30 Day Video Game Challenge – The Rest of the Days.

So it’s becoming painfully clear that I do not have enough hours in the day to do the 30 Day Video Game Challenge. This is OK, I’m pleased I started the challenge and it has taught me that this blog will be a weekly or twice monthly blog and I certainly won’t be blogging everyday!

But I did want to finish what I’d started and so I thought ‘let’s just whizz through the remaining days and post them as one blog’. At least I then get a sense of acheievement, but at the same time I can stop sweating it and I can go back to my quest and the ultimate reason I actually started this blog, to find a game that does not frustrate me to a point where I launch my joypad across the room!

So here we go with the rest of the 30 Day Games Challenge:

Day 9 – Saddest Game Scene.

Joel’s daughter, Sarah, being killed near the beginning of ‘The Last of Us’.

Day 10 – Best gameplay.

Not really sure what that means, but I’ll say GTA IV, everything feels smooth, nothing’s clunky and there’s a ton of things to make you go back for more.

Day 11 – Gaming system of choice.

Megadrive – the console that elevated a mild interest into an addiction.

Day 12 – A game everyone should play.

It’s not for me to tell anyone what to play, but I would suggest everyone should try Zelda: Breath of the Wild, it’s just an all round well produced game with lots for everyone and for all ages. (BTW, I have a blog coming up about this game, for whilst it is all these things, it’s just not for me. I’ll explain why later….).

Day 13 – A game you’ve played more than five times.

As I never complete games in one sitting, nearly every game I’ve ever started, I end up playing 5 times! I guess this means a game you keep revisiting, so I’ll say GTA IV.

Day 14 – Current (or most recent) gaming wallpaper.

I’ve never changed the wallpaper on any console I’ve ever played, so I’ll say ‘original’.

Day 15 – Post a screenshot of a game you’re playing right now.

As I’m console based and I’ve not worked out how to do such technical wizardry, I’ve pinched one from online:

Day 16 – Game with the best cut scenes.

Final Fantasy VII had great cut scenes and one of the earliest examples of a game using cinema quality cut-scenes from memory. At the time it just looked so epic and you would whizz through the game, hoping to get to the next cut-scene as it looked so good, (bit dated now, but hey, that’s progress!)!

Day 17 – Favourite antagonist.

Neff from Altered Beast. For his catchphrase ‘Welcome to your Doom’ which makes me laugh and smile to this day, happy memories from a great game!

Day 18 – Favourite protagonist.

Lee Everett from The Walking Dead: Season 1. A good man with a chance of redemption and just a thoroughly likeable and relatable individual.

Day 19 – Picture of a game setting you would like to live in:

Day 20 – Favourite genre.

Sandbox games which allow you to leave storylines and explore. GTA series, Fallout, Saint’s Row, that kind of thing.

Day 21 – Game with best story.

The Walking Dead: Season One, I just loved the dynamic between Lee and Clementine and how their 2 stories come together, develops and oh, that ending!

Day 22 – A game sequel that disappoints you.

Dead Rising 4. After the much hyped return of Frank West and the setting of Willamette, it was m’eh! at best!

Day 23 – Game you think had the best graphics or art style.

The Last of Us Remastered. The Last of Us looks simply stunning on the PS3, so when they ‘polished’ it up a bit for PS4, I was sceptical. Boy I was wrong! They made something awesome even more beautiful and to date the best looking game on console in my opinion.

Day 24 – Favourite classic game.

Altered Beast. Not the best classic game, but one with so many memories for me.

Day 25 – A game you plan on playing.

Being a big fan of The Last of Us, I want to try some more Naughty Dog games and so I’ve purchased the Nathan Drake collection and my plan is to start at the beginning with Unchartered: Drake’s Fortune.

Day 26 – Best voice acting.

Generally voice acting is still really weak in games, but Dave Fennoy, who voiced Lee Everett in The Walking Dead: Season 1, did a fantastic job.

Day 27 – Most epic scene ever.

Not a great game, but as you emerge from the crashed plane in Dead Rising 3, the sea of zombies that greets you is amazing. I had never seen so many zombies blocking your way in a game before and it was mind blowing!

