Saturday, November 2, 2013

Extra Life Charity Marathon - LIVE!

[ 8:09 AM, 11/3/13 ]
I made it! Not to the end of Spelunker HD, which has a hundred levels and this morning I made it to level 3, but to the end of this 24 (actually 25!) hour marathon! I want to thank everybody who donated -- it was a real blast and such a good cause. Now goodnight everybody! Time to sleep, I think. This was great, and I'll definitely have to do it again sometime! 

[ 7:48 AM, 11/3/13 ]
The finish line is close! I think I'll make it the last few minutes with Spelunker HD, which I just found on my PS3 games list and hadn't thought about in years. I'll just dip into the caves for a couple minutes, and use that to keep from drifting into slumber too soon!

[ 7:14 AM, 11/3/13 ]
Once I do finish Beyond: Two Souls, I'd be very curious to know if the section I just finished is one where you're supposed to mess up, or if I just did because I've been up for so long and aren't thinking as clearly as normal. For anyone who's played it, the chapter is called 'The Dinner' and I did things wrong enough that there never was any dinner. Oopsie.

[ 4:46 AM, 11/3/13 ]
Very, very tired. Time for a new game! Gonna make some progress in Beyond: Two Souls, since that shouldn't require much in the way of agility. Three hours and fifteen minutes to go! 

[ 3:56 AM, 11/3/13 ]
I'm never sure if I should be leveling up the Pokemon I have already so they evolve into new forms, or focusing instead on getting new ones. I have this problem in every Pokemon game.

[ 2:52 AM, 11/3/13 ]
Joilant Fun Park, Jungle Slider, and Volkan City complete! Unfortunately, I'm in another extremely tired wave (it should be nearly 4 by now, if it weren't for clock funny-business) and need to switch games in order to stay awake. I think it's time for some Pokemon Y. I have critters with punny names to catch!

[ 1:48 AM, 11/3/13 ]
You know what? I didn't need to worry about it: Klonoa 2 holds up amazingly well! Playing through the Sea of Tears and La-Lakoosha is still a great experience -- I would buy an HD remake of this game in a heartbeat, but it still looks phenomenal, if a little fuzzy. But the level design is unmatched, and having played through it so many times in years past I can see where the foundations were laid for later stages. For instance, the statues that you'll need to breathe at during Noxious La-Lakoosha are already present in the first version of the stage, and you'll revisit the Sea of Tears a couple times later on and see familiar geographic landmarks. It's so well put together. And the music! The way there's an "outside" track and an "inside" track for La-Lakoosha that seamlessly blends together when you enter or leave the caves is just as amazing today as it was originally. Someone needs to get this on a digital download service in proper HD, ASAP. FTW. BBQ.

[ 1:33 AM, 11/3/13 ]
The tabletop gaming break did me some good! It's second-wind time, and now I've set up the PS2 for the game I've been looking forward to all weekend: Klonoa 2: Lunatea's Veil. This was my favorite platformer of that console generation, and I really, really hope it holds up. Time to find out!

[ 1:02 AM, 11/3/13 - The Second One ]
Didn't we already have a 1:02 AM? I'm sure we did. Sarah went in search of more games to play to stave off sleepiness and she came back upstairs with this half-forgotten gem from my childhood: PAC-MAN: The Card Game. Oh boy.

PAC minus MAN equals FUN?
Each player gets three cards, and chooses to place one either on their mat or on their opponent's mat. A Pac-Man card is a PLUS, a Ghost card is a MINUS, and there's also a Pac-Man/Ghost card that works as MULTIPLY. So you're trying to make your opponent score fewer points, while maximizing your own. Pro Tip: try and make your equation 10 x 10, since the rules say first to 100 wins. I managed that twice.

Note my awesome game-winning strategy, on the bottom row.

[ 1:27 AM, 11/3/13 ]
Drowsiness is definitely setting in. In order to combat the ZZZZZ's, it's time to make good on Jeff Zia's suggestion of a board game to play. Thanks to him for the donation, but as a result it means we have to play BLARF, the world's most ill-conceived rip-off of checkers. Each player has five tokens, with the letters to spell BLARF on one side and the letter A on the other. Each token can move in a specific direction based on its letter (Backwards, Left, Any, Right, or Forward), and after you move you flip it over. The object is to knock the other player's tokens off the board, but in reality you mostly just trap your own pieces at the edges. It's pretty terrible, but we played it! For the kids.

