Last Week’s Gaming – October 29th, 2018

Kingdom Hearts 3 PAXAUS

Who would have thought a road trip and PAX Aus stops you playing games?

So PAX had a slightly higher video game turnout this year, possibly with the addition of EB Expo having something to do with it.

Tabletop wise there were a lot of games around, but almost all of them were also representing last year so there was little new I was excited about.  But I still got to play a lot, which is amazing given the amount of things on!

Qwirkle Cubes

Ahhh Qwirkle.  It’s like a simple version of Scrabble with shapes and colours.  Anyone that tells you it’s relaxing is not playing with the same cutthroat, win at all costs people I am playing with.

That’s probably a good thing 🙂

A night out at Welcome to Thornbury with good friends was great, and a game of Qwirkle Cubes capped the night off.  The staff were great at letting us just play, and it made me remember why I enjoy this game in the first place!

Qwirkle Cubes
Fun game, very table efficient, and always a heap of fun!

Octopath Traveler

Yeah, you knew this was going to be back on the list.  Another chapter finished for one of my crew, and trying to get the infamous Nintendo Switch PAX pin by playing in line was a great excuse to pull out the Switch!

My enthusiasm for Octopath isn’t waning, but the curve for grinding levels seems to be hitting a point.  I can’t go into too much detail without going into spoiler territory, but finishing the arena contest with one underpowered character was a definite disadvantage.

Octopath Traveler 20181029
It may not look like much progress, but after the last couple of weeks it was more than enough 🙂

Jackbox

A party favourite, I have played different Jackbox games over the years, mainly being an audience member at the PAX Jackbox panels.

This year I jumped into a game in the PAX BYOC (Bring Your Own Computer) section, and played a game called Patently Stupid where you have to draw different silly ideas.

And somehow I came back in the second round to take the game and win my first PAX medal!

Jackbox
Jackbox - always a great party game to reveal how terrible people can be 😀

Beat Saber

I love me some Beat Saber.

While I own this and can play it at home, I can play it in a slightly cramped way.

The good news over PAX was I got to play with the Vive wireless dongle and new base stations, which will help me play in a much more open area soon!

But the bottom line is Beat Saber is still great.  For more information, check out my Early Access impressions.

I can’t wait for this to come out on PSVR as well – firstly for the ‘whole’ game, secondly for so many more people to start playing this great game!

Beat Saber PAXAUS
Ahhh Beat Saber. Angel Voices Hard with no walls was great! Best overheard comment - "it's not as easy as he makes it look"

Dark Souls Remastered

So lining up for Diablo 3 on the Switch (which I didn’t end up playing), I got the chance to play some Dark Souls.

Now the closest I ever came to playing this was Bloodborne that I haven’t even beaten the first boss, so I am far from the worlds greatest souls player.  I struggle to even be considered a souls player.

That said, I was surprised at how smoothly Dark Souls Remastered played in handheld mode on the Switch.  I have a few big games to play and get through (including Octopath Traveler), but the 10-15 minutes I played has me considering getting this on the Switch.

Dark Souls Remastered
I was too busy playing to get a shot 🙁

Kingdom Hearts 3

What can I say – it was more Kingdom Hearts!

There are new systems but the overall feel was instantly familiar, and the demo was timed to objectives met not actual time played.

This was an incredibly fun experience that was both amazing and cruel – I have to wait until next year to sit and play it properly on my home system!

Kingdom Hearts 3 PAXAUS
Couldn't get a shot as I played, but running around Andy's Bedroom was great 🙂 I can't wait to play this properly next year!

There were so many amazing games also played in the PAX Rising area as well, with a large percentage played being made in Australia and even locally in Melbourne!

I managed to snaggle a couple of steam keys as well, so those games will get a bit more of a write up in the coming weeks.

What about you?  What have you been playing this week?  Let me know on Twitter or the Facebook page!

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Last Week’s Gaming October 1st 2018

Big Trouble in Little China Gameplay

Big Trouble in Manhatten’s Dragon Castle

Quite a bit of gaming got in this week – a long weekend and some much-needed downtime led to a lot of gaming fun this week 🙂

Big Trouble in Little China

I was so excited when Everything Epic’s Big Trouble in Little China arrived, and I have been dying to play it.

