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Alexlotl

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  1. I’ve never got on with A Link To The Past. My first Zelda was Link’s Awakening, and going from its grid-based map to ALTTPs imprecise Mode 7 (I think? Memory rusty) map just made me feel like I had no idea where I was or where I should be going. Never had the same problem with 3D Zeldas, or Minish Cap.
  2. I’ve been pecking at this for the last week or so to find all the diamonds (or “square coins” as the game seems to call them) on each stage. Found the last ones today, and have picked up a gold rank on about half the levels in the process. Some of them are so well hidden! The third one on Hearts and Swords in particular. Anyway, that little task made perfect bitesize while-the-tea-brews Switch gaming. Time to knock off the remaining Gold Ranks now.
  3. The graphics were awful. As garish as an old Hot Tuna t-shirt, and constantly in the way. I think they chose the right information to convey (I like the big ball counter), but they could have done it more gracefully - it felt like one of those Amiga games that has great big borders just because the Atari ST was balls at scrolling. It doesn't need to be that way! Nice to see some cricket on the TV, but unclear why it isn't just normal cricket. The whole thing felt a bit like an unlicenced videogame, where they can't get the rights to use the proper team names or the proper rules. That said, I'll watch the mens game tonight, and if it weren't for the pandemic I'd consider going to one of the Headingley matches with my kids - the atmosphere looked a lot less drunk than usual, but that may just have been due to it being a womens game.
  4. I have what must be Japanese-sized hands - whenever I read a review of a Japanese game controller or digital camera and they complain that the controls are too cramped for western hands, I know they'll be perfect for me. My preferred way to play the switch used to be with bare detached joycons, no bumpers - it's great being able to sit holding each half of the controller in a natual position rather than having to hold your hands close together, which I got used to back in the Wii days. That said, more recently I find I've been using the bundled dog face grip more and have really got into it. I haven't tried the Switch Pro Controller, but I found the Wii U one really uncomfortable. I loved the Wii Classic Controller Pro (the later one with horns), though.
  5. Just finished the first of two “episodes” in Scooby Doo Mystery on the Mega Drive. For the unfamiliar, rather than the usual shovelware, this is a very ambitious attempt to bring a Lucasarts style adventure to the Mega Drive, made by a US-based team who clearly had a lot of love for both Scooby Doo and Lucasarts. It’s not half bad! I’m a Scooby fan, particularly the original two series, and they’ve nailed the characters. The way the first episode opens with Freddy, Daphne and Velma going off to investigate the ghost while Scooby & Shaggy just look for something to eat is spot on. The puzzles are mostly pretty decent - one or two could do with more hinting, but there were no WTF moments. My only real complaint here is that vital items were sometimes hidden behind other things that needed pushing or pulling to find them, with no hints that this would be the case. The Scumm inspired user interface is merely okay. The main verb palette is fine, but using items can be tricky. The rolly d-pad on a 6 button controller makes a fine mouse substitute, though. The art is pretty great - Shaggy and Scooby are big, well animated sprites, the palettes are good (barring a slightly jaundiced Mystery Machine), and the background art is great, with the bizarre angles in the hotel dropping heavy Day of the Tentacle moods. The sprite scaling isn’t quite up to the task though, with Shaggy’s size occasionally popping up and down randomly in some of the more weird geometries. The game only really has two cardinal sins: - A Maze. Which as with all adventure game mazes, stinks of “make the game longer, cheaply”. There’s only one, and you only need to navigate it once, but it still sucks. - They evidently couldn’t afford save RAM, so the game gives passwords. 50 character passwords. In a quirky font. On a busy haunted house background. With lightning flashes every 3 seconds. Fortunately, Mega Everdrive save-states work, so after keying one once, I just stopped bothering and used those. Looking forward to playing Episode 2!
  6. I bought the Super Rare Games physical of Worms W.M.D from their website for £35 odd, because I thought it would be fun for a meet up I was having with some old friends. Turned out to be a lazy cross-platform port with awful load times that was significantly less fun than the old Amiga/PC games. Disappointed, put it away when I got home and forgot about it for a year. Found it again after a year and stuck it on eBay - it went for £80+, despite being probably the least essential thing you can imagine. Just took a look on eBay now, and one sold last week for £250, which is ridiculous. So yeah, Switch stuff from SRG/LRG sells for more than RRP.
  7. In An Aeroplane Over The Sea by Neutral Milk Hotel, I think.
  8. Alexlotl

