I finally updated my Beat Saber playlist!

Beat Saber Wouldn't you just duck

It’s hard to have the ‘complete’ playlist if you forget to update it!

A while ago, I created a Spotify playlist for Beat Saber. It’s incredible how often when listening to it during the day, and I catch myself moving my hands to hit the beats.

The last time I updated the soundtrack was when the Monstercat pack came out. It wasn’t until the drive into work yesterday I realised I hadn’t added Imagine Dragons!

So, that is now corrected, and the playlist is back to being complete 😀

You can browse the playlist below, or if there are any issues follow the Spotify link here.

Enjoy!

JohnHQLD

Last Week’s Gaming – August 5th, 2019

The steps of a Pandemic: a Contagion, a Rapid Response, and hopefully The Cure.

So this weeks game night was Pandemic dice themed! OK, only 2 of the 3 games were actually dice games, but the third was still radically different from the base so I am counting it 🙂

Dice and I have a complicated relationship. If rolling 6 of a kind will kill me, you can be sure it’s a 50/50 thing that I will roll six of a kind. That kind of relationship adds to the ‘draw a card and lose’ gameplay of Pandemic.

There are a lot of ‘the Dice Game’ variants out there. Some don’t have the same feel and miss, and some become more popular than the base game. A round of Istanbul the Dice Game anyone?

I don’t think Pandemic: The Cure is quite in the latter category, but it is a version I would like to get to the table more often. If you know players that are more interested in throwing dice than playing with cards, give Pandemic: The Cure a look.

It's very close to the original Pandemic experience, but with Dice!

Second week in a row, Pandemic: Rapid Response makes it to the table.

We had another new player, so I played it the same way as last time – no timer until we did the first city card, then the timer comes into play. Also, we didn’t play with the extra crisis cards, that additional ‘oh no’ when the timer runs out.

Another new player, same result – Rapid Response was a fun game to play. Yes, it takes a couple of rounds to start to see how everything works, but that is common among a lot of games.

Maybe next round I can play with the same group, and play with timer and perhaps crisis cards from the get-go.

I am really enjoying Rapid Response

After saving the world a couple of times (alright, once – we lost The Cure), I thought it would be time to give the virus a go.

Pandemic: Contagion was the first game I am aware of in the extended Pandemic universe, and you play as viruses trying to infect as many people as possible.

Even though the game night was Dice themed, I threw Contagion on as an end of game night choice just for something different, and it worked.

I had forgotten how much fun Contagion could be. It wasn’t a game that took the game world by storm, but it has a strong base and is a fun diversion. I am glad I pulled it back out for another round 🙂

Sick of saving the world? Pandemic Contagion may be for you!

Wolfenstein: Cyberpilot (PSVR)

So something surprised me this weekend – I finished Wolfenstein Cyberpilot.
There was a bit of a story twist, but at the end of the day, it’s four levels that I think I played for about 2 hours and then saw the credits.

Looking through the trophy list I saw a few things that sound like fun and will be challenging to aim for, but while I didn’t expect an epic game I did expect more.

That said, it was fun, and I enjoyed it. I might go for the platinum. I am not sure at the moment. If I can make some time with Harls maybe I will probably try more for the Youngblood platinum, but Cyberpilot could remain a fun distraction on the side.

Good Doggy. It is fun playing the as the Panzerhund.

Beat Saber (PSVR)

Here I am, firmly back on the Beat Saber train. I haven’t been able to play as much as I wanted, but I did get to play a lot more than I have been this week.

And this week I finally got to do something I have been working on for ages with the Vive version – I finished every level of the campaign!

I have come close a couple of times, but without a cloud save for the PC I have had to start again a couple of times. Ah well, just means playing more Beat Saber!

Now to platinum Beat Saber I have mainly the Expert level trophies and some time ones to get. My goal is to have the Beat Saber platinum before PAX – wish me luck!

Expert Turn Me On with a window of required hand movement. But I cleared it eventually 🙂

Blood and Truth (PSVR)

I bought Blood and Truth when it came out, but I just hadn’t had any time to give it a try. That was unfortunate, as I had a ball trying it out Saturday afternoon.

Some tracking issues took me a while to sort out, and the start of the game has you doing next to nothing for an extended period. But once you get past that, I had a great time shooting my way through a casino, laying explosives and tagging bad guys.

I even got the ‘Bogey Man’ trophy very quickly, racking up six consecutive headshot kills.

Now I have finally started playing I will give it a better run through next weekend. But if you have a PSVR and haven’t tried it out, my take right now is it looks very promising.

And... my capture messed up and I didn't catch a screenshot. Oops. Next week.

Final Fantasy X (Switch)

Flying around a fair bit this week, I got in some quality Final Fantasy X time on the plane.

Story-wise I am still in the lightning plains partially as I am grinding a bit for sphere levels, also because I am trying to remember what the glowing cactaur stones do.

One feat for this run was winning my first league in Blitz Ball. Now I can spend some more time finishing the story, which I will need to start getting a move on with.

Sometimes you get bored and let a massively overpowered summons do your work for you

Tetris 99 (Switch)

Also on the plane, I thought I would play against the CPU a bit in Tetris 99. It is a paid add on that I bought for such occasions, so why not?

I jumped into the CPU mode, and just as I started getting into a rhythm, I won the match. I was a little confused but happy. Then I saw how many foes I KO’d.

Now I have said I consider myself an above average Tetris player with plenty of room to improve. But this taught me never to look at someone’s win screen now. I knocked out 21 level 1 CPU opponents.

I cranked the level back up to 5 and started fighting for top 10 again – more what I am used to. It was a lot of fun, but if someone tells you how good they are at Tetris and won’t play in front of you, this could be the reason!

Yeah I won't be trusting a lot of these screens again

What about you?  I hope you got some great games in.  Or are you looking forward to a new one?  Let me know!  Shout out on Facebook or @JohnHQLD me on Twitter!

