Monday, 29 February 2016


Gyromancer is one of those games in my steam library that I bought years and years ago but only just got around to finally beating.  I must have bought it in some kind of Steam sale way back when because I can't imagine myself buying a match-3 puzzle game in this day and age. 

Anyway, Gyromancer is a puzzle-RPG game about a dude called Rivel Arday going into a forest in order to stop some evil dude from doing something bad I don't remember.  While each level is sandwiched between cut scenes that involve still images of the characters chatting via text, the story is kind of dumb and isn't really what you are here for anyway.

So a long time ago, back in my younger days when MSN messenger was a thing and I didn't have a job to buy proper games with, Pop Cap was an old website that provided free to play flash games.  One of these games was called Bejewelled.  This game involved swapping two adjacent gems in order to match 3 of the same color and you had to build a certain amount of score in order to progress to the next level.  After I long gave up on Pop Cap they released a variation on Bejewelled known as Bejewlled Twist which was the same game but you would twist a small circle of gems in order to match 3 rather than just pairs.  So take that, add monsters doing battle and a shitty story about a dude in a forest preventing evil and you have Gyromancer.

Monsters battle by having these little gauges that fill up as you match gems and when the gauge is full it drops a sparkly gem on the board, smash the gem and do the damage.  Enemies do their attacks in the same way but on a timer, so if you fail to smash their attack gem in the certain number of turns then they attack you.  Aside from the main game there are little side objectives in each stage and a bunch of bonus shit that you unlock after the first chapter that I never bothered with so I can't comment on that.  But if you like your Bejewelled Twist then Gyromancer has a lot to offer you.

If however you are like me and you don't give too many shits about these kind of puzzle games then it'll be fun at first but quickly start wearing a bit thin.  Cool monsters and a story line are not enough to pull one into the genre of match-3 gem smashing.  I'll be sticking to Puzzle Fighter 2 Turbo thank you very much.

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Norman Reedus X Hideo Kojima

So a while ago, Kojima of Metal Gear fame was set to work on a new Silent Hill title with Guillermo Del Toro.  The game was also to feature actor from Walking Dead fame Norman Reedus and thanks to a demo released on PS4 known as P.T. the game was getting quite a lot of attention.  However, Kojima was given the boot from Konami and the project was quickly shut down which was quite good news from my perspective because as a Silent Hill title things were looking a bit grim.

You can read about why I was happy about the canning of Silent Hill there.  It looked decent enough as its own it was gearing up to be yet another weak entry in the now butchered Silent Hill franchise.  However one thing I did say in that post is that if that team was to get back together in the future to work on the project under a different title, then maybe I'd be a little more interested.

This is what some other websites as well as some of my personal friends have been saying, that the idea of Kojima and Reedus having talks points to the idea that maybe this stuff is happening again and that we should have some reason to be excited.  I mean, this one tween about a reunion with Reedus doesn't really mean anything on its own but even if it does point to that is it really worth getting that excited?

Survival Horror is a dead genre, games like that just aren't made anymore (unless you count the yet unreleased "Back in 1995", look it up) and modern horror games are a fucking shit show.  Horror has been reduced to either bombastic over the shoulder 3rd person games that feel more action than horror or first person stealth games that have a "scary" monster instead of some kind of facility guard.  There are certain quality titles in the genre but none of them even come CLOSE to having the same amount of horror impact as the classic survival horror titles of yesteryear.

IF it turns out this project is back on its feet, hype is the exact feeling we should not have.  No one has any reason to be overly excited about anything because they are making a horror game and that would be excited about watching someone take a shit.  That said, Hideo Kojima is a talented man who makes good games and Reedus is pretty popular for his work on the Walking Dead TV show.  What a re announcement of this title under an original IP is a glimmer of hope.  Maybe, just maybe we can have a horror game that doesn't play like shit and maybe has a semi-decent story behind it too.  Maybe we can have a horror game that ACTUALLY inflicts some scares on the player rather than just the BOO JUMPSCARE shit of today's horror titles.  Maybe Kojima will have the sense to hire some enemy designers who know how to do more than just dudes with cut faces or silly looking piles of meat.

There are a ton of reasons to look at a Kojima developed horror game and think that the genre might have a chance at a comeback.  It's doubtful but we can dream.  Hope not hype.

Sunday, 21 February 2016

3 Great Arcade Games Hosted on Mediasplat

So there's this new website called Mediasplat being run by a friend of mine.  They talk about all sorts of things on there such as movies, games, table top stuff and more and I've been asked to write a few things for them.

