What’cha Been Playin’? June 2016

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Similar to May, most of my gaming time was spent going through an Uncharted game, specifically Uncharted 3: Drake’s Mediocre Story. I want to write something about Uncharted 3’s story, so I won’t spend too much time on that. Fortunately, Naughty Dog offered plenty more to talk about, little of it good.

I touched the rest of the games, but didn’t invest anywhere as much time with those as I had with Uncharted 3. I’m pretty sure that makes me a sadist.

Fire Emblem Fates: Birthright // Nintendo 3DS

Should he marry the klutzy maid or the woman with bloodlust? No, wait, the latter can’t marry anyone but the avatar. That’s one less potential mate on the table, leaving only the maid. Should the leader of an entire country marry a maid? Does it matter? I mean, it’s just a game.

Although the strategy gameplay continues to be Fire Emblem’s main draw, ensuring that everyone marries is still an important factor since additional characters are born from those relationships. If that country’s leader doesn’t marry someone, his son will never exist in my game, robbing me of a whole bunch of great conversations between units.

So I spend a stupid amount of time arranging marriages for fictional characters in a video game. This is my life.

Mario Kart 8 // Wii U

Thanks to the wonders of Nintendo embracing the internet, my father (residing in Florida) and I (in Michigan) are able to enjoy some quality time tossing Koopa shells and Chomp-Chomps at each other in Mario Kart 8. However, where this is the fifth Mario Kart I’ve played, this is his first. He’s not great, and it doesn’t help that he doesn’t know how to drift, depriving him of speed boosts that can help him leave the computer-controlled competitors in the dust where they belong.

I will say this: he’s getting better. Where earlier races saw him unable to cross the finish line before the majority of racers, he’s now ending races between the middle of the pack or towards the front. He’s not ready to face other people online, though. That’s like tossing someone into the deep end, infested with sharks and blue shells.

Rock Band 4 // Xbox One

Nobody in my family, including me, can sing. Yet that’s somehow not a problem in Rock Band 4.

With the humidity is making drums a health concern (how much sweat can a person lose before they die?), I’ve turned to the microphone. Surprisingly, I’m earning not only five stars, but the Expert-only Gold Stars. Now, this isn’t American Idol. RB4 doesn’t grade me on my actual singing abilities, but merely matching the vocal pitch, which can still be a challenge.

Where I’m somewhat able to sing Bon Jovi or Don McLean songs without killing myself, my voice was never designed to emulate Brian Johnson (of AC/DC), Axl Rose (of Guns N’ Roses), or Freddie Mercury (of Queen). Trying to reach those high tones actually hurts my throat. Similarly, singers with lower voices is perhaps more of a challenge as I’m unable to lower my voice to that register.

Still, I’m somehow having an easier time succeeding at songs, which makes singing more of a blast. I wasn’t able to finish “Paradise by the Dashboard Light” from Meat Loaf before, but I can now, and let me say that the final third is too much fun (and contains some of my favorite lyrics in a song).

Rocksmith 2014 // Xbox 360

Ah, one of those games I toss in every few months with the aspirations of playing at least one song on my neglected guitar, but scamper away with a difficulty spike that leaves me frustrated and dispirited. Turns out that learning guitar is challenging. Who knew?

Fortunately, I may have found the right song with “Ball and Chain” by Social Distortion, which I downloaded in Rocksmith 2014’s in-game store. Most of the song is jumping between three simple chords, at least so far, none of them annoying (like barre chords). The only part that I still haven’t gotten a grip of is the outro, requiring that I hit two notes (simple) followed by bending a third. Excluding the silly mistake of accidentally hitting the wrong note, I have a bigger problem.

I can’t bend notes. No, I can, but not enough for Rocksmith to recognize, and this is a problem that’s plagued me since the original Rocksmith. Frustratingly, the in-game directions don’t help. So I keep trying because those bends in the outro are my big problem in a otherwise fun and frustration-free song.

