Burnout of Inscryption left by Cartographers Heroes

It’s just over a week before Return to Monkey Island comes out. I can’t wait to fire it up. I had plans of replaying the original two games, but that plan took a big hit. Long work week, lots of things happening, gaming on the PC isn’t something I was looking forward to. So instead, with the release of Inscryption on consoles, I gave that a good go!

Retro gaming-wise, I gave the final solution a good workout. I was pretty certain I had it all worked out and had a handle on the capture/play methods for gaming. That was sorted out after many mini-efforts and best guessing outcomes. You need to test how effective the final product is, and that’s what I did.

So lots happening, and a return to normal highs and lows has been somehow comforting. PAX is coming up quickly as well – LESS THAT 4 WEEKS! So much to do, so little time!

Cartographers Heroes

I got way too used to having Friday off and using that day for some rules revision. The last two Fridays, I have been making my way through the rules for Welcome to the Moon. This week, Friday was a hectic and long work day, and I didn’t feel like tackling the last complicated Adventure.

So looking at my shelves of shame (yes, plural, and more shelves than I am comfy with), I picked a new solo adventure. After I don’t know how long, it was finally time to tackle Cartographers Heroes!

20220912 - Cartographers Heroes - A bunch of cards and a pad - great afternoon
Some objective cards and a writing pad – more fun on a Saturday than many think!

I backed Cartographers Heroes Kickstarter years ago. I hadn’t even gotten around to opening it until this week! I played the original Cartographers with Alpal and enjoyed it. Backing Cartogprahers Heroes, the follow-up game, I thought I would be set. It turns out Heroes doesn’t come with one type of card – Ruins. This made the rules a little confusing for a minute!

Cartographers Heroes is essentially a tile placement puzzle. You play for four seasons, and score once per season for a random set of scoring criteria. Generally, you can place shapes of various terrain types where you wish. Monsters can be placed by opponents in multiplayer to throw your plans.

In the base Cartographers, if you flip a Ruins card, you must place the next terrain on a Ruins square on your map. These cards don’t exist in Cartographers Heroes, but the ruins are on the map. So confusion reigned for a couple of rule reads! If you combine the original and Heroes though, it gives you a lot of flexibility, so I do like the inclusion on the maps.

20220912 - Cartographers Heroes - Most cards are a choice of terrains for a single shape or a single terrain for a choice of two shapes
Ruins aside, you have a choice on every card so not players have the same map without effort

Once that got settled in my mind, I had to have a couple of test games. The maps with Cartographers Heroes have two different sides. The ‘harder’ side has fewer places to lay terrain than the other. This adds complexity to placing terrains, but each map plays the same way.

Monsters work differently in solo mode, but the titular Heroes give you a way to destroy monsters. In the original game, you had to surround monster squares to contain them. In Cartographers Heroes, you can place a single squared Hero with a unique attack pattern. Any monsters caught in this pattern are then destroyed.

Playing solo was also a lot of fun. Most of the rules are the same as multiplayer, but you don’t have opponents to place Monsters for you. Automata rules for Monster placement are simple in Cartographers Heroes and work well. There is also a difference in scoring.

20220912 - Cartographers Heroes - Pulling a monster first cards is not what I meant by hard mode
“Let’s try the harder side” I said. First card – MONSTER!

In a normal game, you add up the scores of all the players, and highest scores win. Straightforward. In Solo Cartographers Heroes, you add up your score as normal. Then you subtract the scores shown on the objective cards from your total, giving you your final score. You then compare this score to a ranking at the end of the manual, granting you a title based on your performance.

Most solo games have you competing against your previous score. Because the Cartographers Heroes scoring objectives are random, this is a good way to compare performance. It does take a game to get your head around the scoring, but for me, that’s because I was looking for the catch.

And like most rules in Cartographers Heroes, there isn’t one. Some interactions seem complex, and there are steps that seem daunting to new players. But each rule is simple on its own, and it only takes a game to see how the order and interactions work.

20220912 - Cartographers Heroes - Even with only two maps there are a heap of scoring combinations
There are 4 scoring objectives in 4 categories, that can be place in 24 possible combinations. That’s a lot of scoring variety!

So like Welcome to the Moon, be on the lookout for videos of Cartographers Heroes gameplay. And you can even play along and compare your score!

Burnout 3: Takedown

I have never been huge on driving games. There have been notable exceptions, like the first Need for Speed and Daytona USA years ago. Mario Kart since the Wii. But between all those, there is only one series that regularly pulled me back. And my love of the series started with Burnout 3. Traditional racing simulation with real-world physics? Not for me. Arcade racing where knocking opponents off the track gives you a bonus? I’m in!

When I had the idea to start streaming/making videos on retro games I enjoy, I had one series in mind to start. I started on Burnout 3, but I have a few of the early games. My idea was to play a bit of each, and talk about the new features and changes made as the series progressed.

What I wanted to sort out was a Switch-like retro experience for this though. And I know have this working in a way that I can live with. I have intensively ‘tested’ Burnout 3 over the last couple of weeks. No dodging I have been playing this week!

