Telltale’s The Walking Dead: Season 2 Review

When I played Season 1 of Telltale’s unique storytelling game set in the world of The Walking Dead, I absolutely loved it – it was my game of the year of 2014.

Will season 2 of this series be able to retain everything which made the first so great? Or will it fail?

Game: Telltale’s The Walking Dead: Season 2

Platforms: PC, PS3, Xbox 360, PS4, Xbox One, iOS, Android, PS Vita (Reviewed)

Price: $25 for the full season ($5 per episode)

For those of you that have never played, read, or watched anything to do with The Walking Dead, it’s essentially a zombie apocalypse story that focuses on the survivors and their problems in a world where everything is scarce.

Following on from the events in the first game, you control Clementine, a nine year old girl. The opening starts only a couple of months after the ending of the first game, but before long the game skips eighteen months. This is done, partially, to allow Clementine to develop into her own character. In Season 1 she was a major secondary character, but here she is the playable character, so it’s important to distinguish her a little.

clementine

What I immediately noticed about this game is how much darker it is. This is evident not only from its high age rating, but also from the general atmosphere and artwork. While the first game did have some bright artwork, here the majority of the action is gloomy and upsetting: and sure, this is a gloomy and upsetting story, but some variation would have been nice. At the moment, there’s barely any sort of variation between episodes.

Each episode is its own story, but they all are part of a larger arc. The main story here revolves around Clementine trying to find a new group of survivors and her journey with them, which is an interesting story as she soon gets swept up into a series of events that affect her and her group.

One of the problems I had in this season is that it felt like my choices didn’t matter. Now while I don’t mind the illusion of choice, this game doesn’t allow the role-playing experience the first season had. In the first game you controlled Lee, who acted as a father figure to Clementine since the death of her own parents. Some of the best choices you made as Lee had nothing to do with the story, but how you personally chose to raise Clementine. Examples that spring to mind include punching someone a few times but not enough to seriously damage him, not stealing out of the boot of a car, and so on. These choices had little-to-no effect on the story, but it felt like I was choosing what to do in this world, which I feel is just as important as the major decisions. Here, it’s fairly obvious the major decisions don’t have a major effect (saving characters will just result in them silently in the background) but there’s so little of these minor, role-playing decisions that it doesn’t matter anyway.

3

The linear plot itself is pretty decent, featuring some returning characters from season 1 and an exhilarating final episode climax.

The artwork is quite nice, as mentioned previously it’s dark and gloomy but it suits the story. This is definitely a cinematic experience, so I would recommend playing it on a big screen. Season 1 was pretty good on the small Vita screen, but season 2 wasn’t as good on the small screen. I would recommend a console purchase for the full experience.

The sound was decent, the highlight of course being the songs that play during the credits of each episode. There’s nothing really special about the in-episode sound though, but given this is a dialogue-heavy game I don’t expect much from the music anyway.

2

The biggest failure of this game was its lack of optimisation. It was occasionally slow and had some bugs; for instance at one point the dialogue for a scene played while the scene was still loading and then I had to watch the scene in silence. Episode 3 also crashed to the home screen at one point, which was a little upsetting but fortunately I was able to load from the most recent scene. I can’t comment on the other platforms, but I would recommend avoiding the PS Vita version, as it is, out of the platforms I’ve played Telltale games on, the least optimised.

So let’s some up what we have here: a good plot, decent storytelling, good gameplay, and good graphics. What we have here is a good game, but unfortunately one that just falls shy of the great and amazing games I am used to from Telltale. I give The Walking Dead: Season 2 a 3.5/5 objectively and a 3.5/5 subjectively.

Positives

+ Good Plot

+ Good Graphics

7/10

Negatives

– Decisions not as good as expected from Telltale

– Bugs and other optimisation issues

 

The NES Collection: A Nightmare on Elm Street Review

I didn’t play this one for long, so it’s going to be a pretty short review.

Game: A Nightmare on Elm Street

Platform:  NES

Price: $35

I’ve never actually seen A Nightmare on Elm Street, so I went into this with no idea what was heppening.

