5 Bosses That Gave Me a Serious Kicking – Bullied by big bosses.

Not so long ago, I talked about how looking at guides for games is absolutely fine.  I even included Dara O’Briain’s remarks on video games being the only form of media that denies you access to more of it unless you prove you’re good enough.  I mentioned how there really should be ways for anyone to experience the stories that games provide.  But that’s not how games work (well, most of them anyway).  There are bosses.  Those big chaps and chapettes placed in your way to test you on everything you’ve learned so far.  Sure, you’ve eliminated those enemies, mowed down the mooks and bested many baddies, but can you face down this ridiculous robot?  That colossal creature?  Those ferocious fighters?  Alliteration aside (ha!), let’s have a look at some of those end of level guardians that have given me a serious run for my money.

Earthworm Jim
Bob the Goldfish was not one of the toughest.  His level was a pain though.

Some rules as ever.  Only one boss per franchise and only bosses I have faced and defeated.  Oh, and if you’re offended by crude language, this is one of very few posts I write that will contain swearing.  Because, seriously, some of these guys are absolute dicks.

Psycho Mantis – Metal Gear Solid

Metal Gear Solid
Metal Gear Solid (1998)

Let’s start light.  Because Psycho Mantis isn’t terribly difficult once you know what to do.  In fact, I technically didn’t find him all that difficult when I played this, but I’ll explain that in a moment because I recognise why this clown is so difficult.  You see, you can’t shoot him.  He dodges everything as though he can read your mind (he can because Metal Gear Solid is insane) and react before you fire.  Not only that, he will also attempt to control your companion, Meryl, and attempt to have her kill herself.  The strategy to defeat him, as I’m sure many of you will know, is to swap your controller from port one to port two on your console, thus confusing Psycho Mantis and allowing you to shoot the crap out of him.

Metal Gear Solid
Sadly, the memory card reading trick didn’t work in the PC release.

In terms of boss battles for the era (or indeed any era), this was very inventive.  And if you don’t know how to beat him, I can see how this could be incredibly challenging.  Now, on to how I managed to beat him.  I played this on PC, in which to defeat him you need to play using the keyboard.  I did not have a gamepad for the PC and used the keyboard for the whole game so he proved to be only mildly challenging.  Still, I thought this boss should be included due to the potential challenge.

Ornstein & Smough – Dark Souls

Dark Souls
Dark Souls (2011)

Alright, let’s get this two bastards out of the way.  The Dark Souls original gank boss.  The multi-man brawl that From Software have tried to emulate ever since.  One of the hardest bosses in the series (I know there are others that people consider harder, but this pair whooped me for hours).  Bosses in Dark Souls are no joke, but here we have two hard ones at once.  One (Executioner Smough) is big, powerful, and capable of destroying the pillars that provide cover.  The other (Dragonslayer Ornstein) is quick, powerful and has wide sweeping attacks that are hard to dodge.  Keeping an eye on both of them whilst trying to land even a couple of hits to whittle down their health is extremely challenging.

Ornstein and Smough
Can you guess which is the slow, powerful one?

Oh OH, and once you beat one of them, the other grows to twice the size and becomes even more powerful.  Just to make sure you get no breaks.  Because letting up just isn’t Souls style.  If you defeat Smough first and take on a doubly powerful Ornstein then prepare for the battle of your life because he is an utter arse once powered up.  The gorgeous journey through Anor Londo up to this point simply cannot prepare you for the pummelling you’ll face here.  Victory is unbelievably satisfying, even though it took me summoning two phantoms to help with taking them down.  I love this series, but there’s no way I’m going back to take them on again.

Lou – Guitar Hero 3

Guitar Hero III
Guitar Hero 3 (2007)

This is a weird one to include, but it is a boss battle.  Guitar Hero 3 had a story mode of sorts, with your band being confronted by the devil (Lou) for a final face-off.  Boss battles in this game were in the form of songs in which you and your opponent you play sections against one another, with powerups allowing you to disrupt the other player.  Attacks could make notes become invisible, or one of your strings to break which makes playing a section correctly much harder.  The final song was a rather creative rock cover of the rather excellent The Devil Went Down to Georgia by The Charlie Daniels Band, with a ton of notes everywhere.  Playing this in the game was hard enough, but throw in disappearing notes and buttons that temporarily won’t work and you have a recipe for plastic guitar breakage.

