What a stark contrast to last month this has been. While some things are not looking as peachy as I'd like them I've seen a dramatic (although possibly temporary) up-turn at work with my business, which has given me lots of fun and potentially interesting things to work on but we've seen the release of what I (at least right now, will re-evaluate in a year or two) consider to be possibly the defining game of our generation and one I've enjoyed playing so much that I sank 50 hours into it in less than a week. But we'll get to that later.
On top of that, I'm moving forward with my game development hobby project that I've been toying with on the odd weekend for about 3 months now, so while I'm not getting my drink on evenings/weekends I've been toiling away at that, I'm currently knee-deep in camera and inventory systems while I drum up interest from colleagues in order to get some concept work started, which I have a writer and a (fantastic) concept artist on-board for and should start to see some inspiration that's a little more concrete than 3 years worth of compiled scribbled notes.
It's exciting, and I'm excited. Hopefully there should be something 'real' to show around January but work is pretty hectic so who knows. Ill keep you all in the loop. It doesn't have a name yet, and most likely won't for a while but I will say that it's in a very traditional Survival Horror vein (by traditional I mean Alone in the Dark, Resident Evil 1/2/3, Silent Hill, Galerians, and some more obscure games like Carrier and D2) so expect (slightly modified) tank controls and fixed cameras.
And so I started this month with Metroid...
Metroid (NES) Status: Complete
I'd certainly played Metroid before, but never made a real attempt to complete it, so I was pretty happy this came up on my random game picker, it's one of the classics in the NES library and one every retro fan should play. Or so I'm told. It needs very little introduction.
Heaps of fun, highly atmospheric considering how little there was to work with in terms of hardware and quite expansive, something else that was rare in those days. Seeking out all the various hidden items is as fun (and time consuming) as ever and frankly the only thing truly lacking here is the boss battles, which is understandable considering both the more subdued tone of the game as well as how much the simple NES hardware is being taxed.
Screenshots are so boring. So instead here's a video of somebody tearing the game a new arsehole inside of 16 minutes.
Unfortunately, there's one fatal flaw with playing it nowadays. Super Metroid exists and despite being a sequel, takes place in exactly the same location, follows exactly the same plot (addition of the baby Metroid from Metroid 2: Return of Samus aside) and see's you fighting the same bosses using the same weapons, it's essentially a shot-for-shot remake that improved every single aspect of the original to the point it's only worth playing the original if you're a die-hard fan or curious retro gamer who never got around to it.
Recommended: There's not much point. Kinda breaks my heart not to be able to fully recommend it but if you just want a Metroid fix play Super Metroid instead.
Battletoads/Double Dragon Status: Complete
More NES goodness and while Battletoads may have defeated me their joint outing with the Lee twins did not. Much like the original Battletoads, for an NES game the level of graphical detail is pretty insane, especially if you know a little bit of how the hardware works. Without wanting to nerd out too much, having used a 6502 processor myself at times I almost refused to believe this was an NES game, and the original Battletoads looks even better, you could almost swear it was a 16-bit SNES game at times.
It plays much like Battletoads only not quite as difficult. Classic side-scrolling with some of context based interactivity such as throwing grenades back at enemies who throw them from small windows, or swinging from certain objects to avoid electricity shooting from the walls. Again, like Battletoads one of the areas this game shines is boss battles, with over-the-top cartoonish animation and relatively in-depth (for an NES game) boss mechanics (such as swinging from light fittings to avoid a charging attack) there's a good amount of variety in the game.
It's colourful, brash, garish and at times frustrating but I'll be damned if it wasn't a lot of fun.
Recommended: Ehhh, sure. It's not Ninja Gaiden but it's a good larf.
Rogue Legacy Status: Almost complete (on the last boss)
The premise for Rogue Legacy is pretty simple, you play each successive descendant (one after the other, as each one dies) of heroic knight who happened to have a debilitating ailment, and must overcome various randomly selected ailments and storm a randomly generated castle infested with evil creatures.
Rogue Legacy seems like a pretty standard affair, platforming hack-and-slash action in the vein of Castlevania, only the castle is much smaller but provides variety through being randomly re-generated every time you enter it with a new descendant, who will also have different traits from the previous hero. These include things from Baldness through to Vertigo, Shortsightedness and Gigantism. Many of which have advantages, disadvantages or just serve a comedic purpose, and while ailments like Vertigo (which flips the screen upside down) wear out their welcome very quickly others provide more subtle gameplay differences. In addition, you also have the opportunity to spend gold gathered on your adventures to upgrade your inherited stats and unlock additional classes and abilities, not only that but the platforming is tight and responsive and really feels something akin to a modern-day Ghosts n Goblins which really helps elevate the game above being a very bog-standard affair.
