Archive for the ‘Chronological Challenge’ Category

Chronological Challenge Update – 31st January 2017

January 31, 2017 3 comments

Hello! This is going to be an update on the last two weeks of my Chronological Challenge since I didn’t get around to doing an update last week. So there’s gonna be a lot here. Enjoy!

Game 1 – Silent Hill 4: The Room
(Konami, PS2, Released: June 2004)

Guys, I’m sorry. I just couldn’t do it. Numerous “worlds” later and my interest fell off completely. I found myself switching between boredom and irritation every step of the way, and by the time I reached the Hospital World, I’d had enough. Not enough to make me care about most of the cast, and an endlessly unintuitive structure and enemies that serve to just be irritating over being scary, and I just had to put the controller down.

Silent Hill 4 remains unfinished but good lord, do I not want to try and change that. So I moved down my list to the next game…

Game 1 (replacement) – Sly 2: Band of Thieves
(SCE / Sucker Punch, PS2, Released: September 2004)

Ah, this is much better. I’ve beaten Sly 2 before (should be obvious considering I made this video) so I’m aiming for the full collection of clue bottles and treasures dotted about the various worlds.

Sly 2 is such an enjoyable game. I love a good sneaky game, and Sly 2 does an excellent job of bringing stealth into a 3D platformer. Obviously, I’d beaten Sly Cooper & The Thievius Raccoonus (or Sly Raccoon, as the EU version was titled for some reason) prior to this, but Sly 2 takes the stuff that made the first game great – fun stealth mechanics, fluid controls, likeable characters – and expanded the game out into bigger areas and longer, tougher missions. The first game’s problem was that it could be breezed through in mere hours, and Sly 2 is a much meatier affair.

In the course of two weeks I’ve made it to the second chapter of Prague, which I believe is chapter 5. Paris was straightforward and I breezed through it, taking down Dimitri in the process. The two India levels proved trickier, especially in the second one when I had to bug Rajan’s office with a literal bug that screams if it’s out of water for too long, and some severe issues with trying to steal from Rajan after shooting him with sleep darts because guards kept spawning right in my path all the goddamn time.

The first Prague level was a bit more relaxed, although being stuck playing Bentley for the first few missions was not the most enjoyable thing in the world. But otherwise, doing pretty well!

Game 2 – Final Fantasy X-2
(Square Enix, PS2, Released: March 2003 in Japan)

Despite my valiant efforts to push for 100%, I could feel my resolve falling off for this. I wanted to quickly breeze through the final couple of quests and finally end the game, but I hit a snag.

I progressed through the first few floors of Via Infinito, the big scary ultimate dungeon, and grabbed the final Crimson Spheres I needed for my trip back to Mushroom Rock Road. That went well, and I went to Mushroom Rock and entertained the Youth League with their fighting tournament for a while, then ventured to the Den of Woe on the lower level and used my Crimson Spheres. The spooky adventures in there went surprisingly well, and (SPOILERS) battling my party members didn’t go too badly because, fortunately, the game doesn’t seem to draw from your setup and instead goes with an easy pre-determined setup.

So that was nice. But what wasn’t was returning to Via Infinito in order to complete that. It was all going well until I got to Cloister 80, where a boss called Chac awaits. It’s fast, it’s got a lot of health, and it likes to petrify your party. Easy, I thought. I’d read about the “Cat Nip trick”, where equipping an accessory called Cat Nip allows her to do 9999HP damage with every attack, regardless of defence while in Critical. On a Gunner (Yuna’s default class) it’s practically lethal, as her Trigger Happy ability allows for about 12-15 hits in one go, depending on how quickly you can hammer the R1 button. Put that next to some protection against Petrify and we’re all good, right?

OH HO no not at all. For some unknown reason, Chac’s Stone Glare completely bypasses Ribbon and Stoneproof. Oh, and Chac likes to speedily smash a party member almost as soon as she gets petrified, removing her from the battle entirely. As in, impossible to use a Phoenix Down to revive her. Cue multiple hasty fumbles as I try and chop its health off before everyone dies but everyone is smashed to bits in an instant.

