kjorteo: Scan from an old Super Mario Bros. comic, of King Koopa facing the camera and looking at his wits' end. (Koopa: Fed up)
Because apparently people are actually using Dreamwidth now that we're all here. And I'm a writer. And I have a couple situations where the word I always use for them is wrong, but these are situations that come up a lot and it'd be really nice to have a word for them. Maybe you can help!

1) Basically the mood of this icon. Been dealing with too much for too long, at wits' end. The full context of the panel this crop is from: King Koopa and Lemmy are having a "Are you sure you know where this water main is?" conversation, the exact dialogue is responding to the previous panel's assurances with "You said that the last ten times!" (Lemmy in the background: "But since I've blown away all the other sections, this has to be it! I'll use four bombs on this one!") I originally entitled this icon "Exasperation" but later found that implies more annoyance and irritation over whatever they'll apparently never stop having to deal with, whereas I'm looking for more of a vague stressed "oh God" reaction.

2) My Splice post reminded me of this, because its later levels definitely induced it in me and that was one of the problems I had with that game. Is there a word for when there's just too much to process on the screen at once and you get overwhelmed? Think Tohou-style bullet hell games or those impossibly fast endgame DDR songs. "I can't play that game; once it get to the point where there were hundreds of arrows on the screen I just get _____ and kind of go o_o and my brain shuts down." I'm used to saying snow-blind but that's clearly wrong. Other metaphors/references like that welcome, if there's a good one.
kjorteo: Screenshot from Daedalian Opus, of a solved puzzle with the text "GOOD" displayed on underneath it. (GOOD)
This one was next in line in the "smartphone game to poke at while waiting for the bus" slot after Solar 2 finally fell. It didn't torment me for nearly as long, but it was a good solid romp while it lasted.

Splice is a puzzle game based on binary trees and cell division. You have a starting shape, an outline of a target finished shape, and X moves to get there from here. Later levels introduce cells that split/extend/disappear/etc. as a special power when you poke the cell in the center (which critically does not cost a move to do.) There are seven "sequences" of seven levels each, then you get a credit sequence, then four more "Epilogue" sequences with the truly brain-breaking ones.

First off, this game has an amazing soundtrack. It has a very strong and clear acoustic piano motif throughout, but within that framework it takes you to so many different moods along the way. Note the theme to the last sequence in the main game, which really does have a sort of "last level, this is it, invading Dr. Wily's fortress now, everything has led up to this decisive final battle" feel to it despite remaining a pure acoustic piano piece like all the rest. The last Epilogue sequence has a good feeling of finality to it as well, at least when it gets to the... chorus? Is that what it's still called in an instrumental piano piece? Refrain? Big main part?

As far as the actual gameplay, the basic premise works fine once you get used to how it works, though it was easy to get overwhelmed in some of the Epilogue levels where the shapes get a bit too complex for me to follow in my head. At that point, I tended to rely on accidentally surprising myself by just throwing a piece somewhere out of desperation and... oh... hey... that... actually almost lines up? Huh. (And if it doesn't, Epilogue sequences 3 and 4 are where I finally started to use hints with more regularity. Not all the levels in either, mind, but a good few.) I want to call this a complaint, and say maybe this game was about one or two Epilogue sequences too long and some of those final puzzles are a bit much, but... well, I'm kind of hesitant to play the "this game is bullshit" card just because I personally couldn't keep up. Especially because it was great until then! So maybe that one's just me.

No, if I have to lodge any actual complaint, it's that the menu is rather clunky to navigate. See the end of the gameplay trailer, where it sort of zooms back out past all the old levels counting all the way back down to the Splice logo? That's how you exit the game. The "Back" button brings you back one sequence, so keep pressing it to count all the way down until you're back to the logo. Back again on that brings up a "Terminate? Y/N" prompt, but Back again on that cancels the prompt and returns you to the Splice logo. So, basically, you have to spam Back until you get to the logo, then carefully hit it one more time and select Y at the prompt to exit. That's... there had to have been a better way to do that, guys. Come on.

Also, I don't know if it was just me, but my phone could barely handle the credit sequence after finishing the main game for whatever reason. Like, it ran at about one frame every 1-2 seconds. Still, it looked like it was just a scroll through all the puzzles you'd completed, and the music still worked fine, so whatever. It didn't crash and my progress counted so I'm good.
kjorteo: Screenshot of the snake from Snake, Rattle & Roll looking excited, with the caption "Hooray for video games!" (Hooray for video games!)
When I moved from LiveJournal to Dreamwidth, I expected it to be the same thing but just in a different location because I wanted to make a point about which organization I supported. Instead, even without expanding my friend circle and adding too many random people just yet, Dreamwidth's end-user activity feels more alive than LiveJournal's had for the past several years. Granted, LJ still has artists_beware and the furry drama communities, but its communities (and maybe George R. R. Martin posts) were the only things in my feed. Here, my actual friends are making actual posts in their actual personal blogs! I was not expecting this, but I am delighted.

