Xeodrifter

January 20th, 2015

Got this game mostly because I was interested in another game on the eShop called Moon Chronicles. Haven’t played Moon Chronicles yet, so I can’t speak of any similarities. I believe this game plays off of Moon Chronicles.

Anyways, if you like Metroid type games, this one is right up your alley. It’s a side scroller with the same sort of artwork as Mutant Mudds. A bit of a hybrid between modern and retro. (16-bit?) As with the rest of my games, I don’t play much in 3D so I can’t say if it’s good or bad. (Someday I’ll get me an n3DS.)

The music is best heard in a good pair of headphones. You will also get better positional sound as you can hear how far away an enemy is from you. The music is pretty good for the space feel of the game. While it’s not quite as memorable as Metroid, it still is pretty good. It’d be pretty hard to play this game without the sound effects on at least as the screen doesn’t reveal things as fast as you’ll hear them.

You can get various upgrades like a booster or high jump, making your exploration easier and unlocking hidden areas. There is also hidden health and weapon upgrades. You can customize where the weapon points go to on the lower screen, and even save 3 customizations for switching to on the fly.

The story is a bit lacking. There isn’t any. You are just there, and here’s 4 planets to explore. There may be some story in the directions, I haven’t looked. There’s bosses to defeat, and many unique enemies. Some of them are quite hard to kill.

Overall, this game is quite short and I’m honestly not sure if it’s worth the $9.99 price tag. It’s still fun to play and enough of a challenge to be worthwhile. Really a shame it wasn’t longer. Here’s to hoping that there is a Deluxe DLC available for free like Mutant Mudds. There’s potential to add so much more.

A game with no console.

January 18th, 2015

I’ve played board games like Chess and card games like Uno, but there’s another realm to which consoles probably will never visit. There’s games that take elements from these games, but you cannot get the true experience from a console. You might get the visual aspect or the mechanics, and maybe a story that reminds you of it, but it won’t be the same. The one game I’m referring to in particular is Dungeons & Dragons.

Sometime last year, a good friend got me into this game. I had never thought to play anything like it and had never experienced anything like it either. I made a character, but I didn’t know where to go with it. Had a name and a vision of what I wanted my character to look like, but the rest was new to me. Had to read one book in particular. The Player’s Handbook. Didn’t read much of it, admittedly. I really just wanted to play the game. It wasn’t something I could just play anytime though. I wanted this adventure.

The only items I really needed for this game were some dice. 7 dice. I found a set on Amazon in my favorite color, purple. I read something about people fearing those with purple dice, which I found funny.

We started off playing with a DM who only lasted a week for me, personally. Didn’t get into his campaign much before we were in another campaign. The DM for this one was none other than the friend who got me into the game. Now, before I go any further; for those who haven’t played anything like this, a DM is a Dungeon Master. He pretty much weaves the world you will play in. A creator, if you want to call him that. He can be a destroyer as well.

I went with the same character. Didn’t have much of a background. He has forgotten his past. I couldn’t think of anything and wanted to just experience everything that was to come. We’d get together every weekend. Me and 4 others in our party, along with our DM. I started off not being able to imagine things very well. I had to bring some props to help, but they didn’t do much good.

His world was quite fun to play in. Our sessions were long, which was also something to get used to. I can still remember catching frogs and cooking them up and how one of our party members ate a centipede. I won’t relay the story here, but there were a lot of good times and some bad times. Like when this kid stole my money. :(

I feel like a part of the reason my character had no past was due to me wanting to feel like I was in the game, but as something I wanted to be like. A Ranger who could tame dragons. I wanted a dragon. Even helped spare the life of one dragon. The rest was pretty much improv for me. Others had past histories and different character visions. I played it like I was just jumping into the game.

Of course, real life distracted from this game, like any other game. It’s quite easy to lose focus and look at a screen when no screen is in your face. I think the bigger part of this game that I enjoyed was getting together with friends and having a good time. It really didn’t matter how “good” you were at the game. It was, and still is more about having fun. Others take it more seriously. Maybe I’ll delve into someone else’s adventure someday. Maybe not. A bit too much reading for my tastes, but you’re never going to get to play anything like it, unless you develop and play your own game.

I think I finally found a good time-based strategy game.

