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This Will Be On Your Test

I’ve had a lot of time lately where I’ve simply been unable to play any games. I’ve been too busy with things such as exams (hence the title, get it?), and it’s why I’ve never had a need to update the backlog lately. Not to say I’ve not played any though, and now that I’ve actually been doing this for over a year now it’s about time I did give an update, and you’ll probably find I’ll be playing a bit more in the next few months.

One of them was the newest episode of the Walking Dead Season 2 videogame, episode 3. You may want to skip on a bit if you want to avoid spoilers for the first two episodes. This episode follows from the end of the last episode with the characters taken to a prison by the mysterious Carver, who has it in for the group. The episode, without spoiling anything, I felt was the best of the new season so far, with the things that happened to all of the characters shocking and leaving the next episode perfectly poised, I feel, to be something pretty great. I don’t want to divulge any further for story reasons but it develops the show nicely.

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I’ve finished Child of Eden, a PS3 game (though it was on Xbox as well) which is an on-rails shooter with psychedelic visuals and gameplay. I have to say I absolutely loved it and it was one of the most refreshing, unique things I’ve played in a while. Each level is an experience that can shock and amaze you with what happens. They sound and looks beautiful, and I love how it mixes live-action filmed video in to the levels to give deep symbolism that gives the game a whole deeper meaning. I was thrown off by one thing, and that was how it incorporates the music from Genki Rockets, and specifically the song ‘Heavenly Star’. The song has featured in another game I’ve played, even if I didn’t rate it too highly, that being No More Heroes. The games are so different to each that this similarity between them really threw me off, but it works here much better than it did in the other game.

I do have one gripe, however. The game was designed for Kinect on 360, and was released on PS3 with Move controls. Since I didn’t have the game on 360 I didn’t play it with Kinect, and I don’t have a Move controller so I couldn’t play with that, relegating me to playing with the standard Dualshock. I felt that had I been able to play with the motion controls it would’ve been so much better. Not saying the controls with the Dualshock was bad, but I would love an opportunity to play it again with motion. I can maybe hope for a Wii U port but I very much doubt that’ll happen due to age and how it’s available for just £4 or even less on other systems it would not be worthwhile. It’s short, but such a good game I would recommend to anyone.

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An additional game I’ve been playing (a lot of) is one I pre-ordered and had been waiting for for so long, the newest game in the Mario Kart series for Wii U. To say I’ve been playing it a lot is a bit of an understatement. As well as unlocking all characters and beating all cups (what I’d signify as complete), I’ve continued playing for much longer online with friends, and I’ve already put around 80+ hours in to the game easily, playing hundreds of races.

The game is so much fun! It’s easily one of the best in the series, and the controls have been refined to the point where it felt like a new game the first time I played it compared to previous games. The bikes are back and (shockingly) balanced, as are the items, and the new items are all very nice additions to the existing items. The boomerang is probably the best of these, as with skill it can be very effective but if you don’t know how to use it it will be wasted, which is a nice change to the almost luck-based nature of many of the items.

The new courses are all good and I can’t say that there are really any bad ones. If I had to pick weaker ones I’d say that the new Rainbow Road isn’t too great. My problem with it is that it doesn’t have the epic feel that the course should have, and is easily outshined by the N64 version that makes a return as a classic track. Speaking of which, the classic tracks are re-imagined more than remade to bring the new game mechanics of the anti-gravity in to it, which I’m quite happy with. I’d say the courses in this game are some of the strongest in the series to date, and the game as a whole is one of the best on Wii U to date.

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There is one other game, one I’ve been waiting on for a while, an import game for my Japanese 3DS, Game Center CX: San Chome no Arino (translated it’s Arino on Third Street, a pun on manga series Sunset on Third Street), and the third game based on the Game Center CX TV series that I love (and have wrote about here, note that due to being a post from before I moved to wordpress it is a bit awkwardly laid out). I’ve played the first game which was released in the US as Retro Game Challenge but not the second which was also for DS and Japan-only. This was actually the reason I got a Japanese 3DS, this was the main game I wanted.

