Yesterday was my 32nd birthday. Surprisingly (and totally un-coincidentally), it was also the start of the third season of League of Legends play. This intrigues me not just because it’s now the most popular game on the planet (according to Riot Games, of course), but because I think I may actually have a shot at marginal success should I decide to play long term, unlike in similar “multiplayer online battle arena” games such as DOTA 2 and Heroes of Newerth. However, in order to compete in high-level “league” play, you have to max out your summoner level at 30. I’m still only at level 10, because I’ve only played about two or three-dozen games in two years, before I even understood that competitive LOL play even existed. Of course, it’s rather hard to ignore such a phenomenon when Riot has a website dedicated solely to its eSports league play.
With 20 levels to go before I become eligible for ranked play, I think I’m going to need to win about 100 games across all game modes (5v5, 3v3 and Dominion, although the “official” ranked games will probably only be 5v5). My first game of the season was a loss. I had a bit of trouble playing as Malzahar at first, because Call of the Void, his basic ranged attack activates after a delay. It’s surprisingly good for blasting away at minions, because they’re the only ones who’ll stand still long enough for you to hit them with it. For everyone else, Null Zone and Malefic Visions work better. I finished off the game with 11 kills, 2 assists, and 12 deaths, which is a lot better than I’ve done in previous sessions. Two other players actually granted me a “Worthy Opponent” honor, so at least that’s something.
Warriors Orochi 3 = game that just got pwned by me. Last night.
I’d actually reached two of the endings of the game a couple of days before that, but I was so close to the end that I felt I needed to do a mini-marathon run on the levels needed to reach the true ending (just as I did when I came within spitting distance of 100% completion in DeathSpank). The true ending is less optimistic than the “good” ending and somewhat more depressing, but it takes a lot more effort to reach – namely, increasing bonds between certain characters and taking them on side missions to recruit more guys so that you have enough manpower to take on Orochi and his minions…who all get converted to playable characters after the game is won, pushing the number of playable characters to 132 (take THAT, Suikoden!).
Even after completing all of the missions and viewing the game’s true ending, I still only have 60% of the trophy points needed to earn a platinum. In order to put this thing to rest for good, I need to:
get a level 4 weapon for every character
clear every mission on Chaos difficulty
find every equippable item, including rares
finish any level in less than 5 minutes
win a battle with a second player
Those are just the hard ones. Unfortunately, I don’t have a second PS3 controller, and I’ll bet finding someone online is hard to do, so it looks like I’ll have to spend another $40 if I want to even sniff at the Platinum for this game. I’ll need to create a gigantic spreadsheet just to keep track of everything I need, but it’ll all be worth it in the end.
For the record, I’d like to assure those of you who’ve been following my lastest PS3 gaming activity that my 1,000th overall trophy (Sony’s variant on Xbox Live achievements and Gamerscore) wasn’t meant to be earned at 10:00 PM…it just happened while I was playing Digger HD.
Now, for some useless-to-everybody-but-me statistics:
Number of games with 100% trophy completion: 5 (After Burner Climax, Deathspank, Gunstar Heroes, Pac-Man Championship Edition DX, and Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection)
Number of games with over 50% trophy completion: 13
My focus, apparently, is less toward scoring golds and platinums than getting the points for trophies in general. Bronzes may not look as shiny as silvers and golds, but if it can occupy the trophy room, I’ll take it.
The latest Sims 3 “stuff pack”, Outdoor Living Stuff, was released on Tuesday. I was hoping that there would be a smooth transition to patching up the game, and then installing Outdoor Living Stuff.
Not a chance.
First warning signal: No automatic update when I cracked open the installer program. My initial reaction was to uninstall everything and start from the beginning by reinstalling the base game and every expansion in order (which is what one usually does when things go really sour). Base game supposedly updates with little problem.
Second warning sign: opening the launcher displays the incorrect version number in the corner where all of the installed expansion packs are listed (I get 0.0.0.0 instead of 1.19.44.010017). Not noticing this, I tried adding the other expansions anyway, hoping that opening them up one at a time would expedite the updating process. No dice.
Last chance option: purge everything – saved games, settings, downloaded content, the works (not like I actually used much of that stuff anyway; I only downloaded it because the things I picked out were free) – and download and patch each game individually. I’ve loved playing the game so far in spite of its faults, but the moment I hit another big snag, I may just retreat to The Sims 2 for good. It may be a little more primitive, but I’m hopeful that all of the things I’ve downloaded and installed work as they should.
