BraidMarbleNukem: OcarinaOfRain

We’re halfway through the traditional end-of-year holidays – no break for me, though, back into work tomorrow. Still, here’s hoping that you all received the games you wanted over the break – and managed to give some gaming love, too. I did my bit, educating my nephew with Super Mario Galaxy for his new Wii :)

I finally Pete-Completed Duke Nukem this week – all secrets, all levels, all Duke-isms. There was one level I wanted to re-visit after having mopped up all the Achievements but, once I restarted it, I became quite aware that I simply didn’t like this game. It’s not fun. The level designs are, for the most part, cheap and full of surprises – the Doom monster closet philosophy. Great sense of humour, though – but that’s not enough to make up for the icky gameplay. Still, it’s been appropriately OC-ed now, so that’s another one off The List – the fifth for the month!

As Duke was wrapped up (and I proudly looked at another 200/200 on I noticed that the Agoraphobia Expansion Pack had been released for Marble Blast Ultra. Another 200 MS Points to purchase, this doesn’t seem to be as good a deal as the previous Marble Fu Expansion Pack – the new maps are a bit of a pain in the arse, to be honest, but the final Achievement was easy enough to snaffle… once again, MBU doesn’t really trouble The List.

Searching for another XBLA game to work on – and desperately trying to avoid a return to Texas Hold’em (I haven’t built my patience up yet) – I elected to have another look at Braid, just to see what was required for the Speed Run Achievement. Another playthrough reminded me what a stonkingly great game it is, and a peek at some speed-runs on YouTube yielded some great tips… buggered if I know how I finished the game the first time without them! The Speed Run still looks hard-as-nails, though – and the hidden stars look even harder. Long term project, that.

As mentioned before Christmas, I snaffled Suda51’s “latest”, Flower, Sun and Rain. A re-imagining of the 2001 Playstation 2 Japan-only original, it’s… really odd. Essentially a point-and-click adventure, it’s not so much a game as a Groundhog-Day-esque interactive story – you’re never put in a situation that you can’t get out of, so there’s no sense of danger. The writing is fantastic, displaying the darkness of Killer7, the humour of No More Heroes – and there’s plenty of puzzles and collectibles to keep the OC in me happy. Mind you, I’ve already resorted to GameFAQs once – but I felt dirty doing it, especially when I realised that I’d passed over the solution because I didn’t want to think through it, didn’t want to put the effort in. Lesson learned – and the internet will be ignored for the remainder.

FSR has some really odd production values, though – for a 64MB game, there’s some very expansive videos… and horribly angular 3D models. And the controls are thoughtful in places, and fucking annoying in others: the theatrical approach to puzzle solving (when accessing Catherine, your problem-solving computer pal) is brilliant the first time, but horribly button-mashingly infuriating thereafter.

The last bit of action this week saw me resurrect The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. I’ve already finished this magnificent game, but I’d started an OC-friendly 100% run aeons ago on the Gamecube (with the Collector’s Edition disc that included Zelda, Zelda II, Ocarina, and Majora’s Mask). It’s mostly complete, except for a couple of collectibles – the most galling of which is the Biggest Quiver.

Remember how to get that?

Gerudo Fortress, archery on horseback.


Now, I’ve heard that this was quite doable on the N64, but the sensitivity of the analogue stick on the Gamecube port is insane. Regardless – as an OC Gamer, it’s something I need to complete, so I fired up my old save and gave it another bash. Another 36 bashes, actually. I scored 1080 points of the 1500 required once, but that’s cold comfort – this is going to be a prickly assignment.

Only a few days left before the end of the year, and the inevitable year-in-review post. I’d better get writing… :}


Recently I bitched about the fact that I hadn’t knocked any games off The List lately; and now, a mere fortnight later, December is looking plump with Completion. First came Mercenaries 2, then Mutant Storm Empire, and this week saw the Pete-Completion of World of Goo and Dash of Destruction.

World of Goo has been an absolute delight. I was one of those who jumped through homebrew hoops to get their PAL Wii to chat with the US Shop Channel, purely to allow the purchase of this independent masterpiece. Goo picked up the Indy Game of the Year at last week’s VGAs, and was finally released onto the PAL Shop Channel last Friday – the very day I finally knocked off the last of those nasty, nasty OCD challenges. It’d be a tad fibulous to say that I enjoyed every minute – some of the OCDs are incredibly frustrating (leading me to question whether Goo is actually better suited to mouse-control, rather than Wii-mote) – but the sense of satisfaction from having all the OCD flags pop up is immense. Highly, highly recommended – get thee to the Wii store! …or just buy it for your PC or Mac.