It is described as a ‘game-in-game’ thing, and this is accurate as within the cartridge are 8 retro-inspired games, from platformers inspired by Adventure Island in the form of ‘Saurus Boy’ to bullet hell shooters like ‘Zelaides’ and, possible my favourite so far, a game I’d describe as Pong mixed with Table Football and Breakout in the game ‘Breakshoot’. Different to previous games in the series, the game also incorporates a more wide-ranging story set in a Japanese town and with all the previous ADs, APs, writers, producers like Kan, Toujima, Nakayama, Cameraman Abe and many more, all of them are here. Interactions here are limited, unfortunately, and nothing happens in these segments that effect the events that go on, they are a nice touch.

As well as the 8 main games, there are mini arcade oddities you can also play inspired by games Arino has played on TamaGe segments, such as rock, paper scissors and machines that involve flicking a 10-yen coin through a machine and avoiding the holes to get it to the end, that are also great to play. There’s even a maze one where you have to tilt the 3DS to move a metallic ball which is a nice use of the gyro controls. I wouldn’t say any of the games I’ve played in it so far are bad (I’ve so far played 7 of the 8 titles on offer) and have enjoyed them all, it’s been thoroughly worth getting. I’d have to think a bit more to decide if I like it a bit more than the first DS game, and I wouldn’t mind trying the second DS game, which I may need to look for a flash cart to play the recently-completed fan translation of it to decide for certain, but I’d say it’s a very good game in it’s own right. If only 3DS wasn’t region locked so more people could play it…

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Anyway, that’s everything I’ve played of late. Since I’ve gone in to the second year of doing this I’ve created a new hub post that can be found here that looks much better and I feel is much better designed. I’ll also hopefully be playing a few more games in the near future now I have a bit more time (if I can stop playing Mario Kart). There was one more game I could’ve mentioned, though that game is Brain Training that was recently released for free on the DS VC on Wii U and, for obvious reasons, doesn’t really work for this since the type of ‘game’ it is (I’d argue against it being a game). I’ve improved my brain age and played some Sudoku, but that’s all it is, I wouldn’t pay for it.

Anyway, for now, I bid you adieu.

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Battling the Backlog – Progress Report 1 Year On

It’s been a whole year since I started doing my Battling the Backlog series of posts. I have to say I’ve had quite a lot more fun with it than I expected, as it was originally done as something selfish for me to keep track of what I played. However, I ended up enjoying writing about the games that I was playing and my opinions on them way more than I thought I would. Even disregarding the blog, it was great to play some older games, games I disregarded before, games I ignored and never played and not always just the latest thing.

I’ve played quite a few games in that time. In fact, I’ve completed 37 games over the 52 weeks I was doing this set of posts up to now. Some have been brilliant. My personal highlight has been Super Mario 3D World, a Wii U game I played rather recently and was a brilliant, brilliant game from start to finish. When you go in to games that were already on my list when I began this blog, Pullblox and the original Pikmin are titles that remain.

There’s been titles that were great fun, ones that were less so. Overall over the last year I’ve managed to reduce my backlog by a grand total of… 3 games. What I’ve completed (or dropped in the case of 2 titles) I’ve replenished, mainly with games I’ve picked up cheap on sale. Some of it is due to HD rereleases giving me 3 games for 1 which adds more to the backlog than a normal game would, but yeah. If I took every HD collection as a single release I’d have reduced my backlog by 5 extra titles. Then it’s a bit more respectable. It’s coming down slowly, and I promise to make more of an effort to buy less and complete more.

To start a new year of posts I’ve created a new hub post, archiving the old one, with a cleaner design for the hub and (as I hope you have noticed) the blog too. For now though, I might try and reduce this backlog of games.

How to Train Your Dragon (and Zombie. And Cowboy.)

Lots of games. I’m actually making some progress on this backlog. Oh, you expect me to talk about those games from the previous post? No, why would I be playing those! Aside from continuing with Bravely Default on bus journeys (I’m making progress slowly, though don’t expect it done anytime soon. I likely will only mention it in passing till it’s done now), it’s been completely different. Not on purpose, might I add. It’s almost an accident, in a way. By accident I mean a mix of circumstances and a new game has been the cause of a change of pace, not that I got sick of what I was playing before. In fact, I’ll likely be going back to those in the near future.

