Tekken Tag Heroes Burnout Monsters with Roll Player

Last week started off pretty well. My foot is healing, and I got to drive for the first time in weeks. Our PAX Aus tickets arrived, and I got to dip into a game more than I thought I could. Roll Player is a game I have meant to get back to, and I found a great solo middle ground!

Then my week went boo. Thank you tech companies that think it’s OK to just leave paying customers out in the cold. This destroyed my plans for playing Secret of Monkey Island this week. Work was long and weird, but I only have 2 more weeks before my PAX Leave. Then three weeks for Melbourne and PAX!

Next week, Return to Monkey Island comes out. It might be a couple of weeks before I jump in, but I can’t wait to play it. The State of Play and Nintendo Directs had some interesting announcements. And a big announcement for me last week – Suikoden 1 & 2 is getting a remaster, which is a series I was aching to play again that prompted the building of my retro machines to begin with!

And speaking of interesting announcements, Elden Ring is getting a board game! It is being done by Steamforged games, so the minis will be amazing. I am not sure about the game itself though. Follow the Kickstarter project if you want to know more!

Cartographers Heroes

I had a few more games of Cartographers Heroes at the start of the week. I managed to get into the solo game trap of doing well on the first game, then my score went downhill. My average is slowly working its way back up, but I haven’t come close to the high from the tutorial setup!

20220919 - Cartographers Heroes - Score Went Downhill
I went from scoring 30+ to 4 points!

One thing that has surprised me is how much I miss the Ruins cards. On one hand, Cartographers Heroes is slightly easier without Ruins. It has one fewer placement constraint to worry about. But I do miss the random ‘bad roll’ aspect of having to place your land in a specific place. Not enough to buy the original Cartographers though!

Playing Cartographers Heroes with the random scoring rules has an impact on scoring. The tutorial setup allows for combination scoring without much effort. While learning, this is what you want. Right now, I am playing while learning the scoring objectives. Maybe I should stick with a random set for a couple of games, and try seeing how the rules work that way?

20220919 - Cartographers Heroes - Random objectives have been interesting
When and where each objective appears each game is random

Playing Cartographers Heroes made me want to play the original Roll Player. I haven’t played that in a few years. I have it upstairs, but there is a lot more setup than Cartogprahers. If only there was a digital version of Roll Player I could solo with ease…

Roll Player

A couple of years ago, Alpal showed me a game she got called Roll Player. Like many titles she would show me, Roll Player had completely flown under my radar. After playing it though, it got me excited enough to buy a copy pretty much on the spot.

The idea behind Roll Player is simple. As I have a history of playing various role-playing games, I tend to enjoy character creation. Well, Roll Player makes a game of the character creation process itself!

20220919 - Roll Player - So many components
There are so many components, but you use only a fraction each game

Roll Player has 6 character sheets, 73 coloured dice, and a lot of cards. These cards are used for the character class, alignment and backstory, and a market of goods. These goods are split between items such as weapons and armour, traits and skills.

This sounds like a lot to follow. The gameplay slows well and isn’t overwhelming at all. Setup though, especially for solo play, can be rather tedious. This is a large reason why I haven’t played it much.

But browsing Steam lead me to a nice surprise – I can play Roll Player digitally, and let the PC handle all the setup!

20220919 - Roll Player - But I already setup
But I already setup to play on the table!

As I said, when playing Roll Player everything flows beautifully. Yes, there are races, attributes, alignment, and backstory goals to all keep track of. But you don’t have to refer to lots of books and tables like old-school role-playing games. Everything is laid out in front of you in a concise manner. On the digital version, this has been improved even more.

Your race from your character sheets shows any attribute modifiers. Your class has target scores for these attributes. The pips shown on the three dice make up this score, including any modifiers from your race.

Your backstory gives you a pattern you want to try and achieve. If you can place the coloured die in the position indicated, you score more points. And finally, your alignment reflects actions you have taken. At the end of the game, if you have followed the path chosen, you can get some more points or a penalty at the end of the game.

20220919 - Roll Player - Cards from the physical version are incorporated into the digital board
Cards from the physical game are here, but meld neatly onto your character sheet

All this boils down to putting dice in the right spot to score bonuses. That’s it. Yes, it will take a couple of rounds to get used to Roll Player. It feels like a huge information dump. But by the end of the first game, you will know all the scoring tricks.