Proof that we played BLARF!
[ 1:02 AM, 11/3/13 - The First One ]
I just realized that we gain an hour tonight, due to Daylight Savings Time. Yikes!

[ 12:55 AM, 11/3/13 ]
I don't know if Dynamite Headdy has continues, but I never figured out how to obtain any if it does -- every time I lost all my lives it meant starting over from the beginning, so I got pretty good at fighting that cat boss. I also got pretty good at the level "Mad Dog and Headdy," where you attack the tail of a giant toy dog while it retrieves a ball full of monkeys, or a caterpillar, or sometimes a bomb, and songs from the Nutcracker play. I was less good at the level after that one, with the rotating 3D platform. The furthest I got before losing for good saw Headdy grabbed by a flying robotic worm, and I attacked its core as we flew but arrows kept appearing and I couldn't really figure out what I was supposed to be doing. It seems like a pretty good game, but without an easy way to continue the constant weirdness just sapped all my lives without mercy.

[ 11:58 PM, 11/2/13 ]
My next game for tonight is Dynamite Headdy (thanks to Ryan Penk for the donation, and for the suggestion!), and I don't really understand it! Like most games by Treasure, there are a *lot* of things on-screen at once, and everything is moving, and the first boss is a cat in front of a traditional Japanese painting. Well, maybe that last one is just for this game. But there's a lot of weirdness here.

I don't even.
I seem to be a puppet with a detachable head, and I'm trying to save puppets from robots? I like the theater aesthetic a lot -- Headdy's life bar seems to be the spotlight in the corner, and it changes color as he takes damage, and the stages seem to be actual "stages" with props and decorations as if the whole thing is a performance. I'm hoping it gets easier to grok as it goes along.

[ 11:25 PM, 11/2/13 ]
I played Ride to Hell: Retribution until it froze on a loading screen and overheated my fiancĂ©'s laptop.  I took that as a sign that I had suffered through that game enough. I don't really know what to say about this game, except for the things on this handy list:

- It starts with a guy riding a motorcycle and suddenly cuts to that guy standing at a turret, shooting enemies. After that it cuts back to him on the motorcycle. Then it cuts to him fighting a thug in a cutscene, and then it cuts to a cutscene of him fighting a *different* thug. And then it cuts to him riding a motorcycle over a helicopter. No context or anything.

- It's the sort of game where something bad happens in a cutscene, and then the *very next cutscene* is a black and white flashback to the bad thing that happened five seconds earlier.

- Remember games like Leather Goddesses of Phobos, which rewarded you for solving puzzles with salacious descriptions and tawdriness? In Ride to Hell: Retribution, there was a thug in a motel parking lot, and after he attacked me his prostitute girlfriend invited me upstairs for an embarrassing cutscene. And it's the sort of game that has a second scene like that one… not five minutes later. Really.

- The dialogue is hilarious. It's not supposed to be. Of special note is the tragic character who won't stop talking about going to see bands. Much is made of a girl that knows about cool bands, and she talks to him about bands, and he just wants to see cool bands that are really far out. Hey, maybe we can go see bands?

- Melee combat plays like a really poor version of the Arkham games, and the motorcycle combat makes you wonder if Road Rash was maybe not as good as you remember it, which is unforgivable.

Ride to Hell: Retribution feels like it earns every point of its 16 score on Metacritic. There's fun to be had here, if you play it with a big group of people looking to laugh, but otherwise… yikes. Maybe you should go see cool bands instead.

[ 10:11 PM, 11/2/13 ]
Ooof, I'm having a very sleepy wave. I got into Block 4 (and Mode 7 rotating craziness!), but I think I need a change of pace in the interest of keeping energized. It is a time long-awaited: time for Ride to Hell: Retribution, a game that's been out for only a couple months but already has a reputation for being one of the worst games of all time. Let's put that to the test, shall we?

