Oldies but Goodies – Duck Hunt

Genre:  Arcade
Platform:  NES

I think most of us played Duck Hunt the day we got our new NES back in the day.  It was the “B” side of the dual-game cartridge that came with the system.  Super Mario Brothers was the star, but Duck Hunt was certainly a pleasant surprise.  The NES came with a gun attachment, so you could actually shoot at the screen and kill the ducks!  This amazed me as a sixth-grader.

When you start playing, your dog buddy rustles up the weeds and up fly some ducks.  It starts easy enough – you see one duck at a time and you only need one shot to take them down.  As the game goes on, you get more ducks at once and they get a bit tougher.  I’m not sure how many levels there were, but I really enjoyed this one.  If you’re like me, though, it didn’t take you too long to realize that you could cheat by taking the gun straight to the TV screen.  I didn’t do that often, though, as there was a lot more fun in the challenge of the game.

And admit it, you aimed and shot at the dog when the he laughed at you when you missed.

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Genre:  RPG
Platform:  SNES

I had never heard of nor played Earthbound when it was out for the SNES.  It’s too bad I hadn’t, as this little gem goes for upwards of $200 for the cart only on Ebay now.  I decided to see what all the hype is about.

I found the ROM online some time ago and I’m playing it on my GCW Zero.  I’m not too far into the game, but it’s certainly not as I expected.  Based on the box art, I expected maybe a hardcore Japanese-inspired mech game.  This is almost the exact opposite.  You play as a kid who is trying to find out what a mysterious “meteorite” is that landed not too far from your house.  That’s about as far as I am into the story right now.

I will say that the kid’s parents in this game should get a nod for “worst parents of the world”.  At one point, I went to talk to the mother and she gave me some sarcastic response like “yeah, you’re cool, whatever…”.  What?  They also don’t seem to care that you are running around the town in the middle of the night and trying to interfere with police investigations.  Whatever.

I do look forward to seeing what else this game has in store for me.  Please, if you’ve played it, no spoilers!

Earthlock – Festival of Magic

Genre:  RPG
Platform:  XBone

One of last month’s Games with Gold (free) was Earthlock, Festival of Magic.  I had never heard of it before, but I figured I would give it a shot.  This is really a solid game.  I’m probably about 50% done and I hope to finish it.  This is a game which gives a nod to classic JRPGS (Japanese Role-Playing Games) in that the combat is turn-based and you travel the world on a highly zoomed-out map.  You can fast travel once you find the fast travel books.

The combat is a lot of fun.  As stated, it’s turned-based, which means that each of your party members takes a turn attacking, as do the enemies.  Before each of your players’ turns, you decide what they are going to do.  Each character has two stances, usually an offensive and supportive role for magic users and two different types of combat styles for your melee.  You have some choice in how many enemies you can take on at once based on the main map, but not always.  The more you take on at once, the higher xp you get, which is used to level up and get more abilities and strength.

There is also a small crafting system.  You rarely get seeds from boss mobs, which you can plant and cultivate.  Each one gives you something useful for ammo or different types of attacks.  You’ll do quite a bit of farming as it is a necessary part of the game, but I found it a nice break between long trips on the road.

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There are boss mobs which can be really challenging.  Be prepared to grind a bit for xp in this game.  I enjoyed it and felt that it was a throw back to older games.  You have to work to progress in this game and it feels rewarding.  This game is getting some negative reviews as a result, but I wouldn’t listen to that.  You also have to be quite careful about your save points as it’s not very forgiving in that area.  Save, save, save.

Leveling up is fun.  You have a tech tree of sorts which lets you add new attributes that you either craft or find out of chests or bosses.  Customization is strong in this game.  There are also little parts of the game that I find fun such as bestiary tracking.  You’ll also play around with the pairing of your characters as well.  Each has their own strengths and weaknesses, but you also get bonuses for bonding two characters together.  Your party is four characters, but you pair two groups together for this bonding.

I would recommend playing this game.  It felt pretty retro, the story is compelling, the graphics are nice and there’s enough variety in the game play and dungeons to make each area feel fresh.

 

 

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I am fairly new to the PSP.  I didn’t get one until about a year ago and I never played it when I was younger.  However, I’m finding that this is a really solid system and I’m getting to play games that I completely missed out on.  I’ve got a small collection and growing, but in looking at the prices of these great games on Ebay and Amazon, I’m astonished at how cheap they are.  It’s not uncommon to get solid games such as Patapon, Gran Turismo, Crazy Taxi and more for $5 or less.  It’s like a garage sale online!

