For 2019-08-14 to 2019-08-20:
Two Completions: ACA NEOGEO METAL SLUG 2
as I finally got my perfect run through Mission 2, after several hours of attempts, and Bird Game +
So, I need to talk about Bird Game+ briefly, and I will try to keep it brief, because this game is not worth the digital ink.
Here's a fun game premise: you're a bird, and you're flying through a series of hazards, eating fish, collecting shinies and occasionally fighting a 'boss' by crafty dodging. Is that a good premise? Not yet, but it's not awful. There's potential. Add in some hand-drawn art and the fact that the game doesn't crash and it seems like it's at least going to be alright.
It didn't have to be terrible.
And yet, Bird Game+ is the worst game I've played in 2019. It's lucky that I played so many bad games last year, or it might be looking at multi-year levels of bad. The premise is fine, but the execution is just completely unfun. The art style isn't endearing at all for some reason, and the boss battles are lacking in many things. The only thing the game has going for it is that it is fairly quick and the achievements are pretty easy. And even that, I managed to mess up.
First I couldn't get past the very early hazard of a rolling log. For some reason I died on that so many times that I actually gave up playing this game several weeks ago. I came back to it this week and gave it another shot and made it through. I earn my first achievement a little while later and it's too late to back out now. Time to finish this game.
The last achievement I earned was for playing Endless Mode, which requires you to earn, for different achievements, 50, 100, 150 and 200 points. You earn points for distance, and for collecting things along the way, but to get over 200 you'll have to beat a boss. The bosses aren't terribly hard, but if you've not seen the pattern before, you can easily die to them, and that's the end of your "endless" run. I died to the boss on my first run because it was the boss I hadn't seen in the story play. So I loaded up again and got through the boss on the second run, got to 200+ and said, "that's enough of this garbage," and quit back to the menu. I was so uninterested in playing this game that as soon as I earned the requirements for the achievement I quit the game. This never happens. I'm the kind of guy who finishes the story in Brothers - A Tale of Two Sons
, even though it' super obvious what will happen. But I just can't take anymore Bird Game+.
There's a problem there, though. The achievement pops when you die, not when you hit that number. So since I quit, and didn't die--no pop. Load it, and I'm back at the beginning. I had to do three more runs before I got past the boss again. Instead of getting out of playing any more Bird Game+ I consigned myself to an extra 15 minutes of it.
In addition to Bird Game+, which was a start as well as a completion, I also started:Madden NFL 20
Madden is Madden, not much to say there, except that with all of the concerns over CTE, video game football may be the best football there is these days. Riverbond is less RPG than I'd like. It feels like it ought to be an RPG, but there's no progress, your weapons are all generally about the same level of good, and you have no real stats. The enemies in the final levels are just as easy (or hard) to beat as the enemies in the first levels. There's some variety to it, but I think adding some RPG elements might have helped keep it feeling fresh.
Madden will be done, eventually. It's not a terribly hard completion this year, but it's not a priority for me, either. I'll hit the online stuff ASAP and get to the rest when I feel like it. Riverbond will be done soon enough. I hit my RTDL achievement (by going out of order, which I could because it wasn't an RPG) but I've no desire to keep it around. I played it with my kids for a bit and they largely lost patience with it, because in local coop, you can kill your friends by walking them off the screen. Playing with a six-year-old, then, was very frustrating. I'm glad we got to experience that via GamePass, rather than purchasing it, as they had initially asked.
You go fight that bad guy, I'm going to go exploring!
Last week, we streamed Skullgirls Achievements
which was interesting because despite beating the story mode several times and exploring some of the other elements of the game, I hadn't earned a single achievement. Oh, those old-school XBLA games.
Honestly I'm surprised Des and I didn't riff on the pin-up girl motiff more than we did.
Tonight, Des and I will get down with the sickness. Join us for some cooperative fun.
I hit the grinds pretty hard this week, spending a significant chunk of time in all of the classics: Idle Champions of the Forgotten Realms
, Minion Masters
, even Magic Duels
made it back into rotation this week. Minion Masters dropped a few achievements for me, but I've still got a long grind in that.
Elsewhere I joined a TA boosting session for BattleBlock Theater
. I hadn't done a genuine boosting session for a while, so it was interesting to get more involved with strangers again. It went pretty well, considering how chaotic the party became with so many people in it.
I also slowly advanced the story in Thimbleweed Park
and spent a few hours hitting the MP in Fable Fortune
, which, for no particular reason, reminds me of this: https://boingboing.net/2019/08/14/jack-black-jack-white-ja.h...
Way back when, in 2006, I was playing Titan Quest on PC. Diablo 3 was still half a decade away and I needed something good to scratch that ARPG/Dungeon Crawler itch. Titan Quest was perfect. It was set in classic antiquity, and was full of both well-researched historically accurate Greek civilization elements, as well as tropes. It was the perfect gateway drug for my now wife, as well, who had seen me playing Diablo and not been all that impressed. But Titan Quest was perfect for her.
Titan Quest advanced the gameplay ideas of Diablo II and introduced a lot of finesse that I really appreciated in the genre. I was particularly fond of the character development process. There are no classes, like in Diablo. You start a character and build him, or her, up with choices. And two of the most critical choices are your skill trees, effectively classes. Because there are eight different "classes" and you're picking two to make a unique combination (though order doesn't matter, Nature/Warfare = Warfare/Nature = Destroyer) you end up with 28 different ways of playing the game. Later expansions added two more classes increasing the combinations to 45! With the replayability of a game genre like Diablo, and the unique class structures, Titan Quest was just built to suck my time away, and for a while, it did. I played it extensively, both with my wife and solo, and it has remained one of my favorite games of the genre, and in fact one of my favorite games, so much so that I happily Kickstarted Grim Dawn when they licensed the engine that Titan Quest was built on.
It's a picture of a wall of text that I'm using to break up a wall of text. But it's a well-written wall of text!
So, naturally, when Titan Quest got ported to Xbox, I bought a copy. And this week I got a chance to really play it some. I sunk a few hours in, and it felt great to go back to the game. It hasn't aged quite as well as I'd hoped. But for 13 years old, it's doing pretty well. The core mechanics are still amazing. The problem is in the port. The controls moving into combat are very clunky and I haven't found a way to fix that yet. This was a game that was brilliant on PC, but doesn't seem to work nearly as well on Xbox. Diablo found a way to make that transition very well, but Blizzard has always taken care to make sure their games are high quality, and they have the resources of Activision behind them now. Titan Quest doesn't have those advantages.
But it was still good to go back to Ancient Greece and lay the smack down on some mythical monsters again.