Seriously, this is rather good, and the Guitar Hero 3 version is pretty good too.

No meaning to brag, but I was pretty good at games in this series.  I could rattle through most songs on expert mode without too much trouble.  But this.  This song with those stupid attacks was near on impossible.  I eventually beat this, but only by swallowing my pride and dropping down two difficulties to normal.  I know, I still feel the shame burning me now.  I really liked the plastic instrument craze, but this boss battle song crap can piss right off.

Shao Kahn – Mortal Kombat 3

Mortal Kombat 3
Mortal Kombat 3 (1995)

I was torn between Shao Kahn and M. Bison from Street Fighter 2.  I went with Shao Kahn because he’s such a cheap git.  M. Bison can be beaten with careful zoning and good positioning.  Shao Kahn needs Sub-Zero and a shit ton of luck.  Shao Kahn can practically dash right in front of you and send you flying.  Over and over again.  Along the ground or in the air.  The dash attack also breaks your block.  Oh, and he has projectile attacks which he can spam.  Plus a hammer attack that can stun you.  So my experience was something like this: jump attack lands on Kahn, hammer to me, dash attack me into the corner then I die.  This happened many, many times.

Shao Kahn
I’m not sure if this is Shao Kahn or Triple H arriving at Wrestlemania.

I know I finally beat him based entirely on luck.  Sub-Zero could freeze Shao Kahn in place, allowing an upperful (one of the most high damage single attacks).  I used that and resorted to staying crouched and hoping an air dash attack would come my way, allowing another free uppercut.  It went like this for a long, long time until I finally bested him.  A dishonourable victory perhaps, but that’s what he gets for being such a wanker.

Yellow Devil – Mega Man

Mega Man
Mega Man (1987)

Oh this guy can just fuck right off.  Cheap, extremely hard to dodge, takes ages and can pretty much only be beaten by luck, glitching, or having more patience than Jesus.  In fact, I’m pretty sure Jesus would just switch the game off and play something else.  Like Doom.  Anyway, the Yellow Devil is one of the final bosses you face in Mega Man and it is a bastard of one.  He starts by flying in piece by piece from the left, and good luck if you don’t know the pattern by heart.  You’ll almost certainly get hit by one or two pieces (suffering significant damage) before he opens his eye for a split second to fire.   I hope you were paying attention in that one second as that’s the only chance you have to damage it before the pieces fly to the other side of the screen.  Repeat until you die.  And I did.  Repeatedly.

Mega Man
Ah, the Thunder Beam. Yellow Devil’s only weakness. Especially if you glitch it…

To be fair, with enough care and attention Yellow Devil can be taken down.  It’s just the number of times you need to face it before you have the patterns down.  And once you lose all your lives its back to the start of a long and difficult level to get back for another go.  That’s the bit that irritated me the most.  Once I got past that, I managed to wear him down.  But getting to that point was a trial.  This was not the last time this boss appeared in this (or other) series.  The music was pretty exciting for the battle too.  At least, the first few times.

Some (dis?)honourable mentions.  Vicar Amelia from Bloodborne took me a long, long time to get through.  She hits hard, moves quickly and could heal most of her health back mid battle.  If you couldn’t out-damage her heal you didn’t have a hope.  Another boss I had to summon for.  Then there’s Capital B from Yooka-Laylee.  I think I’ve made my feelings on this arsehole clear before.

Yooka Laylee
Don’t look so smug you utter bastard.  I got you in the end.

Who’s kicked your ass repeatedly in games?  Don’t feel the shame, share below and feel better about yourself!  Carrying that defeat around will just bring you down, share it with the group…

 

Tokyo Twilight Ghost Hunters Daybreak Special Gigs – That’s one hell of a title.

I’m pretty confident that Japan does this to troll English speaking audiences.  They get the development team together and name, grab an English dictionary and pick out 5 to 8 random words and tell us that’s the English title for the game.  Let’s break down that title shall we?  So we’re in Tokyo, during twilight probably.  We’ll be hunting ghosts.  Then there’s…daybreak?  Wasn’t it twilight a minute ago?  And what’s a special gig?  Are we a band that fights ghosts?  You know what, forget all that.  A band that fights ghosts sounds like a great idea for a game.  Make it happen Japan!

Tokyo Twilight Ghost Hunters
It’s a visual novel, so there’s obviously waifu bait.

