salad tongs.
That's it for issue #003! Thanks for sticking around and reading my words. Special thanks to my friend and fellow Dtoider knutaf
for proofreading these before I publish them. He protects you guys from all the grammar crimes I unknowingly commit. He's a saint!
See you guys next issue!