A paragraph ago I mentioned that I’d Completed Dash of Destruction – the Doritos-sponsored advergame – this week. In truth, it took less than 30 minutes to see all it had to offer: a cutesy, but shallow, combination of Rampage and Crazy Taxi. With tongue planted firmly in cheek (constant references to its freely available GamerScore abound), it’s absolutely worth the price of admission – that is, free. Go on, kids, click this link and add it to your download queue… it’s cheerful, fun in its small dose, and costs nothing. And it boosted my Completion Percentage by 0.18%, so that’s nice.

The rest of the weekend has been taken up playing Duke Nukem on XBLA. My Completion target for this one is all levels + all secrets + all Duke-isms, and it’s going pretty smoothly (using the excellent 3D Realms walkthrough for reference). I’ve certainly got much further than I did when I had my dodgy copy of the game on the PC, and – with the exception of wishing the weapons had hotkeys – the controls don’t suffer at all from the conversion.

And that’s my task for the week of Christmas – finish Duke Nukem, and bring The List down to 64. Piece of cake.

DukeMercenaries of GOO

…and so another week skates by, with so many lofty plans (like finishing one of the four longer game musings I’m working on) drifting by the wayside. And what did I manage to do with my week?

Well, not a whole lot.

Truth be told, it was a relatively glum start to the week. Work is going pear-shaped, the ex moved out, and anything else that could go wrong, did. For example: with the extra room in the house, I decided to create a little retro gaming shrine with the spare TV. “Aha,” I thought with a desperate gleam in my eye, “an opportunity to knock some of the Jaguar games off The List.” Alas, my video cable for the Jag has suffered one bend too many, and the only replacement I could find on eBay is now en route from England at the lazy cost of AU$40. Useless Jaguar sitting forlornly by the TV, I seek another platform, and dig out my “useful” Dreamcast (I have two Dreamcasts; one that has the GD-ROM “tuned” for Rez – and plays nothing else – and the other that plays everything except Rez). All plugged in, I fire up Jet Set Radio, keen to give it a concentrated playthrough that I neglected to afford it a few years ago. All seems good, until… it suddenly reboots. And again. And again, at a completely different point in play. So I surmise that the power supply on the “good” DC is on the fritz; looks like a transplant is in order.

There was glum news in the gaming world, too – new gaming darling Little Big Planet got delayed due to Muslim pressures over some background music. Astro Tripper (which, from this video, looks like a HD & tuned-scoring version of Space Tripper) was announced for the PS3, which I fear means that PomPom have turned their backs on the 360 & XBLA. And, despite my giddy excitement the other day, we won’t see No More Heroes 2 until 2010.

But some good stuff did happen over the last seven days; a friend finally picked up Mercenaries 2, leading to many co-op hijinks (and marvelling at the poor voice acting. Again). He managed to snaffle 260 GS inside an hour, and I managed none – but that’s OK. There’s still a lazy 150 points in the wings there that we can work on later.

Scanning The List, I noticed that Duke Nukem remained relatively untouched – if only because I find it somewhat annoying to play, and my current save-point sees me spawning with a mere 4% health, little ammo, and even less of a chance of getting out of the corner I’m stuck in. So I decided, instead, to try and eke out some online ranked kills – after all, there’s achievements all the way up to 500 kills, and my OCD won’t let that go. And – surprise surprise – it’s really good fun. Getting an eight-player duke-match going on the Stadium map is an absolute blast, and there’s a few other maps that are nearly as good. Yes, there’s the lag that seems to affect every XBLA game, but – long story short – I scored 507 kills over the weekend, netting all the online achievements… and actually enjoying Duke Nukem in the process!

There was one more Good Thing for the week… and, as Good Things go, this has lots of sweet whipped cream and a cherry on top.

World Of Goo.

It’s fantastic.

Yes, we antipodeans (and Europeans, for that matter… let’s just say “non-North-Americans”) have to jump through some hoops to get it (install the Homebrew Channel, and then work through these instructions), but the effort is more than worth it. Or just buy it on the PC (but then you’ll miss out on the delightful Wii control). It’s got all the immediate impact and cleverness and greatness of Braid, but comes from a completely different angle, tongue firmly in cheek. There’s times where I’ve completed a level and jumped up clapping; it’s just an utterly joyous experience. And building a Goo Tower, complete with little cute little flag-carrying clouds that tell me that my tower is the tallest in Australia, is like a Goo-ey form of Achievements.

Seriously, just go and get it now.