[ 9:27 PM, 11/2/13 ]
I ran out of lives in Block 3-3, so it's back to the start of the Block for me. I'm really enjoying some of the tricks in this one, such as the need for a stationary jump on a two-square platform to buy time to safely cross a pit; if you don't, the orbiting ball will always hit you before you can cross. Many of the platforms in the caves of this stage also break if you stand on them too long, or if they're hit by debris. And there are Mermen, and skeletal dragon heads, and those little plants that I only know are called Une because of Aria of Sorrow. I'm having a blast with it. 

[ 9:03 PM, 11/2/13 ]
You know, it's been so long since I've played a traditional side-scrolling Castlevania that I don't think I realized how much I'd missed them. I love Aria of Sorrow and other Metroidvanias possibly more than the next guy, but there's something really refreshing about moving through a straightforward level whipping candles and jumping over gaps. The stages in this are even divided into Blocks, just like the first Castlevania! I love it. The first Block was pretty interesting, too, mixing up the traditional first level with a fenced-in garden and a stables area. The skeletal horseman was a neat first boss, too. Looking forward to any other new wrinkles in the formula!

[ 8:39 PM, 11/2/13 ]
My next game is a recent acquisition, as it appeared on the Wii U virtual console this very week in celebration of Halloween. As a Genesis kid growing up, I missed out on a lot of SNES classics like this one, so once I heard it was available I had to grab it and added it to my marathon list. I've only seen the first couple levels, but tonight seems as good a time as any to see what I've been missing. My next game is… Super Castlevania IV!

[ 8:31 PM, 11/2/13 ]
About four hours of Yoshi's Island sees me through World 3-4: Prince Froggy's Fort, and I think that'll do it for my adventures with Baby Mario tonight. It's a really solid game, but How Long To Beat pegs it at about ten hours to get through all the levels, and I have other games to play. I especially enjoyed some of the bosses -- Prince Froggy himself was a sufficiently cool boss to end on: you enter a castle room and he swallows you, and you fight him from inside his stomach. Gross, and cool!

[ 6:00 PM, 11/2/13 ]
I'm up to World 2-3 now, and it's sort of amazing that the SNES could handle this game back in 1995: lots of 3D effects and humongous sprites. It's both forgiving and not-forgiving at the same time, with a generous time limit to get Baby Mario back on your back when he falls off, but with tricky jumps and lots of obstacles to navigate. The levels are also pretty lengthy, with optional areas for collectibles, all of which add to your grade at the end of every level. I seem to be averaging in the seventies or so. The names of the levels and their associated level design gimmicks are really clever (who doesn't remember 'Touch Fuzzy, Get Dizzy') and the egg-throwing mechanic doesn't take that long to get used to and is used in lots of interesting ways so far. It's a shame that it's freezing up my system, but as long as it doesn't do it in the middle of a level it's something I can handle. :)

[ 5:08 PM, 11/2/13 ]
It's possible that Yoshi's Island doesn't like the Gameboy Player. I'll try and tough it out, but it means that updates will be slow, since it's frozen twice while trying to write here. So a brief radio blackout while I see what's the dilly yo.

[ 4:56 PM, 11/2/13 ]
This is tougher than I remember! I've lost a few Yoshis already, and I'm only starting World 1-3. It's very easy to drop off a ledge and, despite Yoshi's frantically pinwheeling legs, be unable to recover and get back to solid land. And… I see that it froze up. Let's see how often it saves. :P

[ 4:38 PM, 11/2/13 ]
The Gamecube is hooked up, the Gameboy Player is attached to the correct port, and the GBA cart for Yoshi's Island: Super Mario Advance 3 is ready to go! Thanks to Reba F. and Naomi for the donation and the suggestion! I've only played a handful of levels of this before, but I've seen enough to know that it was a cute and pretty ambitious platformer. Let's see how it goes!

[ 4:20 PM, 11/2/13 ]
Well, at 56% completion for the tutorial modes, I think I'm done with Dota 2 for now. The stage I reached was a match against bots, and hero I played was a demon called Lion, who just wasn't what I expected. I didn't really like any of his abilities and I found myself dying over and over to the bot playing Viper. The match dragged on until finally my bot allies essentially won the thing for us. Overall kind of a bummer, and a reminder that MOBAs have super-steep learning curves. Hero selection is very important for these games, so find someone you like or you won't have a good time. Gotta keep that in mind for next time, but for now I need a different kind of game to play. 