I picked this one up on a whim.  I knew it was a visual novel with ghost battles and a supposedly good soundtrack so I grabbed it on sale.  And I tried to like it, I really did.  For a while I’m pretty sure I was into it, but it didn’t last for oh so many reasons.

I don’t mind visual novels at all.  Most have really quirky stories and a gameplay mechanic that is completely absurd (I’m looking at you Danganronpa) in the context of the story.  Tokyo Twilight Ghost Hunters (I’m just going to avoid writing the full title anymore) fails in the first part and only occasionally hits in the second.  You play as yourself, having transferred to a new school and quickly make friends with a bunch of people who can see ghosts because you can too!  Convenient!  Before long you find they write for an occult magazine who do a secret side business in exorcism under the name Gate Keepers.  You prove yourself by fighting off a ghost in the school and are signed up as a full employee!  Well done you.

Tokyo Twilight Ghost Hunters
Well done! You’ve been signed up to work in this office with nowhere near enough space for everyone.

The game is split into episodes in which you and your team will find out about a ghost, investigate it and then try to take it down in the actual gameplay section.  Here’s the first problem though, I played through 10 out of the 13 chapters (I gave up, you’ll see why later) and there was seemingly no connection between each of them.  This lack of connection during the story put me off as I felt no particular reason to return after completing a chapter.  There was no drive to discover more.  Sure, your colleagues were interesting and some of the ghosts had back stories to find, but I didn’t feel a sense of curiosity to push me forward.

Tokyo Twilight Ghost Hunters
Drama! But it doesn’t go anywhere after the chapter ends.

This being a visual novel, the interaction is limited to the ghost battles and the occasional conversation inputs.  The latter is sometimes simple, sometimes utterly confusing.  Some of your interactions will have you select a statement which is fairly standard, but sometimes you need to respond using body language.  This is achieved by selecting an emotion to convey and which of your five senses to use.  Sometimes this was obvious such as aggressive touch being a punch, or a sad look conveying how you feel.  But it’s possible to curiously sniff someone.  Or aggressively taste them.  These are weird enough combinations, but you can’t always be sure what combination will do what.  I could chose curious look, expecting to look for clues in an area, but the game decides I want to look at the person in front of me in a quizzical way.  The player feedback is really rather poor here.

Tokyo Twilight Ghost Hunters
So, shall I give him a friendly touch? Or perhaps a sad sniff?

The main gameplay is the ghost battle scenes, which play out using a turn based “we go” system.  The map is set up in a grid, with arrows showing your characters and the ghosts, assuming you have located them.  You set each character’s movements and attacks before setting everything into motion with both your movements and the ghost movements happening together.  This means you’ll need to guess the ghost’s movements to ensure you land a hit.  And I do mean guess, more often than not I found myself restarting battles due to the time limit running out as I chased ghosts around trying to land a hit.  You can lay traps before the battle to force ghosts to move in certain ways, but as you don’t know the ghost’s starting location, this ends up being even more guess work.  When I got it right it was satisfying, but for the most part it was just dumb luck.

Tokyo Twilight Ghost Hunters
This is the battle screen which is a far cry from the style of the rest of the game. It’s also a massive pain to play.

The characters you take with you level up as you use them, but you quickly realise which characters are the most useful.  Characters with wide attacks mean you have a much better chance of hitting a ghost, whilst some can self heal and detect ghosts out of visual range.  Occasionally though, you are forced to take characters on missions, whether they are leveled up or not leading to some truly frustrating battles unless you spend huge amounts of time grinding your under-leveled characters up (assuming you’re even allowed to!).  Then there are the wild difficulty spikes that were the final nail in the coffin for me.  Going from manageable battle to one in which the ghost can take out all of my team when counterattacking was just too much for me to put up with.

Tokyo Twilight Ghost Hunters
Not ghosts. Just terrifying humans. You won’t forget those expressions any time soon.

On the plus side, the art work is great in the story sections (less so in the battles) and the soundtrack is full of fun J-rock music and has the occasional voice work.  The characters are quirky and interesting to meet and interact with who have different motivations in each chapter.  It’s just a shame the chapters didn’t seem to be building to anything before I finally gave up.  Having said that, if your story isn’t grabbing me after 15 hours then I don’t think it ever will.

Tokyo Twilight Ghost Hunters
When you attack a ghost you get a first person view of it which takes far longer than necessary.

