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September 18th: Playing For Fun Part Five

Halfway through the year and my game count is a woefully low 18 when compared to the 59 that I played through 2018… even more woeful when you take into account that I was ill for months in 2018 and spent two months barely playing anything.

That the game count on this series of pieces is only at 15 totally confused me.

I sat, re-read pieces, checked them off against my Trophy/Achievement count for the year and realised;

1) I haven’t included the base game of Forza Horizon 4 here, when I played through a few hours after a content update,

2) It doesn’t yet include the final verdict on Megadimension Neptunia VII which will follow shortly, and

3) The 18th game in that list hadn’t been written up yet… partly because I was so surprised that I had had so much fun playing a Gears of War title.

Honestly… I’m such a sad statto at times that I worry myself.

July 17th: By now my list of “whore” titles for the start of next year is up to 16, a potential 16,000 Gamerscore just sitting there waiting to be harvested… this year’s total at the moment is just over 4,000 and last year’s total was over 31,000 points… all the whoring instincts are starting to kick in.

Finally… time to get to the elephant in the room… Megadimension Neptunia VII which I have now put 15 hours into… and it is fun, having completed the first part of the game the second part then splits into 4 separate stories for the 4 different main characters… and once you realise the dialogue is going to be of a dubious nature throughout the game becomes enjoyable.

The combat is fun, the features and battle elements are staggered nicely and while it is rather tight with the Trophies (surely these could have been handed out a little more freely at more key moments throughout the game) this isn’t an issue if you’re playing for fun.

Sure I’ll probably start something on the Xbox and keep coming back to this as a “project” title to work through over time but I’m good with that.

Good Times… 11, Meh Times… 4, Bad Times… 1

Next up… a massive, catastrophic, monumental error of judgement… harking back to the memories of easy points in mildly entertaining kiddie fodder, and with the Games With Gold offering up what looked like some seriously easy, kid friendly points in the form of “Meet The Robinsons” I printed off a walkthrough and downloaded it.

And it’s shit.

It’s frustrating enough for me, a kid with a lack of patience would struggle especially as a lot of the actions are done automatically and, obviously, not always when you’d want them to… and it began to grate big time.

An example… at one point you jump from rooftop to rooftop… as you don’t control jumping whether you actually jump when you reach the edge of the roof is not guaranteed, all too often you end up hanging off the edge by your fingertips.

When it introduced a new, but bloody awkward attack set up for dealing with enemies, and the guide said that this becomes almost the default attack from there on in… I quit… I’d struggled with the tutorial for this as the control scheme seemed to be fighting me harder than the enemies.

Overall… Bad time… and that’s being kind.

Good Times… 11, Meh Times… 4, Bad Times… 2

While I’ve tried to avoid replaying games on different consoles there are times and games where I’ll make an exception… and when the game series is one of my all-time favourites I’ll definitely go back for more… thus I bought The Bioshock Collection on the Xbox One.

While I thoroughly intend to go back to Megadimension Neptunia at some point, having finally worked through the four separate stories section and have the chance to explore a little more freely, I wanted to get back to Rapture again… so I did.

The original Bioshock is one of the best First Person games around, still… sure Infinite may have sullied the brand a little, but even there the gameplay was still fairly solid… shame the story and obvious twist let it down a little.

Going back to Rapture, even for what is my 7th or 8th time through, is still special… the combination of plasmids and weapons still works well, the combo of Electrocution followed by a shotgun blast to the hell still feels exceptionally satisfying when pulled off… suffice to say, and probably fairly obviously, this has been a good time.

Good Times… 12, Meh Times… 4, Bad Times… 2

With just three weeks to kill until Borderlands 3 lands on my doormat I go back to the JRPG on my PS4, Megadimension Neptunia VII… a game that I’ve been going back to on and off for a couple of months to feed my RPG needs.

And for a couple of days it’s all good… and then I hit the wall.

Much as I enjoy JRPGs there is generally a point I reach where I become stuck, due to a lack of true knowledge about the genre or the series of games as a whole… but late Sunday evening I get to a battle I just can’t win.

