Game Of The Year Of Sonic 2014.

So, 2014 happened. There was definitely games that came out, I know this for certain as I played a bunch of them. I don't think it was necessarily a bad year as we got some real gems, but there was definitely a huge chunk of the year I questioned whether or not I'd be able to compile a top 10 list of my favourite games. Thankfully the last few months have seen not only some of the best games of the year release, but some of the best games I have ever played.

There's a couple of games I'd like to briefly mention...

South Park: The Stick of Truth, a game that I enjoyed a bunch. I'm not the biggest fan of the combat, but the humour is very similar to the past few seasons of the show in that it's generally pretty amusing, but when it's on point it can be one of the funniest things around. (Special mention to the audio logs joke)

Strider was fun and was as Stridery as a Strider game can get. The game doesn't really have all that much of a personality though, which is a real shame. Hitting the attack button really fast works as intended. Thankfully it didn't bum be out as much as Lords of Shadow 2.

I backed and played Shovel Knight which I enjoyed. It's a good Mega Man/Ducktales-esque game, but I find it crazy that anyone would say it's as good as Mega Man 2, 3 or even Duck Tales. I've seen people praise the soundtrack, but I'm not a fan. I absolutely love about 99% of the stuff Jake Kaufman puts out, but outside of a couple of tracks it really doesn't do a whole lot for me.

I nearly included Zer0 Sum, the first Tales from the Borderlands episode on this list, but I feel like that's more of a 2015 kinda thing.

I liked the gameplay in Watch Dogs despite having a protagonist devoid of any kind of personality. Wolfenstein was a fun throwback, but it was a little too much of a throwback in places with an incredible industrial/electronic/rock soundtrack. Mario Kart is probably the prettiest game of the year. Hyrule Warriors is like the best game ever... And also the worst game ever. That Rambo game totally happened.

Onto the top 10 type stuff!

Here is a list so you don't have to read any of the words I have written below.

10 Dark Souls 2 - I like this game.

9 Lococycle - I like this game.

8 Kirby Triple Deluxe - I like this game.

7 Velocity 2X - I like this game.

6 Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call - I like this game.

5 The Evil Within - I like this game.

4 Bayonetta 2 - I like this game.

3 Sunset Overdrive - I like this game.

2 The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth - I like this game.

1 Titanfall - I like this game.

I like Dark Souls II a bunch. It's a hard game for me to talk about because I'm not really its intended audience. Nearly anything with high fantasy featuring goblins, skeletons and dragons has a high chance of getting ignored by me. When it comes to this I am full of contradictions. I absolutely adore 70's/80's metal album covers with dragons n' shit all over them, and I am a big fan of movies like Willow and watch shows like Game of Thrones.

I have definitely opened up to this stuff more recently. I played Dragon's Dogma a couple of years back and enjoyed it immensely despite being able to see its many flaws, and I have every intention of playing through The Witcher 2 at some point before the third game is released. Dark Souls on paper is everything I should shrug at, and yet it has this odd, hypnotic power drawing me in.

I hated this area, but I love this stone rat.

I'm definitely not as enamoured by the game as most, and its difficulty was not what was driving me away. It's the way it explains nothing to you. And to be honest I still don't really like that about it. I went in pretty blind to the game, which was the only way I ever wanted to experience what seems to be adored by everyone these days. I've picked up snippets through osmosis, but for the most part and a little help from Yummylee in upgrading my Sir Raptorbutt, I did things my way without scanning forums or walkthroughs. At times it was pretty trying. I hit a roadblock with an early boss, nearly forcing me to abandon my experiment, but once I scraped by I managed to get into a real flow.

There were times I'd beat three bosses in one sitting only to come up against unfair battles like a giant, laser spewing spider. Every single time I found something I loved I was quickly reminded about something I hated. To the games credit though, I kept on returning over and over for fifty plus hours, and every time I told myself I was done I'd find myself sitting, playing it for another couple of hours.

I'm not convinced the game always plays fair despite one of the few things I'd picked up over the years is that these games were very tough, but always fair. It's full of things I'd rather not experience ever again, usually involving acid damage, but I powered my way through, and for all the things I find to be faults that I know are cherished by others, it is most definitely a game I have randomly thought about fondly since finishing it. I couldn't say that about most of the games I played this year.

Yep, this totally came out on the 360/Steam this year, and NO! I haven't made a horrible mistake.

Look, I get it, everyone hated this game, mostly people that didn't play it, but it definitely struck a chord with me. Twisted Pixel games have always been full of references to action movies like Total Recall and The Predator which is part of the reason I'm willing to forgive some of their lesser gameplay, but any game that's as in love with an all time favourite of mine - Big Trouble in Little China - is probably going to get a thumbs up from me.

Seriously, not a joke.

This game made me laugh consistently for five hours. I'm not ashamed of that. I get the joke, I feel like the joke was made for me, and I am perfectly fine with that. The game has heart, it works better than something like the one note joke of Roundabout and it's ok that that it's not for you. To be honest, it's kinda a shame that a lot of people will probably never get to see the 2D stage where two motorbikes are fighting like in Street Fighter. It's a spectacularly silly sequence that lets you use special moves like lightning kicks and hadoukens for a throwaway, five minute joke.

Robert Patrick is the perfect bad guy along with Guardians of the Galaxy's director James Gunn, often appearing in FMV talking about Twilight decals being pasted onto futuristic planes and phone conversations to AI bikes while surrounded by women. The FMV is as bonkers as anything TP have done in the past, like a ridiculous scrolling end sequence where a bike disarms a bomb on a rocket and an utterly crazy video featuring grilled cheese sandwiches and bikers.

I'm super happy this game exists, and its QTE heavy gameplay seems appropriate. It's a 90's styled arcade action game that's in love with 80's/90's action movies. I personally enjoyed the 3D Sonic/ Arkham-esque mashup they went for. The FMV is incredible, but the vast bulk of the funny writing is within the levels themselves. It's not as funny as Comic Jumper, but if the humour clicks this is a pretty incredible experience, and one of the funniest games I have ever played.

Kirby is a piece of shit. He's a deceptively cute ball of pink roundyness. He's always got that big old smile on his face, but when he's not trying to charm the hell out of you with his bouncy, jolliness, he's messing up other people's lives by eating everything in sight. Kirby eats birds, kirby eats people, kirby eats trees, bugs, homes even ghosts... KIRBY EATS GHOSTS.

He's that one Nintendo character that only ever gets to hang with the A-listers when there's a new Smash Bros. Nintendo keep pumping his games out every couple of years, but nobody talks about them like a new Mario, or a new Zelda. Did you know this came out this year? No, of course you didn't. I know it's not unusual for GB to Quick Look all the 3DS games, but they didn't look at this. It seems like Nintendo put all of their 3DS advertising budget for the year into that Yoshi game everyone seemed indifferent about.

I'm gonna kill you with cuteness.

Kirby: Triple Deluxe might not be the hardest game in the world, but it sure is the most fucked up charming game I played all year. It's a real shame that it hasn't been talked about all that much as it has some incredible visuals, with some of the best 3D on the system. Having the action on two planes means they can do some cool stuff with hazards coming into the foreground and hiding secrets behind scenery in the foreground.

It has the same kinda structure as most of the newer Mario games with you completing levels with relatively little fuss, but having the meat of the content in collecting some deviously hidden sunstones. (like Mario's stars) Some of the puzzles require some tricky tilting of the console or hitting switches in the right order. Every so often you'll need a very specific power and it's fun to finally figure out what you need to do.

It's just an incredibly well crafted 2D platformer, and I don't really understand why Nintendo don't care more about telling people this exists. It has some really incredible boss fights with numerous pattern changes and a ton of creativity. They might look like simplistic evil clouds or ghosts trapped in paintings, but they're far and away more interesting than anything you'll find in most of Mario's newer games.

I adore this game, it always puts a smile on my face, and there's a billion things to see, find and collect. More people should go and play Kirby, if only to see that KIRBY EATS GHOSTS!

This is an odd one. I vaguely remember playing the first game when it was given away for free as a Playstation mini. It was an enjoyable evenings worth of entertainment, but the kind of thing you'd have a hard time remembering a week after playing it. I didn't even know Velocity 2X existed until the Quick Look, and it was great to find out that it was one of the free PS Plus games on release.

Ruuuuuuuuuuunnnnnnnnnnnn!

There seems to be a level of polish in 2X that was missing from the first game. There's some cool looking characters and a silly story that ties things together, but it's the gameplay that's the star of the show here. The ability to warp forward through scenery, combined with the button to speed up the rate at which the screen scrolls gives the player all the tools to zip through the game as fast or as slow as they want. As soon as you're comfortable with the controls you'll be shooting, dodging and weaving through the levels feeling like some kind of professional speed runner.

That's the thing I love about this game, the speed at which everything flies by. The game often gives you twenty minutes to finish a stage, but has a high score time of under three. Getting the best times, saving pods and collecting crystals for experience, which in turn unlocks levels really incentivises revisiting stages and trying to do better.

The other standout is the 2D platforming sections of the levels that have you running around, teleporting through walls and exploding glass for precious crystals. The game can get really tricky in the last third and requires some precision teleporting and wall-dashing. If you're playing the game the way it has obviously been designed to be played you will never stop moving. Speed is always the key. I'm a sucker for a good fast paced 2D action game, and this was a real surprise and a hell of a good time.

I don't have a lot to say about this game other than it's a more refined version of an already incredible music rhythm game. The flow of the notes you hit and swipe, combined with double the amount of songs the first game contained, along with the new quest mode making the grind for character crystals easier are great improvements.

Yeah, I totally bought that full, metal version of One Winged Angel from AC.

The music is as stunning as ever, with a lot or incredible pieces coming from the newer games. I didn't even know what Mystic Quest was, but god damn is that some fine music. Obviously this couldn't have been as much of a pleasant surprise as the original was, but I look at this like you would Super Street Fighter IV - An update with so many changes and content that it's hard not to love it as much as the first game.

