Tuesday, September 27, 2011


Put J.J. Abram’s Bad Robot in a world off the cover of Korn’s Follow the Leader and you can begin to imagine what it’s like to be in the world of Machinarium.

Machinarium starts out with no instructions or storyline to speak of. You are a robot who has been thrown into the junkyard by what appears to be a flying dump truck. You don’t have all your pieces, and it’s unclear just what you’re capable of accomplishing.

Step in old school game play!

It’s a point and click adventure like we’ve all probably come across at one point in time or another. One thing that’s nice about it is the cursor, which is a typical mouse cursor. Your robot can stretch up and down by scrolling over him and using the vertical resizing cursor. If you can interact with an object, it becomes the ‘flash finger’ and lets you know you can push that button, or pick that item up. There is a hint system, with basic hint per level, and then a walkthrough book if you are genuinely stuck. However, the walkthrough book is a small flight simulator game of its own, so you don’t have immediate access to it.

The game gives you a brief overlay of this and then moves right into it. You’re expected to reassemble yourself and head back to town for who knows what reason. It’s up to you to figure that out!

With minimal communication to what needs to be done, the game alerts you by animations in thought bubbles above your robot’s head or another robot’s head. In fact there is no dialogue in this game. At all. All the communication is done in this way. It may seem strange, but one can hardly miss the dialogue with humorous cartoons telling the story or the next goal.

Machinarium came with the second Humble Indie Bundle that I got last year. I got decently far the first time I played it, but hadn’t touched a steam game for some time. I made a deal with myself to beat the games before the next steam holiday sale. Well, no time like the present to begin. (Especially because if I don’t, then I won’t be getting myself any games off the Steam store this year. Bastion looks way too sweet to pass up, so I better get cracking).

I especially enjoyed the inventory of this game, because once an object has worn out its use (and most of them are one time uses) the game will discard it in some humorous way. The game doesn’t try to force awkward usages from items that are completely unintuitive (a la Discworld) and each screen / area has its own item set that you’ll use up before advancing.

FUN: 4/5 - The game is very cute and unique. I can't remember the last time I played a game that used no words to tell the story and had such a rich storyline and unique play. This game was really fun, and I imagine playing it on the iPad2 would be very cool.

DIFFICULTY: 3.5/5 - Some of the mini-puzzles took a little while and added to the difficulty of the game. I think the Tower of Hanoi was the only game not covered in this. Most of the basic game play, such as what items are to be used where, are pretty simple, especially if you pay attention to where you got the item.

PLAYABILITY: 5/5 - With the brief instructions they give you in the beginning, I'm pretty sure that anyone that can click a mouse can play this game. It doesn't even require command of the English language. If you can't understand the initial instructions, it's pretty easy to see what's going on by just clicking things and getting a feel for it.

FRUSTRATION FACTOR: 4/5 - Some of the mini-games lasted way too long and were super annoying. It wasn't a matter of if you were going to solve the puzzle or not, some of them were just trail and error, over and over again until you got it right.

BEST TAKEAWAY MOMENT - Doing away with the bad guys. I don't want to spoil anything more than that.

OVERALL ASSESSMENT 4.5/5 - This game was a lot of fun. There were definitely some annoying parts to it, but I was pleased with most of it.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Nintendo: Pokemon Red (Pokemon Red fainted!)

Mike used FREE TIME!
It's super effective!

I came, I saw, and I conquered. For a game boy game originally released in 1996, this game requires a hell of a lot of play time. In order to catch/trade for all 150 portable atrocities (legitimately--no cheats), it took me just under 50 hours. (Sadly, this does not include the time I spent in the safari zone, saved in the grass looking for Tauros, Chansey, Kangaskhan and Scyther, turning the game off/on with an unsuccessful hunt. I'd be closer to 65 hours then.)

I got me a Pokemon edumacation!

I chose Red, because I'd never really played it before, and Alan chose Blue. I'm glad I did, because I got a bonus for it. I was able to get my favorites from Blue (Sandshrew/Vulpix) by trading Alan and use the boosted experience points to have a much nicer time battling my way through Kanto.

Overall, this game really stands the test of time. The translation doesn't (perhaps the first recorded instance of 'kekeke' was used by a Channeler in the Lavender Tower), and later versions of the games have corrected some crappy features (Dragonite, you sonuvabitch), but nothing beats playing through Pokemon on an old game boy.

