Vermin360's Blog - Jul to Sep 17 (45 followers)
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Sep
12
PermalinkMy Journey Into Game Pass - A Trio of Titles
I've fallen a bit off pace in blogging my journey into Game Pass lately, so I thought I'd catch up by talking about three titles that I've sampled over the past couple of weeks. The first of these was the indie platformer, JumpJet Rex. To say that I didn't enjoy this game would be an understatement. Visually it works well as a retro-styled 2D pixel throwback but it feels like one of those games where the developers identified themselves as the core audience.

JumpJet Rex3 PointerThe 3 Pointer achievement in JumpJet Rex worth 30 pointsScore a 3 point shot in Holoball in the Rexercise Room.

The game rewards you with stars for completing each level according to various criteria - two of which include without dying or under a specified time limit. It's not to say that these are of Super Meat Boy calibur, but there are a number of tricky spots that take plenty of practice to master and the slightest mistake ensures that you will not beat the aggressive times. This would be fine for later stages of the game, but when you have to earn nearly all three stars on each of the first few levels to get anywhere it can be quite frustrating. I seldom let a game get the better of me but I just didn't have the patience to repeat the same level enough times to reach the level of mastery that was expected from the outset.

The second game I knew would be a crap shoot as basketball is my least favourite of the "Big Four" sports. But I hear so many good things about the franchise year in and year out that I had to give NBA 2K16 a shot before it gets removed from the service (which I estimate will be in December-January). I gave last year's NBA 2K17: The Prelude a go for the free 'cheevos, though you didn't really have to play much of the game to earn them.

NBA 2K16Changes A Comin'The Changes A Comin' achievement in NBA 2K16 worth 45 pointsSubmit a team relocation application in MyGM.

I dipped into a couple of the modes, spending the majority of the time on the Spike Lee story mode. And it was dreadful. The performances felt forced, and my scanned-face character didn't look anything like me. I suspect I've glimpsed into the future when I have aged a few decades and have started to deteriorate. It was really quite frightening. But worst of all, no matter how much I try it feels like I just don't grasp the controls or the nuances of timing required for success in this franchise. I have dabbled with the NBA Live titles in the past and felt that the controls in those games were far more accessible. NBA 2K16 was quickly removed from my drive in favour of the NHL 17 trial from EA Access.

The third title is still in rotation, trying out another of the SEGA classics, with SEGA Vintage Collection: Alex Kidd & Co.. Interestingly enough, the third of my trio is a trio in itself combining Alex Kidd, Revenge of Shinobi and Super Hang-On in one package.

While I have yet to give the titular character's adventure a spin, the Achievements in Super Hang-On were fairly easy to tackle (though the fourth has yet to unlock despite completing the requirements). Revenge of Shinobi is challenging, but made much easier to tackle when combined with the generous save game system and easy options settings. Hang-On actually still holds up well over the years but Shinobi still feels like yet another variation on the Rolling Thunder formula.

SEGA Vintage Collection: Alex Kidd & Co.The Goal Is Just the BeginningThe The Goal Is Just the Beginning achievement in SEGA Vintage Collection: Alex Kidd & Co. worth 36 pointsFinish a course in Super Hang-on.

Next time out I have no idea where the journey is going to take me. I may go for something high-profile, but will likely tackle one of the shorter quicker completions again. One route will maximize the Gamerscore potential while the other improves my completion percentage. Decisions await me. Thanks again for reading and see you next time.

Stats for the Game Pass Journey so far:
Number of games played: 23
Games completed: 7
Number of Achievements earned: 216
Gamerscore earned: 4,595
TrueAchievements earned: 6,447
Money spent: $47.96
Money saved: $188.05 (based on lowest historical sale prices in $CDN)
Net savings: $140.09
Posted by Vermin360 on 12 September 17 at 01:34 | There are no comments on this blog - Please log in to comment on this blog.
Aug
25
PermalinkMy Journey Into Game Pass - Sam & Max Beyond Time and Space
I apologize to those of you have been following the fairly regular postings to this blog, but after a couple of weekends away from the Xbox, one at the cottage, the other at Wrigley Field in Chicago, I have returned to again recap my continuing exploration of the Game Pass library.

Previously I enjoyed the comedy and clever puzzles of Sam & Max Save the World. Looking for another quick completion to raise my grand total to 140, I followed up with the sequel, Sam & Max Beyond Time and Space. The sequel was a little shorter, weighing in at five episodes as compared to the original's six, and I didn't find them quite as enjoyable. There are some moments that are great, but overall it didn't capture my attention quite the same way.

