Izuna: Legend of the Unemployed Ninja

•January 28, 2015 • 3 Comments

I recently brushed the dust off my Nintendo DSiXL; literally, I had not played it since I got my iPhone about two years ago.

While researching for games purchase for the library (see a previous post), I really got in the mood for some Nintendo time.  I played some MarioKart; and then perused my collection of DS Games.

I found my “Izuna”, both the original and the sequel “The Unemployed Ninja Returns”, and knew I had my next time waster.

Izuna is similar to an old school Final Fantasy style dungeon game. The characters are recently unemployed ninjas who anger local gods, so they have to visit them one by one; through various dungeons, until they are appeased.

It took me a little bit to figure out the strategy of using the talismans and different equipment on various characters; the game is a bit more strategic then finding the most powerful weapon you can and than hack and slash.

There are various talismans that can add different elements to your weapon; plus there is the option of using the talisman on its own when facing an enemy for an immediate effect. I prefer to use the talisman on the weapon to increase damage. There are foes that have the unfortunate power of “wrapping you up” so that you can not use a talisman during a level; which is particularly annoying with the Kikan talisman; this game’s equivalent of a town portal. What I do find annoying is that your inventory is extremely limited; you can only carry 20 items with you. As a result, I end up carrying 2 Kikans (because there are traps and enemies that can fry them up), several Likeness items (restores SP), and healing orbs. That requires a bit of time during dungeon traveling to stop and pick up an item; figure out if it is worth more than what I’ve got, and discarding an item. That also takes up an action; since it is turn based.

The added advantage of the sequel is that you are tag teaming with another character; you can switch out when a different strategic attack is needed, and each combination of characters has a powerful tag attack, which really comes in handy versus multiple opponents.

The replayability on both these games is high; particularly in the second where there are quite a few characters to choose from in order to tag team.

If you can get a hold of these games, I highly recommend them; but try to start with the first due to plot points.

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Deponia: The Complete Journey

•January 23, 2015 • Leave a Comment

This Game collects the 3 Deponia games by Daedelic Entertainment: Deponia, Chaos on Deponia, and Goodbye Deponia.  First off, I’m glad I got this set if for nothing other than the developer commentary which is as good as the game itself.  This game brings to mind classics like the Monkey Island series with is old school gameplay mixed with the wit of A Bard’s Tale.  First off, this game is long for this particular style of game play.  I spent over 20 hours on this game.  That’s not a bad thing and certainly some of this time was spent by me going back and redoing some things a different way.  I will try to keep this review as spoiler free as I can, but there might be a small bit or too hidden below that I’ve missed so you’ve been warned.

One thing to understand is that the main protagonist, Rufus, is a complete selfish jerk and a moron.  Don’t let that throw you off.  Rufus is born on a junk planet which humanity essentially destroyed and only the privileged few live up in the sky in the city of Elysium.  When we first meet Rufus he is living with his ex, Toni who can’t stand him.  His father left him when he was 8, he was the former mayor of the town he lives in and he has an unhealthy obsession for leaving Deponia for Elysium.  While Rufus never seems to completely change, there are bits of a better nature that shine through from time to time. Some of the bad things that happen are more due to his ignorance and stupidity than anything else, although there are times it’s just because he’s a jerk.  Thankfully, there are bigger jerks out there to focus on as antagonists.   I’ve read some reviews where people couldn’t get over Rufus’s character as a main protagonist and I’d have to wonder what any of us would be like in this character’s shoes (other than less likely to be as destructive).

The game’s plot and humor are where this game really shines.   Besides the insanely depressing backstory which you get to learn more about as the game goes on, you get to see the overall goal of Rufus gradually change.  The characters throughout the story are also very colorful and very real.  The game is not meant to be taken seriously but there were a couple parts where I did think the humor went a bit off note (mostly part of Goodbye Deponia which is the darkest of the trilogy), but barring that I found myself really enjoying this title.