It’s a pretty basic platformer, you can punch with B and jump with A. Enemies on-screen can be taken out with a few punches.

This was developed by Rare, so the mechanics are pretty good. One of the cooler mechanics is a nightmare bar that steadily depletes. Once empty, nightmare mode begins, where the enemies are tougher. Unfortunately what ruins this mechanic for me is that Freddy can randomly appear at any time during this mode, resulting in a boss battle that cannot be won without an upgrade found before the boss battle.

There’s a decent amount of levels here, and the graphics are good.

It’s just an average platformer but if you like the film I’d say it’s worth checking out.

Positives

+ Innovative nightmare mechanic

5.fw

Negatives

– Unfair boss battle timing

Australia Day Post: Big Bash 2016 Review

Game: Big Bash 2016

Platforms: iOS, Android

Price: Free

Ah, Australia Day. The sound of snags sizzling on the barbie, splashes from pools, and of course, backyard cricket.

However, if you don’t have anyone to celebrate Australia Day, you could play cricket on Big Bash 2016, a game based on the cricket tournament of the same name.

I suppose this is going to need an explanation for my international readers. 

Cricket is a sports game where one team bats while the other fields. The fielding team has one player bowl the ball to a batsman on the pitch, who then hits the ball with his bat before running up and down the pitch to score “runs”. The batsmen keep running in the time it takes the fielders to return the ball to the bowler. If a batsmen hits it high, and it rolls over the field’s boundary, that is automatically counted as 4 runs, and a “full” hit over the boundary is automatically counted as 6. Batsmen are “out” if a ball of theirs is caught,  or if the ball hits one of the two wickets on the pitch before the batsmen crosses the “crease” (a white line before the wicket). If the batting team loses 10 wickets (10 batsmen get out) the teams switch sides, and the old fielding team (the new batting team) attempts to chase down the run total set by the old batting team.

The Big Bash is not a brawler, beat-em-up game, but the name of a T20 cricket competition in Australia, where each city competes in a tournament competition. T20 means 20 overs per side – each over consists of 6 balls, so the teams have to score the highest score they can from 120 balls.

Now that’s out of the way, let’s focus on the game.


You first choose a team (which are all fully licensed as well, which is nice), and then launch into either a quick-play game or the tournament. What is very cool is that the game offers both men and women play modes. You can also choose whether to bat or bowl first, although I think a randomiser option would have been nice, or a coin toss option like how the real-life games do it. You can also choose how many overs you play, with a variety of intervals from 2 to 20.

Bowling is nice and simplistic for the touch screen interface, it’s as easy as dragging a marker to the position you want to bowl to and then swiping up to determine the speed of the ball. You don’t actually get to control any of the fielders, but I think that was the right decision here: field control would be much too finnicky on a mobile device. However, I do think the ability to manually change the field layout would have been nice; the game randomizes (to an extent) the position of the fielders, and although that adds strategy to the bowling, the option to change the fielding position would have been a welcome addition.

Batting is even more simple, it just requires swiping in the direction you want the ball to go. The faster the swipe, the faster the ball. Runs are automatic based on ball position, which I think was also the right decision: you simply wouldn’t be able to get a good enough view of the field to determine when to run on such a small screen.


My only real complaint (the other minor things I’ve mentioned are nitpicks, really) is with the difficulty. The “normal difficulty” is ridiculously easy, my records were 3/630 for batting, which is impossible in real T20 cricket – for reference, 180 runs is a tough score to beat, the current record is about 220. In One Day Internationals, which are 50 overs, 350 runs is a tough score to beat. It’s just way too easy to smash 6s in the normal mode. I could forgive this, but it doesn’t get much better, my record on the next difficulty, “Pro”, was 10/348, which is better (I was bowled all out) but I’m still scoring ridiculously high. And then “Legend” difficulty is just ridiculous, because the bowler bowls these awful slow balls that are impossible to judge in determining when to swing. It’s so frustrating, it’s like the computer is giving you an underarm bowl. Some slower balls are expected, but not that slow. I would have much preferred that the force of the batsmen was toned down in the higher difficulty, so that 1s and 2s were more common than 6s, and where you hit the ball actually mattered and has a higher probability of being caught out, along with proper bowling. Instead, the highest difficulty feels unfair and is not much fun, and the lower difficulties are too easy and not fun. This game had so much potential for longevity, for thrilling games on the highest difficulty, but instead it just misses the mark.

