Itchy Thumbs

Completing games then reviewing them

Archive for January, 2010


Posted by D on January 14, 2010

Trine (n): The noise a rhinoceros makes during its vinegar strokes. True fact. I read it on the internet somewhere so it must be true. And as I get all my true facts from the internet these days I was glad that the internet additionally told me that Trine is also an excellent 2D-in-a-faux-3D-world platformer with physics based puzzles. WHAT IS NOT TO LOVE? It’s like they took a grab bag of my favourite things and made a game out of them. Could I resist? I could not. You can pick it up on all respectable downloadable content platforms PSN, XBLA, Steam.

Trine is great for a large number of reasons. just go out and buy it, it’s only £7 or something. Do I need to say any more?

Yes? I do? You people are like slave drivers.

So it’s a platform game, where you control three characters with different abilities (gasp! who knew) in order to solve the puzzles. It has a fantasy setting so those three characters are the usual fantasy archetypes: warrior, wizard, rogue. The warrior can pick stuff up, hit things with his sword and shield it up. The wizard can conjure objects (boxes, floating platforms). And the Rogue can shoot things with arrows and swing around on a grappling hook. But you can only have one of them (and hence one set of abilities) on screen at a time so it’s less Lost Vikings and more Megaman ZX Advent. You pick your way through the levels using whichever character and abilities you like the look of at the time, it’s not especially puzzle-tastic but it is nice being able to choose how you go about solving a given bit of the game and it is quite satisfying when you come up with an ingenious way to traverse something.

Interspersed among the platform-jumpy-puzzle bits there are monster encounters where you have to clear out packs of ravenous skeletons. They break up the game nicely but they do restrict you to using either the warrior or rogue to dispatch them. Now, perhaps it’s because I played the game through on Hard (because I’m not a limp dicked excuse for a man) but the sword fighting with the warrior seemed next to useless. A recipe for getting the warrior killed. Every . Time. Perhaps I’m missing something about the sword combat and you can become brilliantly skilled at it but that seemed too fiddly/risky so I tended to run as far away from the enemy as feasible (like a real man) and snit them to death with the rogue’s arrows.

As you play each of the characters has their own health bar, if you get them killed then you aren’t allowed to select that character until you get to the next restart point/orb where they all get a bit of a health boost. As a rule not a huge problem but there are odd occasions where you hit a bit of level that you can’t traverse because you don’t have any wizard and rogue left and you have to kill yourself. But more commonly you’ll end up in combat with just the wizard left and the wizard is right next to buttfuck useless in that scenario. At best you can drop some of his conjured objects on the skeletons for an instant kill but to do that you have to draw the shape of the object you want on the screen over the skeleton (and keep doing it with each new skeleton). Which wouldn’t be so bad… But as you’re the wizard you’re probably trying to run away from the skeletons at the same time, so as well as negotiating running away with one thumb, you’re trying to draw a square with the other and trying to do so while compensating for screen scrolling. Not Easy. So then you die and restart at the last restart point with all three characters. I suspect this may be a PC to console translation problem. Doing some super quick square/box drawing with the mouse is undoubtedly easier than trying to do it with a console’s thumb stick. I lost count of the number of times I got killed off in combat with the wizard but it really didn’t seem like the greatest bind. On the flipside firing the rogue’s arrows was immensely satisfying every time you did it right, whereas with a mouse I can see how it would be totally too accurate and just become a bit boring.

The game as a whole isn’t all that long, some 15 levels. It doesn’t over stay it’s welcome or become arduous. I think it’s just the right length, it gets as hard as is reasonable given some of the game engine’s limitations and for the price that’s a good game size. The main limitation is the physics engine that underlies the movement and puzzles. Now and again, you’ll notice some odd behaviour here and there, objects behaving unlike they have in the ENTIRE REST OF THE GAME, moments where an object gets pinged at super speed off the edge of the screen. Not generally an issue but the problem is that you can get killed by the physics engine wigging-out. It’s rare but if it happened with any regularity you’d soon give up. Largely this is only an issue with the more frenetic portions of the game such as the end game (which did get a little frustrating). But while the physics engine has these odd, weird behaviours I don’t see that the game could be made much harder without it also become a heap load of frustrating. Thankfully it never goes down that route.

As it stands it is a beautiful, fun, pleasing game that never lingers too much to get old or sad. So ends this review, please don’t be sad either.

WOOH GAH, WOOH GAH! Bonus extra review.

The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks

Take this review, make the following substitutions: swap “Islands” for “towns”, “sailing” for “travelling on tracks”, “boat” for “train” and “pirates” for err… “pirates on the land” because it is: The. Same. Fucking. Game. Talk about phoning it in. I remain eager to see a sequel with a larger more developed story and maybe, this time, some new ideas too.

P.S. Happy now Wilf?

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Dress well in 2010

Posted by D on January 14, 2010

For those in need of sartorial advice, I give you this and this. Perhaps not together though.

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