29 June 2011

Moving, arcade, Lands of Lore

Tonight: Cleaning before I packing for a move to another apartment. May be busy for some time with that, but I don't want my blog to fall too far behind in the meantime. So...

Went to the Santa Cruz Boardwalk a few times. My favourite ride so far is The Giant Dipper, although I also enjoyed Ghost Blasters, the Sea Swings, the Hurricane... also the arcade. The Time Crisis 3 cabinet was out of order, but seems to be working now. Didn't play it last time I was there, though, because I wanted to play with a partner. Last time I was there with some DANMites we wanted to play it, too, but we played Panic Museum instead. It was weird because it doesn't have a reload feature, felt less rhythmic and more like I just had to click on everything as fast and as constantly as possible. Anyway, I plan on spending a lot of time at the Boardwalk with my DANM cohort. Sabrina and I want to take scuba diving classes together in the fall.

I've been haunting the Classic Corner in the arcade, taking on Shaolin's Road, Gorf, and Zaxxon. The machines reset high scores, but I decided to write mine down. Here they are:

Shaolin's Road: 335,300
(6 ships) 12190, Ranking: Space Captain
Zaxxon: 6500 (4th place)... default high score is 8900.

The default high score for Shaolin's Road is 25,800-- which means anyone who plays to the middle of the 2nd Step in the game has the high score.

In Gorf, the two levels that tend to get me are Laser Attack and Space Warp. I'd like to be able to play through to the boss a second time in a single game. I might practice it with 6 ships again soon... last time I played with 3 ships, it kicked my butt.

Zaxxon is interesting for pioneering isometric perspective. Navigating the three-dimensional space from third person in the dead of space without references for height felt tricky, but during the base assault sections it's a little easier. Still, I think I die more by just not knowing if an enemy's shot was level with my fighter or not. I wonder if it'll become more natural after a couple plays.

Another game I've been revisiting during my time off has been Lands of Lore: Guardians of Destiny (LoL:GoD-- a curious acronym, to be sure). I've beaten it with both endings before, but this time I've decided to go through on the hardest difficulty to test a hypothesis that the gameplay experience would differ. I especially thought that the harder difficulty would discourage combat (some foes can kill in just a couple hits on hardest) and emphasise sneaky tactics and spell use.


So far, I think that my hypothesis has generally held true. I just recently gave a set of the runes to Dawn and Father Julian and I'm in the "haunted house" sidequest, so there's still plenty of the game left to disprove it. In following blog posts, I'd like to dissect some of the significant differences in my own experience of playing at the highest difficulty. I'll start with one early example:

In the opening scene at the Draracle's Caves, a Gladstone guard is heading back toward the cave entrance. On normal difficulty, it is nothing for Luther to pounce on him bare-fisted, easily defeat him, and take his sword. On hardest, the easiest way to defeat him is to stalk him from behind until he reaches a wet area of the cave, then cast Spark.

Deeper still in the caves, the guard addressed by Kenneth can still easily overpower the player. I defeated him by doing hit-and-run spellcasting, hiding and recovering when my health or magic reserves ran low. I just recently got a Ring of H.P. Regeneration in the Hive Caves (the Bezoar Ring-- I wonder why they changed it from Bezel to Bezoar bewteen the first and second games?), but waiting for magic reserves to replenish on their own still takes too long sometimes. My fighter levels have eclipsed my mage levels, which was counter to what I had expected, but I did just get the Prism spell, so maybe I can cast that a lot to grind up my magic during exploration.

Okay, enough geeking out on Lands of Lore for now. Next time maybe I'll ramble on about the Draracle's Museum, the effects of difficulty on the game's moral choices, or the First Spawn of Belial. For now, gotta eat and get to cleaning.

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