Until tomorrow,

JohnHQLD

Last Week’s Gaming – July 29th, 2019

The Pretty Clever Lords of Waterdeep had a Rapid Response to the incident in the Blue Lagoon

It was another great week of gaming! I have a lot of new games coming in via both retail orders and Kickstarters, and quite a few games launched last Friday and I got to play two of them!

Travel may interefere with my gaming this week, but with the original Doom trilogy, finihsing Final Fantasy X and waiting to start Fire Emblem: Three Houses I will have some solid replacement games waiting in the wings!

It has been far too long since I got Lords of Waterdeep to the table. It was a mix of new players and a couple of veterans, and everyone had just as good a time.

Lords of Waterdeep takes a long time to play, especially when learning. But two brand new players jumped in and played the full expanded game (to accomodate 6 players) with no issues at all.

It was a fun night, with breaks for dinner and desert making for a long but very social night. Expect to see more on this game over time, it still makes me happy to play 🙂

Lords of Waterdeep is my most 'blinged' game, hands down.

Playing solo, I am still enjoying That’s Pretty Clever on my phone. But I am thinkign of a Roll and Write night for my games night, so I pulled out the physical version again.

That was for 2 reasons. First, you quickly forget how much admin the app does for you! Secondly, playing the physical version takes longer and I wanted to get a feel for how long a game may take per player.

My biggest gripe is I was concentrating so much on those things, I made very poor decisions. Maybe I should take a bit longer and go for a much better score!

I pulled out the physical version for something different, even though I was playing solo

Another Alpal special that I would never have even thought to look for – and it’s a Reiner Knizia game!

Very similar in a lot of respects to games like Through the Desert, Blue Lagoon has players exploring land and collecting resources. A lot of players start turning away at such a description, but Blue Lagoon is surpricingly accessible for all players.

Want to claim a chunk of land as yours? Have more people on it. Want to have explored the most? Have people on every island. Add set collection for the resources, and you have the trademark ‘everything gives you points somehow’ of a Knizia game.

Another Reiner Knizia classic - simple yet deep, with the top 3 spots within 6 points of each other

We had a four player game, and even on the very first game almost everything clicked quickly for everyone. You play in two stages, and there are slight placement changes between the two, but it’s a game you can teach and be playing wihtin five minutes every time.

I have been looking forward to this since it’s announcement. Rapid Response is the latest addition to the Pandemic universe, and is designed by Kane Klenko of Fuse, Flatline and Flipships fame.

A real time turn based race against the clock, players have to strategise, carry out their turn and hope luck is with them against an unstoppable force – the timer :p

Instead of using cards like normal Pandemic, players roll dice and use worker placement type mechanics to create enough supplies to save a town after an unnamed disaster.

I was worried this would have the same initial 'huh' factor as Fuse and Flatline. There was nothing to be worried about.

Every time the timer runs out (every 2 minutes), you lose a token and a new city has a disaster you must deal with. Every time you save a city, you get a token back, so there is no downtime in this game!

We played until we cleared the first card without a timer to make sure we had the mechanics and the like nailed down. We also played without the crisis cards – extra machanics to increase the challenge!

Unlike explaining Fuse and Flatline to new players, Pandemic: Rapid Response seemed to click a lot better and work a lot smoother out of the gate. Look forward to a formal review in the next few weeks!

Gloomhaven (Steam)

You knew I was going to give this another go. Or thirty.

Nothing has changed since I played last week, but I am still really enjoying the ability to jump in and just clear a dungeon.

I am thinking of resetting and playing with all 4 available characters, but that will be in a week or so. I am having fun just finding my feet with the systems again.

One thing I did do differently was move Gloomhaven to my ultrawide screen, and I am glad I did. The extra screen real estate works nicely, and it the UI doesn’t feel strange like some other games.

It's a little thing, but I really love the little touches already present - like the adventure 'map'

Wolfenstein: Cyberpilot (PSVR)

Both games coming out Friday interested me for very different reasons.

Wolfenstein: Cyberpilot has you strapped to a chair and using the move controllers as virtual control sticks – both in and out of the game.

The first level has you controlling a panzerhoung – a giant robot dog with a flamethrower, and the second level has you controlling a drone with a cloak and short range zap.

I only finished two levels, but I have played enough to know I want to finish it. I don’t know if I want to platinum it, but we will see.

Flying a drone through an enemy office. That guard is about to get a shock :p

Fair warning though – in the drone level, I got my first case of VR motion sickness in a very long time. It may have been because I was playing standing while my ‘body’ was seated, but it defninitely happened. I will let you know how that goes as I play more.

Wolfenstein: Youngblood (PS4)

The other Wolfenstein game, Youngblood, had me as a co-op shooter I could play with Rabbit. Thanks to the buddy system, I only need to buy one copy of the game, and I can play with any of my friends – with some restrictions. I will talk more about that during the week.

Playing at the moment in offline mode myself, I am surprised how much Wolfenstein: Youngblood has drawn me in. I can stealth almost every area, but the run and gun gunplay is satisfying when things go wrong.

If all zeppelins had nightclub casinos, I am sure they would be a lot more popular!

Developed with Arkane Studios, the Dishonoured and Prey mechanics are very much present and fit right in. Stealth, collectables, great level pacing – it’s all here.

If I can setup a regular game partner session time, I think this might be my first Arkane platinum – I am enjoying it that much!

Horizon Chase Turbo (PS4)

Back in the day, I could mostly fit in the arcade Out Run machine at my local shopping center – the one with the car you sat in and moved as you steered. It was different, it was fun, but I never quite had the drive (hah puns!) to finish it.

Last weekend, I sat on my couch and had the exact same experience, minus the moving chair.