January 7th, 2015

A user on CrushAndRun’s IRC (Shares5) got me into this game called Clash of Clans, and I am liking it so far. It started off a bit iffy with the tutorial trying to lead you to do things, but the tutorial is rather short. Afterwards, you can pretty much play how you want to play. If you don’t like the placement of buildings, fear not, you don’t have to spend a dime. You can just move them wherever. It is a bit interesting that you cannot sell your buildings.

This game does sync with Google Play Games, so you can play on multiple devices if you want. You cannot play on both at the same time. Also it doesn’t keep your screen on, presumably due to the fact that you cannot be attacked while you are online.

When you start off, you are given a 3 day shield. This prevents you from being attacked via multiplayer, so long as you don’t attack anyone else. You can play single player while your shield is up.

This app does have in-app purchases, and you can pay to win, but it seems as though everything you could pay for can also be earned by playing the game. It seems as though this is a replacement for ads in the game, which I am pretty okay with. Haven’t been bombarded with any sort of ad. I do wish they would have went with an expansion pack type thing instead, and let you pay for the expansion. Could also make it so you can play with others who have the expansion, but those that don’t have it can’t play with new units. So instead of paying to win, you’re paying for more content. Although, I’ve seen that logic get ugly when the content you are paying for is so small, like $4.99 for a hero. (Why would anyone pay that much for a character in a game?)

DLC… has the ability to be a great idea and the worst idea ever. Anyways, I will likely continue playing since this does appear to get more passive as you go. It doesn’t take as much time to play when you do play, but it’s enough to be enjoyable.

About Game Ramblings…

January 7th, 2015

I made this section for talking about games outside of a review post. This also allows me to have one review post per game, yet still talk about it in another section… because I do like talking about games. :P

Also this allows me to write a review later on, while still giving my feedback on a game early on.

Installed a rating plugin.

December 18th, 2014

It’s called “Yet Another Stars Rating” and it works pretty good. There are some options that let you change the theme from light to dark and if you want the stars to be auto displayed. You can have different sizes of stars too. I’m personally going with small as that is the best looking size overall, and it matches the text size. There is a pro version, but I don’t think I’m going to ever be using that. If I really need those features, I’ll either make it myself or find something FOSS. As of now, the free version works.

Bloons TD Battles

December 18th, 2014

This is a free game in the Google Play store made by the same guys who made Bloons and Bloons TD, NinjaKiwi. There is no paid version of the game, meaning you will have to sift through ads to find and purchase the Ad-free option. Interestingly, you can pay for it with in-game currency. The currency can be bought with real money, however, I don’t recommend ever going this route.

You can battle against other opponents in either an Assault or Defense mode. You can also choose to battle friends if Facebook is your thing. Unfortunately, as of writing, this game doesn’t feature any Google Play Games support. Sorry fellow G+ users. We’ll have to remain anonymously known as “Player.” You can also play a training mode in Defense, or play a tutorial.

Each game you start against a rival, you will use up a win or a loss depending on the outcome. You also have the opportunity of winning tokens. Tokens can be used to buy various in-game items like tower upgrades, the ad-free option, or decals. My recommendation is that if you are actually going to play, get the ad-free first as they are ridiculously annoying.

The towers are pretty much the same as in Bloons TD 5, and there are quite a bit to mention them all. You have everything from dart monkeys to super monkeys, and even mages and explosives. There is another in-game sort of currency called energy. You get a max of 20, which you can use for various things like getting a fully upgraded random 4th tower, spying on your opponent, and speeding up your balloons during deployment in Assault mode.

Back to the modes. Defense mode is a competition to see who can last the longest. You start off with very little money and can spend it on more income or more towers and upgrades. The strategy is to see how well you spend your money available to you. If you both are really good, this could end in a stalemate or even freeze devices with the amount of balloons appearing on stage. Assault is a lot like defense, you have to outlast your opponent. However, instead of just buying income, you get to buy balloons to send to your opponent. You start off with a high amount of income and the income bonuses earned from sending balloons is very little, so it is more of who can defend the best the fastest. Like Defense, this also has a possibility of ending in a stalemate, but it is less likely.

Due to Android being an open platform for a wide variety of applications and even the ability to root devices, there are some cheat applications that could take the fun out of the game. The thing about this game is to take it for what it’s worth, a cheap thrill, and just take a loss against these guys. You will see that pretty much everyone has a high rack of losses and wins on them. I’ve seen people play who have an insanely high number of wins that make it obvious that they’re cheating. It is up to the developers to try to block this, but not everything can be blocked.

