Hurry Up!

Minefield • Finish the game under 10 seconds • Silver Trophy • Rarity 9.9% (Very Rare)

Today I struck while the iron was hot and grabbed a trophy before I left for work this morning. I had anticipated grabbing a trophy for one of the ‘larger’ Minefield maps, but in my haste to get a trophy and get out the door I kept … well … I kept stuffing it up.

In the end, I reverted back to a smaller map and went for broke to get a sub-10 second finish … and, like most things in my life, I got it done earlier than I needed to.

Thus ends today’s Dad joke.

I’m a bit excited tonight, because my wife has proposed another rewatch of The West Wing, which we tend to do about once every 12-18 months. I still think it’s hard to beat in terms of great television.

And it, hands down, beats contemporary real world politics.

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Quest Completed

Sparkle 2 • Complete your quest • Silver Trophy • Rarity 29.1% (Rare)

I am unapologetic in my love of mindless little puzzle games on the PlayStation Vita. Handheld gaming in general is a huge boon for someone like me. In fact, if the Nintendo Switch had a half-decent achievement system, I could say with some certainty that this would soon be my platform-of-choice.

However, it doesn’t, and it’s not … and so I am left working through some titles from Sony’s “legacy” system … which, after all these years is still going strong.

A little after midnight, I pushed through to finish the “campaign” of the bubble-come-puzzler, Sparkle 2, that felt a need to try and map some kind of story to the overall journey. I suppose it’s a good a goal as any, albeit unnecessary – the journey itself was never a real driver to finish … if I knew there was a set 100 levels, then I would just work towards that goal. Nonetheless, I’m not a game developer, nor am I particularly creative, and so I play the games as-they-come.

Look … I’m not ashamed to say I bloody loved this game. For all of its whimsy, it has solid mechanics and cuts-away any ‘fluff’. It has just the right balance of tension and reward, and it is well-paced in terms of difficulty curve. Something like Sparkle 2 is a good example of what can be achieved when you stop trying to over-engineer a title and just perfect the basics. You won’t find any Call of Duty-style arguments about the length of the campaign here … it is a game about combining small, colourful balls … and that’s it.

Well done to 10 Ton for having the balls to stick with a good concept and doing it well.

There is a challenge mode that seems to be seperate to the main ‘campaign’ which I might be able to have a go at over the weekend – but for now, I’m happy that I got to the end, and I plan to enjoy the catharsis that comes with ‘finishing’ a game.

The Six Assemble

Marvel’s Spider-Man • Complete Act 2 • Bronze Trophy • Rarity 59.2% (Common)

Wow. I’ve been enjoying Spider-Man, like really enjoying it, and then Insomniac, in the space of one mission, essentially blow open the whole game and make me love it. I don’t want to spoil what happens, but to see so many characters from Spider-Man’s universe converge in a short space of time, I had to pick my jaw up off the floor.

Out-bloody-standing.

I’ve actually made a lot of progress in Spider-Man today, or at least it feels like a lot. My campaign completion is showing at 73%, so I don’t know if that’s just story or the total completion rate, but in either case, I feel like I made a ‘dent’ in my progress today. And that, on its own, feels good.

I don’t want to labour the point here today on the blog, as I’d rather get back into it (gotta catch another pigeon), but whoever you are, and whatever you’re doing – if you have the slightest hint of joy from the character of Spider-Man … you need to stop whatever you are doing and play this game.

Born to Ride

Marvel’s Spider-Man • Ride the Subway 5 times • Bronze Trophy • Rarity 45.3% (Rare)

I had this trophy pegged from last night when I was looking through the trophy list, so I figured I’d grab it this morning before I left for work for the day, and that way I’d be free’d up for a bit of Destiny 2 tonight – if I even got that far. Tonight is my usual Monday training night, and it’s also school holidays, which means the kids don’t have the ‘sting’ taken out of them quite as much as normal by the time I get home … which translates to an often later night and less free time for the adults in the household.

Particularly telling is that, instead of our usual Netflix viewing, we’ve been tuning in for a single episode of Hotel Impossible before bed.

The substance of this trophy is essentially just using fast travel five times. I already had a couple in-the-bank just by virtue of using it once as part of a tutorial, and then again when I wanted to see if it was much quicker to get to a destination. For the most part, it was probably a ‘bit’ quicker … but the ease by which you control Spider-Man through Manhattan actually seems to make this option a bit ‘dull’. Sure, there’s some funny scenes interspersed while fast-travelling, but by the time the screen loads in, the environment is transitioned and then loads out, you would likely be half-way to your destination anyway … all-the-while having some fun with side missions or photo mode along the way.