You can grab Horizon Chase Turbo on PlayStation Plus for July still (for a few days anyway), and if you would like to kick back with an OK racer with nostalgia feels, it works? Personally, I will just fire out Burnout Paradise again next time I want a race.

This is very much old school racing - even down to the graphics

Beat Saber (PSVR)

Yep, switched back to the goold old PSVR for a bit this week after playing the Vive for a couple of weeks.

Beat Saber is still excellent, and you should definitely play it. That hasn’t changed.

Bonuses for PSVR – the screen noticably doesn’t have the ‘screen door’ effect like the Vive does. The headset is more comfortable to wear overall, but it still has the annoying cable that must lead in front of you.

Well that was a terrible cut - but it was a cut!

Bonuses for Vive (w/ wireless adaptor) – No cable, except for a small cable to a battery pack. Obvious increase in precision tracking. Level Editor on PC which I will be messing with in a couple of weeks 🙂

Basically, I don’t think I will ever get sick of playing Beat Saber. I am giving serious thought to finally doing a semi-concentrated platinum run on PSVR though.

What about your week? I hope you had a great one!

What games did you get in? Or are you looking forward to a new one?  Do you have a Gen Con wish list?

Shout out in the comments, on Facebook or @JohnHQLD me on Twitter!

Until tomorrow,

JohnHQLD

Last Week’s Gaming – July 22nd, 2019

The Pelaton on a Danger Circuit may not be Pretty Clever

The games started strong this week. Then I got to spend a few hours in VR. It was a great week of gaming 🙂 Looking forward to a slightly heavier game next week!

Starting things off was Flamme Rouge, and by including the Pelaton expansion all six players could have fun!

We played one of the original tracks, which worked well enough. I knew there would be more grouping and blocking than normal, but with new players I also thought this would help simplify what they needed to try and keep track of.

Flamme Rouge once again demonstrated to me why it’s such a fun and interesting game, with a surprisingly deep strategy element that is easily accessible.

A lot of racers on a little track. Keeps the group count low and positioning tight!

If we are talking racing games though, readers will know how much I enjoy Downforce. We had again a mix of veteran and new players this game, and once again a fun game was had by all.

I love the simplicity of teaching Downforce, and how quickly everyone can click with the rules. It took only a couple of player turns to see why the movement order is just as important as which cars move further, and blocking in players quickly became an objective instead of an option.

Go on. Move Green 8 squares right now. Mwahahahah!

Still plugging away at this one, but this week I made a personal best – 316!

Like I spoke about Friday with the Pandemic Digital games, there are some games I like to keep playing at on the phone, and true quick solo games like That’s Pretty Clever are right up there.

My average score is now 200 after 137 games, so it might be time to dip my toes into Twice As Clever/Doppelt So Clever soon!

Personal Best! Always something satisfying - beating your record 🙂

Gloomhaven (Steam Early Access)

It’s finally here! Gloomhaven has hit Steam Early Access.  I have already written about my intial thoughts, which you can read here.

Short version though, right now it’s not for everyone – but not because it’s a bad implementation. It’s a solid base that I am sure will be built on over the coming months, but it’s not the complete game just yet.

If you want a fun dungeon crawl experience, then the Early Access version will be a good buy for you. Like so many other games though, I hope a Switch version is planned as well!

Choose your path, and see what adventures wait for you

Beat Saber (Steam/Vive)

Setting myself in with the new rig, I have discovered 2 things very different from the PS4 version of Beat Saber.

  1. No Cloud Saves. That’s twice I have had to reinstall, and twice all my progress was lost. Ah well, I guess I just have to play more Beat Saber!
  2. No Steam Achievements. While not a big deal, the fact that the PS4 version has trophies but nothing on Steam surprised me – I thought they would port over?

Either way, while I didn’t get as much Beat Saber in as I would like, I made up for it Saturday with about 2 hours worth (spread out of course). My shoulders are going to feel it Monday!

One of the Monstercat levels - Riot Overkill. It's Rabbit's favourite, mine is still Angel Voices 🙂

Operation Warcade (Steam/Vive)

I have mentioned Operation Warcade, but it was a LONG time ago. Essentially an updated version of Operation Wolf from mid 80’s arcades, you play a soldier armed with an Uzi and some grenades, and strafe over different areas to complete missions. Well, by missions, it’s really shoot everyone. But you have different objectives to do it different ways.

Playing in VR, not only are you standing in an arcade where you get a crowd as you do better at the game, but you can trigger ‘Immersion Points’ where you actually go inside the game, to the point you can see yourself playing!

A silly bit of fun, but it’s still holding up a couple of years later.

Operation Warcade goes in the 'silly bit of fun' category for me.

Superhot VR

I have had Superhot for a couple of years now, but becuase of different space limitations I haven’t actually started playing it. Until Saturday night.

I started playing the intro section that many of us have watched over time. But I couldn’t throw anything to save my life – it was very frustrating.

Giving up, I jumped online to see what was wrong. There are no instructions in game, so holding the trigger (which closes your hand) picks things up, so letting go of the trigger should drop it?

Nope. And their ‘instructional’ video that you can only see by searching for it outside the game is scary for very different reasons :p

What about you?  I hope you got some great games in.  Or are you looking forward to a new one?  Let me know!  Shout out on Facebook or @JohnHQLD me on Twitter!

Until tomorrow,

JohnHQLD

Last Week’s Gaming – July 8th, 2019

Deep Space Bathtubs doesn’t sound right…

Slowly, I am getting back into the gaming frame of mind. The house is almost ready, and the new game parcels are stacking nicely.

I only really got in a couple of good gaming sessions, but as always they were fun!

First gaming session after end of financial year, and my brain having trouble with little things like ‘rules’ and ‘strategies’.

Luckily, Alpal had a new game to show me that was very light and fit the bill perfectly – Celestia.

An updated version of Cloud 9, players take turns captaining a flying bathtub (yes, that’s right) trying to reach the farthest lands to claim the best treasure.

