Genre:  Puzzle
Platform:  Nintendo 3DS

I was doing a fairly routine “when is Picross 3D 2 coming out” search last night when I found out that it’s out and has been since September 1!  It’s been out in Japan for some time now, but because the 3DS is region locked, I could not play it without buying a Japanese 3DS.  I love this franchise, but not that much.  This game is digital only and available from the Nintendo store.  I’m a bit bummed that it’s not a full retail release, but I still get to play the game.

I immediately bought it ($30) and dug in.  I didn’t let myself get too wrapped up in it as it was a work night.  I ended up going to bed at 2:30 anyway.  There are some notable differences from the original.  The first is the addition of colors.  You no longer need to simply clear all of the blocks that aren’t there.  Now you have to mark the ones that are left and determine which color they are.  This adds an entirely new level of difficulty and makes the game more fun for me.  The other change is the shape of the figure you’re working on.  As you can see in the image above, there are now curves and differently sized lines.  This might help later on when the puzzles really get tough.

I am thoroughly enjoying it so far and didn’t feel I needed to wait to the end to post about it.  I know what I’ll be playing all weekend!

 

Nintendo sale

I just got an email from Nintendo stating that a bunch of their best games are on sale for $19.99.  This is not a bad list.  Here are some of the 3DS highlights:

  • Luigi’s Mansion – Dark Moon
  • Legend of Zelda – Ocarina of Time 3D
  • Animal Crossing – New Leaf
  • Nintendogs and Cats
  • Donkey Kong Country Returns
  • Mario Party – Island Tour
  • Yoshi’s New Island

There are also a bunch of Wii U games as well.  See their page here:

http://www.nintendo.com/nintendo-selects?eid=Selects2-3DS_833fe959643c33ebf9dfa683d4232b2b

Between games

I was really into a couple of games before I went on vacation.  I had a nice routine down and I was kicking butt.  Since I’ve gotten back, however, I seem to be in one of those dreaded times for all gamers – the between games slump.  I don’t really have a game that has my undivided attention at the moment.  A big part of this is due to my desire to watch the Olympics, which is really cutting into game time, but I also need to find that next game.

This is so frustrating to me as I have over 1000 games to play in this house.  More if you consider internet games and the GCW Zero ROMs.  But no, my brain doesn’t seem to want to latch on to any of them right now, which makes me look and feel a lot like that girl in the picture.  I do still play for maybe an hour a day, but that is a stark contrast to the six to eight I was putting in before vacation.

I just started The Witcher 3:  Wild Hunt, so we’ll see if that one sucks me in.  So far, not really.  I try to give games a few solid hours of game play before making judgement, but it’s just not cutting it yet.  Alas, I’m sure I’ll find that next one before too long.  This is also usually the time when I break out some old favorites, so I won’t be surprised if I start playing Project Gotham Racing, Diablo 3 or a city builder or simulation game.

Genre – Puzzle
Platform – XBone

Tumblestone is a puzzle game, through and through.  And it’s hard.  I think that’s what I love about this game most.  It really requires me to think in different ways as I progress.  It’s not for the faint of heart, so if you’re looking for a casual puzzle game to waste a minute or two, this might not be for you.

The goal in Tumblestone is fairly simple – clear the board of tumblestones.  However, accomplishing this can be difficult.  There are several modes of play and they each have their own challenges:

  • Story mode is the main game.  In each level, you have a board with stones in it and you just need to clear them all to advance to the next level.  Each world has 30 levels and there are 11 total.  I am currently in world 6, after playing for about 40 hours.  Each world presents you with a new twist in the game that really makes you have to learn the strategy before you can move on.  There is a story that is cute and engaging as well.
  • Multiplayer is a lot of fun.  I don’t usually play games against other people, but I happen to be pretty good at this and haven’t lost an online match yet.  There are three different types of multiplayer modes.  Battle is the hardest.  Every time an opponent clears a line, your board drops a line.  These are pretty quick matches and can be hectic.
    Puzzle Race is just that – a straight-up race to clear your board first.  The host can set rules such as modifiers and game length for all modes.
    Tug of War is my favorite of the three.  You have sections that you need to clear and as you do, other players have sections added.  This one allows for the most time to think and that’s why I like it.  I can plan ahead and then make my moves.Tumblestone play 2
  • Arcade is DLC, but I would recommend it if you find you’re liking the game.  There are three modes in Arcade.  Marathon is my favorite here, again because it gives you all the time you need to plan and play.  I’m currently top of the leaderboard on this one  🙂  I’m sure that won’t last for too long.
    Heartbeat is a never-ending scrolling board that makes you play as fast as you can.
    Infinipuzzle is also a scrolling board, but you have more time in this one.

The graphics are cute and colorful.  I honestly don’t notice the soundtrack much, so it’s just fine.  I do like the sound effects as you clear stones.  If you are looking for a moderately difficult puzzle game, then you will really like this one.

NES Mini

The gaming world is all abuzz about this new product from Nintendo.  It’s a cute mini-NES system that comes pre-loaded with 30 of Nintendo’s better games from the classic system.  It uses the original controllers (or newer third-party versions) and connects to your TV via wifi.  The price is a bit steep at $60.  I’m a little concerned at how these games will look on a 50″ TV, but I’m sure Nintendo has worked that out.  You can read the original article from Giant Bomb here.

Rumors say that we won’t be able to get our grubby hands on this until November.

