Friday, 28 December 2012

Backwards and forwards (the traditional review and look ahead post)

As this year draws to a close, many will look back and tell you what their game of the year is and also includes a very long explanation of why this is. If I look back at my year, I've played loads of different games, but there wasn't really one I liked over everything else unlike last year (which was Xenoblade).

I did think before I started writing that Tokyo Jungle was probably the best but was it really? This year was also the first time I had played the Sly series of games and I loved those. Rayman Origins was also great and Journey was also good (bearing in mind that I had completed it over 2 sessions, the best session split by dinner). Oh, and Elevator Action Deluxe was huge fun playing with my sister. I don't recall laughing so much while playing a game in ages.

All great games that I enjoyed this year for various reasons. Picking one of them would include loads of mathematical calculations and banging my head against the wall. I won't do that here because then we'll all argue why I'm wrong and so forth (hey, even this post will do cause an argument if I don't pick one).

Looking back to February, and the Vita's launch. The console has since struggled in all regions in it's first year but I'm getting plenty of mileage from it, whether that's from Everybody's Golf or Smart As sessions each day, or fantastic games like Rayman Origins and Tales from Space: Mutant Blobs Attack. I've also managed to get to the top of a leaderboard for the first time ever, thanks to FuturLab's Surge (a new take on the Match-3 genre).

In terms of disappointments, the first 2 games of the Jak & Daxter Trilogy have been a let-down. The first game due to not explaining things and the second game for trying to be too much like a possible GTA with slight better platforming sections but horrific checkpoints (my opinion of course). I expected more from a series like this with so much accolade, and one of the few real stand-out characters in Sony's roster.

Finally, I did quite well to kill off parts of my backlog at the beginning of the year but with no real target in sight (and some event called the Olympics), I'm basically in the same situation as I was before. A full list of completed games will be posted within the first week of next year but you can see the current list on the right hand side of the page (unless you're on the mobile version).

Now what?

The most anticipated (announced) titles for me in 2013 include the following:

Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time
Ni No Kuni: The Wrath of the White Witch
Persona 4: The Golden
Ragnarok Odyssey
Soul Sacrifice
Monster Hunter 3 (whatever the Wii U version is)
Final Fantasy XIII: Lightning Returns (morbid curiosity)
Final Fantasy XIV v2 (same)
DJ Max Technika Tune (import or not)

There may well be more than this but if I can remember them, I want to play them :).

This year, I'm also looking to start working on my backlog of games and I have a list of games I'm aiming to finish (or start and finish) in 2013:

Valkyria Chronicles (yes, you can shoot me - still in wrapping)
Trails in the Sky (started but not finished)
Uncharted: Golden Abyss (not started)
Aquaria (at the last section - desperate to finish)
One of the 2 Ys games (always wanted to play one)
Bastion (keep starting but can't get right settings)
Rainbow Moon (hoping the Vita version might help)
Sequence (near the end)
Gravity Rush (err, yes, haven't finished this either...)

It's highly likely that I'll get distracted along the way but what I'll try to do is pick a game and try to update you via the blog as I'm playing. Maybe that'll force me to play the game (or force me to be even quieter than I have been of late). So, whatever I try to finish off, these are the games I aim to finish this year at least. Let's see how well I get on!

So, that's all from me. I hope everyone else has a great 2013, whether that's playing games I've mentioned here or games that I'd never touch. Hopefully I can clear my way through the backlog and start to recover from buyer's remorse :)

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

My soft spot for Video Game music

If there's one thing I enjoy about gaming, it's the music I sometimes bump into. There's nothing quite like playing a game and then hear a tune that just makes you smile or bop your head to the beat. Whether that's One Winged Angel kicking in at the final section of Final Fantasy 7, or the boss theme from Xenoblade Chronicles. The very calm, soothing sounds from Journey's story sections, or the up-tempo beats from Child of Eden. I can get more into a game if the soundtrack is right. I also like collecting the ones I really love. It's one of the reasons that I will always look for a soundtrack of some kind when buying collector's editions of games. How did this all start though?

Quite predictably for me, it started with Final Fantasy 7. Some fantastic music just bringing a brilliant RPG to life. The physical soundtrack cost around £45 from Forbidden Planet back when I was young. A bit too much for me at the time. A while afterwards, I recall getting hold of the ending theme for Ico from the official Ico website (I think that was just pure luck!)

