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Video games thread - "What are you playing?"


From Funstock website:

“Most SNES games output at a resolution of 256×224, whilst the Retron 5’s upscaler outputs the same games at 1080×720. The drastically higher resolution of the Retron 5 has an obvious advantage – the image is much clearer, sharper and won’t look this good outside of PC emulation. If you are currently running your original SNES to an HD TV with composite cables, the Retron 5 will dramatically increase the visual fidelity of your games.”


So yesterday I returned to Skyrim, then remembered I had the Dawnguard quest to do quick to stop the random vampire attacks slaughtering random townsfolk. This was hugely irritating as that DLC was designed for after you’ve done the main quest, but you need to do it quick as the vamps can kill off individuals that some quests require! It would have been better for you to be able to choose when to activate it but no.

So had a hellish time doing the big quests for Auriel’s Bow due to an infernally useless map and other crappy sign-posting. When I did get to the end, there was a real pain in the arse boss battle that I was clearly under-levelled for! Due to downing health potions like no tomorrow, I just got through it.

So today, due to what a bastard Vyrthur was, I was not expecting to be in a position to actually finish the DLC despite very much desiring to. So went with a ‘sod it’ strategy and decided to storm Castle Volkihar regardless. To my surprise the Dawnguard and I slaughtered the vamps and then Serena and I decked the hell out of Harkon. Not easy, as the guy likes teleporting and has a health recovery ability, plus summoning help, but he still went down! Far more easily than Vyrthur too. Yay.

That means the game opens up in its traditional sense. I can now go exploring, kill bandits, sell their stuff, buy and develop houses and loads of other cool stuff. I went and got Florentius, in the process getting much valuable loot that is going to take several merchants for me to sell it all to because no one individual has enough gold!

The work they put in on this remaster remains remarkable - the water effect enhancements being a particular case in point. Playing Skyrim now does tend to show up how games have progressed in the last five years, yesterday’s experience being a particularly emphatic example, but the game world remains remarkably well designed despite those flaws.


Restarted Paper Mario 64 the other day. Such a fun game.


I gave that a like then reread it and saw I’d missed the Paper bit. I’ve never played any of those games but have always fancied it.

I’m taking a sick day from work so I think I might take the duvet through to the living room and just play Fallout 4 all day - purely for medicinal purposes of course!


Have started on FF12: Zodiac Age.

Damn, they have put a lot of work into this - taking a game not at all designed for HDTVs and rendering it perfectly on one. Nor did they stop there - heat haze in the Eastern Dalmascan desert and sunlight effects on Giza Plains all really add to the game nicely.

So far, I’ve barely scratched the surface and have been reacquainting myself with the quite complex system of licences, techniks, magics, weapons, equipment and accessories, while flogging the loot to get the gil to buy stuff. Gambits are not yet active but will be, which was one aspect of the original I never cracked.

I’ve set Vaan up as a Red Battlemage and Penelo as a White Mage, it’s gone OK so far.

The abiding impression so far? Rabanastre remains a masterpiece of design. Compared to the cities in games now it’s tiny, but when you’re playing the game it feels large, far larger than it is.

The story is also notable for throwing you in at the deep end of a stew of history and politics, which really makes it stand out - then and now.

If anything, playing the game now emphasises how far ahead of its time it was then.

It has been proven that shooting body parts off of Raiders leads to faster recovery from illness.


This is especially true with the Bloody Mess perk unlocked.

I’ve just realised I’ve passed the 200 hour mark and I’m pretty sure I’ve the majority of the story to do (I’ve just searched through Kellogg’s memories for info about The Institute and my son and not made any progress with the Minute Men) as well as all of Far Harbour and most of Nuka World too. Reckon that’s a couple more hundred hours!!!


Been building much?


A wee bit but that’s petered off over the past while. I’ve got all my settlements linked with provisioners so the shit ton of scrap I’ve collected is shared across the map and I can build anything I want pretty quickly. I’ve stopped trying to build impenetrable fortresses as a way of defending settlers as I can build missile turrets so just pop a couple of them at the edge of my towns and they deal with all invaders pretty quickly.


Also the game will spawn enemies inside your walls - I’ve had it happen, so turrets everywhere is the better solution.


I’m playing Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin at the moment. As the name suggests, it’s broadly Symphony of the Night again (all post SOTN Castlevanias seem to be Blank of (the) Blank), not that there’s anything wrong with that. There are some quirks though - you have two player characters that you switch between, but can also have team up. One’s your typical pseudo-Belmont vampire killer, the other’s a teen magician, who attacks with books, including Don Quixote, which is fun.

The main gimmick is that you enter paintings around the castle, which have different locations, creating some nice variety from the castle setting.

I’d say the only problem with the game is that, as ever, the player character sprites are a bit limp (Konami can’t seem to do interesting head/faces on their sprites) and their running animations, as they trudge along a bit too slowly, look faintly ridiculous, like an 80s politician going jogging.


Well, I replayed Super Mario 64 a few months ago =P
Ha, I’m just making my rounds through some N64 gems.

I highly recommend playing them if you can get a hold of them for a good price! They aren’t very difficult, but their charm and whimsy makes them worthwhile. Gotta love the Mario + RPG cross.