Here is the list of games:

  • Balloon Fight
  • Bubble Bobble
  • Castlevania
  • Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest
  • Donkey Kong
  • Donkey Kong Jr.
  • Double Dragon II: The Revenge
  • Dr. Mario
  • Excitebike
  • Final Fantasy
  • Galaga
  • Ghosts ‘n Goblins
  • Gradius
  • Ice Climber
  • Kid Icarus
  • Kirby’s Adventure
  • Mario Bros.
  • Mega Man 2
  • Metroid
  • Ninja Gaiden
  • Pac-Man
  • Punch-Out!! Featuring Mr. Dream
  • StarTropics
  • Super C
  • Super Mario Bros.
  • Super Mario Bros. 2
  • Super Mario Bros. 3
  • Tecmo Bowl
  • The Legend of Zelda
  • Zelda II: The Adventure of Link

Genre:  Simulation/Builder
Platform:  PC, XBone

I have been playing Prison Architect on either the PC or XBone for a long time now.  I was an early adopter of the game and it’s been neat to see the changes as it neared its release.  The game has finally been officially released to both PC (Steam) and XBone.  I’ve played both versions and I’ll discuss the differences.  If this game has staying power, it may very well find its way on to my top 25.

In this game, you are the designer of a prison.  The game now has a few different modes.  I just finished story mode last night and it’s well worth the play through.  The game doesn’t hold punches on issues such as death row and the philosophies behind solitary confinement.  There were a couple of times that it actually stirred some emotion in me.  That’s good writing.

There is also Prison Warden mode, where you play pre-made prisons and clean them up.  I will be starting on this mode today, so I can’t comment on it much.  There’s World of Wardens, which allows you to download and play prisons made by other players.  I find most of these to be ridiculous and not fun.  I could do without this mode.  For me, the heart of the game is Prison Architect mode.

In this mode, you just design and build.  There are objectives you can meet if you choose to, and they give you the funding necessary to build bigger and better.  After you are satisfied with your prison, you can sell it and start a new one.  You get to keep the cash from your sale and go even bigger.

This game is not for kids, though.  The story mode is graphic and there’s quite a bit of blood and violence in the game.  The game has a surprising amount of depth, however.  You can schedule every hour of your prisoner’s day and there is a tech tree of sorts.  You hire your staff and decide how many and what types of prisoners come in each day.

Prison Architect 2

I preferred playing the game on PC.  The mouse makes it a lot easier than trying to play with a controller.  It’s also hard to read some things on my TV versus my monitor.  The PC version has a workshop on Steam, where other players made modifications to the game and you can easily download them.  I found some good ones there such as a garden.  I would recommend playing on both, however.  In fact, if you like building games, you are probably going to love this game.

Genre:  Word
Platform:  XBone

I found this game two days ago on the XBox Store.  I am already declaring it an awesome game.  I’ve spent a total of about 8 hours playing it, although it feels like a lot more.  I love a good word game and will easily get sucked into one.  This particular word game combines a typical word game with an RPG!

You start the game playing as Grimm, a little dude working his way through a monster-filled realm.  You can play in either story mode or endless mode.  Both are fun.  Endless is just what it sounds like – a survival mode where you work your way through monster after monster.  You earn coins as you go and can occasionally buy upgrades and potions to help with the increasing difficulty.

As with most games, story mode is where it’s at.  You work through a map of levels, earning stars as you go.  This is where it gets cool – the stars aren’t just given for varying levels of “good job”.  Instead, you need to play through each level four times to get all of the stars.  Each is an objective.  For example, the first is simply beat the monsters.  The second is a time trial.  The third is some sort of challenge like “can’t use E” or something equally as challenging.  The fourth is a special challenge where the monsters are much tougher and have specific requirements like “takes damage only from words starting with a vowel”.

As you play through story mode, you can spend crystals you earn on permanent upgrades.  There are a lot of them and they all help to make you more awesome.  Of course, if you’re not good at the core of the game, it’s not going to matter much.  The game play is simple – find words from a block given to do damage to monsters.  It sounds simple and is, but when I spelled out the word “AFFIDAVIT” the other night, I felt pretty awesome.  Some monsters will make tiles unusable or make it so you take damage when you use them.

It also keeps track of your stats!  This is a feature I always like.  It shows you how many of pretty much everything you’ve done.  I’ve spelled the word “BACON” five times and spelled out 25 palindromes.  And for the fellow achievement whores – this game is going to be a breeze to complete.  I’ve gotten 40 achievements in just under 8 hours.

This all leads to a really fun and highly re-playable game.  If you like word games, find it!

Genre:  Platformer
Platform:  XBone, PC

Let me start off by saying that this is not a bad game.  This is, in fact, an excellent game, I just don’t seem to be up to the task of mastering it.  The graphics in this game are gorgeous.  I have a 4K Ultra TV and I was blown away at how beautiful this game is.  It feels less like a game and more like you’re playing in a fantastic animated movie.  The soundtrack is also stunning and I get goosebumps when I hear it.  This is because it ties in so well with the incredible story telling, which you are immersed in from the beginning.  All three of these things make for an amazing game.  I was near tears in the first five minutes of the game, that’s how incredible the story telling is.

But, this is a platformer, and it’s not your parents’ platformer, either.  It does have slight RPG elements in that you level up your character and pick skills from a skills tree.  However, the game play is HARD.  I would frequently get stuck at sections and replay them 20 times, only to save and come back later and breeze through it.  This game requires a lot of thought and patience to get through.  I don’t have enough of the latter, I’m afraid.

It also toys with save points.  Instead of being set throughout the game, you have to absorb enough orbs, earned by killing mobs, to charge up your ability to save.  This sounds well and good until you don’t have enough for a save point after a particularly difficult part and you have to start back 15 minutes.  This adds to the frustration, but again, also adds to your sense of accomplishment.

But alas, I’m crying uncle on this one and moving it out of my “now playing” list.  I’ll likely still take a stab at it now and again, but it’s not on my immediate radar anymore.