And not all, but admittedly most of that is because [personal profile] xyzzysqrl seems to have somehow kicked off a gameblogging movement which is spreading from her friend circle to mine. She regularly posts record-keeping book report-style entries when she finishes or officially abandons games, and her journal is therefore full of those. Very fun to read, I always enjoy her commentary on everything.

I, of course, blatantly stole this idea and that's what you'll find on the vast majority (again, not all, but most) of my blog now. I love it, for several reasons. I'm actively writing posts again, and I feel good about doing my part to support this whole local "hey Dreamwidth actually seems to have a pulse so far" thing. I also just like talking about stuff I've been playing, it helps me keep track of which games I beat when and in what order (if I ever get curious about that,) and the "okay but if I finish this I can write it up and then it's off the list" incentive is already doing more than I ever dreamed it would to help me tackle my backlog.

Other Sqrl friends such as [personal profile] swordianmaster and probably a couple others I'm forgetting/am not familiar with are getting in on the act as well! Definitely worth checking out if you just can't get enough gameblogging. Even [personal profile] xaq_the_aereon posted a few updates as he was going through a Random+ AM2R run, though I'm not sure if that was just a special occasion.

[personal profile] davidn hasn't adopted this movement in general, but he did just do an amazing multi-part Let's Play of The Colonel's Bequest that I highly recommend. I'd been looking forward to someone doing that for ages, and it was everything I dreamed.

And if Sqrl's regular gameblogging wasn't enough, she also dips into the extended play runs with an already-impressive and still-growing collection of Nancy Drew titles, including a run of Danger on Deception Island she just started. Please check those out as well.

So in conclusion... uh. Well, to be honest, I started this post because I really owed David a plug for finally doing Colonel's Bequest for me :) but there's just so much gameblogging and therefore so much life in Dreamwidth so far that I really had to take a step back and celebrate the whole thing while I was at it.
kjorteo: Crop from Action Replay box art, of a very cheap imitation bootleg Charizard with a hippo-like giant nose and ear tufts.  Text on the bottom reads "NOT FAKE" (PARizard: NOT FAKE)
I thought I was done with this game, but much like Mega Man Unlimited, I sort of fell into the bonus content and one thing led to another and somehow> I ended up doing a 100% RG+ run on hard mode.

My first completion of this game was on the original version 1.0 of it. Since 1.0 came out and was immediately C&D'd/DMCA'd by Nintendo and the original author backed down without releasing the source code, other fans have reconstructed it and updated it with new modes and features. I grabbed version 1.2.6 out of curiosity over how far it had come. Since 1.2.6 is therefore an unauthorized fan reproduction of an unauthorized fan reproduction, that officially makes it the most bootleg ass thing I've ever seen, and [NSFW!] I've commissioned porn of that Action Replay Charizard from this icon. [NSFW!]

Anyway, version 1.2.6 has a few new modes compared to 1.0. In addition to every mode having Easy/Normal/Difficult settings through a separate unrelated menu, there's now a somewhat poorly-named New Game Plus feature that actually has nothing to do with starting over again and doesn't require a clear file, and is basically just "fuck your earthquakes, bruh" mode. It lowers the lava level down to just before the sequence with the first Omega Metroid, meaning you have to go around killing all 30-something other Metroids in the game to unlock the actual last level and it proceeds normally from there, but until then it's much more open and limited only by your ability to navigate around and not die horribly in areas you shouldn't be in yet.

Part of me wanted to append "you know, like Metroid should be" to that, but on second thought, there is a such thing as too open if you're a brand new player. You shouldn't have heavy-handed forcing where the plot itself issues stringent demands where to go next, but neither should you leave a wide-open crossroads with zero indication where the "next area" is and punish the player for being somewhere they didn't know they weren't supposed to be yet. I don't like Metroid Fusion, but I don't like Final Fantasy 2, either. Still, if you've been through the game before and have a rough idea of the sequence and can be trusted to more or less get there on your own, New Game Plus is a fantastic addition and I love that it lets you do it.

Also, there's Random Game Plus, which is New Game Plus with an item semi-randomizer. (It makes sure certain categories of items are kept to themselves so you won't get a missile tank instead of the Spider Ball, it makes sure you at least have either Bombs or Power Bombs before you get to the point where you need to blow walls up to proceed further, etc.) Supposedly the randomization logic was redone from the ground up for 1.2.6 and beyond, and people were leaving comments praising it, so I thought I'd just poke my head in for five minutes just to have a simple curious peek.

