Game Progress Stuff
March 20, 2019

So, while I'd LOVE to say that my recent lack of submissions is SOLELY out of protest at how my Langrisser Mobile review ("Rob has written hundreds of reviews for this site and this is one of them!" and other inspiring words of praise to be attached eventually. Hopefully before 2020, YOU DAMN SLACKERS!!!!!!!), it probably has a lot more to do with the time of the year, as late February and most of March is a period of time where I start out busy with work and then spend time doing another work project and also fit in a bunch of days to watch college basketball like I was being paid to do that.

So, I have a review for SkyBlazer that's been in my head for a few weeks, but haven't had the time to write, meaning that when I do, it'll be fun to see just how much about this game that I remember. A few more dominos should start dropping after that, as I have these games on tap to be written about sooner or later.

1. Spyro: Year of the Dragon: All I have to do is the final boss. Overall, I liked how this game relaxed the requirements for just how many doo-dads (proportionally speaking) you have to acquire in order to unlock the final challenges. 100 out of 140-some is pretty doable without getting stuck having to do mini-games that either aren't fun or did not age well technology wise due to how 3D games on the PlayStation tend to have really shitty camera-work compared to today's stuff that we've all been spoiled by to the degree we get reduced to quivering masses of whiny jelly the instant a camera gets caught on a wall and refuses to move, causing you to blunder into a pit because you can't see a damn thing. I don't know how much I like the addition of the four side-kick buddies. Some of their stages are a lot of fun, but others are lame by comparison and they often are basically altered versions of Spyro (the kangaroo jumps higher; the bird can fly, the yeti is slower and stronger, blah blah blah).

2. Bonds of the Skies: I only play Kemco games in small doses when I'm on the road nowadays. However, this does mean that one will eventually get finished and I think I'm fairly close to the end with this one. Verdict: A bit worse than the average. Actually, a bit worse than a bit worse. Or a bit worse than a bit worse than a bit worse. Look, the game kind of stinks. A generic Dragon Quest wanna-be that is generic and loaded with enemies that LOVE status ailments to the degree that you have to buy a ton of items and go to the menus after most every battle to fix some issue or another.

3. Trials Rising: I've heard this sentiment expressed before and now I feel compelled to deliver it myself: FUCK UBISOFT! I mean, this is a very good game with a ton of tracks that are a lot of fun to progress through. But they (at least I'm blaming them; for all I know, RedLynx was at the root of things) made one huge change that is threatening to majorly detract from my enjoyment that we can just call THE GRIND.

Previous Trials games that I've played (Evolution and Fusion) had a pretty simple system for progression. You start out getting access to a set of tracks. By completing a track, you get a bronze medal worth 1. By doing good, you get a silver worth 2 and by doing great, you get a gold worth 3. To unlock new groups of tracks, you need to have so many medals. The goals are easy to reach early on, but if you want to get to the Hard or Extreme tracks, you have to turn those bronzes into silvers and turn silvers into golds. So, basically, you get tough tracks for showing that you're good at the easier ones.

This game is solely based on experience points and actually doing good on tracks is only a very small part of that XP. The bulk of your experience comes from completing sponsor challenges. Early on, this is cool. Hell, it's even fun, as your challenges come from two sponsors and both USUALLY are the sort of thing that a half decent player can do. One sponsor gives you challenges to beat a mediocre or bad ghost or complete at track in a certain time or a limited number of faults, with everything basically corresponding to a silver or bronze medal. The other has you doing a handful of stunts. Sometimes a handful of front or back flips, or stay in the air so many seconds or perform a wheelie for so many meters. The sort of thing that can at least help a player exert a bit more control over their bike.

Then the challenges get more intricate and challenging, often either being frustrating (wheelie 30 meters while beating a good ghost) or just flat-out stupid (complete track WITHOUT leaning and with 10 or fewer faults...There is no purpose to not leaning, other than a self-imposed challenge or being really masochistic) and you NEED to do these things to get the necessary XP to unlock new tracks in this game that I've already fucking paid for. Early on, with low XP requirements for levels and fun challenges, it was easy to unlock new sets of tracks. Now, I need one level to reach L58 and unlock the final medium stadium series, which I'd complete to access the first group of hard tracks. And after that, I'll likely be hoping for a patch to alleviate this grinding, as it'd take hours upon hours of work to get enough levels to get to the second set (8 is the magic number -- you start in America, get Easy Europe at L8, Easy Asia at L18, Medium Asia at L28, Medium Europe at L38, Medium America at L48, Hard groups at L58, 68 and 78 and the Extreme tracks at L88). A very disappointing and unwanted alteration to what had been a good formula. FUCK UBISOFT.

As for the other games I'm playing:

The Witcher: I'm working through the second chapter, mainly going through the town hub to find quests and talk to people. And bang hookers for their, uh, trading cards. Definitely banging hookers. Breaks the monotony of walking around and waiting for night so I can finish this one quest to kill thugs who harass those hookers.

Borderlands 2: I'm getting close to the end of the main game, as I finished the Control Core Angel area and it's big-ass plot revelations and now am going through the side quests on my way to doing the next plot mission. After that, it'll be time to play through all the DLC (4 main ones, 5 short "season pass" ones) on True Vault Hunter Mode, as there isn't a way to really play them along with the main game without becoming hilariously overpowered.

Kingdom Hearts: The Story So Far: I finished KH II. Didn't do all the optional stuff, but a larger-than-usual percent of it. I don't know how much of an improvement this Final Mix version is over the original, but I really, really dug it. Right now, I'm both doing my easy-mode replay of KH I (up to Hollow Bastion) and playing through Birth By Sleep, which basically could be described as an slightly weaker version of KH II. After that, it'll just be Dream Drop Distance and the Fragmentary Passage short game that actually is PS4 exclusive. Or at least current-gen exclusive, as opposed to a remastered remake of an older game.

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