Gameplay is simple – the captain rolls the dice, and the other players must decide if the captain has the cards shown on the roll. If they don’t think it can be done, they jump off and grab that treasure. But if they stay on, they can get more points…

A simple push your luck game with an adorable theme and did I mention a flying bathtub? I will have to play a few more rounds of Celestia to get a formal review ready.

Put your meeples in the bathtub, and fly the skies of Celestia. The prop even spins!

I have been trying to play this one for ages, and I finally got a copy of the full game!

Deep Space D-6 is a solo dice placement game where you try and survive a trap in hostile territory.

The idea is simple – pick a ship, shuffle the threat deck and then roll your worker dice. Assign the workers to fix the ship or handle threats, then draw a new threat and see what is activated.

The game really is that simple. But that simplicity is what helps keep you hooked into a deceptively harsh worker placement game. That feeling of building tension to try and survive makes Deep Space D-6 a great solo experience!

Now I need to try and find Deep Space D-6: Armada to play with up to 4 people…

I am in so much trouble here. I managed to hang in until the Solar Winds killed me 🙁

Beat Saber

Not as much as I would have liked (or should), but I got some Beat Saber in. But not just Beat Saber – Beat Saber back on the PC with the wireless Vive adaptor.

The first thing I noticed was how much more comfortable PSVR is to just wear. The second was how nice it was to not have to worry about tripping on cables 🙂

I had to play the tutorial again, as this is the first time I played on PC since Beat Saber went to version 1. Played the tutorial (because why not), put the sabers in the circles, hit the right block. Missed the left block.

Yep, it's a headset. Any clues to upcoming games in the background?

Now, this wasn’t the gears fault – I completely misjudged my off-hand cutting distance. Looking at my left-handed cuts that swing right to left (the most common cut I miss now), I am missing the block. Barely, but I am missing it.

Jump back onto the PSVR, put on $100 Bills (yes, I am playing an easy song and missing!) and the same movement glides through the block – just, but it cuts. It looks like the PSVR is a little more forgiving – probably due to the more inaccurate tracking.

Either way, it looks like I not only have to get back into shape but also re-learn how to play with my off hand!

What about you?  I hope you got some great games in.  Or are you looking forward to a new one?  Let me know!  Shout out on Facebook or @JohnHQLD me on Twitter!

Until tomorrow,

JohnHQLD

Last Week’s Gaming – July 1st, 2019

End of Financial Year Specials are sleep, rest and relaxation. Please?

That’s it. My biggest work time is done for another year, which means I can get back into some proper gaming!

While I haven’t gotten much actual gameplay in last week, preparations are coming along nicely to ensure some great sessions are coming along in the future 😀

Final Fantasy X (Well, Blitz Ball really)

As I said last week, Blitz is far from a complicated game – but it is a fun one. This week I had time to sneak in a couple of games, and my the Aurochs are shaping up very nicely!

Maybe I should keep playing the main game a bit more and start scouting some better players though. That is a feature of the game after all!

Also wondering if I should try this on the PS4/Vita. I have Final Fantasy X on both, and a platinum run doesn’t sound terrible, just time consuming… Food for thought at least!

I didn't have much down time this week, but a couple of games of Blitz sure helped!

Beat Saber

The love I have for Beat Saber is ridiculous. If I didn’t already have a Vive and PSVR, I would seriously think about Oculus Quest just to play Beat Saber anywhere.

Honestly, that still isn’t completely off the books either…

But one thing is for certain – I haven’t played for months, and it showed. The new setup is taking a bit of getting used to sure, but the old body just isn’t quite in time with what I need it to do.

I am not 100% sure, but the tracking seems to go off in the menu screens now? I will play it a few more times this week and report if it was just the setup or something seems a bit off.

I am incredibly rusty. Back to some lower levels to get back into the rhythm!

Some Gaming Prep

So I haven’t had a heap of time to play games this week, but Sunday night I did get out some games to prep for playing this week.

Welcome to Dino World is getting the laminate treatment. For Roll and Write games, while I can make more sheets having reusables makes me feel better for some reason.

Four Against Darkness was the other Print n Play to be Laminated (not photographed), but I haven’t played that since last year.  Maybe I can teach Rabbit this week. Ooh and maybe some Roll Player, it’s been way too long as well!

Speaking of Rabbit and things being prepared…

Do you have to do this sort of thing? Nope. But I do find it very relaxing 🙂

Gearing up for regular games again

Settling in with Rabbit has been amazing the last few weeks, and while there are still things we want to finish off / finish sorting out, the house is pretty close to how we want it.

One area that is coming together nicely is the back balcony, set up for catching up and gaming! My photo doesn’t do the area justice, but especially as the weather starts warming up expect to see more photos from here!

I took a bad photo. You can't see the vines and lights in this shot 🙁

What about you?  I hope you got some great games in.  Or are you looking forward to a new one?  Let me know!  Shout out on Facebook or @JohnHQLD me on Twitter!

Until tomorrow,

JohnHQLD

Beat Saber Spotify Playlist updated

Monstercat Music Pack Vol 1

Monstercat Music Pack Vol. 1 is live

The first paid Music Pack for Beat Saber is here, so I thought it would be time to update the old playlist 🙂

I hate to admit that I have dropped off my Beat Sabering, not because of lack of interest but physically and room required it’s been a little much for this poor old man lately.

But I will be jumping back in soon – much more room coming up with any luck!

A few people have commented on paying for 10 songs (and I am being nice), but honestly, at AUD$20 it’s $2 a song with the money split between devs, stage designers and artists (not to mention the PSN split!) it’s far from greedy in my opinion.  Plus free songs are still coming out when possible!

To celebrate the release, and get me in the mood, my Spotify Beat Saber playlist has been updated with the new music – check out the music for free before committing and see what you think!

