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Pikmin

13 Apr

Sorry I’ve been gone for so long! Had a nice Easter, though it was only a weekend. This last week I actually had a vacation from school, so I’ve been taking it easy, played a lot of video games and watched a lot of TV. Sometimes at the same time.

On Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday I played Pikmin over again, both games. I love them still as much as the first time I played them. The games are amazing, so I decided to talk about them here.Pikmin and Pikmin 2 are GameCube games released in 2001 and 2004 respectively.

In Pikmin you are a bit strange looking humanoid creature, named Olimar, who is traveling through space. Your rocket ship is suddenly hit by an asteroid and you enter a death spiral toward a near planet. Pieces of your ship fly off as you enter the atmosphere and you crash land on this unknown planet.

Olimar survived and analyzes his situation in despair. There are 30 pieces from his ship missing, he must get them back if he hopes to make it off the planet. To make matters worse the atmosphere contains the poisonous gas, oxygen, in large quantities. His life support will only last for 30 days.

Olimar’s situation is not looking good, but as he explores a strange ship suddenly pops up in front of him and releases a seed. A plant sprouts and Olimar goes to pluck it. Lo and behold! It is not a plant, but a strange little red creature. Olimar decided to name them Pikmin, since they look like the Pikpik brand carrots from his own planet. Olimar discovers he can control this Pikmin, and if he collects material from around the world a Pikmin will bring to his ship and sprout more pikmin.

Soon you have 10 Pikmin, and nearby is an obstacle they can move with their combined strength. Beyond this is the ships engine! With this Olimar will be able to fly in the atmosphere to search other areas of the world. He needs at least 30 Pikmin to carry it though, you spend your time growing your Pikmin and soon have a fine army to carry your engine back.

After you get your engine the first day ends, and Olimar takes off for the night to avoid the nocturnal beasts of the planet. The Pikmin ship rises and follows him. Over the next 29 days Olimar must use his Pikmin army to collect his ship parts from many different areas and also fight many different enemies with his little army.

Now Olimar also finds blue Pikmin and yellow ones to go along with his red. Each color has their own attributes to help in the game. The red ones are fireproof, the blue can go in water, and the yellow can be thrown higher and carry bombs. As Olimar the player must navigate the strange world (which actually seems to be some strange future earth) and solve puzzles and defeat enemies using all the Pikmins attributes to obtain his ship parts. Also you can only have 100 Pikmin with you at once.

In Pikmin 2 you return to the planet after you find your company has gone bankrupt and treasure lies on the surface of the planet. There are quite a few differences in Pikmin 2. First of all you control two people, so you can split your tasks and work as a team. You switch between them to monitor projects you have set your Pikmin to. Also there are two new kinds of Pikmin; purple, which are extremely heavy and can carry the same as 10 Pikmin; and white, who are resistant to poison, and poison themselves. They can also dig up buried treasure. Also bombs are gone and yellow are resistant to electricity.

Both games are amazing, and Pikmin 2 is much more expansive and has more strategy. The game is really an RTS. There are big boss battles, and lots of strategy for reaching what you want. Here is a pretty cool music video on it I just found. I recommend Pikmin to anyone who loves strategy. These games are some of the few I would call perfect.

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Portal 2

2 Apr

Since I beat Portal again recently I picked up Portal 2 and beat it in a few hours as well.

Portal 2 is great fun, definitely polished up from the first. There is a lot more story which makes the game even better and tie things up from the first. They also have added mechanics which make it a lot more dynamic.

Repulsion gel makes you bounce, propulsion gel makes you go fast, and a white gel creates portal surfaces. There are also light bridges, spring boards, and light beams you can float in. They add great depth to the puzzles.

This time around Portal 2 didn’t take me too long, but the first time I got pretty stumped a few times. The levels are longer and more complex.

Portal 2 also has a co-op mode, this is a ton of fun to play with friends. People can put their heads together and work their way through puzzles.

I recommend the Portal games to any puzzle lovers.

Portal 2

The Swedish Armed Forces – The Team Test

25 Mar

This is a fun and cool game to play with three friends!Get your headphones out and be prepared to try a few times. It’s good fun.

http://team.forsvarsmakten.se/english/

Half-Life 2

21 Mar

So I finally started Half-Life 2 on The Orange Box. I kind of wanted to do Half-Life 1 to get the story and everything, but I found out it’s not on mac, or any console I own. I do have access to windows, but it’s a pain to only play a game on it.

