Game Hunting: Lots of catching up to do!

It’s been a long time since I updated you on my video game finds, and I’ve been meaning to collect material for a longer post.

20190302_123631First off I attended a game convention called “Retro Mania” that hosted not only video games, but even vintage stuff like VHS tapes and a lot of toys. The prices were generally decent, and there were a lot of great deals to be made. I got myself some Star Wars and Turtles figures as well as a Psyduck figurine. Video game-wise I got Excite Bike and Faxanadu for the NES, a Tetris Jr. LCD handheld and a SNES joystick, the Score Master. I gave half the charting price for the NES games and the Score Master. I only gave about 6 Euros for the Tetris Jr., the online prices are ridiculous and average about 40 Euros, which is strange as it was distributed with Nintendo’s official magazine Club Nintendo through the Swedish distributor Bergsala AB at the end of the 90’s, when you subscribed.

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Next I attended “Retrospelsmässan” which this year had extended to be running throughout the whole weekend. I got a Nintendo 64 controller (I now have four official controllers), Solomon’s Key for the NES (a great puzzle game classic), Road Rash for the Mega Drive and surprisingly Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Time for the DS. I remember having tested the GBA games but I don’t recall ever playing the DS ones. The games were bought for about half the Swedish video game chart- prices, and Road Rash for 2 euros in a bargain bin. In that same bin I found an European NES Control Deck manual in decent shape, as well as a 1992 catalogue of French NES releases, and a Game Boy Color manual (I had a mint box and everything for it, but not the manual). For the SNES I picked up Wario’s Woods, Starwing and Tetris/Dr. Mario. I got Super Gokuden 1 and 2 for the Super Famicom. I also found Mutatin Raph and a Triceraton from the TMNT line of figures. That Super Ghouls and Ghosts is not from the convention though…

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…it’s from an online store. I ordered Aliens Infestation for the DS, as I’ve lost my copy, only it costs an arm and a leg these days, while I paid 10 dollars for my North Amercian copy. I decided to order the game for about twice that amount, and excitedly opened up the box to find the hidden gem “Active Health“! So lucky!! I e-mailed the company back and they sent me a game of my choosing free of charge as Aliens Infestation is out of stock, so I chose Super Ghouls and Ghosts (an amazing game!). The other finds are from thrifting, the first one being Mega Man X8. This means that I only don’t have X7 if you include the Mega Man X Anniversary Collection compilation. I also found Epic Mickey for the Wii, and Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare for the Xbox 360. Each thrift find was 2 Euros each.

20190421_144831These finds were from different places. Super Mario 64 DS and Star Wars Droidworks were from a flea market and a thrift store, respectively. Axiom Verge and Dragon Ball FighterZ were gifts and I bought the clear Game Boy Pocket online (it’s a complete set). Both Axiom Verge and FighterZ were amazing, and Super Mario 64 DS is the definitive version of the game in my opinion. I haven’t tried Droidworks yet, but it’s supposed to be entertaining.

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Lastly we have some games that I found in storage and some that I got during a sale at GameStop. I found Kid Icarus, Ice Climber and Super Mario Bros. for the NES in storage, in one of my wifes old boxes. It also had a manual for the Super Mario Bros. Game and Watch and a complete box for Super Mario Land 2: Six Golden Coins. So lucky, this time for real! The other games are King of Fighters XIV in a steelbook for the PS4, and Valkyria Revolution and L.A. Noire for the Xbox One. I haven’t played a 3D King of Fighters yet, and never got to play L.A. Noire on the PS3 when it was released.

 

And that’s it for now! Way too many games!

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Now Playing: The Last of Us (+Left Behind)

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This is another game that I’m late to the party to.

I played the Remastered edition on the Playstation 4. The game is reminiscent of the Uncharted series in many aspects, which threw me off initially, but when I started to leave the city after the time skip I could see that the game was taking a totally different turn gameplay wise.

The game is very much set in a post-apocalyptic world where there are infected (by fungi) humans that are very zombie-esque in their mannerisms and qualities. What’s new here is that a freshy infected enemy is easier to beat, and the longer the host has been infected, the tougher they are to beat. And no matter the stage of infection, the A.I. allows the enemy to run and climb to reach you- so strategic planning of your surroundings are paramount to survive.

There are unique mechanics to detect enemies (Listen mode in easier difficulties) and a heavy emphasisis on sneaking around- there are enemies that are very difficult to subdue without sneaking- and whom your fists won’t do much against. Expect pretty much instant death if they are able to get their hands on you.

There are a few straight forward puzzles to mess around with, but the majority of the experience is centered around gathering materials for crafing weapons, ammunition and health, and travelling to and from certain points. You can take detours from the otherwise pretty obvious paths you can take (which are rewarding with collectibles and more resources- sometimes requiring disposing of more enemies- making a risk and reward assessment necessary). The game is full of moral dilemmas and each confrontation carries a much higher risk when compared to the other series in Naughty Dog’s repertoire.

