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When I moved in with my girlfriend, I warned her that I was hooking my PS3 up to our TV. She said “that’s fine as long as you don’t mind me hogging it!” I soon realized that she was joking and that the last console she’d played on was the Sega GameGear. Still, that statement stuck with me.

Last winter, I started gushing about how great this game Don’t Starve was.  Because I often played on my Vita.while we were watching TV, she had plenty of opportunities to glance over to see what was so great about these little 2D sprites waddling through forests and cobblestone paths. I eventually convinced her to chop down a few trees herself, guiding her through the process by looking over her shoulder. Within minutes, she was hooked.

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Minecraft splash

I tried playing Minecraft years ago when I was still in university but was discouraged by my computer not being able to handle it. Now that the game has been ported to every system under the sun, I figured it was time to give it a real try.

I picked up the PS3 and Vita version of the game and, not surprisingly, was immediately hooked. The slow but steady progress of mining for blocks in order to build basically anything was really addictive and, if you’ve got the time and the brain for it, really satisfying. Ultimately, what it reminds me of most is my childhood experience with Lego and all the possibilities that came with it.

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RELEASED
June 11 2014

PLATFORMS
mobile
PS3, PSV

DEVELOPER
One Loop Games

PUBLISHER
Sony

Fat Princess Piece of Cake is a free-to-play game with a solid core and a slew of slimy paywalls.

Fat Princess: Piece of Cakemobile successor to the popular Playstation 3 game Fat Princess, has a decent premise but asks too much from the player in terms of progressing through the game. The match-three RPG elements, while interesting and well put-together, are undercut by the all-too-common paywalls seen in mobile games that ask for cash in order to either progress or excel.

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RELEASED
April 23 2013

PLATFORMS
PC, Mac, Linux
PS4, PSV

DEVELOPER
Klei Entertainment

PUBLISHER
Independent 

Don’t Starve has you explore an expansive world as you die again and again and still come back for more. 

Don’t Starve is a roguelike-like that has a lot to offer, including a steep learning curve. Unlike most games, you will almost never feel as though you can get strong enough to survive your environment. Instead, you’ll be constantly looking over your shoulder, hoping desperately to have enough time to make it back to camp before dark.

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Don't Starve capI have mixed feelings about Don’t Starvethe survival roguelike that I just started playing again (largely because it’s now out on Vita). When I wrote a previous article lauding it’s many virtues, I hadn’t really TRIED to beat the game, or at least to do well at it. I did a lot of research instead, watching gameplay footage and reading wikis. Now that I’ve actually had the time to sink my teeth into the game, I’m finding myself more frustrated than I would have thought.

When I first played Spelunky, I was enthused. The game was fast, quirky, and had funny puppies in it. That being said, it was still hard as hell. It was only when I stopped sprinting off ledges and throwing bombs any which way that I started to really master the mechanics (and I STILL haven’t actually beat the game yet). Still, the frustration I felt when I tried Spelunky for the first time is no match for how much I’m starting to hate Don’t Starve. 

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rogue legacyI’m starting to like roguelikes more and more (see my Spelunky post), but Rogue Legacy has me confused. At first, it seemed like any other Binding of Isaac-esque game where you dungeon crawl procedurally-generated levels while the action amps up, but then there’s this weird currency system, too.

As it turns out, the currency system flips the roguelike genre on its head, changing each dungeon crawl from a “virgin” run (i.e. you start out at the same strength level every time) to more of an RPG-rooted dungeon crawl where each run you take makes you–potentially–stronger. Thankfully, it’s the “potentially” part of that statement that makes the game worth playing.

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hohokum screenshot3

After reading a review on Polygon and sinking a few hours into Hohokum, I’m not sure what I think. One part of me agrees with Phil Kollar when he pines for a decent map system or some new gameplay mechanic after swirling in a circle for the ten thousandth time, but another part of me really loves the way this game just meanders here and there.

One thing that this type of game always brings up for me is the now-exhausted argument of whether or not video games can be considered art and, consequently, whether or not we as a culture should treat them as such. As much as I want the answer to that question to just be “yes, let’s move on,” it really doesn’t look like that’s going to be the case any time soon, especially with the way “comfort food” video games are pretty much the only ones that get mainstream attention. Still, Hohokum was a nice little break that let me philosophize on what it is to play a game.

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Monster Hunter Freedom unite3In a previous post, I talked about how hard it was for me to try to enjoy Monster Hunter: Freedom Unite. I tried and tried to feel like all the times I died or was screwed up by some system that I didn’t know about yet were somehow worth it in order to say that I was good at the game. Ultimately, I gave up on it.

Thankfully, my brother and I later had a conversation about how he was breezing through Monster Hunter 3 and that encouraged me to try to understand the way the game worked before finally deleting it for the extra memory on my Vita. With that little extra effort I put in (along with what was probably a competitive drive, seeing as how my brother is six years younger than me), the game finally opened up to me.

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Patapon 2 Logo

RELEASED
NA: May 5 2009
EU: March 6 2009

PLATFORMS
PSP

PSV

DEVELOPER
Pyramid
Japan Studios

PUBLISHER
Sony

This strange little rhythm game has a lot to offer, refusing to limit itself to a simple “match the beat to win” sidescroller.

I won’t lie: when I first played Patapon 2, I really hated it. Not only did it throw me off with how precise your button presses needed to be, it seemed like you needed to bring just the right loadout to even make it halfway through the game. As I got more and more familiar with it though, things started to open up.

The game has a fairly simple premise and delivers on it well. You have to press buttons that correspond with songs you’ve learned to make your army of Patapons move, attack, defend, or summon the gods. You move on a flat plane from left to right so it is a sidescroller but it’s definitely not a platformer. Instead, it delivers a really engaging–if sometimes frustrating–strategic experience. continue reading…

Monster Hunter Freedom uniteI got Monster Hunter: Freedom Unite a while ago on my Vita, played about five minutes of it, got totally overwhelmed, and gave up. The game is HUGE. Whether it’s crafting stuff, figuring out the best armour combinations (which can grant you skills, I think), or just picking a weapon that works for you, the game has tons of content and I’ve seen people say that they’ve sunk hundreds and hundreds of hours into it.

My first instinct when I come across a game like this is “I don’t get it and I don’t want to get it.” That’s a shitty attitude, I agree, but it’s hard imagining myself dedicating that much time to one game when a) there are so many other awesome games out there and b) I do not, in any way, have that much free time on my hands. Still, I’m now trying to get into it again and there’s one thing I’m starting to notice, something that hasn’t really shown up in a lot of other games I’ve played recently: Monster Hunter is weirdly satisfying in an incredibly elitist way.

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