If you’re looking into collecting some games, I would recommend looking here.  Even the higher-end games for the system, like some of the more rare RPGs, don’t exceed $25 for a CIB (complete in box) version of the game.  Compare this to the Nintendo DS games.  For some of the more rare games or uber-popular games like Pokemon Soulsiver/Heartgold, Solatorobo or Dark Spire, expect to shell out $75 or more.  Luckily I started collecting that system shortly after it was discontinued, so I got in fairly cheap.  Now’s your time to do that with the PSP as well.

It also seems to be a great time to collect the XBox original games, although I don’t really have a desire to do so.  I know the PSP is technically mini CDs, but I much prefer to collect the cartridge games.  They can’t be scratched and just seem to last a lot longer.

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October is bringing some good games to us for free through Microsoft’s Games with Gold.  Here they are:

-Mega Baseball.  I don’t know much about it other than it’s a baseball game.  I am a fan of baseball, and since MLB (Major League Baseball) seems to have an exclusive contract with Playstation, I don’t get to play many on the XBox.  Any baseball game is welcomed.

-The Escapists.  I am a big fan of Prison Architect, where I’ve spent so much time trying to keep my prisoners in, that I think that a game where you try to break out will be a lot of fun.  This one has been on my radar for some time.

-MX ATV Reflex.  I have a couple of these games that came with my PSP, but I’ve never played them.  I’ll probably pick this up as a “when I’m bored” type of game.

-I Am Alive.  I had heard about this one a long time ago but then forgot about it.  It’s a survival game, which is a genre I haven’t really gotten into.  I’ll pick it up just because it’s free.

As for last month’s games, I have been hooked on Earthlock and you’ll likely see a post about it before too long.

 

Stinkers – Sim City (2013)

Genre:  Simulation
Platform:  PC

As I stated in my last post, I am a fan of city builders and Sim City.  I liked Sim City original, Sim City 2000, Sim City 3000 and Sim City 4.  So, naturally, I was really excited for Sim City (2013) and even pre-ordered it, as did my husband.

We picked it up on launch day, installed it and…didn’t get to play it.  This game was an online-only game at the time, and Origin’s servers were overcrowded and down half the time.  This was an omen of things to come.  To their credit, about a year later, they did create an offline mode, so if you’re (or their) internet is down, you can still play.

Once we started playing, we were having fun.  The game does do a lot of things right.  I can’t say this is the worst game that I’ve played, but there were some things that killed it for me.  Let’s start with the good.  The graphics are great and you can zoom in to street level.  It helps you feel more a part of your city.  Your citizens also ask you for help from time to time and you get rewards for doing so.  You have a nice selection of each item to build – for example, there are several different types of parks to add, all with their own rewards.  You have another type of road to add, a multi-lane street (non-highway) which can be nice for traffic reasons.  There are a myriad of special buildings to build.  Overall, this still feels like SimCity, and that’s a good thing.

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Now for the bad things.  First, you are severely limited in your plot size.  Their biggest size is way too small.  This was the killer for me.  I liked to make large, sprawling cities in the previous games.  There are so many things to build, but you just won’t have room for half of them.  Next, water is always a problem.  You can still build pumps and water towers, but now the water depletes at a level that I felt was unrealistic.  Yes, this is a problem that real cities face, but let me have some fun, too.  Before 200 years, one of my cities was bone dry.  Finally, pollution is also a constant problem.  I had to destroy a lot of my buildings to make room for more trash facilities (see the small map size issue).

If you don’t mind the small city sizes, then you might enjoy this.  It was just too crippling for my play style, so I can’t say that I would recommend this game to anyone.

Oldies but Goodies – Sim City

Genre:  Simulation
Platform:  PC

Sim City has been around for so long that I played this in 7th grade.  My school actually used this game to teach us about local government and city planning.  I was hooked immediately and spent a ton of time playing Sim City original, often referred to now as Sim City classic.  There have been many city builders since this one, but it was the original.

The graphics were basic, but the depth of the game was impressive.  We were introduced to the three most common zones – industrial, commercial and residential.  It was just those three, but the foundations were there.  Residential folks didn’t like living next to industrial, you didn’t want to overdo the commercial, etc.  Traffic was an issue, as it has been in every Sim City game to date, you needed to be careful with your fire station placement as it was critical and you NEVER removed funds from transportation or your advisor would get pretty angry.

The disasters actually made this one fun, too, as you didn’t have to have YEARS of recovery efforts to re-build.  I always enjoyed making a UFO attack or have a violent earthquake ravage my city.  It was so easy just to plop a new square down and watch it upgrade fairly quickly.

I still adore this game and play it from time to time.  Its relative simplicity compared to the games that followed is refreshing, but it’s still a satisfying game.  You can find this game online through free download or web-based pages.  If you’ve not played this one before or for a long time, go back and do so!