Day 28 – Favourite game developer.

Rockstar, have they actually done a bad game yet? Well, yes they probably have, but the GTA series, Red Dead Redemption and L.A. Noire are awesome, so there!

Day 29 – A game you thought you wouldn’t like, but ended up loving.

Saints Row The Third. This was my first SR game and until this point I just thought of them as a poor GTA clone. I saw it cheap in a 2nd hand store and thought, why not give it a go. I am so pleased I did as it’s brilliant. It’s looks good, it’s funny and it does just enough to not feel like a GTA clone.

Day 30 – Your favourite game of all time.

It has to be GTA IV. The only game I have 100% completion on, a game I’ve lost days, let alone hours, playing and a game I come back to occasionally to mop up any achievements I’ve not yet earned.

So do you agree with my answers? Please feel free to comment, suggest or ask why there’s no mention of Metal Gear Solid below!

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30 Day Video Game Challenge – Day 8

Day 8 – Best Soundtrack

Easy!

“Hey, hey, c’mon on over and have some fun with Crazy Taxi”

“Ya ya ya ya ya”

And then The Offspring’s “All I Want” belts out as you drive around in a colourful and “Keerazy” city and I am in pure gaming heaven.

I love The Offspring, so any game which heavily features their music was always going to be a winner for me. The inclusion of another excellent punk band, Bad Religion, was just the icing on an already rich and very rewarding cake.

The game itself is simple and a lot of fun as you pick up passengers in a time limit and try to earn as much money as possible, (and believe me, you want to better that total again and again!).

I could equally have put Crazy Taxi 2 here instead as it’s purely The Offspring’s soundtrack, but the original just shades it for me.

Honourable mentions would include WipEout 2097 with Prodigy’s Firestarter, which just fitted in so well with the game; pretty much anything in Forza Horizon 2 and the wonderful squelchy synth of Space Harrier 2, which to me has so many happy memories but unfortunately included hearing ‘Arrrrrgggggghhhhh! Get ready!’ a lot, but that’s a story for another blog…..

30 Day Video Game Challenge – Day 7

Day 7 – Favourite Game Couple

This one is a dilly of a pickle for me. The problem is that I have spent the vast majority of my life playing driving games such as Metropolis: Street Racer, Forza Horizon, Burnout etc and as such we rarely know the protagonists name, let alone whether they are in a relationship. So this has kinda stumped me!

So the answer I’ll give is a crappy one, but honest!

My favourite game couple, based on the fact they are the only one I can think off, is Johnny and Aisha from Saints Row.

I like them because they help me to answer this question!

But also because they are clearly in love and whilst Johnny is a bit of a dick, his world falls apart when she is killed. The anger, pain and ultimately revenge Johnny goes through, is love in it’s rawest form and shows that, yes, he’s an asshole, but he’s also capable of feelings.

And they look ok together.

So that’s it, short and sweet. It was either Johnny and Aisha or my driver and the Ferrari F40 I picked up in Forza Horizon, which would have been weird; and wrong on so many levels.

30 Day Video Game Challenge – Day 6

Day 6 – Most annoying character

They say familiarity breeds contempt and this is demonstrated by my nomination for most annoying character.

Fallout 3 is possibly one of the best games ever made, but boy is it a big game. A huge game. A lose your wife, family and friends where the hell did that 100 hours of my life go, game!

For that reason, you meet certain characters over and over again and there is one character who, because you meet her early on in the game and because she runs a supply store in one of the first towns you came to in the game, you meet her…. a helluva lot!

The most annoying character I’ve ever come across is Moira Brown, the Craterside Supply Store owner in Megaton!

She does nothing wrong per se, in fact she’s very helpful, especially early on with his sub-tasks and supplies which help boost your character, but the problem is you visit her a lot and whilst Fallout 3 is massive, Moira’s vocabulary is not.

‘Hey don’t mind the smoke. It’s perfectly safe to breathe. Really!’ is funny the first time, maybe the 3rd or 4th time, but by the 20th time of hearing it, I just want to launch my joypad. Get a decent extraction system in place then, (or just open the freakin’ door!).