I’ve never had the opportunity to experience the friend battles as I don’t use Facebook, however, it would be nice to play with Google+ friends and have a more worthwhile game. Random opponents can only go so far.

Despite all of the things wrong with this, I still say it is pretty fun to try out at least once if you’re a tower defense fan. There are better games out there, though some of them are paid. It also has a potential to get very addictive and repetitive. Great for passing time on the can. Not so great for any long-term enjoyment. 

Viber

December 18th, 2014

Recently, I was invited to use Viber by a good friend of mine. I was a bit skeptical at first due to my experiences with Skype, another closed source chat/voice/video client. Viber works on Windows, Mac, and they also provide Debian and Fedora packages. Arch has an AUR package as well, but it is a bit of a hack, due to it repackaging a Debian package. They even have an Android client as well.

The one thing that got me attached admittedly was the stickers. There are so many of these things and they aren’t very annoying either. I’ve had many IM clients that tried to do their own thing and most of them got pretty annoying or pretty generic. You can’t go anywhere without finding an emoticon these days. Stickers are a bit unique as I’ve never seen them before. There’s a sticker for practically everything and they also have added more, and (unfortunately) some paid sticker packs. Can’t say I’ll get much into those, but they do look nice. Android gets a free batch of Android stickers that get tied to your account so you can use them on PC as well after “buying” them.

Viber is a closed source platform, so one would have to take that into consideration before using it. They are owned by Rakuten, who acquired Viber in February 2014. Can’t say I know too much about them, but they don’t seem as threatening as Microsoft. I could very well be wrong.

Anyways, the client also features backdrops that you can use. The Linux client doesn’t seem to support this, unfortunately. You can also send a message of a really long length to people, as well as pictures.

There is a group chat function as well that you can invite other people to and it will go to another tab. There is a bit of an issue with this, however, as since you use your phone number with Viber, anyone can see it. There needs to be some sort of a friends function to keep those things private. If you trust your friends not to add you to any weird group chats, then you’ll be fine.

This should probably be treated more like a Hangouts clone rather than a Skype clone, as Skype allows you to remain fairly anonymous behind a username. Although, Hangouts also lets you remain anonymous by just giving people your e-mail to use. Viber sticks to just using the phone number you registered with. You could use a service like Google Voice to register with Viber and remain a bit anonymous that way. (That’s what I did at least.)

I haven’t tried the voice or video myself, nor do I plan on it either. I will stick with a more trusted company (well, one that I trust), like Google for that. Also Mumble does a lot better job with just voice chat with low latency. That said, Viber is probably going to remain on my installed applications list for a bit of a while until I find some pressing issue with it and decide to remove it (or an alternative SIP client possibly). Until then, I’ll enjoy sending these little cute stickers to people…Yes. I said cute.

Arch Linux

December 16th, 2014

I’ve been using this distro since October 2011 and it is currently installed on my Chromebook, laptop, and server laptop (yes I use a laptop for a server). Before this, I was using OpenSUSE and they were just about to release a version that worked better with their rolling release. At the time, their rolling release (Tumbleweed) was still in testing, and I grew anxious of it. I had a setup so that I could test out other distros while I was waiting if I wanted to. I had done a lot of hopping in the past, going from one distro to another for different features. So I tried out Arch. The first time I tried it out, I cannot remember when it was, but the disk partitioner didn’t work for me. This time around, it did. I went and got everything I needed and wanted and I eventually fell in love with it and forgot about OpenSUSE.

When you first start this up, you are presented with a bootloader that will let you choose 32bit or 64bit. This is quite handy as you only need one disk (or USB drive) to install Arch with. You then get dropped into a command line. Most people will cower in fear. This is not the distro for newbies. However, there is some excellent documentation packed both on the installation medium and on their wiki. There is an install guide and a Beginners guide and guides for almost anything else you need. If there happens to be an issue, most of the time it’s been solved within the forums, or you can get on IRC and ask there.

