Murasaki Baby is all I wanted, and more

Murasaki Baby was released yesterday, and I picked it up for the more than reasonable sum of £6.39 with PS+ discount.

I’ve been eagerly awaiting Murasaki Baby for quite some time, as it looked like just my kind of game. It looked dark, creepy, and involving. It really reminded me a lot of LIMBO, which is one of my favourite games on the Xbox 360.

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I’ve stayed away from reviews mostly, as I wanted to form my own opinion of Murasaki Baby. I did manage to see that it only lasts about three hours, and a lot of players thought that the touch controls get in the way of the graphics. I’ve only played the game for a short period of time, but I’ve really enjoyed it so far, and while I appreciate what many reviewers are saying about the touch controls, it’s nice to find a Vita game that actually makes good use of both the front and back touch screens.

The back touch screen is used to change the environment you’re in. Some environments scare monsters away, while others may produce rain or wind. Each environment serves its purpose, and it’s a nice little extra, and as I said, a welcome use of the back touch screen. It also really helps bring colour into a game that otherwise could be quite bland by default.

The front touch screen is used to control Baby, and her balloon with simple finger swipes. It’s not just Baby you have to look after; her balloon is just as important. If her balloon pops, then you’ll have to start again from the last checkpoint, and believe me, there are so many things that can pop that balloon. You will shout, and you will swear if that balloon pops. Not just because it’s frustrating, but because Baby will start to cry, and it’s just heartbreaking.

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The lack of any actual voice acting, aside from the odd creepy exclamation of ‘Mummy!’ from Baby every time she thinks she’s getting that little bit closer, make it a really unique experience. This is why I compare it again to LIMBO. LIBMO didn’t need voices. It didn’t even need a soundtrack, and the story came across beautifully.It really is a challenge to create a story with no voices, and Murasaki Baby does it just as well as I was expecting.

I for one am loving the innovative idea of Murasaki Baby, and don’t regret spending the money I did on it. It looks stunning, plays well, and makes you think about what to do next without frustrating you too much and making you rage quit.

If you’re not a PS+ member, you can grab Murasaki Baby for £7.99. It might seem expensive for an indie game, but if we don’t support the indie devs, we’ll never get anything different.

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Rising Star Games Haul

I see a lot of beauty bloggers writing about their clothing and make up hauls. While, as a woman, I do still have these hauls, the ones I am most proud of are my gaming hauls. See, while most women are always on the lookout for the biggest and best deals on their favourite make up or clothing brand, I’m currently on the lookout for the biggest PSN sales. And this week, that was the Rising Star 10th anniversary sale.

I love Rising Star. I love their games because they’re just so damn addictive. Their sale on PSN was just too good to miss, so here’s what I bought, and what I make of each one so far:

Harvest Moon Innocent Life  (£2.40, PSP/PS Vita)

This is actually the one I wasn’t convinced about, but the one I’ve been enjoying the most so far. I’ve always been intrigued by the concept of a futuristic Harvest Moon, and it’s not exactly as futuristic as the synopsis would lead you to believe. I won’t spoil anything, but it maintains a focus on farming, along with various other bits and bobs to do. My favourite thing is definitely that it appears there is little need to bond with the residents. There’s no giving gifts to your object of affection, when that time could be spent harvesting crops and tending to your livestock. While I am enjoying it though, it really does just leave you to it, which is both good and bad. I’ve had to check online several times to see what I’m exactly meant to be doing for any form of progression. I’ve killed a good 8 hours on it so far though, and is quite nice to play before I start work in the evenings.

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Futuristic farming never looked so…traditional?

Harvest Moon Hero of Leaf Valley (£3.60, PSP/PS Vita)

I was actually a little disappointed with this one. I’ve always had a bit of an issue with the console attempts at Harvest Moon as they just never translated well from a handheld, and this feels like a console game on a handheld. The movement of the character is very slow, and the focus has been taken away from farming, and is more focused around building relationships with the residents, which is something I’ve never been keen on. For me, a Harvest Moon is about farming. It’s about making enough money to get more upgrades, more equipment, and getting enough materials to build an extension on your house. This just feels like a poor attempt if I’m honest. I will give it another chance though. Just as soon as I’ve stopped being addicted to Innocent Life…

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A lacklustre modern attempt at a classic

Virtue’s Last Reward (£8.25, PSP/PS Vita)

I have to be honest, I haven’t played Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors, and I really should, but I might just brush up on the story online unless I can grab a cheap copy in town. It’s something I always looked at and thought ‘I’ll buy that one day’ and never got round to it. I’ve not had the opportunity to play Virtue’s Last Reward yet, but I’m excited to get stuck into it. Apparently it’s more like a visual novel, where you make choices that affect the gameplay, and some of those choices sound like they might have some dire consequences for some characters. Sounds like my kinda game.