Then the very first item I got was the Screw Attack.

Then the second was the Plasma Beam, followed by the Ice Beam (which is redesigned in AM2R to be less freeze-things-for-platforms utility since you already have the Space Jump anyway and more just an endgame SUPER DAMAGE INCREASE deal.)

Well okay, I guess I'm doing this run after all, then.

Then I noticed a very interesting shift in gameplay style. I was also playing this run on Hard, and the combination of that plus getting the best weapons in the game first felt a lot like Dante Must Die mode from Devil May Cry. I could slice through just about anything in the game without even slowing down, but if I hit anything that fought back (like the first boss or anything immune to the Screw Attack, or just about anything in the endgame areas,) they could cut through my Power Suit/No-Energy-Tanks ass in one hit as well.

The beginning of the game was a mixture of feeling omnipotent and helpless at the same time because of that, and also because of how my draw went as far as utilities. I had the Screw Attack, Plasma Beam, and Ice Beam, and later even Super Missiles, but I didn't have the High or Space Jump, Spider or even Spring Ball, or even Bombs. I did get one Power Bomb (expansions give you 1 each instead of 2 on Hard,) which basically let me into the front door of a lot of places, but it's actually very easy to softlock yourself in a run like that if you use your one single Power Bomb to get into a screen, there aren't enemy drops or anything, and the bomb block respawns when you try to go back out. This tormented me, especially because--fun fact--early Screw Attack means you can access the teleport hub in the Distribution Center as soon as you get to the Golden Temple. Even more fun fact: the Gravity Suit is still unchanged location-wise, because it's a machine you step into and get that cutscene and isn't just a thing on a Chozo statue. Funnest fact: you can get to it with the Screw Attack and a single Power Bomb. Least fun fact: you can't get back out until you have either a second Power Bomb or, you know, Bombs. :(

So, with no lava and even early access to the teleport room, but none of the basic utilities you'd need to get around anywhere once you got there, (and of course since the loot is semi-randomized anyway,) the early game involved a lot of trial and error. I'd save before using my one Power Bomb to go down a certain passage, see if I could possibly make progress and get anything from there, and if the answer is no and I got stuck or died, reload. Eventually I broke through, though. One of the areas I tried had the Space Jump, and from there... well, there was a lot of gradual rebuilding my arsenal from there. You know, like a Metroid game, only the sequence is random, which I guess is literally what a randomized Metroid run. Wow, I'm smart.

Anyway, the random element sort of fades to the background the closer you get to the endgame, because once you have basically everything anyway, does the path you took to get there really matter? Still, even the endgame had a surprise or two because holy crap they weren't kidding about having rebalanced (and dramatically improved) the Omega Metroid battles since 1.0. You know how one of my complaints in the last COMPLETE entry was that they were too much of a damage sponge with "you can figure out all the patterns and everything but they still take like 20 Super Missiles to kill" fake difficulty? Never mind.

I did notice a bug, though: When you get 100% completion, you should have 118 Missiles, 10 Super Missiles, and 10 Power Bombs (because 2 Missiles/1 Super Missile/1 Power Bomb per expansion on Hard, rather than 5/2/2) plus 10 Energy tanks. I got every item in the game, I did in fact get 100%... but I still only had 9 Energy Tanks. I did, however, have 120 Missiles. Clearly one of the Energy Tanks became an extra Missile expansion instead. Oops. Still, that's minor, and my 100% still counted.

I'm glad I did this run, because I got to experience what was definitely a new play style and new feel to this game, and also because getting to write another COMPLETE entry gives me a chance to point out some things I missed last time. Specifically, did you know how awesome the music is in this remake? Seriously, whoever turned this into this is a miracle worker.

Also, one criticism I've noticed of the AM2R remake specifically is that it makes the caverns feel less oppressive. Yes, the original Game Boy music is terrible, but people in comments report that it gives you a sort of sense of gloom, being lost and utterly alone in this environment (which is technically true in any Metroid game but this one makes you feel like it,) and they regret that that feeling is missing in the new version with the improved music. To which I say... not really? Actually, if anything, this game does a better job making you feel lonely just by repeatedly teasing the possibility that you might not be, except oops never mind you totally are. You can stumble across not one but two instances of wrecked and deserted research outposts where maybe there were people here about a month ago but there are very obviously no survivors now. The one time you do find actual living people, they're mid-battle with the first Omega Metroid, who promptly slaughters them all. Like, I knew you weren't going to find a living NPC and have a conversation or any sort of text with anyone because it's Metroid, so obviously none of those leads were going to pan out, but I would argue that getting your hopes up like that does a lot more to make you feel isolated than having to listen to this.