Tokyo Twilight Ghost Hunters was developed by Now Productions and published by NIS America (in Europe anyway).  I played the game on Playstation 4 and wouldn’t recommend this at all.  It’s irritating and dull for the most part, even when you consider the dreaded Staring Man Eating Ambulance ghost.  What the hell Japan?!

Dr. Hardgame Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Guide.

Who here has heard of Philosopher’s Quest (or Brand X as it’s sometimes known) on the BBC Micro?  It’s a 1979 text adventure and it’s apparently hard as hell.  It’s from an era in which some games came with a little “hints and tips” booklet that you could open to give you some guidance (The Legend of Zelda came with one if I recall correctly), but only if you broke the seal on it, admitting that you weren’t good enough to even get through the early areas.  My dad had a copy of it that he allowed my sister and I to play, and being about 6 and 4 years old we had no idea about what to do or what was going on and thus died repeatedly.  I asked about the tips booklet I saw in the box, still sealed, and was told that we were never allowed to open it as the game should be beaten without any help.  I’m sure the game is still in the house somewhere, unbeaten and with its still sealed tips booklet.  Bet it’s worth some money now.  That’s the cover of it in the featured image.  Can I just point out how amazing it is?  I mean, it looks like The Blue Man Group picked up the wrong pot of Dulux and decided to attack Moses.

Ornstein and Smough
I bet more than a few people looked for help with this pair of *****.

I recalled this memory not so long ago, and thought about how the idea of guides in gaming has changed in the years since then.  Back then, using a guide was admitting failure and would often come with a financial penalty in the form of purchasing a guide, or a magazine, or (heaven forbid) phoning one of those damn premium rate phone lines.  Nowadays though, guides are pretty much freely available, through professional (or sometimes not so) websites, wikis, YouTube videos and probably other sources that I just haven’t thought of..  And yet I still find myself with that stigma of “I’ve given up” if I look at a guide.  I haven’t beaten the challenge myself.  I didn’t beat that boss with my own skill and ingenuity.  That puzzle beat me!

Day of the Tentacle
The was just so much “moon logic” in this game and others like it. Finishing these without a guide would require Herculean levels of patience.

But then…aren’t games supposed to be fun?  Yes, they’re a challenge, but a challenge to enjoy surely.  And when a fun activity ceases to be enjoyable, why carry on with it?  To be the best in the world?  An admirable goal, but not one that most of us play games for.  To prove that I can?  But to prove to who?  The developer?  Random people on the internet?  When it comes down to it, I enjoy playing the games I have, but when an obstacle within those games stops it being fun and descends into frustration then the game has almost failed in its own purpose.  In the past, it would have been a case of give up on it, or beat my head against the brick wall of frustration in the hopes the game becomes fun again later on.

Dead Space 3 Walkthrough
With the prevalence of the internet, I’m amazed these guys are still in business.

No more though.  I’m a grown up now (seriously, I’m allowed to drive cars and everything) with limited time and limited patience.  If I want to look up a guide for beating Ornstein and Smough then I damn well will.  If I need help on the best way to play Symmetra then that’s alright.  And god help anyone who says that finding a walk-through for one of those point and click adventure games with the moon logic nonsense is wrong.

The great Dara O’Briain gets it.

When it comes down to it, it’s your product that you’ve purchased, and the player can play it how they wish.  This is even more true with single player games where the progress you make is your business.  Hell, why aren’t players allowed to cheat in single player experiences anymore?  Even if the challenge is part of the game, should people be excluded from the experience and story because they aren’t MLG-Pro enough?  In the end, enjoy your game, and if there’s a barrier preventing you from continuing that enjoyment, find a way around it or find some guidance wherever you wish.  And if it’s still no fun, don’t be ashamed to call it a day and give it up.  Life’s too short for smashing your head against a brick wall.

Halo Wars 2 – A full priced game with BS micro-transactions?! Sign me up!

I was a bit torn over whether to include this in the “Games I like” or “Games I didn’t like” category.  On the one hand, the campaign is pretty good and the core multiplayer isn’t too bad either.  On the other hand, Blitz mode is just flat out BS with poor matchmaking in which you can buy power and steamroll your opposition.  And that’s not just because I suck at it.  But more on that later!  Oh, and just so you know, I put it in both categories.

Halo Wars 2
Spartans are suitably tough and can pretty much hold their own against most enemies.