    Coffee

    Proper flat white should be small, strong (double shot) and naturally sweet, a side effect of steaming the full-fat milk. Most chains don't get it, and do at least one of serving them single shot, only doing a bucket-sized cup, or using semi-skimmed milk, resulting in something fairly indistinguishable from a latte. Since I left NZ I've only had decent ones at independent coffee shops (Spring Espresso in York is ace), and oddly at Cafe Neros, where Flat Whites aren't (or certainly didn't used to be) on the menu, but if you got the right barista (young, not yet crushed by the job) they'd be very happy to make you one to show what they could do, then ring it through as a latte.
  9. I'd be fine if bluetooth audio support was handheld only, that's the only time I want to use it.
  10. Glad they haven't fragmented the platform, but you'd think we could at least finally have Bluetooth audio support. The PSP Go had it, for fuck's sake!
  11. Had my first run on Album Arcade last night, and it was absolutely incredible! The game flows so much better without the menus interrupting you all the time, and having one continually running score (if not multiplier) is great. After a few levels I was thoroughly in the zone and managed to snag a lot of diamonds I hadn't even spotted previously. Probably only died about 4 times before the final boss, against whom I died lots. Need to practice those last few stages. Anyway, 860k+ and a Silver Rank! What a game. My wife said I was singing along during the final medley, of which I was totally unaware.
  12. Spotted a stall at my local with a few bits of retro stuff, including a cart-only Burning Force for Japanese Mega Drive, for which they wanted £30. Nope, but love that label art.
  13. Found the oddly titled Mmm! by Reiner Knizia in my local charity shop at lunch, mint for £1. Should be a good one to play with the kids, co-op prevents pouts.
  14. Finished my Monster World series playthrough with Monster Boy on the Switch (MW5 in all but name), so I'm back in the market for something new. After idly playing a bit of Phantasy Star IV, I thought I should return to Phantasy Star I - I had some unfinished business on a run where I was drawing all my own maps. I grabbed the new SMS Power 2.1 Translation Patch and gave it a run out. Yikes, a lot of the headline features here are not to my tastes. The new default font is baroque and weird, although the PS4-inspired one is good. The 2x walk speed is just too insanely fast - it would have been a lot better to make this toggleable or something. The brown hair option for Alis' overworld sprite is something that sounds so right on paper, but looks so wrong in the game, robbing her sprite of all its definition. I'm sure the 2x XP/MS options will suit some people, but they're cheating in my book, and I'm weirdly fond of the opening-game grind (which is about the only time you have to grind in my experience). That said, the updated translation is very welcome, and I'm looking forward to getting my map-fu going again. The question is, do I use the maps I made on my last playthrough (I think I'd done up to getting Hapsby), or map them again?
  15. Done! Thoroughly enjoyed that! Came into it off the back of a traversal of the Monster World series - 1&2 on SMS, 3&4 on Megadrive, and the Dragon’s Trap remake thrown in for good luck. Definitely a worthy entry in the series. The shift to a more puzzle-based approach had already started with MW4, and this ran with it, finding a natural partner in the animal form mechanics from MW2. The puzzle box dungeons + grid-based maps actually remind me of Links Awakening, which is possibly my favourite Zelda for exactly those reasons. Art style was OK - I preferred the Dragon’s Trap remake visually, both for being more impressionistic and hewing closer to classic MW designs, but Monster Boy really grew on me, and the varying zoom levels resulted in a few moments when I had to just admire the crisp sprites. Musically, it’s pretty great - the moment when you finally get out of the sewers and head west of the village in those rolling green fields with that upbeat “ba ba ba-ba” track is wonderful. That said, for rearrangements of classic tunes, I prefer what Lizardcube achieved with Dragon’s Trap. Only real negative was the intense rawk guitar in the final area, which was a bit relentless considering how long that part of the game was. Props to the player-friendly endgame, with the rainbow drop system for finding the last few chests. Minus for the well puzzle, though. How the hell was I supposed to work that out by myself? I could see the logic behind all the steps apart from the first. A villager dropping some kind of clue (perhaps Ollie after getting all the scrolls?) would have been better. I disagree with the posts about the controls being insufficiently precise, I had no problems with that. The dexterity sections could be memorisation sessions, but lack of any real consequences meant they stayed on the right side of fun for the most part, and you had to laugh at some of the dick moves the developers threw in (like that final grapple in the frog race that fires you into a wall of spikes). What I agree with above however, is that the Ghost House is a bit of a mess. It smells of a lack of playtesting, particularly the goddamn transitions between underground sections and the floor above, where seemingly 5/6 times I’d transition to the screen above only to instantly fall back to the screen below. The puzzles here are more obtuse than the ones you’ve met previously, and are now mandatory rather than just being to unlock secrets. I spent hours trying to suss out the big outside section to the east of the map without realising that I needed to solve a puzzle on the far west - I think a harder barrier here would have helped steer the player better. Also, that second race against pirate dude is the only dexterity section of the game which I concluded could frankly fuck off. I confess that section pissed me off sufficiently that I played about 40hrs of Stardew Valley before coming back to it. But all in all, I’d give this a 9/10 for fans of the series. I also know that the problems I had with it would disappear on any subsequent playthrough, so I look forward to running through it again some time. Last note - the transition to Wonder Boy III-style shooter for that one brief sequence was fantastic. Part of me wishes I could just replay it, and part of me loves those once-per-save things, like the sunken ghost ship in Super Mario World. Many thanks to @moosegrinderfor selling me his physical copy!
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