Road to Stampers Forever: Day 8
After feeling a little worn out after Day 7, I took a little break to recharge my Rareware batteries and came back with renewed focus…only to have Grabbed by the Ghoulies swiftly bring me straight back down to Earth again.
Here’s how I fared in Day 8 of the challenge…
(Check out previous days here)
Grabbed by the Ghoulies: I’ve finally beaten this damn game. Some of the later levels were very difficult, and not in a fun way. The final boss wasn’t too tricky, and the subsequent post-boss race sections weren’t too bad either. After I beat it, it tallied up my ‘overall score’ and I was surprised to learn I’d only spent 6 hours in total bashing away at this; it’s certainly felt like a lot longer.
Beating the game was only one milestone stamp however. I also had to collect all 100 Bonus Books, and beat the 20 Challenges (little set pieces with a twist).
Getting the books unlocks the challenges, so I went for these first. There is one hidden in each of the 100 game’s levels/rooms. Thankfully, there’s a Bonus Book menu, which shows you which levels you’re yet to find the book in. Mercifully it also lets you try each of these on their own, and even better once you get the book you don’t have to complete the room in quesiton’s challenge. A sensible bit of game design there. Finding the books in question isn’t too tough, and I’d only missed about 20 along the way, so it was just a matter of plugging away at previously beaten levels.
The Challenges were also not too much trouble, but nor were they much fun. This game is just… very un-Rare-like. It’s simple to the point of being derivative, with the only mechanic being smashing enemies by directing the control stick. The character designs, with a couple of exceptions, also lack the charm of previous Rare entries. It’s probably no coincidence that this game was the first after the Microsoft acquisition – reportedly many feathers were ruffled internally.
Even though it wasn’t entirely horrible, I’m happy to see the back of Ghoulies.
Kameo: I thought I’d fire up another of the games I’d never tried before, this time Rare’s 360 debut Kameo: Elements of Power.
After a few hours with the game I can safely say this is a lot better than Ghoulies, which their launch offering for the first Xbox. I didn’t know too much going in with Kameo, but I’d sum it up as a Zelda-lite adventure with Skylanders elements. You play a fairy who has to save her family from her evil sister, fighting Ogres and transforming into several creatures with unique abilities along the way.
I’ve never been a great fan of managing lots of different transformations with different abilities – I much prefer games with simple but hard-to-master mechanics. The charming design of Kameo’s transformations however are managing to keep me interested. The dragon in particular is a great design.
Another thing I’ll say is that the graphics for a 360 launch title are truly excellent. When it launched, this game must have looked phenomenal. The number of enemies in the main hub world is also impressive, with hundreds of enemies and allied NPCs often battling on screen at once, with minimal slowdown. Occasionally some characters and textures have that plasticky sheen to them that other early 360 games had, but on the whole I’m pleasantly surprised with the looks.
Three stamps on Kameo so far and looking forward to more.
Perfect Dark Zero: Buoyed by my positive experience with Kameo, I jumped into the other Rare 360 launch title, Perfect Dark Zero.
I’m a big fan of the first PD, but avoided this one as I’d heard bad things about it.
After playing through the first level, I can’t say I regret my avoidance. It’s just clunky and boring to play, uninspired from a level design perspective and just reeks of lack of ambition. It essentially lacks all the traits that made the first one special.
Again I’ll say the graphics are surprisingly good, though, and the gunplay is passable. It’s just such a shame this was what we got as the sequel to Perfect Dark.
Jetpac refuelled: This game is just so difficult. I’m up to level 29, and it’s throwing hordes of invisible enemies at me. God knows what level 120 will be like. A slog for sure!
It was good to finally be done with Ghoulies, and Kameo is proving a pleasant surprise.
Stampers Forever Progress: 42%
Check out the other days here.