I didn’t play Halo Wars.  It just didn’t interest me at the time and I couldn’t see how an real time strategy (RTS) could work with a controller.  But here I am, many years later fancying an RTS that I can pick up and play quickly.  I’ve not really played much in the genre for a long time, so a light strategy game was right up my street, plus I quite like the Halo universe.  We play…someone who is ordering UNSC troops to fight the Banished, a offshoot of the Covenant, because they are bad and live on a space station.  I didn’t follow the story at all (maybe because I didn’t play the previous installment?) but the cutscenes were nice.  I’m not playing my RTS games for plot though!  I just want to order tanks to blow stuff up!

Halo Wars 2
It can get a little busy at times, but for the most part the controls help you keep it together.

The game controls surprisingly well with a controller, with button holds and presses selecting groups of local or global units and button shortcuts allowing you to move around the map quickly.  Pressing X will send your soldiers to an area (there is no attack-move here, characters auto attack en route) or to attack a target, whilst Y will activate the most suitable ability for your current group (take over a tank, throw grenades at infantry etc.) Selecting a building on your base opens a radial menu to build troops and buy abilities.  This was the weaker part for me as I struggled to tell the buildings apart at times, meaning building an anti-air vehicle in the heat of battle resulted in me moving around the different buildings until I found the garage.  That aside, it controls better than I expected.

Halo Wars 2 cut scene
The cutscenes are as cool as most of the ones you’d see in the previous Halo games.

The campaign is good fun, with 12 missions (don’t expect the campaign to last much longer than 8 hours) ranging from traditional building a base and attacking the enemy, to guiding a rag tag group of survivors through enemy territory.  The units are based in the Halo universe as you’d expect, with Scorpion tanks, Hunters, and Warthogs aplenty.  Combat works on a loose rock/paper/scissors system with vehicles beating infantry, infantry beating aircraft and aircraft beating vehicles.  There are variants on this, with some vehicles being anti air and so forth, so picking the right set of units for the job is essential.  Making sure your giving the right orders to the right set of units in the heat of battle can be tricky, so getting comfortable with button shortcuts and who-beats-what is important on higher difficulties.

Halo Wars 2
Hijacking a Scarab to level an enemy base is something of a highlight…

The core multiplayer is fairly good too, pitting players or teams of players against each other in a race to build their base and eliminate their opponents quickly, or a more slow paced objective driven mode such as Domination.  These modes were fine, and facing higher level opponents didn’t guarantee they were any tougher than you, often leading to a fair(ish) fight.  Blitz mode is a different matter though.

Halo Wars 2
…but fending them off can be pretty tough.

I should love Blitz mode.  An RTS with card game and deck building elements?  Yes please!  You play cards (using energy as a limited resource) to summon units or special abilities to capture and hold control points which earn you points to win.  In theory a good deck and smart resource management should lead to victory!  But here’s the thing, you can buy card packs (with real money of course) to get new cards.  In itself this isn’t such a problem, but duplicate cards will be leveled up making them more powerful (somewhat like Clash Royale, you know, that FREE to play game?) meaning that people who spend money will have more powerful cards.  Not only that, but as your account levels up, you are given free packs meaning that a higher level player will have a distinct advantage over a lower level one.

Halo Wars 2
Getting in close to the action means you can quickly recognise the characters from the series. I remember Hunters being far tougher though.

I’ve complained about micro-transactions in full priced games before.  I can understand it in free to play games, and I get selling cosmetics in full priced releases.  But as far as I’m concerned, you do not sell power in full priced multiplayer games.  It will harm your online community and drive away new players.  I played several Blitz matches and was regularly put up against players at least 20 levels higher than me, meaning they had objectively better cards.  No matter how you spin it, a level 4 tank will always beat a level 2 one.  The poor matchmaking and power selling card packs drove me away from this mode and very much soured me on my experience of this game.  It’s a pity, because the other aspects of the game are actually pretty good, but free to play business models have no place in full price titles.

Halo Wars 2
There’s a lot happening here! And this was just on Normal mode…

Halo Wars 2 was developed by 343i and Creative Assembly and published by Microsoft.  I played the game on Xbox One and would recommend some aspects of the game.  There’s a decent enough campaign and some fun to be had in the multiplayer.  But Blitz mode is a shambles because of how the card economy works.  If you do give it a try, consider yourself warned!