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A dark visual novel

Rune Factory Oceans (£7.20, PS3)

I really wasn’t sure what to expect from this. The critics slated it, calling it boring. However, the general gaming public seemed to love it, so I thought I would give it a go. The voice acting is a little bit grating so far, but I can get used to that. Cutesy animation is never going to have stellar voice acting to go with it in my opinion. Anyway, from the looks of it, it’s going to take a while for me to sink my teeth into this one as I’ve only just acquainted myself with all the residents, so no farming or adventuring has really happened so far. I’m looking forward to getting home from work in the evenings though and having a nice relaxing session on this little beauty.

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Cutesy farming, with a side of action

Half Minute Hero (£3.00, PSP/PS Vita)

I’ve always been a bit intrigued by the concept of this game. To be honest, I knew very little about the game, but at £3.00, I couldn’t say no. I’ve had a bit of a dabble, and it’s actually a really good idea. It’s a nice little game that I can jump into for a short period of time due to the time constraints on the game, but a nice little challenge.

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Pixelated, chibi fun

In summary, I got all these great games for a really good price, and if you like the sound of any of them, you have until 12am GMT 18-09-2014 to get your hands on them. The full sale can be found here.

Changing Teams

Well, it’s been a long time again, and that’s been for a multitude of reasons. First of all, I informed you all in my last post that I was going on a week-long work placement with a certain official console magazine, and I can reveal now that I went to work with the wonderful people at the Official Playstation Magazine. It was a great week, full of lots of research, writing and general journalism goodness. I actually got a feature published on the website which can be read here, so please go and give it a read.

There may also be several articles I assisted with, and news articles being published in the next issue, so if you’re a PlayStation fan, pop down to the shops on the 27th and pick up a copy. I won’t know until it comes out, so it will be one big surprise.

Then I had a nice long week with the man who I hadn’t seen in two months, so unfortunately blogging was the last thing on my mind. I didn’t even really do any gaming that week if I’m honest, and the lack of new games, and my ever decreasing funds aren’t helping.

I downloaded Puzzle Quest because it was on offer on XBLA and that’s keeping me going, but it’s an old game, and will only occupy me for so long. As always, I crave a JRPG, but they just don’t appear to be out there. I might have to raid the Classics library on the PSN.

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Simple and fun, an instant winner

Anyway, I have been thinking about the new generation of consoles, and which one I”m going to be getting, but also thinking about what’s on offer from the current generation. I’m sure that many Xbox 360 owners feel my frustration at the mostly un-inspirational Games For Gold. I’m downloading them all because they’re free, so don’t get me wrong, I’m taking advantage of it, but this months first release leaves a lot to be desired and I just feel a bit let down by the whole ‘offer’.

I’m intrigued by card games, but I can’t confess to be very good at them. Baten Kaitos is one of my favourite JRPGs, and that featured a bizarre battle system utilising cards, and I enjoyed that. I appreciate anime such as YuGiOh for its use of cards, but I really can’t get my head around Magic The Gathering. Personally, I think card games belong on tables, not on consoles. The tutorial completely baffled me, and because it was so long-winded I basically just pummelled the A button just to get through it. I managed to beat about 4 opponents and then I got stuck because there was so much to remember, and so much tactics involved that I simply gave up.

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Too many stats make this a confusing experience

The thing is, when I look at PlayStation Plus, and all the free games they get, it makes me wonder ‘What am I paying my Gold subscription for?’. I don’t do online gaming. When I do, I’m just racing around a track with the man in my life, and that’s once in a blue moon. It seems pointless to me now to even have a gold subscription, I don’t appear to be getting much out of it, aside from some games I’ve already played, or are so old that you’d have to give them away anyway.

I am seriously considering taking on a PlayStation Plus account in the future, not only for the free games, but also for the decent discounts. Sony just appear to be so much more clued in to what people actually want. Sure, if you cancel your PS+ subscription, then you can’t play the free games you downloaded, but that’s just an incentive for me to keep a subscription going. I have no reason (unless someone can give me one) to keep my Gold subscription on the Xbox 360, so it may be time for a change of allegiances.

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What are your thoughts? Are you thinking of changing teams, or are you sticking with your first choice?

Ponderings on The Walking Dead 400 Days

I downloaded The Walking Dead 400 Days a while ago, and completely forgot to put down my thoughts on it.

As a reluctant fan of the episodic gaming genre that The Walking Dead adopts, I was excited, but still slightly anxious about what 400 Days would hold. I knew nothing about it, other than it would act as a bridge between seasons. So when I fired it up for the first time, I was slightly taken aback by the bizarre, yet interesting gameplay they had chosen.