Fair warning – this is a game that has some of the worst parts of dungeon crawlers.  Setup and tear down take a long time, the rules explanation takes a long time, and there is some very confusing to explain conditions.

Once you get into it though, it flows really well.  My advice is take a long afternoon to play the first game, and by the end of the game, future plays will take a lot less time.  I set up a streamlined version of the first act only, but even that is enough for the same group to play the ‘full’ rules with a lot less mucking about.  And play it again we will 🙂

Big Trouble in Little China Gameplay
A whole lot of fun is to be had with Big Trouble in Little China - but it's a heavy experience

Dragon Castle

One that Alpal was eager to show me, and I understand why.  Dragon Castle is a simple to teach and play game, that cleverly incorporates a lot of different mechanics and games.

The tiles you pick are the simplified computer mahjong pair tiles.  This is the first game – essentially snap with block placement.  You not only have to find tiles for yourself, but try and deny choices to your competition.

Once you have a pair, the game then becomes a 3D tile placement puzzle, where you try to maximise your score based not only on types that connect but the placement of shrines at higher levels.

Dragon Castle is a great game that I will be adding to my collection soon.

Dragon Castle Gameplay
Another Alpal special, I can see myself getting a copy of Dragon Castle. It's three games at once - just right to scratch that itch.

Manhattan

Another Alpal special, Manhattan is a game I didn’t think I would enjoy as much as I did.

It’s an area management game that works across the board, and above it.  Building massive buildings is both satisfying and a great way of stealing points.  As long as your floor is on top of a building, it’s yours to score.

I did end up in a bit of a tit-for-tat vendetta with another player, as well as everyone else at the table.  It was good natured and a lot of fun, which led to an afternoon of laughs and enjoyment.

Manhattan is an older game, but I can see why it was the 1994 Spiel des Jahres winner.  It has a new edition and is well worth a look.

Manhattan Gameplay
Manhattan is surprisingly fun and incredibly well balanced. Definitely worth a play!

Prey

So there was a big sale on the PlayStation Store recently, that let me get 2 games for 70{dfca638b9dbdbc1caf156b9b6679a983a965572ca56a786c9cf360ad3783820c} off.  That let me get the entire Dishonoured collection and Prey for about $40 total – great day for me 🙂

So the other night I fired up Prey, and tried to put all of the initial “Oh it’s terrible” cries I heard on Prey’s release out of my head.

And I have had had a lot of fun so far.  Exploring around the area and putting the story together is interesting, and the atmosphere is similar to the tension of Alien: Isolation.

I will be trying to finish this off over the next few weeks, and I will let you know what I think when I have finished it.

Prey Gameplay
It's a couple of years old now, but I am really enjoying getting into Prey

Foul Play

PlayStation Plus bonus received.

Foul Play is a surprisingly fun button masher beat em up, where two players recount a tale of previous adventures.  The twist?  It’s being recounted as a play, where your combos and battle expertise lead to crowd approval that acts as a life meter.

Apparently, you can play coop online, but I haven’t tried this yet.  All I know is playing through the first Act was a blast, and I will be picking this back up when I want some mindless action happening.

Foul Play
It's fun and cartoony, and the gimmick of performing during a play is a bit of fun. That leads to a lot of humour during the game.

Sparkle 2

Another PlayStation Plus game I only just got to play, but it’s a great mindless pattern game that I will try and play for a while.

If you remember the venerable Zuma, you are already very familiar with Sparkle 2.

If you haven’t played Zuma, you control a launcher that fires different coloured balls.  Your goal is to fire the balls into an incoming line to match more than 3 of the same colour, and clear the line before it reaches the end of the path.

It’s fun, it’s semi-mindless, and even with my colour blindness a game I can play in spurts and really enjoy.

Sparkle 2 Gameplay
It's fun, simple, and addictive. Sparkle 2 is a fun yet challenging game to relax with.

Valkyria Chronicles 4

The full version came out last Tuesday, but I couldn’t get my hands on it until late Wednesday for a few reasons.

I haven’t played too deeply into the third chapter, but Squad Stories have unlocked.  Squad Stories are bonus missions that expand on the stories between the squad members.  They become unlocked at various times, when you use the right combinations of members on the main missions.