If you want to know my full thoughts on the base game, check out my Beat Saber review.

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Last Week’s Gaming – January 7th, 2019

20190107 Shadows Amsterdam

Shadows of Crime spun by Spinderella start with a Thief!

Oh, the holidays.  There was so much I wanted to do, but the only real thing I got done was wipe 99{dfca638b9dbdbc1caf156b9b6679a983a965572ca56a786c9cf360ad3783820c} of sleep debt.  Still, worth it!

I didn’t replay a lot of games, but I did knock over some video games which was fun.  Even the old favourite Stop Thief! was a new twist, trying out the cooperative mode 🙂

Spinderella

This was an Alpal special, and it was a surprising amount of fun!

Basically a kids game, your goal is to move all three of your bugs from one end of a path to the other.  But there are also some spiders working together to nab your bugs, and bits of log falling on you as well!

Heavy use of magnets makes Spinderella younger child friendly, as it will be hard to break the string because of moving the topmost spiders too far apart.  Roll and move gameplay with a twist – give it a go if you get the chance!

20190107 Spinderella
Don't let the fact it's a 'Kids game stop you from having a great time

Chronicles of Crime

I had been hankering to play this since my Kickstarter copy arrived a few weeks ago, and I finally got the chance!

A higher tech version of games like Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective, Chronicles of Crime requires you to use an app to play.  All ‘cards’ have information from a QR code, allowing different scenarios and corrections to be rolled out with app updates.

You can also ‘investigate’ a crime scene – one person has the device/VR kit, and describes the area while actively looking around.  It’s deeper than I expected, and much quicker to play than I expected as well.

Investigating is fun, and the ability to actually question subjects on individual items without prompting is amazing.  For example, if you want to ask the waiter about drinks, you scan the waiter, then the drinks evidence – done!  But you can ask literally anyone about the drinks, and there is no ‘If you have the drinks, go to page xx’ prompts, so it’s also more challenging as you work out what needs to go where.

I can’t wait to provide a formal review soon!

20190107 Chronicles of Crime
You answer like you play - by scanning the cards to give the answer. No spoilers here though!

Stop Thief!

Finally had a chance to kick back and enjoy the first Restoration Games classic in my collection.

Stop Thief! is normally played competitively, with individual players trying to work out where the thief is from the provided sound clues.  This round though I got to play cooperatively with Rabbit, and it was an intriguing round indeed!

Having never played Stop Thief, it was good to lay out my thinking to teach Rabbit how to play without having to step back from ‘winning the game’.  The game is very similar, but instead of the most money being won, everyone has a single stack of money that can run out as robberies happen.

Now to put aside some time for Solo Mode…

20190107 Stop Thief
It looks like a lot is happening, but Stop Thief! is simple and straightforward and a blast to play

Shadows: Amsterdam

Another Alpal special, and one that knocked off an item for ‘most anticipated game to play in 2019’ (You knew the lists were coming, right?)

Imagine Codenames and Dixit had an affair – Shadows: Amsterdam would be the result.

Playing in two teams, one player is in charge of giving their team clues in the form of picture cards.  Players then need to interpret which picture to move to on the board.  There are three ‘clues’ that need to be collected before a final client is to be found.  First team to find the client without getting caught by the police three times wins!

Shadows: Amsterdam is fun, fast, and a heap of fun to play.  Formal review coming soon!

20190107 Shadows Amsterdam
If you enjoy Codenames, Shadows: Amsterdam is a no-brainer selection for you!

Pokemon Let’s Go

And I have finished!  The story at least, but the journey is done 🙂

As very much a Pokemon ‘casual’, and someone that was flat out at the end of the year, Pokemon Let’s Go was a great game for me.  As I had already played Pokemon Yellow (years ago, but yeah) having an idea of the game meant I could pick it up and put it down with ease.

And it was a little too much ease.  Honestly, I skipped two gyms and a secret technique that lets you fast travel to towns you have visited, and I still beat the game (with a lot of walking and backtracking).  And beat I MewTwo.  Yep, I have a MewTwo now 🙂

There is a bunch of extra stuff to do that I may or may not do, but you can hear about all that tomorrow with the Let’s Go review 😀

20190107 MewTwo
Wandering into the cave with 3 mid-level 60 and high level 50 Pokemon made this a tough fight, but I have MewTwo now 🙂

Detective Pikachu

So I started Detective Pikachu AGES ago, and the linear story was/is fun and a new Pokemon take was interesting.

The main problem I had was I put it down as the music was putting me to sleep (I was playing bit by bit at the end of the day), and didn’t pick up the DS to play for weeks.  Even at PAX Aus, where I was grabbing StreetPasses left and right, I didn’t even fire up Detective Pikachu.

I was determined to finish Detective Pikachu this year though, and now, it’s done.  I was about 2 hours from finishing, and that was taking my time.  So close!  But I also wanted to start another game on the DS, but more on that soon.

But you can hear my final thoughts on Detective Pikachu next Tuesday if you would like to know more.

20190107 Detective Pikachu
Detective Pikachu is a whole lot of fun 🙂 Not an overly complicated, but still enjoyable.

Luigi’s Mansion

I remember years ago buying a copy of Luigi’s Mansion and a Game Cube for a friend.  I must have watched many hours of their kids and my nephew play it, but I never got around to it.

Last year, Luigi’s Mansion 3 was announced for the Switch.  Now these days, if you want a game to get my attention, announce it on the Switch.  And memories of the first game came flooding up…

Thanks to the EB Games Boxing Day sales, I now have the first two in the series on DS.  I have only really played the tutorial and the first few rooms, but it’s already proving itself to be a fun diversion that needs just that bit of attention to finish it.

20190107 Luigis Mansion
It may be an old game, but Luigi's Mansion is still a bit of fun on the 2DS.

Astro Bot Rescue Mission

This fun little gem has taken the gaming awards by storm.  According to Metacritic, it’s the #7 PS4 game released in 2018, and #1 if you look at PSVR only!