The challenge is in the drafting element of dice selection, and purchases in the market. For each round, dice are placed on a drafting board from the lowest to the highest value. From the first player, you then pick which die you want to place on your character sheet. Picking first gives you access to the higher rolls, better for boosting your stats.

The catch is that if you pick a lower-value die, you have a better chance of buying good items from the market. Market items can be armour set collections, where the more of the armour you buy the more points you earn. You can nab weapons that improve your stat scores, or skills that allow you to modify the board.

20220919 - Roll Player - Taking from the centre pool I have a 50 50 chance of losing a market item
Pick the left most, and you can choose any market item. The further right you go, the higher the chance of a card being trashed on you before you can buy it.

Again, it sounds overwhelming, but you only have a couple of choices in front of you each round. There is an overall goal and strategy, but at the time, there is only a small amount of choice. There isn’t a perfect scoring strategy either. There is a large random nature to Roll Player’s set-up. You are never guaranteed the same market items, and you will likely never roll the same way each game.

Being able to play a game on Steam solo in under 20 minutes has meant I played Roll Player a lot last week. 11 times, to be precise. There is a pass-and-play version, the solo variant, and AI opponents on the way. I played solo, but if I was going to play with Rabbit I would be more inclined to pull out the physical copy.

If you ever wanted to try Roll Player, I can strongly suggest nabbing a copy on Steam. The expansions (Fiends & Familiars, Monsters & Minions) aren’t on the horizon yet. I still need to play both, and one day I will try Roll Player Adventures as well.

20220919 - Roll Player - I oculd have made many better decisions that round
Average score this game, but I can be back in again in less than 10 seconds!

Oh, as a small bonus, if you do play the physical version you can make your own character sheets!

Burnout 3: Takedown

I didn’t get to play as much Burnout 3 as I hoped last week, but I did manage to make some progress. I have earned a few more gold medals, and completed an entire area of challenges! I am making my way through Burnout 3 for I think the third time.

It’s been fun, but I am in the final ‘gotta work for it’ section of events. My number one nemesis – the US Circuit Racer, or as I call it, the F1 car. My Burnout 3 memories of completion are hazy because of this vehicle. I am pretty sure I completed it, but I am never 100% sure.

20220919 - Burnout 3 - The US Circuit Racer is a challenge all on its own
The US Circuit Racer is a challenge on it’s own, let alone in a race!

This car does not turn. It flies in a straight line at a ridiculous speed. But it also catches on to everything. If you don’t crash because you almost touched a wall, you stop completely. You can drift to a degree, but if you don’t learn when to speed up you will start spinning around. You almost need to relearn Burnout 3 physics to race this car properly.

I did do a few stand-alone Crash junctions though as stress relief, which was nice. It’s fun being able to cause some mayhem without paying attention to everything around me. There are also the Burnout 3 Road Rage events, that I will need to start concentrating on. Why? Because I need to take down 2,000 opponents. Can’t do that in Crash!

20220919 - Burnout 3 - Oh no I need to drive into lots of other cars for fun
Oh no I have to crash another 1000+ cars for a digital tropy, oh my!

Once I have all of the event gold medals, I am going to work on grinding away on the Burnout 3 trophies and collectibles. This will take a bit of time, but that’s the beauty of having Burnout 3 handheld. I am in a spot where I can fire it up, spend a coffee break playing a race or two, and then put it away.

I don’t need to complete Burnout 3 for anything other than nostalgia reasons. I will say that last week I did miss Crash Junctions from Burnout Paradise. I could fire up Paradise and go through the single player, but the emphasis on online puts me off trying to Platinum it.

The Crash mode used there first started in Burnout Revenge though. It might be time to play one of the Burnout games I missed…

20220919 - Burnout 3 - Progress going well
Another 4 hours for what looks like a little progress, but progress in any event

Pixeljunk Monsters

Back in my PlayStation 3 days, I had 2 games that I would fire up for relaxed challenges. The first was Pain, a game that no one seems to remember. The second was Pixeljunk Monsters.

Pixeljunk Monsters is a tower defence game with a small twist. In these games, you are usually an omnipotent overlord manipulating the world below. In Pixeljunk Monsters, you are the chief on the ground, and have to run around and do everything yourself!

Waves of enemies make their way toward your village, and you need to save your people. This is done like any other tower defence game – build towers on trees to tackle the enemies. Different weapons are more effective against different opponents. It’s all a balancing act that you learn as you progress.