Super cute, better sound quality and fat chocobos, not to mention probably the greatest piece of music to have ever existed in the Final Fantasy universe... CRAZY CHOCOBO!!!!

It became quite apparent when playing through this game that Shinji Mikami has no interest in making the survival horror games of old, and is intent on forever re-creating the horror infused action movie we got in the incredible Resident Evil 4. That's not to say this isn't a horror game. It's creepy and tense when needed, and is full of twisted designs and splattery gore... The problem is that none of it feels all that scary. The thought of the horrors in the darkness are usually far more terrifying that the thing you are likely to encounter.

Entire sections of this game, like a creepy village and haunted mansions feel like something ripped straight out of a Resident Evil game, in fact I found the storytelling, (as nonsensical as it is) the pacing and the dialogue to share a lot of things in common with Mikami's other games, especially RE4. The one thing that TEW seems to do to separate itself from the newer, more action orientated Resident Evil's is a real focus on ammo conservation, and at times an almost unforgiving level of difficulty. I often found myself with next to no ammo, often after some bullet spongey bosses.

I should probably help you.

This makes every bullet count, and many encounters pretty challenging, trying to take advantage of the environment and traps scattered around the scenery as best I can. I went into this game expecting to be overwhelmed with dread and came away from it with an incredibly well crafted survival action game with possibly the most satisfying and squeltchy headshots of any game ever.

The guns boom and crack like they have some real power behind them and the crossbow is a pretty versatile weapon that can be used in a variety of interesting ways. The freedom you're given to tackle the various encounters despite the lack of ammunition made for a tense, exciting and challenging action game with the right amount of craziness in the later chapters. If this was where Mikami envisioned where Resident Evil should have gone after 4, I'm very much a fan. Dripping with atmosphere, green brain goo and blood. I'm very excited to see where this series goes next.

Oh Bayonetta, you so silly. I'm only going to briefly touch upon my slight disappointment with the game as I feel like my opinions on the game are all over the Bayonetta 2 boards. Sure, it's not as crazy, and it's a much easier game that can reward some poor timing and use of powerful items, but god damn is this a fun game.

I feel like I fall into the minority of people that think the first game is a lot better for a variety of reasons. Bayonetta 2 is a smoother playing and much tighter experience, but lacking a few things that made the first game so appealing. It's briefer but more action packed. Flashier, but not quite as over the top crazy... which in Bayonetta doesn't really mean all that much at all, and its difficulty is far more welcoming to newer players to the series/genre.

Where Bayonetta 2 really shines is in its creative visuals. This is a bright and colourful game with some incredible enemy designs. Even the music has had a overhaul with many of the jazzier tracks being replaced with big choirs chanting over big orchestral pieces. The music does a really good job of elevating the one-on-one, human-sized boss fights to an epic scale. There is hair dragons and stone angel-robot things clashing as a flurry of swords, spears and hair-fists fly about the screen and its visual noise is a lot easier to follow than you'd imagine.

Sexy elephants in the room.

The game does a much better job of giving you collectibles and new weapons meaning I felt the need to mess with them all unlike the original where I was happy with the sword as soon as I unlocked it. The crazy finger-scythes and mechanical bow are a ton of fun to use, and give you a different way of playing... I eventually settled on a whip/chainsaw sword combo. Along with all the weapons are countless costumes and secrets, at times it's almost overwhelming the amount of content Platinum has packed into the game.

Even the co-op mode is a fun distraction that lengthens the game a bunch, unfortunately it needs a little fleshing out and a bunch of unlockable characters beyond the four available as it serves as more of a grind area to be able to afford a bunch of the expensive costumes... and what costumes they are.("Mamma mia!") All of the Nintendo suits change the way Bayonetta plays, and in one incredible moment you are able to pilot an Arwing from Star Fox with bombs, barrell rolls and burbedeburbedeburring voices coming over the radio. Hideki Kamiya expressed interest in making a new Star Fox game and this is the best Star Fox sequence we have gotten in years... In a game about a hair-witch fighting dragons around skyscrapers and slicing demons from hell to death on top of a giant, flying manta-ray.

In another year this would have been my favourite game by a mile. It's almost everything I want from video games. Video gamey, video games where you cut stuff and stuff explodes while jumping and flipping around the screen. I fully understand why more people seem to be enjoying this game over the first, but it's very hard not to want a little more challenge from the game. Maybe I've lost some perspective due to the amount I played the first, but I fully recognize this is far and away one of the best... and sweariest games of the year.

As a huge fan of the Ratchet & Clank games I'm always curious to see what Insomniac are working on. I've never really found anything they have made in recent years outside of the core Ratchet games to be all that interesting. Resistance is OK, the failed Ratchet experiments aren't any fun and Fuse, while not as bad as some would have you believe, doesn't really have what I want from Insomniac.... Colourful worlds, filled with life and silly, over the top weaponry.

Thankfully Insomniac have really taken the criticism from Fuse to heart. Sunset Overdrive is just pure, video gamey fun. A game that knows it's a video game, wants you to know it's a video game and is in love with being a video game. I feel like this game is laser focussed in what it wants to be. Its tone stays consistent, and while it shares some similarities in humour with the newer Saints Row games it doesn't have that light-hearted mean streak that those games seem to be infused with running through it.

In a year where Sony put out the pretty, yet forgettable Infamous Second Son, Insomniac have made one of the most lively and "ON!" open worlds I think I have ever played. You're always seconds from the action and the constant punk rock rarely ever stops. I could see this being grating for some, but I'm one of those people that likes that the game is always at 11.

No, you're the asshole.

I like that the game isn't a pushover either, it does a really good job of telling you early on that if you're not bouncing around, grinding, flipping, air dashing and wall running during combat, you're gonna die pretty quickly. That said, the checkpointing is uber generous, along with the insanely huge window for the auto-aim. The shooting and the weapons, while not as clever or inventive as anything in the Ratchet games feel like Ratchet guns, Ratchet's DNA is running through the veins of this game, obviously there's a little bit of Jet Set Radio, a little bit of Saints Row, along with a few other things in there, but the Ratchety-ness is all over it like Sly Cooper in the Infamous games.

And it's a very funny game. Not all of it is super hilarious, but it has a level of wit in the writing. Not all of the jokes (like a previously mentioned series) have a punchline that is someone getting punched in the face or told to fuck off, and there's some fun stuff integrating the games UI or making fun of video game tropes. The factions are great, with the LARP'ers that roll around talking in ye olde voices accompanied by a bard being my personal favourites. "HARDCORE!"

HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE.

I knew I'd love this game before I played it, and I fell almost immediately in love with it the second I got control of my character. I feel like this is a game that should be talked about a lot more than it is, but I assume that has more to do with Microsoft's situation more than the game. It's without a doubt the best game Insomniac have put out since A Crack in Time. It's full of life and willing to make fun of the whole Fuse situation by centering a whole entire mission around focus testing robots telling you what is fun in video games. I adore Sunset overdrive, it's full of energy and feels like it's about to burst due to sugary energy drinks. Incredible mobility, satisfying shooting and some stellar voice work. I hope we see more from this series in the future.

Choo Choo Motherfucker indeed.

I felt like I was done with BoI on the PC some time late last year. I've loaded it up a couple of times throughout 2014, and had an evening consumed, but for the most part I felt satisfied with my progress. I had unlocked all of the endings and as many items and characters that I was ever going to unlock. I felt satisfied that I'd squeezed as much as I could from this initially terrible flash game that cost me a couple of pounds on Steam.

Eat it, Mega Satan!

I assumed I would download this on PS+, say "Yep, that's totally more Issac" and then go about my day. But it did it again, it sucked me right back into that loop of "Just one more go" runs and bullshit rooms that zap all seven of my hearts away in a matter of seconds. There's enough new content here to make things feel fresh again, most notably bigger rooms and a heavily increased amount of new items to either feel like you've broken the game somehow or really fucked yourself over.

I know the art isn't for everyone, but I'm a huge fan of Edmund McMillen's style, as simplistic as it it. The new 16 bit(ish) art doesn't really seem all that different from the original, and theres a bunch of hideous new ways Isaac can look, with new and grotesque bosses to kill. The only real complaint about the game is that I prefer the music from the original over the moody/bass-y sounds of the remake/update. Whatever changes made, this is still one of the best games I have ever played. As someone that downloaded and ignored the original game at release, only to fall in love with it a year or so later, it's nice to get another chance to put this on an end of year list.

Be advised! This is my favourite game of the year.

I feel like I have a million things to say about this game, but I don't want this to just be me defending Respawn's player limits, Cannon Fodder bots or small amount of content upon release. In the case of the first two Try playing a match with six Titans all going at each other in a small alleyway and you'll fully understand why 6V6 was the right decision. The bots are an incredible idea as it makes the game feel a lot more welcoming to people that are not so hot at competitive games. Everyone can contribute to their team regardless of their skill level.

Titanfall feels like a game that had everyone incredibly excited during its short beta, but left a bunch of them feeling lukewarm about the whole experience a couple of weeks after the full game had been in everyone's hands. Even I expected to play the game for a couple of weeks, have my fun and then move on. But something unexpected happened. Even the exhaustive amount of videos the staff put out for Titanfall around release didn't really convey the excitement of calling down your Titan for the very first time. Hearing that voice tell you to stand by for Titanfall, followed by those five seconds of hearing a large metal beast hurtle through space, then crashing into the ground felt like the video game equivalent of Christmas. It still gets me every single time. From that very first drop I had fallen head over heels in love.

My love didn't stop there though. The longer I played it, the more the comparisons to Call of Duty felt ridiculous. (Now, in a post CoD-jetpack world they're still very different games.) CoD had never let me wall run across a wall and kill two people below me, CoD had never let me have a gunfight with another player a mile high in the air after ejecting out of an exploding mech, and CoD had never ever let me manually destroy three robots in a row by shooting at their brains and then hopping from one to another.