1 Year (and a bit) of Blogging – 12 months of this drivel

I’ve spent 12 months (and a couple of weeks, I didn’t keep track well enough) writing about games.  12 months (and a bit).  52 weeks (and a bit).  365 days (and a…I’ll stop).  I wasn’t sure I’d spend a single month doing this, but I’ve enjoyed it and found a lovely community of like minded people to share my tripe with.  And some of you read it.  And some of you even seem to enjoy it!  Madness!

Celebration Balloons
Balloons. For celebrating. Which is what I’m doing!

In that time I have:

  • Posted 57 blogs.
  • Had 3500(ish) people read this rubbish, which will seem like loads to some and next to nothing to others.
  • Had 185 (or so) people follow this nonsense.  Thank you to you all for your charity!
  • Received 475(ish) comments on this crap (excluding my responses), with The Shameful Narcissist, Vahrkalla, Defy The Majority, Lightning Ellen and Athena being the main culprits!
  • Been signed up to write for Big Boss Battle who are lovely and write lots of lovely words!  You should read them too!
  • Completed a 24-hour charity gaming marathon raising nearly £300 (thank you to everyone who contributed either money, time, or even just attention).
  • And other things that aren’t blogging related.  Like work stuff.  And family things.
  • And it all started with this poorly written tosh: Rainbow Six: Siege.
Sun_Apr_10_21-43-15_UTC%2B0100_2016
Mission Successful is right, screenshot!

This is shorter than most of my posts, but thank you to anyone who has spent even 5 minutes looking at this random collection of words at any point in the past year.  Knowing that even one person has read it is a lovely feeling, and you should all know that I fully intend to keep on writing combinations of words for your eyeholes to absorb.  Sorry about that!

The Surge
Expect a post on this at some point this year. Dark Souls with robots?! Sign me up!

And to you fine people, keep on writing too!  I love reading what you have to say and I want to carry on reading!  Enjoy what you’re doing, because I enjoy it too.  Here’s to another 12 months (or so).

Yooka-Laylee – It’s not terrible!

Quick note, I backed this on Kickstarter.  Ok, that’s out of the way.  On with the proper words!

Colourful characters!  Pretty animations!  Jokes clearly aimed at grown-ups (such as a snake called Trowzer.  Trouser Snake. PENIS JOKE!)  No, it’s not the latest movie from Pixar, it’s Yooka-Laylee, the well publicised collect-a-thon revival from (most of) the people who made the genre what it is (was?), funded through Kickstarter.  The team is mostly comprised of people from Rare, those clever sods behind Banjo-Kazooie, Donkey Kong Country and Conker’s Bad Fur Day.  Those games have something in common, and it’s not just that they’re very successful collect-a-thons.  They’re also from around 20 years ago…

Yooka Laylee
The first world you enter is bright and vibrant. Each environment is completely different to the last.
I’ll get this out of the way: Yooka-Laylee is far from perfect.  But it is fun in spite of the flaws it contains.  Most of those flaws are hangovers from the games that it is so clearly trying to imitate.  It’s great to play a game with the same gameplay style and sense of humour as those classics, but it’s not so great to be struggling with some of the same issues that those games suffered with.  It’s nostalgia without taking into account how gaming has evolved since the glory days of the genre.

Yooka Laylee
The characters look great, but the incredibly annoying sounds instead of voices means there is no lip syncing. It’s a shame as I think the animation here could have been excellent.
Anyway, we play as Yooka and Laylee, a heroic duo like so many others before them.  Their peaceful days beside their shipwreck they call home is spoiled when the local business start sucking up all the books in the area, including their special golden book they found in the shipwreck.  Of course, this book is the true target of the corporations scheme, as the One Book’s pages allow the owner to rewrite the universe!  During its theft however, the pages escape and are scattered throughout the business’ tower.  Cue our heroes leaping into action to find the pages and save the day from the dastardly Capital B!

Yooka Laylee
I don’t know why, but this boss’ utter hatred of double-glazing salesmen really gave me a good chuckle.
The story is all fluff really, although the characters in it are mostly fun to read the dialogue of.  The “voice acting” though is as it was in Banjo-Kazooie et al. with silly noises rather than actual words.  It made sense 20 years ago, but these days it made me want to skip all the dialogue (you can’t) just to avoid horrible sounds.  The characters are all unique in design and often poke fun at one thing or another.  Kartos the God of Ore (a mine kart), Shovel Knight (of Shovel Knight fame) and Trev the Tenteyecle (amongst others) all stand out as being quite different to each other and offer unique challenges in each world.

