Saturday, April 19, 2014

Party Game Sundays: Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games

Since it was Noukeo's Birthday we decided to play a game that we thought might not suck. In order to do that Noukeo purchased Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games. Prior to this past Sunday I had never tried a Mario & Sonic Olympic game, because I'm a very jaded person.

In the 90's when Mario and Sonic were in the middle of Nintendo and Sega's console war no one every thought that they would be in the same game together, but if they were it would be the greatest game of all time. Instead the game that came out was Mario & Sonic at the Olympic games in 2007. Instead of taking the time to play it I wrote it off as a shitty mini-game collection. There must have been people who really liked it though, because they keep pumping them out now.

This image is amazing. I don't know how I was ever down on this.

Even though I was jaded in 2007, I am even more jaded now. I have lived through numerous Party Game Sundays and have seen true despair. I now realize that while Mario and Sonic could have come together in a cooler game this is completely fine. Nintendo at least puts a little effort into their games, because they want the Mario brand to mean something. That's not the case with most of the games we play on Sunday, so I'm always down for anything Mario related. Chances are the game will be pretty good.

I've decided that the name of this game is too long and no longer want to type it. M&SOWG is actually a very fun game. As you may have guessed it has mini-games themed around the Winter Olympics. Things such as bobsledding, figure skating, and hockey are all available to play. The cool thing is that since there aren't an overabundance of these games each one is developed very well.

I want to go bobsledding in real life.

There were four of us playing, so we formed an Olympic team. We had to work together to score well and earn medals. We were playing in festival mode. We were trying to be the best team by the end of the month long festival. Each day would consist of playing two mini-games. We began by training in the game so that we could learn the rules. The event I remember the most at the moment was bobsledding. All four of us were in the bobsleigh and we had to tilt the wii-mote in order to turn. It was super weird, because if one person was being an idiot the whole sleigh would veer off course. The goal of most of the bobsledding events was to collect coins. It's always surprising to me when motion controls actually work.

Outside of the mini-games themselves the game was just well put together. You can go around the Olympic village and spend coins you've earned from events on various things. You can buy clothes and cosmetic changes for event objects such as snowboards and sleighs. If you play as your Mii you can even unlock sweet clothes. As you progress you can also unlock new music from both Mario and Sonic games and have it play during events.

I've always wanted to see Luigi snowboard.

We only played halfway through a festival, but I'd really like to play through the rest of it. We didn't get to play hockey, we just did the training. It was dumb, because we were just shooting the puck into ice blocks and not actually playing a game. I could see myself playing this game on my own time. The newest game is for the Wii-U and I'm sure it's of the same quality, if not better.

Party Game Sundays: Birthday Party Bash

This past Sunday was a special day for two reasons. The first being that my brother came to party game Sundays for the first time due to the promise of cake. The second being that it was my friend Noukeo's birthday. In order to properly celebrate we popped in Birthday Party Bash and had ourselves a proper birthday party.

Before I started this feature Birthday Party Bash was one of the games we played that didn't completely suck. I'm not going to sit here and tell you that it's good, but it's okay. It was just fun enough that we have now decided to play it every time it's someone's birthday. Obviously the best way to celebrate someone's birth is to force them into playing a very mediocre Wii game about a birthday party. It's pretty meta.

It's not a party unless everyone has a WII-MOTE!

So in Birthday Party Bash you start by making a character. They can either be super young, or super old and no matter what they look super creepy. You have to name them and choose how old they are. Instead of choosing our real names we tend to go with something vulgar and then set the age to 99. The real fun starts when you choose the party theme. There are a whole bunch of things like construction, princess, glamour, and medieval. This particular time we went with princess, because in real life we were dining on princess themes plates and drinking from shot glass sized princess cups. Needless to say Noukeo chose the princess theme.