The strongest point is the atmosphere and the story. While you could waltz around like a cowboy in the Uncharted series and still survive- none of that applies in this game. Sure you could have a shoot out- but enemies can and will get you when changing weapons and reloading them. And if your bat or other handheld weapon breaks (yes, they’re perishable) you have to use your fists or draw a weapon. These seconds can mean death if you’re nor careful enough. This gives a dreadful and tense atmosphere especially when you encounter enemies. Though the longer you progress, you will become more adept in handling these situations with new weapons, upgrades and experience.

The story is engaging and the characters develop throughout the experience. The animation and voice acting is superb. I won’t spoil too much about the story and leave it to you to discover on your own.

Tips I wish I’d known early on:

  • Create the weapon holsters early on- switching weapons instead of reaching into the backpack saves seconds and lives
  • Craft vigorously and plan your strategy around what you have.
  • Use every item at your disposal.

The higher the difficulty level, the less items you get, and the better weapons such as the machete seldom appear. This, along with more resilent enemies, really adds a new challenge to the player. I’d recommend starting on Easy or Normal mode before venturing into the world of Badass, as you need time to master the game mechanics to stand a chance. Unless you are a Natural Born Badass, that is.

Left Behind is an endearing side story that fleshes out Ellie’s character and shows how capable she is on her own. It’s a neat side story (Gaiden?) that gives you a little bit more to chew on before the launch of The Last of Us Part 2.

This game was amazing and I really understand all the rage that surrounded the game the first time around, and the next time it was released on the Playstation 4. I really recommend it to gamers that want an immersive story and gameplay with a lot of tension. If you haven’t played it- pick it up and give it a try if you aren’t too faint hearted.

Now playing: Axiom Verge

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I’m a bit late to the party on this one. I just recently played through Axiom Verge on the Playstation 4. Sure, it exists as a digital download, but even before really playing it I thought it looked too intriguing to not own a physical copy of, so I waited until I could get my hands on a copy before playing it. I had fiddled a bit with it a couple of years ago on my brothers Wii U, but never really played it seriously.

The game pays homage to a lot of older games from 20-30 years ago. It combines the isolated alien worlds of games like Metroid with a semi-open world. Eventually you can explore the world freely with the unlocking of weapons and abilites, but initially you can only move in a certain predetermined direction. After advancing in the game you can freely explore all areas and backtrack to areas that previously weren’t accessible. The game is full of secrets and hidden areas to explore.

The gameplay itself borrows a lot from titles like Super Metroid, Bionic Commando and the likes, with CD-quality music and detailed 8-bit graphics. The controls are perfect and the power ups always come in handy, and mastering the different weapons and abilities really change the experience, never making anything feel worn out. The sound effects are a mix of 8-bit sounds and occassionally MIDI-esque bits. The overall presentation is superb and you can see that a lot of care has gone into creating the game (by the one-man team of Thomas Happ).

The story is intruguing with tension and a bit of occasional humour and the satisfaction of the gameplay makes this an amazing game that I will pick up and play again. Using all of your abilities can make the game go from impossible to perfectly manageable. If you study the pattern of the bosses you will find a strategy against them, and the more weapons and abilities you have picked up, the more likely you are to defeat them, and certain areas of the game become a breeze instead of a life and death battle.

My preferred mode of transportation was through absuing the Red Coat upgrade, spamming the Laser Drill in case enemies got in my way, and use the Flame Thrower, Kilver and Turbine Pulse mostly. The Drone also comes in handy throughout the game, to scout out areas, defeat certain enemies and to retrieve certain Drone-accessible upgrades.

I really recommend this game to everyone that likes this style of game and that wants a new 2D sidescroller with a few new modern additions that evens out the experience. This truly is one of the best gaming experiences I’ve had on the Playstation 4.

 

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Not bad for a first playthrough. Next time I will go for Hard mode and a higher completion rate!

Now playing: Link’s Awakening

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Recently I’ve been playing Link’s Awakening for the Game Boy. I played the original version on a Game Boy Color (I don’t have the Dx version) and finished the game in about a week playing it on and off. And recently they announced a remake for the Nintendo Switch, what a coincidence! For my first view on the game, please see My list of Top 10 Gameboy games.

My favorite part of the game is the story, especially the mystery that surrounds the island. In my first playthrough I figured out the secret of the island pretty early on though, and in my opinion it’s more about the journey to unveil that mystery from that point on, and the price to pay to do so.

The game itself is, at least in my opinion, the easiest of the Zelda games to finish. The only difficult boss is Moldorm, and the rest were pushovers, especially with the Rocs Feather item and with the Lv-2 Sword. The puzzles were pretty straightforward too. All in all, a balanced adventure that’s just enough in scope.