How do you know the right combinations?  In the squad profiles are the other members they like.  Just try and use these squad members together in missions – that simple.  Just another nice touch to a great series.

If you have a Switch, grab the demo from the eShop and have a great time.

Valkyria Chronicles 4 Squad Stories
It's little narrative bonuses like the Squad Stories that makes the Valkyria Chronicles series one of my favourites

Octopath Traveler

Not too much to report on this one this week only played a couple of more hours.

Good news is I found two more shrines.  The shrines in Octopath unlock secondary job classes, so my characters are expanding their horizons 😀

The good part of Octopath is it is a pick up and put down type game.  The bad part is you can’t put it down too long or you may forget what you are trying to accomplish.  I have started the second chapter for a character and saved in the middle so I know what’s happening when I pick it back up.  I think there may be a couple of weeks pause as I prep for PAX, and I need the reminders the Chapters provide mid game.

Octopath Traveler 20181001
Still enjoying the adventure, still have a little more grinding to do.

So a big week of gaming for me.  What about you?  What did you play this week?

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Last Week’s Gaming September 24th 2018

Drop It Gameplay

The expedition made the gadgeteers drop it

A fairly light week of board games this week, but two brand new ones thanks to Alpal so always worth it!

Expedition: The Role Playing Card Game

Another couple of adventures, another couple of fun games.  I think I have everything ready to start actually capturing a game – fingers crossed for Friday!

Even though the enemies and cards are the same, at the moment I am not seeing the chance of too much wear with this system.  Being able to make and publish your own adventures makes this a great quick roleplay system.

My full thoughts are definitely coming on Expedition, and I can’t wait to share all of my thoughts on this game with you.

Expedition Card Game Components
It looks daunting, but the Expedition system is incredibly quick to play and very replayable

Gadgeteers

So Gadgeteers is an interesting one for me.  It falls into a category of almost perfect information games, which I generally either enjoy or don’t.

As we played Gadgeteers, it initially fell into my ‘don’t’ category, but I can see where it is fun for most people and recommend people give it a play.

Each player (up to four) takes the role of an inventor, and at its core, Gadgeteers is a blind bidding auction game.  You bid for pieces to build inventions and score points, and the person with the most points wins.

It’s quick, it’s fun, and building inventions can give you special powers – always fun 🙂 For me, I think playing it again with people like Harls I would turn all the tokens face down to add a memory challenge.  But this is for people that need the extra challenge only – really this is a great game that you should play given the chance.

Gadgeteers Components
I forgot to take the photo! But Gadgeteers is one of those quick low component games that is great for carrying with you

Drop It!

So this one caught me by surprise.  Drop It is a surprisingly deep game testing dexterity, pattern recognition and geometry.

My first impression when I saw the box was a tweak on Connect 4.  I was so wrong.  The goal of Drop It is simple – score more points than everyone else.  This is done by dropping in different shaped pieces into the tower, and the highest point is scored.  If it is in a small circle in the tower – bonus points.

BUT.  If it is touching a piece of the same shape or colour, no points.  If it is touching a side with the same shape (or colour if you play the variant) – no points.

This is a great challenging game for up to 4 people, with pieces moving and strategies being torn asunder at every turn.  But it can just as easily be played with younger players and having just as good a time.

Drop It Gameplay
Be careful what touches if you want to score. Such a simple premise, but a heap of fun!

Octopath Traveler

Yep, I am going to be playing this for a long time.

I am still in the Chapter 2 grind, getting all but one character into the mid-20’s for their levels.  Serious thought has been given to picking a central party and pushing on with my main character’s quest, but that just doesn’t feel right.

So instead, when I have a spare half hour or more that I want half a distraction, I am dedicating my time to reexploring everywhere I have already been.  This will let me build up my last character (slowly, but still) and find some more secrets!

Octopath Traveler 20180924
I just need to get Primrose up to speed, then I can start the Chapter 2 run

Valkyria Chronicles 4 (Demo)

So on the 25th Australian time, Valkyria Chronicles 4 will be released.

I am really, REALLY looking forward to this.  It’s hard to explain why I enjoy Valkyria Chronicles, other than the glorious art style.  Everything looks like it is being painted in watercolours, even during gameplay.