After you pick the theme you then need to play the game, which is probably the worst part. The first time we ever played it we thought it was good, but every subsequent time found ourselves moaning about how much each mini-game sucked. I'm getting a bit ahead of myself though. So yes, you do play mini games, and yes someone wins, but that doesn't mean anything. See, there is no ranking system, so even if you win, it doesn't matter. After each mini-game a new party element is added, like chairs or presents. There are a few rounds that really shake everything up. When you get the party hats your in game characters start to rock the hats during the mini-games. Even better is when you get the noise makers and can shake the wii-mote constantly to make super annoying sounds.

Open the presents as fast as possible, but beware of the terrible motion controls!

Outside of the mini-games everything is magical and funny. It's easy to laugh at the stupidity of a game about a birthday party. The mini-games themselves just aren't that great and most of them go on for way too long. There's one where you need to pop balloons. I normally give up halfway through it, because winning doesn't mean anything and jamming A for 3 minutes isn't very appealing. Some of the games don't have anything to do with parties, which you may have guessed from the balloon popping game. However, some of them are like pin the tail on the donkey, which is actually pretty fun. You just have to be the closet to pinning the tail on the donkey. You can only tell how close you are by how much the wii-mote rumbles.

The best one by far though is the cake stacking game, which is somehow sponsored by the real cake mix company Duncan Hines. How you end up getting a real sponsorship for a game this lame is completely beyond me. Perhaps they liked the mini-game as much as I do. You take turns dropping cakes onto a gigantic plate. If your cake falls off, or you make anything fall you're out of the competition. This always leads to everyone involved trying to drop the cakes at the most awkward angle in order to screw everyone else over. It sounds lame, but it's actually super fun.

Who doesn't enjoy going ham on a pinata? 

Birthday Party Bash is stupid, but that's what makes me like it. The dumb ending may be my favorite party of all. When you complete all the games a birthday song sing-along takes place. The words appear at the bottom of the screen, but the game says no words. You and your friends have to try and sing the song, which is pretty much impossible. There's no sense of rhythm in it anywhere and the timing appears to be different with every single repetition. They had to make up their own song, because using the real Happy Birthday is always out of the question. It's just a dumb game that's kind of fun. I actually look forward to playing it again. Lucky for me my Birthday is in June, so I'll get my chance to be the party leader soon enough!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Party Game Sundays: National Geographic Challenge!

This past Sunday I had to go to a stupid meeting, so I arrived to Party Game Sunday a bit late. Due to that fact we ended up playing a few board games instead of the usual video games. Lucky for me I didn't write about the games we played during the previous Party Game Sunday! Now I get to do that, which is exciting for everyone.

The first game we played was National Geographic Challenge for the Wii. The case for the game makes it seem like some kind of adventure game where you travel across the world and play various mini-games, but that couldn't be farther from the truth. Instead it was a game almost entirely about geographical trivia, and shitty puzzles.

GET READY TO PARTY!

The goal of the game is to claim the most countries in the world. To start you choose a mode of transportation and a starting country. You then move move around to other countries. You can move to the one next to where you are, or one a few countries over. If you go a few over you'll need to answer a travel question for each country you pass over. The questions all have to do with the country you're passing over. They range from insanely hard to painfully easy, so that's fun. Once you reach the country you need to answer either a series of questions about the country, or put together a dumb-ass puzzle.

It may sound like I'm being kind of harsh on the puzzles, and that;s because I am. They suck. You either need to put pieces onto an already displayed image, or fill in blanks. There's also a dumb one where is shows some of the image and then you need to guess what it is, but the choices are never in the image shown. That's because it's only showing a portion of a larger image, which is super dumb.

*Face palm*

The same things happen if you're trying to take a country from another player, except that you both figure out the puzzle or answer multiple choice questions.

When you take the game as what it's supposed to be it's fairly competent. It's a decent quiz game for learning about geography and learning various factoids about the worlds many countries. It's just not fun. Sure I got a little excited when I answered questions to take countries from someone else, but that;s because I like winning against my friends.

This is a game about learning and there's nothing wrong with that. It's just that I'm not attending Learning Time Sunday. I show up for the party and this game certainly didn't bring that.

Note: This game is also for the PS3 and 360, which is totally nuts, because the graphics suck.