<3

Never stop moving, never be afraid of Titans and always use the environment to your advantage. The biggest problem with having the PC version of the game is that I have had a million "Oh shit! Did you see that!?!?" moments without any way to record it. I have a feeling if I'd have known that I was going to adore Titanfall as much as I do I'd have considered getting an XBone before a PS4. Titanfall appeals to both my love of mechs and my appreciation of dashing. What other game is going to let me strafe around another mech and punch it so hard that I crush the pilot?

I'd consider Titanfall to be the very best competitive shooter since Call of Duty 4. (I'm never going to be a Battlefield person.) and a consistently good time regardless of the dwindling players on PC. Titanfall is everything I want from a multiplayer shooter despite its handful of easily fixed problems that will hopefully be fixed in the inevitable sequel. I have put a ridiculous amount of time into Titanfall, and never felt like I didn't get my moneys worth out of it. They even added a horde mode with unique enemy types/placements and a whole black market store with customizable Titan voices. It's an incredible game with an unmatched parkour system in the FPS arena, with incredible shooting... Oh, and huge fucking robots! Bayonetta, Sunset and Isaac come close, but this is without a doubt the game I had the most fun with in 2014.

How could I not love a game that shares the same colour scheme as Alphonse in Patlabor?

End Bit.

The longer the year has gone on, the more games I have enjoyed. I've had a pretty good year despite all the bad games (I am totally going to return to blogging about the Simple games... but real video games happened... not that anyone cares) I wouldn't have minded trying out Transistor, Abyss Odyssey and Far Cry, but I didn't so that's that I guess.

I shall probably add some videos and links to things later/tomorrow to hopefully balance out that nightmare-Kirby above. (and most likely fix things.)

Thanks for reading and be excellent to each other.

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Game Of The Year Of Sonic 2014.

So, 2014 happened. There was definitely games that came out, I know this for certain as I played a bunch of them. I don't think it was necessarily a bad year as we got some real gems, but there was definitely a huge chunk of the year I questioned whether or not I'd be able to compile a top 10 list of my favourite games. Thankfully the last few months have seen not only some of the best games of the year release, but some of the best games I have ever played.

Yeah, totally.

There's a couple of games I'd like to briefly mention...

South Park: The Stick of Truth, a game that I enjoyed a bunch. I'm not the biggest fan of the combat, but the humour is very similar to the past few seasons of the show in that it's generally pretty amusing, but when it's on point it can be one of the funniest things around. (Special mention to the audio logs joke)

Strider was fun and was as Stridery as a Strider game can get. The game doesn't really have all that much of a personality though, which is a real shame. Hitting the attack button really fast works as intended. Thankfully it didn't bum be out as much as Lords of Shadow 2.

I backed and played Shovel Knight which I enjoyed. It's a good Mega Man/Ducktales-esque game, but I find it crazy that anyone would say it's as good as Mega Man 2, 3 or even Duck Tales. I've seen people praise the soundtrack, but I'm not a fan. I absolutely love about 99% of the stuff Jake Kaufman puts out, but outside of a couple of tracks it really doesn't do a whole lot for me.

I nearly included Zer0 Sum, the first Tales from the Borderlands episode on this list, but I feel like that's more of a 2015 kinda thing.

I liked the gameplay in Watch Dogs despite having a protagonist devoid of any kind of personality. Wolfenstein was a fun throwback, but it was a little too much of a throwback in places with an incredible industrial/electronic/rock soundtrack. Mario Kart is probably the prettiest game of the year. Hyrule Warriors is like the best game ever... And also the worst game ever. That Rambo game totally happened.

Onto the top 10 type stuff!

Here is a list so you don't have to read any of the words I have written below.

10 Dark Souls 2 - I like this game.

9 Lococycle - I like this game.

8 Kirby Triple Deluxe - I like this game.

7 Velocity 2X - I like this game.

6 Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call - I like this game.

5 The Evil Within - I like this game.

4 Bayonetta 2 - I like this game.

3 Sunset Overdrive - I like this game.

2 The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth - I like this game.

1 Titanfall - I like this game.

I like Dark Souls II a bunch. It's a hard game for me to talk about because I'm not really its intended audience. Nearly anything with high fantasy featuring goblins, skeletons and dragons has a high chance of getting ignored by me. When it comes to this I am full of contradictions. I absolutely adore 70's/80's metal album covers with dragons n' shit all over them, and I am a big fan of movies like Willow and watch shows like Game of Thrones.

I have definitely opened up to this stuff more recently. I played Dragon's Dogma a couple of years back and enjoyed it immensely despite being able to see its many flaws, and I have every intention of playing through The Witcher 2 at some point before the third game is released. Dark Souls on paper is everything I should shrug at, and yet it has this odd, hypnotic power drawing me in.

I hated this area, but I love this stone rat.

I'm definitely not as enamoured by the game as most, and its difficulty was not what was driving me away. It's the way it explains nothing to you. And to be honest I still don't really like that about it. I went in pretty blind to the game, which was the only way I ever wanted to experience what seems to be adored by everyone these days. I've picked up snippets through osmosis, but for the most part and a little help from Yummylee in upgrading my Sir Raptorbutt, I did things my way without scanning forums or walkthroughs. At times pretty trying. I hit a roadblock with an early boss, nearly forcing me to abandon my experiment, but once I scraped by I managed to get into a real flow.

There were times I'd beat three bosses in one sitting only to come up against unfair battles like a giant, laser spewing spider. Every single time I found something I loved I was quickly reminded about something I hated. To the games credit though, I kept on returning over and over for fifty plus hours, and every time I told myself I was done I'd find myself sitting, playing it for another couple of hours.

I'm not convinced the game always plays fair despite one of the few things I'd picked up over the years is that these games were very tough, but always fair. It's full of things I'd rather not experience ever again, usually involving acid damage, but I powered my way through, and for all the things I find to be faults that I know are cherished by others, it is most definitely a game I have randomly thought about fondly since finishing it. I couldn't say that about most of the games I played this year.

Yep, this totally came out on the 360/Steam this year, and NO! I haven't made a horrible mistake.Look, I get it, everyone hated this game, mostly people that didn't play it, but it definitely struck a chord with me. Twisted Pixel games have always been full of references to action movies like Total Recall and The Predator which is part of the reason I'm willing to forgive some of their lesser gameplay, but any game that's as in love with an all time favourite of mine - Big Trouble in Little China - is probably going to get a thumbs up from me.

Seriously, not a joke.

This game made me laugh consistently for five hours. I'm not ashamed of that. I get the joke, I feel like the joke was made for me, and I am perfectly fine with that. The game has heart, it works better than something like the one note joke of Roundabout and it's ok that that it's not for you. To be honest, it's kinda a shame that a lot of people will probably never get to see the 2D stage where two motorbikes are fighting like in Street Fighter. It's a spectacularly silly sequence that lets you use special moves like lightning kicks and hadoukens for a throwaway, five minute joke.

Robert Patrick is the perfect bad guy along with Guardians of the Galaxy's director James Gunn, often appearing in FMV talking about Twilight decals being pasted onto futuristic planes and phone conversations to AI bikes while surrounded by women. The FMV is as bonkers as anything TP have done in the past, like a ridiculous scrolling end sequence where a bike disarms a bomb on a rocket and an utterly crazy video featuring grilled cheese sandwiches and bikers.

I'm super happy this game exists, and its QTE heavy gameplay seems appropriate. It's a 90's styled arcade action game that's in love with 80's/90's action movies. I personally enjoyed the 3D Sonic/ Arkham-esque mashup they went for. The FMV is incredible, but the vast bulk of the funny writing is within the levels themselves. It's not as funny as Comic Jumper, but if the humour clicks this is a pretty incredible experience, and one of the funniest games I have ever played.

Kirby is a piece of shit. He's a deceptively cute ball of pink roundyness. He's always got that big old smile on his face, but when he's not trying to charm the hell out of you with his bouncy, jolliness, he's messing up other people's lives by eating everything in sight. Kirby eats birds, kirby eats people, kirby eats trees, bugs, homes even ghosts... KIRBY EATS GHOSTS.

He's that one Nintendo character that only ever gets to hang with the A-listers when there's a new Smash Bros. Nintendo keep pumping his games out every couple of years, but nobody talks about them like a new Mario, or a new Zelda. Did you know this came out this year? No, of course you didn't. I know it's not unusual for GB to Quick Look all the 3DS games, but they didn't look at this. It seems like Nintendo put all of their 3DS advertising budget for the year into that Yoshi game everyone seemed indifferent about.

I'm gonna kill you with cuteness.

Kirby: Triple Deluxe might not be the hardest game in the world, but it sure is the most fucked up charming game I played all year. It's a real shame that it hasn't been talked about all that much as it has some incredible visuals, with some of the best 3D on the system. Having the action on two planes means they can do some cool stuff with hazards coming into the foreground and hiding secrets behind scenery in the foreground.

It has the same kinda structure as most of the newer Mario games with you completing levels with relatively little fuss, but having the meat of the content in collecting some deviously hidden sunstones. (like Mario's stars) Some of the puzzles require some tricky tilting of the console or hitting switches in the right order. Every so often you'll need a very specific power and it's fun to finally figure out what you need to do.

It's just an incredibly well crafted 2D platformer, and I don't really understand why Nintendo don't care more about telling people this exists. It has some really incredible boss fights with numerous pattern changes and a ton of creativity. They might look like simplistic evil clouds or ghosts trapped in paintings, but they're far and away more interesting than anything you'll find in most of Mario's newer games.

I adore this game, it always puts a smile on my face, and there's a billion things to see, find and collect. More people should go and play Kirby, if only to see that KIRBY EATS GHOSTS!