I had a week long break. While I had a lot of work to do in that time and I have actually been doing that work and not spending all my time watching anime and playing games (as much as I would have liked to) I did inevitably have more time to myself. I was also mainly situated in a different room, a one where I don’t have the Wii U or PS3 plugged in to. If I were to play games I’d have to play something else. After owning the game for a few years now (I bought it due to my enjoyment of NieR) without playing it and a functioning PS2 connected to the TV, I decided to play Drakengard. That wasn’t the only reason, of course. After seeing trailers I had become rather excited to try Drakengard 3 (a prequel) and would like to somewhat know what to expect. But it did tip the decision in to it’s court.

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The game is nothing like NieR. I knew this when I went to buy it a few years back. While the games are linked (NieR follows on from ending E of this game) they play in a completely different way. While NieR has a simple-to-learn, difficult-to-master real time action RPG gameplay, the gameplay is split in to two sections in Drakengard, vastly different to each other, and of differing quality too; flying sections, where you control your dragon and fly through the sky, and the ground missions, which mostly take place on foot but you can involve your dragon in battle if you would like.

The story of this game also helps to set it apart, not just between these two games but even in a more general sense too. The story here is about Caim, hellbent on revenge against the Empire due to the death of his parents at the hands of a dragon. It begins in a huge battle between this group and the Union, which Caim supports, surrounding a huge castle where the goddess of the seals, _____, who is also his sister, protecting the world stays. By her side is her betrothed, Inuart, a friend of Caim’s. On his way to her side, he suffers a deep, grazing wound and is dying until he meets a dragon inside the castle who is dying, and they form a pact so that they can both live and so Caim is able to enact his revenge.

From here things start to get rather weird. SPOILERS: As the game progresses you meet various people along the way, though these all have disturbed personalities. There is Leonart, a man whom was about to kill themselves after discovering his whole family was dead and his house burnt down. It is heavily implied that the reason he was not here when the house came under attack was because he was having sex with a child. Then there’s Arioch, a crazed women who likes to cannibalise on children. Inuart who you met earlier becomes obsessed with the goddess and jealous of Caim and slowly becomes insane due to this. There is the Watchers, an occult influencing the actions of the Empire for their own gain, the breaking of the seals and the retrieval of the seeds of resurrection. The goddess later kills herself when the leader of the Watchers, a child named Manah, speaks openly about Furiae’s sexual feelings for her brother.

Things get weird fast. SPOILER END

The story, and the way it develops, is what I would argue to be the strongest and most memorable thing about the game. I would struggle to name a game which I have played with a more disturbed story than the one that can be found here, with 5 endings that each manage to be worse than the last. I played the first 4 of these, as the last required having all the weapons, which having not realised earlier would have required replaying the majority of the game again. I was already aware of what it entailed as it is that ending which NieR branches from, anyhow.

As we move away from story and on to the game itself here, there is a huge difference between the two gameplay sections of this game, with one finds itself superior to the other. The flying sections are not only technically impressive, but are the areas which the game shines, as you swoop through the air fighting wave after wave of the enemy. These sections hold some of the best moments after the story, and vary as time goes on. The same can’t be said for the ground sections, however. These have gameplay heavily influenced by Dynasty Warriors, but without any variety to them aside from the differences in the enemies. These missions can also be very long, and one I remember playing for over half an hour, and this can begin to feel like a chore. There is some quite bad pop-in of enemies and, due to the limitations of the PS2, the draw distance is poor, so you can only survey a very small area at a time. The map can only be accessed through menus too, which also doesn’t help.

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Can I recommend this? If I’m honest… probably not. While the story is something that is well worth experiencing, and the flying sections are quite fun, long sections are stuck in ground missions that drag on and outstay their welcome. It hasn’t taken from my personal anticipation for Drakengard 3, as I feel it will be better, though at the same time I wouldn’t necessarily say this is bad either. I wouldn’t complete it in three days if I thought that. But it’s a game that is weak in a few places and certainly has it’s problems.