Occasionally in the past I’ve backed out of the battle and gone back to grinding to build up a little more HP for the battle (first time through on Eternal Sonata) or check an online guide to see if there’s something I’ve missed (as happened with an Atelier game where I wasn’t making best use of attack items) or even whether I’m not using the best mix of characters in my team.

If it’s the last case then I’m hammered, online solutions for a prior battle suggested making use of two characters who utilise elemental magic to get past a Boss characters defences… they may be of use in this battle, but as I don’t use them ever they’re now 12 levels below my other characters.

It doesn’t help in that only 1 of my 4 characters gets a shot in before the enemy strikes and they do a serious chunk of damage before I get the chance to boost the defences of my team… and while I could grind away I just don’t feel the urge to take this any further… even by JRPG standards this is a weird one and I’ve put more than enough time into it so that I don’t really want to grind… so I call it a day.

This leaves me at a bit of an impasse… I want to play, but with Borderlands 3 dropping in a weeks’ time I need something to occupy myself.

Fate plays a hand… for reasons I may document later (depending on the outcome of a day out Tuesday) I decide to drop back into Rare Replay… which I haven’t touched for more than 2 years.

I’m still playing the games in order and as I’m in the NES/SNES timeline the games are… how shall we put it… shit.

Basic, borderline unplayable at times, frustrating difficult… annoying, with some stupid Achievements and tasks to perform to unlock those Achievements… I play through two initially, Cobra Thunder which is a speedboat game with 50 levels and an Achievement for scoring 1,500,000 points… that one took a while.

I actually make it through 46 levels until I get to the fight against the shark which I found impossible to even damage it, and when it spends most of the time underwater where you can’t hit it, this does not help.

Then I start “Snake, Rattle and Roll” which is crippled with a diagonal control scheme so pushing up sends you up and right, down sends you down and left… this is a real pain, I finished 4 of the 11 levels and gave up on the 5th one when I realised I’d have to go through a whole obstacle course again without making an error to complete it… nor can I complete the 5th snapshot for an Achievement as the control scheme literally works against you.

While Cobra is a solid 5/10 game, Snake is a droopy 3/10 at best… but the package as a whole is still fun, I love Rare Replay for the simple reason I remembered the first half dozen or so games from when I was a kid.

Solar Jetman rocks up next and it’s an odd one to talk about as most of the Achievements for in game progress can be collected using the in game code system, so I only played part of the first level and the bonus section at the end… although working through that did pop a few extra Achievements for game progression as a whole.

Eventually I loaded up Borderlands 3 and it’s everything I wanted from the game.

There have been some changes, your character is no longer mute and thus I have the urge to play through the game again later with a different one to see what dialogue changes… environments change not because they’ve discovered some frozen wasteland parts of Pandora, but because you can visit different planets.

Weapons now, occasionally, have a secondary firing function so a shotgun may have the option to be switched between fire and ice damage… you can also equip trinkets to offer a bit of a boost (although you have to progress the story enough to unlock this, same for weapon slots) and there are collectables in the form of hidden audio logs, or broken Claptraps to loot to offer the annoying little sod in Sanctuary some spares.

Sadly, Claptrap is back, but not nearly as bad as in previous games… so far a lot of the characters from previous games have returned (Lilith, Zero and Maya being the playable ones from 1 and 2 that I’ve come across so far) to lend a hand and move the story onwards.

As usual the shooting is a blast and, once you find a favourite weapon the urge to kill everything is as strong as ever… there’s only one small downside which isn’t really game related…

The Achievements suck.

While there aren’t many attached to online play (which is good) there is the inclusion of a “Unlock all other Achievements” one which is basically the PlayStation Platinum… here it’s worth 120 Gamerscore… and I hate its very existence.

Xbox games don’t need this type of crap… I’m first to admit that I’m an average gamer at best, so if the rest of the list includes 1 Achievement that I know I won’t get then I’m looking at under 900 points for a game where I’d usually play as much as possible to max out my Gamerscore return… as there is another Achievement for scoring a maximum on a shooting range game (which I haven’t a chance of collecting) then the most I can harvest here is now 870… add in a few online Achievements and I’m down to 800 tops.

I’ll still play the game more than is healthy to be honest, but it’s a niggle that part of me just can’t get over… either way it’s a definite “Good Time” game.

Good Times… 13, Meh Times… 4, Bad Times… 2