This is an odd one. I vaguely remember playing the first game when it was given away for free as a Playstation mini. It was an enjoyable evenings worth of entertainment, but the kind of thing you'd have a hard time remembering a week after playing it. I didn't even know Velocity 2X existed until the Quick Look, and it was great to find out that it was one of the free PS Plus games on release.

Ruuuuuuuuuuunnnnnnnnnnnn!

There seems to be a level of polish in 2X that was missing from the first game. There's some cool looking characters and a silly story that ties things together, but it's the gameplay that's the star of the show here. The ability to warp forward through scenery, combined with the button to speed up the rate at which the screen scrolls gives the player all the tools to zip through the game as fast or as slow as they want. As soon as you're comfortable with the controls you'll be shooting, dodging and weaving through the levels feeling like some kind of professional speed runner.

That's the thing I love about this game, the speed at which everything flies by. The game often gives you twenty minutes to finish a stage, but has a high score time of under three. Getting the best times, saving pods and collecting crystals for experience, which in turn unlocks levels really incentivises revisiting stages and trying to do better.

The other standout is the 2D platforming sections of the levels that have you running around, teleporting through walls and exploding glass for precious crystals. The game can get really tricky in the last third and requires some precision teleporting and wall-dashing. If you're playing the game the way it has obviously been designed to be played you will never stop moving. Speed is always the key. I'm a sucker for a good fast paced 2D action game, and this was a real surprise and a hell of a good time.

I don't have a lot to say about this game other than it's a more refined version of an already incredible music rhythm game. The flow of the notes you hit and swipe, combined with double the amount of songs the first game contained, along with the new quest mode making the grind for character crystals easier are great improvements.

Yeah, I totally bought that full, metal version of One Winged Angel from AC.

The music is as stunning as ever, with a lot or incredible pieces coming from the newer games. I didn't even know what Mystic Quest was, but god damn is that some fine music. Obviously this couldn't have been as much of a pleasant surprise as the original was, but I look at this like you would Super Street Fighter IV - An update with so many changes and content that it's hard not to love it as much as the first game.

Super cute, better sound quality and fat chocobos, not to mention probably the greatest piece of music to have ever existed in the Final Fantasy universe... CRAZY CHOCOBO!!!!

It became quite apparent when playing through this game that Shinji Mikami has no interest in making the survival horror games of old, and is intent on forever re-creating the horror infused action movie we got in the incredible Resident Evil 4. That's not to say this isn't a horror game. It's creepy and tense when needed, and is full of twisted designs and splattery gore... The problem is that none of it feels all that scary. The thought of the horrors in the darkness are usually far more terrifying that the thing you are likely to encounter.

Entire sections of this game, like a creepy village and haunted mansions feel like something ripped straight out of a Resident Evil game, in fact I found the storytelling, (as nonsensical as it is) the pacing and the dialogue to share a lot of things in common with Mikami's other games, especially RE4. The one thing that TEW seems to do to separate itself from the newer, more action orientated Resident Evil's is a real focus on ammo conservation, and at times an almost unforgiving level of difficulty. I often found myself with next to no ammo, often after some bullet spongey bosses.

I should probably help you.

This makes every bullet count, and many encounters pretty challenging, trying to take advantage of the environment and traps scattered around the scenery as best I can. I went into this game expecting to be overwhelmed with dread and came away from it with an incredibly well crafted survival action game with possibly the most satisfying and squeltchy headshots of any game ever.

The guns boom and crack like they have some real power behind them and the crossbow is a pretty versatile weapon that can be used in a variety of interesting ways. The freedom you're given to tackle the various encounters despite the lack of ammunition made for a tense, exciting and challenging action game with the right amount of craziness in the later chapters. If this was where Mikami envisioned where Resident Evil should have gone after 4, I'm very much a fan. Dripping with atmosphere, green brain goo and blood. I'm very excited to see where this series goes next.

Oh Bayonetta, you so silly. I'm only going to briefly touch upon my slight disappointment with the game as I feel like my opinions on the game are all over the Bayonetta 2 boards. Sure, it's not as crazy, and it's a much easier game that can reward some poor timing and use of powerful items, but god damn is this a fun game.

I feel like I fall into the minority of people that think the first game is a lot better for a variety of reasons. Bayonetta 2 is a smoother playing and much tighter experience, but lacking a few things that made the first game so appealing. It's briefer but more action packed. Flashier, but not quite as over the top crazy... which in Bayonetta doesn't really mean all that much at all, and its difficulty is far more welcoming to newer players to the series/genre.

Where Bayonetta 2 really shines is in its creative visuals. This is a bright and colourful game with some incredible enemy designs. Even the music has had a overhaul with many of the jazzier tracks being replaced with big choirs chanting over big orchestral pieces. The music does a really good job of elevating the one-on-one, human-sized boss fights to an epic scale. There is hair dragons and stone angel-robot things clashing as a flurry of swords, spears and hair-fists fly about the screen and its visual noise is a lot easier to follow than you'd imagine.

Sexy elephants in the room.

The game does a much better job of giving you collectibles and new weapons meaning I felt the need to mess with them all unlike the original where I was happy with the sword as soon as I unlocked it. The crazy finger-scythes and mechanical bow are a ton of fun to use, and give you a different way of playing... I eventually settled on a whip/chainsaw sword combo. Along with all the weapons are countless costumes and secrets, at times it's almost overwhelming the amount of content Platinum has packed into the game.

Even the co-op mode is a fun distraction that lengthens the game a bunch, unfortunately it needs a little fleshing out and a bunch of unlockable characters beyond the four available as it serves as more of a grind area to be able to afford a bunch of the expensive costumes... and what costumes they are.("Mamma mia!") All of the Nintendo suits change the way Bayonetta plays, and in one incredible moment you are able to pilot an Arwing from Star Fox with bombs, barrell rolls and burbedeburbedeburring voices coming over the radio. Hideki Kamiya expressed interest in making a new Star Fox game and this is the best Star Fox sequence we have gotten in years... In a game about a hair-witch fighting dragons around skyscrapers and slicing demons from hell to death on top of a giant, flying manta-ray.

In another year this would have been my favourite game by a mile. It's almost everything I want from video games. Video gamey, video games where you cut stuff and stuff explodes while jumping and flipping around the screen. I fully understand why more people seem to be enjoying this game over the first, but it's very hard not to want a little more challenge from the game. Maybe I've lost some perspective due to the amount I played the first, but I fully recognize this is far and away one of the best... and sweariest games of the year.

As a huge fan of the Ratchet & Clank games I'm always curious to see what Insomniac are working on. I've never really found anything they have made in recent years outside of the core Ratchet games to be all that interesting. Resistance is OK, the failed Ratchet experiments aren't any fun and Fuse, while not as bad as some would have you believe, doesn't really have what I want from Insomniac.... Colourful worlds, filled with life and silly, over the top weaponry.

Thankfully Insomniac have really taken the criticism from Fuse to heart. Sunset Overdrive is just pure, video gamey fun. A game that knows it's a video game, wants you to know it's a video game and is in love with being a video game. I feel like this game is laser focussed in what it wants to be. It's tone stays consistent, and while it shares some similarities in humour with the newer Saints Row games it doesn't have that light-hearted mean streak that those games seem to be infused with running through it.

In a year where Sony put out the pretty, yet forgettable Infamous Second Son, Insomniac have made one of the most lively and "ON!" open worlds I think I have ever played. You're always seconds from the action and the constant punk rock rarely ever stops. I could see this being grating for some, but I'm one of those people that likes that the game is always at 11.

No, you're the asshole.

I like that the game isn't a pushover either, it does a really good job of telling you early on that if you're not bouncing around, grinding, flipping, air dashing and wall running during combat, you're gonna die pretty quickly. That said, the checkpointing is uber generous, along with the insanely huge window for the auto-aim. The shooting and the weapons, while not as clever or inventive as anything in the Ratchet games feel like Ratchet guns, Ratchet's DNA is running through the veins of this game, obviously there's a little bit of Jet Set Radio, a little bit of Saints Row, along with a few other things in there, but the Ratchety-ness is all over it like Sly Cooper in the Infamous games

.And it's a very funny game. Not all of it is super hilarious, but it has a level of wit in the writing. Not all of the jokes (like a previously mentioned series) have a punchline that is someone getting punched in the face or told to fuck off, and there's some fun stuff integrating the games UI or making fun of video game tropes. The factions are fun with the LARP'ers that roll around talking in ye olde voices and are accompanied by a bard are a bunch of fun "HARDCORE!"

HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE HARDCORE.

I knew I'd love this game before I played it, and I fell almost immediately in love with it the second I got control of my character. I feel like this should be a game that should be talked about a lot more than it is, but I assume that has more to do with Microsoft's situation more than the game. It's without a doubt the best game Insomniac have put out since A Crack in Time. It's full of life and willing to make fun of the whole Fuse situation by centering a whole entire mission around focus testing robots telling you what is fun in video games. I adore Sunset overdrive, it's full of life and feels like it's about to burst due to sugary energy drinks. Incredible mobility, satisfying shooting and some stellar voice work. I hope we see more from this series in the future.

Choo Choo Motherfucker indeed.

I felt like I was done with BoI on the PC some time late last year. I've loaded it up a couple of times throughout 2014, and had an evening consumed, but for the most part I felt satisfied with my progress. I had unlocked all of the endings and as many items and characters that I was ever going to unlock. I felt satisfied that I'd squeezed as much as I could from this initially terrible flash game that cost me a couple of pounds on Steam.

Eat it, Mega Satan!

I assumed I would download this on PS+, say "Yep, that's totally more Issac" and then go about my day. But it did it again, it sucked me right back into that loop of "Just one more go" runs and bullshit rooms that zap all seven of my hearts away in a matter of seconds. There's enough new content here to make things feel fresh again, most notably bigger rooms and a heavily increased amount of new items to either feel like you've broken the game somehow or really fucked yourself over.