Monday, April 7, 2014

SUPER PRESS START

I saw this earlier today and decided that it had to be shared. Youtube user NickSplosionFX has put together every single Super Nintendo start screen and it's an amazing 9 hours and 3 minutes long.

It's amazing how much nostalgia I can feel for a 3-5 second start screen in a video game. When ActRaisers music came on I got a warm fuzzy feeling inside. The second it started playing I knew it was ActRaiser. I didn't even need to see the title card.

Perhaps if you have 9 hours of free time you should check out this amazing video, or you know, just check it out for a bit.


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Game Time - March 2014

I'd be lying if I said that I didn't spend a majority of this month playing Dark Souls 2. In fact I'm taking a break from it right now in order to write this. I've decided to not write anything about Dark Souls 2 yet, because I haven't beaten it. I have a feeling I'm very close to the ending, so when I get there you can bet I'll have a whole lot to say about it.

There were a few things this month that tore me away from Dark Souls 2 though, which is what I'll be telling you all about in this installment of Game Time. InFamous: Second Son came out, which I believe to be the first true next generation game for the PS4. It looks incredible for a console game.

I finally got around to playing Fez too, now that it has been released on PlayStation consoles. I bought the PC version for like $2 a while back during a Steam sale, but only played it for an hour or so. This time I downloaded it on the PS4 and actually completed it. I now understand why people praised it so highly when it originally came out.

I also played the newest addition to the BlazBlue franchise, but I'm not very enthused with it. It's another BlazBlue game and I find it harder and harder to get excited about the franchise. It's even harder now that ARC System Works has shown Guilty Gear Xrd Sign. It just made me realize how much more I like Guilty Gear than BlazBlue. That's not to say that BlazBlue is bad, I'm just not as into it as I once was.

Welcome to Game Time.

InFamous: Second Son

When a new console comes out, I find myself wanting to show it off. When the PS4 came out this past November there really weren't any games I could do that with. If I was going to do that now though I would definitely use InFamous: Second Son. For a console game it looks incredible. The graphics are amazing, but they're accentuated by the ridiculously awesome motion capture of all the actors. Delsin Rowe the main character of Second Son is a Native American in his early to mid twenties. The way his body and face move it's almost like he's a real person. It's weird though, because it doesn't have an uncanny valley feeling that games like Heavy Rain had. It probably helps that he's actually a decently well written character while Cole, the protagonist in the previous 2 games, was generally pretty awful.

Second Son takes place in Seattle Washington. The city itself is nothing special, but it sure looks good. It's like any other open world city really. You traverse the world in order to go from mission to mission while random events take place. Like the previous games you can choose to be either good or evil and the events will help you work towards either side. What really impressed me about the city is that the textures on everything didn't look like total shit. If you walk up to a sign you're actually going to be able to read it and it's not even blurry, which is some next level stuff.

Look at the texture on Delsin's hat. That's true next generation right there!

I wish I could say that InFamous: Second Son had a whole lot to offer outside of its awesome visuals, but I just can't. In terms of story it's the same kind of thing that always happens when super powers are involved. Some people think they're really cool, while other people feel that anyone who has them is evil and should be imprisoned. In the InFamous universe people with powers are called conduits, but the people who fear them call them bio-terrorists. Delsin discovers that he's a conduit when he comes into contact with a conduit who has the power of smoke. Turns out Delsin can take the powers of other conduits and use them himself.

As you may have guessed since Delsin can steal powers he receives a few different powers throughout the course of the game. He has to seek out new powers so that he can fight an evil lady with cement powers who is imprisoning conduits. Oh yeah, he also wants to get the cement shards out of his family and friends so they can walk again. I don't want to spoil the powers, but I will say that they're all pretty cool. You start off with smoke, which lets you go through vents to get up buildings, dash through fences, and shoot fire from your hands. It all handles very well and makes you feel like a proper superhero. You can get up buildings easily and move around with little effort, which makes traversing the huge city of Seattle fun. It feels a lot more smooth than the other InFamous games, which is nice. The only downgrade is the climbing. Previously you could just mash the jump button to climb up a building, because you'd stick to almost any ledge. This is no longer the case, so climbing is rarely ever an option.

