May 8th, 2013
This morning I was playing around with doing a video commentary piece on Anna Anthrophy’s Mighty Jill Off. I’ve been meaning to write about this game’s level design for a while, but because the game’s only playable in full screen—meaning I can’t play a bit and then type about it, or quickly stress test my comments on the fly—I never finished my article. I knew that the video wouldn’t work because I needed to have taken some notes first, but I gave it a shot anyway, just to prolong my procrastination. After not getting very far, I thought that I could do something similar on Wario Land 4, and came up with the video above. It’s pretty rough (so many “it’s important”s) and I didn’t do any preparation, but I’m still curious to know what you all think of it? Let me know in the comments.
April 26th, 2013
I’ve only just started the 15×15 puzzles, but I thought that I’d jot down a few ideas about Picross DS.
- Although Picross can sometimes seem impenetrable, the player can never get stuck, it’s all a matter of looking at the numbers and figuring things out logically.
- Hidden behind the simple premise are a range of deduction techniques that the player internalises through play. One of the game’s strengths is how these techniques organically emerge from the basic set of rules. You can read about them here.
- Because the player makes deductions by adding information to the board and deductions are made based on the current available information, every time a deduction is made, the nature of the puzzle is fundamentally altered. So in order to solve a puzzle, the player must continually re-adjust their mental orientation.
- The player can often make more than one deduction at the one time, so two players can solve a puzzle in two entirely different ways.
- Picross is about the way small actions build to a greater whole.
- Because information is Picross’s currency, filled squares are just as important as crossed squares, even though crossed squares don’t etch out the image. This is why punctuation is so critical.
- There should be a third camera control option for 15×15 puzzles, where the grid is large enough that the player must manually control the camera, that allows the player to move the camera with the d-pad and fill in squares with the stylus. This would prevent the player from having to manually switch back and forth between the scrolling and input functions.
Like Crosswords DS, which I’ve been playing semi-regularly for 3 years now, I guess it’ll take me a long time to finish Picross DS.
April 13th, 2013
Although Star Ocean: Second Evolution‘s narrative is pretty run-of-the-mill, one minor narrative arc did catch me off guard. Early on in the game, Claude (blonde-haired hero archetype) and Rena (blue-haired introvert archetype) run into the seductive Celine (purple-haired extrovert archetype), who shows the duo a treasure map and sends them off to Krosse Cave to track down the reward. After claiming the “ancient text” and defeating a pair of gargoyles, Claude and Rena find Celine waiting for them at the cave’s exit. She asks Claude if she can join the party. Rena expresses her discomfort for the unreserved Celine to Claude, and the player’s left to make a judgement call. Having grown sick of Rena’s pathetic “I’m a shy country girl” act hours ago, I leapt at the opportunity of adding a little verve to the narrative. Rena expressed her discontent, but I wasn’t all that fazed
Later, the crew arrive in Marze and quickly discover that all the children in the town were stolen by a gang of thieves. Our buddying heroes decide to go after the crooks, but Rena, possibly as a result of my earlier decision, split from the group and joined her big-brother friend, Dias. Claude was a bit upset over the matter, given his not-so-secret crush on Rena, but, again, I wasn’t fazed, after all, Celine seemed like a more than adequate replacement for Rena.
The difficulty spikes a little in the forrest on the way to the thieves’ hideout, but unlike before, Rena wasn’t there to heal the party out of every bad situation, and Celine could only cast attack magic. I ended up exhausting my stash of healing items and barely making it out the forrest alive, all the while feeling guilty that I’d, quite maliciously, given Rena the cold shoulder. The forrest and its onslaught of thief soldiers did something which up to that point the game’s copious amount of text dialogue failed to do: it gave me a reason to care about Rena. There’s a moral to this story and I’m sure that you’ve figured it out already: the only way to affect the player is through play itself.