“I have not seen your face hitherto”

It’s been a long time since I updated this thing with my current gaming activities. I have made some significant purchases in the past several months, most notably a Wii and a PS3.

For the Wii, I have two games: Mario Kart Wii and Okami. I played Mario Kart for a few weeks, and did enjoy it for the most part, but I haven’t really played it after the initial shine wore off. I haven’t even touched Okami, sadly. The Wii gathers dust, though it’s more a sign of my lack of time in recent months to devote to games than a dislike of the console.

I bought the Metal Gear Solid 4 80 GB PS3 bundle. I played a bit of MGS4, but that’s largely untouched to this day, and not because I don’t like the game. I’m either too busy to play games these days, or there are other games I’d rather be playing.

I got completely hooked on Pokemon Diamond from late Spring to mid-Summer. Even though I had the Wii and the PS3, the lure of Pokemon proved very strong. I haven’t finished the game yet, as I am bored of level grinding, and I don’t want to move on without a stronger party. I’ve mostly stopped playing Pokemon right now, but I’ll pick it up again later on. It’s a great game and I do want to finish it.

Shortly after I got my PS3, I got Rock Band. Holy crap, is this game good. I’d been playing it at friends’ places since it came out, so I’d been eager to get my own copy. I recently got my PS3 online and downloaded quite a few songs. I love this extension to the lifespan of my game. I played Rock Band avidly for several weeks, but after I got stuck on “Green Grass and High Tides” on drums (Medium), I decided to take a break, much like I took a break from Guitar Hero III after I couldn’t defeat Tommy Morello in the boss battle.

Recently, I was given the gift of SingStar to cheer me up during a particularly stressful week. I’ve wanted this game for a really long time. I actually don’t own any karaoke games for the PS2, which is probably surprising since I really enjoy karaoke — though I have no vocal talent to speak of. SingStar caught my eye several years ago when it was initially released on the PS2, to great acclaim in Europe. One look at the song list guaranteed a purchase in the future, but with the proliferation of SingStar themed games, the threat to my wallet was great. I decided to hold off until I bought a PS3 and could pick and choose songs to download.

I’ve been having loads of fun with SingStar. It’s harder than Karaoke Revolution, but I like it a lot more than KR. I like that SingStar plays the original music videos to the songs you sing. I also like that it’s no-frills — you don’t have cheesy, brightly-coloured characters or customisable avatars prancing about, singing along with you. It just gets on with what you’re interested in — singing. Having said that, I do like the left-to-right scrolling text and tone indicators that both Rock Band and Karaoke Revolution have, rather than Sing Star‘s bottom-to-top method.

I’ve been eagerly anticipating the next North American SingStore update, which will be out later this week. I downloaded a bunch of songs last weekend, but I really hope that the North American SingStore catches up with Europe in terms of number of songs available and variety. I looked online to see which songs are available in Europe and in the States and I’m pretty disappointed that I can’t buy up absolutely every Coldplay song available for SingStar. Why is “Clocks” available as standard on the disc, yet I can’t buy “The Scientist”? Both are from the same album. Why can I buy a few songs from X&Y but not others? I would understand the licensing issue more if certain regions were denied access to entire albums, but individual songs makes less sense. The whole situation is a little frustrating. I’ve read about some workarounds whereby North American players can purchase, download, and install songs from the UK SingStore, but it all seems like quite a lot of effort just to give Sony my money.

I downloaded a few demos from the PlayStation store. Right now I’m playing Echochrome and Bladestorm: The Hundred Years’ War (official site).

Echochrome is this neat puzzle game in which your character, a featureless figure, wanders about a black and white world where the physical reality depends upon perspective. You can rotate the three dimensional stages around to help your character reach marked locations on the map. It’s a lot of fun. The puzzles are challenging, though having to complete them within a time limit is a little annoying.

Bladestorm is a squad-based tactical hack-n-slash action game in which you assume the role of a mercenary in the Hundred Years’ War between the English and the French. The action is largely mindless fun, though you do need to plan your attacks appropriately by selecting the correct type of troops and your approach before you rush off into a skirmish. The voice acting is quite bad, but awesome all the same. The graphics are pretty good and look great on the PS3, but the art style is uninspired. The game is mediocre as a whole, but I shamelessly admit that I’m having a great time with it. If I haven’t had enough mindless action after I finish the demo, I’ll probably get the full version.

EDIT – 20 August 2008: I have been gently reminded that I also played Odin Sphere briefly in the early part of the summer. Odin Sphere is a fun multi-perspective RPG/side-scrolling beat ’em up. I love the 2D Japanese art style, and I’d also like to call out the fantastic use of colour throughout the game. The music is also really good as well. Unfortunately, the English voice acting is gross. I originally started playing with Japanese voice acting enabled, but I decided to do a comparison with English. I quickly switched back. If you want to read a more in-depth review of Odin Sphere, you’ll find a lot on the web. I stopped playing because my ability to stick to one game and finish it is lacking, as we’ve seen from the first part of this post. :-P

  5 comments for ““I have not seen your face hitherto”

  1. 18 August 2008 at 06:47

    “Green Grass” is a BEAST on drums. I’m stuck there on Medium too. It just goes on, and on, and on, and eventually my hands cramp up and the dog starts getting anxious and the cat stands in front of the TV and OH GOD I’VE FAILED THE BASTARD AGAIN.

  2. Erinan
    19 August 2008 at 02:27

    Rock Band is all you need on the PS3, really ;) Plus they announced that the instruments are going to be cross-compatible between all the musical games recently.

    Funnily enough, I bought Pokemon Pearl (the missus took Diamond, tsss) a week ago and have already put 30+ hours into it. Granted, the last time I played a Pokemon game was when the first versions came out (Red and Blue, some years ago). It’s very simple, yet very deep in terms of things to do and soooo addictive. Not sure if I’m gonna catch them all yet, but I’m loving it for the moment.

    Although I’ll come back to Phoenix Wright very soon, best games ever on the DS :)

  3. 20 August 2008 at 21:43

    @Thomas: I don’t know if I’ll ever pass it. :-( Meanwhile, I have a bunch of downloaded songs to get better at.

    @Erinan: Pokemon is awesome. Diamond is the first Pokemon game I played avidly since the original, Pokemon Blue. I was so heavily addicted to Pokemon Blue. My partner has Pearl, so we were trading a lot. We also downloaded Darkrai and Deoxys at a special store promotion they had in June. I doubt I’ll be able to catch them all, but it’s a worthy goal. ;-)

  4. 21 August 2008 at 04:13

    OMG, I absolutely <3 SingStar! I bought one game, and then I think I bought all but two of the rest of the games the next day. Found them pretty cheap at BestBuy, so it was pretty easy on the wallet.
    Did you hear they're issuing an update for the PS3 that will allow us to swap PS2 SingStar discs into the PS3 while playing the PS3 version without having to restart? I think they made the announcement at Leipzig today or something. Totally looking forward to it! :D

  5. 21 August 2008 at 06:55

    Hey, koukou, thanks for stopping by. :-)

    I hadn’t heard that about SingStar PS2 discs — that’s cool! I was just at Best Buy and I looked at the SingStar PS2 games. SingStar 80s and SingStar 90s were quite tempting, but I decided to hold off, as I wasn’t there to buy a game.

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