I know AM2R is kind of all the rage these days in my friend circle--[personal profile] xyzzysqrl just did her own complete entry on it, and [personal profile] xaq_the_aereon has been all over it for some time now--but Sqrl's entry is right: this is a fully professional grade release, even surpassing the actually-official and professional Zero Mission, and you really owe it to yourself to check it out. Of course, you legally can't after Nintendo shut the project down, but... well, my morals are more or less in line with the Extra Credits stance on game piracy, where availability is the one true above-all-else threshold for determining whether it's okay. If Nintendo somehow changed their minds, reached out to and worked with the developers, and either partnered for an official release or even just let them make an official release, you'd better believe I'd be the first in line to give them money for this because holy hell do they deserve it. But obviously that's never going to happen, so, you know, fine, go play this really outstanding game by the one means you actually can.
kjorteo: Ukiyo-e woodcut-style portrait of a Skarmory. (Skarmory: Ukiyo-e)
Oh thank God that one's done. My clear file only has about 10 hours on it, but don't let that deceive you; this one has been plaguing me for years due to a combination of me treating it like a low-priority smartphone time-waster that never ends (think PathPix) and because it's absurdly hard whenever I do get around to poking at it.

Solar 2 is... uh... kind of hard to describe, honestly, but it's more or less an infinite galactic sandbox, with missions. You are anything from a lowly asteroid to a small planet to a life-bearing planet to a star to several stars and/or bigger star(s) to a black hole. The higher forms are achieved by gaining mass, but once you become something once, you can respawn as that from the menu at any time. That alien-looking guy there is... well, he's never referred to by name in game but external sources such as walkthroughs call him The Entity, so let's go with that. The Entity has a bunch of errands for you to run at your leisure depending on what you are at the time, and most of them are incredibly tricky bouts of dexterity. (Example: one of the Planet missions is to go to a nearby solar system and knock all the orbiting asteroids off each individual planet--done by getting just close enough to let them smash into you--without touching the planets themselves. With gravity physics factoring in, like everything in this game, this is much harder than it sounds.)

The save feature doesn't keep track of a state or snapshot or anything; rather, it auto-saves the list of which missions you've cleared, and you can manually save your solar system once you reach star level and have one. So, if I'm a medium-size star and have two planets orbiting me, and just finished getting enough mass for one that it evolved to a life planet, I can save that system. When I go to reload it, I'll just lose control of whatever I was controlling at the time, the camera will zoom over a bit, and land on what is suddenly and conveniently an exact replica of whatever I saved (in this case, a medium star with two planets, one of which has life. It even keeps track of exact mass and how close you are to the next phase!)

All in all, it's a fun little fly-around-and-do-whatever sim, or it would be if anything involving the Entity wasn't so hard.

The earlier missions are impossible feats of dexterity, as previously mentioned. The later missions, once you're a solar system, are... well... grindy. When the mission is to go fight and destroy a system that has a medium-sized star and four life planets (life planets spawn ships loyal to that system that fire on their enemies, and also give the central star(s) shields) then all you can really do to make that fight winnable is fly around and absorb stuff until you are a large-sized star with six life planets. (You'll probably lose most of them in the fight anyway, but at least if you win it will save the achievement and then you can respawn as your saved system to get everything back such back.)

By the time I actually cleared the final mission, I was a connected system of nine stars (three medium, six large) with eight planets, all of which had life, thus shielding my entire system. And getting to that point... ugh. At least you can sometimes be lucky and catch a free-floating life planet if you encounter one and you have room, but the only way to gain additional stars in the same system is to evolve orbiting life planets into them, which means flying around carefully enough near asteroid fields that that particular planet catches a few in its orbit, so you can absorb them for mass. I wasn't going for the Grind Star achievement (a forty star system!? haha fuck you) but even getting to the nine-star/eight-planet one to beat the last mission still involved a lot of play that looked like this.

There are tons of achievements and such to get even after clearing the game, and you can always just work on building up your system for the fun of it, but... no, I've grinded enough in this game thank you.
kjorteo: Scan from an old Super Mario Bros. comic,, of King Koopa explaining something to his son with an 8U facial expression. (Koopa: 8U)
This is mostly just behind-the-scenes recordkeeping, but technically I officially crossed something off the list which means it gets a post.

Last Dream is a fine game--in fact, [personal profile] xyzzysqrl just beat it and did a lovely writeup of it. I concur that it's great, and I'm not even abandoning it for anything it did wrong, but....

Actually, I may as well take the time to coin/explain a term while I'm here, since I expect this will not be the last time this happens.

When Style Savvy: Trendsetters for Nintendo DS came out, I was in love. I hadn't played that series before but it was just so me in every way. I got a good ways into it... then other games came out, I got sidetracked, and it sort of faded back into the background with a half-done save file, as is usually the case for most things I play. I always wanted to go back to it someday....

