A Mixed Bag

Being Australian, there are times where I don’t want to fuck around with words. Hence the title of this post, because this week’s gaming has been a real mixed bag.

Having wrapped up Master Quest last week, I needed a new project; and, being mindful of my New Year’s Gaming Resolutions, I figure I’d best start work on the Playstation side of things. To that end, I started N2O.

N2O is an interesting one; I bought it, of course, because of its links with my 8-bit past. Written by Tony Crowther (responsible for the first Monty Mole game, and the Loco / Suicide Express / Black Thunder trio of near-identical games, amongst others), it’s very much a love-child of Tempest and one of Crowther’s earlier games, Phobia. Fly along the rim of undulating tunnels, shoot bugs. Easy.

But, as a shooter, it’s got a bit of depth. There’s a great speed-up mechanic (the more you shoot, the faster you travel), and there’s a certain puzzle-solving element to it, too. But it’s blackened somewhat by (seemingly) random weapon drops and a tendency to obscure your view with too many twists in the tunnel. Still, I’m having a fair bit of fun with it at the moment; I’ve clocked it on Easy, and am about a quarter of the way through Normal. Whether or not I require Hard for Completion is yet to be decided.

But the problem with N2O (and a lot of other twitchy shooters) is that I can’t concentrate on them for long stretches; so off into the vaults I went, checking out a few other games for the Next Project. I fired up Bujingai – again – and got nowhere on the boss I’m stuck on – again. I pootled around in the wacky world of Katamari Damacy, looked at all the items I need to collect to satisfy my OCD, and quickly moved on to Frequency – Harmonix’s original rhythm action game. Unfortunately, the use of the word “rhythm” there makes me completely unable to play it.

Hoping for a cheap win, I dug out my Nuon and threw the unknown Ballistic on. Oh shit – it’s Zuma. I fucking hate Zuma. Nine of the twenty-five levels was all I could bear; the Completion Requirement for that one will be All Levels On Easy, I think. And that’s kinda fair enough, given the harder skill levels just increase the speed.

Then there was a little bit of Wind Waker, but I turned that off after an hour or two… I’m wary of burning out on Zelda, as I did when I first encountered the games (when I played through Ocarina and Wind Waker, back-to-back, in a two week holiday of gaming where I rarely left the house). I fired up the 360 for the first time in two months, grabbed all the Burnout Paradise and Halo 3 add-ons that had been released in my absence, and then scored a couple of easy skull-finding Achievements in Halo 3.

Finally, I pulled my finger out and finished GTA: Chinatown Wars. There’s still oodles left to do in-game – I only finished with 81.15% – but it’s still the annoying experience that I remembered. It reminds me somewhat of Heroes or Dexter on TV; fantastic openings that convince you that they’re groundbreakers, before extended exposure reveals a tepid unsatisfying grind. Sigh.

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