Vermin360's Blog - Apr to Jun 17 (44 followers)
Blog

Jun
23
PermalinkMy Journey into Game Pass - Lumo
Taking the suggestion from iMaginaryy, after completing SoulCalibur, I went for something very different from what I've played before with Lumo.

Lumo is clearly a passion project by the developer. It's a throwback to old NES isometric puzzlers like Solstice or The Immortal that has plenty of nods toward inspirational games and creators that the developers clearly respect. You'll find Lumo's version of the Weighted Companion Cube, the Konami Code, and an Achievement shoutout to Mark Cerny just to name a few.

LumoSecret AchievementThe Secret Achievement achievement in Lumo worth 33 pointsContinue playing to unlock this secret achievement

At first I opted for one of the angled control schemes, figuring it would make it easier to line up horizontal and vertical movement in Lumo's grid-like world. But after a couple of levels where you need to arc your movement, I found it much easier to return to a camera-relative control setup. There is plenty of platforming involved in these puzzles, and as new mechanics are cleverly introduced, you'll find yourself exploring the world in completely new ways.

Some of the puzzles may involve a wee bit of head-scratching, but so far I haven't found anything that has stumped me yet. But those ducks. Damn, those ducks. What story exists here has thus far been delivered entirely through gameplay. No cinematic masterpieces filled with Shakespearean monologues to get in the way of a good time.

Load times seem unnecessarily long between rooms, but that's a small criticism for a game that I'm very glad I took the time to explore. I still have plenty to uncover, but I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to anybody, unless you're looking for a quick and easy completion. I think this one's going to take some effort. But for the first time in a long while I find myself playing a new game for the sake of the game, and less for the Achievements. (Don't get me wrong, I'll still try for them, but I'm enjoying them being off my radar for the time being.)

LumoDrop The Kids Off…The Drop The Kids Off… achievement in Lumo worth 22 pointsFlush the Loo.

I've got another fast completion lined up to try in the next couple of days as the journey plods on. For the record, it looks like most of the Xbox One games are sticking around in the Game Pass library for a full year. The sale prices listed on the game pages says they are valid until June 1, 2018. NBA 2K16 and WWE 2K16 however are both listed to be valid until just December 1, 2017. No idea how long the Xbox 360 titles will last, as the sale expiry date for those is not listed up front. I'll do a bit of digging to see if I can come up with more info. Until next time, thanks for reading.

Stats for the Game Pass Journey so far:
Number of games played: 12
Games completed: 4
Number of Achievements earned: 113
Gamerscore earned: 2,795
TrueAchievements earned: 3,661
Money spent: $11.99
Money saved: $103.32 (based on lowest historical sale prices in $CDN)
Net savings: $91.33
Posted by Vermin360 on 23 June 17 at 15:35 | There is 1 comment on this blog post - Please log in to comment on this blog.
Jun
20
PermalinkMy Journey into Game Pass - SoulCalibur
After that quick dip into The King of Fighters '98 Ultimate Match I got a bit of a taste for fighting games again. At least as much as the average button-masher can get. So I thought I would return to a game from a series that I've always rather enjoyed, SoulCalibur. This is looking like another easy completion having already unlocked 10 of 12 Achievements and coming close on the two I'm missing.

SoulCaliburNoble SoulThe Noble Soul achievement in SoulCalibur worth 44 pointsBeat the game in Ultra Hard without losing a round

There are a number of things to like here. The game isn't so old that it would have that really rustic polygonal look. The visuals are sharp and the variety of character and weapon designs is very refreshing. Most notably though, the action is fast and quick.

Many matches are over in under 20 seconds, and with a few well-placed moves you can end a match in about seven. Big hits take off big damage, and the fights feel less like chopping down a tree and more like actually putting down an opponent. The opportunity for a ring-out exists on every stage as well, which can turn the tide of a melee in a real hurry.

It took a bit of time to refamilarize myself with the controls, having last played the series on Sega's Dreamcast and the early days of the Nintendo GameCube. But the familiar nuances returned and I was able to quickly blast through Arcade mode with all 19 characters in under 2 hours

SoulCaliburEdge MasterThe Edge Master achievement in SoulCalibur worth 49 pointsBeat Arcade Mode with all characters

There has been a certain air of familiarity among the titles I've played so far. So next time out I'm pulling something from the library that is nothing like anything else I've played. Come back next time to find out which one it will be. Thanks for reading.