I know the art isn't for everyone, but I'm a huge fan of Edmund McMillen's style, as simplistic as it it. The new 16 bit(ish) art doesn't really seem all that different from the original, and theres a bunch of hideous new ways Isaac can look, with new and grotesque bosses to kill. The only real complaint about the game is that I prefer the music from the original over the moody/bass-y sounds of the remake/update. Whatever changes made, this is still one of the best games I have ever played. As someone that downloaded and ignored the original game at release, only to fall in love with it a year or so later, it's nice to get another chance to put this on an end of year list.

Be advised! This is my favourite game of the year.

I feel like I have a million things to say about this game, but I don't want this to just be me defending Respawn's player limits, Cannon Fodder bots or small amount of content upon release. In the case of the first two Try playing a match with six Titans all going at each other in a small alleyway and you'll fully understand why 6V6 was the right decision. The bots are an incredible idea as it makes the game feel a lot more welcoming to people that are not so hot at competitive games. Everyone can contribute to their team regardless of their skill level.

Titanfall feels like a game that had everyone incredibly excited during its short beta, but left a bunch of them feeling lukewarm about the whole experience a couple of weeks after the full game had been in everyone's hands. Even I expected to play the game for a couple of weeks, have my fun and then move on. But something unexpected happened. Even the exhaustive amount of videos the staff put out for Titanfall around release didn't really convey the excitement of calling down your Titan for the very first time. Hearing that voice tell you to stand by for Titanfall, followed by those five seconds of hearing a large metal beast hurtle through space, then crashing into the ground felt like the video game equivalent of Christmas. It still gets me every single time. From that very first drop I had fallen head over heels in love.

My love didn't stop there though. The longer I played it, the more the comparisons to Call of Duty felt ridiculous. (Now, in a post CoD-jetpack world they're still very different games.) CoD had never let me wall run across a wall and kill two people below me, CoD had never let me have a gunfight with another player a mile high in the air after ejecting out of an exploding mech, and CoD had never ever let me manually destroy three robots in a row by shooting at their brains and then hopping from one to another.

<3

Never stop moving, never be afraid of Titans and always use the environment to your advantage. The biggest problem with having the PC version of the game is that I have had a million "Oh shit! Did you see that!?!?" moments without any way to record it. I have a feeling if I'd have known that I was going to adore Titanfall as much as I do I'd have considered getting an XBone before a PS4. Titanfall appeals to both my love of mechs and my appreciation of dashing. What other game is going to let me strafe around another mech and punch it so hard that I crush the pilot?

I'd consider Titanfall to be the very best competitive shooter since Call of Duty 4. (I'm never going to be a Battlefield person.) and a consistently good time regardless of the dwindling players on PC. Titanfall is everything I want from a multiplayer shooter despite its handful of easily fixed problems that will hopefully be fixed in the inevitable sequel. I have put a ridiculous amount of time into Titanfall, and never felt like I didn't get my moneys worth out of it. They even added a horde mode with unique enemy types/placements and a whole black market store with customizable Titan voices. It's an incredible game with an unmatched parkour system in the FPS arena, with incredible shooting... Oh, and huge fucking robots! Bayonetta, Sunset and Isaac come close, but this is without a doubt the game I had the most fun with in 2014.

How could I not love a game that shares the same colour scheme as Alphonse in Patlabor?

End Bit.

The longer the year has gone on, the more games I have enjoyed. I've had a pretty good year despite all the bad games (I am totally going to return to blogging about the Simple games... but real video games happened... not that anyone cares) I wouldn't have minded trying out Transistor, Abyss Odyssey and Far Cry, but I didn't so that's that I guess.

I shall probably add some videos and links to things later/tomorrow to hopefully balance out that nightmare-Kirby above. (and most likely fix things.)

Thanks for reading and be excellent to each other.

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Some thoughts on the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis: Collected Works book.

Mega Drive!

This week I managed to receive the first ever thing I backed on Kickstarter. ( I assume I'll get my code for the hugely delayed 3DS version of Shovel Knight (Europe) this week too.) The one I backed that I was most excited about getting was this absolutely wonderful book I found out about in one of Patrick's Worth Reading articles. It's kind of awesome having your name printed in the back of something that's as cool as this.

I dunno who this Jeff Gerstmann guy is... Sounds like a made up name to me.

It was pretty expensive at £30, but most definitely worth it due to its high quality and my nostalgia for the Sega Mega Drive and Sega in general. I had a NES, but the Mega Drive was the point I was fully committed to this silly hobby of ours. I still adore Sonic, I'll never not adore Sonic regardless of the quality of his games.

The book has a foreword by Dave Perry from Shiny Entertainment/Gaikai, with a few words about him working on games like Global Gladiators, Cool Spot, Aladdin (the good one) and the Terminator game where I found out that they weren't allowed to have Sarah Connor in the game which is utterly absurd.

This is followed by a history of Sega where they talk about picking a fight with Nintendo, Sega US higher ups thinking that Sonic was stupid and that the Japanese branch didn't care for the 32X at all. I'm sure a bunch of this information is available elsewhere but it's a fun read and has some silly quotes from people like Corey Haim about the Mega/Sega CD.

This is a bad photo of some awesome art!

There is some incredible fold-out blueprints of the early designs for the Mega Drive/ Genesis with all of the pencil notes and everything. It's fascinating and a thing of real beauty. If the book wasn't so lovely I'd rip it out and put it on my wall.

This is a thing of beauty.

The rest of the book has rows of sprites from all of Sega's biggest games like Sonic, Streets of Rage, Gunstar Heroes, Altered Beast, and the Phantasy Star games among many others. This had me analyzing the images like I used to sit wide eyed looking at video game magazines as a kid. It's an incredible collection of art. Where else are you going to get two pages of Sonic level screenshots or the entirety of stages from Eternal Champions? The two pages that are absolutely the best though are the stages of Comix Zone layed out like the pages in a comic book.

I'm not a fan of the EU or the US cover for this game, but the Japanese cover is one of my favourite pieces of art ever. This is junk.

Along with the sprites is all of the box art for all of Sega's biggest hits, fold outs of Shinobi and Alien Storm with some unused images like the realistic Gunstar Heroes cover that never was, and tons of other games like Alex Kidd, Kid Chameleon and Golden Axe etc.

My favourite things are probably the design documents for a bunch of games, obviously I am drawn to Gunstar Heroes which has a bunch of character bios and the original name at the top of the page. It turns out it was originally called Lunatic Heroes... which still kinda makes sense.

Aaanyways it's a great book full of art, interviews with important people that worked at Sega at the time and Mega Drivey things. It was absolutely worth backing and, I can definitely recommend it to people that have fond memories of the system. I have no idea where you can get it from... or even if it's available to everyone yet.

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A few thoughts on Advanced Warfare's campaign and Robo-Spacey.

I was lucky enough to receive my copy of Advanced Warfare in the post this morning, so I did what any sane person would do and sat in the same spot for about seven hours and finished the campaign.

First things first. This is a Call of Duty campaign, no amount of mech suits and double jumping can hide that. This is pure, follow-this-dude (Or run ahead of the dude... or dudette! and hope they catch up with you.) left trigger, right trigger Call of Duty.

What it isn't is the soulless bore that was Ghosts. I'm not going to tell you this is high art, it's still point at stuff as huge stuff explodes, but there is an attempt at storytelling here. With Troy Baker in the lead and a couple of others that round out your team of super duper PMC friends.

The Exo Suit seems to be a pretty huge focus, but they only ever give you variations in the campaign. You don't always have the same abilities, such as a shield or a double jump and on occasion they give you a fancy Batman-esque grapple which is super fun and is put to good use during one of the less actiony stealth levels. There's also some light progression with you unlocking points to put into various things like reload times and damage reduction. It's a nice inclusion, but doesn't really alter the game in any way.

I think it's an absolutely stunning looking game, from the incredible cutscenes (not ingame) to the environments and really rather good faces. It's a real stunner in places and not a single framerate drop during my entire playthrough, despite a couple of hitches in cutscenes.

And I guess that brings me to Kevin Spacey and the story. He's used to good effect although his story arc is as predictable as they come. It kinda makes sense that the first few missions had me feeling pretty uneasy about who I was working for. It is a fun romp and the fact that some effort has been placed in making you at least care a little about the characters in the game is nice. Gideon, your British pal is good fun and the hard as nails Illona is cool, I'm definitely glad to see a female as one of the core group of badasses. It is definitely weird seeing robo spacey spout some pretty crazy shit, but he fits the part very well. It doesn't seem gimmicky in any way, and Troy Baker is as Troy Bakerish as he gets.

If there's one main complaint it's that it leans heavily on quick time events, moreso than any other Call of Duty I have played. And some of them are a pain. I missed a bunch of them as the icon for doing so isn't always apparent as it's white and small. The QTE's do however lead to some spectacular sci-fi action movie nonsense, and some of it is pretty absurd/insane/improbable.

So, it's a fun time in that big dumb action movie kind of way. I might see if I can play a bit of the MP or Co-op later if this headache I seem to have gained from not moving from the same spot without and food or drink goes away. It's pretty noisy. I'm not certain but the bodycount in this one seem to be waaaay beyond past installments.

Edit. Some of the finest images I captured from the game.

I always knew Bono was evil.

Look how happy this family is.

Best movie ever!

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Simple Blog Get! 5: Taxi Blogger.

I've spent a lot of time playing good video games this week, but I haven't forgotten about the pile of bad PS2 games sitting on my shelf. It is October after all... What better time is there to play the most nightmarish games in existance.

Taxi Rider / Simple Series Vol 48: The Taxi: Untenshu ha Kimida

I've gotten pretty good at spotting what certain developers of Simple games bring to the table at this point. So I know exactly what I'm getting into with a Tamsoft game. To be fair, this does seem to stray a little farther from their comfort zone by having a distinct lack of boobs, but their trademark lack of quality is fully on display here.