The gameplay is not too challenging but just enough to keep the plot moving.  You will have to do quite a bit of backtracking to areas you’ve been to but not to areas from previous chapters.  A good tip to know is that spacebar will show you what points can be interacted with if you’re stuck.  I wish I had discovered that earlier in my play through, but the game is still entertaining enough for me to have already started another run through to try to pick up all the Steam achievements I missed.

SPOILER ALERT: I do want to touch on the ending.  A lot of people commented online how disappointed they were with the ending.  In a game like this, that says a lot about how attached to Rufus they were despite all his flaws.  I, myself, prefer the old school “Hollywood ending,” but the ending they had here fit with the overall theme of the trilogy.  It’s not like the endings to the first two games were not depressing, so why expect different at the end of the trilogy? The whole thing is still better than the Mass Effect ending.  Even the creator of the series, Poki, admitted to crying when writing the end.

Overall, the Deponia Trilogy is a definite recommend for mature players (due to some of the content).  If fun, entertaining, just don’t take it too seriously.

Next Gen Gaming, coming to a library near you

•January 21, 2015 • Leave a Comment

So the time has now come for me to make suggestions on what games to purchase for the library’s collection.

According to what I observe in my little corner of the reference world, XBox 360 and Wii are very consistent. PS3/PS2 not so much. That makes it difficult; do they not circulate because they aren’t seen there? We try to do everything we can to let everyone know that anything (well, almost anything) can be ordered through any of the other libraries to be delivered to their own library.

But let’s face it: the browsing collection is pretty small; we don’t have space and we don’t have a big budget. But if we can’t grow our collection at all in comparison to the other collections in the library; how can we expect it to thrive?

So here, again, is my dilemma.  I know that the Wii U is in huge demand here, so it’s almost a no brainer that I start purchasing some for our own collection. But should we make the jump to the XBox One? I have no stats yet as to whether they are requested here or not; and PS4 is pretty much dead in the water here.

Also, as we are trying to revive yet again interest in programs here, we are trying to jump start our video game programming. There is no way that I can ever justify getting a new console being that we have no teens coming yet, and no budget.

So I still have to purchase some Wii and XBox 360 games just to have something new to try on the consoles that we do have. I just have absolutely no time to look over pages of Game Informer (I love it to bits though!) and I’m pretty sure people would have a problem if I stayed on GameStop.com too long.

The Minecraft program that I did a couple years back was easiest the largest turnout I have ever had, and, obviously, that game has not stopped growing. I am attempting to start a game on my own XBox 360 so that I can feel like I am more “with it”; because let’s face it: I just can’t keep up. There is just too much going on in the world of smartphones, tablets and other mobile options that I have to also keep up on. (Hello eBook course in the Spring of 2015 taught by me–EEK!)

Not only have I hinted at maybe getting the Diablo III expansion for XBox 360 (especially since my character is now paragon level 2–and growing) so have gone back to a bit more console gaming, I have this tremendous urge to break out my DSiXL and play some old school Mario. Or hook up the N64. Why are there only 24 hours in a day?

I hate to think that I am hitting a midlife crisis; between wanting to play the latest and greatest, or plopping down for a marathon PAC-Man Championship DX (I thought I had unlocked all the levels–seems I have about 6 more–thanks XBox Live updates).

I guess I’ll have to accept that every day will have it’s own gaming mood–zen, if you will.

And that, my friends, is all for tonight.

Hero of the Kingdom

•January 16, 2015 • Leave a Comment

I didn’t know I had this game! – Hero of the Kingdom

Next up in the continuing series of Steam games I hadn’t played whenever I bought them is Hero of the Kingdom.

This is a very short casual game that’s easy to pick up and play but don’t expect a lot from it.  The gameplay, while enjoyable, is not challenging.  The game also suffers from being short (about 4 hours long and I tend to be a completionist).  It also has the awkwardness of having a completely un-needed tutorial at the beginning which introduces a much overplayed story.  Sadly, the one bit I would have liked to know from the tutorial, wasn’t even a part of it.  That would be how to spot mushrooms (I did eventually figure it out).