Overall, I have no doubt that Big Bash 2016 deserves the title of a good game. Unfortunately, its difficulty problems cause this game to just fall short of greatness. I’m giving Big Bash 2016 3.5/5 objectively, and 3.5/5 subjectively.

Positives

+ Great control scheme for mobile devices

+ Fully licensed and inclusive of the women’s league

+ Allows wide range of game play times in the choice of overs

7/10

Negatives

– Unbalanced difficulty modes hinders longevity of the game

– Nitpicks: no randomiser for play order; no ability to edit field layout

NES Collection #007: A Boy and His Blob Review

I was really looking forward to this game. I really was. A unique and interesting puzzle mechanic, from the creator of Pitfall? What’s not to like?

Game: A Boy and His Blob: Trouble on Blobolonia

Platforms: NES, Wii (Remake)

Price: $11 (NES); $14.95 (Wii)

Unfortunately, there’s a lot to not like.

The plot is that a blob has escaped from his home planet of Blobolonia and needs a boy’s help to overthrow the evil sweet-eating emperor.

The unique game mechanic present here is that you can feed this blob jellybeans and, depending on the flavour, will change the blob’s form to a variety of useful items. You’re encouraged to experiment to find all the combinations, and if I was a kid living in 1990 I probably would have written them all down in a notebook, or in the notes section of the manual. But I’m not a kid in 1990, so I had GameFAQs at my disposal. Ha!


The main goal in this game is to collect treasure. No problem, and I was able to do this no problem by turning my blob firstly into a hole, and then a ladder.

Then I got stuck. I turned my blob into a hole and… fell to my death. I tried every screen, eventually found a spot to fall down to, and then I collected some more treasure. Then I fell through the hole again, to my death. There was nowhere else to go. The game gives no indication of where to go, which is a deal-breaker in adventure games such as this. But all of this is forgiveable, except you only have five lives, and once you lose them, you start at the beginning. And that’s the problem with this game: it is unforgiving, but not in a fun nor an enjoyable way.

Music and graphics are decent, but not decent enough to save the gameplay.

Apparently the Wiimake (get it, like remake) is better. Go play that instead.

Positives

+ Unique puzzle mechanism

+ Decent gameplay

4.5.fw

Negatives

– Not enough guidance

– Silly lives mechanic for an adventure game

NES Collection #006: 8 Eyes Review

If this game was released today, I think it would garner significant praise for innovation. Unfortunately, since it was released in 1990, it is instead a sad game, that tries to do too much for this era.

Game: 8 Eyes

Console: NES

Price: ~$10

Set in an apocolyptic future, you’re character is tasked with finding the 8 jewels that will enable civilisation to be rebuilt. It’s a fairly simple story but it’s not the main focus here anyway.

The gameplay is like the Castlevania series (which admittedly I’ve never played, so maybe take that with a grain of salt) in that it’s a side-scrolling platformer and your character has weapons to take out enemies. Where this game is unique though, is in the falconer mechanic.


Your character is a falconer, so at any point you can release your falcon, who will fly erratically covering the screen. You can even issue simple commands like a swooping downward attack to help you defeat enemies. Where this mechanic falls short is that you can’t control the falcon as well – only hope that he goes near the enemy. A second player can play as the falcon, which is better, but doesn’t make the game any easier (believe me, I tried the first level in both 1 and 2 player). Adding to this frustration is that special weapons are use by the length you hold a button down, and the lack of consistency with any of the two buttons the NES offers, result in frustrating controls that render the game essentially unplayable.