With the January sales, I had to have a look at it.  It was being universally praised, and I can see why.  It’s adorable, immersive, challenging, and most importantly (for a VR game) completely immersive.

I only played for about 8 hours I think in total, but I have 100{dfca638b9dbdbc1caf156b9b6679a983a965572ca56a786c9cf360ad3783820c} completed 3 of the five worlds and I am on the final world now.

Short version – if you like Mario Bros style games, and are interested in VR, get Astro Bot Rescue Mission.  You will hear much on this game over the coming weeks, so be ready 🙂

20190107 AstroBot Gameplay
Find your bot friends, collect coins for mini-games, and enjoy the most Nintendo platformer on PlayStation

Beat Saber

In my opinion, Beat Saber got robbed by Astro Bot on Metacritic.  As I said, Astro Bot is a great game, and I am enjoying it thoroughly, but Beat Saber I have kept coming back to all year.  No other VR game has been able to do this, and that was before the new content.

A recent update added a couple of very fun new songs, and Rabbit has discovered with me the fun of playing some songs on Faster – it somehow makes them more fun and easier while making you move even more at the same time!

I need to move more, so I am going to try and get back into playing Beat Saber daily.  Let’s see if my score goes up…

Beat Saber Hitting the Cubes
You can watch people playing, but nothing compares to the feel of cutting cubes yourself

Kingdom Hearts

YES.  It has begun.  The Kingdom Hearts run is beginning.

I am a little torn though.  Do I just run through the games?  I can do this, and may even be able to finish Kingdom Hearts 1 and 2 if I do this.

But.

I love this series, and I kind of want to platinum them – including the games I missed as I didn’t have a DS at the time.

Thinking, thinking.  Decisions to be made.  I will let you know what I decide, but if you are a fan grab the Final Mixes if you haven’t already.  The worst of the PS2 controls have been smoothed – they aren’t gone, but I am not as frustrated playing.  And it’s as fun as ever 🙂

20190107 Kingdom Hearts
There's a lot of cutscenes, but once you are into the game there isn't much time to laze about.

What about you?  What have you been up to?  Have you been getting more games in?  Let me know!  Shout out on Facebook or @JohnHQLD me on Twitter!

Until tomorrow,

JohnHQLD

Beat Saber PSVR Review

Beat Saber Feature
Beat Saber Feature
Released 2018
Developer Beat Games (formerly Hyperbolic Magnetism)
Publisher Beat Games (formerly Hyperbolic Magnetism) (Website)
Category VR Rhythm Game
Light Sabers!
Homepage beatsaber.com

Beat Saber is now ‘Official’!

A few months ago I did an early access review of Beat Saber, played on an HTC Vive setup.

On the whole, everything I said then holds up now, even on a new platform – PlayStation VR or PSVR for short.  Simple, accessible gameplay with great music and well-designed levels coupled with easily the most completely immersive physical experience in VR makes for a fantastic game.

And now the ‘full’ version is out, and first on PS4!  PC users don’t panic, Beat Games has confirmed an update to PC in the next few days, but with even more features like Expert+ (for all you freakishly good players out there!).  Expect to hear more about that when it’s released. 🙂

What is the same

Donning the VR headset and being transported to a TRON like world with your definitely not light sabers because trademark at the ready, you feel instantly badass.

Then you do the tutorial, and the helpful voice tells you how to play. Slicing through the block, the slight feedback from the controller feels satisfying.  It’s what you thought cutting through an object with a plasma sword would feel like.

You may miss a cube, or mix colours up, but you finish the tutorial.  You feel amazing – and it was only a handful of cubes.

Beat Saber Campaign Challenge Complete
It's not the tutorial, but a campaign challenge just completed. Those fireworks are so satisfying!

Then you drop into the game and start swinging to the time of an amazing soundtrack.  Now I am a Jazz and Blues fan primarily, I don’t like Dance or Techno as a rule, but I love the Beat Saber soundtrack.  It’s infectious.  You pick up when to swing from the timing of the beat, and you can feel from the tempo when things are about to calm down or go crazy.

The soundtrack is conveniently also up on Spotify!  I have made a playlist of all the ‘official’ songs, and there is a link at the end of the review if you want to have a listen.

No matter what level you play, going through a couple of songs you start to sweat a bit.  You aren’t controlling a fighter doing moves with a button press – you are carving up the notes.  You start to notice the weight of your sabers – they aren’t controllers anymore.  Five minutes in and you are starting to work out how to flick your wrist in time with a shoulder turn to get the saber back for a new swing.

You start to play on Normal and get new challenges like more walls and cubes coming in tighter groups.  A flurry of information flying at you, there is only one course of action – swing.  End those cubes and watch your score soar.  The first time you finish a song with an S rank you feel unstoppable.

Beat Saber Obstacles and Challenges Increase
Walls, Ceiling Blocks to duck, Mines to avoid, and then insane levels of blocks all mix in on the higher difficulties

Penny Arcade did a strip that describes the feeling of playing vs how you look perfectly, and you can see it here.  People that haven’t played before may look at you strangely, and people that have played smile knowingly and cheer you on.

I cannot imagine anyone looking as awesome as they feel playing Beat Saber without the PC tech that lets you film yourself ‘inside’ the game like you see on YouTube.

This player is really quite good – but imagine how she would look just throwing her hands around in the air without the benefit of seeing what she sees in game?

But when you play – you honestly just don’t care.  It’s amazing, it’s satisfying, and it’s something you want to play again and again.

The Changes

So the core gameplay is the same.  It’s amazing and wonderful and a great time.

But that doesn’t mean that new features haven’t been added as well.