[ 3:12 PM, 11/2/13 ]
I've been in the 'try out several different heroes' section of the tutorial for awhile now, and am really enjoying how different they feel from each other. I've played as Dragon Knight, Sniper, Windrunner, and Sand King now, and they all seem to have positives and negatives, as you'd expect. Playing as Sand King in particular gave me more trouble than some of the others, but he made me laugh more than once: "I won't saaaand for this!" grumbles the giant desert scorpion. I think I'll move on to the next section of the tutorial now, even though it wants me to try eight new heroes before it marks this section complete. Maybe later.

[ 1:45 PM, 11/2/13 ]
Valve has gotten pretty good at tutorials. After completing the first two maps, I watched a short video that explained some more of the basics, and then a popup informed me that I had unlocked the full Dota 2 experience… or I could play some more tutorials. That's what I'm going to do, since the full experience fills me with trepidation. But I like that they presented it as an option!

[ 1:06 PM, 11/2/13 ]
Okay, maybe I'm starting to see why people like this sort of game. Lots of neat flavor to go alongside the feeling of playing an RPG very quickly. It looks like there might be some meat to this tutorial, too, since after the first map my tutorial progress is listed at 16%.

[ 12:34 PM, 11/2/13 ]
Up next is a little game called Dota 2, suggested by Jared Saramago. According to How Long To Beat, the time to get completely through this one is approximately 568 hours, which is a little silly. As a Multiplayer Online Battle Arena game, this is one that will eat up as many hours as you're willing to give it -- one reason I've never tried it before. But today I've agreed to give it a shot, so I'll be playing through the tutorials Jared tells me were recently added. Let's see what this entry in the MOBA genre has to offer, shall we? I promise not to spend 568 hours on it!

[ 12:11 PM, 11/2/13 ]
What a cool game. I think I enjoyed it more this time than I did the first time through, actually. Time to make a sandwich or something and prepare for the next game!

[ 12:07 PM, 11/2/13 ]
Well, that was emotional. Sorry for not updating more frequently, but when Journey gets serious it gets serious! After the cave we climbed a snowy mountain and battled the elements, and I was alone again for awhile before meeting another golden buddy. Together we made the last leg of the journey to the summit, and then… the things happen that happen. It's not a good game to spoil. After the credits they show the PSN names of the companions you met along the way, and here are the folk who accompanied me for a time this morning: Sled68_, Leon-Moco, Si_Da, and Nanashineko.

[ 11:16 AM, 11/2/13 ]
A new buddy arrived! This one isn't golden like my other one, and she seems to be more my own level of experience, but I'm just glad to not be exploring this scary cave by myself. There are monsters in here, searching for us with bright blue lights. Tense!

[ 11:10 AM, 11/2/13 ]
She's gone, and this cave is getting scary! She just sat down and vanished, and now I'm all alone and there are scary sounds. This game, man!

[ 11:02 AM, 11/2/13 ]
The sun went down and now we're in a spooky cave.

[ 10:51 AM, 11/2/13 ]
Nope, all is well! She got up after a bit and led me to a flower blooming in the desert, just like the ones from another of thatgamecompany's games, Flower! And I got a trophy for it and everything! Thanks, anonymous journeying buddy! Oops, gotta go, she's on the move again!

[ 10:44 AM, 11/2/13 ]
My buddy sat down and I don't know why! Is she leaving? :(

[ 10:34 AM, 11/2/13 ]
I made a friend! She's all golden and has the world's longest scarf, and makes me feel inadequate! But she also seems to know where everything is, and has already shown me a couple hidden locations. I have to hurry to catch up now!

[ 10:10 AM, 11/2/13 ]
The HDMI inputs on my TV are switched, the PS3 is booted up, and I'm about to go on a Journey! Thanks to Kalia Pickett for the donation and the suggestion! This is a game I played through once, and thought it was brilliant, so I'm eager to dive back in and experience it one more time. My memory is a little fuzzy on the specifics, but I remember it being a great time, and the anonymous multiplayer was just incredible. Let's see who I meet on the way, if anyone!

