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Blade Kitten For Noinks 2

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We join Kit Ballard as she walks amongst the city-life of Hollow Wish. Her breaker key is still missing but luckily she's managed to find someone that can sell her goods for the fight ahead. Hundert Tonne is a tiny, round being with a love for goggles, yellow teeth and broken English. His collection of goods is more like a garage sale and he's aggressive in trying to sell what is essentially junk and if he can't get a sale then he'll push for an order.

Hundert Tonne when stereotypes and Gamestop meet.

GAMESTOP!

Hundert has his lunch stolen by a a small creature with strange markings. Kit makes a deal with Hundert that if she retrieves what is left of his lunch she'll get a good deal on items she wants. The chase is on and Kit jumps over and slides under the obstacles in her way until eventually she encounters Skiffy.

Kit Ballard: Bounty hunter and animal lover

After rescuing Skiffy from a death at the end of a soldier's gun, the creature hands over the remains of the sausages he stole but it won't be an easy walk back to Hundert as he's decided to pack up and move elsewhere. His ship flies overhead.

So now it's time to do some platforming and the environment is almost something out of a Prince of Persia title with various cloth surfaces to run along. There's also exhausts that spew out fire too in a strange architectural decision. Luckily when they're on a wall Kit can dig herself in using her sword and even use the sword to swing herself to a higher point. Then there's skiffy who can be used to hit switches Kit cannot reach or collect coins.

The game even plays a little tune when he's at work and rather absurdly will even halt combat while he's doing all of this leaving enemies standing perfectly still and staring blankly until its over. A welcome decision but still a little hilarious.

Go Skiffy! These swords and skimpy dresses won't pay for themselves!

After all of this effort we finally get back to Hundert Tonne and we can collect our reward. Which isn't really anything Kit can carry away but now HP/MP boosts, weapons and outfits/skins can be bought.

That's just a display case Kit. Put down $10 and it can be yours on the day its released!

Next time: Kit takes the fight to Justice while in her pajamas.

Blade Kitten for Noinks

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Blade Kitten is the 2010 platformer from Australian developer Krome Studios. It's available on PC, XBLA and PSN though for this blog I'll be looking at the Steam version which comes with the skanky goth outfit because I'm a sucker for goodies. Blade Kitten caught my eye not just for its laid-back platforming but due to the fact it may just be the last original IP and perhaps even game we see from the sudio.

Krome had invested into buying fellow Australian developer Melbourne House from Atari and the developer appeared healthy, having a relationship with Microsoft for Viva Pinata and the Game Room and it had survived a recession where EA-owned Pandemic had not. It was also one of the last big Australian development studios that wasn't owned by a foreign publisher. Seperated into two episodes Blade Kitten was an attempt by Krome Studios to break away from PS2/Wii ports of the 'big kid' console titles on the 360 and PS3 and underwhelming liscened titles.

Unfortunately poor reception of their titles lead to the closing of their Adelaide and Melbourne offices leaving just a 'skeleton crew' to finish titles they have contracts for. The future, if there is one, seems to be in the downloadable or handheld space which seems to reward other Australian developers like Halfbrick (Fruit Ninja) and Infinite Interactive (Puzzle Quest).

Onto the Game: For this blog I will be tracking progress through the game, since I was already most of the way through though I thought I'd start at the beginning since most of the fun is backtracking levels to save up for costumes and weapons.

Blade Kitten is a 2.5D scrolling platformer based on the webcomic by Krome Creative Director Steve Stamatiadis under the pseudonym SpaceCaptainSteve. Its heroine, Kit Ballard, a bounty-hunting catgirl with hotpink hair and a Californian accent will likely be devisive but spend enough time with Kit and you'll eventually become attached to her sarcastic, wise-cracking ways. She's impatient, flirtacious (even a little dirty minded) and determined.

The adventure starts on the planet of Hollow Wish:

Kit's space ship lands and we're given our bounty for Terra-Li who apparently has been such a naughty girl she's racked up a reward that has Kit dropping her jaw.

But it's not long until we meet Justice, another Bounty Hunter keen on stealing Kits Breaker Key, a device which from my limited knowledge of the Blade Kitten world seems to allow Bounty Hunters to 'claim' bounties.

You'll regret that Blondie.

Kit turns the tables at first, using her agility to disarm Justice and playfully kick her blaster into the distance but before Kit can say "So ninja" her spaceship explodes and Justice swipes the Breaker Key.

You'll regret that too!

The authorities are happy to let Justice be, apparently Bounty Hunters have to solve their own conflicts so its up to Kit to chase her down. Through a cutscene we're introduced to Kits weapon, a hovering and somewhat sentient Blade that follows our protagonist around and doing her bidding. I'm now one step closer to conquering the world.

We're now allowed to play around and get accustomed to Kit's cat-like climbing skills through small tutorials. The first playthough will be spent getting to the end, however repeated playthroughs will see you finding all sorts of alternate paths and hidden piles of currency ready for Kit to get her paws on. The big deal are the Datapaks, Chests and Skiffs that reap big rewards.

It's time for the mid-level Justice confrontation. She asks why we don't know how to give up, Kit informs her they don't teach that in Breaker school. Justice retorts by mocking our fashion sense. What hot-pink hair and goth outfits aren't in this season? She manages to slip away again, come on Kit, this could be so much easier if you just clawed her eyes out.

That ****! Claw her eyes out!

