Friday, May 29, 2015

Achievement Guide - Scotomaphobia in Rogue Legacy

This achievement is for defeating Neo Khidr, the remixed version of the game's first boss (in the Castle area of the map).

To unlock this boss fight, you must defeat Khidr and then obtain the Khidr Obol, which is a random item you might receive when praying at a shrine.
One of these things.
The next time you try to enter the castle, Charon will comment on the Obol and take it from you.

Next, you need to find the Castle boss room.  Usually the doors to boss rooms will be closed after you defeat the boss, but once you give Charon the corresponding Obol, the room will reopen.  If you enter, you'll be taken to this special remixed boss fight.

The remixed bosses are the hardest challenges in the game by far.  In each, you'll play as a special character, so you can't just grind out gold to get a better dude.

A shot of the arena. It's much smaller than the area where you fought Khidr, and there are more spikes along the floor.
For Neo Khidr, you get Lady McSwordy, a level 0 Spellsword with ADHD (so she moves faster) and Vertigo (though she's wearing Nerdy Glasses to cancel that effect).  Her basic stats are:

248 HP
50 MP
35 Strength
232 Intelligence

and she comes equipped with several runes:

Vault (double jump)
Sprint (dash)
Siphon (gain MP for kills - totally irrelevant here)
Bounty (more gold from drops - also irrelevant)
Haste (moves faster)

For the more visually inclined, here's a screenshot of her stat page:
Lady McSwordy in all her glory.
Basic Strategy
This fight is brutal.  While Neo Khidr's attack patterns are the same as the original, the smaller arena and more aggressive attacks (less downtime between attacks, more projectiles when he does attack) make survival tricky.

The most basic element of the strategy is to spam the "Empowered" version of her spell.  empowered spells are cast using the "Special" attack for the character ("Y" button on Xbox One).  Each use costs 30 MP, but hitting him with your sword recovers 10 MP.

For reference, however, a regular attack deals 35 damage; the empowered spell deals 232 damage 6 times.  You're only using normal attacks to get the MP necessary to use the empowered spell.

Also note that the normal version of the spell only deals 116 damage 6 times.  You could use it, but it'll take twice as long to defeat him.

So, the plan is to jump around the stage dodging projectiles and hit him with your empowered spell.  Use regular attacks to recover MP.

Attack Patterns
Now, the Khidrs have three basic attack patterns:

First, he'll fire his projectiles out in a spiraling pattern, either moving clockwise or counterclockwise.  Once you get the hang of it, this is actually the easiest attack to dodge.  The basic plan here is to dash over the spikes on the bottom of the stage or over Khidr itself to make it to safety.  You'll have to play around with it a little bit to get a feel for where you should stand and how you should move, but it will mostly screw you up when you're not in a good position when he starts this attack.

The reason you may not be in a good position is that you may have been dodging his second attack pattern - firing projectiles outward in a uniform pattern.  The problem here is that the projectiles start close enough together that you're going to need to be in one of the corners of the room to avoid them.  The easiest place to do this is in the upper corners while standing on one of the floating platforms, but if you're up there when he starts the spiral attack, you're almost certainly going to get hit.  You'll need to use the double jump ability to maneuver around this pattern.

The best attack pattern is the one where it fires projectiles outward in a random pattern.  This is the best simply because it has the largest gaps between projectiles, meaning you're most likely to be able to get in some good damage.  In fact, you may occasionally not need to move off one of the floating patterns during this attack, allowing you to do some serious damage.

In the end, dodging Neo Khidr's attacks takes some mastery of both double jumping and dashing.  I actually found that the controls were a little too sensitive at times, so I was accidentally dashing at really bad times.

You'll have to practice to get the controls and important moves down.  I recommend waiting until you've completed a New Game +; at that point, you will likely be pretty adept at dodging attacks, so you won't have as big a gap to cross to be able to beat this thing.

Furthermore, I recommend practicing this fight repeatedly until you get there.  It's a quick one, and if you die, the game drops you right outside the room again, so you can retry very quickly.  Obviously you should take a break if you're getting overly frustrated, but keeping at it will get you there eventually.

To show some of these ideas in action, here's a short clip I recorded using the default Xbox One DVR.  It shows some of the maneuvers, but I only got the second half of the fight.

If I can figure out how the DVR thing works, I might go back and try to record a full run.

Quick Summary

  • Spam the Empowered Spell ability, as that's what will deal the most damage.
  • Use regular attacks to regenerate MP.
  • Survival is the most important thing - focus on dodging its projectiles, and only attack when you get a brief opening.
  • For the spiral attacks, dodge with combinations of double jumps and dashes, going either over or under its body as appropriate.
  • For the uniform outward attack, try to get into one of the corners and double jump to avoid projectiles.
  • For the random outward attack, try to get onto one of the floating platforms and attack as much as possible.
Let me know if you have any questions about any of these tips or if you have any suggestions of your own.

Good luck!

Friday, May 22, 2015

Game Review - Mega Coin Squad (Xbox One, 2015)

I'm always interested in new platformers.  The best ones have simple gameplay, so they're easy to pick up and play, but also have relatively high skill ceilings, rewarding practice with bonus levels or extra challenges, making for a good experience for players of all types.