[ 9:48 AM, 11/2/13 ]
…but of course, he wasn't really an alien. It was just another trick by that criminal mastermind, which is exactly as it should be. The ending song for Mega Man 2 is surprisingly downbeat, accompanying Mega Man as he walks through the different seasons to an uncertain future, but then the heroic theme song comes back on and leaves everybody wanting more. So that's the credits on my first game of the marathon! How Long To Beat lists Mega Man 2 at a main story average completion time of 2 hours, 59 minutes, so I'm a little ahead of the curve… and I'll have to be, as all the games I plan to play add up to about 41 hours of game!

[ 9:43 AM, 11/2/13 ]
It's probably tough to believe now, but few things were as surprising to the twelve-year-old me as the fact that the game didn't end after you got to the skull marker in Wily's Castle and fought Dr. Wily. The subsequent cave level with the dripping blood-like slime and complete lack of music just about blew my mind with the creepiness. And to get to the end of it and discover that Dr. Wily was an alien all along!!! Oh my goodness!

[ 9:34 AM, 11/2/13 ]
Second-most stressful part of the game, and one I've written about before: the Turret Boss that needs all of your Crash Bombs. Knowing how to handle it is key, especially since the game tempts you into using Crash Bombs in the previous levels by hiding E-Tanks and other goodies behind destructible walls. Luckily, this isn't my first Rodeo Man. Time to fight the bosses again!

[ 9:23 AM, 11/2/13 ]
I've always loved the part in Wily's Castle where you drop into the gross, dirty water in the basement. It always felt like the castle had a real sense of geography to it, unlike some of the castles in the later games. And does the giant robot fish show up anywhere else in the game? I only remember it here. These days that guy would get used everywhere in order to justify the cost of drawing and animating him, but he doesn't even show up in Bubble Man's stage, where you'd expect him to be.

[ 9:14 AM, 11/2/13 ]
The Dragon in Wily 1 is one of the best bosses ever, intimidating and scary, and I love the way he chases you before the battle starts. Just look at this guy:

Put this guy on a list of Best Bosses Ever
He's not even the real threat. I lost a life while he was chasing me because I got so stressed out that I missed one of the jumps. Next time around I showed him who's boss with the Quick Boomerangs.

[ 9:07 AM, 11/2/13 ]
Heat Man and Wood Man are no more, and now I'm listening to the Worst Sound In Videogames: the sound of Dr. Wily's saucer flying off to his castle for the last set of levels. I can't remember if it took this long in the first Mega Man, but here this high-pitched screeching is painful and seems to take forever. Part of its charm, I guess. We're rewarded with the best song in the game when we arrive at Wily 1, so maybe that eases the sting a little.

[ 8:54 AM, 11/2/13 ]
So long to Air Man and Crash Man. The rust is still showing a bit, as I had a few silly mistakes on Air Man's level (why yes, I would love to forget about the egg-dropping birds and get hit by one just as I jump, that would be perfect! Ryu would be proud), but Crash Man has an easy stage as long as you remember which ladder to climb, and everybody likes a free E-Tank.

[ 8:36 AM, 11/2/13 ]
Bubble Man, Flash Man, and Quick Man have been pushed off their mortal coils. Quick Man's stage gave me some problems with the lasers (even after all these years!), but after a couple tries I made it through without using the Time Stopper.

[ 8:21 AM, 11/2/13 ]
While Mega Man gets equipped with the Metal-Blade, let me back up. I chose Normal for this playthrough, which makes my early death even more of a bummer, and I won't be doing any fancy order this time around. We're talking straight-up weakness path through the game, so next stop Bubble Man!

[ 8:17 AM, 11/2/13 ]
Yeowch! First death on Metal Man's stage, just as I was congratulating myself for not attempting the E-Tank trap. My play this morning is already a lot sloppier than usual. Is my coffee ready yet? :P 

[ 8:10 AM, 11/2/13 ]
Breakfast has been had, coffee is brewing, and it's time to begin! I'll be starting with Mega Man 2, one of my very favorite games. I'll be playing the virtual console edition of the game on the Wii U. Time to get started!

[ 7:48 AM, 11/2/13 ]
Good morning, everybody! It's finally the day of the Extra Life Charity Marathon, and I'm ready to game for 24 hours straight! I'll be live-blogging as I go, so buckle up for an account of my exploits today! For starters, I'll be making eggs, bacon, and toast for breakfast energy. Back in a few!