The story starts you off as a young farm boy whose father recently left for a journey to the big city.  Your house is attacked by bandits and burned to the ground.  Having no other choice you must set off in search of your father while at the same time somehow becoming responsible for saving the kingdom.  The few twists here are so overplayed that I if someone told me the whole plot I would have a hard time figuring out what is a spoiler other than “that’s it?”

I did enjoy myself despite these objections and if it had been longer would have gladly continued playing.  However it really has zero re-playability so unless you are really bored or happen to pick this up as part of a bundle of other games, I would avoid it.

Hello Again/Long Live the Queen

•October 22, 2014 • Leave a Comment

So after a much longer than anticipated hiatus, I am back.  Many apologies for the delay.  Special thanks in advance to my new “Staff Writer” who will help to contribute to this blog.  After all, there are so many games, and so few hours in the day to play them!

I didn’t know I had this game! – Long Live the Queen

Chances are, if you have Steam, you have had the experience of one of many of the Steam sales and finding you’ve bought games you’ve never played.  This series is my attempt to go through some of these games and see what I’ve been missing.

Long live the Queen is an unusual game.  You start as a 14 year old girl whose mom, the queen, just died.  You are 40 weeks from your 15th birthday which is when you will be crowned queen in your mother’s stead, if you live that long.

In Long Live the Queen, your goal is just to survive 40 weeks.  It’s no small task considering almost everyone in the Kingdom wants you dead for some reason or another.  The game is set in an anime style similar to dating sims if you’re familiar with the genre.  You have 4 sets of 2 moods each that you have to manage as these affect your skills and your ability to learn new skills.  Oh, and you start with no skills at all.

I found this game strangely addictive as the strategy to play this is crazy and a lot of fun. First thing you need to remember is you will die and restart…a lot!  Save often and be prepared to restart from the beginning.  The second thing to remember, your character is going to fail at a lot of stuff, you need to make the choices of which skills are more important to your overall survival.  The last several times I’ve played, I’ve kept the wiki open to remind myself which skills are tied to which moods as it’s very easy to get confused.  If you don’t fancy playing games where you can expect to lose a lot, you can always try to see how many different ways you can die or fail (I’ve been shot by an arrow, poisoned, stabbed, killed by magic, and voted out of my kingdom by the rest of the nobility).

This is an enjoyable game and worth picking up off of Steam.  Just remember to actually play it!

What is “Gaming?”

•May 6, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Recently, I had the great luck of going to a workshop through my job for “Family Gaming and Programming”. I attended with the idea that it was going to be based on video gaming; after all, a few years back I had attended a similarly titled program which had us try out various types of video games so that we could show our local gamers. I was the “ringer” of the group and had a lot of fun demo-ing.

We actually discussed different types of programming; various crafts and outdoor street type games like hopscotch.

It lead me to consider the different type of gaming that I both enjoy, and use for various age groups here at the library. I have had to explain to many parents that 1)there are more than just video games for kids and teens to use, 2) they are not evil and in fact encourage people to collaborate and challenge each other in a healthy way (I have to use the same rationale regarding comic books and graphic novels for the encouragement of reading), and 3) that there are games and gaming programs for all ages.

Most parents are surprised to find out that we do have a Nintendo DS Game Time during the summer for ages 5 and up.  This is always popular, and the kids have fun either playing wirelessly or just sitting together playing different games and just hanging out. We have also purchased at least one extra DS and several copies of Mario Kart DS for those who want to attend, but don’t own a DS. I have also tried to encourage them to bring any mobile device (iPods, iPads, etc) so they can hang out too.

This same demographic has the opportunity to attend our LEGO building programs. This can be considered in a way another format of gaming; they are using their imaginations to create different objects and scenarios. We also have many board games that they can just pick up and use, or take home with them to borrow.