I went for another older game for similar reasons as I went for Drakengard, and also completed that one all the same. This was Pokemon Colloseum. I don’t have as much to say as I only played for a short time, but even in that short space of time I remembered the problems I had with it before. There is no travel between towns at all, for a start. You go to a map, select an area and travel by a mini cutscene of you riding a motorbike. That has always felt wrong to me. Then there’s the sometimes confusing layout of areas that makes it difficult to find where you need to be. At the same time, though, the main bit of the game is all about the battles, and there’s nothing wrong here. The game is good, but because of the traveling it missed what is arguably one of the best things about Pokemon, and the game suffered for it.

After that week and another week had passed I was off to London. I’m a football (or soccer if you’re American) fan and my team was off to a cup final. We lost, but it was a good weekend so I’m not going to complain too much, even if the result could’ve been nicer. I didn’t play too many games on the way or way back (mainly watched movies or read books *shock*) but I did put a bit of gaming in. 4 and a bit hours each way in a car, I’m bound to. And while a bit of it was Bravely Default, a game I’ve continued with lately, I did start and complete a download game on my JPN 3DS, Gunman Clive, or Gunman Story as it’s called in Japan.

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There’s not a lot to say. It’s a side scroller set in the Wild West with a loose surrounding story. It’s difficult at times but also very short, even for it’s small 200yen price. The game was done in just shy of an hour, and with less deaths could’ve been cut to under 30 mins easily. While I guess it’s cheap and looks pretty, it’s short and the soundtrack I found to be unoriginal and repetitive. Give it a try since it’s cheap on the UK eShop, but don’t believe the hype it receives (I hear praise for it a good bit) as it’s not worth it.

There is one more game I have played since my last post, and this one was just last week. The Walking Dead Season 2 Episode 2 got released. And it’s very, very good, arguably one of the best episodes in either season. Of course being the game it is it is predominantly focused on story, so I will be talking spoilers here.

SPOILERS: while the first episode felt a lot more like an introduction to the new series as we met the new set of characters (after all, the choice you make at the end of episode 1 is irrelevant, Pete will die and Nick will live either way, as we find out), it was here that things began to develop. You have to move out as a new enemy, Carver, closes in on them for reasons unknown, and as you do, you move north, reach the mountains, and a ski resort, where you reunite with Kenny from S1. I’ll admit, I couldn’t help but smile when I saw Clementine and Kenny reunited, and felt a pang of guilt when Lee is brought up, which shows the emotional connection that has grown over the 2 series for the characters.

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Not everything is going well though. Tension forms between Kenny (and his new acquaintances) and Clementine and her group. This is intensified by accusations between the two parties and the return of Carver, who captures the group at the end of the episode. SPOILER END

The series feels like it’s beginning to go places after a first episode that, while strong, felt more like it was setting up the events to come than forging it’s own path. Now it’s really getting in to things, and it has the potential to be something possibly even better than S1, which would be a big achievement. Personally I can’t wait for more.

After that is a few miscellaneous games. One is a new game for my Japanese 3DS, a full, boxed game too. Band Brothers P. It’s had a few games in Japan and came here once under the name ‘Jam With The Band’ (pick it up if you can). It’s a rhythm game, essentially, and I’m not going in to detail since it’s not going to be included in this series since it can’t really be ‘completed’. I’m beginning to add my own songs and have played a fair few and downloaded lots, using most of my free downloads. Good game.

The other came from a journey out. It all started due to retail chain Argos getting cheap stock of catalogue Wii and DS titles. The one that caught my eye was for Xenoblade Chronicles. While the game is usually rare (and expensive), they had the game with the red classic controller pro for £15. So I picked that up. Afterwards I decided to have a little journey to a few HMV shops. They’ve had a 70% sale on used games to purge their stock and stop selling used games, so everything was very cheap. Everything also went fast, and after just a few days was essentially all gone. In both shops.