Tokyo Mirage Sessions ♯FE // Wii U

I love Tokyo Mirage Sessions partly because they took what everyone expected (Fire Emblem in Tokyo! or Shin Megami Tensei with FE combat!) and went in a completely different, unique direction that does feel more Shin Megami Tensei than Fire Emblem. I mean, Atlus developed it, so it’s not unexpected that Tokyo Mirage Sessions would feel more like another SMT spin-off than something by Intelligent Systems.

I’ve only played through the prologue, so I’m still considerable early. I’m enjoying the battle system, which employs the elemental weaknesses of SMT and the Weapon Triangle from Fire Emblem. Use a special attack on an enemy that’s weak to it does extra damage, as expected, but characters are also able to learn abilities that say, for instance, they’ll attack if their ally uses a specific special. So if my person uses a lightning special and the other character has a skill for that, she’ll also attack, adding more damage.

It’s an interesting way to join two similar systems together, where it would’ve been too easy to just have allies and enemies weak to both elements and weapons without any sort of interplay between the systems.

Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception // PlayStation 3

I pushed through the entirety of Uncharted 3 over the course of June, and my conclusion is that I don’t like it. Uncharted 2 is definitely superior, but Uncharted 3 repeats many of the same sins, along with coming up a few of its own. The shooting still isn’t as satisfying as it should be, and many enemies are too happy to walk towards Nathan. I assume that’s so the player will be forced to either run elsewhere for cover or use melee while the guy’s buddies shoot your ass.

It’s illogical that these people (even the heavily armored ones) would risk their lives by walking towards a guy with a gun whose killed about a billion (rough estimate) of your friends. That’s even more true with the pirates, whose stake in this story is thin. After a certain point, why would they continue fighting Nathan? To avenge lost comrades? Just let Nathan reach his goal and go. What do the pirates care if they were paid to stop him? They’re pirates.

Warning: language.

As I mentioned in the introduction to this What’cha Been Playin’?, I didn’t care for the story. I mean, I had issues with Uncharted 2’s story (like how the antagonist was one-dimensional), but 3’s story is worse from the start. I hope to write a bit about that, so I’m not going to elaborate here. I’m happy to have finally completed Uncharted 3, and I hope to never play it again.

Valkyria Chronicles Remastered // PlayStation 4

Bloody hell, do I love this game. I loved Valkyria Chronicles when it hit PlayStation 3 eight years ago, and I love it just the same now. It’s a beautiful game with wonderful and unique gameplay. Valkyria Chronicles is among my top five favorite games ever, standing alongside Yoshi’s Island and Super Metroid. I will take any and every chance to push people into playing this underappreciated gem.

Everything I wrote about VC Remastered in last month’s What’cha Been Playin’? still applies. Unless you’ve never played Valkyria Chronicles or just love Trophies, there’s no need to play the PS4 version over the others… Except that it’s a terrific game that never gets as much attention as it deserves.

That and because our chances of getting the upcoming Valkyria: Azure Revolutions in the West are likely tied to sales of Remastered.

Zero Time Dilemma // Nintendo 3DS

You start the game by flipping a coin and deciding which side is facing up. Win and the characters are granted their freedom, leading to the credits. If you’re that lucky (as I was), you’ll be seeing names go by within minutes of starting the game. Get the coin toss wrong and the game continues.

Having already unlocked the “you win the coin toss” ending, I jumped in and intentionally chose wrong. Because that’s the only way to experience the bulk of the game.

I’m not much further, partly because this series intimidates me. The puzzles in the past two games were often too difficult for me, which killed my progress until I ran to GameFAQs or just quite the game (as was the case with Virtue’s Last Reward). I suppose that I don’t want to suffer through that again, despite ultimately enjoying most of the game. It’s just one of those handful of puzzles that hurt.

One thought on “What’cha Been Playin’? June 2016

  1. Pingback: HyperBitHero: “Talbot (Uncharted 3) – Devious Intent” | namevah

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