What I’m Playing, part 18

Guardians: Royal Journey

What does this game do right? What does it do wrong? Let’s examine…

You keep pestering me to write a review.  Well, to quote Bianca del Rio, here’s your fucking moment!

Towers and Enemies

At first glance, Guardians Royal Journey is deceptively cute with cartoony enemies and cartoony towers.

The three towers in the first row (Cannon, Trident and Shuriken) along with the big blue crystal in the middle of the second row (Electric Gem) are the only ones that can be upgraded with Vermarine.  More on that later.

None of these can be upgraded with Vermarine except the Boomerang (third tower on the second row) and the Battery (middle tower on the third row, just above the spider)

At the beginning of the game, you are slowly introduced to the different tower types and what they do and how they can be used.  You are also introduced to the enemies that you’ll be defending Mogo against.

Fuck these guys.  All the regular enemies in the game are basically miniature versions of these minus the crowns.

And fuck these bitches with something hard and sandpapery.  They sit on the track and spit out the little one eyed rocks continuously until killed.

And then there’s this asshole.  In certain levels not only do you have to defend Mogo, but you have to kill this fucker in order to complete the level because the waves of enemies just keep coming (and get progressively harder) until he is dead.

The World

The over world map is divided into 15 level segments with an overall theme for that segment. There are exceptions to this, however. The first and second world are only 9 levels, the third and fourth is 11 and worlds 5 and 6 are 13. After that every world has 15 levels.

Oddly enough, this is the only section of the world with this theme.  Perhaps because this was the tutorial zone?  Who knows.

The first 12 worlds also have a “secret” 3 level map (as depicted by the gold mushroom in the screen shot above) that you can reach once you get to the end of the world. However, even after unlocking the “secret” map, you must possess the required fruit to play the level (apples, bananas or coconuts) and to get pieces of fruit, you have to win levels.

99 fucking stems and NO seeds, because that’s fair.

After the first 12 worlds, this feature no longer appears and I don’t know why.  I’m guessing the developers realized that requiring you to earn so many stars before being able to unlock the next world was not a good idea and can be off putting for some players. This was a wall that I struggled to get around in the first few months of play but I have not encountered this problem since the last big update. I hope to not have to deal with this bullshit ever again.

Either that or the developers couldn’t come up with anymore fucking bullshit maps that are insanely hard to win let alone get 3 gold stars.  Or it could be that I suck so bad at this game that they’ve locked the “secret” maps away.  Honestly I don’t care either way, but this game seriously lacks any kind of consistency and the missing “secret” level maps are just the tip of the ice berg.

Also, after passing the first 8 worlds, the developer’s solution was to endlessly recycle the same backgrounds for the rest of the game. That world 8/9/10 stretch of looking at nothing but Sky was very tiresome.

The border between worlds 8 and 9…

…and the border between worlds 9 and 10.  Boooooriiiiiing.


Each level consists of a varying number of waves (anywhere from 4 to 25 is the highest I’ve encountered) and you can usually tell how hard a time you’re going to have based on how many waves are displayed in the box at the bottom of the screen.  Fewer numbers of waves usually mean that you’re going to have to build up your defenses in a hurry because the waves are going to be long.

Like this fucking horse shit for example.  I may have quite a few level 3 towers on the field but I had to build them in a damn hurry.

You start the first wave with some gold (how much depends on the level) and usually zero magic and you can either immediately pause the game to formulate your strategy or just wing it and hope for the best.  Protip: winging it is usually not a good idea.  You build up a stash of magic over time (you gain 2 points every few seconds) but gold is usually going to be what you use to build your defenses.

In early stages of the game, you are given plenty of space to build your towers where ever you’d like, but as the game progresses you must clear away obstacles in order to build where you want.

Like this crap for example.  Your only options are to build to the right of the tree stump or to the left of the boss monster.  Oh and Mogo’s little heart with the amount of health he has left?  That always takes up prime real estate next to his stupid face making trying to defend him that much harder.

Beyond this, it’s your standard tower defense affair with each successive wave having harder and harder (read: enemies with more health) enemies to deal with, after which you get an arbitrary grade based on your performance.  If you happen to lose a level – which for me is often because the difficulty spikes as I said before are all over the place – you are met with a 10 second countdown and a choice: restart the level from the beginning OR pay 9 gems to continue from the point where you fail.  If you decide to pay the gems however, that’s the only continue that you get even if you have enough gems to pay the cost a second time.  I think that’s a load of bull because this is one of the ways in which the game tries to gouge you for real world money – paying real world money for in game money.  This is one of my biggest pet peeves with mobile gaming (and gaming as a whole as of late, but that’s a rant for another post) because I know there are people out there that will simply pay to win if they are able to.