Yooka Laylee Glitterglaze Glacier
Obligatory ice level!
The worlds are contained in books hidden in the tower’s hub area (which is horrible to navigate due to poor signposting) and each one is quite different to the last.  From the bright forests of Tribalstack Tropics to the grimy swamp of Moodymaze Marsh, everything looks very distinct and fits within its environment.  The Marsh contains broken old shopping trolleys as characters whilst the casino has anthropomorphic slot machines.  These characters will give you tasks to earn more pages that will allow you to access and expand further worlds.  Ranging from simply completing a race against the clock to complex platforming puzzles and the occasional boss, there are plenty of different challenges to undertake, and its easy enough to find one to do in any given level.  Some are a bit irritating though, such as navigating slides using you roll skill (tough and a bit annoying) or using physics to guide a ball into a hole (unbelievably frustrating).  If you’re going for 100% completion, which is something a lot of people like to in collect-a-thons, be prepared to take the rough with the smooth.

Yooka Laylee Shovel Knight
Totally want this guy’s autograph.
Special mention must be made to the absolute ARSE of a final boss.  I’ve already mentioned that relying on old fashioned gaming tropes is pretty hit and miss here, but this was certainly a miss.  A multi-stage boss battle that lasts nearly 15 minutes, with easy early stages and very difficult final phases and NO CHECKPOINTS!  I cannot stress how annoying this was.  Unless you’re Dark Souls, put checkpoints in your multi-phase boss fights developers.  Don’t make me waste another 10 minutes redoing the early parts to get to where I screwed up last attempt.  Don’t waste my time!

Yooka Laylee
I’ll be honest, if I’d spent long in this area I’d probably have developed a headache.
The thing is, in spite of the silly design decisions, the often cheap humour, the final boss debacle and all the other nostalgia driven features that have been ironed out through years of progress in the industry, I still found myself having fun.  Perhaps it was a return to that childlike enjoyment of a brightly coloured environment, or each mini open world having mini challenges in them to find all the items.  Maybe I’m a closet kleptomaniac.  whatever it is, for me this game was fun in spite of the missteps.  I’d read the negative early reviews and expected utter toss, but I was pleasantly surprised to find an enjoyable experience.

Yooka Laylee
This was a rather cute find: Laylee’s (the bat) TV and arm chair on the ceiling.
Yooka-Laylee was developed by Playtonic Games and published by Team 17.  I played the game on Xbox One and would recommend it if you’re feeling nostalgic and don’t mind some of those old irritations still being present.  It’s far from perfect, but it’s nice to have an updated Banjo-Kazooie to play through, dodgy camera and all.

5 Games From 2016 That I Regret Missing – Not enough hours in the day.

There’s an expression which has come to mind more and more for me lately.  When you’re young you have the time but not the money; when you’re older you have the money but not the time.  This applies to so many things in life, gaming included.  When I was younger, I missed out on a lot of games simply because I couldn’t afford them.  Whilst disappointing, it made a lot of sense.  Also, it wasn’t difficult to acquire games by *ahem* other means.  Not that I would advocate that (specially not now).  If my younger self could see the number of games I’ve bought and not got around to playing though…

Lol Limewire
This song still make me laugh.

I find myself buying fewer and fewer “epic” games simply because I won’t have the time to enjoy them.  Work, family and life in general are all more important (to varying degrees…screw work!) meaning that hobbies have to give way.  Regardless, it is still disappointing to intend to play a game but never get around to it.  So here are 5 games from last year that I had every intention of playing, but probably never will.  Oh, and Overwatch isn’t here…

Epic Games
No, not this sort of Epic. Their games tended to be of a sensible length.

Rules are different this time!  Obviously these have to be games I haven’t played that were released last year.  I’ve not included games from last year that I’ve bought and not started yet, as I probably will play them.  Onwards!

Final Fantasy XV

Final Fantasy 15
Final Fantasy XV (2016)

I’ll start with the big one.  I dearly wanted to play this.  It looked gorgeous, had a fun tone, unusual mechanics for the series and a huge world to explore with meaningful content.  Monsters!  Swords!  Magic!  Kick-ass sports car!  Silly hair!  Everything I could want in a Final Fantasy game.  Even an indecipherable story (probably).

Final Fantasy XV
It really is quite pretty.