We can climb on just about every surface and even hang from walls or slide down them like a kitten hanging from a curtain. We've also been caught up on a lot of platforming game tropes like things crushing you causing instant death. Checkpoints are liberally placed though so the occasional screw up is never a set back.

We now know how to slide and sprint, double jump, to lock onto platforms, to hang on to surfaces when the environment tries to knock us from them. There's also a potent aoe attack but we still haven't learned what to do when Kit builds up a combo or how to use the sword to allow Kit leverage to reach higher places. Things which I did by accident later on in the game.

So we've gotten all the way through this first level and now it's time for another Justice confrontation. It appears there might be a showdown until in true anime fashion she flips off a platform and lands on the wing of what seems to be her own ship.

Regret blondie! Regret!

In the future: More level recaps, costumes and unlocks.

New sig

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I bet you've never even heard of it /hipster :P

Fable 3

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Environments are far more detailed and the game world is much larger. I was also impressed by the seamless switch between the Sanctuary and gameworld however characters models look as though they're made of clay and the facial animation looks a bit dated. Combat animations, on the other hand, are fairly incredible.

Using a sword I was able to time strikes to scure lunging wolves on the tip of my sword, grab them by the scruff of the neck and toss their carcass to the ground. I threw a sword through a bandit's chest and pinned a hobbe before giving him a mouthful of sharp blade. Interacting with villagers is broken up, interacting gives a split second load, followed by a split second load to perfom an emote, then another split second after the animation is finished. Why this is necessary... I have no idea. You also can't choose which emote to perform, I really miss the radial wheel.

There is a lot of variety to the voice acting though, bandit fights in particular are given life by the sheer amount of taunts they will lash you with. It's not ME1 or Fallout 3 there's no 'go-go-go!' 'hold the line!' here the bandits will pay attention to your fighting style and will mock you for being a whimp that uses magic. They will even react differently to individual spells: using the 'Shock' spell a bandit snorted 'Lightning doesn't strike twice.' Fighting bandits is like fighting a rowdy mob as it should be. Hobbes and Hollowmen also have their own personality.

Weapon morphing is unlocked by purchasing the Ranged and Melee damage upgrades respectively. While the tutorial stage of the game only offers you the choice of either Hammer or Sword and Rifle or Pistol the weapon you don't pick remains in your armory and even if they go unused will morph alongside your main weapons. So far I have unlocked 1/4 morphs for my melee weapons and 2/4 for my ranged. My Rifle has an 'arcane' stock for all the fireball spells I've tossed and the barrel has this whole 'bling' thing going on after all the treasure chests and dig spots I've found. I don't know if these morphs are permanent or if they change consistently over the course of the game but I'll keep anyone interested posted.

It's still quite early but for me this is the kind of game Fable 2 should have been.

A recap of my game so far:

Spoilers - I can't get spoiler tags to work they look fine in the preview but I keep getting 'derr HTML not well formed' errors

The game begins with the hero being woken by John Cleese and the decision making starts pretty much immediately I have to pick an outfit to meet my childhood sweetheart. I pick the fancy clothes and follow breadcrums to meet Elise, I'm given a choice to hug or kiss her and decide to show off my moves. note: I'm playing male here but if you play female and finding hugging or kissing a male gross you have been warned! Your childhood 'friend' will be male, from there it's time to give the kitchen staff a speech I go nice on them. After a combat tutorial Elise bursts into the room and makes master of arms Walter and I aware of a protest outside the caste which leads to a confrontation with older borther King Logan and third decision: I have to chose between the life of Elise or the life of the protesters or King Logan kills them all. Considering I've never met these strange villagers I pick Elise.

During the evening I'm taken from the castle by Walter and John Cleese through an underground passage where I confirm my heritage as a hero and gain access to the Sanctuary. I go and meet the dwellers who are having issues: Mercenaries are keeping them from hunting so they're starving and they want me to go on a grander quest to prove to them that I'm a hero by finding a trinket (It's a music box) which is in a reliquary within an academy in the next village. After I grab the music box of forboding from Fable 2 its time to deal with the mercenaries by stealing the uniform from the passed-out-drunk Clarence otherwise known as Jimmy. I sneak into the merc camp and mess up their day but spare their leader.

With the mercs dealt with I've been made aware I can help the starving dwellers by winning the approval of the village in order to get them to share their food with the dwellers which means doing quests. The highlights are retrieving a play that mixes tragedy and comedy (subtle Lionhead) as well as a quest to round up chickens that are rebelling against their master (real sublte Lionhead) by wearing a chicken suit and leading them back to their coop. The quest ends with a decision to side with the wife and set the chickens free or side with the farmer and kill them all. Just because they're a metaphor for the revolution I'm about to build doesn't mean I'm putting up with nonsense from a flock of feathered proletariats so I had them killed. Which ended also ended a marriage. (For those interested the opposite choice leads to a speech from the farmer about not wanting to turn them into Martyrs and the marriage is fine but they have to have a long talk about what is best for the chickens)

From there I make a promise to restore the academy and to ensure the moutains are a reserve for the dwellers forever and always. It's time to head to Bowerstone though and apparently Walter and I are taking a steampunk monorail rides rails that hang from the ceiling of a giant hollowed out cave. That is until Hobbes cause the monorail to plummet before it can even reach the station. I guess we're taking the long way through the cave and to the tongue and cheek 'Mourningwood' where it's time to help a regiment of worn out old-school Albion soldiers fend off Hollow men as a part of their last stand. I win their support for the revolution but have to restore the army to its former glory and according to Finn (voiced by Sean Pegg) get them a pay rise.