In fact, the PS2 in general was a great time for music in games (at least for me). I had great fun with Gitaroo Man. There's not much I can do when I have to fight off a musical UFO or a trio of skeletons doing a Mexican number on me. As well as Ico, there was Shadow of the Colossus's moving themes in each battle, building up to a climax as you start to get the better of your foe. I can't forget Okami in the mix either. A beautiful game matched with a fantastic soundtrack which gave the game a more Japanese feel. The final boss theme in particular was a particular highlight. The ending theme was enough to make me buy the artist's actual album (though I was heavily into finding Japanese music by that point)

Then there's Persona 3 and Persona 4. Similar but modern soundtracks that matched the game's background. Square-Enix deserve praise for putting Persona 4's main soundtrack in with the game (all dungeon and battle music). While we're on the subject of modern sounds, there's also The World Ends With You from the DS, which packed a very modern and great soundtrack at all stages of the game. Dissidia: Final Fantasy and it's sequel (both on PSP) obviously packed the classic Final Fantasy tunes from every single game except FFXIV. Lots to choose from - even if you only use it as a backdrop for a one minute fight...

Coming into the modern generation, Xenoblade Chronicles stands out as one of the best soundtracks I've heard. Battle themes, town themes, story themes, all easy to listen to and keeps you going as you explore the vast plains and swamps (amongst other areas). Then you have Flower and Journey. Both short games but making use of the music to set a mellow atmosphere to relax you into their worlds.

Finally, this brings me up to Child of Eden. The whole game is music based as you score points based on how well you can fire lasers to the beat of the music. Just as well that the music was good enough to make me hunt for a dedicated soundtrack for that as well. Except that there isn't one. I did persevere though and found that Genki Rockets created some of the pieces of the music in the game. I bought both of their albums recently and they've barely left me since!

In short, I love video game music...

(Oh and I did eventually get the FF7 soundtrack - thanks to the Distant Worlds concert in London...)


Final Fantasy 7 - One Winged Angel
Ico - You Were There
Gitaroo Man - Flyin' To Your Heart (English In-game version)
Okami - Rising Sun
Persona 3 - Mass Destruction (Battle music)
Persona 4 - Reach out to the Truth (Battle music)
The World Ends With You - Twister
Xenoblade Chronicles - Gaur Plains
Flower - Sailing on the Wind
Journey - Apotheosis
Genki Rockets - Fly! (sampled in the final stages of the first level in Child of Eden)

Monday, 9 April 2012

What I've been playing - Since the last time - number 2...

Here we go again...


Trine 2, Journey, The Sly Trilogy and Elevator Action Deluxe (or as someone said via PSN, what the hell is that?). Oh, and I won Trails in the Sky from Ghostlight (thanks guys!). I'm yet to play it but expect my views once I get to play it...

Elevator Action Deluxe

Probably counts as one of those retro games that no-one's heard of (I certainly hadn't heard of it until recently). The game revolves around trying to gather secret documents, hidden within the doors of each building while guards try to shoot you, blow you up or fire rocket launchers at you with no regard for their own safety. Part of the game involves stealthily hiding in doors and slamming them into your enemies faces and other parts involve jumping deftly to avoid gunshots while rocket shots are shot above your head.

The game really came into it's own when I played the game with my sister, trying to beat the game together. Hilarity ensued as our jumping ability (or lack of it) and various other failures (including getting squashed by the token elevator and rocket launching our partner in the back/face) resulted in the most laughs we'd had for a long time. If this has interested you, PSN Europe has this on sale for £4 until Wednesday. Have a go at the demo and decide for yourself. Be warned that there's no online multiplayer.


The final Sony exclusive game from thatgamecompany (who created fl0w and Flower) has been anticipated for ages and it certainly hasn't disappointed in the reviews department, with a metacritic score over 90 and becoming the fastest selling PSN title to date. The game is exceptionally short but an absolute beauty in terms of the environment and the ambient music in the background.

Going into the game fresh and completing it in one go is the best way to go about it. The reason for this is the unique multiplayer aspect of the game where you can find a partner in the game, but you won't know who it is. There's no way of communicating with each other and all you can do is either follow each other through the landscape or just go your separate ways.

Despite only playing the game once, the game was a fantastic experience and one that I'd recommend to everyone who asks. Probably the only regret I have is leaving the game right at the end when real-life took over. I lost sight of my playing partner and it's not a nice feeling to have when you played through the majority of the game with them...

Trine 2

Here's a fact. Trine was the first and only platinum trophy I achieved until I got my Everybody's Golf Vita trophy a few weeks ago. Trine was a fantastic puzzle platformer where you control 3 different characters through some great scenery to (obviously) save the world. I loved the original so much that the sequel had to be brilliant to beat it.

