Sunday, June 28, 2009

TEAL: Maximo - Ghosts (and Glory) of Gaming Past

I've been unintentionally "old school" in my game selection, whether that be in terms of gameplay or style. Nthing has made that more apparent though than my current stint with Maximo: Ghost to Glory. Difficulty-wise, I wouldn't say that it's anywhere near the unforgiving challenge of some of the Ghosts 'n' Goblins games, but it's definitely a lot harder and intriguing than some of the more recent platformers I've played, for a few of reasons:
  • Temporary power-ups: One of the things I hated then loved about Maximo is the fleeting nature of the skills and pick-ups you come across. Elemental swords lose their charge after twenty hits (less if you fire off Magic Bolts or Doomstrikes), and abilities vanish when you die if you haven't "locked" them in. It was hard to get over losing my fiery sword and breaking my shield in the middle of a heated battle, but it did forced me to rework my play-style to take a more strategic route, as oppose to the beat-'em-up style I'd been employing.
  • Limiting continues: The escalating price of continues seemed like a raw deal, and it definitely raised the stakes of the game once I got later in the story. Granted, this limitation is neglect-able with a recent save, but it can be a consideration if you only save after bosses (instead of spending coin). Playing through a world is usually less fun the second time around.
  • Guess-and-check bosses: It's been a while since I've had to find the right technique to use in order to defeat a boss. These encounters aren't the power-through-and-you-can-eventually-win affair, but the hit-this-here-at-this-time-or-die type. The thing is, after a few one-sided shouting matches with the TV, I started enjoying engaging in the simple choreography of the battle. It kind of makes me want to go back and play Zelda.
Despite its short length (I completed it in a week) and some frustrating deaths ("I can't believe that hit me!"), I've had a fun play-through, especially when I found a workable set of skills to lock in. I'm intrigued to see how Army of Zin expands/improves/ruins what Maximo had going for it.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

TEAL: Bit.Trip Beat - A Bit of a Beating

If I enjoy a challenge so much, why am I constantly on the verge of putting a Wii remote through a wall while I play Bit.Trip Beat?

Playing through is a lot of fun until you come to the tricky parts, specifically the tricky parts halfway through the stage. Passing some of these bit sequences takes more than a few tries. The problem is that each of these tries is going to be proceeded by retreading through the first half of the level, repeatedly. It tends to work the nerve a bit.

I've been able to trough through these parts and master the unique rhythms that the three stages have been throwing at me, but I can't say I wasn't tempting to pull up a replay video for a while.

Now, if only I could beat pong

Monday, June 22, 2009

TEAL: Odin Sphere

It was hard to pin down exactly why I enjoyed Odin Sphere. The art's great, the leveling system is engaging, and the battle can be challenging, even when I'm now simply under-powered. Ultimately, I think that what upped my enjoyment of the game is that I felt cheated in so many battles.

I'm willing to concede that this is due to my own choices: I refused to level grind for the first five books. Quite often this led to one-hit deaths and countless retries. Surprisingly, I was able to forgo the RPG route of defeat and instead approached it for Odin Sphere's action side: I memorized. In classic action fashion, most of the bosses could be taken down through finding their pattern and attacking accordingly.

And after trial through irking trial, taken down they were, which is why I was able to get so much fun out of the game. It's just like me with programming. The fun for me comes from finally breaking through an error or bug after trying and cursing and trying again for ages.

Besides that, the whimsical (I mean, when it isn't dealing Armageddon) style and setting gives me the same warm feeling I got from playing GRiMgRiMoiRe. It kind of makes me wonder if Muramasa will  give me the same fantasy high. Regardless, I think I'll get the same difficulty high while I play (and scream at) The Demon Blade.

…and now I have to find and listen to Wagner's Ring Cycle.