Emerald Monthly Update – April 2017

This week looks like it’s gonna be all PC! Up to bat this month is Runner2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien, Floating Point, and 100ft Robot Golf!

What an interesting set of…names.


Bit.Trip Presents… Runner2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien for PC

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This may come as a surprise, but I never did play the first Bit.Trip Runner game. I don’t honestly remember how I got this, although I’ve been somewhat interested after the main character Commander Video made an early cameo in Super Meat Boy some time ago. It doesn’t really strike me as the kind of game you absolutely need to be caught up on the plot to enjoy, though, so I picked this one up regardless because I had it and not the first for some reason.

Developed by Gaijin Games and released back in 2013, Runner2 is a 2D side scrolling game with rhythm game elements. The game actually has your character run at a constant speed on its own – your only job is to jump or duck or deflect or kick through obstacles on his way there. Each obstacle cleared will coincide with a note in the backing soundtrack for a nice little sense of serendipity.

While easy starting out, it does ramp up the challenge later on, mostly by throwing more things into the mix. At first it’s just jumping and ducking but later on you’ll be bouncing off of trampolines and making snap decisions on whether to go low or high ground, deflecting projectiles and flying-kicking away boards like a perpetual Jet Li machine.

I started off liking this game quite a lot, with its charming, cheery pastel colors and quirky aesthetic narrated by a non-Mario speaking Charles Martinet for once – the experience was nice, to be sure.

Then some little annoyances I had began to surface. And they evolved into large annoyances the more I played.

The first level of annoyances I’d say have to be the difficulty. I only barely made it through the first world by the skin of my teeth near the end there, and I feel like ‘gitting gud’ can only go so far when I can see only a fraction of what’s about to happen to me to begin with. Eventually I found the experience far more stressful than it was worth, coming to a point where I was simultaniously frustrated and entranced at the same time. I found myself mixing buttons up after a certain point of skill seeing diminishing returns over time, and I would have to stop at these points altogether.

The other, massive issue I have is the soundtrack – it’s not diverse enough. 18 levels of what amounted to basically the same music being played in the same world over and over and over with only slight variations wore me down very quickly, and when I finally got to the second world, ecstatic for variety, what I found awaiting me was little more than a remix of the same song, only with more Caribbean instrumentation.

That’s pretty much when I put the game down. I’m sorry, but I need more variety deeper than that to keep me going in any game that puts so much stock in its soundtrack. I mean, it’s supposed to be Future Legend of “Rhythm” Alien, but really what you’re dodging to isn’t even the rhythm, it’s the melody. It’s a bit of a misnomer, really.

Look, I realize I’m in the minority for not liking this game. If you enjoy it, that’s totally fine. I admit it’s a very accessible game – most everyone, gamer or no, could probably have fun with it for some amount of time on some level. Aesthetics are great, but there were just a couple things that kept gnawing on me until I couldn’t really play it anymore.

Maybe I’ll try a different Bit.Trip game sometime. Overall, for me personally, this didn’t have enough soundtrack variety, and got a little too frustrating over time without being that satisfying.


Floating Point for PC

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Is there such a thing as a “relax-em-up”? A “chill-em-up”?

I discovered Floating Point through doing research on the developers of Gunpoint (previous Emerald Monthly Update inclusion and very good 2D stealth game while being a send-up of the film noir genre), and discovering that Suspicious Developments had a couple other games under their belt. Ever since then, I’ve fallen in love with this free game that had come out in 2014.

The premise is simply. You’re a dot that can grapple onto blocks with a grapple hook string thing and swing around them. The more momentum you gain, the more these blocks protrude…red rectangles. You collect these red rectangles to beat the level and go to the next one. There are two halves of the stage, which if you fall into one, gravity reverses so you fall naturally into the other, so there’s no such thing as falling into pits of death or anything like that. No game overs, just peaceful swingin’ around.

That’s it, that’s the game. Also did I mention it’s free?