Stats for the Game Pass Journey so far:
Number of games played: 11
Games completed: 3
Number of Achievements earned: 106
Gamerscore earned: 2,575
TrueAchievements earned: 3,272
Money spent: $11.99
Money saved: $89.93 (based on lowest historical sale prices in $CDN)
Net savings: $77.94
Posted by Vermin360 on 20 June 17 at 00:40 | There is 1 comment on this blog post - Please log in to comment on this blog.
Jun
18
PermalinkMy Journey into Game Pass - The King of Fighters '98 Ultimate Match
It's been a heck of an evening after my most recent blog post, warranting another quick update. Since last post, not only have I begun another title in The King of Fighters '98 Ultimate Match but I also got around to completing my third title from the library, A Kingdom for Keflings.

The completion for KOF98UM should come relatively quickly as well, given that the single-player Achievements were all able to be unlocked in under 30 minutes, and once I find a booster for the multiplayer, another hour or two tops should wrap it up. Be warned there is a semi-random condition required to make one of the Achievements unlock, but it still doesn't take much time to get lucky.

The King of Fighters '98 Ultimate MatchUncontrollableThe Uncontrollable achievement in The King of Fighters '98 Ultimate Match worth 15 pointsIori(Ura) or Leona(Ura) appear as CPU ( Arcade/Single Play Only ).

There is a great walkthrough on TA that demonstrates how easily the Arcade mode can be beaten using a simple programmable macro mapped to the cn_LB button. As far as fighting games go, it's about as good as any old-school 2D fighter. The CPU does have an annoying habit of dodging ranged attacks with great frequency, but perhaps that's just a by-product of spamming the macro.

There's definitely a large number of fighters to choose from here if you want to play some legitimate matches rather than use the quick method. I haven't really experimented with enough of them to see how different the really are or if many of them are just re-skins of each other.

The King of Fighters '98 Ultimate MatchThe King of FightersThe The King of Fighters achievement in The King of Fighters '98 Ultimate Match worth 41 pointsFinish the game ( can't lose one round, can't continue) ( Arcade/Single Play Only ).

KOF is not a series that I had previously played but the animation is decent, and the timing for pulling off attacks doesn't feel like you need absolute precision. The visuals look quite dated, as you would expect for a 20-year-old game, which may not appeal to newer gamers without the sense of nostalgia that benefits these older titles.

Stats for the Game Pass Journey so far:
Number of games played: 10
Games completed: 3
Number of Achievements earned: 96
Gamerscore earned: 2,425
TrueAchievements earned: 3,046
Money spent: $11.99
Money saved: $79.94 (based on lowest historical sale prices in $CDN)
Net savings: $67.95
Posted by Vermin360 on 18 June 17 at 03:26 | There are no comments on this blog - Please log in to comment on this blog.
Jun
17
PermalinkMy Journey into Game Pass - Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons
My next foray into the library was a quick one. Having completed the game once before on Xbox 360, it was easy to wrap up all 12 Achievements in Brothers - A Tale of Two Sons in a single session.

Brothers - A Tale of Two SonsLove BirdsThe Love Birds achievement in Brothers - A Tale of Two Sons worth 166 pointsRe-unite the two love birds.

When I teach my game design classes I often encourage my students to explore a wide range of games and venture outside their comfort zone. I also regularly push the message "there's no story in videogames." The intent behind this is to put stronger emphasis on developing mechanics that are fun to interact with because that's what games offer that other media do not. Don't try selling a story wrapped around gameplay that your player will feel they have to trudge through.

When my students push back, and they do... a lot.... I turn them toward this game. There is a little bit of cinematic storytelling but a vast majority of the story is told directly through mechanics and discovery. That's what i like to see from games.

I encourage my blog readers to play this game as well. It doesn't hurt that its presentation is beautiful. That said I think I'm one of the few people that didn't like the ending - speaking purely from a gameplay perspective. This time around I will admit that I didn't complete the playthrough once the final Achievement had unlocked.

