Tag Archives: nintendo ds

The Duck Finally Meets GLaDOS

There are many games that I hear good things about that I never end up playing.  “Bioshock”, “Mass Effect”, “Skyrim”.  But every time I look into these games, they are rated M for all kinds of naughty things, and I decide I don’t want to play them, no matter how much other people like them.  And I might be missing out, but such games are often not my thing.  (I watch “Andy Griffith” on TV, for crying out loud!)  And then I kept hearing about how great a game called “Portal 2” was, and I looked into it, and guess what, it was rated E.  E!  (Well, E 10+, but I have a theory that’s just an extra paranoid rating invented to prevent lawsuits, because a “Kirby” game is certainly not harmful to those younger than 10, and those games have that rating nowadays, too.)  Now that is more my thing.  More my thing indeed.

            And so I bought it, and as is normally the next step after buying a video game (well, after taking off the plastic, I suppose, a task that involves varying degrees of difficulty, and putting the disc in the console, which also can be difficult when it doesn’t want to come out of the case, I’m looking at you, GameCube discs…), I finally got around to playing it.  My first impressions?  First, it was funny.  Very funny, actually.  Second, it was fun and challenging in a whole new way I had never seen before.  Third, I love it.  I love the game.  But, I get ahead of myself.

            When I first started playing this game, it did take some getting used to.  In case you haven’t yet played this delightful game, all the puzzles are solved using this portal gun that can make up to two portals at a time.  And it is pretty disorientating at times.  I mean, my first time through a portal, I was watching myself go through it at the same time.  Which was pretty weird.  It was also a rather frightening experience at first falling through portals far below and then being shot out another one.  And it was pretty darn confusing at first, too.  You finally get the portal gun and the ability to make not one, but two portals, and I just didn’t know what to do with myself.  (And it didn’t help that I was looking at some useful diagrams sideways at one point…)

            But, once I did get used to it all, it was awesome.  Seriously.  This game has such creative, challenging puzzles.  It’s not just the portals, though those are the main things you use.  There are also solid bridges of light to traverse and lasers to redirect and turrets to avoid, and it was just great.  I loved these puzzles.  One of my favorite things in games are challenging puzzles (which is why the “Zelda” series is one of my favorites, when the puzzles are actually difficult), but too often, puzzles are too uninspired and easy, or they are hard, but you start seeing repeats, and they just get old.  A puzzle is no good anymore once you’ve seen it a dozen times before, even if it was challenging the first few times you did it.  One example is the puzzles in the “Zelda” series, involving Link sliding a block over ice to get it to a certain location, and once you push the block, it slides until it hits something.  Well, “Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box” had the same thing, only instead of a block, it was the Professor ice-skating over a frozen lake.  It was fun, but I had seen it before.  (And spoiler, figure out your route backwards…)

            But, sometimes something awesome and grand happens.  Sometimes a game actually offers something new in terms of puzzles.  What, creativity?  Who’s heard of such a thing!  The first example that comes to mind is “Ratchet and Clank: A Crack in Time”, which involves the most creative puzzles involving time and multiple recordings of yourself.  These puzzles involved Clank recording himself doing actions, then, he could play recordings of himself pressing buttons and other such things and work with those recordings to get to places he couldn’t go alone.  That may not make any sense, but trust me, they were some of the best puzzles I’ve ever seen.  That game was worth it just for those puzzles and the humor alone.

            And being too lazy to think of more examples, or perhaps, there aren’t any (no, there probably are, and I’m just too lazy), I return to my discussion of “Portal 2” (and likely the game that came before it, but as of writing this post, I have not played that yet).  It’s just a really wonderful game.  The puzzles were just so creative and challenging.  Sometimes, I just wandered around for twenty minutes before I figured one out.  But, I always did.  That’s what makes them so great.  They are difficult, but they are all do-able.  In fact, the solutions are pretty easy once you figure out what they are.  Sometimes, you jus have to try things or backtrack a little, and then the solution just comes to you.

            Another thing that needs mentioning is that they managed to make this into an actual game-game, which is also impressive.  What I mean is, it’s not just a series of puzzles the entire time like I expected.  There is more to the gameplay than just that (which I’ll get to in the next paragraph), plus a story and two great characters, the robots GLaDOS (a character that I’ve heard about specifically and who played a large role in me getting the game so I could see who she was) and Wheatley, who have some of the best dialogue ever, making this game so much more fun to play.