It was at this point that my impatience just took over. I could see no reasonable way to beat this boss, and I’d honestly gotten tired of holding up my overall challenge with FFX-2. As much as I love the game, I felt it was time to move on. And so I started…

Game 2 (replacement) – Rollercoaster Tycoon 3: Platinum!
(Atari / Frontier Developments, Steam, Released: October 2004)

As a kid, I played the hell out of Theme Park, although at the time the business side of the simulation went completely over my head. Eventually I stopped playing it, but was still kind of interested in playing a theme park building simulator over the years. Eventually, a few years ago, I decided to go ahead and buy Rollercoaster Tycoon 3, a beloved theme park builder that I figured would be worth a try. It just took me a while to get around to playing it properly.

For those who don’t know, each scenario of Rollercoaster Tycoon’s Career Mode has three challenge levels – Apprentice, Entrepreneur and Tycoon. Each has their own criteria which varies from level to level. In the first level, the criteria was increasing the park’s value and getting a specific number of people through the front gate.

And my haphazard approach to theme park management has been consistently paying off, as I have been breezing through the scenarios.

  • Vanilla Hills? Done through overcharging everyone and creating a loose aquatic theme in one corner with an aquarium and a dolphin show.
  • Goldrush? Cocked up my rollercoaster design every single time and reloaded a bunch until I was satisfied.
  • Checkered Flag? Basically did very little but please the one VIP who was important to the challenge.
  • Box Office? Frantically hired ALL THE JANITORS IN THE WORLD to clean up the masses of vomit that the previous owners had left for me and then got upset when the VIP, who really wanted to visit a rollercoaster, completely ignored my rollercoaster.
  • Fright Night? Built and deleted a series of rollercoasters that I felt met the challenge criteria and then didn’t, and then sat around for ages waiting for my money to fill just to by the single rollercoaster design that fit the challenge criteria but cost roughly four million dollars to build.
  • Go with the Flow? Initially built a really nice rowboat route that everyone complained about and ignored so my feelings were hurt. Eventually beat the scenario but remained deeply, deeply hurt about that rejection of my little rowboats.
  • Broom Lake? Yelled at my Saucer Ride and Zero G Trampoline for ALWAYS BREAKING DOWN while my inspector kept telling me to make my rollercoaster’s line shortly, which is a good plan but I can’t do it, Jeff (who I’ve just decided is his name). I just…can’t. Leave me alone.
  • Scrub Gardens, the first of the “Wild!” expansion levels? Went rather nicely but remained baffled about where the pre-placed rollercoaster’s queue actually was.

Also, I’ve taken great joy in charging people to use the toilet as a result of playing this game. So the lesson I’ve learned is that forcing to people to pay extortionate prices for their basic human needs is the path to success.

Essentially, I’m now the best at running theme parks. Alton Towers, I’m awaiting your call.

Game 3 – Pikmin 2
(Nintendo, Originally on Gamecube, playing Wii “New Play Control” version, Released: April 2004 in Japan)

My adventures through Pikmin 2 have resulted in me clearing out the Valley of Repose, Awakening Wood and Perplexing Pool, and now I find myself in the Wistful Wild.

So far, I’ve discovered I have a long road ahead of me as I need to somehow get 100 Purple Pikmin so I can get the treasure closest to the landing site – a dumbbell. That can wait, but I gathered all the other above-ground treasures, despite running into a few issues here and there, and now it’s onto the caves.

And oops, that’s not going well. Managed to lose pretty much my whole crew of reds in one fell swoop while fighting the Bulblaxes in the Cavern of Chaos, so I rushed down to the rest floor and snuck out of the back door to replenish.

Eventually cleared that cave out, and started on the Hole of Heroes, whose name always makes me imagine the gargoyles from MediEvil talking with an even more ridiculous accent. Aaaaaand I’m down to a single white Pikmin all thanks to floor 8 where everyone died. I’m the best Pikmin dad.

And that’s it for this week…er, weeks! We shall see what happens next week, especially as my recent order of Gravity Rush 2 means that one slot may get occupied by that instead of a challenge game. What about you guys? What have you all been playing? Any thoughts on my current games? Let me know down below!