The first HMV had little, and nothing decent. The second also had little, but had some bargains. I picked up two Wii U games and a PS3 game for just shy of £9. The PS3 title was £6 and was Remember Me. It had intrigued me before release and I’d heard decent things from people I knew playing it so decided to go for it. The Wii U games were £1.50 and absolute bargains. One was Batman: Arkham City Armoured Edition. I wouldn’t have bought the game otherwise but I’ve heard decent things and it was cheap. The other was Super Mario 3D World. Yes, Super Mario 3D World for £1.50. Bargain. The only problem was that both Wii U titles were in sleeveless cases, so I’ll need to sort something out, but they were both too good a deal to pass up on. I have the GAME preorder slipcover for Mario since they sent it to me due to a competition so it’s not the end of the world there.

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And it is Mario 3D World that I have played otherwise of these. I was apprehensive going in since I’d heard such good things on gameplay and soundtrack I was worried it may be overhyped, and thankfully wasn’t. The game is a dream, an orgasm of creativity, originality and fun in one primary-colour-filled package that delights the eyes and the ears with it’s visual and audio capabilities alongside it’s soundtrack. The cat suit is a brilliant addition, a joy to use. Each level feels like it’s own idea and with it’s own creative addition, while still feeling connected. It helps flow and makes the game fun, something many games in recent years seem to have forgot. Despite being told to expect something special, I was not expecting what came out of this. Brilliant.

And that’s that for now. The new games have been included in my hub post list so please have a look. For now, I bid you adieu…

Bravely Playing Games on Buses

My backlog is still large. I wonder if it’s actually gone down overall since I started this series of posts, as i fear games bought since may cancel it out. It was my aim to actually get the list down and all I’ve done is buy enough to cancel progress out. Because of that I came up with an idea today I think I may trial after this little glut of games over the next 2 months or so.

 

In future, if I am going to buy a new game, I must have completed at least one retail game and one downloadable game since I last got a game. This is for physical and digital games, with the idea being that if I complete two for each new game I buy it should (in theory), mean that the total number of games uncompleted goes down.

 

The reason I specify after this little glut is that there are games which I have already paid for coming, like Walking Dead Season 2 Episode 2 from Telltale, and it would be difficult to guarantee for something that is already paid for. Also, in this there are two games that are to be import purchases for 3DS and were the reason I bought the imported console in the first place, and I’m not going to not get those simply to fill this quota. So I want to start this after that.

 

Let’s go from the future to now though, and actually talk about games I’ve played recently. Rayman Legends is completed now. I don’t really have anything new to add here, the game is still incredibly fun with a brilliant soundtrack, and I thoroughly enjoyed it from start to finish.

 

I’ve also been ticking along with Wind Waker HD when I’ve had the time, to play it, and I have got myself close to the end, having just started the Triforce Hunt. This leaves me with 2 temples left and then the finale. I would’ve liked to play more but I’ve simply not had time with work.

 

Because of this, the majority of my gaming has been on handhelds, firstly with the sixth Professor Layton and last one of the prequel trilogy, the Azran Legacy. This concludes the story of the Azran that began in the fourth game and tied the entire prequel trilogy and (surprisingly) the movie, Professor Layton and the Eternal Diva, together, and tied up the plot very nicely. It’s nice to see that, after 6 years, the games still have a way to pull a huge plot twist out of nowhere and have it make complete sense at the same time and take the story on a huge 180. I won’t spoil what it is, but you’ll know it when you get to it.

 

The rest of the game is par for the course, really. The puzzles are still interesting and fun, though I have to admit I didn’t struggle as much as I have with previous games in the series and found them easier to solve.

I’m not sure if that’s due to having played each game in the series I am tuned in to how the puzzles are worded and how to solve that I am better than I was, or whether the puzzles are genuinely easier, though I’d like to think the former, not just because it sounds better for me but because I believe that great care was taken in keeping variety and difficulty in the puzzles.

 

The one thing different here to older games in the series is the more open exploration throughout. You get access to an airship early on, and from here you have to collect 5 Azran eggs from 5 different areas, and you can pick where to go and in what order to get these eggs. While a cool idea, I felt this limited the story as it meant there couldn’t be an overarching story during this time, with these mini-stories happening in each area that ended with you getting the egg. This part of the game felt slow and unfocused, and felt like it was trying too much and suffering for it. Not that it’s bad, it’s still good, but it does suffer.