My first “finished” game of the year wasn’t a high-profile, multi-million dollar console release, or even a tiny one-man independent project. Nope…I just finished a game that lies somewhere in-between those – small, but just a shade above “unknown”. It’s a DSiWare game called Aura-Aura Climber, where you have to guide a little star as high into the sky as you can by grabbing onto circular grapple points, collecting power-ups and avoiding lightning balls and beams. There are 10 stages in the standard Score Attack mode, and after you’ve completed them all, the game unlocks “Marathon Mode” for play, where you have to go through all of the stages in order without stopping. I think I got to the fourth section of the marathon before I got struck by a lightning ball.
Endless Mode is just that – try to climb as high as you can until you either run out of time or run out of health. My highest so far is a little over 2,000m. I don’t know whether or not the placement of grapple points and hazards is randomized each time, so I’ll have to try playing that mode again a couple of times today.
Of the 30 in-game challenges, I’ve completed four – one for finishing Score Attack Mode, another for having every power-up at once, one for surviving with only a little bit of time on the clock, and one for surpassing 1,000m in Endless mode. There are more for getting crazy scores in Score Attack mode, and for seeking out hidden medals. That’s quite a lot to do in such a small-ish game (it costs only 200 DSi Points, or $2 U.S.) I expected to have to use the stylus controls to play this game, but I think using the buttons makes a bit more sense, now that I’m used to it.
I found myself on the cusp of a 100% completion run of DeathSpank, and spent two-and-a-half hours last night scrambling to complete every last sidequest before I went off to challenge Lord von Prong. At least one hour of that was naught but solid level grinding, darting back and forth from high-level enemy area to high-level enemy area. Once you hit level 19, that experience level curve might as well have been a cliff. It was all worth it in the end, though, to get every last trophy, finish every last sidequest, and listen to every last silly line of dialogue. Now, I need to hack/slash/shoot my way through the sequel, DeathSpank: Thongs of Virtue, to see how it ends.
25 years ago today, one of the most iconic and enduring titles in video game history was released to the Japanese gaming public…one that would eventually take the United States by storm and drag it out of the funk that reeled from the video game crash of 1983.
Christmas of 1986 was a big deal to me. That was when me and my brother received our first Nintendo Entertainment System, and with it, the Super Mario Bros./ Duck Hunt pack-in game. For months, we helped guide the red-clad plumber (and that green guy, what’s-his-name) past Goombas, Koopa Troopas and Bullet Bills in order to rescue the princess. After we first started reading Nintendo Power and other hint books, we learned the secrets of the Warp Zones and the curiosity of the never-ending Minus World. There was also that trick you could use to get infinite lives by kicking the Koopa shell against the staircase in World 3-1, but I could never get in position to hit it more than three of four times before it went scattering into the pit.
I’ve played many, many, many Mario-themed sequels and spinoffs since then, but the day I was finally able to beat the real Bowser in the original game was perhaps my earliest “crowning” video game achievement. My most frustrating moment was getting past the castle in Worlds 4-4 and 7-4, because those were the ones where you have to jump on the floors in the proper order before you could get to the end. It wasn’t until Super Mario All-Stars came out in ’93 that I was able to get past them consistently (the game gave you little audio cues to let you know if you’d done things the right way. I used to take the Warp Zone in 4-2 to skip right to World 8 and save myself the aggravation. When I finally got the courage to stare that level down and play all of the Worlds in order without using the warps, I was finally fully satisfied with my experience.
The point is that I played and finished a game called VVVVVVtoday (not in the same day; that would be a record). Outside of I Wanna Be the Guy, I don’t think I’ve died so many times in such a short time span – the final game results told me I had 539 deaths in about one-and-a-half hours of work. Finding some of the crew members in the early going is easy, but some rooms (especially the ones where you’re bouncing up and down all over the place due to anti-gravity fields) can be brutal.
The first time I rescued three of the guys, I thought I had done something wrong because the third person I rescued was the last one on the list, and that I was supposed to get them in order. Apparently that’s not the case, and I got them in order for my second go-round, and I still got transported to that weird dimension where I had to help one of them cross a rather treacherous path. There are two levels like this; one when you rescue three crew members, and another when you save four of them.
But joy of joys, there’s still bonus material to tackle. Trying the game from the beginning sounds like a good idea, if only to cut down on my death count, but I don’t expect to do too much better than I did this time around. I could probably go back and retrieve the last three trinkets I missed, two of which are hidden in the hardest-to-find spots in the game.
Awesomeness! I just reached #1 on Black Soliton on Hard. I don't know how long that'll last, though. The 2nd place score was about 15,000 points below mine. I'll have to check the table out tomorrow to see where I fall.
Burned through the last few stages with Kachi. Unlike my first run with Isa, I was able to do this without continuing, now that I know how to fend for myself against Commander Deko's final attack. My reward? A mode where I can switch back and forth between Isa and Kachi at any time. I may find myself using Kachi a lot more, because I find her lock-on charge shots easier to handle, even if her basic lock-on shots aren't (note to self: Isa for power, Kachi for technique).