Giant flying eyeballs. They're everywhere these days.
Despite being relatively short and re-using most of its enemy types I found myself become quite addicted to Rogue Legacy and ended up spending well over 50 hours on a game I was initially hesitant to spend £8.99 on. It's well worth the asking price. The only criticism I could really launch at it is that there are too many Treasure rooms that only the Lich character class can complete, and that some of the traits (such as Hypergonadism, which prevents you from being knocked back) grant purely positive abilities and seem to go slightly against the spirit of the games premise which is that anybody can be a hero. But that's nit-picking territory, the game is fantastic.
Ys 1 + 2 ( Chronicles+ ) (only played part 1) Status: Complete
Ys is an interesting deviation from the regular japanese style action RPG formula for sure. It follows a similar style to games like The Legend of Zelda and Alundra (although Ys actually predates a lot of similar games except for Zelda which came the year before, I'm playing the 2013 XSEED published PC remake, though), top-down hack-and-slash action, however, in Ys you have no attack button. You attack enemies by running into them, and must aim to hit at an angle or to the side because hitting head on allows the enemy to attack you as well. It's an odd premise that feels frustrating for the first few minutes but pretty soon you adjust, and (at least in this version of the game) it's so easy that it won't really matter once you gain a few levels and upgrade your equipment. The only real challenge in the game is some of the bosses, who are mostly enjoyable, interesting and nicely animated.
It's pretty short, but it's a lot of fun and doesn't require the usual massive time investment traditional jRPGs do.
The story is relatively simple but plays out at a relaxed pace, it involves the hero Adol seeking out the 6 ancient books of Ys which contain the secrets he will supposedly need in order to defeat the forces of evil plaguing the lands of Esteria. Nowadays it would be seen as fairly formulaic stuff, but most of the time you'll be dungeon-crawling anyway.
Ys 1 is pretty short, but it comes in a relatively cheap package that includes 1 and 2, so I never felt like I didn't get my monies worth. It's an enjoyable old-school romp that I suspect a large number of people never got around to trying, I'd say it's worth a go.
Fester's Quest (NES) Got to the end of the first level, I'm going to have to do it at some point if I want to finish my entire NES collection... I think it might be the most unbearable game I have, at least the other bad games had something funny about them.
MirrorMoon EP (PC) I only spent about an hour with MirrorMoon EP and the whole thing felt like that infamously long scene from 2001: A Space Odyssey. I never fully understood what was going on and while I might not have minded that I also found myself unable to progress and lacking the patience to find out why. It's a game that merits a few more attempts when I have some more spare time in the future, it's an interesting game for sure so I hate to cast it off after just an hours bewilderment.
The game really is as impenetrable as the trailer makes it look. But you know what? That's not always a bad thing, the fact games like this exist is good.
Grand Theft Auto V Status: Complete (mostly, just stunts/hidden item collection stuff left to do)
You thought I was gonna write a huge piece on this, right? Wrong. There's not much left to say that hasn't been said in various reviews and comments sections. It's fucking amazing, takes every single aspect of GTA4 and improves upon it meaningfully and provided me with 45 hours of gameplay before I even began to feel like I'd had my fill, which these days is completely insane, and the multiplayer isn't even out yet.
Initially I thought it might be hard to like these two, I was wrong.
The mission variety, radio stations, characters, social commentary, humor, satire, animation, and graphics (some heavy aliasing aside) is top notch, and apart from a few small glitches (you'll often lose cars stored in your garage) and some nitpicky complaints (tennis is boring as shit, helicopter controls are a bit wobbly, only 6 'heist' style missions, only 2 of which actually play out the way they advertised, and a few other smaller things) this game is one you won't want to miss.
Just, buy this game. You need it in your life.
Recommended: There is no game this generation I would recommend to the general audience more-so than this. Buy it, you will NOT regret it.
With that I'd normally bid you farewell, instead I'm going to MELT YOUR FACE! With an excellent band I discovered last night at a local gig, NeuronSpoiler.
What have you been playing this month, and how has it treated you? I want to know.