The most obvious change to start with is the Campaign Mode.  It’s optional, but a great way to begin playing and challenging your skills.  The Campaign mode is simply a series of levels that unlock as you complete them, with the ‘standard’ songs on offer but with modified gameplay enabled.

You start playing with a song on easy – probably like you would if you went straight to the ‘standard’ free play mode.  Experienced players will fly through it, but if you are learning it’s a good place to get a feel for the game.

Beat Saber Gameplay Modes
Choose your play mode! Freeplay is where I have spent the most time, but that will be changing

Finish the level, and you are normally presented with two options to progress.  You can see what is coming up before committing to the level, and so far I haven’t found an ‘easy’ or ‘hard’ option – just different challenges.

A couple of stages in, you have to start getting a minimum score that is fairly easy to obtain.  I’m not trying to say you should blast through the level on your first try, but if you can get to the end of the level you should hit the score.

I haven’t hit any yet, but I can imagine near the end of the campaign I am going to need minimum scores that require SS ranks to pass – the highest level in the game awarded at perfect play levels.

Then as you progress you get a maximum number of misses or bad cuts you can make.  These aren’t too bad for me, but again new players will have an achievable challenge laid out before them.

Beat Saber Campaign Layout
It's a kind of 'Choose your doom' feeling when you first see the campaign mode, but multiple paths and challenges let you find your own way through

The ones I am on at the moment and is presenting a challenge is Disappearing Arrows.  Up until now, each cube has shown an arrow with the direction to cut in.  This still happens, but after the cube is ‘locked’ the arrow dissolves forcing a memory aspect to kick in.

Now, this may seem a little too much especially early in the game, but to me it’s also a great teaching tool.  Just like in chess, you want to be thinking three cubes ahead, with the pattern worked out for the one you are slicing and the next few.  Disappearing Arrows forces this kind of thinking, and I think is an amazing way to help players improve.

These ‘modifiers’ aren’t just in the campaign either.  You can activate them in the Freeplay game mode to make your life easier or more interesting.  Depending on what you enable, you will also receive a score modifier to match.

Mastered Hard, but Expert is just that bit too much still?  Speed up Hard and get a score bonus, or slow down Expert and take a score hit.  I know I will be doing this with a few of the expert songs initially to give me that slight breather while learning the patterns – I think it’s a great idea!

Beat Saber Modifiers
Modifiers work both ways - you can make it harder if you mastered the level, or easier while you are learning it

The Tech and how Beat Games mastered it

So this is a weird one.  I have said (and maintain) PSVR is great for putting VR in an affordable price bracket – but this means compromises were made.

The HTC Vive and Oculus Rift have great tracking technology, and the Vive also has a wireless adaptor coming soon.  This is going to be the best way to play Beat Saber hands down.  The downside?  This kind of setup will set you back around $3,000 even with the ‘old’ Vive assuming you need to buy the computer as well.  Also, you will need a large open area to play in.

But Beat Games has tuned Beat Saber on the PSVR to work well even in ‘sub-optimal’ configurations.  What do I mean by that?  Well, it all comes down to set up.

Without going too far into it, there are some golden rules you should try and follow.  You should have a wide and clear area – move the coffee table full of reflective items out of the way.  You should also set up a VR camera about 10-15 cm’s above the players head and point the camera down slightly.  This will allow the camera to see your entire body and feet.  This means you also have to be a certain distance away from the camera as well – if you are only 45 cm from the camera, you are in trouble.

A lot of tracking issues can be traced back to camera placement, and that isn’t exactly the customer’s fault.  There isn’t too much detail in the PlayStation manual on any of this, other than ‘change the position and see’.  There is also the little issue of even putting the camera on top of a large TV, some people are still taller than this setup, leading to a cone where controllers regularly move out of.

Beat Saber PlyaStation Camera Setup Guide
PlayStation's setup guide works for games you sit and play like Moss, but not for anything you stand up and play

For various reasons, not everyone can have this optimal setup though.  For some, the distance they need to put the camera to maintain area and angle is too far away for the camera to pick up properly.  For myself certainly, if I drop my hands too far (in a normal ‘hands at side’ position’) tracking is lost completely.

Beat Games has managed to not only track within the cone relatively high speed changing movements, but instantly re-acquire ‘lost’ sabres.  This is the sort of care and design I wish all VR developers could put into their games, and definitely explains a lot of the wait for the PlayStation version to come out.

Most games on PSVR I am resigned to saving and restarting every hour or so because of tracking glitches.  Beat Saber has none of these problems, and I am throwing my hands around 10x more than any other VR game out there.

There will always be compromises with a single camera VR system – I’m not trying to sugar coat a problem.  But Beat Saber is by far the best tracking implementation of a game I have played in PSVR bar none, and extensive work has been done to minimise the impact of any technical limitations of the hardware.

So if you have a reasonable space in your living room (which most of us have, to a varying degree of reasonable) Beat Saber will work well in your play area.

Beat Saber Best PSVR Setup
Job Simulator actually has the best image I can find, but if you can see all of yourself in the 'Check Your Environment' Screen that's the goal

Those compromises I spoke of playing in PSVR?

The Move controllers are also just that little bit to… something?  The feeling of holding and swinging them isn’t quite as good as the Vive controllers, but way better than the Rift.  I also find with my right hand especially, I keep knocking the X button pausing the game mid-swing.  With more practice holding the controller this should get better, but I have only done it a couple of times on the Vive ever.

The other issue is the PSVR headset itself.

The first PSVR unit has a cable that pretty much has to run in front of your body – you can’t turn your back to the camera to have it flow behind you.  This is annoying occasionally as you feel the cable hit into you, but dropping the cable behind you to come back out between your legs helps with this.  This is where the cable runs in the second unit, but the cable still gets in the way.

The Vive headset feels more comfortable with better weight distribution.  The PSVR also isn’t great for people with long hair – you need to spend the extra time pony tailing up to keep everything out of the way and gripping correctly.