‘Huh. Did you know the human body can survive without the stomach or spleen? Oh, what’s up?’. What’s up? Probably the fact this is the 80th time I’ve heard this ‘fun’ fact, arrrgggggh! Learn some new blooming facts will you? After all, I did spend 10 hours collating a freakin’ book for you! *launches joypad*

But the phrase that grinds my gears is ‘Good Hunting!’. I conservatively estimate she has said that to me around 200 times, just say ‘Bye’ or even better, nothing at all!

Sorry Moira, it’s not you, it’s me, I can’t do routines and the same old thing day after day and after hearing your inane chatter for the millionth time, I find you the most annoying character of all time!

Thanks for the Wasteland Survival Guide though….

30 Day Video Game Challenge – Day 5

Day 5 – Game character you feel you are most like (or wish you were).

I feel I am most like Taneo from the game Incredible Crisis.

Incredible Crisis is a bunch of mini-games held together by the story of Taneo and his family trying to get home for his grandma’s birthday. As they try to get home, various obstacles and challenges get in the way and the aim is to beat these to get back to grandma.

Now it’s lucky I don’t work in the marketing department for a games studio, because I probably have not sold this game very well, but believe me it’s a lot of fun.

Apart from the fact we both wear glasses, are roughly the same height and have faces only our mothers could love, I relate a lot to Taneo.

For instance, we start the game with Taneo half asleep at his desk and if anyone happens to venture past my desk at 9.05am, a similar sight will greet them. He gets woken up and looks confused by an alarm going off, and again if you stand by my desk at 10am every Wednesday morning, you will see a similar sight thanks to our fire alarm test, (although my version usually ends with an expletive!). Then Taneo’s manager forces him and his colleagues to dance, OK, maybe that’s where the work similarity ends…..

But from this moment, I feel like I am controlling a character who’s very similar to me. The dancing turns into a dance moves mini-game, (think Just Dance but with a joypad) and when you mess up the moves, Taneo get’s a little frustrated, (measured by a silhouette of a head, filling up to the point where steam comes out of the ears!). It’s not the end of the world, (or indeed the mini-game), if you mess up 1 or 2 moves, but it annoys Taneo, very much like it annoys me.

And that’s the theme of the game, Taneo gets a little annoyed by things going wrong until it builds up and steam comes out of his ears. It’s like they took my life and put it into an unrealistic quirky Japanese video game!

But Taneo’s frustration comes from the fact that he is trying to do something nice, (get home for his Grandma’s birthday), but keeps getting things thrown at him, (literally, in some mini-games!) and that’s usually how I feel. I’m just trying to do all the good stuff, but life just seems to get in the way. Very deep, I know! 🙂

If you’re unfamiliar with Incredible Crisis, give it a go, it’s a lot of fun. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, the music is fantastic, (performed by the brilliantly named Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra) and it’s one of these games you can pick up if you only have 20 minutes to spare and can keep coming back to.

However, when you get to the Ferris Wheel mini-game, unless you are alone, my advise is to turn down or mute the sound as it’s a bit, well, fruity shall we say!

30 Day Video Game Challenge – Day 4

Day 4 – Your guilty pleasure game

I don’t think I’m alone in this one, but my guilty pleasure game is probably the original ‘Angry Birds’.

When you are meeting a friend down the pub and they are running late, you have a choice of what to do to kill the time.

You could sit at your table, staring and smiling at your fellow drinkers, which is OK, until you realise you’ve become that weird one at the bar who keeps staring and smiling at people for no reason.

Or you could take a newspaper to read whilst you wait. The only problem with that is when you pop the paper on the table, despite the fact you could have sworn the table top was bone dry, it actually contained the Atlantic Ocean and now the paper is only good for papier mache work.

Or you could search Google Play / App Store and find a game to while away the time and that is how I found Angry Birds.

Now I’m not a big fan of mobile games, but I find Angry Birds really addictive. I like the simplicity of it, I like the daft noises the birds make and I like the fact that back in the day you paid your 79p and you got a full game, ad-free, (or you could play it for free, put your phone in airplane mode and the ads wouldn’t load!).

