recent video game playing
I’d stopped (or at least drastically reduced) my video game playing after Martha was born until around my birthday. I got a bunch of new games, then, and I’ve been playing a lot more. I already wrote about Super Paper Mario, which started out fantastic and then fizzled.
Gloria also gave me Yoshi’s Touch-and-Go, which started out underwhelming and quickly became addictive. While Yoshi and Baby Mario move at a fairly constant rate from one end of the world to the other, you (the player) draw clouds that they can slide or walk along. You can draw circles around enemies to enclose them in bubbles, converting them to coins, and you can tap on enemies to throw eggs at them. You have no health meter: one hit means your game is over. There are no levels. There is no plot. It is a very basic arcade game with a very new kind of interface.
When I passed my DS, with Yoshi loaded, around my RPG a few weeks ago, everyone was instantly addicted. When one player was out of play for a few minutes, during the game, he kept hungrily eyeing my stowed DS, trying to decide whether he could get away with grabbing it and playing a quick game.
I also picked up Puzzle Quest. It’s not really anywhere near as innovative as Yoshi. Instead, it’s Bejeweled. You know, that game that’s on every cell phone, as crippled nagware. There’s a plot, though, and clearing colored jewels earns mana for casting spells. Oh, and you can get and built magic items, siege cities, capture monsters to reverse engineer their abilities, and train mounts. The mechanic for all of this is… Bejeweled. It really works, though. I’ve set the game to easy, because I enjoy the feeling that I’m just playing Bejeweled for fun, with a bit of story thrown in between games, but when I was playing on normal difficulty, it was still a lot of fun. As I get further in the game, I’ve been impressed by the sheer number of cities, available quests and sidequests, and the little extras like magic item creation.
There are some little annoyances. The graphics occasionally get corrupted, and sprites get scrambled. Some of the “bonus” mechanics can work against you; for example, clearing four or more pips at one earns you an extra turn, and some magic will cause extra pips of a given color to appear randomly when you do damage. If you clear four skulls, doing damage and earning a free turn, in preparation for a great follow-up move, you may find that the “free red mana” you get for doing damage has replaced a yellow pip, ruining your plan. Oops!
Despite these little problems, it’s really a whole lot of fun. Also, you can know that if you don’t like it after the first fifteen minutes, you probably never will. The plot gets bigger, but it’s still just Bejeweled++.
Metroid Prime 3 comes out tomorrow. During the preceding Month of Hype, Nintendo released both Metroid and Super Metroid for the Wii Virtual Console. I own a bunch of things that have NES Metroid, including the Metroid remake, Zero Mission. I didn’t own Super Metroid, though, and I never played it when it was first out. It has been a big gap in my “video games that everyone says are awesome” checklist. I picked it up for VC last Monday for eight bucks. I’ve only played through one or two bosses, but it’s been a lot of fun. I doubt that I’ll finish it, but it’s really cool to see how little things have changed, in many ways.
I also decided that I could get ready for Metroid Prime 3 by trying to finally finish Metroid Prime 2. I’d given up during my quest to collect all the keys to the sky temple. Collecting power-ups is a Very Metroid Task, but collecting keys is much more Zelda. In Metroid, it felt out of place and sort of annoying, especially because finding them required dealing with stupid clues to their locations, instead of the usual Metroid task of seeing what locked doors had recently become unlockable. Today, I went to a Metroid FAQ, wrote down the locations of all the keys, and picked up three or four of the keys I needed. I think I need to get two more before I can get into the final battle.
I’m nearly sure I won’t finish Metroid Prime 2 before the third one arrives. That’s fine.
I haven’t yet played Metroid Prime: Hunters on the DS, except for about a minute in the demo. It didn’t really interest me. It felt weird. Playing Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin, though, made me really, really wish that Nintendo would put out a new sidescrolling Metroid. Of couse, I say this having found myself unable to finish either Zero Mission or Fusion – but until I gave up, both were fantastic. Supposedly there is such a project in the works (“Metroid: Dread”), but I’ll wait until there’s an official announcement.
Once I’m done with Puzzle Quest and Metroid Prime 3, I think I’ll be done with games again for a while, at least until I get my hands on Smash Brothers, Mario Galaxy, or Canvas Curse. After all, I have a few other things to do.