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Posted by ahoodedfigure

That Meat Circus had me saying all kinds of horrible things to my innocent TV (and imagining throwing my controller through it), but in the end, I won.  Didn't get a full collection list, ended at 97 or so, but I just watched a youtube clip and that was enough not to make me want to punish myself to find all the stuff I left behind at camp on an earlier save.
 
I'm OK with how it ended, and I actually love collection and exploration games...  to a point.  The level design was phenomenal and limited only by the imagination of the creators, who took the possibilities of the mind in some pretty fun directions.  The writing was above average and pretty damned funny in places, although a little less repetition during the action scenes would have been nice (and not so many shrieky voices).
 
The platforming was my big problem, and this was only accentuated in the final stages. Honestly, I've never been a huge fan of 3D platforming on the whole because it too often becomes a depth perception issue: the TV is a 2D plane, but you're supposed to judge jumps as though you could see parallax and guess your jumps.  The only game that showed me that 3D platforming was not a lost cause, as far as I remember, was Prince of Persia: Sands of TIme, and I think a good chunk of that was because it hemmed in player actions to set, routine movements, allowing you to use the skills you've learned to negotiate things pretty quickly and fluidly if you had the right approach.  The more control you give to the player in these delicate scenes, the more that things can go wrong, allowing for players to jump to what looks like a handhold when it isn't, or smacking them back at the last possible second, sending them plummeting to their deaths.  Sands of Time had its share of problems, but overall its execution (owing to the original PoP's design style) is the way I think these things should go.  Psychonauts had me judging where I was in relation to a rope without a shadow to guide me, which was damned frustrating.
 
I'm really glad I had the opportunity to play it, and I think Black Velvetopia is going to stay with me as one of the most interesting level designs I've ever seen in a game, as well as the scaling Napoleon level.  Since I beat it, I guess it's harder for me to hold a grudge, but I think the Meat Circus should have been better choreographed, and as an internet friend of mine Anthony said, they should have trained you better for those situations ahead of time.  I understand why this game stays with so many people.  Despite its flaws I can only recommend it  (though some version of the above warnings would go along with that recommendation).

Posted by Snipzor

I don't get why people are so freaked out against the Meat Circus. I mean, I got through it relatively unscathed on PC and Console. Is that just because I'm partially insane?

Posted by ahoodedfigure
@Snipzor: I can't speak for others, but jumping between the floating nets, making it up to the third tier before the kid dies (if he dies, back to the bottom) by vaulting on the bloody knives, getting shot repeatedly by evil dad as I'm trying to go up the three poles before the water, already near my platform, nips at my heels...
 
Would have been nice to have some middle ground in the platforming department to keep me limber.  I basically went from collection and puzzle solving and admiring the scenery to Super Mario Sunshine bonus levels.
 
Games are subjective experiences, a'course.
Posted by Teirdome

Congrats on getting through the meat grinder.  I had a few of those almost snapping the controller in half moments as well.  So dang painful in parts.
 
If you're into podcasts, you should check out the Psychonauts backlog.  The final episode they get Tim Shaffer on.  Control+F for Psychonauts and you'll find the episodes.  It's awesomeness:
 
 http://www.1up.com/do/minisite?cId=3149975

Posted by ahoodedfigure
@Teirdome: Thanks for the control-snapping solidarity there, and thanks for the podcast tip.  Just got done looking at a seven -part G4 special on Tim Schafer's career up to the release of Psychonauts.
Posted by ArbitraryWater

Congrats on finishing it. I haven't played Psychonauts (much like the other 98% of the people here), but from what I understand, it's kind of like a D&D Bard: Jack of all trades, masters of none, which is why nobody likes playing as them, but everyone likes hearing them (The writing). Yes I just used that comparison for Brutal Legend as well. 

Posted by Claude

You're a better gamer than I, congrtats.

Posted by mracoon

Meat Circus is a horrible level but otherwise it's an amazing game.

Moderator
Posted by buzz_clik
@Snipzor said:
" I don't get why people are so freaked out against the Meat Circus. I mean, I got through it relatively unscathed on PC and Console. Is that just because I'm partially insane? "
Yeah, I didn't find the meat circus all that taxing, either.
 
@ArbitraryWater said:
" Congrats on finishing it. I haven't played Psychonauts (much like the other 98% of the people here), but from what I understand, it's kind of like a D&D Bard: Jack of all trades, masters of none, which is why nobody likes playing as them, but everyone likes hearing them (The writing). Yes I just used that comparison for Brutal Legend as well.  "
If you'd played the Milkman level, you wouldn't have typed that. Seriously one of the most memorable and glee-inducing game moments I've ever experienced.
Moderator
Posted by ahoodedfigure
@ArbitraryWater: I wouldn't go that far. I think it goes in specific directions.  I LIKED the collecting aspect, although I realize that's a niche thing. I want to write an essay on collection in general and how it could be improved, but I'll save that for later.  What I'll say though, in addition to the story, theme, and narrative touches, the level design was great.  So I won't say it's master of none.  It's just, unfortunately, not the best in certain important areas, at least to me.  But I'm still quite glad I played it, flaws and all.  It could have been better, but given the rest of the games out there, I'd still consider it above average overall, and outstanding in specific places.
 
As for BL, I haven't played it.  Given how I felt about Psychonauts, though, I think I could get something out of it even if the game goes too far into RTS territory for my liking, given that I'd probably try to play it more for its action-adventure, collection, and exploration side.  
 
@Claude: Thanks man, but I don't think I'm any better.  :)  I guess that's a whole discussion, value judgement when it comes to gamers.  I'm pretty sure a lot of people disregard me just because I have outdated platforms, so...
 
 @mracoon: Yeah, that's pretty much where my general feelings stood.  I realize now that they were really down to the wire for release, so I'm sure MC didn't get some of the refinements and clues for stupid folks like me who weren't figuring out the tricks, but apart from some general platforming problems and a few clarity issues in specific levels, it was a feast for me.
 
@buzz_clik: That's cool that you liked the Milkman level :) I loved the agents, that cracked me up every time I saw them, and how Raz adapted to them.  I think some level of menace to the actual paranoia would have helped, like if you were photographed too much that you would take damage, so you would have to run into houses to hide or something, but it was a really neat level overall.
 
Like I said, my personal favorite was Black Velvetopia, but I'm guessing everyone had their own favorites.
Posted by AhmadMetallic
@Claude said:
" You're a better gamer than I, congrtats. "
Agreed. though i went really far in that game, i couldnt beat it because of the frustrating last couple of boss battles.. 
 
Good read and your points are interesting, you made me wanna play Sands of Time and see what you're talking about.
Posted by ahoodedfigure
@Ahmad_Metallic:  I took a bit of flak for saying it was hard, glad people are backing me up on this.  
 
All the PoP games that I've played manage to have a way to section off movement.  Flashback and Out of this World do too, sorta, where you do a long jump that goes X distance, short jump that goes Y distance.  If you can sorta time things right the character does some of the placement for you, which makes a HUGE difference.  I think some of that might have made Mirror's Edge more accessible to more people.
 
If you ever try out Sands, let me know what you think.  It's not easy, but I remember it fondly as a tightly-designed experience.