Smoke is a cool power, but I like the second power you get the best.

I really like InFamous: Second Son, but at the same time it's extremely disappointing. The story was pretty good for the first half and then it starts to go downhill. The second half has a few missions that don't really seem related and then all of a sudden the final showdown is happening. The whole second half felt very rushed and the ending is super abrupt. What's even more disappointing though is that the only really cool thing about this game is that it looks awesome. Sure that's great and all, but I want the PlayStation 4 to bring new gaming experiences to the table. I realize that this is very early in the console's life cycle, but Second Son is just more of the same with a new character who has a different set of powers. Yes, it does control better, but that would have come with iteration anyways.

Second Son is a fun ride that looks pretty, but it's short lived and ultimately the same as the previous 2 entries in the franchise. If you have a PS4 it's definitely something you need to check out, but I have a feeling that once more games are released for the console it won't be remembered for very long.

BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma

I'm not good at fighting games. This is something that I've come to terms with over the past few years. I'm decent at Super Smash Brothers Melee, but that's a very different beast from your traditional fighting game like BlazBlue. The only fighting game that I ever got remotely good at was the original BlazBlue. I could actually do a combo, which is something that I certainly can't do anymore. I used to like buying new fighting games to try them out and have fun, but I can't really do that anymore. A lot of the people around me are on a much higher level than I am, so there isn't ever really a period where we're on a level playing field. I get destroyed on the regular and don't really have any fun doing it. The last fighting game I really had fun with was Jojo's All-Star Battle, but since it's not a competitively viable fighting game no one will play it with me.

Despite knowing all of this I bought BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma anyways. I mainly got it for the story, which I suppose I'm still interested in. The entire series I've been waiting for my favorite character Jubei to become playable. He's a cat-man with a huge sword and I think he's awesome. Somehow, despite being a main character in the story he's still not playable and it's killing me! Somehow they can make up totally new characters who are playable in each game, but leave out a previously existing character who plays a major role in the story!

I just want to play as Jubei! *Weeps*

So far I haven't played a whole lot of the story, but I do enjoy it. It's in the form of a visual novel. High-res character art of two characters appear on either side of the screen with a text box. It's all voiced and fairly well done. At times it can be a bit unbearable though, which is what's really bogging me down. Sometimes the game can be just a bit too Anime. The characters interactions can be super dumb. It gets even worse when you stumble on to a joke ending. I don'think they're funny and I find it had to believe that anyone thinks they're funny, but I'm sure someone must otherwise they'd stop doing them. I hope they stop doing them.

I'm going to enjoy the story. I just don't know why I keep buying these games. I don't enjoy fighting the computer and get frustrated with my general ineptitude. Hopefully I can re-ignite my passion for fighting games. Guilty Gear Xrd Sign might be the game to do that, because it looks amazing. Also I really like Guilty Gear.

Fez

I wasn't a part of the Fez zeitgeist, but after playing it I wish that I was. The game is amazing. I thought this was going to be one of those indie titles that I finally get a chance to play and then find out it was blown way out of proportion. For Fez that certainly wasn't the case. Everything is awesome whether it be the music, art style, or gameplay mechanics. Everything in the game congeals to make a completely unforgettable game. Fez is the epitome of a polished video game. You can tell that every fiber of Phil Fish's being was put into creating this awesome game.

Fez at first glance is just a 2D platformer, but the protagonist Gomez quickly gets the power to rotate the world with his magical Fez. He is given the knowledge that the world is truly 3D, which makes the game very interesting. In order to make it so that Gomez can get to his destination you must rotate the world, which is in actuality 3D. When you rotate the world you can use new objects as platforms. If you see somewhere you don't think you can get to there is a high probability that you can actually get there if you rotate the world just right. Describing it makes it sound sound really boring, but in action it's really something amazing. It adds something to a genre that's been done to death.

It blows my mind that this image is just one of four possible options of this game state.

