Monthly Archives: June 2015

Jarenth Plays Starships — Episode 8: Two Become None

In the last episode of Jarenth Plays Starships, I conquered Nemesis 70, the erstwhile marauder home world, and added a faction of bloodthirsty pirate warriors to my empire. Technologically-minded pirate warriors, though, so I’m sure they’ll fit right in. Now, with yet another home world-class planet flying the United Federation flag, I’m almost positive no single enemy faction can realistically stand against me. Unless one or two of them have some really clever ideas, I predict smooth sailing from here on out.

After the break: And let’s be realistic: what are the chances of that happening? These doofuses wouldn’t know a really clever idea if it was presented to them in the form of a Let’s Play episode.

Ranneko Plays Pitiri 1977 – EP1 – Boy Meets Space Station

YouTube Link

Sometimes I have a specific game in mind when I finish a series, but sometimes you get this a result of me idly wandering my steam library until something catches my eye. It results in even blinder Let’s Plays than normal, I genuinely had to search to determine where I even got this game from (a humble weekly bundle from last year). Pitiri 1977 is a pretty little metroidvania game by ILIKESCIFI Games, specifically it caught my eye because of the old tape case image in the steam background. The strangest things can get me to try a game sometimes.

Thus far the controls are a little wonky especially the form swap; it is both easier and harder to change form than I expect as a result I change when I don’t want to and often end up in a different form than I intend. This is kind of problematic in a game which relies on changing active ability to solve puzzles.

The other sin this game commits is the complete lack of options menu. Not only have I found no way of rebinding keys but I cannot appear to even change the in-game volume, this is literally the first game I have let’s played to lack such a basic feature and it’s pretty important if I want to get a good sound balance going for the video.

It has however been pretty and competent enough that I want to explore more of this station, find out what is going on and just where my little brother has been taken.

Indie Wonderland: Not The Robots

“Alright, time to pick out a new game to play! Anything’s good for this week, I’m not picky… but, you know what I’ve really had enough of for a little while? Robots. I’m tired of robots right now. I just wrote that whole Let’s Play about space-faring robot Europeans, I’ve got robots coming out of my damn ears. And then Borderlands 2, and the Pre-Sequel… ugh, so much Claptrap. Yeah, I think I could really go for something that doesn’t have any robots, whatsoever.”

“Oh, hello, what’s this in my library? A ‘procedural stealth game’ by 2D Array. And it’s called… ‘No TTHE Robots‘? Well, that’s a weird name. Must be some acronym I don’t understand. But no robots is no robots. To the Steam shortcut!”

“…Goddamnit.”

(Disclaimer: I may be using this fancy tale to hide the more boring reality of ‘hey, a game I don’t know, let’s launch it without looking’. Or maybe I’m not! For all you know, this is exactly the way I came to play Not The Robots. Accept this amazing canon I present, or don’t; it’s all your choice.)

(Spoiler levels: Narrative, low. Mechanical, medium.)

(Game source: Bought it myself.)

After the break: Okay, so obviously this game will have robots in it. But… does that mean they’re necessarily front and center? Maybe they can be in, like, a background position? And other characters can remark on how weird it is that they can find anyone and anything else… but Not The Robots?

Ranneko Plays Freshman Year

YouTube Link

Trigger Warning: The video contains a scene which may be disturbing to those who have suffered abuse.

When I finish a series I like to look at small interesting games that I can cover with a single episode. I have had Freshman Year by Nina Freeman on my list for a while now after reading about it on Rock Paper Shotgun.

It is a short vignette about a woman in a US college going out and meeting a friend. It isn’t a complex game, mechanically or narratively. The story it tells is fairly straightforward but it is an experience I am likely to never have, mixed in with some relatively familiar aspects.

There is something that the limited amount of interactivity brings into this story. I was genuinely irritated with Jenna for being late and unresponsive, to the point where I had this gut reaction of “Where were you? If you had been here none of this would have happened.” I think that is a fairly natural response, but one that obviously places the blame in the wrong place. The person at fault here is the aggressor, not Jenna. I am not sure I would have had that reaction if this had been a story or laid out as a comic book.

If you want to check out the game yourself it is free, it can be played in your browser or on Steam

RanStacking – EP5 – The Stack of Evil


YouTube Link

Last time on RanStacking we rescued our family. Not just our oldest, largest sibling but our ENTIRE family, because apparently the Baron went out and recaptured all of them, include our dear old Mum. He also dug out our father for some reason. I am not sure where he was holding him since the intro and he never actually tells us. Was he always kept prisoner on this giant train? Was he held elsewhere but moved when the rest of the Blackmores were captured? This is one of those small details that just seems to make less and less sense as I pick at it.

It doesn’t help that I completely misread the foreshadowing. I anticipated the Baron disguising himself as our Dad, I thought Dad was either gone or subsumed within The Stack of Evil. In no way did I expect Dad to be genuinely there and uncompromised.

The Baron effectively being 5 evil people in one was an interesting idea, but not a whole lot was really done with it; it was just a multistage boss fight/puzzle where each Blackmore sibling has to work together with a random person from the crowd. The final stage was more interesting though I am kind of ashamed at how long it took me to click as to the analogy it was using.