The original is a classic on the PS3, and the second was OK on the PSP.  The third game honestly started losing me, but 4 has bought me back.  This doesn’t matter too much though, as each game is stand alone – like Final Fantasy.

Valkyria Chronicles 4 is releasing on PS4, XBOX, PC and my choice – Switch.  This is a great portable game, and the slight visual concessions do not detract from the experience.

Plus on the Switch you get the first 2 chapters for free in a demo available on the eStore, and you can transfer your save AND get a bonus item.  Try it out – you will love it or hate it, but I think most people will love it 😀

Valkyria Chronicles 4 Screengrab
Beautiful turn based strategy game that is perfect on mobile - Valkyria Chronicles 4 comes out tomorrow
Valkyria Chronicles 4 End of Demo
Try it out yourself for free with the Switch Demo, and get a bonus if you bring over your save file!

What about you?  What have you been playing? Let me know on the Facebook page!

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Last Week’s Gaming September 17th 2018

Downforce Danger Circuit Gameplay

Circuit the Danger House via a MacGuffin Expedition

A little light on in the number of different games played this week, but they were all great!  Well, almost.  They were fun though!

Downforce: Danger Circuit

First, off the ranks this week was the eagerly awaited Downforce: Danger Circuit.  This was one of my most anticipated expansions to play this year, and it didn’t disappoint.

On the surface, Danger Circuit is just more Downforce.  2 new tracks and 6 new team powers – that’s it.  There rule additions are minimal, and it’s great!  It let everyone simply jump straight in and play, and that is part of what made it great.

Already in my head, I have a couple of Grand Prix style events that can happen over the four tracks.  Four games of Downforce, maybe an hour and a half-two hours?  I am sure more expansions will be coming in the future as well, and I can’t wait to play them either.

Downforce Danger Circuit Gameplay
A couple of loops added to the gameplay - especially when SOMEONE tried to cheat and not go through the loop!

Get the MacGuffin

The MacGuffin is old Hitchcock film speak for the thing everyone wants.  And this hand management/social deduction style game definitely keeps this idea going!

It took me a couple of games to get into Get the MacGuffin.  It presents as Fluxx light, and I kept waiting for the other rules to drop.

Playing with three players was fun, and the games are definitely quick.  I think the sweet spot maybe 4-5 players, but Alpal quite enjoys it two players and isn’t big into card counting.  There will be more talk of this in the future.

Get the MacGuffin Components
You have some cards, and you do what they say. Just make sure you read ALL of the text!

Expedition: The Role Playing Card Game

Expedition: The Role Playing Card Game is a bit of a sleeper surprise for me.  I bought it out of curiosity and a desire for free shipping (it bumped me over the threshold!) thinking I could look at it and incorporate into an upcoming video.

Well, I will be, and it’s exactly what it says on the box – it’s a quick and easy role play system that will have you on a quest inside of a couple of minutes.

All of the components are the building blocks of an adventure.  The quests/missions you go on are all controlled in a ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ style manner via an app, and it works incredibly well.

Expedition Card Game Components
It looks daunting, but the Expedition system is incredibly quick to play and very replayable

Choose Your Own Adventure: House of Danger

Speaking of Choose Your Own Adventure, we jumped into the second chapter in House of Danger after a bit of a break.

Waiting three weeks between games may have been a bit long, but exploring the house was a fun affair.  We didn’t even notice the two hours fly by!

Things are starting to fall into place as we play, with some rules and options becoming clear.  The games writing and our own observations (read taking things not at all seriously) is more fun than I thought it would be.  We ‘died’ early on in an absolutely amazing and ridiculous manner early on, and it was great 😀

Definitely worth checking out, and will be played again soon.  Can’t wait to finish this one either 🙂

Choose Your Own Adventure House of Danger Components
House of Danger Game Components. I didn't want to show my spoiled open copy :p

Video Game wise, it was Octpath Carnage?  Time Traveler is too easy

Time Carnage Switch

So a lot of Switch games (and Video Games in general) are starting to be released.  I was interested in Time Carnage because of my experiences with the game in VR, and gameplay wise it’s kinda close.

This is not a game I will be coming back to on the Switch, because I have the VR version on PlayStation and PC.  If it goes on sale or you are looking for a co-op rail shooter, maybe give it a try?