In other gaming news, I’ve been having a bit of fun with Pokemon Go again lately, largely driven by some new interest from my gaming friends, one of whom posted his friend code on Facebook this week. From there, I returned the favour, and expanded my Pokemon friend circle by a few extra folks, so the continued interest in the game has me slightly more inspired than I have been for a little while. There’s no achievements to be had in Pokemon Go though, so don’t hold your breath for an appearance here normally, but I nonetheless was keen to mention it as a current gaming interest.

Cat Prints

Marvel’s Spider-Man • Track down Black Cat • Silver Trophy • Rarity 52.2% (Common)

It was another day of Spider-Man collectables today – earning myself two trophies in the process. The first was for photographing all the landmarks on the map … which is actually a rarer trophy at 36.4% (Rare), but I went with today’s Black Cat achievement just because it was a Silver one and … well … it seemed like more fun.

I like the way that Insomniac have drip-fed the content and unlockables in Spider-Man so that you’re not constantly overwhelmed by things to do. Now that I’ve cleared out a whole heap of side activities, it actually makes the main storyline more focussed. The narrative is paced well so that it never feels like I have to ‘rush’ from one thing to another … there’s time to explore the city. Unlike Fallout 4 which places you in search of your son and then throws a whole heap of innocuous side-quests at you … way to pull you out of the moment!

If you have a hint of knowledge about the Spider-Man universe, and the characters contained therein, you can kind of see where things are headed (I haven’t seen Homecoming yet, so it’s possible all this stuff has already been revealed there), but that doesn’t stop it from being a solid, steady burn.

Amazing Coverage

Marvel’s Spider-Man • All Surveillance Towers activated • Bronze Trophy • Rarity 63.9% (Common)

Oh no.

Oh dear God. No.

Yes.

Yes, I have discovered Spider-Man’s photo mode.

First, some housekeeping. As I said yesterday, I’ve switched back to my other PlayStation account, but I’m extra vigilant to make sure that the trophies that I use here are all unique. For instance, today’s trophy for unlocking all the towers still hasn’t been completed on my ‘original’ PSN account. In other words, I have a self-imposed ban on ‘double-dipping.’ That’s not all encompassing though – if, in this hypothetical, Spider-Man was to be released on Xbox, then I’d absolutely use the achievement twice. I suspect that this may have happened once or twice with AdVenture Capitalist.

Anyway, to cut a long story short: my blog, my rules!

I actually went into today’s play session with the single purpose of getting all the towers. I’d already played a fair chunk of the ‘intro’ missions with my original account, so today I really just wanted to focus on some of the collectable aspects: backpacks and the towers. It’s hardly the most efficient system in the world, but when mind-numbing catharsis is on offer in the form of a video game … well, if it was a hard drug I’d be permanently in rehab.

One of the things that is interesting about this game is how much of either the reimagined or expanded Spider-Man universe I don’t know about. That’s not hyperbole: while I’m absolutely Team Batman, Spider-Man was actually my first comic book passion and remains my main Marvel hero (I do hold a minor grudge against Sony for having the rights). My first comic of Spidey was versus the Vulture, which was a great insight into what antagonists in comics could be. I have an inkling that the Vulture will/does make an appearance in this game, but I’m certainly not there yet on either account.

And so, another trophy out of the way. I think, even after the accounts’ switcharound, I might actually be ahead of my old account, having completed a side mission and now all the towers, there’s a good chance I’m ahead on trophy metrics.

Either way, I’m certainly ahead on the good vibes!

The Scientific Method

Marvel’s Spider-Man • Craft your first Upgrade • Bronze Trophy • Rarity 75.4% (Common)

I wanted to include this trophy for today because I feel like I’m playing Spider-Man without giving a good sense as to where I’m up to. My game time also usually falls outside of when I write, and so today you get a bonus!

In terms of progress, this is where I had hoped to be the other day – with a crafting achievement under my belt, along with a few other innocuous trophies … like one I got today for ‘swinging across rooftops.’ I’m sure there’s some metric involved in obtaining this trophy, but without much ability to track progress like this, it’s really a case of letting this trophy come to you – rather than working for it.

I’m not really finding Spider-Man hooks me like God of War did. I’m enjoying it, don’t get me wrong – there’s something quite cathartic about navigating around the city – but the one aspect that I have found the most enjoyable, tracking down backpacks, soon becomes a bit tiresome and repetitive.

There was even a mission with Mary-Jane today that I suspect is included to mix things up a bit, but I just found the whole encounter ‘lacking’. It helps to remember that R2 is for run, which speeds up an otherwise dull occasion.

This is a great example of why you should never pay full RRP for a game. At the launch $100 price tag, I would be upset for what this is. At a much more reasonably price-matched $60 … I can stomach some mediocrity.

We’ll see for how long.