I’m liking Half-Life 2 so far, I have not played very much. I only just got all my weapon options filled up. I like shooters that are more than just shooting in a war-zone, like Halo or CoD. I’m not sure if they are called anything different, action shooters? But the player must solve puzzles and navigate terrain and interact with people instead of just looking down the barrel of a gun.You can also use a crowbar, that’s good fun.

I’m familiar with the controls and how the physics work, since they are identical to Portal, so it wasn’t hard to get used to. But I had no idea what was going on for story, made me wish I had done Half-Life 1. I read a synopsis on Wikipedia though, I hope it’s enough. I always enjoy a good Dystopian regime setting. Though I’m not sure how it fits in with Portal either, I know they are supposed to be the same world.

A small complaint I have with this and similar games are the blandness of the setting. Everything is just stained concrete etc etc. It never feels like you are going anywhere new or progressive. I like more of a change. Overall I am still liking Portal more, I drift toward puzzle games more anyway.

Half-Life 2

Starcraft II

20 Mar

I’m a huge fan of Warcraft and played Reign of Chaos for years. When Starcraft II came out I was interested, but did not rush out to buy it. I put it on the list of games I wanted. Later, lo and behold! My sister got it for me for my birthday.

I installed it and got all the updates sorted and started. I’m really liking it, though my computer was having some trouble running it smoothly, so that I often would take long breaks of play. I haven’t played for a long time, but recently I adjusted all the settings and got the graphics lowered so it’s running fine.

I’m all fired up to get back to the campaign. I have just scratched the surface of the humans, and only played a few Protoss levels. I’ve still got the Zerg to do. I’m liking the story, it seems more intricate that Warcrafts so far. I’m wondering how all the races will interact. I quite liked the way Warcraft brought them together.

I also played a few online games with a friend, and I actually had fun. Usually I haven’t done too well on online games. I work more methodically than quickly which is what is needed online. But in 2v2 battle we won a few times.

Starcraft is a great RTS I recommend to any fan of that genre, but they probably only know about it.

Starcraft II

Adventures of Lolo

17 Mar

Adventures of Lolo is a strategic puzzle game released in 1989 for the Nintendo Entertainment System. My family used to have this on the NES and my parents would stay up late trying to figure it out. Lolo is a puzzle game that has two sequels. Lolo and Lala are a blue and pink blob, a familiar design by HAL Laboratories(they are behind Kirby).

In the game, your lover, Lala, is taken by an evil king. To save her you must storm his tower. Each level is a square floor with heart blocks all around. To proceed you must collect all the hearts and get to the treasure chest that is opened. After this the door to the next level is opened.

There are obstacles and enemies in the way, and collecting the hearts can give you a few different powers. You can shoot enemies to encase them in an egg type thing and push them around, but they will eventually break out. You can also make bridges and a few other things.

The levels start simple, but get more and more complex, until my whole family is gathered around the TV shouting strategies. I think it’s the most multiplayer single-player game I’ve played. The game is very puzzling and strategic, it makes me think of games like Portal, or the classic Lemmings. It’s not just a puzzle, but a puzzle-platformer. I recommend the game to any thinkers. The first two are available on the Wiis virtual console.

a stage from the first game

 

Portal

16 Mar

I finally got The Orange Box today, earlier than expected actually. I put it in and fired up Portal! I wanted to try the rest too, but my grandparents are visiting this weekend and it’s harder to play games on the TV with so many people around.

Portal I already know so can jump right into with no sound or anything. Though sound always makes it much better, it’s not the same without GLaDOS talking at you.

Portal is a superb mind bender and puzzle-platformer. Using a Portal gun you must make your way through Aperture Science Laboratories’ testing site. Portals allow you to make doorways to move instantly from one flat surface to another to travel through the levels and solve puzzles.

Portal is also the game where the phrase, “the cake is a lie” comes from. After doing the basic testing levels you bust out and explore Aperture Science while learning a bit about why you are here and what’s going on.

I also played Portal 2. Another fantastic game where you learn even more about the situation, and it has such a great ending. I love the Portal games, they are some of my favorite games and I have no qualms about playing them again. Though I look forward to play so many other highly acclaimed games. The Portal games are for the Xbox 360, PS3, and PC. I recommend them to anyone who likes to think about their games.