Sadly, something about Trine 2 just holds it back. Normally, I wouldn't (and really shouldn't) care much about trophies but when I look in the trophy list, my heart did sink a little bit. Where's the trophy for completing the game? Where's the trophy for finding all those green experience bottles? Essentially, gold trophies are handed out like sweets on Hallowe'en and you don't need to complete the game to achieve the platinum trophy. What incentive is there for me to do everything?

Still, I hunt on for the experience bottles and look around the worlds (I'm about half-way through now). I'm also finding the puzzles a lot harder to navigate through and I've been in levels for a long time trying to figure out where to go next. Trine 2 is still a good game and some of the levels are fantastic.

Cladun X2

It's the post-launch lull in Vita world so I started working on my PSP backlog. I managed to complete the story in this complex dungeon crawler (well, sort of) but I'm stopping short on conquering the 99 floor random dungeon because I just don't have enough time or patience to get there.

Other News
Too much to remember but there might be a bit of juicy gossip tomorrow after the embargo expires on Capcom's Captivate event. Also, the PS4/XBox 720 rumours are getting annoying. The latest rumour I heard was that both consoles will run hot enough to cook bacon in the disc tray (assuming they have a disc tray)

Sunday, 11 March 2012

What I've been playing - Since the last time...

Oops, I completely forgot to update the blog recently. Mainly because of other factors (like not actually playing many games recently) but here I am with an attempt to try and remember what has actually happened since my last post...

Quite a lot if all's said. With the Playstation Vita launch, I purchased Super Stardust Delta and Escape Plan. I also had to purchase Hustle Kings because I had a £5 pre-order voucher that I simply forgot to use for either of the other 2 games! I also bought Malicious amongst other PSN and Steam games.

Playstation Vita
In general, I've had a very good time with it over the past few weeks. Everybody's Golf has been my main game with the odd flirt with Frobisher Says and Super Stardust Delta. I'm close to hitting my first ever platinum trophy for a retail game in Everybody's Golf with only one trophy to go. I may review the Vita at some point in the next few days - but don't hold your breath based on past experience :)

Final Fantasy XIII-2
Started and completed the main game (though at double the time that other players have completed it in). Lots still to do before the next bit of story DLC arrives but in general, a massive improvement over Final Fantasy XIII with more side-quests and more stuff to do. I spent far too much time at the Chocobo Races and just fooling around in general.

Dissidia duodecim Final Fantasy
Finally completed everything that is reasonably possible in the game (ignoring the shop). I really hope it never ever comes back with another consecutive day system...

Other News
OK, I'll admit I didn't realise Gravity Rush wasn't going to arrive at the Vita launch but we do finally have a release date for the game. That date is Friday 15th June 2012. While the wait continues, you can grab a downloadable version of the promotional video (previously seen on 27th January 2012) and put it on the PS Vita to show off the screen :). Also worth looking at is Rainbow Moon. A PSN Strategy RPG which looks to have the grid-based gameplay of other great strategy RPG games like Final Fantasy Tactics and Disgaea. The game is set to launch in June 2012.

Friday, 27 January 2012

Promotional Video: Gravity Rush

You may have seen this already if you follow me on Twitter but I thought I'd leave it here - just in case you need to find it again. It's a great promotion of the game and I feel it should make a great advert for the game and Vita in general.

The video came in a package sent to certain press teams in Japan, along with an apple and the message "You will control gravity for the first time".

The game is due out on 9th February in Japan and believed to be released on the Playstation Vita launch date (22nd February) in Europe and US. Note that the European release is apparently PSN-only.

Source: 4Gamer via Andriasang

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Hands on: Playstation Vita

Having just returned from the Vita Rooms event in Manchester and I've put some of my impressions below. Apologies if it seems really brief but my talent for writing is RUBBISH ;).


The device itself is quite light but felt really sturdy in my hands. The analog sticks themselves were smaller than I had thought and did take some getting used to. Overall though, I liked the look of the device and throughout the 3 hours I spent at the venue. There weren't any problems with the touch screen, though I did at times accidentally hit the rear touch panel which sometimes caused some minor gameplay issues. The screen looked brilliant in all the games I played. Speaking of which, here's a few opinions of what I played:

Little Big Planet

I tried 2 levels of LittleBigPlanet, the first being a standard platform level (which you've probably seen around online), while the other was an Air Hockey level for 2 players. The main level was good to demonstrate how the screen and rear touch panel would work with the game and in general looked really good.