Then Style Savvy: Fashion Forward for 3DS came out.

Style Savvy isn't exactly Final Fantasy: (with the exception that I actually kind of am embarrasingly into where Fashion Forward's story is going,) you generally don't play a Style Savvy game for the riveting plot specific to that particular game. Moreover, a game is going to look much like the older ones except with some improvements. Trendsetters was a fine game, I had a blast with it while it lasted, and my abandoning it was through no fault of its own... but I knew I would never touch it again, because if I really wanted to play Style Savvy, I could and probably should just play Fashion Forward instead. You know, get the new and improved version if I'm going to be playing more or less the same thing anyway.

There are some series I will zealously and perhaps irrationally insist on doing in order--I won't play Wright v. Layton until I finish Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask, which I won't even start until I finish Professor Layton and the Last Specter, which I won't even start until I finally dust off and get through my half-done file for Professor Layton and the Unwound Future. I stuck to Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Darkness even when Explorers of Sky came out because I was already like a million hours in and didn't want to start over. Sometimes, though... sometimes you see something like Last Dream: World Unknown coming out soon, and you just have to give the original Last Dream the Trendsetters treatment.
kjorteo: Screenshot from Daedalian Opus, of a solved puzzle with the text "GOOD" displayed on underneath it. (GOOD)
Another one I figured I'd power through and cross off the list because it probably wasn't very long--I mean, it's Metroid. If you take more than five hours to beat any 2D Metroid game, you're not very good at Metroid the way it's "supposed" to be played.

(Note: I am not very good at Metroid the way it's "supposed" to be played.)

AM2R (or "Another Metroid 2 Remake") is an unauthorized fan-made... well, Metroid 2 remake. It basically is to Metroid 2 what Zero Mission was to the original Metroid: take the original game, update it to around the level of SNES/GBA sensibilities, add an auto map, and add the modern equipment Super Metroid invented (Super Missiles, Power Bombs, Speed Boster, Gravity Suit, etc.) and possibly make up new sections to justify needing them.

This game does an excellent job fixing a lot of Metroid 2's issues: the world is no longer a non-Euclidean impossibility, and the Super Metroid quality of life improvements (auto-map, beams stacking instead of you only getting one at a time, etc.) are an absolute Godsend. However, there are still some gameplay issues that are sort of core to Metroid 2 itself and that the AM2R devs had to recreate, such as the "seek out and kill every Metroid on the map" mechanic being a bit repetitive and needless at times. (Again, let me just make it very clear that I'm not blaming them for this, and that this is strictly the source material's fault.)

My biggest issue is that Metroid 2 feels more authoritarian about its enforced order of exploration than some other Metroid games. Yes, every Metroid game secretly is all about only letting you progress in one area at a time, but the better ones do a good job hiding that. In a well designed Metroid game, unlocking new areas will feel like something you have the power to access now (for example, being able to reach a door on a high-up platform after you acquire the High-Jump Boots.) In a badly-designed one, it will feel like something the game is allowing you to access now (for example, as unopenable gray doors that flash and become openable when the plot says so. This is why Fusion is the worst game in the series, by the way.)

Yes, I'm setting all that up to complain about the Metroid 2 earthquakes. Come on, they were heavy-handed back then and they're heavy-handed now.

Other issues that are either AM2R's fault or that AM2R could have fixed but didn't: Some later areas have to stop to load. (The first time this happened to me, I thought my game had frozen. Fortunately I just had to give it a moment.) Backtracking can be a chore when the world map is so big and there are no Castlevania-style teleport rooms. Every single Metroid life cycle stage feels like a damage sponge when mixed with how hard they can be to hit in the first place. Even that Alpha they put right before the first Omega is still a long and careful fight when nothing else from that stretch of the game should even slow you down anymore. The knockback effect Zetas and Omegas get is a neat way to show that they're powerful/a big deal, but not when they have the power to send you flying out of their room and reset the fight. Also, the chirpy monstery sound effect when they explode sounds a lot like "Oh noooo" and now I feel bad for killing them. Thanks. :(

That being said, these are mostly minor issues, and the game is still phenomenal overall. I used to say Zero Mission was my favorite Metroid game, but AM2R easily does all that Zero Mission does and more. We'll see how my mood fluctuates after the dust has settled, but we may just have a new champion.