I had a great time playing it, and I'm kind of sad it's over. I'm really glad I had a ton of AAA batteries just sitting in a drawer, otherwise that could have been expensive. (See below - used game boy batteries ready to go to work and be recycled.)

Batteries on their way to a new home

Oh yeah, and my final team ended up being:

FUN: 5/5 - Gotta catch 'em all! (Gotcha catch 'em all!) Pokemon (mon mon mon mon). Best handheld RPG for the Game Boy. Amazingly fun.

DIFFICULTY: 2/5 - The actual difficulty of the game is surprisingly low. It's not a super hard concept, and if you were to just grind your way through with a Bulbasaur or Squirtle, the game doesn't even seem remotely difficult until the 3rd or 4th badge, when your bread & butter starter isn't effective. I actually used a Butterfree/Pikachu tandem as soon as I got to the Viridian Forest and grinded them out. Took a little bit of grinding, but just dominated my way through the first few badges.

PLAYABILITY: 4.5/5 - The one ding I'm giving this game here is the overall slowness in the system. I know it's an engine made in '95, but still, trading takes forever. So does changing the Pokemon around in Bill's PC. Pretty much everything at the Pokemon Center takes forever. I think that was part of the motivation behind making a free inn.

FRUSTRATION FACTOR: 4.5/5 - Two words. Tauros. Porygon. Dammit, those guys took a long time to catch.

Tauros. UGH, what the hell man? With the walking and walking and walking and OMG IT'S TAUROS! Should I throw a rock? He might run! But you can't catch him without throwing a rock. Ugh, *throw rock* Wild Tauros is angry! Wild Tauros ran! NOOOOO!!! Repeat about a million times. Especially when his encounter rate is officially labeled 4%.

And Porygon! Com'mon man! 9999 coins at the game corner? Winning takes a long time and even buying the damned coins takes FOREVER. Increments of 50 for $1000 are crap! Crap! Lucky I still have my groove for getting 15 coin spins. 4/4 time. Quarter hit, quarter hit, quarter rest, quarter hit. Gets you the goods about 75% of the time. But still! Argh!

BEST TAKEAWAY MOMENT - Beating a bunch of adults from Team Rocket in a Pokemon battle and scaring them off. And, of course, having Professor Oak call Gary out for losing before he could make it up to the Indigo Plateau. Seriously. That guy. What a loser.

OVERALL ASSESSMENT: 5/5 - It's Pokemon! What else is there to say? You love it or you hate it. And those that say they hate it are liars! =D

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Nintendo: Pokemon Red (update 2)

I rage quit Pokemon Red last night. I have 35 more to go (after Tauros took literally forever to catch). I was super excited, because I leveled up my Dragonair to a Dragonite in the Victory Road cave on the way to the elite four. I got out and went to the Indigo Plateau Pokemon Center excited to teach him HM02. Ahh, finally, one of my party Pokemon will know fly! (And I don't have to go to Bill's PC and get out my Farfetch'd anymore!)

But wait! DRAGONITE CAN'T LEARN FLY! Apparently, in generation 1 (Red, Blue & Yellow), his wings are just a facade. None of the creators had thought it out at that time that Dragonite ought to be able to learn fly.

So I angrily went to the bulbapedia list of Pokemon in generation 1 that can learn fly. And guess what Pokemon is on there. If you said Doduo, the two-headed ostrich Pokemon, you are correct. Ostrich. As in can't fly. Right? Doduo, the terrestrial bird. Doduo, the Pokemon whose body evolved so the bird "makes up for its poor flying with its fast foot speed. Leaves giant footprints." I guess the creators of Pokemon thought it would be fun if an ostrich could fly, but a dragon couldn't.

So, Doduo can learn fly. And Dragonite cannot. Never mind that Dragonite's picture is of him just chilling, mid-flight. Can't learn fly. Not 'til Gold or Silver did they realize their mistake. Grahhhhhh.

For those wondering here is my final party.
Alakazam (Since Exeggutor is Grass/Psychic, he's probably going to be dropped for a stupid Doduo or maybe Aerodactyl ugh...)

The rule Alan and I are abiding is no legends/starters in your party.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Nintendo: Pokemon Red

I know this is the STEAM challenge. And I know I am in the middle of Loom. But I have to be honest, I haven't played Loom in a bit, and it's the fault of Pokemon Red.