In order to advance in the game you need to collect golden cubes. You can also collect anti cubes although they're much harder to get. Golden cubes you can get by picking up bits of cube, or by completing platforming sections. Anti cubes require you to go a layer deeper into the game and figure out it's ridiculously deep secrets. For one of the anti cubes I got I had to download a QR code reader on my tablet that gave me a button combination to enter on the controller. What's nuts is that that's one of the easier things to figure out. A lot of them have to do with a language derived from what look like Tetris blocks.

Once you beat Fez the journey isn't over, but it might be for me. There are all kinds of secrets to be discovered and the additional powers you get from completing the game allow for you to do some pretty crazy stuff. It makes you realize that nothing in Fez is just an art choice, or a piece of the background. Everything means something and it's up to you to figure it out. When the game first came out I remember the internet collectively working to figure out how to unlock all the secrets the game had to offer. I don't know if I'll ever get around to decoding the games crazy Tetris language, but it's cool to know it's there. I'm thinking about looking up a FAQ just to go through the insanity that happens after the game is "over".

I love the Fez Soundtrack so much.

I feel weird talking about Fez because it's so old now. I can't believe it took this long for it to come to PlayStation consoles and I don't know why I never bought it on the Xbox 360. It's a very immersive game. I originally planned to play it for an hour or so, but ended up not stopping until I had beaten it, which probably took around 6 hours. Most people have already played Fez, but if you haven't then you really need to. At least look up some of the amazing tracks on the soundtrack.

What's coming out?

I don't think I have any new games I'll be purchasing in April, which is good because I need to catch up with the ones I already have. As I mentioned at the top I'm still deep into Dark Souls 2. I've also started playing the HD remaster of Final Fantasy X for some reason despite the fact that I hate Tidus with every fiber of my being. It's even more annoying that they pronounce his name Tee-dus.

I'm sure I'll play a whole bunch of stuff, so we'll meet back here next month to talk about it.

    -Manny

Friday, March 28, 2014

Party Game Sundays: Medieval Games

This past Sunday we only played one game, because I got caught up in trying to name every single Pokemon by looking at them. I missed around 60, which I think is pretty good considering there are over 700 of the critters now. As much as I know you enjoy hearing about my amazing performance that is not why we're here. It's been a few weeks, but we finally played an actual party game on Party Game Sunday. That game was Medieval Games for the Wii.



As the title suggests it takes place in Medieval times. In fact, it's basically a Medieval Mario Party. It;s about as Medieval as you can get with language like "shaketh" and wildly varying voice acting talent. Just as in all party games you roll a die to move around what is essentially a game board. You land on spaces that have random events, or trigger mini games. When you start you pick one of three stories. All three stories have their own objectives, but in a surprise to me they are also actually stories.

In the first story some pigs have gone missing due to some mysterious force. The kingdom is searching for the pigs, but they are also competing in various games. By winning the games you gain coins, or a large treasure, which nets you even more coins. The person with the most coins at the end gets to judge a beauty contest that will decide who the prince is going to marry. In case you were wondering the prince's name is Beemish and that's awesome.

Shaketh the ye-olde Wii-mote!

Upon the completion of the first story we unlocked a second, which was based around a multi-kingdom tournament. Instead of getting coins you needed to be first place in the most tournaments by the end of the story. Each story is only a certain amount of turns or "days" and then it automatically ends. There was also a third, but we're going to be saving that for another time.

The thing that I liked most about the game was that it actually gave context for all of the mini-games. In front of each game there is a picture along with some scrolling text that tells you exactly why you're going to be playing that specific game. I think that's pretty awesome, because in any other game you get zero context and everything seems to be super random and dumb.

Play such Medieval classics as jousting!

The games themselves were actually pretty fun too. I came into this expecting everything to be garbage, because that's pretty much what most Wii games like this are. They're even worse when you add in motion control, but this is surprisingly good. As you'd expect there are all kinds of Medieval themed games. If you want to joust you can totally do that. Archery and laying siege on a castle are available as well. They're pretty much everything you'd expect, except for the one where you need to make sure you don't get attacked by a demonic squirrel. What the hell does that have to do with anything?