Read my Time Carnage review here, and my Switch comparison here.

Time Carnage Switch Better Visuals
A strange positive is the Switch graphics are much clearer than both the Vive and PSVR versions

Octopath Traveler

Yeah, I am going to be playing this for a long time.  It’s great, and I am loving it.

I have completed the first chapter for each of the eight characters and spent a lot of hours completing Therion’s (my main character)  Chapter 2.

Now, I have a lot of grinding ahead of me.  Chapter 2 recommends most characters are around the mid-20’s in term of levels, and I have a three characters in the 10-12 range.

I have discovered unlocking a second job class which has already opened up a lot of options for me, so I also have to go back to a lot of areas already completed and try for some more secrets as well!

Octopath Traveler Shrine of the Prince of Thieves
The Shrine of the Prince of Thieves - once found, you can unlock Thief as a second job on your characters!

So that’s what I have been playing – what about you?  Let us know on the Facebook page!

Until next time,

JohnHQLD

Last weeks gaming 10/09/2018

Hostage Negotiator Box Art

Board Gaming wise, it was Escape the Dark Express Negotiator with Dragons.

Last week’s games article has fallen victim to the IT gremlins, but it’s not going to stop me talking about them here!

Downforce

I have gotten to play a bit of Downforce lately.  Partly because of bigger game groups, partly excitement at the (due to arrive today!) expansion Danger Circuit.

This was one of my first Restoration Games experiences, and it lives up to their guidelines of ‘Make Games Great’ and ‘Do Good Works’.

Downforce is a car racing game that has everyone in the running to win, making it a fun and quick game to play and teach, with different mechanics available to help streamline play.

Watch out for a review of Downforce soon 🙂

Downforce Danger Circuit Board

Colt Express

Remember those old heist movies?  Why remember them, when you can play them!

Colt Express is a simple but surprisingly deep program action game for up to 6 players.  Each player has a character with a special ability, and everyone is trying to rob the same train at the same time!

The goal is simple, end up with more loot than everyone else.  But watch out for that Sheriff, he will make your life hard.  Now I have a group familiar with the base game, a review will be coming after the expansions have had a play as well.

Colt Express Begins
Want to teach a fun action programming game? Colt Express will work for you! **Promotional mat not included. Blame Alpal for that awesome 🙂

Hostage Negotiator

When you want something a little heavy but solo, Hostage Negotiator is a great choice.  I have spoken about the app before, but I have big plans for the site and this game.

This week was just for me though, and Connor E. Ogden managed to beat me 3 out of 4.

My only real issue with Hostage Negotiator is the space required to play it. At home, it’s a great escape that tests your logic and pushes your luck.  Get ready for more on this game in the near future 🙂

Hostage Negotiator Abductor Pack 1 Connor
The expansions are the size of a TCG Booster Pack, but change the game immensly

Escape the Dark Castle

When I am working on a PC for more than 12 hours a day, coming home to a video game or screen sometimes doesn’t cut it.  I might want to play a game, but the thought of even sitting on the PS4 or the Switch shows me another screen, or needs more brain than I want to invest.

As reviewed and played on the site before, Escape the Dark Castle is a great solo or multiplayer escape game.  With setup being only shuffling some cards, I spent a good couple of hours trying to get through the final boss with only 2 characters (solo is just impossible!).

Still a challenge and a heap of fun, Escape the Dark Castle is still on the quick access shelf.

Escape the Dark Castle Ready to play
The castle ready to play, with spare cards off to the left. Beware the Tailor and the Cook!

Dragons Breath

Dragon’s Breath was a quick game Alpal showed me, and it’s a heap of fun.

As we discussed in the HABA Blatherings, HABA has a history of quick simple fun for everyone.  Classifying them as ‘Kid’s Games’ can be dangerous, as there are a lot of things aimed at younger children that I have no patience for.

HABA seems to find that magical sweet spot where a game is designed for young kids, but adults have just as much fun playing the games as well!

Dragon's Breath
Another great HABA game. Dragon's Breath is quick, simple, and most of all fun

Destiny 2 Forsaken

I ran around, shot some things, collected some things, in short – I played Destiny.

With the Forsaken release last week, jumping in to see the changes was always on the cards.