Using portals to sneak behind a turret

Play and Comment 3

15 Mar

This week for school I played two more games. I wish I Were the Moon(http://www.kongregate.com/games/danielben/i-wish-i-were-the-moon) and Don’t Shit your Pants(http://www.kongregate.com/games/Rete/dont-shit-your-pants). I did not particularly enjoy either game, so it was harder to write about this week.

I Wish I Were the Moon-

This game is very simple, it is only one scene and one way to control it. So in a matter of HUD, or scenes, or controls, or music, the design has little room to be flawed.

The point is to find all the secret outcomes with the few interaction you are allowed. There are eight in total. With enough playing around with all the elements on the screen I think that any player will be able to get at least seven of them. This design keeps the game simple and not too frustrating for the casual gamer that it’s aimed toward.

Don’t Shit Your Pants-

This game didn’t really offend me, but on the other side it did not particularly amuse me. The designer made a bold choice here with the content that will make it hilarious for a lot of people, but I would guess too crude to play for most.

Again with this game the graphics and interface and the game itself was too simple for there to be any design flaws in the execution

In this game there are nice alternate endings, the tenth being getting all nine. This is similar to the first time in finding different outcomes.

The games have some exploratory elements similar to last weeks’, but last weeks’ were more physical exploration while this weeks was exploring the uses and dynamics of specific action. The alternate endings remind me of the Japanese games, Visual Novels, or VNs. Often in these games there are alternate “routes” in gameplay. This means many different endings and sequences for decisions made halfway through the game. This concept of alternate routes can take a 20 hour game and turn it into a 70 hour one. Like with these two games, the point is there are many different endings, if there were only one or two the games would be very short, but I was fiddling with I Wish I Were the Moon for more than half an hour. Alternate routes can have added depth to a game with less effort than actually making the game longer.

Shopping

10 Mar

I have a little extra money lying around, so I thought I’d look into getting a video game. I kinda felt like playing Portal again, and I have it on my mac, but I remembered everyone loved all the games in that Orange Box thingy.

Now I bought Portal through Steam, so it was only like $8 or something, so I don’t feel too bad getting it for the 360. Generally when I can get a game on a console instead of a computer I do.

So with The Orange Box comes Portal, Half-Life 2, and Team Fortress 2. I have heard good things about these games from friends, so I’m looking forward to them, as well as doing Portal on the big screen. Then I’ll probably have to do Portal 2 again.

I’m a sucker for Super Saver Shipping on Amazon, so of course with The Orange Box being only $15 I set off to find something else I needed. I checked my game list, and I got a lot I wanted for Christmas, so it’s getting thin. Some games I have wanted for a long time are the Phoenix Wright games. I have the first one and absolutely love it.

This I do not understand! Phoenix Wright for the DS is so expensive!! The second one is $30 used, and up to $80 new! This game is 10 years old! This is the same for all the games, used is from $30-$50, while new is from $60-$100. I really want someone to explain this to me. I have never seen games hold onto value before, increase really. The first one I bought for $20, and it’s an 11 year old game.

Well while fuming about Phoenix Wright I kept looking for other games. I looked into a few new ones I wanted, but they were too expensive, just looking for $10-$15 purchase to get me free shipping. I eventually decided on a few HDMI cables since I’m having trouble fitting all my stuff into my TV with only RCA connectors.

That’s it for now, and I think I’ll go play Connections.

Connections

9 Mar

Connections was a short documentary series on the BBC mostly in the mid 90s. The premise of the show was to show discoveries and inventions which led to each other and how they were connected, James Burke was the creator and narrator.

For example, gin and tonic was invented to combat malaria in British colonies, and this was picked up by Geniva who embraced cleanliness and created disposable water bottles. So because of gin and tonic disposable water bottles were invented. The connections are much longer and involved than this, but you get the idea.

I have never seen the show, but in 1995 they released a computer game. The game is Myst like, finding clues and solving puzzles from area to area. It is a childhood favorite, and I haven’t played it in years. I decided to give it a go again, but it’s a two disk set and the second is missing!

I am in the process of reacquiring it, I would like to see how well I can do it after forgetting all the puzzles. The game follows you playing through several eras, and James Burke follows you explaining the connections you’ve made.

There is some overarching story of a villain stealing things in the past or something, but that was a long time ago. I am greatly looking forward to breaking it out again, and I recommend the game to any Myst fan.

Connections CD