Tag Archives: adorable cats

REVIEW: Aeternum

Bullet Hells and I have a rocky history. I generally enjoy them and the challenge they represent, the attention to shot patterns and the repeated deaths that are a rite of passage. Aeternum (240 MSP) encapsulates that hard truth with scary efficiency, crushing egos of any and every size (on normal difficulty!). Sometimes you have to be put in your place, and here it’s done with hundreds of bullets, knowingly humorous dialogue, nice tunes, and an enjoyable cast of witches and many cats.

The game has four levels, split into two sections each, with a mid-level boss and end boss that come in multiple forms, all preceded and followed by dialogue bits that fill in and animate the surrounding storyline, win or lose. Gameplay flows accordingly to the shooter blueprint and it’s easy enough to figure out, but take two minutes and play the tutorial. The controls are solid and don’t let you down, at regular or half-speed (a slow-down move that focuses fire and exposes your heart / hit-box in order to navigate near-impossible shot streams), and you’ll learn what makes it all tick, in terms of Panics, Power, and Grazes.

Grazes work as simple score multipliers, earned by avoiding close calls. Enemies and bosses drop ‘power’ orbs when defeated. That ‘power’ is nuanced, and works as a health bar and a currency for shields (50 orbs a pop). Pull off an impressive stretch without getting hit or using those orbs, and you’ll instead build towards an additional ‘panic’ shield, which is freely and automatically-administered in the event you’re hit. You can start with varying amounts, depending on the difficulty chosen. The ‘panic’ shields are by far the most important stockpile you can own. Whenever possible, sacrifice orbs for shields instead of wasting a ‘panic’.

The concept of ‘power’ and having it is similar to Sonic’s nearly-narcotic dependence on ‘rings’; keeping some in your possession at all times amounts to life. Get hit, and you’ll lose power (some or all, according to how much you had), with the chance to pick up some of that scattering life to prolong your game. It’s an interesting tactic and trade-off that will reward skilled players with extra ‘panic’ saves, while at the same time giving some much-needed breathing room to those of us that are less-fortunate in the face of so much adversity. And it’s less torture than you might think. Looking at my first ten run-throughs, both my score and distance-traveled went up at each attempt. Believe me, I still worked to reach the third stage. A small victory.

Unfortunately, there are no continues in Aeternum (EDIT: The first post-release patch adds continues, at the cost of resetting your score). That both hurts and helps, forcing you to replay (but improve at) the earlier stages and bosses, either in ‘practice’ mode or the surprisingly-helpful ‘pacifist’ setting. Everyone’s patience level is different, however, making the game’s brutal difficulty a question of taste. I stuck with it, and while I’ve failed (thus far) to reach the credit roll, the route getting there is now considerably less-bumpy. That said, I can’t even fathom the skill I’d need to move up to a higher tier of difficulty.

Aeternum - Screen

One of the easier fights, actually.

In the end result, Aeternum is a bullet hell with personality, and aptly labeled as such. It’s a scant four stages deep, but it requires the sacrifice of your pride and more than a few hours to considerably build a tolerance to its difficulty. Therein lies the reward, of course, so long as you do not approach it lightly or with any expectations of besting it right away. Instead, adherents will find a complex ballet to dance around and a worthy shooter to add to their collections.    

REVIEW: Guppy: Collects! 2

If you’re here looking for the quick fix of a sloth-like guppy and adorable cat sounds, you’ve clicked into the right review. Ladies and gents, I give you the punctuationally-unwieldy (a stop: then excitment! then 2) reflex-tester Guppy: Collects! 2 (80 MSP).

It’s a type popular on handhelds and phones with touch screens, and the quality varies wildly from time-waster to legitimately-addicting. Conscious of that limited gameplay, music is playing a bigger role, as are storylines(!?). It’s seeing a revival of sorts as far as interest from me; I’m eager to try out Rhythm Thief and Theatrhythm: Final Fantasy on the 3DS, which is two more than what was on my to-do list this time last year.

Guppy: Collects! 2 doesn’t throw any Hail Mary passes or take any risks though. The music is good, but it’s not about the rhythm. It’s a rank and file reflex game— think speed inputting, reading skills are a definite plus. It’s also a sequel, supposedly. I can’t find the original or any trace of it from developer Ho-Hum Games. Unless it ratted someone out to the Feds, relocated to Alaska and changed its name, it’s like it never existed. (Edit: The developer has since informed me that Guppy’s origins must remain secret for now.)

Guppy likes to collect everything along a set line, and in a few locales, such as a supermarket and a cemetery. I’m not sure why. Guppy don’t say. I guess it’s sort of like Katamari but without the bizarre plot and growing spurts. The gameplay is simplistic. There’s combinations of buttons and pad directions over each item. Complete the corresponding instructions and repeat. And repeat. And repeat. You have a ticking clock to keep you moving, and four mistakes as lives (with the cats, shouldn’t it be nine apiece, times three, for twenty-seven?) to gamble with. The controls governing this are pretty tight, so any mistakes made will be your own instead of bad input or the timing being off.

In addition to local highscores, there’s outfits awarded periodically for Guppy, but they’re equipped randomly from stage to stage. To its benefit, the game does prod you into having another go at it for a little while, but it’s not a deep adventure. I saw all the backgrounds, heard all the music, and unlocked every alternate costume (a total of 26) in under half an hour. Not a minute of it was boring, mind you, but there’s nothing else holding your interest afterward aside from besting previous scores.

I’ve been noncommittal lately, and that extends to Guppy: Collects! 2. I didn’t feel like the dollar or my time was wasted. I wasn’t exactly left with any sense of terrific worth, either. Adrenaline junkies and cat enthusiasts (they go hand-in-hand, you know) will find more here to like, methinks.