But the size of it moved it further and further down my wish list.  That ever present issue of time ate away at my desire to finally pick it up.  Even seeing how much reviewers and other bloggers loved it wasn’t enough to save it from the slide.  It’s still on my wish list, so maybe some day.

Super Mario Maker (3DS)

Super Mario Maker 3DS logo
Super Mario Maker 3DS (2016)

I don’t own a Wii U, so Mario Maker was off the table, but the idea of near limitless Mario levels was quite appealing!  Whilst I’m not the most creative of people, seeing and playing the levels other people would make sounded great to me.  So when I heard that there was a 3DS version on the way, I was certainly interested.

Super Mario Maker Bundle
Nintendo have tried to port a few Wii U games to 3DS, but the loss in quality is a problem for me. This is also the reason I did pick up Hyrule Warriors Legends.

Then it turned out the feature set was going to be severely limited by comparison.  You couldn’t access all the levels you could imagine, only the ones that were “featured”.  Levels could be exchanged via street pass, but browsing through the tens of thousands (or more?) of levels that people had created and picking out one that looked and sounded interesting was part of the appeal to me.  Maybe it will get patched in some day, but with the Switch being released, I doubt it.

The Turing Test

The Turing Test Logo
The Turing Test (2016)

I may, may still play this one.  A sci-fi puzzle game with a (supposedly) interesting mystery story certainly sounded appealing!  An interesting twist on the “weapon” as a puzzle solving device (a la Portal and it various imitators) along with inventive challenges made this something I was very interested in.  In fact, Vahrkalla made a very convincing argument for playing it, and I still very much want to give it a go.

The Turing Test
Robots! I want to play this even more now.

This one came along a few weeks after I’d played a few other first person puzzle games in the form of Pneuma and The Talos Principle, so the idea of another one put it to the back of my mind for a long time.  Some day I may well be in the mood to give this a try, but as it stands it’ll just have to wait its turn.

BlazBlue: Central Fiction

BlazBlue Central Fiction Logo
BlazBlue: Central Fiction (2016)

I like fighting games.  A lot.  I am terrible at fighting games.  Whilst I can pick up mechanics well enough, I struggle to put them into action during an actual match.  This is even more of a problem in anime style fighting games most often associated with Arc System Works due to them being so insanely fast.  But they’re so gorgeous!  And the action is so fluid!  Varied characters and bizarre attacks!  Things like Guilty Gear, Chaos Code, and BlazBlue really appeal to me.  Mostly for single player though.

BlazBlue Central Fiction.
A witch is fighting a cat lady and I have no idea what it happening.

The thing with BlazBlue: Central Fiction is that it came out about 6 months after I’d picked up Continuum Shift, the previous installment.  More fool me (perhaps) for not waiting for the newer version, but seeing as I was playing mostly offline, having the most up to date version wasn’t a huge concern.  Having said that, I would have liked to have seen the online community before everyone switched back to playing as Noel and using her silly endless combos.  Like I do.

Salt & Sanctuary

Salt and Sanctuary
Salt and Sanctuary (2016)

I was put onto this one because I love Dark Souls far more than is healthy.  Salt & Sanctuary was sold to me as a 2D Dark Souls, and if you watch it in action it’s pretty clear why.  Every action needs to be planned out to avoid silly mistakes and a resulting death.  The grimy art style is also reminiscent of its inspiration’s medieval world.  I should have picked this one up straight away by all rights.

Salt and Sanctuary.
This really does remind me of the Undead Burg.

I feel that at the time I was a little burnt out on super challenging games.  Since then, Nioh has come along and rekindled my love for those sort of games, but at the time I needed a break from them.  With that in mind, now may be the time to look into giving this one a go.

Some honourable mentions as always.  Hitman didn’t interest me during its development, nor upon its initial release.  But since then I hear all sorts of stories about hits gone wrong, elusive targets and bizarre successes.  I regret not giving it a go when it came out.  The Bunker was a really interesting one, being a throwback to the “interactive movies” of days gone by.  I like a good horror, but I feel this one may be more suited to a Let’s Play for me.  I loved the Attack on Titan anime, so the game was something I really liked the look of.  I got the feeling it may get repetitive quickly though, so I passed it by.  This one’s also still on my wish list though, so maybe someday I’ll pick it up on the cheap.

How about you?  Are there any recent releases you regret missing out on at the time?  Let me know!  I hope I’m not alone on these ones…