Last Week’s Gaming – May 18th, 2020

Animal Crossing Lounge Room

Not many games played again this week. But bring on digital board game nights!

I don’t know where this week went! Work was steady, and today is my last long weekend day. I got to curl up on the couch a lot, which was good!

Last week though We got to play ‘board’ games with Steam Remote Play Anywhere. Basically, I own the game, but Steam Friends can play with me. I was surprised how easily the format worked!

I started with the idea of playing Ticket to Ride because I didn’t need to teach the game. Yeah, not a great idea. The way Play Anywhere Remote works is my screen is streamed and controls shared. This means for games like Ticket to Ride, everyone can see everyone’s tickets.

That doesn’t mean I don’t have games that will work well though 🙂

Tokaido – Steam

Yes, the hangover game! Or another way, the competitive holiday game.
The first game took a fair while to play, but that was to be expected. Elle had never played Tokaido before, so Harls and I spent some time talking through the options to teach her the game.

I knew teaching a game this way would be tricky. I am so used to being able to grab cards for example purposes, or quickly simulate a turn. Digital games don’t let you do this. This week, I am thinking just making everyone play the tutorial and see how that goes.

Tokaido was an excellent chill choice though, especially as we hadn’t caught up for a couple of weeks. We used the discord server I set up for games to chat, and everyone took their turn. Except for that one time I took Elle’s turn – sorry again Elle! Because Tokaido itself is such a relaxing time, chatting and playing was a whole lot of fun.

I think we created a Tokaido monster in Elle though. Harls and I had a bit of fun messing with each other the first game but talked Elle through the best scoring choices for the first two rounds. With that headstart, she took a commanding lead. The next game though, she still managed to pip Harls by 1 point!

Tokaido Gameplay
I was suprised how easy it was to share Tokaido via Steam
Tokaido End Game Scores
Elle took a well deserved victory. And the AI we kept in last place 🙂

Skribbl.io – Web

This was an interesting one. Skribble.io is a free Pictionary type game anyone with a web browser can play. The premise is simple – get a bunch of words (or supply your own), one person draws that word, and everyone else tries to guess the word. It was exactly as you expected, and a little bit of silly fun to end the night with.

I am not trying to be picky, but there is a little bit of a learning curve to the interface. This mean Harls (that started the game) owned the first game, as he supplied all of the custom words we had to draw.

The only reason I bring it up is I haven’t had the same initial “What’s going on?” with a lot of paid options. This makes sense – it’s a free game made by people in whatever time they have. I am not bringing it up as an indication Skribbl.io isn’t fun – just be prepared to throw away a round or two as you learn the system.

SkribblIo
I forgot to take a screenshot! But I did discover you can edit your avatar.

Dragon Castle – Steam

Alpal introduced me to Dragon Castle last year, I think? Time is hard for me to gauge at the best of times. Take the match style Mahjong gameplay popular on most PC ports of Mahjong, and add a city-building element.

It doesn’t sound like a lot, but when you add the tactile feeling of the Mahjong tiles coupled with building shrines and placing patterns, and Dragon Castle is surprisingly fun.

I had a quick game of the digital implementation this week. My idea was to go through my digital board games and see what would work with the Play Anywhere format. The game was fine, but I was having a little bit of trouble with the controls. I will try again before suggesting we play this next games night. Expect a formal review in the next week or two.

Dragon Castle
It's pretty, but you can't pick up the tiles. And I don't mean physically - controls are double click rather than dragging.

Sleeping Dogs Definitive Edition – PS4

I finally fired up the PS4 on Saturday. I wasn’t in the right frame of mind to play Final Fantasy VII Remake, so I jumped back into Sleeping Dogs.

This was the right choice, as it was a stupid bit of fun. 😀

I didn’t do many side missions, but I seem to be progressing the story well enough. The triad leader I was trying to get information on was killed, and I have become the new gang leader. A war is brewing. It’s all standard crime movie fair, so you can see the story beats coming.

But to only partially engage my brain and enjoy myself, Sleeping Dogs was a heap of fun. I can see myself hitting a wall on some of the side quests. Trying to do a race on motorcycles frustrated me no end, for example. So I don’t think I will be Completing this game. But for an extended end of week gaming session? It’s hitting just the right level of fun, interest and challenge that I am looking for.

Sleeping Dogs Triangulation
There are enough different missions in Sleeping Dogs to keep things interesting.

Animal Crossing New Horizons – Switch

So I suppose you can call this week the start of me playing Animal Crossing properly?

I finally added some more land for people to come over, and I am starting to hit the Nook Miles Ticket looking for new fruits, Bamboo, things like that. Today, I might actually sit down and try and come up with a plan for my island layout.

I think it’s fair to say that Animal Crossing has started to hook me. I can’t see myself playing it in day-long sessions, but all week when I wanted to be distracted, I went fishing. And setting up my house. I planted a small garden. I finally built a bridge.

And the final proof I am taking it ‘seriously’ – I even started buying K.K. Slider albums!

Animal Crossing Kaiju
Not the greatest way to start to decorate your island, but I couldn't resist

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 next time,

JohnHQLD

Last Week’s Gaming – May 11th, 2020

Sleeping Dogs Tactical Uniform

I don’t know about you, but I have been so tired lately.

The world is as it is right now. Due to work, I haven’t had much real downtime. I have had times that I crash, but that isn’t great, and it has started to take its toll.