PSVR Comparison
The cable and headphone position may be slight, but it is a marked improvement

Each of these is a minor annoyance though and given the cost difference between PSVR and Vive very easy ones to live with.  Purely because of my house setup, Beat Saber is going to see significantly more play on PlayStation than Vive going forward – unless I want to play at the same time as Rabbit, then I will be sent upstairs to the desktop 🙂

Until next time,

JohnHQLD
Beat Saber

Final Thoughts

I love Beat Saber.  It’s a great game that gives you a sense of immersion and total satisfaction that very few games can match.

Platform-wise, I prefer the Vive BUT I will definitely be playing it more on PSVR.  The ease of setup and room to move outweighs the technical improvements of the Vive in this instance.

Beat Saber is a huge amount of fun, and it’s not something I can show just by telling you it’s great.  There are VR around in major cities now, as well as a dedicated Beat Saber Arcade machine now – seriously, if you are even a little curious, hunt one down if you don’t know anyone with VR and try it.  But be warned – you may become hooked!

Overall
9/10
9/10

Pros

  •  Who doesn’t want to swing swords at things?
  •  Music and level design is incredibly appealing
  •  The game is what you want it to be – change it to suit you
  •  Physical Activity without going to the Gym!

Cons

  •  VR is expensive. Hardware outlay (even PSVR) is an investment.
  •  Needs a lot of space
  •  Not a ‘group’ party game (e.g. Mario Party)

The Soundtrack link I mentioned?  You can listen to the player here or follow this link to open up the playlist in Spotify on the web.

Last Week’s Games – 26th November 2018

Welcome To 20181126

Welcome to the Desolate Penny Papers

Hi everyone!

Work is starting to ramp back up for a couple of weeks, so gaming time took a hit again, unfortunately.  That said, I had a great time playing the games I could get around to playing, especially checking out some of Alpal’s latest Roll and Write haul!

Penny Papers Adventures – The Temple of Apikhabou

Started the weeks gaming off with a fun little Roll and Write game of Alpal’s called Penny Papers Adventures – The Temple of Apikhabou.

Now Roll and Write’s are exactly what they sound like – Roll a die (usually, sometimes cards, sometimes draw from a bag) and write the result down on a special sheet.  There is usually a scoring mechanic such as most grouped together of a certain value, and the highest score wins.

This game was no exception and was a new experience for a couple of players as well.  There was a bit of ‘take that’ as when a mummy is rolled, you get to place a potential negative points marker in opponents grids.

Penny Papers The Temple of Apikhabou 20181126
All you need is a pen and the piece of paper. The rest of the stuff is because we didn't clear the table properly :p

This was a fun and quick little game that is also the start of a series, so if Alpal is willing there may be more games for a formal review coming in the future!

Welcome To…

A slightly different Roll and Write in that Welcome To is played with a deck of cards instead of dice, but the mechanics holds up very well.

Welcome To is a lot more thematic than most of the Roll and Writes I have played.  Here everyone is trying to build their ‘perfect’ suburb hence the Welcome To – your first job is to name your little area!

Then there are goals to meet such as making a certain number of estates containing certain numbers of houses.  House placement is fairly simple, you can place a house number anywhere in a street, as long the numbers are in ascending order.

Welcome To 20181126 Board Setup
Three house numbers, and three building abilities - everyone picks a house number and writes it on their sheet, and uses the power next to it if they wish. Simple!

You pick house numbers from three cards in the middle, and next to the house number are building ‘powers’ such as pools, fences and roadworks.

We played Alpal’s copy but I have a copy sitting on the table waiting for me – I thought I would be playing it more solo than in a group, but that idea has gone right out the window!

Welcome To 20181126
A Roll and Write with cards, Welcome To... is surprisingly stressful to play - but in a good way!

Desolate

The fun single player I haven’t played in a while, I saw the box and decided on a couple of games as I was over screens for a while.

Desolate is still a lot of fun and a great challenge as I wrote in my review, and once I clear some games over the holidays I will probably look at ordering the expansions.

After a hard week and just looking at some much-needed downtime, a couple of rounds of Desolate was perfect for me.  Not too long, not overly fiddly, and I could get up and come back to it easily.

Desolate Conflict
Combat is interesting in Desolate. Spend your resources to roll more die, or try and conserve ammo and potentially take a beating,

It’s just a pity I forgot to take a new pic, but oh well – as I said it had been a hard week!

Beat Saber

Well if you follow me at all, you knew this would be here.

Earlier this year I reviewed the ‘early access‘ version of Beat Saber on the HTC Vive, and tomorrow you will get to read all of my thoughts on the PSVR version.

This review will probably blend into a comparison of experiences with the PC version, as this week (fingers crossed) PC users will get all the new features the PlayStation got day one.

Beat Saber Note Coming
The Tutorial View. There are times you wish for the stream of nothing once you get into the game...

Short version though – it’s somehow more fun now, it’s amazing on PS4, and this is a game that sets the newbie VR bar so high other games will seem like a let down!

Pokemon Let’s Go

So I played very little Pokemon or Switch this week – this week and next week are going to hit me hard.

You may have seen on Facebook my little driving misadventure with the Poke Ball Plus.  Short version – it’s like an old-school Tamagotchi where your Pokemon tries to get you to play with it.

This is fine and fun and all, but it scared the hell out of my rattling away while driving down the freeway!

Poke Ball Plus
The interesting motion control and instant way to capture Mew, the Poke Ball Plus is growing on me - but not in game!

Anyway this weekend I got to pull my Eevee back from the stroll and went up about 14 levels.  From barely paying attention to it.  So gameplay wise – honestly, not overly impressed.  But to get Mew and ramp up your Pokemon when you can’t play?  The Poke Ball Plus is amazing!

What about you?  What did you get to play this weekend?

Let me know on Facebook or @JohnHQLD me on Twitter!