Everybody's Golf

Played 6, birdied 6 :). The game actually looked a bit low-res at times but ultimately, it's Everybody's Golf :). I did test out all the new camera options and enjoyed playing the game.

Escape Plan

This was one of my favourite games at the event and out of our group of 3, the most played as well. The demo we played put us in as Lil and using the touch and rear touch screen to help Lil escape. If you mess up, you return to the start of the current room. The game shows a lot of promise and left a great impression on all of us.

Gravity Rush

Another favourite from the event and has been regarded as one of the most interesting games of the launch. The demo was basically a tutorial and a run up to and including the first boss. I sadly didn't really see anyone else playing the game but it's certainly the one that I'd purchase without thinking - just for the visuals!

Other games I played:

WipeOut 2048
Top Darts
ModNation Racers
Reality Fighters
Uncharted: Golden Abyss
FIFA Football
Touch my Katamari
Michael Jackson: The Experience (a guilty pleasure at the show!)
Hustle Kings
Super Stardust Delta

Overall, a good day out and a great chance to see what to expect when the Vita launches on 22nd February 2012. I've added a couple of games to my list of wants, and confirmed a few games that I'll decided to leave.

If you want any other impressions on games I didn't cover above, let me know on the comments, or via my Twitter (@HiddenAway1).

Monday, 9 January 2012

What I've been playing - 31st December 2011 to 8th January 2012

A new year and a new aim (a bit cheap to call it a resolution I suppose). To reduce my backlog to manageable levels. If you haven't noticed, I've already started logging my games via Backloggery so feel free to have a peek at the list. Bear in mind that 90% of the Steam stuff was all from last year - stupid sales...

...and I didn't start off very well either. Steam-wise, I grabbed Puzzle Agent 1 and 2, as well as Gemini Rue (I'm a sucker for adventure games like this). On PSN's festive sale, I acquired the 2 Penny Arcade Adventures, Patapon 3, Metal Slug XX and a collection of 5 minis which I won't list here. Thank goodness the PSN sale was slightly disappointing aside from that.

Oh, and I finally pre-ordered the Playstation Vita. I went for the Wi-Fi version with a 16GB card (seriously, I would have grabbed the 32GB if you just let me Sony...) and Everybody's Golf - because I love the series. I can't help it, alright?! :)

After purchasing it last year, I finally got started on Carpe Fulgur's follow-up to smash hit Recettear. An old adventure game where you and your sister are fighting to try and reverse a curse that a witch has put on you, turning your sister into a fairy. The game itself was fairly easy to complete (without going overboard with the collectibles). It also had fishing! I love fishing mini-games. I still haven't seen one that competes with Dark Chronicle though. Fishing for food, fish breeding, fishing contests and fish racing. Overall, a decent game, but one for fans of the genre only.

And Yet It Moves

This seemed interesting from the word go. The aim is to rotate the world around you to navigate through the levels. For example, you see a platform above you and the only way to get to it is to turn the world upside down. Numerous deaths later, the game was complete, though i haven't delved into the additional content yet. That's for another time. Enjoyable game. Reminded me a bit of LocoRoco.

Wallace & Gromit Grand Adventures
Did I mention that I loved point-and-click games? Well, I do. Needless to say, every time I launched Steam and spotted the 3 unfinished episodes in my list, I was never happy with it. After AYIM was done, I started on Wallace & Gromit and finished the 3 episodes. Fans of the series will love it and it's about as close to the actual characters as it's going to get. Wasn't a fan of the last episode though...


Now here's something I missed last year (or was it the year before?). I had played through the demo of the game on the PS3 but I played through and finished it on Steam. Probably the best of the games I've finished so far. Your job is simple. Your sister is lost, and you have to find her. Out in the bleak world though, you find loads of unscrupulous monsters or obstacles in your way and practically anything will kill you. After dying 100 times via spikes, drowning and being speared by a spider leg, there's not much hope for me to finish the game with fewer than 5 deaths. So, I'll just leave it as completed :P.


DDR meets RPG-based battling? You bet. First of all, I must thank the developer and his exceptionally kind offer to give this game out on Steam over on the NeoGAF forums. It's a great concept and well written. I was close to finishing it last night until fatigue and a growing number of TV programmes stopped me short of finishing the last floor. The game is also available on the 360 - grab it!

Also playing
: Dissidia duodecim Final Fantasy and Fortune Summoners (demo)

Other news
We're all still floating into our offices I suppose so news is scarce - aside from the 360 account hacking that seems to be gaining traction. Also heading out to Manchester to check out the Vita prior to it's release next month. Let me know if you'll be there!