So another week without much gaming, up until Saturday where I spent way too much time playing Sleeping Dogs. How much? My controller drained from 100% charge. It was great.

But why tell you about it now? That’s what the entry is for below!

Elder Sign: Omens – PC

I gave this another go this week. Fixed up the screen resolution, so now it looks right when I play.

I only played one game, and I lost badly. Even though the gameplay stops until you make a decision, I was playing distracted and with gaps in gameplay. My team got wiped, mainly because I kept forgetting to see what items they had.

Let that be a lesson for you. Don’t take a ‘simple’ game for granted. Some are designed to punish such lapses in concentration, and Elder Sign fits in this category.

Elder Sign Omens Cthulhu Campaign Start
I haven't played a hard campaign for a while. Jumped straight to Cthulhu. Oops.

Final Fantasy VII Remake – PS4

I tried to get into Final Fantasy again last weekend. I am really looking forward to playing this through, but I was really not in the right frame of mind to play it.

Work has stretched me mentally for a few weeks, and I saved right before essentially a boss fight with Rude. After not playing for a week, I like a ‘normal’ fight to get the muscle memory kicking in again with the controls.

Real-time combat, new boss patterns plus brain rebelling at even minor multitasking lead to a bad time playing. This isn’t what you want to experience when playing games. I have put it down again for a bit, but after a couple of long weekends expect me to come back with renewed vigour to this one.

I did manage to beat Rude first try though. That was satisfying, but I also closed the game without saving. Guess I will have to kick his pretty butt again. 😀

Final Fantasy VII Remake Flower Mural
Earlier in the game, we picked some flowers. This was the result.
Final Fantasy VII Remake Rude
Mid fight cutscene, but it was satisfying to see his glasses broken

John Wick Hex – PS4

This game is the reason I have an Epic Games Store account. Early on in the piece, they were offering $10 credit on purchases to try to bring in people. It worked – I preordered John Wick Hex for about AUD$6.

It came out during PAX 2019. I jumped on and tried to play, but it kept crashing on me. I closed it up, expecting to wait for some patches. And promptly forgot about it.

Well, it came to PS4 last week, so I fired it up. Pure turn-based gameplay sounded right for my frame of mind. I cleared the first couple of levels, and then the crashes started. Again.

I want to get into John Wick Hex. When it works, the gameplay is engaging. The challenges are achievable, just not easy. But the crashing – oh, the crashing. Why.

With no in-round saving (which I agree with, it would be too easy otherwise), having to start and hope the random crash doesn’t happen again is infuriating.

I think I will check out the state of the PC version, and if it’s doing better might try John Wick Hex as an initial streaming choice.

John Wick Hex Gameplay
As you play, everything is cut into time units between turns
John Wick Hex Replay
When you finish a level, you can watch the replay in realtime. It is very satisying - when it works

Animal Crossing: New Horizons – Switch

I haven’t really been giving Animal Crossing the love it deserves. I finally got my island to the level that the shop is upgrading. Turnip sales aren’t treating me well – I barely made a profit from last weeks sales. This is on me though – I forgot to check prices until Thursday!

One thing I did do last Friday was start playing with the designer. My first design? Site logo, of course! And I have made it the flag for my island. That was uber satisfying, and I am sure some smart cookie has already made a way to do this better by importing pictures.

Animal Crossing New Flag
This made me happier than I thought it would.

But sitting at my desk with YouTube playing while drawing dots was satisfying. I also paid off my third room. This week, time to start getting the island ready for K.K. Slider!

Also, I watched Show of the Weekend on Sunday finally. The Outside Xbox/Outside Xtra team is excellent to watch and relax to. And last week, they did the show from within Animal Crossing! Check it out if you want to see some friends having a great time in the cutest way possible.

Animal Crossing Flora Leaving
One of my islanders also departed. I miss Flora the Flamingo already.

Sleeping Dogs Definitive Edition – PS4

Speaking of watching people, a friend of mine spookedshibe began streaming again. She started streaming with Sleeping Dogs, a game that I heard was an overlooked classic from the PS3/Xbox 360 days.

After watching her for a couple of hours, I came away with a lot of interest. Enough that I went and bought it on PSN and started playing it.

Combat is reminiscent of the Batman Arkham series, including environmental takedowns. Missions and adventures are like Grand Theft Auto, but with a mix of humour like Saints Row. Driving is surprisingly reminiscent of Burnout, including achievements for jumps and ‘safe’ driving over 60kph.

There were some frustrations. If you fail a counter, you are exposed for a second or two, just like the Arkham games. There were times though this kind of pause just happened mid-fight. When driving, sometimes I would visibly miss a car, but get launched into the air. It was hilarious to watch, just random.

Given the age of the game and how infrequent these happen though, I will give it a pass. I did one mission that I had to repeat a couple of times because of the combat pause, but it was a unique mission. This will become my explore game between Final Fantasy VII I think.

If you would like to see someone that has played it relive the game, check out spookedshibe’s Twitch channel.

Sleeping Dogs Racing
Stills don't do it justice, but racing really feels like Burnout without the slow motion takedowns
Sleeping Dogs Fighting
Oh, I forgot to mention - you are an undercover cop doing things like this
Sleeping Dogs Tactical Uniform
In a strange game quirk, I can run around in a police uniform, and the triads don't blink at all

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 next time,

JohnHQLD