 

Overall I felt it was a well-orchestrated way to end the series that had some faults but didn’t mar the overall experience. The game is not the best in the series (for me, the third game is yet to be topped in story and puzzles), but if you’ve enjoyed the series to date you won’t be disappointed by it.

 

The other game I’ve been playing mainly is Bravely Default, which we got in Europe a few months ago and the US only recently saw release. Just thought I’d say that, it’s rare we get things first. I started it after Layton and it got me in a habit of playing my 3DS on the bus, since I don’t really have the time otherwise. It’s why I’ve made little progress to what I would’ve liked on Wind Waker, I simply can’t play it more.

 

Bravely Default is good. Very good. I’ve missed the chance to play a deep RPG like this.

 

The game begins with a cleverly-done intro involving AR, where you scan an AR mark to trigger a cutscene that starts in whatever room you are in, with Anges, the wind vestel on a quest to awaken the four crystals to avert a world disaster which has already destroyed a town called Norende, pleading for your help as she falls in to a chasm that has opened on your floor. It’s really cool and was easily the best use of AR in a game that I have seen to date as it was the first time I’ve seen the story and the world around you used directly in the story.

 

The actual story involves Agnes’ journey to awaken the crystals, in which she meets Tiz, the sole survivor of the town of Norende, which, as previously mentioned, was destroyed. On this journey you have travelling with you Ringabel, a a man with no memory of his past and a diary that holds the future, and Edea (or as I like to call her, the best character in the game), a girl who has betrayed her father who leads a faction set on destroying the crystals.

 

The best way I can describe the game is a modern take on the classic Final Fantasy games, and the way the Final Fantasy series should have gone, as, for example, I’ve found this way more fun than the still-incomplete Final Fantasy XIII. The battles are turn-based with the interesting twist of the Brave and Default systems. You can do extra attacks per turn using the Brave mechanic, up to a max of 4, but this uses BP, and these extra attacks cost extra BP, meaning you would be unable to attack for the next few turns, leaving you defenceless. That is, unless you use the Default system. this allows you to skip a turn and defend, reducing attack damage and giving you an extra BP. You therefore have to consider what to do in depth so as to make the right choice.

There are jobs that give you extra abilities, and there is the rebuilding of Norende. You can rebuild the town with item shops, but these require real time, from 30 minutes all the way to 99 hours. You have to set villagers to these, and they rebuild while you play and while the game is in sleep mode. They give you items so it’s worth doing, and it means the game has basically not been off since I started. Cool little feature.

 

The game is fun, deep, with a good story and graphics. It also has a surprisingly large amount of voicing, and a choice of English and Japanese voices (I use the latter), both of which have high-quality production. It’s very good and I recommend it, being currently 20 hours in and looking forward to playing more. Just ignore the SP drink crap, that’s Square Enix being Square Enix, it isn’t needed and is stupid. I’ve not used it yet, and if you put money in to it you are an idiot.

 

Hopefully I’ll get more time to play games in the next week since I am off, and I plan to try to at least finish Wind Waker this week and move on to something else from there. I also will get anime review posts out this week, especially since at the moment I am ill and have done all this post lying in bed, so I’ll likely continue on that post (which is already started) after this post goes live.

 

Look forward to it.

Too. Many. Games.

Here’s a newer update to the progress on Battling the Backlog. This will be a longer post since there’s a lot more to talk about.

 

Firstly, after finishing Kingdom Hearts 1.5HD I decided to go back to Hyperdimension Neptunia, starting a new file, and I don’t really have much new to report on what I think of it. I got further, and my opinion of quite enjoying the game is still there, I’m quite a fan of the battle system, and love the character designs and personalities. Not much more to add since I’m still early on, and the reason for that is the other games that have come about since then.