Overall it's actually a pretty well put together game. The main issue it has is that every time anything happens on the map the game stutters as it tries to pull things off of the disc. I'm pretty sure that problem was fixed midway through the PlayStation 1 era, but clearly not everyone figured out how to make seamless gameplay. It's an issue that mars what is otherwise a good game. According to the box art it won some type of parenting award. It would probably be a good game for kids, but as someone in their mid twenties I found it to be pretty good too. I actually hope we play this one again sometime.

     -Manny

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Party Game Sundays: Tamagotchi Party On

After playing The Bachelor: The Video Game we needed another game to play. One of our choices was Tamagotchi Party On, which I knew almost nothing about. After reading the back of the box I knew that we had to play it. Also, the box art is incredible and very Japanese.

I guess Tamagotchis made some kind of resurgence recently, which was when this game was released. There may be some kind of television show now too, but I decided I didn't want to look to deep into it. So, the goal of Tamagotchi Party On is to become the president of Tamagotchi Planet. I know, it sounds awesome right. I'm happy to let you know that it's just as awesome as it sounds.

This box art is incredible!

As you probably expected you start by picking which Tamagotchi you want to play as. You only have four to choose from at the beginning, but each time you complete a full game you unlock another one. All the characters seem pretty cool. The next thing you choose is how many elections you want to have. The game estimates that each election will take 30 minutes. For some insane reason the game maxes out at 50 elections, which would take 25 whole hours! What's even more upsetting is that there will probably be a point on my life when I play 25 straight hours of Tamagotchi Party On. It would be awesome at first, but get boring relatively quickly.

We started off by playing one election, because we had no idea what was going to happen. You're dropped on a Mario Party-esque board. In order to move you roll a dice. At the beginning you can go to any one of Tamagotchi Planet's five exciting themed cities, however the game recommends you move towards the crown icon. When you reach the crown you give a campaign speech and get super popular. 

You always want to get to the crown.

So, the way you win Tamagotchi Planet's elections is by being the most popular. As you move around the board you can land on a variety of different spaces. There are two types of mini-games. One space lets you play what I assume are games you'd play on an actual Tamagotchi, where you only use the D-pad. These were actually my favorite, because they were super easy. The other mini-games are all fairly simple motion controlled games that repeat a lot. These games get you money and popularity points.

My favorite spaces to land on were event spaces. Your Tamagotchi is depicted in a very weird cartoon style. Something will happen and you'll either gain or lose popularity points. For example, I watched some Kindergartners and won 50 popularity points. My friend picked up trash in the park and only got 30, because watching kids is way more important than a clean park. 

I played as this baller.

I didn't win our 1 election round, but I did win all 3 elections in our second 3 election round. In the beginning I landed on a friend space, which lets you talk to another Tamagotchi character. The Tamagotchi in question was a rabbit scientist. He have me over 100 popularity points and told me that I would win the election. He then declared that his predictions are never wrong. I'm inclined to believe that his predictions are right, because I did indeed with the election by quite a large margin.

The real reason I won though was because I figured out the secret to getting tons of popularity. To start you want to give the campaign speech, because it gives you 500 popularity points. Once the speech is given it moves locations so you can keep doing them. The other key thing is to upgrade your headquarters. If you get back to the starting point you can use some money to upgrade your headquarters. I don't want to be crude here, but the headquarters looks like it's half penis, half mushroom. When you upgrade it, by making it bigger or decorating it you earn more popularity points from playing mini-games. Normally playing a game perfectly will net you 100 popularity points, but I was banking 200, because I upgraded my HQ. It was a pretty sweet deal and I figured it out early enough to fly ahead. 

These Tamagotchi games are super fun.

Looking back on it now not a whole lot happens in Tamagotchi Party On. You watch events play out and play the same mini-games over and over again. There's something weirdly charming about it though. The music and characters are very charming. Everything is upbeat and colorful, and made me feel good inside. I felt even better when I became the president of Tamagotchi Planet.

     -Manny