I really recommend this game to all The Legend of Zelda fans. It’s a full fledged game in a tiny Game Boy cartridge, which is amazing in and of itself, and the graphics and presentation are expertly made. You can really see a lot of elements that return in A Link to the Past, and also a lot of the groundwork that moved on into the Oracle series.

Give the game a try if you haven’t already. I don’t think playing it on the origial hardware will take anything out of playing the remake.

Now playing: A Way Out

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Image from microsoft.com

I got this game when it was released but only came around to play it two weeks ago as I was looking for someone to co-op it with. After my experiences with the Triforce Heroes Co-Op multiplayer I refused to play it online as people tend to troll around a lot.

The story starts out as your standard “jailbreak story” and blooms into something else entirely. You really get invested to the story and the characters in it. There’s tension, drama, action and even a bit of humor. The acting and voice acting is also great.

The game is story driven and has gameplay that stays approachable even to casual gamers. It’s not overly difficult, but not too easy either- it manages to keep itself just in the middle so that both casual gamers and more experienced ones can enjoy it. You could take one controller in each hand, but I’d argue that certain segments would be next to impossible to complete then, and the game is made to be strictly a 2-player experience. The Co-Op is split screen with minimal slowdown and stuttering. It’s impressive how the Playstation 4 can render such an graphically impressive game while maintaning a good framerate and animation speed. And I don’t even have the Pro.

If you want a game to play that draws you in, isn’t overly complicated, and not too long so that you can play it in several sittings, then this game is for you.

Trivia: The gas station that you visit is based on the Swedish comedy series Macken (The Gas Station) which the main characters Roy & Roger work in.

Unlikely Versus No. 11: Donkey Kong vs. Donkey Kong

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Today we will pit the original Donkey Kong against the remake from the 90’s, Donkey Kong!

 

Their shared backgrounds:

The Original Donkey Kong is stated to be none other than Cranky Kong. He shares the same appearance as his relative but doesn’t have the same haircut. He does have a tie though, in Donkey Kong -94, which he passes on along with his title to his grandson. He’s in Donkey Kong, Donkey Kong Jr. (where his son is to rescue him), Donkey Kong 3, and Donkey Kong -94 (it has to be him as the game also stars Donkey Kong Jr.). We’ll call him Cranky Kong from now on.

Donkey Kong, the remake, is actually the grandson (as most official sources state) of Cranky Kong. What happened to his father, Donkey Kong Jr., is not known. He usually lazies about collecting bananas, but shows great strength and dexterity when push comes to shove. We’ll call him Donkey Kong from now on.

To make things more even, we’re pitting them against each other in their primes!

Their strenghts:

Cranky Kong is not only strong enough to continually throw heavy barrels but can even produce fire. He can climb well and is strong (or heavy) enough to jump so that construction sites completely break, with beams and support failing under his force. His stamina is huge, as he can hang in vines for a long time (Donkey Kong 3) and throw barrels continuosly (Donkey Kong). He seems wise and knowledgeable (Donkey Kong Country) which gives him an edge over his grandson, though we can’t tell if that’s because of age or not (as he seems to have had a bad temper in his first adventures). At the very least, his intelligence should be average. He’s also sarcastic, which is theorized to be indicative of higher intelligence, and uses most modern appliances well.

Donkey Kong has less brute force, but more agility and dexterity overall. He can run fairly fast, and though strong enough to throw barrels, he hasn’t been shown to be strong enough to topple construction sites through sheer jumping strength alone. He isn’t the smartest of primates in his universe, but has the skills of using everyday items such as TV’s and is able to ride animals. Intelligence-wise he’s comparable to an average human being. He’s also able to play a lot of different sports, and is currently one of the strongest boxers in the Punch Out!! universe, where he’s a secret fighter. Though his technique is unorthodox it’s shown to be very effective.

Their weaknesses:

Cranky Kong still has a bad temper when he’s older, which may imply that he should have a short temper as a youth that would be able to exploit. While giving in to his anger would make him stronger, he would lose his wits. He doesn’t seem to be all that agile either, being brought up in the city, focusing instead on brute force.

Donkey Kong lacks in strength, and isn’t even the most powerful Kong in the family (Cranky showing stronger feats, and Chunky and Funky arguably being stronger when it comes to sheer force). He is well rounded though, with a good balance between strength, agility and dexterity. He doesn’t seem all to bright though, and doesn’t seem to be able to speak very well at all.

The Verdict:

I reckon Donkey Kong would be able to take Cranky Kong down with agility- he’s felled bigger and stronger foes still as is it. I doubt a younger Cranky Kong would be able to outsmart his grandson in a fight- as he’d lose his temper. I mean, if a small carpenter/plumber with great jumping ability is able to beat him- then it wouldn’t be inconcievable that a stronger dexterious less evolved primate such as Donkey Kong Jr Jr could take him down. Add a little wisdom to the elder ape- well, then we might have an opponent that few Mario Universe characters can take down.