A few days after restarting HN, Walking Dead Season 2 began again, so I downloaded the first episode and played that. The episode was brilliant, and really brought the series back to it’s best. NOTE: SPOILERS INCOMING, SKIP PAST THIS UNTIL I NOTE THE END OF THE SPOILERS. After S1 ended with Lee’s death and Clementine alone, in the interim she has been able to find Omid and Christa, two people she traveled with in S1. Of course, the best way to re-acquaint us with them is to kill one of them off. Clementine gets threatened by another girl pointing a gun at her, and as Omid tries to help her, he gets shot and dies. Christa, who is now pregnant, walks in and shoots the girl in revenge. I was shocked that something like this would happen so early on in to the game, and something as cruel as this. Fast forward 18 months and it’s just the two of them, and it is deeply implied that the baby has died in some way.

Once we get past here they are separated as bandits attack, leaving you on your own. As you wonder alone you find an abandoned camp and a dog of the family that used to occupy it. You can play with it and investigate the camp, getting what you need and also finding food, a tin of beans. The dog, clearly starved after being alone, attacks you for the food, and once you shake it off, and after it bites your arm leaving a huge gash, the dog is impaled by some poles left over from a damaged tent. Here you have the choice to kill the dog or leave it. If you own a dog yourself like I do this can be very hard to deal with, and I was sat speechless and unable to act at first once this happened. Telltale have once again been able to really tug at the emotions.

The story continues till you find a group of survivors in a tavern, and here you meet various characters who I assume will be your companions in the rest of the series. The most interesting of these is a young girl roughly Clementine’s age named Sarah, who has been sheltered since the outbreak and unaware of the horrors of the outside world, who tries to become friends with her. I really look forward to seeing how they react in the future episodes. The episode ends with a meeting with one of the bandits from the beginning of the episode, who says little about what happened to Christa, with the rest dead around. You also have a choice of who to save out of two of the cabin members, Pete, one of the two people alongside Luke who saved you after being bitten by the dog from walkers but is now bit himself, and Nick, who almost accidentally shot you but has later apologised. I saved Pete because of trust reasons.

I think the most pleasing thing away from the very strong story, if it did feel like an introduction to what’s to come, was the frame rate. In the first season this dropped and multiple occasions and was quite buggy at times too with occasions where voicing would come in and the characters would move their mouthes to ‘speak’ afterwards. This is nowhere to be seen in S2. The graphics have also improved on S1, I felt, with the game’s graphics feeling a lot more refined and detailed. Overall I was very impressed and it left me very much looking forward to episode 2. SPOILERS OVER

I also bought a few download Wii U games from the beginning of December, some I played before HN, some after. I bought RUSH, EDGE and Toki Tori, the 3 ‘Two Tribes classics’ released on Wii U for £1.79 each for a limited time (which I bought at that price), £3.59 thereafter. RUSH and EDGE are both completed games as neither are very long, but I had widely varying opinions on them. EDGE was a game I enjoyed quite a bit as a challenging little platformer where you play as a cube, one that got more and more difficult as time went on, and well worth the price I paid and full price too. RUSH, on the other hand, was incredibly disappointing since it felt like nothing more than a tech demo. The answers to all the puzzles are usually simple, and are designed in a way so that the cubes cross paths and the whole thing looks pretty. It’s like a development training exercise on how to design levels in that way. When the puzzles do get difficult, there’s a hint button that tells you the answer, essentially, so you have no reason

to think on the solution. I had the whole thing done in 2 hours. Disappointing. The one bright spot was the GLaDOS cameo and Portal references that brought a smile, but that was it, really.

After the December 18th Nintendo Direct which revealed it I was downloading NES Remix, a challenge game where you are tasked on completed short tasks in various NES games, some more difficult than others, alongside ‘remix’ challenges, which are similar except new things have been added. For example, there was one which tasked you to save Pauline in the original Donkey Kong, but you played as Link. He moved in exactly the same way as in the original Zelda, meaning he also couldn’t jump, making it a lot more difficult. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this and even after 7 hours I’m not near completion, meaning it’s got decent length for the price too. Once I’m done, there’s still the fact that I’d want to complete challenges to rainbow star rank, the top rank possible. I was skeptical at first but took the plunge and haven’t regretted it. Easily worth £9.