Chronological Challenge Update – 18th January 2017

January 18, 2017 2 comments

Hello! It’s the second week of updates, and here’s how things are looking with my Chronological Challenge so far. And once again I’m putting it up later than I want to. Oops!

As always, possible spoilers for all the following games! (Beyond Good & Evil, Silent Hill 4, Final Fantasy X-2 & Pikmin 2) Read more…

Chronological Challenge Update – 11th January 2017

January 11, 2017 2 comments

Hello! So, I sure went quiet for a while there, didn’t I? (My 2016 “awards” being an exception, of course) Things went a bit wonky over on the BTPF YouTube channel thanks to a million technical errors (that are thankfully now ironed out) but that plus some personal issues led me to just abandoning a lot of my creative pursuits.

But with the BTPF Advent Calendar done and dusted over on the channel, and since it’s a new year, it’s time to start getting back into things.

And I’ve been doing some thinking. I’ve enjoyed doing my Chronological Challenge reviews, but honestly, I’m so far behind on them that trying to catch up is proving to be more of a chore than anything else. As of the last posted review, I’d gotten up to the start of 2001. But as will become obvious from this post, I’m on the end of 2003 and the start of 2004 in reality. There are 42 games between my review status and my current play status, and that’s a lot to catch up on, and honestly, I don’t feel like doing it.

I’d like to change tactics though. I’ve recently been following LightningEllen’s Conquering the Gaming Backlog blog, and I’ve really been enjoying her weekly roundups of progress, and I’d quite like to do something similar. It’s less formal, more conversational, and it’s something I can do once a week and cover a lot of ground and opinions of games as I play them, rather than trying to round up each game as I finish it and offering an in-depth opinion on it. Especially as, for some of the less exciting games, I struggle to go in-depth!

So, starting right now, I’m shamelessly stealing Ellen’s idea and doing a weekly Sunday update to share my thoughts on my Chronological Challenge thus far. Admittedly, it’s not Sunday when this goes up but let’s pretend it is. As for 2001 up to what won’t be covered of 2003, I might do quickfire roundup posts on those years at some point soon.

But let’s finally bring things up to speed. It’s 2017, and I’d spent the last week of 2016 catching up on games I’d missed from that year, putting the challenge temporarily on hold. But this week I decided to change things up for the new year. The way I’ve been playing games has been to alternate between two games, in the hopes that shorter games can be gotten through while I’m slogging through a big game. It’s been largely a good system but I decided to go further. Now I’m alternating between three games. Each game is assigned a number between 1-3 and they’re played on specific days of the week – Game 1 is Monday and Thursday, and 2 and 3 follow on logically. Sundays are a “wild card” day, where I pick one of the three to continue with, whether it’s the game I’m having the most fun with, or the game I feel I need to make the most progress with. It’s an experimental system and I’ll see how it goes, but it could be interesting to see if it helps me speed my way through my massive list.

Which brings us to this week. Game 1 is currently beloved cult classic Beyond Good & Evil, Game 2 is Final Fantasy X-2 (the not-so-guilty pleasure of the FF series) and Game 3 is adorable strategy game Pikmin 2. And what a selection that is.

Oh, and spoilers ahead for all the games, because of course I’m talking about specific things I’m doing/have done. Read more…

Chronological Game Challenge – Fear Effect 2

October 25, 2016 1 comment

Hello! Sorry it’s been a little while since the last review, but I had some major computer issues that led to me buying and subsequently setting up a new system. But it inadvertently put a break between two years, as the last post was the final game of 2000, meaning today we finally start on 2001!

And we’re back on the PS1 for a moment. Oh.

Fear Effect 2: Retro Helix
Publisher: Eidos Interactive | Developer: Kronos Digital | Year: 2001
Original System: PlayStation
Played on: PS3 (PSN release)

Goal: Discover the history of the Fear Effect crew and complete the mission

Actual Outcome: Well that certainly was an ending, I guess???

The first Fear Effect was an interesting experiment of a game that tried to blend high-quality FMVs with gameplay in a new spin on the survival horror genre, in ways that didn’t always work effectively. Retro Helix, a prequel released a year later, largely sticks with that formula but tries to improve on it, with mixed results.