So I just had a pain in the arse go on FF12.

It started off well - for the hell of it I racked up a chain of 125 Hyenas.

No, it went off the rails with the entry into the Palace. The waterways were OK, but the Palace section inflicts this bullshit puzzle game on you. It gives no clues, no directions - it is irredeemably shite.

Once past that, it got a bit better with the Nalbina breakout, followed by going to Bhujerba. Once there I was able to get better equipment too, so armed everyone up and went into the mines. The gang did fairly well, racked up a load of kills including a 30-chain on the skeletons, so how did it all go wrong? By the game being a cheatin’ pile o’ crap.

Generally, the placement of a save point will also act as warning of a boss fight after it. This is not always so, but it tends to happen. It didn’t here. No, instead it did a cut-scene and then dropped a quartet of boss-level enemies on me. Enemies I have no chance against because this is a covert ‘fight you can’t win’ set-up, so you’re supposed to leg it back the way you came, past respawned enemies while the bigger enemies chase you. Oh and just for the hell of it, it throws in cut-scenes between each section just to break your stride. It was utter arse.

For sections like this there are two far superior options - cutscene all the way and then I don’t have to waste resources on a fight I can’t win or, option two, I am allowed to go for great fury and terrible vengeance on these motherfuckers and tear them a new arsehole, not this crappy, bastard hybrid.

Next? It’s Vaan running around town to raise a notoriety meter. Great, excellent, just what I wanted…


Had a far better go on FF12 today despite the SOBs that were Cockatrice and Rocktoise, with the latter being on the list for being curb-stomped with extreme prejudice later.

Cockatrice I first killed its chicks, then disabled it, beat the crap out of it and then Darked it to death when it recovered.

I’m also enjoying the Gambit system, which I’ve barely scratched the surface of. For instance, it’s quite neat that one character will lose their Protect status and another is already restoring it.

The one problem I have with the Zodiac system is you’ll make character X a certain type and the game then removes them from your party! So, I suspect once I get to the point where I have everyone it’ll be far better, but right now having very limited healing options is a pain in the backside!


I’m about 5-6 hours into Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin and seemingly quite near the end, which is a surprise. Admittedly, that doesn’t include all the time spent dying, but still, doesn’t seem very long to have fully explored Dracula’s Castle and beat most of the bosses. It’s now throwing a group of extra portrait areas at me as a pre-boss gauntlet type thing, which seems a bit of a cheat.

The game’s fun enough, but I’m not bowled over by the item system, which mostly requires you to fast travel back to thr entrance and talk to some merchant there who mostly has stuff you can’t possibly afford. There’s a ghost hanging out there as well,who gives you mini-quests, which mostly involve getting groups of items, generally after they’ve proved useless and I’ve sold them on to afford potions, I find. It also insists on giving you multiples of some items (spells, sub-weapons) which you can’t sell. So what’s the point? Just make them an unlockable without quantity. In all, I find myself yearning for the robustly flexible dual card system from Circle of the Moon, when it comes to magic and upgrades.


So have I. The difference between rookie and veteran is unbelievable though. I get that you are supposed to feel overwhelmed but this was a while other level and there are still difficulty levels beyond this.


I’m starting to get very annoyed by the load times in the Witcher 3. It makes experimentation, and dying, a painfully tedious experience.


Skyrim yesterday:

  • Did the Markarth quests to buy Vlindrel Hall - this included getting thrown into and breaking out of prison.
  • Managed to do Blood on the Ice, a quest I never got to before due to it being so buggy, might end up being able to buy Hjerim this time.
  • Have done a couple of quests - kill a spider here, track down this White Phial here, killed a dragon too.
  • Have just forged and upgraded Orcish Armour, which looks very impressive.
  • One major change this time is I find it much easier to do dual-casting with the PS4 pad, which in turn has sent my magic use and destruction level through the roof.

Skyrim today:

Ulfric Stromcloak refuses to allow me to buy the Hjerim property, therefore I shall betray him, destroy all his dreams, kill all his soldiers, depose him as Jarl of Windhelm and instead purchase it from his Imperial successor.

Overkill? Well, yeah, but all he had to do was sell me the damn house!


I haven’t played the remake. From what I hear it’s excellent. They’ve made some changes that I’m not 100% aware of, but one of them is the job thing. I played the PS2 Version of FFXII and it had the license board and not the zodiac system…I think…ha.

I got about halfway through and then got busy and never started it up again. Reading this makes me want to replay the game from the start though!


The Zodiac version never came out in the West, so it’s entirely new.

The plan was to do the section where I get the rest of the party, but I ended up playing Skyrim too much instead, maybe next weekend!

In terms of a remaster, it’s up there with FFX in terms of having had a lot of work done.

I know when I had the PS2 version I fitted everyone out with killer sword / shield combos combined with a whole lot of magic - the new version forces you to play far more tactically and strategically, plus the Gambits are very effective too. FFXII really was ahead of its time in quite a few ways.


I got Cuphead late last week and have played it here and there this weekend.

It’s really a beautiful and unique game to look at. The gameplay itself is very ordinary however.