So of course the first thing I decide to write about is a couple of Japan only arcade games that I'm currently enjoying and that you should totally book a holiday in order to come and play.  So go check out my post and then check out some of their other content too!  The site only went live a couple of days ago so there isn't much to see just yet but keep an eye on that space.

Sunday, 14 February 2016

AKB48: Sailor Zombie

So yesterday I went to a place called Spo-cha which is a kind of public sports centre.  Aside from all the sports and physical activity stuff, they have a game arcade where all the machines are set to free play so you can get your entry fees worth of money just by playing a few rail shooters.  One of the rail shooters that they had this time was the rather strange AKB48: Sailor Zombie and thanks to free play I managed to play it from start to finish so I better say something about it.

If you don't know, AKB48 is a pop group consisting of a large number of young girls performing catchy yet ultimately terrible J-Pop and they have a stupidly large following of rabid fans who are almost completely on the wrong side of obsessive.  Personally I don't give too many shits about them, if you're drunk in karaoke then they are there to provide stupid songs that are easy to sing in Japanese but I'm not the kind of person to put them on by choice.

Anyway, this isn't the first game I've seen from them, they have some kind of dating sim looking thing which I THINK is called AKB 1/48 but that game kind of makes sense to me.  The idea of being able to romance your favorite member of AKB must have been prime spanking material for the aforementioned rabid fans but the idea of a game where you shoot the group in the face strikes me as kind of odd.

I skipped almost every cut scene during my play through but from what I could tell there is some kind of zombie outbreak that has changed a bunch of the members into zombie and it is up to you, the player, to use your vaccine gun and un-zombie them.  You are joined by the one remaining not zombied member who will give advice, get in the way, spout nonsense and help combat the outbreak with catchy pop music.

Game play wise it's a standard theatre type rail shooter.  You sit in a dark booth with guns that are attached to a pivot and you use those to shoot school girl zombies in the face until they un-zombie.  There is also a boss monster that sort of looks like a big wolf thing that you have to fight a couple of times during the game who likes to jump around and be generally hard to hit but this wasn't an issue for me because ha ha free play.  However, this game isn't JUST a rail shooter, oh no, it's also a rhythm game!

 At the end of every stage you have to play a simple rhythm game where you use the guns triggers to hit notes to some of the most well known songs of the group.  They are pretty easy and it's hard to fail but if you're playing 2 player then your partners fuck up can cost you health which is a little annoying.  Then again, providing that you have a working brain these rhythm sections shouldn't pose any difficulty, it's overly simple and is more of an annoyance than anything else.

Anyway, just to round things off have a short video of some of the game play.  It would have been a little longer but my wife, who was recording the footage, wanted to play so this is all you get.

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Hokkaido Snow Festival

So I've not posted anything for a while due to being stupid busy (and a little bit lazy) but now that my holiday in Hokkaido is over I have a bit more time.  Even though it's not video games I thought I'd make one post about my experience there since the snow festival was quite the spectacle.

Hokkaido is located in the north of Japan and going there in the winter is like taking a plane right to the fucking Ice Cap Zone.  Hokkaido is so cold and there is so much snow everywhere that they don't really bother trying to remove it properly, they just have big ass trucks come in the night and shift it to the side of the pavement in huge piles so that cars don't spin out and kill people.  There is also some mild gritting of roads but aside from that they just let it all happen.

So I went up there for the Snow Festival, a famous festival in Japan where people come on down and build huge sculptures out of all that aforementioned snow and ice.

This Dragonball sculpture for example was probably the biggest and most popular thing in the festival.  People would come out on the stage in front of it to do little shows or give speeches or something but I never stuck around long enough to find out what they were talking about.  The snow festival is cold and crowded as shit so I didn't feel like standing around and listening to people talk for too long.

Aside from the big sculptures there is also an international competition where teams of 3 from all over the world come to Hokkaido to build snow sculptures.  These smaller ones are judged and then a winner is picked but I have no idea what the reward for having the best sculpture is.  I heard that each team is given about 4 days to create their stuff and it was cool to walk around the festival seeing the teams at work on their creations

Dudes from Poland working on their snow sculpture
Down the road from the snow festival there was an ice festival which was equally, if maybe not a little more impressive at times.