Read more…

Chronological Game Challenge – Dark Cloud

October 18, 2016 Leave a comment

Hello! The Chronological Challenge catchup continues, and today we reach the end of the year 2000, and coincidentally enter a new console generation at the same time. That’s if you don’t count the Dreamcast, but then again I don’t. Enjoy!

Dark Cloud
Publisher: SCE | Developer: Level-5 | Year: 2000
Original System: PlayStation 2
Played on: PS2

Goal: See how far I get in a single setting

Actual Outcome: Built the first village

And so we finally reach our first true PS2 title, and not just one that was a port from another system. Released a few months after the system’s launch in Japan, Dark Cloud was the first major title developed by Level-5, the beloved developers who would later go onto create the Professor Layton series, but their early years were dominated with cult RPGs made for Sony, including this one. Read more…

Chronological Game Challenge – Tomb Raider Chronicles

October 17, 2016 Leave a comment

With 2000 almost done, it’s time to look at one of the very last PS1 games too. It’s Lara’s last appearance on 5th gen systems, but is it any good?

Tomb Raider Chronicles
Publisher: Eidos Interactive | Developer: Core Design | Year: 2000
Original System: PlayStation
Played on: PS3 (PSN release)

Goal: Find all secrets and complete the four stories

Actual Outcome: Realised I missed a major secret early on in the second level and decided to just move on

Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation was the pinnacle of the classic series as far as I’m concerned. Core Design gathered all the things that made the series great up to that point and pieced them together into what I feel is the definitive Tomb Raider experience.

It was also clearly meant to be the last game. Lara ends the game trapped inside a tomb, presumably dead. But Eidos were having none of that. Tomb Raider was their cash cow, and they needed new games. They had annual releases, dammit, and that’s what they’re keeping!

Read more…

Chronological Game Challenge – Driver 2

October 15, 2016 Leave a comment

A bit of a shorter one today. I honestly didn’t have a lot to say about Driver 2, in all honesty. But we’re almost at the end of 2000! Two more games left after this and then we’re in 2001!

Driver 2
Publisher: Infogrames | Developer: Reflections Interactive | Year: 2000
Original System: PlayStation
Played on: PS3 (original PS1 disc)

Goal: Beat all missions

Actual Outcome: Moved on somewhere in Cuba

Driver was a title about criminal driving set in various American cities that was ultimately kind of dull and has gone on to age very badly. It had a sequel though…and it too is kind of dull and has aged very badly. Oh.

Driver 2 has made some improvements over its predecessor. First of all, the story is more coherent and easier to follow. The acting is still ropey in every way, but at least now I can properly understand what Tanner is doing as an undercover cop, and at least he resembles a human being this time rather than a doll made from matchsticks.

The environments are also a major overhaul from the first game. While the first game often felt like you were driving past grey cubes forever, this second game has cities that feel like the cities they’re supposed to be. Chicago is a gritty, cool urban environment, and the shift to Havana feels like a shift to a poorer environment with Caribbean stylings and 50s muscle cars. It’s a huge improvement to the bland environments of the first game and contributes to the world and the story feeling more vibrant.

Problem is, the core gameplay has barely improved. While the car handling is still as fun as the first game, the mission types continue to revolve around a few core ideas, and generally the times they try and break away from it, it ends up more frustrating and annoying than anything you could classify as an improvement.

Driver 2 also tries to move into GTA’s territory by letting Tanner get out of the car and steal other cars you find. Great idea in theory, but awful in practice. Tanner looks like a stickman, and his animation is so stiff and silly it feels like an afterthought (it most likely was). It also barely adds to the gameplay, as most of the time it’s used to get out and push a designated button before returning to the car. There are no real on-foot sections and the ones that are there are short and/or fairly pointless. I mean, I accept that a game called Driver isn’t exactly going to focus on ways to move around that aren’t driving, but they added it and did nothing with it.

And that’s all I really have to say about Driver 2. It’s a boring, occasionally frustrating mess of a game that barely improves on its predecessor.