As a random aside, though, (and this one's not an actual complaint,) can I just point out how weird the item distribution order is in this game? It gives you the Space Jump--something that's usually an end-game item because basically you can fly--shockingly early. Instead, it jealously keeps Super Missiles, of all things, away from you until much later on. Those came in early Brinstar in Super Metroid, and seeing them promoted to near-endgame status here was unexpected. It plays with almost the entire item table like this; I had the Space Jump, Screw Attack, and even Gravity Suit before I had the Ice Beam. (Though, to be fair, once you have the Space Jump and Spider Ball and mobility isn't an issue anymore, you really only need the Ice Beam for the "freeze and then missile" Metroids.) It works, definitely. It is clearly and carefully designed around what you're meant to have at each point. It's just that what you're meant to have is so unusual compared to other games. Not a bad thing, mind you. Just... huh. Strange.

Anyway, I beat it with a clear time of 6:15:Something and an item get rate of 91%. I looked up a map to find what I was missing, but it's mostly just Missile/Super Missile/Power Bomb tanks here and there around the map. Apparently nothing special happens when you get 100%, as opposed to Zero Mission where that got you a new version of the endboss. So... eh, not really worth the backtracking, in that case. Like, I could, but it would take time and it wouldn't do anything, so whatever. I did get the obligatory "perform an extended sequence of convoluted Shinespark shenanigans just to get a missile tank" expansions, so really, it's complete enough.

Edit: Or not. Please continue on to the COMPLETE entry for AM2R (RG+/Hard Run) for more on this game as I went through it again.
kjorteo: Photo of a computer screen with countless nested error prompts (Error!)
TIS-100 is a puzzle game by Zachtronics. Much like Qrostar, that name alone should more or less tell you what you need to know. In this case, (with the apparent exception that they also made Ironclad Tactics for some reason?) "It is a Zachtronics game" means puzzle games based around outputting the correct solution to the goal by manipulating abstracted variations of worker nodes with instructions that... it's programming. The word we're looking for is "Programming." Here's how this game's nodes and instructions work, now write a program that sorts all the gems by color and puts the red ones on the right.

Zachtronics games tend to start with exceedingly simple and direct "pick up the thing from this square, move to the right, and put it down on that one" tasks, and then escalate to convoluted nightmare code like this. They also tend to have somewhat Lovecraftian stories surrounding these puzzles, like the player character is working on some sort of Lament Configuration and either their sanity or the actual world or both descend to eldritch horror as... well, as your code does. But hey, at least you can look at your cycle count/instructions and space used statistics to compare how optimized your solution is versus those of your friends and the Steam community as a whole!

So there.

TIS-100 uses the abstraction of an old-styled computer with a sort of variant of assembly language, meaning either Zachtronics just gave up even trying to hide that they're making you do their CS 222 homework or you are now somehow playing a game about coding dressed up as a game about coding. The presentation was fairly minimalist by intention as a direct result--ASCII graphics, no music--but it worked well for the general mood.

I confess that I just gave up and used a walkthrough for one particular puzzle: Sequence Sorter, the penultimate one. Now, bear in mind that I've beaten every Qrostar game, beaten every North American Lolo game and even one of the Famicom ones, hundred-percented the first two Layton games... unless it's a genre that I just don't play at all in the first place (Myst-likes, 3D physics stuff, etc.) I tend not to want to admit that any puzzle game is ever just too much puzzle for me. But making an honest to God sorting algorithm in assembly is not a puzzle game. That's an actual programming task for highly-compensated professional software engineers. In fact, I have a friend who is a highly-compensated professional software engineer, with a technical degree and a Project Lead title and everything, and even he said that's not normally something people do in assembly and, you know, maybe just go ahead and walkthrough that one. I got all the others, though, including the actual last level and even the secret hidden puzzle (the ILLEGAL_EAGLE Achievement) to make up for it. So I think that counts.

I'm not doing the user-submitted bonus content, though. I had a peek at that tab and the very first puzzle involves taking two pre-sorted input streams, merging them, sorting that, and outputting the sorted megastream.

You know what? No.

Still, this was fun, and like any Zachtronics game, it gives you a strange sense of pride and an urge to show off your solution compared to everyone else's. If coding in the arrival of the Ancient Ones sounds like fun to you... well, honestly, play SpaceChem. But if you've already played SpaceChem and loved it and just want more, you could do a lot worse in the programming-puzzle genre than this one!
kjorteo: Screenshot from Jumpman, of the player character falling to his doom, with the caption "FAIL" on the bottom. (Fail)
Oops, I swear none of this Megazeux stuff was supposed to happen. I just got a couple of the top rated games on DigitalMZX along with Megazeux itself in case I ever wanted to learn/get into Megazeux someday and reverse-engineer anything at that point. Then I went through the ones I downloaded with the intention of peeking at them just long enough to establish what kind of games they even are, before filing them away somewhere for the far distant future. Somehow that led to me accidentally beating Caverns of Zeux and briefly being sucked into this one. It ultimately wasn't my thing and I'm not going to finish it, but technically I spent longer on it before reaching that decision than I did on MANOS, so I guess it deserves a write-up too.