Sam & Max Beyond Time and SpaceDeSoto DominatorThe DeSoto Dominator achievement in Sam & Max Beyond Time and Space worth 30 pointsWin every upgrade for your car, and claim the Uber Mystery Upgrade.

Adding to the experience are a series of arcade-style driving sequences that are repetitive and time consuming. Most of the challenge lies not in driving, but in shooting targets in your path. If you don't care about Achievements, you don't have to spend a whole lot of time on them, but who am I kidding? If you're reading this, you probably care about the Achievement and will go for all the decals, which don't stack - requiring at least three more replays of each sequence.

Sam & Max Beyond Time and SpaceWent Beyond Time & Space!The Went Beyond Time & Space! achievement in Sam & Max Beyond Time and Space worth 38 pointsComplete Sam & Max Beyond Time and Space.

I must also say that I've been enjoying Mega Coin Squad far more than I would have expected. Even though you need to play through a good six times for completion, after the first time through you realize that there is a strategy to choosing power-ups at the end of each level that can really contribute to success. I recommend grabbing the bonus time items early to make the time-based gems easier to earn while the cycle speed of the bonus block is still manageable and predictable. Later on it's pretty much a crap shoot what you get.

Stats for the Game Pass Journey so far:
Number of games played: 20
Games completed: 7
Number of Achievements earned: 200
Gamerscore earned: 4,295
TrueAchievements earned: 5,912
Money spent: $35.97
Money saved: $146.37 (based on lowest historical sale prices in $CDN)
Net savings: $110.40
Posted by Vermin360 on 25 August 17 at 20:56 | There are no comments on this blog - Please log in to comment on this blog.
Aug
09
PermalinkMy Journey into Game Pass - Mega Coin Squad
If you've always been a fan of the Super Mario Bros. games, but didn't care about rescuing the princess, then Mega Coin Squad might be the game for you. Published by Adult Swim Games, this title boils down the classic platformer into core components of jumping and collecting coins. And guns.

Mega Coin SquadGone in 60 SecondsThe Gone in 60 Seconds achievement in Mega Coin Squad worth 21 pointsComplete a single player level in under 60 seconds

Ok, so maybe Mario never let loose on the Koopas with a machine gun, or unloaded a rocket launcher into Bowser's face, but they do make for a welcome addition to a challenging little platformer that can feel punishingly difficult at times when you're trying to complete bonus objectives like clearing a level in a certain time limit or without dying. The game also rewards you for banking your coins in a single drop, rather than rushing back to the giant piggy bank and depositing in smaller chunks. This is a bit of a big deal, considering the game has a mechanic similar to the Sonic the Hedgehog games, in that getting hit knocks free all the coins you've currently got in your possession. But unlike Sonic, it also costs you a "life" when it happens regardless of how many coins you have.

The game clearly has these vintage classics as inspirations, as even the world map and world designs (desert world, snow world, lava world, etc) have a very Super Mario World look and feel. And having a choice of multiple characters with which to complete the stages definitely has a SMB 2 ring to it.

Mega Coin SquadSaving for a Rainy DayThe Saving for a Rainy Day achievement in Mega Coin Squad worth 51 pointsBank a total of 10,000 coins in single player

Part of the charm of this title comes from its constantly changing level design. Taking place on a single screen (that is slightly larger than your actual screen size) removes the need for scrolling along to reach the end of a stage. Instead, sections of the level phase in and out in chunks, each designed as an individual challenge complete with coins, enemies, and the occasional trap. It allows players to pick and choose the sections they wish to tackle, though if you're going for that time-based objective you'll attack whatever is put in front of you.

Next entry in this series is unknown at this time. I will be without my Xbox for the better part of the next two weeks with a cottage weekend and a trip to Chicago's Wrigley Field on the horizon, so it may be a little bit longer of a break between episodes. Thanks again for reading and go Cubbies!
Posted by Vermin360 on 09 August 17 at 10:14 | There are no comments on this blog - Please log in to comment on this blog.
Aug
03
PermalinkMy Journey into Game Pass - Double Dragon Neon
Ok, now we're getting back into some action. Double Dragon Neon takes the classic arcade quarter-muncher and updates the visuals and depth to a more modern standard rife with 80's flavour. I was a big fan back in 1987 when the original was released and often ventured to the local arcades (when those were far more common) with a roll of quarters in my pocket ready to dish out some damage. Yes, that was a roll of quarters in my pocket.

Double Dragon NeonSkullmageddon's CurseThe Skullmageddon's Curse achievement in Double Dragon Neon worth 1 pointsNyah ha ha! Now finish what you have started!