I can totally see Riho Futaba in this picture!

Taxi Rider seems to be a budget attempt at a CrazyTaxi-like game. I've never played Crazy Taxi, but it's pretty apparent from watching videos of that game online that it was the main inspiration here. Taxi Rider has you attempting to make at least 1000,000 Yen for a Creepy dude named Ogawara Gengorou. You know what kind of a guy he is by his facial hair and gold tooth.

Ogawara makes it pretty clear what kind of a person he is by telling me I need to go around the city picking up people and then driving them to various destinations. The rule being that I need to make enough money between 8am and 1am... And I quote. " If you don't make enough money I will fire you right away!" which seems a little harsh for a new guy to the job. Ogawara follows this up with a sinister " I think you get the message!". Not content with overly strict money requirements and possible threats, Ogawara rubs it in further by saying "IT WON'T BE EASY TO MAKE 1000,000 YEN HAHAHAHAHHAHA." I should probably just quit right here, right now.

Now I am slightly fearful for my life, I start the game. Taxi Rider 's only controls are accelerate, reverse and steer. It baffles me that they had a ton of button options available, but still went with triangle for reverse. I get used to it pretty quickly, and start my journey towards becoming the greatest taxi driver Japan has ever known. The driving is OK (Also, like Zombie Virus this has better handling than Watch Dogs.) but the problem seems to be the awkwardly designed city and the incredibly aggressive, toy car traffic.

We need to get to the police station... RIGHT NOW!

Every single vehicle that isn't my cab would seemingly be unable to fit the odd chibi people that inhabit Nijiro city. Which probably makes sense why I'm being asked to ferry children to police stations, "fat middle-aged men" to the bank and chase/crash into cars with their grandfathers in them. The game has a map, but doesn't mark anything on it so you spend a large portion of your time driving around in circles looking for people to pick up. It doesn't help that there are people everywhere trapped behind invisible walls and the occasional pedestrian just going for a walk that you can attempt to run over, but they just spring off the car comically. The ones you can pick up are usually waving.

Ogawara is constantly telling you that there are many people at the shopping centre or the town hall, but the game just expects me to know where these places are. This isn't helped by the awful pop in and blurry textures. I assume it just wants me to figure it out by the way places look, but the shopping centre just looks like a cinema having a big hollywood premiere. Oddly, tons of children need to get to the police station though so I figure pretty early on that the place with the giant shield is where I need to go when they ask... And a lot of kids NEED to get to the police station.

Tamsoft entering the next generation with style. (The thumbnail for the first video I linked here was too much for even me.)

When the day is over you'll return back to Ogawara and give him the money you have made. On "DAY FIRST!" I made 10,425 Yen which is I assume is pretty respectable because my taxi gets installed with a speed upgrade that makes absolutely no difference whatsoever. There are limited options here, but I save my game and continue onto DAY SECOND!

I hate you so much.

DAY SECOND! is when things get a little weird. I mean, the gameplay continues to suck my soul dry, but the odd ET-like inhabitants of this world really want to go to some odd places. I picked up a school girl that wanted to go to the police station followed by a car exhibition, a small boy desperately needed to go to the bank followed by a hotel and a creepy dude at the shopping centre is all like INEEDTOGETTOTHESCHOOLRIGHTNOWDON'TSTOPFORANYTHING!!!! What he means by this is that I have to do a continuous drive without any kind of reversing or sharp turning. The objective arrow which often lies to you made me take a wrong turn resulting in the creepy dude jumping out of my taxi and telling me I suck.

Thankfully most people are pretty appreciative, telling me that I "drive so quiet" and that my "fast drive helped so much." On DAY THIRD! I really started to feel the strain when the passengers all became a lot more demanding. Most of them wanting me to reach my destination without bumping into any traffic and driving places really, really fast. An old dude with a school girl got really pissed when I nudged the scenery, telling me I drove like a senior citizen. Whatever, dude. I'm calling the cops. The next person I pick up tells me I'm really fast, but that praise doesn't last for long when a lady jumps out of my car in the middle of the road yelling "I'M INJURED!" I'm starting to think that this job isn't for me or the people of this city have unreasonable demands.

This is the box art for the never released outside of Japan sequel. And quite possibly one of the most questionable images I have ever made.

DAY FOURTH! came around. Ogawara tells me I have unlocked Dragon Hills which means I can now travel to an area with even more cramped streets and even more traffic to deal with, along with the increased demands of my passengers. Ogawara warns me that if I am bad at my job less people will want to get into my cab. As I'm driving around the new, twisty-turny area Ogawara keeps popping up on the radio to tell me that I'm getting worse and worse at my job and that I am not to make my customers hate me. Thanks for the advice, but THERE ARE NO CUSTOMERS HERE! After endless searching followed by a warning that my rep is both slightly bad and I have about thirty seconds to make enough money, I come across a passenger that wants me to drive back to three places in the old part of the city five minutes away. Fuck this, I quit.

End bit

This one was a pretty painful experience, like the last Tamsoft game I played (Paparazzi) there isn't really anything to keep you playing beyond the first couple of hours. It's very light on ideas with no real upgrade system or even anything to do other than drive and drop off passengers. The map is useless, the world is lifeless and bafflingly this is one of the few games that actually got a sequel, (Vol 109) although even 505 games didn't want to touch that one. What next? Bikes? Boobs? or is it time for the splatter?

Also... BAYONETTA 2 IS OUT THIS WEEK!

Thanks for reading and be excellent to each other.

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Next Gen Horror. (The spoilers within.)

Laura is pretty terrifying when you meet her, but for all her shrieking, she's pretty armless.
Joseph and Julie don't quite understand how Mexican standoffs work.
See this corner here? The boss totally can't hit you if you stand there.
I bet the staff have never taste tested this one.
Nothing's gonna stop us now.
Where my skull?
Duck hunt!
Hardest boss in the game
Nope, not creepy at all.

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Simple Blog Get! 4: Tom Clancy's Advanced Tactical Blogfare.

Have you ever wanted to know what a Japanese tactical third person shooter on the PS2 plays like? Well here are some thoughts on just that. It's only been a week since my last blog. I'm pretty awesome!

Special Forces / Simple Series Vol 108: The Nihon Tokushubutai.

The year is 2015 A.D and the cops no longer have control of the streets. The terrorists need to be subdued, and regular cops just aren't going to be enough. What Japan needs is some kind of supercop, the best of the best, the fastest, bestest, smartest cop. Japan needs cops that are ready to make the hard decisions. Do they go in guns blazing or negotiate a peaceful solution? Use stealth methods to take down threats with a minimal loss of life? Being a member of SACT (Special Assault Combat Team) you're going to be tasked with a lot of tough decisions, decisions a normal cop just wouldn't be able to handle.

SACT is made up of the four best cops for the job...

Will Right - An experienced team leader with the charisma to unite even the most disorganized of teams. VERY virtuous and also really good at designing monsters using the Spore Creature Creator.

Joe Thompson - Passionate, courageous and some great reflexes. A man so swift and graceful that it doesn't matter that he can't shoot for shit.

Chris Beckett - He could kill a man from a thousand yards with a rifle in high winds. Only eight or ten guys in the world could shoot like that.

Ray Saito - Ray unfortunately stands out due to having the least Japanese sounding name of the team. He's as stealthy as they come and has the most beautiful mane of golden hair. Ray is not only good with a deadly weapon, but has looks that could stop any man dead in his tracks, maybe even kill!

Special Forces is a tactical shooter in which you control a team of Japan's best cleaning the streets of terrorist scum. At the start of each mission you can select your two weapon loadout. The back of the box promises me that I'm going to use "REAL WEAPONS!", weapons such as the AZ47 and the Valther 38. The game will also let me unlock grenades and sniper rifles later on, but I'm limited to the standard selection of near-future weaponry at the beginning. I am ranked private after all... Whoa, what? Japan's very best are the lowest military rank? Is good hair or very virtuousness more of a requirement for being a member of SACT than being a veteran of urban combat?

The AZ74 has become the standard weapon for dealing with terrorists in the dark future of 2015.

The game also lets me choose who I want to play as from the selection of Helghast SACT members, as well as choose an AI controlled partner that will follow me about. It's pretty confusing which one you're choosing for what role. For some reason the character you play as is standing in the background, and the AI partner in the foreground on the mission select screen. To be honest it doesn't really matter which one you choose for what role. They all act and look the same anyway.

The first mission wants me to rid a store of dangerous terrorists. Their demands are unknown so I should probably try and take as many of them alive as possible. Every twenty seconds of the first mission one of my superiors calls me to tell me I need to do something or other. "Hey, that's a terrorist! Stop him!" "Hey, that's a door! You can open them!" "Hey, listen!" " Hey, listen!" "He..." SHUTTHEEFFUP!

Not in HD.

I'm constantly reminded that I'll get more points if I capture terrorists instead of shooting them dead. If I can sneak up behind them I can warn them and then arrest them by holding down the circle button. It's kinda like pointing your gun at the back of a guards head in Metal Gear, but it's broken and 90% of the time you'll put them into an alert status where you will need to shoot bullets into them until they fall over. Thankfully shooting bullets into anywhere other that their head puts them into a downed state where they writhe about the floor for a few seconds. If you can run up to them uninterrupted, you can look down at them at an oddly specific angle and arrest them that way. Once arrested they blink into nothingness and you're awarded with a giant yellow 100pts! Shooting them right in the face will only net you a measly ten, so it's always better to arrest someone instead of murderifying them.

I tried my hardest to stealth my way into the storefront with three terrorists, but always alerted someone resulting in me spraying bullets into them until they were dead. It's very hard to arrest people when someone is shooting at you. You're so fragile that you find yourself shooting at someone and then backing off immediately because every single one of the enemies is a complete idiot, forgetting they just saw you seconds ago. Even when you wound someone and dont kill or arrest them in time they just stand back up and go about the day like nothing happened.