So Thanatos Insignia is an overhead action game that plays kind of like someone made Operation Logic Bomb in Megazeux, paired with single-screen narrations between each level about someone in the hospital trying to use some fancy computing system to model human behavior and solve why violence exists, slowly becoming more obsessed with using the system and becoming more antisocial themselves in the process. Also the levels have random and really unfitting J-pop music, I guess in case you want to feel like you're shooting aliens while playing DDR.

I wasn't really feeling the gameplay, but the story segments interested me enough to keep going... right until I got stomped by the boss of level 12 (who fights to the tune of GIGA PUDDING for some reason.) I forgot to save and I really didn't want to go through the first twelve levels again, so I poked around the data files until I found where it was storing the story bits, read through those, and called it good.

I was wondering if this game was eventually heading toward some sort of point with juxtaposing the narrative of questioning the human nature toward violence in between levels of pure "gun down every bad guy that moves" but if it did, I didn't get that far and it wasn't in the story files.

Oh, well.

Still a technically and visually impressive, well-made game if this genre speaks to you.
kjorteo: Screenshot from Daedalian Opus, of a solved puzzle with the text "GOOD" displayed on underneath it. (GOOD)
Well, that wasn't supposed to happen. I mean, it wasn't on the list or anything, and I'm trying to be good about sticking to that now. But here we are, I suppose.

Basically, I have a few game ideas kicking around, from a Lolo clone to an RPG to that (probably) not serious Mega Man X fan game, but I've been stuck for ages on 1) ahahaha like I have time to make games on top of the novel and everything else in my life, and 2) what GCS/platform would I even use, anyway? 1 is still an issue so don't expect anything to be happening soon, if ever. For 2, I was curious about Megazeux, having spent my embarrassing teen phase in the ZZT community and never actually having gotten into what the "like ZZT only more powerful and can do sorcery" side of it was like. Admittedly Fusion is probably a better idea for flexibility and making something anyone would actually play, but I figured learning MZX could serve as an interim ZZT --> MZX --> ??? step between something I actually know and something modern devs actually use.

So obviously step one was to beat Caverns of Zeux, AKA The Game That Comes With MegaZeux. (Or it did until recently, anyway, and it's still a recommended first download even if it's technically decoupled now.) ZZT has Town, MZX has Caverns. I'm sure someone from the MZX community can explain why the first game ever made for MegaZeux was Zeux 2: Caverns of Zeux, and Zeux 1: Labyrinth of Zeux didn't come out until years later. I'm also sure they've probably addressed that so many times that I'm pointing out the equivalent of the "if it doesn't scan that must mean it's free" joke. Sorry, I'm new here.

Anyway, Caverns is fairly short and simple by actual game standards--any ZZT veteran would instantly recognize this as a standard "collect the 5 Things" quest game... except that it's not. Collecting all five rainbow gems is how you clear the first area. From there, there are six more bosses, seven pendants, six crystals... it feels like a hybrid of an N64-era Rare collectathon and Wonder Boy: Fail You Have Turned Into A Furry. (Really, any game where the clear moral of the story is "Be a dragon always" is okay with me.) It's long by ZZT standards, and by that I mean it took two days to beat rather than an hour, and it's... well, cavernous.

The biggest obstacle I experienced (other than that you can Sierra-softlock your game with no warning if you go into the wrong mouse hole first) is that there is a ton of backtracking and it is frequently unclear what area you just unlocked by accomplishing whatever goal you just accomplished. Once I was in a new area, I could find my way through and beat the boss easily enough, but if the boss didn't actually give me anything except a dead end and maybe turning me into a skeleton then the sense of "okay, now what?" necessitated a walkthrough on several occasions.

Still, as an MZX pack-in it's... well, to be honest, a little daunting. Coming from ZZT to MZX, Caverns already does some fairly complicated special effects and programming tricks that kind of make me afraid to try to break into it. I mean, this looks hard already, and this is coming from someone with ZZT experience looking at a language that reviews call easy to learn and is specifically designed to be a smooth ZZT-but-better transition. And that's for Caverns, which is, again, the Town of MegaZeux. If this is anything like ZZT, well, eventually the ZZT community hit a point where games that looked like Town weren't even allowed on Z2 anymore; the entire community had advanced so much that "your game must at least use STK I mean come on" was kind of a benchmark. If this is Baby's First MZX game, what do real MZX games look like nowadays?

(Answer: Like this or this, apparently. Holy fuck this was a bad idea.)
kjorteo: Glitched screenshot from Pokémon Yellow, of Pikachu's portrait with scrambled graphics. (Pikachu: Glitch)
Someone please explain to me why I've spent the better part of this week painstakingly designing (and sometimes kicking ideas around and co-designing) Mega Man X fangame bosses.