My brother Alan and I got out the old game boy pockets and we've been trying to catch them all. I've been playing Red (a first for me) and he's been playing Blue. I've got 108/150 and am very close to being finished. Soon, I will be back to this challenge. I just need to get this Mankey off my back first.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Steam: Loom

I've decided to continue my jaunt into adventure games by playing through Loom, another adventure game by Lucasarts. I figured I should play through them chronologically, because all the Lucasarts games have a lot of running jokes, and if I've played the previous games, it will probably make for much more interesting game play.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Steam: Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (You chose... wisely)

or Indiana Jones and the Unnecessary Facelift

One - I remembered much too much about this game. Let me rephrase that, I remembered everything about this game and destroyed its face. Boosh.

Two - This game has the worst dialog ever. I don't say that lightly, either. It uses some parts of the movie (not even key parts), forgets other parts existed, and then fills in the gaps with the hackiest writing ever.
Example, see image below.

Three - The version given by steam has had an unnecessary and crappy facelift. They made the graphics really smoothed out and almost cartoony and, *gasp*, changed the font! Some things you just can't do in a touch-up, especially changing the font of a game I love. Especially when you use that font for every other adventure game ever, Lucasarts! Come on!

I still enjoyed this game, but the dialog and writing/story direction really killed some parts of the game for me. Others were made into gems by just how bad they were (see above and below).

FUN: 2.5/5 - This game has never been all that fun, actually. It was more or less cool because of how starved I was in the 90s for anything Indiana Jones.

DIFFICULTY: 4/5 - The puzzles, especially those at the end, do not lend themselves to easy solving. In fact, they do not lend themselves to intuitive solving. I think many of them are the result of poor design, and others are just so bad so that Lucasarts would have people buy their hint book. Which they indeed offer at the save menu. Just dial 1-800-STAR-WARS.

PLAYABILITY: 2/5 - Not just the graphics feel awkward, but the controls are really awkward. I'm not sure if it's just that I'm running it through steam under Windows 7 or what, but the controls feel really wonky. You have to click everything two or three time and hope that it works. If I didn't already know what to do, it would have been way more annoying.

FRUSTRATION FACTOR: 5/5 - The puzzles are annoying, but the fighting game takes the cake in the "Pisses You Off the Most" category. The controls to fighting are simple enough, but the problem is the speed. It's difficult to get a block in, but against some opponents you can just jab until the cows come home and they'll never swing back, making blocking irrelevant. Against others, they'll hit you at the same time you hit them. Oh yeah, and swinging a punch actually hurts you. And Nazis hit harder than Indiana Jones. It's a really crappy system.
(I know I mentioned the end of the game puzzles earlier, but they are really, really frustrating first time around. I remember raging about them when I beat it years ago, and even knowing what to do this time they were still annoying.)

BEST TAKEAWAY MOMENT - If you've seen the movie, you can figure out what is happening in this picture. This is my favorite example of storyline changing/bad writing all in one.

OVERALL ASSESSMENT: 2.5/5 - This game holds a special place in my heart, but the years and the touchups were not kind to it. I wouldn't recommend anybody play it if they want to play a game they can figure out without consulting some kind of walkthrough. If you decide to play this game without heeding my warning, then I would have to say you chose... poorly (see below).

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Steam: Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

Would you like to spar with me Dr. Jones?

I remember opening this game up for Christmas on 1993. It wasn't until 3rd grade that I had a break in beating it. My friend Stuart told me how to get past this one part in the catacombs in Venice, and from there it was home free. Some parts of this game were super annoying. Some of the puzzles didn't make sense, and you had to purposefully deviate from parts in the movie to advance.

Overall, though, I remember loving this game. Not as much as the old NES action game, but a lot. Let's see how it stands the test of time.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Steam: Portal (Blog-tality)

(An Ode to GlaDos)
This was a triumph.
Achievements were a pain
In the ass!

But part of one hundred percent

I'm super excited!
I'm being so sincere right now.

I do not have to waste more time
In chambers 13 through 18!

And I never want to play this game again,
I'll just wait 'til the sequel releases and then
I will dust off my gun
And the science will get done

But for now I wave Portal good-bye!