Over time, Rovio have managed to spoil it by introducing ‘special powers’ which you can earn occasionaly throughout the game, but to have any real stock you need to pay extra. I don’t know why Rovio went all EA on us, but the fact they keep going back to the original Angry Birds, adding more into it, but accessable only if you’re willing to pay for it, really does make me want to launch my joypad, (or in this case phone!).

But the essence of the game remains in place today and due to things like trying to get 3 stars on each level or beating your previous high-score, there’s always a reason to revisit it and revisit it I often do!

I haven’t bothered with Angry Birds 2 yet, as I really don’t like mobile games freemium ethic where you pay to win, (why can’t we just pay £10 for a full game?), but I suspect in a few months time I will give in and have a new guilty pleasure….

30 Day Video Game Challenge – Day 3

Day 3 – A game that is underrated

The problem with Saints Row is that it’s always compared to Grand Theft Auto, which as the series has moved on, is unfair.

OK, so the original Saints Row looks and feels like GTA4, however, SR was released 2 years BEFORE GTA4. If you want to do a fair comparison, you need to compare against GTA3 or the subsequent San Andreas / Vice City releases and that’s when SR starts to stand out.

SR looks better that GTA3, the city is bigger and there are more missions and more to explore. SR also has a better shooting system than GTA3, (although in fairness the game designers could have given you a blancmange as a gun and it would have felt better than the awful shooting mechanics of GTA3) and at least you get killed in SR because rival gangs outflank you rather than the fact the crosshair has a mind of its own and starts pointing at the sky, the road, the buildings, anything, anywhere except at the person you are trying to blooming shoot, (yes, that was my GTA3 launches joypad moment!).

Stilwater, the city in SR, feels so much more like a city with crowds and lots of traffic, GTA3, I’m afraid, does not. Honestly, go back to GTA3, have a drive around and tell me it does not feel sparse and more like a city which has been evacuated after a mad man has gone on the rampage with sawn off blancmange!

SR2, on the other hand, was released just after GTA4 and yes, it doesn’t hold a candle to it, although it’s still a decent game which looks more polished and resolved some of the repetitive issues of SR.

SR3 marked a watershed moment as the makers cranked up the humour in an attempt to stand out. However, despite a different city, (Steelport), visually it was not enough to stop it looking like a GTA game.

Then Saints Row 4 came out and everything went mad……

SR4 is just a funny, silly, action packed game that does not take itself seriously and looks, feels and acts in no way like GTA5, which unfortunately this game is often compared to. I’m sorry, but you just can’t compare the 2, it’s lazy, Volition, (the developers), took the game in a different direction.

They thought, ‘How can we make this different to GTA?’, someone said, ‘How about aliens invade?’, the coders replied ‘Hold my beer’.

The end result is the protagonist is kidnapped by aliens, dumped into a virtual reality version of Steelport and tries to beat the aliens using special powers such as super strength, lightning fast running speeds and leaping over buildings. Does this sound like GTA5? Of course not, the 2 franchises have moved so far apart, they only see each other at weddings or funerals.

People bemoan the fact that SR4 is easy and yeah, compared to GTA5, (which you shouldn’t!), it is easy, but do you know what? Sometimes, I just want a game I can pick up, not be too concerned about plots, sub-plots and character exploration and just enjoy myself.

GTA5 is brilliant, don’t get me wrong, but it takes itself too seriously sometimes, which dulls the clever humour and spot on social observations which are the backbone of the genre.

SR4 mission statement is ‘have fun’ and it delivers in abundance, the virtual world opens up the game to things such as a genuinely funny ‘Streets of Rage’ stage, a ‘Tron’ inspired mission and a ‘Metal Gear Solid’ section, (complete with cardboard box hiding).

So for me, Saints Row 4 is underrated because of the comparison of the earlier games with the GTA series. Yes, that was fair comment back then, but today it has its own style, look and gameplay. I just wish it was no longer viewed as GTA’s poorer relation, but as the humorous, daft, action packed, individual game which it is today.