I mean, I know why; I was made aware of the existence of Mega Man X Corrupted, and the boss list (click "Villians") seemed like kind of a letdown to me. Subsequent conversation about it with [personal profile] xyzzysqrl led me down the road of "okay but what kind of bosses would I like to see in my theoretical game" and my imagination sort of took off from there.

But why.

Like, obviously I don't know the first thing about actual game creation and I'm not going to learn an entirely new medium and start a years-long creative endeavor just for a Mega Man X fan game. I knew that this wasn't going anywhere even as I started brainstorming. And yet I somehow wound up with a full roster of eight bosses, including how their weapons work, the full loop of which ones are weak to which weapons, and even some stage and boss battle ideas and their character backstories, the beginnings of an overall plot (needs work obviously) and a couple endings....

Apparently I don't have enough for my imagination to do while I'm at work, nor do I have enough to do with any of the actual stories I'm supposed to be working on.

The life of a... me, I guess. (In my defense, the ideas we came up with are pretty cool at least.)

Also, six of the eight bosses started off as a conversational IM wisecracks like "So what would a bird be weak against, anyway?" "... Windows?" "Ha, ha. Smartass. ... Wait. Shit. Make it mirrors and this could actually work...." And seven of them are still better furbait than most of MMXC.
kjorteo: Screenshot from Daedalian Opus, of a solved puzzle with the text "GOOD" displayed on underneath it. (GOOD)
Hoo boy do I have a lot to cover on this one. I love this game's story to pieces but it has so many issues in execution. It's the sort of game I absolutely could not put down on any given run (except one, which we will cover shorty,) but between runs I shelved it for months to almost years at a time because the thought of slogging through it all again was just... sigh. It lives right on the edge where if the story weren't as amazing as it was, I'd never have put up with all the glaring design issues and this would have been an ABANDONED entry instead. Of course, if the design issues weren't so horrible, maybe it wouldn't have taken me so long to get through this game which I did ultimately like.

Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors (or 999 for short) is a visual novel with miniature point-and-click room escape sequences in between stretches of pure reading. You play the role of Junpei, an ordinary college student and one of the titular Nine Persons who have all been kidnapped and forced to play their way through this twisted puzzle escape sequence on a very-slowly-sinking ship. Each Person has a number assigned to them from 1 to 9. Because of "it would take forever to explain" plot contrivances, the Persons must get through a series of numbered doors which will only open for sub-groups of no smaller than 3 but no larger than 5 Persons, and only if the digital root of the Persons in the sub-group equals the number on the door.

Digital Roots are when you add up a bunch of numbers, and if the sum is greater than 10, treat each digit as another number and add those up, until you're left with a single-digit number. For example, the group of Persons 1, 4, and 9 could get through door 5, because (1+4+9) = 14 and (1+4) = 5. The game is completely obsessed with digital roots and even gives you a automatic tool specifically to calculate them.

Junpei is Person 5. Person 6 (code name June) is an old childhood friend he hadn't seen since elementary school, and every other Person in the cast is a complete stranger. The cast must get to know each other and work together to solve puzzles and escape with their lives, all while working on the mystery of who kidnapped them, why them, and why this game. The overall plot is phenomenal, and no matter how much I hated the actual gameplay at times, I cared deeply about this mystery and I always wanted to know what happened and what it all meant, and that was what kept me coming back through... well....

Like I said, there are a lot of issues that drag the otherwise stellar experience down. I've been waiting to write this entry so I can rant about them pretty much since I started this project, so buckle up. Heavy spoilers, by the way.

Read more... )

Whew. Okay. So. That was easily the longest entry in this series I've ever done, if not one of the longest entries I've ever written period. I've been in a love-hate relationship with this game for years and I had so much I wanted to get off my chest now that I'm finally done. But... oh, God. It's over, both the game and this writeup. It's over. I... this is the most relieved I've felt to have finished a game since my Dagger of Amon Ra Let's Play.

It was a good game, though.

kjorteo: Uncomfortable Bulbasaur portrait from Pokémon Mystery Dungeon. (Bulbasaur: Uncomfortable)
I'm going to start using this thing again more after LiveJournal went... uh. Well, you know.

While I was fussing with all that, I went back and found some of my very first LiveJournal entries. I still have all my entries, but I banished the really old ones to the private-only Shadow Realm ages ago.

"But Celine, why would you do that?"


Anyway, apologies for any post floods that may happen over the next few days; I'm not exactly sure how the importing feature works as I haven't done it since like 2013. Eager to make this place my home once more, though!
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