It’s calm, relaxing, there’s no end, that’s the only real goal, I think there’s ambient music? And much of the game is even customizable, from the speed of the grappling hook retracting, to level width, to density, and a fair bit more.

No joking around here, this game, since I discovered it, has helped me fall asleep at night. I love this little, simple, free game, and would highly recommend it to anyone looking to relax via swinging around freely.


 

100 Foot Robot Golf for PC

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The game, developed by No Goblin, entitled “One Hundred Foot Robot Golf” exists as of March 16th, 2017.

What a time to be alive.

So, golf games, right? I honestly really enjoy myself some golf and mini-golf games whenever I pass them by. I never actively seek them out, but I do remember Fuji Golf being a big favorite of mine back on my grandmothers’ old Windows 95, and I played the hell out of the mini-golf minigame in both Thrillville games, and holy shit I just found out Thrillville: Off The Rails has been on Steam since ’07, and for 10 bucks!? I am immediately buying this!

Ahem. Sorry. Got a little sidetracked.

100ft Robot Golf is a pretty nice golfing game, if you’re willing to put up with some janky stuff. References to various mecha anime and movies are in there, you can use a mech piloted by five corgis, or just a straight up spooky scary skeleton that shoots lasers out its eye sockets, and a good few more to choose from too. Each one has its own little minigame to wind up the swing with, and while I feel some of them do repeat (the skeleton and the Evangelion references have pretty much the exact same game) they’re all pretty fun. There’s also super ball power-ups – sometimes you’ll get very temporary control over your ball, and sometimes your ball turns into a party ball and blasts party music.

The party ball is fun the first few times. It’s not fun after that.

All of this is set in a colorful implied dystopia, behind a relaxing lounge kind of music and two commentators who have nice, calm voices while also being able to sling biting insults, witty banter and good sarcasm the player’s way too. I did, however, end up lamenting that the commentators after a while began repeating their witty one-liners, making them less and less witty and more and more annoying as time went on.

You can knock down buildings that are in the way, as well as put buildings in the way for opponents intentionally in certain modes, and while I will admit that almost everything about the physics is absolutely jank, there’s a certain charm to it all.

This game is nowhere near perfect, in fact, parts of the time it operates as a broken, janky, clunky hot mess, but it’s got so much heart to it that I can’t help but like it regardless of its jank. It’s a game that you pull out with some friends who either haven’t played it for a while or haven’t played it at all, go ‘hey, check out this dumb thing isn’t it great?’ and all have a laugh for a few hours before it starts to get too grating and repetitive.

It’s a bit of a novelty game, and I’d say a pretty good example of style far, far overpowering substance. But boy, does that style go a long way in short doses. I’m not sure I’d recommend it at 20 bucks, maybe wait for a sale, but if you have the disposable income and want to just kind of smile at something dumb and awesome for a few hours, definitely give this one a go.


Other Quick Updates

Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin for PC

THEY FIXED THE SALTFORT BONFIRE. HALLELUJAH.

Also, there’s a couple enemies I don’t recognize. Scary, I dunno how to deal with them. I’m having fun with power stancing a couple of scimitars, but it’s hard as hell.

Also AAAAHHH PURSUER.

Overwatch for PC

For the most part I’ve been focusing on getting better as Mccree, and I thought to myself “Hmm, I wonder if this aiming practice translates to Widowmaker.”

It did. I have tasted true power, and I don’t know that I could ever go back. The dark side calls, and the dark side has a very nice butt and is very French.

God Eater: Resurrection for PC

I…feel like I may have included this one in my Monthly Update a little prematurely. More time with the game has exposed some flaws I didn’t see before, some unexpected hiccups that hinder the game (mostly its repetitiveness and its sudden inclusion of characters that…I do not care for the dubbing of. Also the fact that it’s still going despite having rolled credits ages ago, when does this game actually end?)


Hopefully since it’s summer vacation soon, I’ll be able to get more games into these monthly lineups. 

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