So, over at Kombo, they’ve got this not-entirely unique feature going once a week called “What are You Playing this Weekend?” It’s pretty much what it promises to be, and I suppose my choices are a little telling insofar as how behind I am on a lot of games:

Hotel Dusk (DS)
Sonic and the Secret Rings (Wii)
The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (Wii)

Hotel Dusk is one I’ve been meaning to finish. Check that, it’s one I’ve been meaning to sort of play with the wife– who’s beaten it– in a sort of quality time/she can help me when I’m stuck/see how I do sort of way. Hadn’t really panned out, so I’ve picked it up again to kind of push forward with it, as I hate leaving games unresolved. And yet, getting older, I find I’m often left little choice in the matter. At least, if I want to play anything else.

That brings us to Sonic and the Secret Rings. I popped that back in, and soon discovered it’s not a game you can really leave sitting and jump right back into, I’m sorry to say. That, or I came upon why I moved to other stuff around here. The game is pretty good, but has a strange non-linearity to it that seems to be seeping into other titles such as the lauded Sonic Rush Adventure. There, you have to repeat courses until you have enough materials for Tails to build more powerful machines so you can travel around and all. It bugged a few reviewers for that reason, if nothing else.

Secret Rings, it’s less repetition, but there are several challenges you have to complete in order to proceed. Think of it as similar to most 3D Mario games, where you’ll go through the same course– sometimes with changes made throughout deferring to the goal at hand– thus making the experience somewhat different. Secret Rings basically does that with a number of challenges to open the next course, and unfortunately, I’ve hit a wall where the challenges I have, I can’t really do (unless I’m willing to put far more time than I have into them for practice). I’ve beat the latest level, even the boss, but the next chapter of the story isn’t open.

And this disappoints me. The game does a lot of things right, but sometimes, you just want to see what there is to see. I’d rather leave the multitude of challenges to those who want a challenge, to be a completist.

Hell, I doubt I’m ever going to beat Super Mario Galaxy 100%, and I adore that game. But the time it takes, and the things I’ve heard about the purple coin challenges… well, I’m just saving the stuff I haven’t done for when I pick the game up again, so there’s still something new to do. After all, the way Nintendo’s been running, this might be our last Mario game until their next console…

(By the way, if anyone has beaten it 100% and would like to send me a copy of the photos from the end, that’d rock.)

Remember the NES, and how it had three Mario titles for it? Ah, those were the days…

So, yeah, I’m a little disappointed at the wall I’ve hit there. And once Super Smash Bros. Brawl comes out in a week, well, pretty much everything else will be on hold. Maybe I’ll get back to it if there’s ever a drought… of course, there are still plenty of others I’d like to play.

So, I took out Sonic and went into the other game I’ve been whittling away at lately, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. Probably going to be a record there for “game it took me longest to beat.” Still, what’s great here is that even after an extended time away, I can still jump right back into the game and feel no loss of momentum. The special moves I learned have their own inventory file, and as long as you haven’t forgotten the whole game, it’s moderately accomodating in letting you pick up where you left off, and that’s where a number of hours wound up going tonight.

It’s still my favorite of the 3D Zelda games so far. Sorry, Ocarina. I hate to sound petty, but I think the graphics helped put me off that one. Not because they weren’t pretty enough (though I still think the N64/PS1 era was beaten with an ugly stick when it came to a lot of 3D games), but I honest to God just had difficulty keeping track of where I was at, where I’d been, and where I was going. I know there was the map, but… somehow, it just wasn’t working. I think one part involved the more primitive 3D effects, and having some trouble discerning where a certain passage was.

I don’t know. I sort of wish Nintendo would remake it with Twilight Princess-quality graphics and textures and such, so I can give it another try and see if that was it, or if it’s just something else.

Wind Waker stopped me dead at the god-awful stealth segment. Worst I’ve ever played. I seriously hate stealth segments in games not made for stealth. Metroid: Zero Mission gets me on that part, too. At least in Metal Gear, you can manage to evade and fight off your enemies. Wind Waker, you can’t even run, and Zero Mission, you CAN run, but only stun your enemies briefly while they sap the life from you, and when they finally stop chasing you, the enemies are all out of their normal place so that it’s impossible NOT to trip them again. You might as well start over.

Majora’s Mask might’ve been of interest to me, but the saving on the GameCube game is glitched. Hope they fix that when/if it comes to Virtual Console.

Only one thing really bothers me in Twilight Princess, though, and that’s Z-targeting. I thought the point of it was to keep an enemy in my sites so I could wail on them. Yet, they seem to evade it rather easily. Or other enemies sweep in closer. Sometimes I have more luck just attacking without it.

I was fighting this Knight with a big ball and chain earlier. Had to target him from behind and attack, but for the first several attempts, Link just wasn’t having any of that, and was just attacking his back or something, not hitting the vulnerable spot. I beat the jerk eventually, but man was that more grueling than it should’ve been.

Actually, one other thing bugs me: Restarting with only three hearts after a death. And then not having hearts be available. I was grinding for Rupees earlier, and most of the time, I got hearts, hearts I didn’t really need. When I do need them? Nowhere to be found. Considering this is from the same company that gave us Super Metroid 14 years ago, wherein enemies only dropped items you were depleted of, it’s disappointing more games don’t follow suit. And it’s not like they really held your hand by it, but if you’re maxed out on Life energy or money, why should the computer keep giving you more of what you not only don’t need, but can’t use at that? It’s only making the experience worse.

Screw making games longer. They’re too long as it is these days. I’d rather have a shorter game at a lower price with plenty of replay value so that IF I want to play more when I finish it, I can keep doing it and still have fun, but if I’m ready for something else, I can do so without feeling like there’s a loose end.

And that’s been my weekend in gaming. Tah-dah.

Agree? Disagree? Share your beef down below.

–LBD “Nytetrayn”