Mega Coin Squad is not one of those games.

The premise is promising: you play through a series of levels that are effectively 2-dimensional arenas bounded by walls on either side.  Each level will challenge you to collect a certain number of coins and deposit them in a giant piggy bank somewhere in the stage.

Pictured: a giant piggy bank in it's natural environment.
Additionally, each stage is very dynamic, with new sections disappearing and spawning over time.  These vanishing sections provide an infinite number of coins to collect, but also introduce obstacles in the form of monsters or spikes.  Get hit three times, and you'll have to start all over; collect and bank the required number of coins, and you move on to the next stage.

On paper, it sounds like exactly the kind of thing I like to see.  It's a simple premise that's easy to understand but offers the opportunity for ever-increasing complexity to challenge the most adept of players.

Here's the problem: the game only has 16 levels, and each can be completed in 2 minutes or less.  After playing through the game a couple of times, even the last few stages were pretty simple.

The overworld clearly displaying the first four stages. This area is a quarter of the entire game.
Of course, there are leaderboards where you can compare your fastest completion time with the best players in the world.  There are also several playable characters (though they differ in fairly minor ways), and you can work towards getting perfect ratings in each level by not losing any lives and banking all the necessary coins in one go, but that's basically it in terms of replay value.

I felt like I had completely exhausted everything the game had to offer within 5 hours of game time, and that was after replaying the game with each of six different characters (which really wasn't particularly fun after the second time).

To be fair, the game's mechanics are pretty deep.  In addition to the standard running and jumping, your character can throw fireballs, dash in any direction (including up and down), and jump off walls, allowing for some pretty complicated maneuvers.  You can even upgrade those abilities with a Super Mario Bros. 3-style slot machine for getting good ratings, giving some degree of customization.

It's just that the content is much too shallow to support a complex (and frankly enjoyable) movement system.  Once you develop some skill with the game, nothing is left to challenge you, so there's no point in playing anymore.

A new section spawns to the right of our fearless protagonist.
There's also one really damning problem: there seems to be a memory leak issue, where the game gets intolerably laggy after playing for more than 20 minutes.  For a game with such a simple aesthetic, this lag is unacceptable, especially considering that most of the game's "content" comes in the form of rushing through the game quickly.

In the end, the first hour or so was pretty fun, but Mega Coin Squad loses its luster quickly.  It's worth checking out if you can play the game at no cost, but anything more than a few dollars feels excessive for the underwhelming experience you'll get.

My Rating: 3/10 - bad.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Game Review(ish) - Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition (Xbox One, 2014)

Over the weekend, I acquired an Xbox One.  Naturally, the first game I played was the One version of the highest-rated game I've reviewed for this blog: Guacamelee.

Seeing that I already reviewed the game once, I'll just note any major differences I experienced instead of writing a full review:

There aren't any.  This game is just as fantastic on the One as it was on the 360.  Do yourself a favor and play it.

My Rating: 10/10 - epic.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Game Review - Microsoft Jackpot (2014, Windows 8)

You know how everybody's favorite gameplay mechanics are the ones that are totally random?  Have you ever wondered how epic a game consisting entirely of random elements could be?

Well, friend, you need not wonder any more - Microsoft Jackpot is the "game" that will fulfill all your mildest dreams!

I'm not going to beat around the bush on this one.  Microsoft Jackpot is a slot machine simulator.  That's it.  Unless you're looking for an outlet for your gambling addiction, there's absolutely no reason for you to "play" this "game."

But that's no fun...  Instead, let's talk about features: You can unlock five different skins for your slot machine, including one that resembles a spy thriller and one that turns the slots into a candy factory.  Talk about purely aesthetic value!

The "Year of the Dragon" skin. Note the convenient "autoplay" so you don't even have to push "Spin" to keep "playing!"

How do you unlock these superficially different machines?  By spending imaginary money, of course!  Your in-game "experience level" seems to be completely determined by the total bets you've made, and as it increases, you'll get access to the new machines and higher bet amounts.  The more you sink into this "game," the more you'll be able to spend on a single spin of the slots.

You may be thinking, "this game already sounds amazing; sign me up!"  Well, hold on to your butts because there is even more!

If you're lucky, each of the slot machine skins will randomly send you to a unique interactive minigame.  You'll get things like "pick a gem" or "choose a bubble."  Even better, these minigames are usually rigged against you, just like real-life slot machines!  It really is the full gambling experience right in your very own home!

Click a gem...
...and choose a bubble!
Now, you may have noticed a startling omission in my description of this "game."  How do you get more coins to keep playing when you run out?

It's simple, friend - you purchase some with real cash money!  Alternatively, you can watch a commercial once every half hour, but then you may run out of coins and be forced to stop while you wait for your next advertisement.  Definitely not a good way to "play."

They even point out the transaction that gives you the most for you hundred and fifty dollars.  How helpful!
You can also get "lucky clovers" from the Jackpot Store.  As far as I can tell, those clovers bestow the most marginal of benefits, but every tenth of a percent helps, right?

 Seriously, that's it.  Watch commercials (or spend real-life monies) so you can click on things that provide totally random outcomes regardless your input.  It's insulting to call this a "game."

My Rating: 0/10 - totally worthless.