From The Armchair: The Shorter The Better

ArmchairWhat-ho, chums! Since my last missive back in January, events have continued apace. The expected arrival of Merriweather Junior is now mere weeks away, after which I expect all gaming exploits will cease, at least for a time. So in the run up to the big day I’ve been luxuriating in my precious gaming time, all too aware that my consoles will soon be entering into a period of neglect – but for the very best of reasons, of course.

Junior’s impending arrival isn’t the only big news – Ian of 101 Video Games That Made My Life Slightly Better fame got married, and the stag do was suitably gaming focused, featuring bouts of Mario Kart 8, Super Smash Bros., Street Fighter II and Super Ghouls and Ghosts (the latter two thanks to a tiny MegaDrive emulator that plugged into the TV). MK8 proved a big hit, but Super Smash Bros. for Wii U mostly provoked frowns and much scratching of heads as everyone playing tried desperately to work out where they were on the screen and what the hell they were doing. After only a few rounds of utter confusion we decided to give up and play Street Fighter II instead, which remains a stone cold classic after all these years. Indeed, long dormant muscle memories were reawakened as attendees – some of whom haven’t picked up a pad in years – suddenly recalled how to execute a Dragon Punch or pummel their opponent with a Spinning Pile Driver. It was gaming nostalgia at its best.

One game that I’d rather see left in the past, however, is Super Ghouls and Ghosts. This game was pre-loaded on the MegaDrive emulator along with Street Fighter II, and it proved utterly infuriating – but we couldn’t stop playing it. We took to passing the game pad from player to player, and alternately cheering as someone got a little bit further and booing as one of the viciously unfair enemies topped our hero. But for the hours of investment, there was very, very little gain – we barely got anywhere, although my blood pressure certainly advanced a few levels. On the basis of this, I’m fairly certain I won’t enjoy Bloodborne.

Super Ghouls and Ghosts – utterly infuriating.

Which reminds me, Bloodborne’s spiritual predecessor, Demon’s Souls, was on sale on the PlayStation store over the weekend for the very tasty price of £3.99. I was sorely tempted to pick it up and see what all the fuss was about, but two things made me stop: first, if it’s anywhere near as hard as Super Ghouls and Ghosts I may end up destroying furniture; and second, I’m avoiding any particularly long games for the foreseeable future. With a little one on the way, I doubt I’ll have time for many 60-hour+ RPGs, and I already have several chunky games to finish.

But on that basis I did pick up Zone of the Enders: HD Collection. Both of the games in this collection are notoriously short and easy, which was the reason I never bought them when they originally came out for the PS2. Yet now it’s the very reason I decided to purchase them – I need games that I can quickly pick up and play in the few short hours when I’m not doing responsible adult things. Also, zoomy shooty mech games are right up my street, and I’ve wanted to play ZOE since it came out nearly 15 years ago.

Speaking of short games, I thoroughly enjoyed the first episode of The Wolf Among Us, and I can’t wait to play through the rest of the series. TellTale’s episodic format is perfect for time-poor gamers like me, and as an added bonus, Ms. D quite enjoys watching me play them too. I also finished season two of The Walking Dead, which was very good – if not quite as good as the first. It began well, but Ms. D and I agreed that the last couple of episodes dragged on for far longer than they should have.

And finally, when I’ve not been playing through TellTale adventure games, I’ve been desperately trying to get to the end of Xenoblade Chronicles before Junior is born. I won’t lie to you – it’s not looking good. I’ve read it takes 60 hours to finish the main quest and around 100 hours to complete all the side quests too – currently I’m only 12 hours in, and the baby is due in less than six weeks. I’ve been thoroughly enjoying the game so far, but will I ever get to finish it? Watch this space…

Xenoblade Chronicles is a fantastic game, but very, very long...
Xenoblade Chronicles is a fantastic game, but very, very long…