20220919 - Pixeljunk Monsters - Tower defense with a fun twist
Tower defence with a fun twist

If you manage to finish the stage without losing anyone, you earn a perfect ‘rainbow’ clear. It was proof of mastery at every level, and I would play a level over and over until I got that rainbow. Back in the day, Pixeljunk Monsters was one of the few games I Platinumed. I also finished all the DLC trophies in Pixeljunk Monsters Encore. That was a rare event, and still is!

Then on PlayStation Portable, I was excited when Pixeljunk Monsters Deluxe came out. This version was not only portable but had the Encore expansion content and a whole new area just for PSP! I could fire up Pixeljunk Monsters and play a level wherever I was.

I would do the same on PlayStation Vita with Pixeljunk Monsters Ultimate HD. Unfortunately, the Vita died before I could Platinum this version. Ultimate is a remaster of Deluxe, but I never quite had the time to just go and finish it.

20220919 - Pixeljunk Monsters - You can earn gems to buy more towers each level
You can buy more powerful towers each level if you need them

Well, guess what I have been playing again! I tried playing Pixeljunk Monsters 2 on the Switch, but I couldn’t get into it. I don’t know what it is about the sequel that put me off. The change to 3D models alone isn’t it. The feel from the 2D original is very different though.

Maybe I should give the sequel a chance. But for now, when I am on the couch and want to play something without ‘playing’ something, Pixeljunk Monsters is back on the menu!

If you have a Steam Deck or want to try it on PC, Pixeljunk Monsters Ultimate is also available on Steam. It is slightly different to Deluxe, but only in starting towers and monster waves are different.

20220919 - Pixeljunk Monsters - Dont let the cute graphics fool you
Don’t let the cute graphics fool you – Pixeljunk Monsters is an addictive challenge

Tekken Tag Tournament

So the opening announcement of the PlayStation State of Play was Tekken 8. I understand why people would be excited, but I stopped following the series about Tekken 5. It’s not because I don’t enjoy Tekken – it’s my favourite fighting series. The first time I played Tekken was Tekken 3 when I managed Timezone in Melbourne. From there, Tekken Tag Tournament was my guilty pleasure at the end of the day.

A while later, I got Tekken Tag Tournament on PlayStation 2. I enjoyed it a lot. Fighting sticks at home wasn’t a thing, but I could play at home. The controller took a little getting used to. My favourite character Hwoarang controlled well, so I was happy.

Firing up Tekken Tag Tournament years later on the Win 3 has been a positive but mixed experience. There is a slowdown on some levels with OpenGL, and I can’t use Vulkan because Intel messed up the drivers. I don’t have great images of the fights unfortunately but it plays great except for Stage 7. Because Tekken Tag Tournament renders multiple frames at once, grabbing stills is tricky. But the fighting is the same fun distraction it has always been.

20220919 - Tekken Tag Tournament - The movement is too fast to capture nicely
Built for CRT TVs, capturing on LCD you can see multiple frames at once when characters are moving

I’m not too worried about the slowdown of some of the fighting stages, because I wanted to unlock a mini-game. That’s right – my favourite part of the home version of Tekken Tag Tournament wasn’t the arcade mode. It isn’t even a fighting mode. It’s Tekken Bown Tournament.

Win arcade mode with 10 different fighters, and you unlock Tekken Bowl. It’s a very basic 10-pin bowling game, but it’s still a heap of fun. Instead of pins, you use Mishima trophies, and your tag partner bowls the second ball.

There are some nice touches to bowling. Fighters with cybernetics/robotics have ‘terminator’ style views. You can throw the ball off the sides of the lane and KO spectators. You can even forget to let go of the ball!

20220919 - Tekken Tag Tournament - Bryan Fury lining up to bowl
Bryan Fury may seem like a cheat, but the timing for his power and swing is insanely fast

Playing Tekken Tag Tournament on the Win 3 shows the limitations of its design. I’m not talking about the graphics quirks, even though they are real. No, the tiny buttons make simultaneous button presses difficult. Some combos require more precise button presses than others, such as King. I wouldn’t be playing those fighters on the inbuilt controls.

This is an advantage of the Win 3 over the Ayn Odin though. Connecting a second controller can be done without remapping emulator software easily. You can’t do that on the Odin, even though the unit feels more comfortable in my hands.

But this is all stuff that I will talk about in more detail when I talk about my retro handhelds. Until then, Tekken Tag Tournament stays on the Win 3 for bowling shenanigans!

20220919 - Tekken Tag Tournament - Bowling time
Not the best bowling game I ever played, but I love Tekken Bowling

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