The cell shaded animation remains in tact, letting you know that you’re still playing the game series, and it retains all of its original beauty, but takes a bit of a twist on the original gameplay mechanics. As you make a start on 400 Days, you notice that you can choose exactly which character you want to play as. You work your way through the stories of five new characters, all with their own back story, by picking their pictures off a noticeboard. This was a bit of an odd choice gameplay wise considering the more than linear first season of The Walking Dead, but I liked it.

I’m still a bit on the fence with how I really feel about it if I’m honest though. It seemed more like an introduction to five new characters than anything else. I know that’s probably what it’s meant to be, and that is by no means a bad thing, but it just seemed a bit thrown together and didn’t really feel like a full episode. I probably managed the finish off the whole thing in an hour which was a little bit disappointing.

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In true Walking Dead style, each of the characters have their own obstacles to overcome, but nothing really seemed to alter the eventual ending. Most of the characters I had no affection for whatsoever, so I’m hoping this will be improved upon later. It seems like these are the characters that we’re going to see in season 2 though, as well as Clementine returning hopefully. The end of 400 Days is its saving grace in my opinion, finally wrapping up exactly what it is you’ve been doing with that noticeboard, but I can’t say I’m more excited for season 2 after playing 400 Days.

The first season was never truly resolved, and that ending just left it open for so much more, so I’m really hoping Telltale have a lot more to offer us after 400 Days.

The Walking Dead 400 Days will set you back 400MSP on XBLA or £3.99 on the PSN.

A Shiny New 3DS and Animal Crossing New Leaf

I’ve only just recovered from E3 in terms of tiredness. I hope you all enjoyed my coverage. One day, I hope to be able to bring you all the latest news directly from the show itself. It’s a personal goal of mine, and I really hope I can reach it soon.

Onto the subject of this blog post though. After reading the reviews of Animal Crossing New Leaf, my indecision about whether or not to get a 3DS really peaked. If there’s something I can’t resist, it’s something cute that involves finding things, building things, and generally playing God. The first Animal Crossing was a true addiction when I got it, and this would no doubt be the same.

So after researching a bit online, I bundled myself onto a train to Manchester (any excuse), and went on a bargain hunting trip. I can’t use the 3D on the 3DS because it makes me feel sick, so I didn’t want to pay full price for that very reason. I could have got a brand new 3DS online for £133, but I wanted one for less than £100. I was hoping that after the Nintendo Direct there would be some sort of price decrease. Maybe I was hoping a little bit too much. Anyway, I ventured into GAME and CEX in search of a second-hand 3DS for under £100. First of all, GAME wanted to charge me £110 for a used console with  few scratches on it, no box, and a third-party charger. No way that was going to happen, so off I went to CEX. I could either pay £110 for a used 3DS with no scratches on, or £90 for a used 3DS with one or two scratches on. It was a no brainer, and the scratch is barely noticeable, and it’s on the back.

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£90 later and I’m the proud owner of a cosmos black 3DS, and £34.99 later also the proud owner of Animal Crossing New Leaf. Words do not describe the torture of the train journey home, as I sat with a 3DS that had no charge in it, and a new game. I was actually tempted to ask the staff in Yo! Sushi if I could charge it while I ate my burger, but I thought that would have been a little bit cheeky.

So I got home, plugged it in, and away I went. I’m already in love with it, and it brought back memories of my time with the original DS Animal Crossing, and all the animals that I came to love and look forward to meeting. I love the new twists in it and the new processes. I love the fact that I get to play Mayor, and it’s a fantastic idea that you can change when the shops open, and when residents are out to suit your play style. I’m a bit of a night owl, and because I work on the weekends I end up getting onto my 3DS at about 8PM, so I’ll be making my entire town into night owls as soon as I get the chance. It’s nice to see old faces as well as the new ones.

The 3DS itself though I am very impressed with. I didn’t know what these play coins were until I researched them, and now I think I’m a bit hooked. It’s a very clever way to get you to take your 3DS with you everywhere you go. I even went as far as taking it to work with me in my pocket. In the walk to and from work I got my maximum 10 play coins for the day easily. I even took it out today with me and clocked up over 7000 steps.

I’m also impressed at the size of the 3DS in comparison to my DS Lite, as they’re pretty much the same. I was told by friends to get the 3DS XL, but I don’t like chunky handhelds, and as much as I’m sure the bigger screen would have been awesome, it would have been more money. I like how compact it is, and it fits in my hand really nicely. I’m definitely happy with my purchase. I just need to save up for some more games on it now like Pokemon X/Y and Tales of the Abyss.

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Unfortunately I am lacking any street passes at the moment due to the small town I live in, but next time I am in Manchester or London, I will definitely be taking it with me to see if I can pick any up. Feel free to leave a comment with your code if you wish.