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Holy Crap, It Doesn’t Suck: A High Accolade

Holy Crap, It Doesn’t Suck: A High Accolade published on

So, Shantae: Half-Genie Hero is out now to the general public, and holy shit is it everything I had hoped for. As hypey as that sounds, what I was literally “hoping for” was “more of the same with another layer of refinement.” Wayforward’s been a company I’ve enjoyed following a while now since they manage to slip out original titles that show a clear personal investment in between licensed products that they still put a good effort in where I imagine a lot of companies would be content to just cash in. Who the hell would get the license to a Harvey comic strip and think to turn it into a Metalstorm clone?

Lately I just really find myself being drawn to examples of series that genuinely improve on themselves over time. Shantae for the GBC was okay, but plagued by blind jumps and probably a few too many moves for only two buttons. Risky’s Revenge was a solid little game, though it showed some signs of ideas that didn’t get quite fleshed out (the multi-layered town and forest areas, the awkward map chiefly.) Pirate’s Curse was another solid step up, enough so that her pirate equipment was easier and more fun to use than her transformation dances to the point I was actually kinda worried about what her having her powers back ruining Half Genie Hero.

Well, luckily that’s not the case and I’m enjoying the heck out of it. It’s structured in kind of an ‘episodic’ feel with each short story netting a piece of Uncle Mimic’s latest machine to set up the final chapter with Risky inevitably swiping to nobody’s real surprise. The jokes are mostly pretty funny, the animation is gorgeous, and backtracking is made more palatable by the levels usually changing to remove the more obnoxious hazards from the first time around and changing enemy types. If you find yourself stuck in a level you can whistle for Sky to pick you up, even if it makes no sense like your being on a waterslide or in an underwater cavern polymorphed into a crab. So yeah, I’m stoked- a long-awaited crowd funded game release that’s actually really good. That’s one point for 2016.
shantaeanim

155- Into the Dungeon

155- Into the Dungeon published on

2015-06-02-heroes

So, as many games as I play, it’s probably not surprising I get plenty of ideas for games I’d like to make as well. An aggravating amount, really, considering my energy and skill level when it comes to stuff like actual coding and grunt work. As cool as video games would be to get into, I also like to kick around pen and paper concepts for ideas as well for an alternative. Seeing the variety of smallish-to-largish card and board games on display at PAX 2015 really sparked a more serious interest in them. I can totally see a board game working as a viable way to put together a self contained gaming experience, and as such I’ve been kicking around ideas for a good while now on how to make an easy to play JRPG-inspired dungeon crawl. Tonight, I felt like finally sitting down and jotting down some notes related to what I’ve been brainstorming on to share for now.

2015-06-03-thief2015-06-03-ccgnotes

The game actually sort of began life as an action-RPG where you could build a party who moves as one cohesive unit, with you controlling the leader directly and the rest of your team doing different stuff based on their position automatically. Kind of a frantic ball of slashing, arrowing and passive spell buffing, basically. Then I got to thinking that a randomly-generated dungeon would totally be doable with a deck of cards, and having physical stuff to move around is always neat. My aim is basically to create something that would not only be pretty simple to pick up and play as intended, but open enough to encourage groups to invent their own quests or game styles off of the basics. That’s part of why I’m a big fan of the Dream Pod 9 RPG’s, they accomodate different “levels” of play so well that you can usually get away with playing the same units in a massive battle and keep the same basic rules played looser and more cinematically to have the players celebrate the battle with a drunken bar brawl or something.

The notes page above kind of has the basic gist of what I wanna try and do without having gotten far enough to find some testers. It’d be cool to add some extra battle options for when I get to PvP and boss battles and other random encounters, but I’m focusing on the basic idea of ‘guy does this when placed here’ for now since that’s kind of the core tenet.

Also, I know it’s kind of weird but I’d like to try and make the game solo play capable, for the sake of players who want a way to test out a team or deck between “real” sessions.

066-PAXcap

066-PAXcap published on

recovery

Well, made it to and from PAX East safe and sound thanks to a friend with a spare ticket and a pretty sweet room location. It was a good time. I’ve done cons before, but this was probably the biggest event I’ve visited. All in all, I kind of want to say more tabletop and card games caught my eye than actual video games, oddly. It didn’t really feel like a giant, bustling venue was the best place for me to really soak in anything I tried, and I couldn’t eavesdrop on the players in tabletop to see how fast they picked up the rules. (Usually if the guy running it has to stop someone and explain something past a certain amount of times, I start to doubt I would have much luck with my own copy and a handful of friends with increasingly precious time.)

I’d particularly like to shout out Zephyr, who brought a combining robot tactical card game to the show- the poor guys’ table blended in with the crowd and as of Friday, their domain had expired so *hopefully* I can find a legit way to point people at them. I got a business card, that help?

Of course there were plenty of regular old video games to catch my eye too. I played a few rounds of, and sucked horribly at Capsule <something, can’t find the business card.> They really nailed the graphical vibe of an early 90s Japanese retro game, but the actual game got kind of old fast with only 1v1 matches. It’s a little like Nidhogg, only your goal is to ride a moving platform to your opponent’s goal rather than swording your way on foot. VA11-HALL-A is a text heavy cyberpunk bartending simulator (which also feels pretty 80s, come to think of it.) Most of the other stuff I liked has probably already been pretty widely covered elsewhere, but Curses and Chaos was looking mighty fine in its faux arcade cabinet, and I actually had no idea wargaming.net‘s World of Tanks had blossomed into spinoff games for naval and air combat too. Guild Wars 2 had its Heart of Thorns demo prominently shown off, which I would be more excited about if I participated in WvW and our guild was active enough to make the most of the new strongholds being added. Splatoon looked cool. Can’t say much about Codename S.T.E.A.M., really- I went in expecting something close to Valkyria Chronicles and wound up finding the demo kind of like a janky version.

But, real talk here- I go to these shows to hang out with friends and shop for geek stuff without worrying about shipping. It’s a shame wargames are so expensive, I saw a lot of sweet miniature based games as well as vendors with terrain. There were a couple spots trying to offset the expense a bit, one producing characters on double sided transparencies in particular seemed like a great way to bring down the cost of character figures while not looking completely chintzy. (At a glance, I thought they were fantasy themed Shrinky Dinks.)

Got to meet up with some Talking Tyrants, too. Sounded like not many showed, so plans were hard to nail down, but I got in a little quality Power Stone time with them before everyone wound up doing their own things.

Also in the interest of full disclosure, I actually typed all of this on the plane home partly because my 3DS ran out of juice and partly because I probably won’t have a hell of a lot of steam left when I get there. So, uh, if I do crash, would someone kindly fix the “made it safe and sound” part at the beginning and save me some posthumous embarassment?

Ungaaaah, what am I even gonna draw? Why didn’t I do it while I was at Logan waiting?
Ha, actually wound up screwing with the sketch app on my phone. It works a lot better for sloppy ‘painting’ than as a ‘sketch’ tool.

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