I fully agree with the developer's assessment that this game should not be played cooperatively with two players. The challenge of juggling both players simultaneously by one player is very analogous to the struggles that two siblings may encounter trying to work together. It echoes throughout the game very well.

Brothers - A Tale of Two SonsTurtle SoupThe Turtle Soup achievement in Brothers - A Tale of Two Sons worth 164 pointsHelp the turtles to the sea.

I have my eye on another quick completion for the next installment but will have to recruit a boosting partner to tackle the online component. So watch for another blog entry in a few days after I finish off my grading for this semester and get back to some gaming. Thanks as always for reading.

Stats for the Game Pass Journey so far:
Number of games played: 9
Games completed: 2
Number of Achievements earned: 85
Gamerscore earned: 2,245
TrueAchievements earned: 2,802
Money spent: $11.99
Money saved: $79.94 (based on lowest historical sale prices in $CDN)
Net savings: $67.95
Posted by Vermin360 on 17 June 17 at 16:14 | There are 2 comments on this blog post - Please log in to comment on this blog.
Jun
13
PermalinkMy Journey into Game Pass - Gears of War: Ultimate Edition
As you can see, my pace for exploring new games has slowed down a little lately, mostly due to hard drive space and wanting to make more progress in some of the games before removing them to free up some room. But thanks to the Alphabet Challenge, I found myself installing a game I don't particularly care for -- Gears of War: Ultimate Edition.

Gears of War: Ultimate EditionWelcome to Delta SquadThe Welcome to Delta Squad achievement in Gears of War: Ultimate Edition worth 21 pointsStory progression in Act 1 Chapter 1 (on any difficulty)

I know that's going to raise some backs. Lots of Xbox users love the franchise, but it has never been one of my favourites. There is some sordid history here that doesn't bear repeating, but most of my criticism comes from actually playing the games. And I've played a number. Thankfully, I have never paid for any of them.

I have only dropped in enough time to play through part of the first act on Hardcore. For me, that's plenty enough challenge without feeling completely frustrating. I never really see the point of Insane difficulty levels in any game. Are people that desperate to prove something that they'll dive into an experience that honestly isn't that much fun any more due to the difficulty? I suppose so.

Perhaps my memory is optimistic about the quality of the original, but I didn't see much difference in the Xbox One port as far as visuals go. Now, given that it has been about five years since playing the original Gears of War, I'd probably find a better comparison side-by-side. The developers do make good use of the colour grey here. And there. And everywhere. But it gets old fast. Just once I'd like to see a colourful apocalypse. Is that too much to ask?

Cover shooters I find boring. The pace is not as intense as the shooters of yore, and if you try to pick up the pace, you get punished. Hard. The grenades also have a clunkiness to them that detracts from the enjoyment I usually find in tossing high explosives into a group. And the bro factor that's off the charts might appeal to a younger demographic than myself. For me it's another element that tires quickly.

On the positive side, the active reload system was a nice addition. It captures the feel of a panic reload (or calmly, professionally executed one) and the effect it can have on your ability to win a firefight. The weapon selection is varied enough and does provide a little originality here and there to go with the usual standby loadout of pistol, shotgun, rifle.

Gears of War: Ultimate EditionZen and the Art Part 2The Zen and the Art Part 2 achievement in Gears of War: Ultimate Edition worth 22 pointsPerform 5 perfect active reloads in a row (on any difficulty)

The easy "Z" was the main reason I installed the game. I will likely still finish the campaign and forego the multiplayer much like I did the original. And the second. And the third. And Judgment. If nothing else, the price tag on this game helps justify my monthly fee, and keeps me in the black. Next installment I'll go for something a little lighter that I can finish with quickly and move along. Thanks again for reading.

Stats for the Game Pass Journey so far:
Number of games played: 8
Games completed: 1
Number of Achievements earned: 65
Gamerscore earned: 1,165
TrueAchievements earned: 1,579
Money spent: $11.99
Money saved: $73.69 (based on lowest historical sale prices in $CDN)
Net savings: $61.70
Posted by Vermin360 on 13 June 17 at 12:53 | There are no comments on this blog - Please log in to comment on this blog.