Because this game is set in the future we are given stealth camo. By hitting the L1 and R1 buttons at the same time you're able to turn invisible for a handful of seconds. During this time you can run away from gunfire or sneak up on someone to stealthily shoot unsilenced weapons into them without alerting anyone. I found the vast majority of my time had me turning invisible, shooting people in the face and then backing off till my camo had recharged. At some point later in the game there are so many enemies that arresting people is no longer an option, and thinning the herd is the only way to progress.

Tango falled over, sir!

Seeing as I've mentioned that a large portion of this game is shooting people dead, you might have assumed that it's an easy thing to do. Special Forces makes killing people with ease a pretty hard thing to do. The aiming reticule moves so jerkily that I often found myself lining my shot up with an enemies feet in the distance and then travelling forwards, using stealth until I got close enough to him that the dot was in line with his face. If you want to go into the zoomed-in aim mode, the aiming reticule seems to be magnetized to the middle of the screen making any kind of precision shooting impossible. Later on the game will unlock a sniper rifle that changes position when you aim down the scope, and can only be moved at right angles when zoomed in... brilliant.

For some reason your elite team of dudes only ever consists of you and your partner. I'm not entirely sure what the other two are doing when you're risking you life for your country, but it seems very strange that you only really have control over one other team member. The partner can be set to three different modes. Attack on sight, follow and stay. The best way to describe your partner is by calling him a fucking moron. Every so often he will fire a couple of shots off at enemies, maybe even kill one here or there, but for the most part he exists purely to alert terrorists to your location. Thankfully he turns invisible when you do, so escaping from danger isn't that much of a problem, and because you do most of the killing it really doesn't matter all that much if you let him die and blink out of existence. ("Dead 1 people!") Even when you call him over to you you're often greeted with an "Allies were unable to arrive" message... Sometimes when he is standing two feet away from you. He can also be told to open doors, answer phones (have no idea why this exists) and climb ladders. He's usually pretty good about opening doors, but climbing a ladder... nope, just not doing it. It feels like they forgot to actually program that one action into the game.

The back of the box also says there are 37 thrilling missions, and that they mean is that there are nine of them with various difficulties. ( I assume there are a few other that are unlockable somehow.) The opening shop level is pretty straight forward, but they start adding in a bunch of half formed ideas that are exclusive to a single mission. In a bank robbery mission with music oddly reminiscent of the dustbin lid clanging of Goldeneye you need to shoot out security cameras and unlock vaults that for some reason act like terrorist monster closets. Another level has you collecting card keys like Doom, and another has you having to shoot out the walls in a Japanese castle... This game has destructible environments!

The mission briefings often tell you you need to stop a bomb threat, kill hijackers on a plane before it takes off or clean the streets of cultists, but the objective is always the same. Kill EVERYONE dead! (Or arrest them if you're into S ranks and shit.) The other constant is that during mission briefings you are always told that the terrorists demands are unknown. You'd think that at least one of these groups would want their demands known, but y'know evil people being evil and all that.

I totally had to scan this just so I had more than two images of the game.

Special Forces is a bad game. That's pretty much a fact, but like the other games in the Simple series developed by Vingt-et-un there's something about them that I enjoy. Maybe it's how ambitious the developers are despite the skill or budget to do what they wanted with the game, or maybe it's just that I'm crazy and have played so many bad games recently that any with even a hint of interesting ideas start to seem more appealing than they actually are.

Despite the bad shooting, despite the bad AI and despite it only really having one mission type, I kinda had something resembling fun playing this game. There's a strange satisfaction from doing the dodge roll & pose (useless) when you hit R2 twice, and I'm quite fond of the references to other Simple games on the posters on the walls during a train station mission. I fully understand that these are not good reasons to enjoy something as bad as this, but I'm pretty committed to descending into terrible video game madness.

End bit.

I have actually been playing arguably good games this week also! Theatrhythm CC is a wonderful update of an already wonderful game, and returning to Titanfall after a couple of months has rekindled my love for the game that a lot of people seem to have turned on. Other things of note: Lethal Weapon 4 continues to be bad and once you take The Final Countdown out of the equation, Europe were pretty rad... Can my opinions on anything be trusted? Will I ever play Billy Hatcher? will the next Simple game I play have boobs in it? Maybe I'll answer these questions within the next week. One thing is for certain. I'll probably be a little less saner.

Blog EXECUTE!

Thanks for reading and be excellent to each other.

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Simple Blog Get! 3: Girls On Blog.

This week I have decided to talk about the pretty terrible photography simulator (Yeah, I'm going with that.) Paparazzi, also known as The Camera Kozou (apprentice) in Japan. I'm also pretty impressed that I managed to find a picture of Duran Duran that's incredibly similar to the cover of Paparazzi.

Paparazzi / Simple Series Vol 53: The Camera Kozou.

Aww... She's so shy.

Hey, it's not creepy if she wants me to take photographs of her right? The game points out at every opportunity that these girls are professional models, not hard up college girls destined for porn. Look, they all have their own fan club, some of them even have incredibly popular websites. It's not like I'm hanging around in the bushes outside of their homes or hacking their phones for nude photos. We both want to be here because we both understand great art. As lovers of art we both understand that in order to create something truly special, I will need my models to dress in school uniforms and bunny costumes.

Paparazzi is a game where you play an amateur photographer that has to stalk follow the career of one of three chosen models and take as many photographs of them posing in front of swimming pools, car showrooms and parks as possible. Don't worry about the daunting task of breaking your way into such a competitive field as one of your friends named Akira is willing to lend you some of his high end equipment to get you started.

I was gonna go for a whole Pokemon Snap thing, but abandoned it pretty early on. I did end up creating this though... which is probably for the best.

Akira takes time out from drooling over AV models for a few minutes to explain to you how to get the best out of your subjects in the allotted five minutes of shooty time. It's all about positioning and asking your model to do tricks for you like an obedient dog. Akira points out the most important thing to remember is that I need to take "FULL-FRONTAL pictures to get the maximum 300 points." Whoa, whoa, whoaaaa, wait a minute!?! This is a 3+ rated game, I didn't sign up for this. Akira goes on to explain that in order to create the most pleasing images, I need to get the model in the middle of the frame, preferably unobstructed and facing forwards. Akira tells me the rest of the basics, which pretty much boil down to "Hit the circle button and hope for the best" and sends me off to my very first professional shoot.

Good FULL-FRONTAL, but has too much clutter... no 300 point get.

Before I start the shoot I have to pick from a selection of three very different girls. Obviously, this being a Simple game I pick Riho Futaba, previously seen as a giant destroying large parts of Japan with laser beam eyes. Riho has thankfully been able to get back into her modelling work with ease and is eager to have you take photographs of her jumping up and down and tilting her head to the side with her body arched, looking innocently into the camera.

I'm given a few facts about these girls in their bios. Most importantly we get their height and body measurements, but strangely no blood type, unless that's something they removed for the EU release. Akira told me that the best way to find out about a girls personality is to take FULL-FRONTAL photographs of them, but we have some top facts about Riho already written down for us. Who would have known she's an incredible touch typist and gets as many as 4000, count em, 4000! hits a day on her website? The other two girls have their own specialities such as Rena's love of dance and strict fashion magazines ONLY policy and Nano's passion for sport and increasing popularity down to her radiant personality. Hey man, I didn't write that shit.

Check out those Bulbasaurs.

The actual game part (And I'm being generous calling this a game.) has Riho striding out like some kind of creepy insect into the photoshoot area and telling you how nervous she is. Because she's allowed to wear her everyday clothes for this first shoot she's a little more relaxed than usual. What the hell kind of professional models are these? (Rena really is in no position to be asking for her work to only be used in fashion magazines.) I'm not telling her I'm about to have a panic attack every single time the shutter clicks on my camera. Everything about this whole situation comes off as a little bit weird and unprofessional. Even down to the fact that I seem to be the only person at this public shoot. (This is made stranger by the cheers from an unseen crowd and the fact she keeps posing for what seem to be ghost photographers.)

My photo session with Riho begins and she gets over the hurdle of being a little shy and embarrassed by thrusting her chest in my general direction so I can get as many FULL-FRONTAL shots of her as possible. Riho has a kind of heart meter to tell me how much she is enjoying the shoot. The more she "likes" me, the more interesting poses she will do for me. She does point out that she IS wearing a swimsuit under her clothes so DO NOT take any photographs up her skirt, the irony being that the second shoot she does for me is in a bikini. The way for me to get her to do more interesting poses is by asking her to jump, dance and pose etc. In order for me to make her snap out of her stilted, amusement park robot poses I need to do a series of mini games that involve hitting a button as fast as possible, remembering a sequence of buttons or doing a quick rhythm game. If I do it correctly the game lets me know by flashing up "SUCCESSED!" on the screen.

SUCCESSED!

The session ends when you run out of time or you use up all 24 of your shots. I can now see a list of my photographs, and they're all given a rating of good or bad. Obviously shots with a shadow or a lack of FULL-FRONTAL are going to be bad, and I'm given points I can use to buy new lenses, film and various retouchers to fix ruined photographs as well as some effects to add to my favourite shots of girls bending over and smiling. If I get enough points to progress I get to move onto the next shoot which has it's own set of conditions like taking a picture of the girl under a tree etc. Seeing as the girls move about at random and you're limited to standing in one of three spots this is sometimes harder said than done, and the shots you do manage to get can be out of focus or ruined by unwanted things in the frame. Thankfully there's a magical tool in the shop to perfectly sharpen unfocused images. Oh man, I wish I had that when I was at college doing photography.

I'm asked to choose my best photo to give to Riho as a present. She's obviously impressed by my natural skill. She even went on to tell me that this was the best time she has ever had at the end of the last shoot. Riho also thinks my pictures are "nice" and "cute" and that hopefully next time she can do better poses just for me. Unfortunately Riho only knows how to do the same seven or eight poses over and over again, and despite the change in scenery, a little more skin and a lot more wobble you're just doing the exact same thing over and over for all of the shoots... What few there are anyway.