20220912 - Burnout 3 - The Win 3 isnt perfect but I have been having a ball with it
The GPD Win 3 isn’t perfect, but it’s the best balance so far

Stream/video-wise, one of the best parts of Burnout is working against me. I have tried a few ways to work around it, but nothing is reliable enough to make me comfortable to stream. That aspect? Licensed music. Burnout has always had an amazing soundtrack, even to someone like me that enjoys old music.

But the licensed music means I can’t play it on the internet and not be in copyright breach. And according to YouTube, every song in Burnout 3 is claimable.😕 But that’s something I need to finish working out.

For the last couple of weeks, I have been enjoying the different events on the Burnout World Tour. For a few minutes break during the day, I can play a few Crash Junctions. Each junction is only a few seconds of actual driving, then letting things play out in the background. It’s quick, simple, and satisfying to watch vehicles flying in all directions!

20220912 - Burnout 3 - Crash Junctions are way too much fun
Cause as many accidents as possible. Let’s see Gran Turismo let you ‘Steer’ mid-air!

Actual racing in Burnout 3 comes in five varieties as well. There are traditional races, where you need to come first to win. Elimination events are my second favourite ‘race’. In Elimination, each lap the player in last place blows up – a definitive loss! Grand Prix is a set of usually 3 normal races, with points awarded each race for an overall winner. And finally, Burning Lap is doing one lap as fast as possible.

Then there is my favourite race in Burnout 3 – Road Rage. You don’t win by coming first, but instead by knocking your opponents off the road. I swear some people on the highway think this is how you are supposed to drive and terrifies me. But in Burnout 3? It can be a heap of fun!

20220912 - Burnout 3 - Why just overtake
Overtake? Sure. Knock them off the road is a bigger lead though!

I am pretty close to ‘completing’ Burnout 3 in less than 20 hours. I don’t have my original memory card, but I am pretty sure it took me close to 80 hours to get gold in every event. Even then, there are special trophies and types of eliminations to aim for as well. If they ever bought back Burnout 3 with trophy support, I would definitely aim for the Platinum. As long as there aren’t any multiplayer trophies.

As mentioned, I want to do some dedicated pieces and stream Burnout 3. Well, if I can come up with a way around the music I am happy with I will. But until then, expect to hear a bit more about the various Burnout games come October onwards.

20220912 - Burnout 3 - Progress
13 Gold medals to go

There is a lot of Burnout left for me to play, not just Burnout 3. Who knows, I may even Complete Burnout 3 before PAX!

Inscryption

Last year, a friend of mine Cactigh introduced me to Inscryption during one of his streams. I started playing alongside him, and quickly became obsessed. So obsessed, that I had to uninstall the game on my PC because I would keep playing instead of working.

Describing Inscryption is an interesting proposition. It’s a collectible deckbuilding card game. At least, to begin with. Then there is an escape room puzzle element, an NES-style RPG, an ARG, rougelite, and a mystery – all in one. But you don’t know that up front. If Inscryption hadn’t come out last year I wouldn’t be talking about any of the later elements.

20220912 - Inscryption - A card game like many others - on the surface
A card game like many others. At first 🙂

Inscryption is a puzzle gamer’s bread and butter. Everything about the game is a puzzle, and a major puzzle is which layer you are currently working on. It doesn’t make a lot of sense if you haven’t played the game, and it can sound like way too much to jump into. But it works, because you can play only the ‘surface layer’ of Inscryption, or delve deep into the game.

It does look like a steep learning curve to Inscryption. You do not start a new game, but continue a game already in progress. You then play against a barely seen opponent, and eventually lose. The loss isn’t scripted, but you are trying to work out the rules as you go. And when you lose, there is an interesting price to be paid…

20220912 - Inscryption - Another Challenger
Not what you expect when first firing up the game

Defeating Leshy allows you to actually start a new game. This is where the RPG element comes in, and where the story begins to unfold for the player. You can follow the dots as a simple RPG, similar to Pokemon. Or, you can start finding secrets and exploring not just within the game, but other places as well.

As an example, think Doki Doki Literature Club. That should be enough of a hint for anyone interested. 🙃

20220912 - Inscryption - SNES RPG for the win
A simple map, but can you see everything it has to offer?

I am currently in the middle of Act 3 of 4. Looking at the trophy list, it seems all the post-game changes are included on PlayStation. I don’t know if I will Platinum Inscryption, but I am going to enjoy finishing it again!

20220912 - Inscryption - Act 3 shenanigans abound
Act 3 – same game, new rules. But familiar all the same.

If your curiosity is peaked at all, check any YouTube playthrough from the start of the game. Watch the first 30-40 minutes, and if you aren’t hooked you won’t be. But if you are, and find yourself noting plays or wanting to investigate little things, pick up Inscryption. You will be glad you did.

What about you?  I hope you got some great games in.  Or are you looking forward to a new one?  Let me know! 

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Until next time,

JohnHQLD