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gaming Heart & Slash

  • Posted in gaming

Heart & Slash is a special little game. The whole thing is so aggressively fun and stylistic I can’t help but love it.

laser

It’s a 3D procgen dungeon beat-em-up. It reminds me of a cross between Neurovoider (a game I love) and Tower of Guns (a game I admittedly do not).

What really gets me is the style. The whole game has this beautiful graphical feel, with these semi-low-poly voxel models and sharp flat-shaded pixel art textures. The whole thing reminds me of pre-playstation 3d graphics, and I am here for it.

Menu

Some of that feels low-effort at first, but then you see the animation work. It’s smooth and distinct and gorgeous. Most of the actual animation you see in the game is combat, and that’s not skimped on either. Most of the weapons are actually pretty unique — with their own sets of attack animations — and lend themselves to different playstyles.

The gameplay is good too. Heart has this really interesting floaty double-jump that allows for a lot of maneuverability and midair combat.

I tend to get burnt out on rougelikes pretty easily, but I really like this one. There’s an experience mechanic, where you pick up scrap metal from robots that you can use to upgrade yourself or your equipment. You can also save that metal between runs, so you can stock up and save buffs for when you feel like you’re doing well. The game’s also not too long — getting killed isn’t ever going to feel like you lost a ton of progress, even late-game.

proto

And Heart. He’s a little robot! I love him. That’s the story there.

No, but Heart — and most of the other robots in the game — have this great early PC vibe to them, with big bulky CRT monitors for faces and other components that mirror the graphical era the graphics pay tribute to. The Heart prototype in the screenshot there has a great color scheme that maps to the old rainbow Apple logo (and, of course, the green monochrome CRT head). And I just noticed this now, but his feet have little heatsinks built in! How great is that?

hall

Oh, and the soundtrack. The soundtrack is spectacular. The main theme during the first factory level is ‘I ♥ You’ which… is just perfect. It’s a perfect song.

There’s this bridge at 1:28 where the song calms down for a few seconds before kicking right back into the main section at 1:40 and I love it. It just about perfectly matches the few seconds of relief you get after you clear a room and you navigate for a minute before diving into the next room and taking out another wave of robots.

It’s not the perfect game — there are some obvious graphical issues with z-fighting, for instance, and weapon controls can be finicky — but for $15 this is a fantastic little thing. Again, it really is special.

  • Game (Steam, Xbox, Switch, PS4)
  • Soundtrack (michaelchaitmusic.bandcamp.com)

gaming 20 Absolutely True Things about Sonic ‘06

  • Posted in gaming

Sonic ‘06 is infamously bad. It’s glitchy, it’s a meme, et cetera. But actually, it turns out that it’s really bad. It’s a bad game. I played it. I played so much of it. I own the DLC. It’s honestly hard to describe. So here’s a description.

I’m trying not to include general shoddiness here, which there is a lot of. Also, I’m not numbering them. This isn’t Buzzfeed.


There is “Very Hard” mode DLC. You could pay money for it. This shipped after the game released and they knew about the issues. Sega’s reaction after shipping Sonic ‘06 was to try to charge people for more Sonic ‘06.

In addition to the hard mode DLC, there is DLC for an extra story called “TEAM ATTACK AMIGO”, where you play through a number of stages as side characters. Like End Of The World, you have to finish the whole gauntlet in one go with one pool of lives.

Apparently the game basically loads the whole overworld into memory any time the item layout changes or anything needs to be repositioned, even though really everything is in memory that should be there. This leads to hell situations like the box counting minigame. Oh god, the box counting minigame.

gaming VR First Thoughts

  • Posted in gaming

I got myself an Oculus Quest 2 a couple weeks ago on a recommendation, and I have some thoughts! If you haven’t done VR before (like me, before I had my first thoughts) you might be wondering what you might notice besides the obvious. So, here are my observations, in no particular order.

Haptic feedback is really important🔗

Haptic feedback is really important. Even though it’s just vibration, the difference between feeling something and feeling nothing when you touch things is worlds. The vibration does a decent job of simulating the feeling of resistance and letting you “feel out” the world, which is very important in games where the alternative is getting your prop stuck in a shelf.

You can actually stream games and it works🔗

When I first saw that the recommended way to play PC games was over local wifi, I thought “no way. There’s no way you can get a high-quality video stream at that resolution with those latency requirements over wifi. I’m going to get a good USB cable and stream directly at 300 mbps and it’ll be excellent.” Turns out, no! With my (fairly normal) router, Virtual Desktop can stream a steady game at 1832x1920@60fps x2 over ~70 mbps with an imperceptible loss in quality. (Those numbers mean it’s good.) The connection is actually way more reliable than using the USB connection, and the Virtual Desktop app has a unified game launcher for both Rift and Steam which works great. If you look closely at dark areas you can see some artifacts, but in general I think this is a case where the video compression is extremely effective.