            And then, besides the rooms of puzzles you go through at certain points throughout the game, a good chunk of the game is also spent exploring the abandoned Aperture facility (all the while learning about some of the history of the company), and the only way to explore this crumbling, old place is to use your brain, the portal gun, and your environment.  The catwalk is missing, and the door you must reach is a good 50 feet away?  No problem.  Just find a good place to make portals, and you’re as good as there.  Your door is now 50 feet up?  Pshaw, portal gun and some blue gel.  Pow!  I’m so through that door it’s not even funny!  (Or is it?)  So if you’re like me and don’t want a game that’s simply a collection of puzzles, well, this one isn’t.  I mean, it really is, but the puzzles are hidden amidst the exploring.

            So people who have told me “Portal 2” is great, thank you.  I would have never bought the game if no one had told me how good it was.  I saw it in stores, but always just passed it by, not giving it a second thought.  But, now that I’ve tried it, I really enjoyed it, and I just love when I can get a game that has creative, challenging puzzles, and I am so impressed they were able to make this game into something more.  I didn’t expect that.  In short, puzzles.  Humor.  Exploring.  Plus GLaDOS and Wheatley.  Is a good time.

Few Know That the D in GLaDOS Stands For Duck…

Why, your brain doesn’t look a day over 20! What’s your secret?

Cary wrote a very entertaining article on the educational DS game, “Brain Age”. I only got the game myself because it came with my DS, but it actually turned out to be quite fun and addictive. So read Cary’s post and see what makes this game fun (ruined only slightly by the kinda creepy, floating head man).

Recollections of Play

I’m not sure if Brain Age: Train Your Brain in Minutes a Day! (2006) counts what we define as a “video game,” but  when I got my spankin’ new DS, it was the first DS game I picked up for the system. Now, why in the world did I buy Brain Age, when, by 2006, there was a plethora of DS games (including Super Mario 64 DS) on the market?

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Since I loved “Okami” so much, I wanted to play “Okamiden” someday…but I never did. But, Dylan from Planet Zombo has, so why not hop over to his blog and read his thoughts on “Okamiden”.  (His review sounds negative at first, but he has positive thoughts on the game later on.)

Planet Zombo

Okamiden - Cover

Horrible. Disgusting. Poorly Done. These three words exemplify the perfect antonyms to describe Capcom’s Okamiden. It’s shameful that it’s taken me all of seven years to play an Okami game. What started as a boring and utterly confusing story, mixed with an annoying combat system, transformed itself into one of my favorite Nintendo DS releases of all-time.

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Coded

I couldn’t think of a creative title, but anyway, I recently beat “Kingdom Hearts: Re: Coded” for the DS, which is a remade version of “Coded”, which came out on a phone.  It took me a little over 19 hours.  The game takes place in a digital version of the journal Jiminy Cricket wrote during the first game, and digital Sora has to get rid of the glitches and figure out where the mysterious message came from.  The game sounded rather silly to me, and so I didn’t expect much from the plot, but it ended up being better than I thought it would be, though I still don’t fully understand it.

            The game was quite fun and consisted of exploring worlds, doing whatever you needed to do there, (for example, in Wonderland, the characters have lost their memory, so you need to find inklings to help them remember) and finding “system sectors”, where you destroy bugs to get rid of glitches.  In many system sectors, each level has a challenge, such as destroy this many Heartless, or don’t miss with more than so many attacks, and you wager a certain percentage of your points.  If you win, you get more points, and if you lose, you lose the ones you wagered.  Sometimes I did pretty good, sometimes pretty sucky.  At the end, you’d buy upgrades, moves, etc. with the points you got.  Good stuff.

            Something unique about this game was the keyholes that you went through at the end of each world.  In several of these, the game was played differently.  Sometimes, it was a side scrolling 2D level, sometimes a shooting type level, and once, there was turn-based fighting.  (Normally, I don’t think they should do that, but it was fine in this game.)