Destiny 2 has me in a weird place now.  If you like games like Call of Duty or Battlefield, it’s now probably more for you.  But for me and other ‘casuals’, the Forsaken moniker seemed to be well named.

Check out my Forsaken review here.

Destiny 2 Forsaken Riding with Cayde
A dream come true - but not for long.

Octopath Traveler

Just starting the second round of Chapters for my party, Octopath Traveler is a game I will be picking up and putting down for the foreseeable future.

I think I am starting to hit the ‘grind’ of the RPG, but I still want to make sure.  I think my primary party is starting to form, but another 10 or so hours will test this.

If you have a Switch and enjoy old-school turn-based RPGs, do yourself a favour and just grab the Octopath Traveler demo from the eShop.  If you fall in love with the game, the progress you made transfers to the full game – it’s well worth your time.

Octopath Traveler Sample Screen
Is it a beautiful example of where the 2.5D graphics could have gone? Is it pandering to the retro fanbase? Yes to both, and it's amazing for it

So that was my week – what have you been playing?  Let me know on Facebook or Twitter!

Until tomorrow,

JohnHQLD

Octopath Traveler is selling out worldwide

Octopath Traveler Sample Screen

The game that takes retro homage to a spectacular new level

Things have started settling down for me, leading to time to get back into doing things I love doing.  I always try to make time for some gaming, and board gaming tends to take priority as it also leads to socialising as well.  Video game wise I have been tearing it up in Destiny with Harls, but my to get to list has just kept growing.  And growing.

The Nintendo Switch is a platform that has helped with this backlog already, and looks to be my gaming platform of choice for the next few months.  I had this plan a few months ago of trying to work in a couple of hours gaming 5 nights a week, with a different game most nights.  The idea was to pick 3-5 games I want to play and enjoy them all alongside each other.

No this may sound insane, but it makes sense.  I can play Final Fantasy XV and God of War as my ‘big’ games, and start putting a dent into Shovel Knight and some of my NES/SNES classic games backlog as well.  As one game is finished, replace it with another of the same weight.

And then Friday last week, I picked up Octopath Traveler.  I was apparently one of the lucky ones because stock was already hard to get.

On Friday, I picked up my pre-ordered copy and tried to buy a second copy for Rabbit only to be told there were no spare copies at my local EB.  I ended up having to drive to the second closest JB Hi-Fi to pick up their second last copy.

This is the kind of situation you usually expect with consoles, not the games themselves.  Sure, sometimes there is a sleeper hit and stores didn’t stock up as much as they could have.  Usually, it’s “We have a delivery coming next week, put one aside for you?” – but not in this case.

Octopath Traveler Cover
Who would have thought a retro style RPG would be this hard to buy?

It looks like all around the world, copies of Octopath Traveler are selling fast or already sold out on the opening weekend.  Areas of Japan are completely sold out, prompting Square Enix to tweet out an apology.  The rough translation is ‘We are sorry that some of the shops are out of stock.  You can also consider the DL version’ (referring to buying it from the Nintendo eShop).

Amazon US is out of stock.  Amazon AU is currently OK, but from my expedition Friday I don’t know how much longer this will be the case.  A quick search on the EB Games site shows my closest copy being almost 25 km’s away from home – that’s past 5 other stores, 3 of which are major ones!

So I can hear you asking what all the talk about my gaming schedule has to do with stock levels?

Well, frankly, nothing.  Nothing at all.  But you know how I said I was going to try and play a few different games at once?

Yeah, that’s not happening.  I am going for at least 6 hours of Octopath Traveler this weekend.  At a minimum.  That’s because 3 hours in, and this game is just amazing.  And that’s in the traditional early grind fest levels – the part of the game that is usually the hardest to get into.

Octopath Traveler Sample Screen
Is it a beautiful example of where the 2.5D graphics could have gone? Is it pandering to the retro fanbase? Yes to both, and it's amazing for it

If you enjoy RPG’s at all, this is without a doubt a game for you.  Yes it’s turn-based, yes it’s pixel art, there are so many ‘old’ ideas here for people to turn their nose up at it’s ridiculous.

But you know what else it is?  Incredibly immersive, addictive, and fun.

Until next time,

JohnHQLD