If this game was released today, it would have controllers with so many more buttons to use, and two analogue sticks means that the player and the falcon can be controlled simultaneously. If this was the case, I think this game would be praised for its innovative controls, like Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons was a few years ago. Instead, we’re left with a game ahead of its time; with frustrating controls resulting in a game that is extremely difficult to play. For it’s attempts at innovation, I’m giving 8 Eyes 3/5 objectively and 2 subjectively.

Positives

+ Attempts to Innovate

5.fw

Negatives

– Frustrating Controls

– Extremely Difficult (in 1 and 2 player) due to inconsistent controls

NES Collection #005: 720 Degrees Review

I knew I was going to be playing some bad games in this collection, but this is disgraceful.

Game: 720 Degrees

Platforms: NES, GBC

Price: ~$5

This game is awful. I already don’t really like skateboarding games, but this game did nothing to change that. Awful controls, graphics, and sound absolutely destroy this game.

Let’s start with the gameplay. The game takes place on a “world map” where 4 events and shops are located. The events are: Jump, where your character jumps off a few ramps to do tricks; Ramp, where your character does tricks in a half pipe; Slalom, where your character goes between sets of flags; and Downhill, where your character attempts to follow a winding course downhill. At the shops, equipment can be purchased.


Doesn’t sound too bad, right? Unfortunately, the controls let it down. Skateboarding games need tight controls to work, but 720 feels sloppy. It’s an incredibly frustrating experience to move your skateboard down the courses, and even more frustrating to do tricks to earn points. Points are necessary to earn more tickets for events (you only start with three) but even this is executed poorly: you can usually earn enough points without tricks from slalom and downhill to get the final ticket for each class. Once you move up a class you’ll inevitably be killed by killer bees three times for being too slow, but you can contiue from this class anyway, and the cycle starts over. There’s no punishment for losing.

The graphics and sound are also bad. The graphics often have awful colours placed next to each other, creating a disgusting assault on the eyes, and the music is some awful attempt at recreating the “hip” tunes the kids are into, you, dawg. Needless to say, the chiptunes fail miserably.

Upon completion of the fourth and final class, you continue from that class forever, like 10-Yard Fight. Unlike 10-Yard Fight, there’s nothing here to keep you coming back – at least that game had decent controls.

Positives

+ It trys to be a decent skateboard game

2.fw

Negatives

Frustrating Controls

– Poor Graphics

– Awful Music

NES Collection #004: 3-D Worldrunner Review

Before Square found fame with Final Fantasy, they focused on other, less successful games, like this one.

Game: 3-D Worldrunner

Platforms: NES

Price: ~$8

Solar System #517 is under attack, and it’s up to you to stop it. 3-D Worldrunner is a sci-fi platforming game that is so far the most visually impressive game I’ve seen on the NES.

It’s visuals are impressive because the entire game is 3D, like racing games from the period. Your character can move a whole 360 degrees round the world, and take whichever course you want – although some courses are easier than others. The actual enemies themselves aren’t super detailed, but it’s enough to tell the differences between them. Pressing the select button switches the game into 3D mode, which can be used with the old red-and-blue 3D glasses. I couldn’t get this to work though, I think due in part to my lack of a CRT monitor.


The gameplay is also well executed. The stage scrolls towards you, but you can speed up or slow your character. Running into poles will give you items, such as a gun, that can then be used on the enemies of the level. You’ll also have to navigate over chasms, small and large. It’s decent platforming, and offers enough of a challenge. The end of each world has a boss battle against a dragon that requires you to move around the screen and shoot at it.

My complaints here are that the gameplay gets a little repetitive, and the difficulty has a massive spike in world 6, which requires you to jump on top of pillars to get across the chasm. I actually couldn’t get past this, it was too difficult for me, and just feels really unfair.

The game offers some replayability with a hard mode that speeds up all enemies by two.

All in all, this is a pretty good platformer that’s well ahead of its time in graphics. I’m giving it 4/5 objectively and 3/5 subjectively.

Positives

+ Great Graphics

+ Solid Gameplay

7/10

Negatives

– Slightly Repetitive

– Artificial Difficulty Spike