Sometimes she gets 4000 hits!

The dialogue varies a little between girls, but it's all the same semi-broken english for the most part. Paparazzi is possibly one of the most boring games I have ever played. Even for comedy value it has very limited appeal. The one thing of note, and this is a common thing between the Simple games with girls in skimpy clothes is that the breast physics they all share are crazy in a way Dead or Alive can only dream of. They're somewhere between the point a spring stops vibrating to a halt and Parappa the Rapper's odd 2D-3D movement. The motion is so unreal it has to be seen to be believed. There's almost no replay value unless you want to count taking photographs of "sexy" mannequins as Santa or a gothic lolitas. Good thing I can save my best photographs on the PS2 memory card so I can share them with my friends... anyone want to send me their PS2 memory cards for hot, FULL-FRONTAL Riho Futaba as an advertising sales person pics... anyone?

Your loss.

End bit.

That's another one of these games finished, It's a little shorter than most, but that's probably for the best. Also, buying this game from a seller off of Amazon gave some money to charity which means I'm making the world a better place by playing Paparazzi.

The next game on my list is Japan's take on tactical Tom Clancy-esque military shooters... minus a budget. There's also a bunch of games I started playing that I planned to talk about, but didn't really have enough to say about them other than a paragraph or two, I might get around to writing that up sometime within the week. This blog took a little longer due to personal things and stuff, but I do hope to try and write about these weekly despite being unable to do so up to this point. I will also continue to not play Billy Hatcher.

Blog SUCCESSED!

Thanks for reading and be excellent to each other.

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Simple Blog Get! 2: Blog Vs Zombie.

Yep, I've played more incredible games that only ever came out in Europe outside of Japan. The EU name is lame, but the original title is possibly one of the greatest to have ever existed... The Zombie Vs Ambulance!

This blog is brought to you by the letters Z, A and the Return of the Living Dead franchise.

Zombie Virus / Simple Series Vol 95: The Zombie Vs Kyūkyūsha.

Considering how much you see this screen I never got bored by the jittery zombie.

"Is the driving better than Watch Dogs?" "Yes... And that's a fact!" These are actual words said about this game when having a conversation with Yummylee about The Zombie Vs Ambulance. This has me wondering if the driving in this budget PS2 game is actually good or that the driving in the big, blockbuster game is some of the worst I have ever encountered.

It has been suggested that maybe my perspective on these budget games might have shifted due to the high volume of rubbish I subject myself to on a regular basis. When I start saying games like this are "alright" or "pretty good" is that in comparison to other games in the series or video games as a whole? I don't like questioning myself about things like this. I like to think my taste in games is varied and interesting, and like silly B/C/D grade movies, I can see the positives in what are largely pieces of shit. The Zombie Vs Ambulance is genuinely ok though... for a few hours anyways.

The setup is as simple as this. You're in a hospital when an earthquake happens which causes people to turn into zombies. Have you got that? There is absolutely no other setup than this. Luckily you're in a hospital when this happens as you have easy access to zombie curification. Being a paramedic it's your duty to round up the survivors spread around the city using the best vehicle for the job... an ambulance.

I don't know what this says, but I'm pretty sure it's telling you how great the title of this game is.

You start the game on foot running around a half empty garage with a stern looking lady in a lab coat that teaches you how to play the game and a "sexy" nurse in inappropriate clothing for the situation that gives you your stats on how many things you've killed, how many people you have saved and how happy everyone is. I am skeptical about whether the ambulance driver (Unnamed) you control was actually a paramedic before the outbreak started as he looks like some dude I went to college with that was way into skateboarding. He has two earrings in one ear, shorts, a vest and some trainers on. The only thing to signify that he has any experience as a medical professional is the white coat he wears over the top of his rad sk8ter-wear.

After chatting to everyone I run sk8ter Boi over to the only ambulance available and drive into the city. The default ambulance has pretty good handling and can store up to two passengers. When I am in the ambulance I can drive around using the map to decide where I want to go, but can't be gone for too long as the huge picture of the hospital lit up yellow in the top left of the screen darkens the longer I am away from everyone back at base. I'm going to assume they feel much safer when I'm doing sick grinds and nosefliptricks (???!?) for their entertainment.

You're lunch!

As I drive around the city I can either run over or avoid the zombies running around the streets. If I hit enough of them in a row a lady will shout out GOOD! Keep hitting them and she'll also tell me my combo chain is both GREAT! and EXCELLENT! I once ran over a chain of 52 zombie, but she stops around the 30 mark which is a little disappointing. The zombies, like Dead Rising don't really pose all that much of a threat, so it's a little strange as the farther you get into the game the more variations they introduce. (Zombie dogs, big zombie, gun zombie etc.) Sometimes one will grab onto the side of your ambulance requiring you to wiggle the sticks to throw them off, but for the most part you'll have no problem with them.

This is an ambulance Vs a zombie. GOOD!

The main goal is to save as many people as possible. Every time you collect a set amount of survivors a politician will appear randomly on the map. (Starts at ten per politician.) Collect three of them and they'll open up another section of the city. Once you pick up a survivor a timer ticks down and a huge arrow appears on screen directing you back to the hospital. If you don't get back in time the human will turn into a zombie which is signified by some huge teeth appearing in the middle of the screen. The only way to deal with your infected passenger at this point is to repeatedly drive into walls, probably harming everyone else in the vehicle for life. The different types of survivor you can rescue range from civilian men/women, soldiers, police officers and mechanics. Soldiers and police officers increase the hospitals defense, and civilians boost your morale. (If you run out of morale it is game over apparently.) The mechanics are easily the most important to rescue though. Mechanics mean upgrades, and the more mechanics you rescue the better upgrades they can install on your ambulance.

Save as many mechanics as possible!

The upgrades range from better tyres (Tires, but it's totally spelt tyres in the game!) jet boosts, armour, survivor scanners and mounted blades for the front of your ambulance. Once you get a certain amount of mechanics you can build bigger and better ambulances that carry more people and handle better. In order to build the upgrades you need to research them by running over a set number of zombies, the higher the upgrade the more zombies that need to be killed, with the new ambulances being the most expensive. I unlocked three different sizes of ambulance and a police car during my playthrough, but never found out what the fifth unlock is. There seems to be so little information about this game in English online that I couldn't find out what the conditions for unlocking the final vehicle are. The bigger vehicles are slower, but carry more people and the smaller ones are much faster. Strangely the police car is easily the best vehicle in a game about ambulances. Despite it only being able to seat two passengers it is super fast and has an insane turning radius on the spot.

Makes sense.

The game's biggest problem is how repetitive it is. There was something oddly addictive to begin with. The loop of saving people and unlocking things was quite satisfying, but after a handful of hours realising you're doing the same thing over and over and over again is quite tiring, especially once you have unlocked everything in the shop. The only thing to break up the core gameplay loop is the bosses... "what!?" I hear you say. Even the ambulance driver is surprised about this and has the exact same reaction.

The bosses in this game are something else. The very first boss is a giant mutant worm that you need to trick into zipping past you so you can drive into its side. Seeing as the ambulance has no weapons, the bosses seem to be more about knowing when to drive into them than any kind of pattern. The second boss is an army zombie that climbs up the side of buildings shooting and throwing grenades at you. All of the bosses can actually do a lot of damage, so you have to be pretty cautious, especially with the army zombie as the entire fight takes place in a thin alleyway. It mostly becomes a case of driving forwards and reversing for ten minutes until he stops for a few seconds in the middle of the road. Thankfully the other bosses I encountered take place in large arenas I could just drive around in circles and hope for the best. The worst fight has to be a giant laser beam shooting moth as about 99% of the time it is flying around in the sky. Obviously this is a pain for road vehicles, and the time to hit the moth when it is on the ground is so miniscule it feels like luck when you do any damage to it. Why are you fighting a giant moth in this game?... I don't know... I just don't know.

It's a shame the bosses aren't in this picture, but this is how everyone looks in the game.

The first real cutscene I got in The Zombie Vs Ambulance was about five hours into the game (I'm using the term cutscene pretty loosely here.) and all the doctor lady had to tell me was that the zombie outbreak and the giant monsters are somehow connected to the earthquake. No shit! I continued to play this game for nine and a half hours... that is NINE AND A HALF HOURS, and to be fair I kinda enjoyed my time with it for a while, but after the city opened up for a fifth time asking me to do the exact same pattern of things I just couldn't do it anymore. I'm a little saddened that I'll never find out why this city is split up into zones like a Mario game (desert, ice, forest.) and I'll never see the final boss which I assume will be some variation on an army zombie, a giant worm or a laser moth... It will be truly upsetting if I somehow find out it is a combination of all three, but I have a vast backlog of terrible games to endure to make me feel alive.

I was pretty shocked at how ok this game actually is. I expected it to be borderline broken, but I was surprised to see that there are a bunch of systems in place that all make sense, things that someone has clearly thought about. Sure, the bosses are kinda wonky and it could do with a little more variety, but I've played much less interesting games with higher budgets. Maybe this really does come down to the other games I have been rotating through recently as the vast majority of them are really, really awful with almost no redeeming features. Maybe my standards really are at an all time low. I dunno, the second I start seeing the positives in Sonic 06 is when I will need someone to punch me right in the face.

The driving really is better than in Watch Dogs.

Probably one of my favourite moments in any zombie film ever.

End bit.

I have a feeling that the next game I'm going to talk about has Japanese girls in bikinis in it. If you are by any chance following my descent into madness you will probably see that Japanese girls in bikinis are a pretty common theme within the Simple 2000 series of games. Every one of these games I survive put me closer to finally playing Billy Hatcher though, surely that will be the greatest reward of all.

Thanks for reading and be excellent to each other.

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