I definitely enjoyed my time with Stacking, but I am not really likely to go back. It has a neat aesthetic and spends some time exploring it without letting it outstay its welcome these days I am much more partial to an experience which doesn’t take more than a few hours to complete. I only have so much time to play after all.

At this stage I am planning on moving on to other games, starting with a single session game on Friday, but if you are interested in seeing the Hobo based DLC for Stacking, please leave a comment and let me know.

Talk of the Ninja: Assassin’s Creed Chronicles China Of The Ninja

I’ve been uninterested in the Assassin’s Creed franchise for a long time. I liked Asscreed 2 and Brotherhood quite a bit, but once it came time for Revelations I think I realized that I’d had just about enough climbing, jumping and stabbing my way around a big pseudo-historical playground full of shallow minigames and collectibles. AC2 became the codifier not just of Assassin’s Creed, but of all of Ubisoft’s major releases — big playgrounds full of shallow minigames and collectibles.

So imagine my surprise when I discover that the newest AC release, AC Chronicles: China, didn’t look like that at all, but instead looked like Mark of the Ninja with an Assassin’s Creed skin.

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The HUD shows vision cones from guards and concentric circles appearing around all sounds. You climb on walls and ceilings, and can assassinate unaware enemies from above, below and behind, all using the context-sensitive X button. Environments are filled with Hiding Spots that you can sneak into and become invisible and wait until the right moment to hop back out. It has so many similarities to Mark of the Ninja that at a glance it looks like a clone.

So considering Mark of the Ninja is still my favorite game ever made, it probably makes sense that I was ready to play it and then eviscerate it afterward for being a hollow rip-off. But I was also ready to declare it a triumph if it proved itself — a game that takes inspiration from MotN, but differentiates itself and elevates the formula.

Now that I’ve played it all the way to the end credits, well, it isn’t really either of those. It’s a decent stealth game that’s cohesive and polished by Ubisoft standards, and messy and inconsistent by MotN standards.

Continue reading

Jarenth Plays Starships — Episode 7: Destiny Of A Different Sort

In the last episode of Jarenth Plays Starships, Rejinaldo Bolivar de Alencar goaded me into removing all traces of him from the universe. I took his planets, all of them, partially because of the resources involved and partially because I was afraid of what his inevitable retaliation would look like. But rather than strike back, Rejinaldo took his fleet and his people and sailed clear out of the universe. And that makes me… sad? We were never friends, per se, but our galaxy was a brighter place for his inclusion. I hope he’s happy now, wherever he is.

I mean, I fully intend to go check once I’m done taking things over here. I didn’t think I was gonna limit myself to ruling one galaxy, did you?

After the break: but now I’m getting ahead of myself. First things first: don’t put the universe-exploring horse before the galaxy-conquest wagon.

RanStacking – EP4 – The Biggest Baddest Train

In this slightly longer penultimate level of Stacking we are taking a train to an offshore platform. Which seems kind of bizarre, I mean this platform is explicitly in international waters where the Summit would hold no sway, so that is a very long train bridge for a very large train. The tracks are also remarkably low to the water which seems pretty dangerous. But then again this train appears to carry orphans and evil industrialists who literally eat money. So maybe the lack of safety measures is intentional. The Baron doesn’t seem to be the kind of person to want to spend money on safety.

The foreshadowing at the very start of this episode completely misdirected me, but I will go into that more next time, after the reveal so to speak.

Indie Wonderland: Project Temporality

Hey, are you guys familiar with that ‘self-assisted time travel’ subgenre of platform/puzzle games that sprung up in the last decade or so? You know, games where you use time rewind weirdery and the antics of your pre-recorded past selves to solve mind-bending four-dimensional puzzles? Games like Gateways spring to mind as an example, and there’s probably dozens of Flash games that I’m forgetting I’ve played.

I love games like these.

No, that’s not me being an overplayed cynic. I genuinely love games like these! There’s just something about the Time Nonsense Puzzles genre that directly tickles my game enjoyment bone. I actively have to restrain myself to keep writing this review instead of replaying Gateways right now.

So when I ran into Defrost GamesProject Temporality — which purports to offer more or less exactly this experience, but in a ‘proprietary Sparta 3D engine’, my game-for-this-week choice was made before I even really knew I made it.

Just as if time travel was involved.

(Spoiler levels: Narrative, medium. Mechanical, medium-high.)

(Game source: Bought it myself.)

After the break: but if time travel *was* involved in me picking this game, does that mean I’ve already finished it? Are my thoughts on Project Temporality FOUR-DIMENSIONALLY PRE-ORDAINED? The answer *may surprise you*!

RanStacking – EP3 – Stacking With Altitude


YouTube Link

A train, a boat and now a zeppelin. Where will the baron deploy his crew of child workers next?

I really need to pay more attention to the size of NPCs, because that is definitely a cue for some of the puzzles I just seem to take a while to put together. I ran into it with the end of the cruise ship and again when rearranging the lines in the train station here. I just assumed that the tellers were unimportant, until it became obvious that they were part of the puzzle. Doh.

Also hijinks, I should probably explore them more but the ones I have encountered so far all fall under the same brush, find a doll that does X silly thing, do X to enough other dolls or in the right environment and then that doll gets some kind of gold accessory. They are very silly and kind of quick. They sound pretty easy to collect if you are looking for them, though I think I would prefer something more interesting. Was collecting the German family in the train station also technically a hijink?