Confessions 2011: Here I Go Again, On My Own (1/1-1/12)

Yeah, that’s right.  I made a Whitesnake reference.  YOU LOVE IT.

I don’t do well writing straight-up reviews, not because I necessarily have trouble with the form or the content, but more because I just don’t play things in a timely fashion 99% of the time.  Could I post a review of Metroid Prime?  Sure, but who would really care?  I mean…. Elaine might, but only so she could monitor me for any negative terminology and soundly beat me if any showed up.  (I….kid?  I think?)  However, since I do have a project–a resolution, if you will–in progress, I’m resurrecting the ol’ journal-style update system so that I have something pushing me along besides my list and you have something to read and scoff at when I start lagging behind… or just get stuck on Persona forever, which is what pretty much happened this week.  Surprise!

I’ve actually already completed two games this year, putting me pretty much on track for my “game-a-week” goal…which is good, because I’m pretty sure the ones I’m playing now are going to take a while to complete, so I’m going to get a bit behind already.  Oh well.  I started playing Little Big Planet on New Year’s Day, because I figured that since the second one is due out this month, I should probably get on the bus and at least give it a go.  What I found is that LBP is a completionist’s dream…and nightmare.  Each pre-loaded level comes packed with a ton of stuff to gather: new fabrics, costumes, props, and scenery abound.  You can use these assets to customize your Sackcreature as you like (in my case, with pigtails, a halo, fairy wings, and nasty sharp pointy teeth), and also to trick out your “pod,” which is where you go when you’re not out traversing the galaxy.  These things, however, comprise only a tiny, tiny part of what makes LBP special; the pre-loaded levels are absolutely insignificant compared to the number of user-created ones you can obtain from PSN.  I didn’t even touch this feature, because I suspected that if I did, I wouldn’t stop.  I’d keep roaming forever, becoming furious when I encountered levels that lacked quality, but allowing that fury to fuel my ever-intensifying search for the diamonds glittering among the coal.  It’s extremely cool that this kind of play exists, and it’ll be interesting to see how LBP2 refines it, but honestly…it’s just not *for* me.  So, I played the pre-mades and moved on.  On its own merits, this is a fun (if not particularly challenging) little platformer; it’s not put together as well as some, perhaps, but its other features are its true focus anyway, so I can forgive a few quirks.

If you follow me on Twitter (and if not, WHY NOT?), you may remember the sad tale of my silver Ratchet and Clank-era PSP, which died a tragic death a short while ago after three lovely years.  I replaced it with the new God of War-bundled 3000 model, which, aside from being pretty damn sexy, also comes with God of War: Ghost of Sparta, a game that I would have purchased anyway, given my enjoyment of the PSP’s first installment, Chains of Olympus.  Having recently played God of War 3, I wanted to go through this as well while it was fresh in my mind, and you know what?  Ghost of Sparta is better.  GoW3 is, no doubt, an amazing game, and gorgeous to boot, but where it would sometimes frustrate me and feel like it was running itself in circles, Ghost of Sparta…. didn’t.  I don’t think this was a function of difficulty, but rather of how the games differ in their setup.  GoW3 felt like I just got stuck a lot, and I don’t mean stuck as in “I don’t know what to do,” but rather stuck as in you spend a whole lot of time mucking around the same area before you can move on to somewhere else.  Ghost of Sparta felt like I was moving through my environment and making progress, whereas GoW3 felt like I was being shuttled between set pieces.  Beautiful, meticulously-constructed set pieces, mind you, but set pieces nonetheless.  My only real complaint with Ghost of Sparta was that the magic felt clunky and tacked-on; this wasn’t a major thing for me, given that I really only used it when they made me, but there you go.  Otherwise, I was very impressed, and glad this was the game I used to break in my new system.

I never made it through the first two Metroid Prime games when they were released on the GameCube; this wasn’t necessarily because I didn’t want to, but more because I tried and just never got the hang of what seemed to me to be a completely impenetrable control scheme.  Two things changed between then and now: one, I’ve been playing a lot more shooters recently and have gotten more practice handling button configurations beyond the “just press X” style that a confirmed JRPGer is most comfortable with, and two, the Metroid Prime Trilogy was released on the Wii, with re-vamped controls that seemed to make a bit more sense to me.  I did play Prime 3 when it first came out, and I had markedly less trouble with the controls than I seemed to remember from my first round of Prime excursions, so I wanted to give the other two a shot before I dove into Other M.  As of now, I’ve finished Prime and am working my way through Prime 2.  There’s still a lot to keep track of, control-wise, so there is a bit of a learning curve, particularly if, as I am, you’re a bit slow on the shooty-shooty front.  However, sticking it out this time is proving to be pretty rewarding; I’m not so sure I like Prime 2 as much as I liked the first, but this is largely because of the whole “light world/dark world” thing that’s central to the storyline.  Basically, you (as Samus) are tasked with returning power to the light side of a planet by traveling to its dark counterpart and stealing it back.  The trouble is that when you’re on the dark side, energy is constantly leached from you if you stand in the toxic atmosphere for too long.  For a game that prides itself on puzzle-solving and such, having to constantly worry about whether you’re standing in a light bubble that’s consistent or one that’s going to collapse if you pause for too long just seems like a gimmicky hassle.  I recently gained the Dark Suit, which slows down the rate at which the atmosphere will damage you, so I’m hoping this makes things less annoying.  Avoidance of hazards is one thing, but there’s no way you CAN avoid the dark miasma all the time; sometimes you just have to grin and get slowly digested alive by it, which is why, I think, I have a problem.  Otherwise, the basic structure matches up with that of the first Prime, so aside from pushing through the “dark world” sections, I’m enjoying myself so far.

I never played the original Golden Sun games for the GBA, I think because I had it in my mind that they were SRPGs…. and you know how I feel about those.  (Hint: Not good.)  I might have to track them down, though (I mean, if I ever get a GBA again…), because I’m really loving the new one, Dark Dawn, so far.  It almost plays like a cross between Final Fantasy and Pokemon; you’re on a quest to save the world, blah blah, blah… but on the way, you collect these awesome little critters called Djinni that you can equip to your party members, allowing them to perform special attacks in battle and then summon even bigger monsters who will crush your opponents with even bigger special attacks.  Oh, and you also have magic powers of your own.  You know, just as an aside.  I’m about two hours into the game at this point, so, you know… still kind of in tutorial mode.  I suspect I will have more to say about this next time.

I am also playing Persona 3 Portable.  I don’t think I can talk about that yet.

In progress: Metroid Prime 2 (Wii); Golden Sun: Dark Dawn (DS); Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 Portable (PSP)

Completed: Little Big Planet (PS3); God of War: Ghost of Sparta (PSP)

New: Lost In Shadow (Wii)

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