You are provided the bare minimum to get moving. A package manager, and other things necessary to run the OS. This is nice because you can put anything you want on there and nothing that you don’t want. You can tweak it to your own liking. You will, however, need access to the internet, unless you run your own mirror. The package manager, pacman, will do most of the work for you when it comes to installation. As far as configuration goes, you’ll have to do most of that yourself. Don’t worry, there is a guide for that too.

Most things don’t require configuration as much, unless you delve into server programs. If you are just wanting to setup a GUI, you can do most of the configuration from their preferences. The programs on Arch are no different than the programs you’d find on other distro. They aren’t branded for Arch, however. There are a few Arch branded packages that specifically say Arch in their name, like login screen themes. If you can get over the initial hurdle of installing Arch and configuring it for first time use, the rest is pretty much a cakewalk.

Since this is a rolling distro, you will sometimes run into issues with dependencies or changes within the filesystem that require manual intervention. The steps to take are usually posted on Arch’s homepage, like the most recent Java upgrade. If not, you can ask on the forums or on their IRC channel, or someone in our IRC as well (we have a couple Arch users). Also, being a rolling distro, you don’t have to reinstall the entire OS unless you want to for whatever reason. You are supported for as long as Arch continues to thrive, unlike other distros that have version numbering releases.

The programs are split apart by repositories. Core is all of your necessities, like your build tools, package manager, kernel, boot loaders, etc. Extra is things like GUI programs and other things that aren’t quite needed but provided anyways. Community is approved AUR packages that are maintained by the Arch community. Some of these packages might not last very long in the community repo. Others do. There is an Arch User Repository, otherwise known as AUR. This is a vast group of packages maintained usually by one individual and is there to make it easier for anyone else to install a certain package that would otherwise require compiling. You will also find a lot of non-free packages in here as well.

AUR is not to be immediately trusted like the main repositories. There is a pkgbuild file that you should read and check for any malicious commands or errors in code that may wipe out something you want to keep. There is also an install script to check as well. There are package managers designed to help aid you through the process of installing an AUR package, however, none of these will be officially supported due to the nature of AUR.

Lastly, you can just compile the package yourself, like with any other Linux distro. Of course, not many people want to do this with everything, so package managers were created.

Personally, I like being able to keep my configurations and not have to completely wipe everything out for a major distro upgrade. Arch is also pretty stable, despite being bleeding edge. I haven’t run into many issues that hinder stability over the few years I’ve been using it. You can usually read posts about other people who have run into an issue (if any) before doing your upgrades. I’d have to say that as of now, this is my go-to distro for any long-term desktop installs. I would not choose this for any servers or USB drive installs due to it being bleeding edge and it doesn’t play well if you neglect it for too long. I’d say that anyone who is wanting to explore Linux beyond what the newbie friendly distros have to offer should take a dip into seeing what Arch is like. You may even learn more from it.

SteamWorld Dig

December 16th, 2014

Mining meets Metroid. SteamWorld Dig is setup as a free roam type mining game. The story is pretty brief. You get landed right into the action. There is a vast mine left for you to explore and find out the answers to everything. The Metroid feel comes from getting upgrades as you are roaming. As you progress, you get stronger and better at mining and acquire different skills.

This is a 2D platformer, and the graphics are a bit like the previous game in the SteamWorld franchise; SteamWorld Tower Defense. Old western colors. Cartoon-like images. Even the music is western.

When mining, you will find a lot of different ores, and as you dig deeper, things get harder to mine. The map on the bottom screen will tell you how many times you’ll have to hit something before it will be mined. You will get better pickaxes as you progress as well, making it easier to mine. You will also get upgrades that will aid in navigation and even allow you to carry more ore. Basically the whole point is to dig deeper. Must. Dig. Deeper. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not boring at all. As you progress, you will also find out more about the story of the town and what happened to it.

As far as modes go, this is a single player game. You get 3 files to choose from and no difficulty settings. Depending on how meticulous you are, this game can either be relatively short or long. It does end, unfortunately, and there is no infinite land to mine in. I do personally wish they added a few randomly generated lands to mine in and some sort of score system. But hey, for what it’s worth, it’s a pretty good story.

As stated before, you can get all kinds of upgrades, from boots that make you run faster, to a drill that lets you mine faster, or even a drill gun. Your mining trip is limited to how much light you have. When you are in the mines, your light meter depletes and when it reaches 0, you cannot see anything except the tunnels you already made. This makes it a challenge to try to get as far as you can get before having to go back up for light. If you did try mining, you never know what you will run into and may end up getting smashed by a rock above you, or another enemy. There is one boss in the game…. and that’s it. But it is a worthwhile battle and some build-up leading to it.