Another program that we have had here a couple years in a row that was incredibly successful was the Wayfinders LARPing group. We ran the program for two sessions the last time we did it; week 1 was used to make the foam swords used, and week 2 the actual group came and played a game with us. I think that this helped get teens to think outside the box; most though of role playing either in the video game format, or as card table top games like D&D. I wish that we still had a D&D campaign here, but due to time constraints and teens either aging out or moving away, the program ended. I have begun one myself in my home for the last few months; but real life responsibilities have gotten in the way of that recently. We hope to pick it up again in a couple of weeks.

Regarding table top card games, the ones that I have heard discussed in the library world most often is Magic the Gathering and Pokemon. Magic is an established favorite that has steadily remained in the genre’s collective mind, while Pokemon has ebbed and flowed with the releases of movies and video games. This seems to be the trend around here, at any rate. We have also held Yu-Gi-Oh tournaments here in the past; I would have to say maybe a good ten years ago. I wish that it had taken off more; we had a local teen who was an official judge. Although I was happy for him that he went off to college, part of me was sad that a program had to stop as we had no one else to step up.  This also happened to a chess club that we had back in the day; it was immensely popular, but the family who ran it moved away, and interest died down.  We do occasionally get phone calls asking if we had a program, but had to refer them to other locations where they may be currently held. I would like to see a Go! card game start up as it is based off the manga Hikaru No Go, but we don’t have any interest in the manga at all.

I am currently researching what video games to purchase for the library in the upcoming order. I am trying to be equal about what consoles to purchase for, although the XBox 360 still seems to be the most widely circulated. The Wii does get a fair amount of use, and as we have a Wii along with the 360 console for use here for program use, I do try to purchase games that we can use for multiplayer. I do try to look into the system wide catalog to see about purchasing for PS3. Even across a whole system of 66 libraries, the PS3 does not get much use. However, I do want to maintain a current selection, so I often scan a Game Informer for reviews, or see what is popular for other consoles and purchase the PS3 version of it. I do not anticipate purchasing for the next gen consoles anytime soon, if at all.

 

 

Free Comic Book Day/75th Anniversary of Batman

•May 2, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Tomorrow is Free Comic Book Day. Many libraries nationally partner with local comic book shops or distributors in order to get free comics out to both kids and adults.

This is a great time to promote Batman comics, graphic novels and video games especially, since it is his 75th anniversary.

Batman has transformed over the years from a campy, fun character to coincide with the ’60s tv series, to a dark, brooding hero who is fearsome and pulls no punches. His one rule over his entire lifespan (with the exception of an incident in the 1940’s) has been to never use a gun. This rule was broken in the series of Final Crisis, in which he uses a god-killing bullet to destroy Darkseid.

Over the timespan of his career, many events have occurred which has shaped his personality, and relationships with friends and foes. As a member of the Trinity (which includes Superman and Wonder Woman), he has joined with many different incarnations of superheroes, such as Justice League and the Outsiders.

Batman has changed also to coincide with the different events that have occurred in the DC Universe since its inception, such as Crisis on Infinite Earths, Zero Hour, Identity Crisis, Infinite Crisis, Final Crisis, and the New 52 (don’t even get me going on the “crisis of too many events named crisis”.)

In video games, starting over 20 years ago and played on many consoles, Batman has been in different formats such as puzzle type games, LEGO games, to the more recent releases to go along with movie versions and the Arkham series.

The Arkham series has been steadily popular since the release of the first title, Arkham Asylum in 2009.  Arkham City, Arkham Origins, and Arkham Origins: Blackgate have been released over the years since.

There is an upcoming Arkham City game, Batman: Arkham Knight which is scheduled to be released in October 2014.  This will be available only on PS4, XBox One and Windows (Sorry Wii U!)

I am not a big fan as I am a continuity freak, and I feel that there may be many little details that don’t really match with the current comic run. No spoilers, I promise! The games are tremendously popular, so no matter what incarnation of Batman exists in the day to day, he will stay pretty consistent.