FUN: 5/5 - I had to give this game a 5 in fun, because I sure as hell enjoyed it. And because it is just too damned funny.
DIFFICULTY: 3.5/5 - Outside of the challenges, the game is not very difficult at all. The single player campaign probably warrants a 1.5 or 2, but those challenges really bring the average up.
PLAYABILITY: 4/5 - Except for the initial wonkiness and feelings of vertigo one may get from popping out the other side of a portal in somewhat random direction (definitely feels that way at first), this game is really easy to control. The controls are basic, but not simplistic. Anyone with any amount of FPS playtime would have no problem.
FRUSTRATION FACTOR: 4/5 - Without a little bit of youtube peeking, some of those challenges were driving me crazy and might have taken a lot longer to solve. A lot longer.
BEST TAKEAWAY MOMENT - "Remember that time you were sliding into the fire pit, and I said, 'Goodbye,' and you were like, 'No way!' And then I was all like, 'We pretended we were going to murder you? That was great!'"

OVERALL ASSESSMENT: 4/5 - This was second time playing through, but fortunately the replay value is pretty high. I love the game and the game mechanics, but grinding through the achievements and challenges really took the wind out of my sails with enjoying this game. It's similar to what Brett Favre has done right now, I suppose. Currently, his legacy may seem tarnished, but looking back these past few years definitely won't be what he's remembered for.

That said, I still can't wait for Portal 2 to drop.

*EDIT* Oh yeah! Forgot to say - one down, thirty-three to go!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Steam: Portal (Update 3)

This 3rd update is all about the 3s. It's my 3rd day playing the game, I have 3 achievements left to get, and I'm 1/3 of the way through them.

Outside of portal, portal hopping has fried my mind. I am alt-tabbing at an excessive rate outside of the game for no good reason. I'm planning on grinding these achievements out tonight. Hopefully I can get them done tonight, I wanna play a new game.
Published with Blogger-droid v1.6.5

Monday, January 3, 2011

Steam: Portal (Update 2)

It's hard to overstate my frustration with these challenge achievements. The advanced maps weren't the worst thing ever, but these challenges are kind of insane. The kind of shit that drives one to hide in a small, safe alcove and scribble about cake. I fear for the safety of my bedroom walls...

I think I'm going to clear my mind with a little bit of Super Meat Boy.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Steam: Portal

We'll just keep on trying 'til we run out of cake

Back in 2007, I played through Portal over the Veteran's Day weekend. Since it was on my dad's account and computer, I didn't think much of doing anything but just beating the game, making Still Alive my ringtone (until I realized it was much too quiet to adequately hear in most normal circumstances), and going my way with the cultural currency of understanding that the cake, indeed, was a lie.

But in this new decade (to be read duh-kade, Kennedy style), things are different. Steam has tempted me with the challenge of achievements. There is still Science to be done! I'm being serious with that statement; I have to get all the gold medals on Portal challenges, amongst other achievements.

So far I've logged about an hour and I've almost completed this current run, and I've acquired a few additional achievements. Since I've already done the game before, and remember the tricks to the mechanics, it hasn't been any trouble. I'm just hoping that getting the rest of achievements follow this trend. Don't know how long I'll be able to chill in the kiddy pool.

Steam: mltreadway

Recently, I've been purchasing a lot of games on Steam during their holiday sale.

In order to motivate myself to beat them, I've decided to do a blog check off. When I begin to play a game I will blog about it in a post titled Steam: (Game Name). There may be updates while I play through, depending on enjoyability/frustration (and of course how long it takes me), and at the end I will write a short review and grade the game.

A playthrough will be either beating the single player campaign, getting achievements or both. I will post my objective with each game.

So far I have:

(From my Humble Indie Bundles)
Alien Swarm
Braid (already beat but need final achievement)
Lugaru HD
Penumbra: Overture
World of Goo

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (KOTOR)
Star Wars: Dark Forces
Star Wars: Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II (never beat without codes)
Star Wars: Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast
Star Wars: Jedi Knight: Mysteries of the Sith
Star Wars: Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (beat years ago)
Indiana Jones & the Fate of Atlantis (beat years ago)
The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition (beat on PSN - achievement run time)
Monkey Island 2 Special Edition: LeChuck's Revenge (beat years ago)
Loom (beaten years ago)
The Dig (beaten years ago)

Half-Life: Blue Shift
Half-Life: Opposing Force
(From The Orange Box which I've owned for years)
Half-Life 2
Half-Life 2: Episode One
Half-Life 2: Episode Two
Half-Life 2: Lost Coast
Portal (beat years ago but lack achievements)
The Ship
Team Fortress 2 (crap there are a lot of achievements)

(Frictional Games)
Amnesia: The Dark Descent

(Team Meat)
Super Meat Boy

Audiosurf (some achievements left to get)
Needless to say my plate is full with games.