Overall, I’d say that this game is worth taking a trip into. It doesn’t cost very much in terms of money, making it a reasonable buy. However, there is so much more that could have been added to make it more worthwhile for replay value. Once you’ve mined up everything, there’s really not much to do except look at the emptyness. 

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D

December 15th, 2014

From the moment this game was announced, I was wanting it. Finally, Ocarina of Time on a portable system. I didn’t get it for almost a half a year later. My only wish for this game is that it received better ratings from Nintendo fans. When it first came out, you had to dig through the loud complaints about Nintendo releasing a remake in order to find a review that was worthwhile. And then, when you did praise the game, you had to put up with being called a fanboy. Whatever. I grew up with Nintendo. I’ll admit I’m biased, but I am not afraid to talk about the not-so-nice things that I see.

This game is one of my top games on my playlist, even today. I have yet to ever do a 100% run on this game on any of its releases. There has been so many releases over the years as well. All of them just as good as the last. I don’t label it as my favorite Zelda, however. There’s so many good ones to label just one, however, I do have a sweet spot with Twilight Princes. That said, Ocarina of Time is still awesome, and will continue to be a classic.

First off, the graphics. Everything has been updated and there is so much more detail in almost every nook and cranny. It’s almost in your face from the moment you start up the game, you can FEEL the amount of detail. It goes without saying that this is the best port to this date. Link looks so much better than he did before. No more blocky and triangular things. You can even walk on things in houses that never existed before. As far as the 3D portion goes, it’s one of the earlier games, and you might get some double vision. I personally don’t use it due to the fact that you get more detail with it off.

The game hasn’t changed much since its predecessors. Still the same story. There are a couple new features, like the hint stones (these can die in a fire), and an unlockable boss rush. Master Quest is also mirrored, to make things even harder.

The controls are laid out pretty well, but they could have done better. Control stick moves you (obviously). A is your main action button. B is for your sword. You can assign items to X and Y, and you also get 2 slots if you want to use the touch screen for items. R is for your shield. L is for the old Z-Targeting. Start and Select both pause the game. Am I forgetting something? Hmm… I can’t think of anything. OH! The control pad. Utterly. Useless. It does ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! Remember the old N64 controller and how it had C-buttons for things? Well instead of just using the control pad for those, they just scrapped 2 of them. Remember those old songs you knew by heart on the ocarina? Time to re-learn them! Their buttons have changed as well. Seriously, if they used the control pad for C-Buttons, they’d cover all of the used buttons in the N64 version, and have one left over.

But anyways… I’ve pretty much gotten used to the re-organized buttons by now. It’s easier to play the ocarina by the touch screen anyways. At least they are positioned correctly when you play that frog game. Speaking of the touch screen, there’s more on it. You can go to the gear, items, and map without having to fish through menus. The most noticeable change is you can re-organize all of the items in the items menu. This is actually pretty nifty. Strangely, there is not enough slots to put away every single item.

Another change is you can use the gyroscope to aim at things. This may come in handy or become a nuisance depending on your environment. Good thing there is an option to toggle it off in the Start menu. You can also switch camera controls and L-targeting there.

One other gripe I had about this game is that when you are playing, the wifi portion of the 3DS gets shut off. You can still get street passes, but your friends won’t know you are playing unless you go to the friends list.

I don’t like to focus on the gripes of this game too much because it is really beautiful and so nice to have on a portable console. The pros of this game do outweigh the cons. Overall, it is a masterpiece re-done into another masterpiece. Even the music feels updated. There’s but one game that should also be re-done that isn’t in the Zelda series. Super Mario 64. (Yeah, they’re already doing Majora’s Mask, so that wish came true. Have to wish for something new.) Dare I give it a flawless rating?

I do note the fact that this was one of the first 3DS games and most of the time, the first games on a console don’t take full advantage of the console’s capabilities. They don’t perfect it until later in the lifecycle. I am glad that they are pushing out Majora’s Mask at this time instead of earlier. They have done so well with recent games, and with the n3DS (New 3DS) coming out, the game has potential to be even better. Hopefully it isn’t exclusive to the n3DS.