At the same time as that I went for Toki Tori 2+, since it was 40% off with an extra 10% off for each ‘Two Tribes classics’ you owned, and having them all reduced the price to under £4, so I went for it. I’d been enjoying the first (I’m about halfway through that now and liking it, challenging) and it was cheap enough that I thought why not. Wanting to finish the first first means this has not been used yet, though. The same could also be said for Earthbound, a VC title we never got in Europe prior, I was looking forward to but didn’t pick up on release. Haven’t had time to start this either.

With the Premium Pack Wii U I bought one of the inclusions was Nintendo Network Premium, a service that meant, with every digital Wii U purchase, you got points, and after getting 500 points you would get a £5 credit for your Nintendo Network ID, and this could then be spent on either Wii U or 3DS (both since the eShop balances are linked now). All these digital purchases plus older ones I have made meant I had enough points for a code, and I used it to get Fallblox on the 3DS eShop for £2.19. I’ve mentioned before about how much I enjoyed the original game, Pullblox, but it was only recently I finished it, and just picked this one up there. So far out of the puzzles I’ve done I’m enjoying it just as much as the old one, but things are simple so far for being early on, and it’s only later that I’ll find out whether it’s a better game or not, when it gets challenging.

Christmas has come along too, and so have lots of new games from that too. Not going to get in to them all as most are unplayed still, but you can see them in my hub post here (there is also a link at the top of this post). There are a few I will mention, though, since they have been played.

 

First is Rayman Legends. The game that was completed in March and set for release till it was delayed to port to other consoles, losing it’s Wii U exclusivity in the process. I got the game for Wii U at Christmas, having not played the original Rayman Origins, and I think it’s safe to say that I’m loving it.From the art style to the clever gameplay, even to the Gamepad integration I was a little wary of, seamlessly infused with the normal playstyle that using the stylus to move platforms feels natural. Then there’s the soundtrack… that soundtrack is beautiful. I would put it as one of the best in a game, mainly for the musical levels, where you complete the game in time to the music. I was playing the whole thing with a huge grin on my face. While the game is technically ‘complete’, most of the Back to Origins (levels redone that were in the first game) and a world locked until you have 400 teensy, the game is far from complete for me. And I look forward to playing more.

 

Another was the 6th and ‘final’ Layton game (there is another in the works, and of course Layton vs Phoenix Wright is coming soon too), the Azran Legacy. Now I’ve only played a few hours so far, but it’s Layton at it’s usual strength. The puzzles are cleverly done, the story is interesting, the characters are brilliant, the minigames are great, and the whole thing has such a warmth to it that I can’t help but love. I’ve been a fan of the Layton series and own all the previous games in the series, and the one thing I would like to know is whether the game can beat what is, to date, the best in the series, Lost Future, the third game. One last thing I’ll say, though, is that I appreciate how the game has weaved the movie, Eternal Diva (which I thoroughly recommend, great for non-fans too), in to the story of the game. I’m not looking forward to this ending, as it’s been a series I’ve thoroughly enjoyed.

The other game is another for Wii U (you know, that console that supposedly has no games), and that was The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD. Believe it or not, I’ve not really played a Zelda game properly before this, despite having the first 2 on NES and The Minish Cap on GBA thanks to the Ambassador Program on 3DS, aside from Four Swords Anniversary Edition from DSiWare, which I completed. Either way, this is the first 3D Zelda game I’ve played. And you can colour me impressed.

 

Firstly by the game itself. It’s really fun, intuitive, it teaches the gameplay well and I was quickly able to grasp the controls and be able to play the game fully aware of what I was doing. Next was the graphics. I’d expected it to look nice because of the art style, but I’d also taken in to account that it was a HD remake. Therefore I was still taking a step back. I needn’t. In fact, I would have no qualms saying it could easily be one of the best looking games I’ve ever played, and probably better visually than the PS4/Xbox One games that I’ve seen in action, because in 1080p the colours are so vibrant. You can tell lots of work went in to this, it wasn’t a cheap update and that’s that. I really can’t wait to play more.