These were just sat in the main road in a place called Susukino and there were also a number of small, makeshift rooms crafted from ice that housed small bars and other places to buy glasses of shit booze like Jim Beam and Bacardi.  Despite the crappy drinks the ice festival was really impressive just because of the amount of detail that went into the sculptures.  Also the sun was shining on the day that I went so some of the snow ones melted a bit and looked a bit weird while the ice ones managed to stay impressive the entire time I was there.

There was another snow/ice festival in a place called Otaru too which was on a much smaller scale but kind of spread a bit wider and was certainly less busy.  All around the town shops had built little snow sculptures and then left a candle either on or by the side of it somewhere.  It was cool to walk down Otaru's streets and see all the sculptures dotted around town.

So that's essentially what I went to Hokkaido to do, look at snow.  It sure as fuck didn't disappoint and despite harsh conditions it's something that I would recommend doing if you're looking for a holiday idea.  Hokkaido has plenty of other shit to do, some of which I took part in but this is a gaming blog not my fucking travel journal so this is enough for now.

Usual gaming stuff will resume shortly!

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Amnesia: A Machine For Pigs

Despite coming out in 2013, I've only managed to get around to playing Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs recently and quite frankly I wish that I had put it off longer.  This disappointment of a game available on PC via Steam isn't worth your time or money and I'm about to tell you why.

Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs is developed by a British indie studio called The Chinese Room and published by Frictional Games.  Frictional Games both developed AND published the first Amnesia game but for the second instalment they didn't have all that much of a hand in it and The Chinese Room did most of the work.  This doesn't sound like a bad thing but it's what should be setting off your alarm bells because they are responsible for Dear Esther, a shitty non game where you walk around and don't do anything.  If like me you are playing this game in 2016 then another thing that should set your alarm bells off is that these same people are also responsible for shitty non-game Everybody's Gone To The Rapture so obviously these people aren't good at making games but are rather proficient at making steaming turds for stuck up ponces.

Plot wise the game is shit.  You play as a bloke looking for his children who are stuck in the giant machine under your house but with this being a horror game nothing is quite that simple.  Everything is falling apart, there's a prick on a phone who may or may not be helping you, strange pig creatures stalk the hallways and without spoiling anything shit starts to get all kinds of fucked up near the end.  The problem is that the story is so far up its own arse that it's just frustrating.  There's a tenuous link to the first game but the writing in Pigs is so piss poor that it barely even matters.  Without playing it for yourself it's hard to see where I'm coming from with this but the games plot could be compared to Final Fantasy X's and as much as I love that game the story is fucking stupid.  At least FFX had fun game play though, this title on the other hand has some issues in that department.

The game play is where this title really falls down because there is exactly no game play to be found.  This is the big problem I have with A Machine For Pigs and it's that The Chinese Room has gone and turned it into one of their fucking plot-driven walking simulators rather than an actual fucking game.  I loved the original Amnesia because it had everything this game had and some actual game play elements that made it challenging.  It had objects you needed to collect and store in an inventory to use elsewhere, it had oil and tinderboxes that turned the idea of just seeing clearly into a fucking challenge, it had a sanity meter that would deplete when looking at the monster which made it scarier because you could never quite see what was chasing you as well as some other elements.  In this game all those things are GONE and replaced with........well nothing really.  While I never got caught by a pig creature I've heard that even that doesn't kill you, it just warps you to some point on the map so there is literally ZERO ways to die in this game and that just kills some of the horror really.  All you do in this game is walk around some dark rooms and solve "puzzles" that involve picking up some kind of object and putting it in, taking it out of or pushing it into something.  All the solutions are situated basically next to the thing you need to activate or go through and you would have to be some kind of brain dead chimp in order to get stuck.

Whatever you think about The Chinese Room's other games (I think they're shit and barely qualify as games) it's clear that they are not game developers.  They are trying to pioneer some kind of new interactive fiction and while I don't like it personally I kind of think the concept is cool.  However, letting them loose on a sequel to a really strong horror game was a BIG mistake because now we are left with an initially mildly interesting title that's neither horror nor a game but just ends up being a big fat waste of time.

If you really enjoyed the first one like I did then MAYBE you can salvage some kind of enjoyment from this but it'll be like trying to suck the water from an old dishcloth.  If you have played neither of the Amnesia games then pretend like this one doesn't exist and just play The Dark Descent and then if you want more of that go and play Frictional Games' other quality titles called Penumbra.  This "game" is a waste of your money.