            Methinks this game was easier than the others, which is mostly good, except you didn’t get a ridiculously epic, ridiculously annoying, multi-part boss battle at the end.  A shame about the epic part, but good about the annoying part.  And you’ll never guess who you fight last.  Well, maybe you will.  I don’t know.  I didn’t, at least.

            No cute mini sheep to report, but there still was something super adorable.  From the main menu, you can design a little, cutesy-fied character called an avatar.  You can make it look like a character from the game or design your own thing.  Needless to say, I had quite a bit of fun with that.  Choosing clothes, hair, peepers (that’s what they called the eye section, so I can’t take credit for that bit of funnyness).  Though, one time, I put a belt on the avatar, and its clothes disappeared, and it was naked except for that belt.  That was a bit disturbing.  Naked, belt wearing Sora.  Shudder.  Somehow, the belt made it worse than simply being fully naked.  I now leave you with that image.

 Re: Ducked

I Waited Over 358 Days for This

My unrestrained sinning knows no bounds, and so I finally gave in and got a Nintendo DS about a month ago.  I said I’d never get one, but then I started wanting oh, so badly another Kingdom Hearts game.  This is another oddly named one that I heard about at the same time as “Birth by Sleep” called “358/2 Days”.  I don’t understand the 2 part.  Anyway, I waited four years for it, but then I found out that I didn’t need to wait as long as I did, as it came out over a year ago.  It was a little hard to find, but I managed to get the last new copy at a game store.  I felt pretty proud of myself.

            It took me about 35 or 36 hours to beat the game, and now I rather miss it.  The game shows us what Roxas was up to when he was with Organization XIII (a group of people with no hearts and thus, no emotions), plus there is a 14th member named Xion that apparently has some connection to Roxas and Sora.  (After saying her name wrong for quite a while, I finally found out it was somehow pronounced Shee-own.  Okay.)  The story is actually interesting, despite already having an idea of what goes on with the characters.  (At least, I already know who dies and when, that Roxas leaves the Organization, and that something must eventually happen to Xion.)

            This game is a bit different from the others since you just complete various missions throughout random worlds rather than just exploring and completing each world one at a time.  Sometimes, you have other members of the Organization to help you (except in some cases with Demyx, who is a lazy slob and keeps leaving me to fend for myself).

            They also have this panel thing that kind of bugs me.  You have to put almost everything in panels or you can’t use it.  You have to actually put level-ups in panels to get stronger, install moves such as roll or block, and so on.  And you also put in magic or items.  You can’t change these things in the middle of a mission, so if you need something, you have to quit the mission or just, you know, deal with it.  And I very much hate that in each mission, you can only use magic or items the amount of times you installed them.  To use something many times, you have to fill up a bunch of panels with it.  It’s like the cards in “Chain of Memories”, but luckily, not as horrible.

            Speaking of horrible things, there were a bunch of Heartless that really, really annoyed me, too, like those ghosts in Halloween Town.  They appear behind you and grab you, which drains your health, and then when you escape and turn to attack them, they fly away.  I also hated the big dogs and the evil ice cubes in Beast’s Castle.  Darn those dogs, with their woofing and their biting!  And those annoying ice cubes that can freeze you.  I know ice cubes don’t sound very menacing, but you try fighting a herd (or is it gaggle) of vicious, Heartless ice cubes.  And don’t let me get started on the fat Heartless.  Oh, my gosh.  Now they don’t just have armor on their bellies, but everywhere!  Everywhere but their beady, little heads.

            Besides Story Mode, there is also Mission Mode, where you can play through different missions from the story using a bunch of different characters, including everyone from the Organization, plus a few other characters you can unlock.  Assuming that you guys must really care what I think about this, I’ll tell you.  It was fun to play as different characters, but most are pretty weak.  It saddened me that Xigbar was super pitiful, and even Xemnas, the Organization’s leader, wasn’t as awesome as he should’ve been.  The best character by far is Saix.  He’s much stronger than all of them.  He’s the toughest dude with long blue hair and pointy ears you’ll ever see.  I’d almost be willing to bet on that, if I was a gambling duck.

            Despite my complaints, it was a good game.  I wish they’d stop spreading Kingdom Hearts out over every console, though.  That’s getting a little old.

358 Ducks