This update to the franchise adds in a move-gaining and leveling system. Themed as mix tapes, these help add more options to your fighting style and adds a bit of strategy to how you will spend the money you acquire on your journey. It's the one aspect of the game that didn't capture me this time out. And be forewarned, an Achievement unlocks as soon as you start the game, so no opportunity to just take a sneak peek if you are a completionist.

I have completed a playthrough of the game, but I'm far from unlocking all the Achievements. That will require multiple plays, some select level replays, and a bit of grinding. There is a nice variety of weapons, and some of the bosses are pretty memorable, but overall it's that rad 80s vibe that really tugs at my nostalgia. The introductory cutscene is adapted straight from the coin-op version, but the rest of the game has a very different feel. Along those lines, one will also notice that Linda, the whip-lashing antagonist, has traded in her full body purple spandex jumpsuit for a more revealing, dominatrix-style outfit. I guess as an industry we're still unwilling to let go of the "sex sells" strategy.

Double Dragon NeonVictory!The Victory! achievement in Double Dragon Neon worth 37 pointsDefeat Skullmageddon!

The original game also didn't send you into space to fight against living skeletons, and scaling giant battle-tanks. But Neon insists you either go big or go home. It's definitely worth a play whether you are a fan of beat 'em ups or not. The action is pretty tight, the challenge is sufficient and overall it's just fun. Some may find the stages a little long, particularly if you die and have to start them over, but at least the final boss fight has a checkpoint shortly before it starts. It's a little on the tough side mostly because of the random sequencing of many different attack patterns, but with a little practice it is easily overcome.

Thanks for joining me on this latest excursion, and be sure to catch the previous episode also posted today in case you missed it. Next time out I have no idea what new game I'm going to try out. There have been 14 new games added to the library since I joined Game Pass, but I will probably stick with some of the older titles for now. Until next time...


Stats for the Game Pass Journey so far:
Number of games played: 18
Games completed: 6
Number of Achievements earned: 167
Gamerscore earned: 3,580
TrueAchievements earned: 4,784
Money spent: $23.98
Money saved: $138.93 (based on lowest historical sale prices in $CDN)
Net savings: $114.95
Posted by Vermin360 on 03 August 17 at 01:48 | There are no comments on this blog - Please log in to comment on this blog.
Aug
03
PermalinkMy Journey into Game Pass - Farming Simulator 15
Back again after an unexpected delay. The crew digging the postholes for my new fence cut through my internet line in the back yard which put me offline for a couple of days. But it's all fixed now and we're getting caught up with a double dose.

First off, I chose to satisfy a long-standing curiosity about a franchise that has the potential to be both extremely rewarding and mind-numbingly tedious at the same time. This, of course, is Farming Simulator 15. I had previously dabbled in both Harvest Moon and Stardew Valley, but I thought something on a more serious note would hold something a little more compelling. The jury is still out on that one.

Farming Simulator 15Financial FollyThe Financial Folly achievement in Farming Simulator 15 worth 57 pointsYou managed to reach a negative balance on your very first day.

Let me start off by admitting that this game definitely has a niche audience. The pace of the game is quite slow, even with time accelerated. Some might say it's about as engaging as watching grass grow. They would be wrong. You're watching wheat grow. And there is still something compelling about know that it's your farm and those are your crops.

I have only logged about two hours so far and expect there are about another 100 or so to go in order to complete the game. I doubt that I will make it that far, but I intend to check in on a semi-regular basis. In my short time I have only managed to clear a few trees, buy a field, and sow about half of it. With the accelerated time, it appears funny that in the time it takes my seeder to run a back-and-forth pass along the field, the first seeds planted have already matured to be harvested.

Farming Simulator 15Timber!The Timber! achievement in Farming Simulator 15 worth 22 pointsYou cut down a tree either with a chainsaw or a wood harvester.

I'll have to post some future updates on the state of my farm, but they will be few and far between I am sure. I can see this being an interesting diversion if I only picked up two or three games a year and would dedicate more time to this as it deserves. Drop this one in the same column as games such as Sim City and Roller Coaster Tycoon but with a slower rate of return.

Stats for the Game Pass Journey so far:
Number of games played: 17
Games completed: 6
Number of Achievements earned: 157
Gamerscore earned: 3,510
TrueAchievements earned: 4,659
Money spent: $23.98
Money saved: $135.64 (based on lowest historical sale prices in $CDN)
Net savings: $111.66
Posted by Vermin360 on 03 August 17 at 01:32 | There are no comments on this blog - Please log in to comment on this blog.