Also, every single time you lose a level you’re met with an advertisement. What the fuck? Sometimes it’s ones you can just X out of but sometimes it’s bandwidth eating videos that are unskippable. At first I just let it go but lately I’ve just closed the app and restarted it to get around such bullshit.  I don’t know what kind of advertising deal these bastards have going on, but if you’re going to force me to watch an ad in your poorly designed game then I think you should help pay my damn phone bill.

As the game has progressed (at the time of this writing I’m up to level 386) I’ve noticed that the developers have begun to reuse maps that I’ve previously played on before.  I guess they’re so desperate to keep the game going that they’ve done nothing but rehash several previous levels and change which towers you can build, and most of the time it’s towers that you can’t upgrade through the enhance menu.

It also seems the developers fell into the trap of making a “theme” out of each 15 level segment. For example, there was a 15 level segment that had indestructible obstacles on every single map.  That’s not good game design and it’s not fun.  It really makes me want to just delete the app and never be bothered with it again.

This is a level type that I’m pretty neutral about.  You are given a small amount of currency at the beginning to uncover “cards” on the map that may or may not have a tower underneath for you to use, or more currency or in most cases nothing at all.  I managed to get through all the waves without Mogo losing a single hit point…

Only to be given 3 silver stars.  What the fuck?  (I also got 1 piece to make another fruit.  One.  How generous.)

Back to this level that I posted before.  As you can see, I have several towers all over the map – ranging from level 1 to level 3 which is the highest level you can go – and Mogo didn’t lose a single hit point again.  This was my result:

I don’t get the grading scale in this game at all.  I use as few towers as possible and I get silver.  I use enough towers to nearly fill the map and I get gold.  It doesn’t make any sense.  This game has no consistency what so ever.

The Social Network

One of the biggest issues I have with this game is it’s social aspect. If you want to have stronger towers, you have to upgrade them with a resource known as Vermarine. Vermarine can only be gained either by completing tasks from your daily task list or by requesting it from people on your friends list. The weird thing is, giving it to people doesn’t deplete the amount you have AND you can only get so much of it from people in a 24 hour period. What I don’t understand is, why the limit? I have issues with getting Vermarine from other players because it seems the majority of my friends list has abandoned the game. As of late, only the same 6 people are responding to my requests. I don’t really blame the others for quitting because the difficulty spikes in this game are all over the place.

My other issue with the social aspect is being pestered every 24 hours to share my invitation code (QR code) on all my social media accounts. The options listed are Facebook and Twitter and 2 others that are only applicable in Asian countries: WeChat and QQ, so there again your ability to get resources is halved if you don’t live in those areas. In an effort to not have have a Facebook feed filled with this irritation, after getting my daily resources from sharing the code, I immediately delete the post thereby circumventing their bullshit.

That’ll teach you to give me a code that spells “to be late” bitches

Achievement Unlocked

At the time of this writing, I’ve finished all the in game achievements except 1.  There haven’t been any new achievements added in several updates.  At this point it feels like they’ve run out of fucks to give about their own game, which is sad.  Achievements are how you are able to get the majority of the pieces that make up your fruit along with how you get pieces that make up the modifiers that you can enable before beginning a level.  So without these achievements, getting these pieces takes a ridiculously long time because you’re totally at the mercy of RNGeezus when you finish a level.  Oh, and forget replaying a level you’ve already completed in an effort to try to get these items, the only thing you’ll get is energy to play another level, if that.

Final Verdict

It started out as a fun game but at this point I’m not playing it for enjoyment on any conceivable level, I’m coming back every day out of stubbornness to try to reach the end so I can call it quits and move on to the next thing.  What started out as a fun, quirky and seemingly different type of tower defense game quickly gives way to endless frustration, nagging, unfair punishment and very little in the way of a sense of accomplishment.


What I’m Playing, part 17


Since I’ve played quite a bit this weekend, I decided to cram all the things I’ve played into one post, so let’s get started:

Little Nightmares

This game is, so far, pretty eerie.  It’s like what would happen if Tim Burton decided to make a side scrolling video game.  So far I’m a huge fan of the art style (it looks like Nightmare Before Christmas) and how well the game plays, but I’m not a fan of how the game doesn’t tell you how to control the character.  I personally hate it when any game does that to be honest.  Don’t want me to play your game?  Don’t tell me the controls and that will be that.


Think The Witness meets Journey meets ICO in this graphically beautiful, yet somewhat frustrating, puzzler.  The number one rule about this game is that your perception of things is not what it appears at first.  The game is highly dependent on it’s visual and audio cues, making for a memorable experience if not a bit frustrating (in terms of not being able to jump high enough)

Blade & Bones

Imagine what it would be like if the Souls games and Rouge likes had a kid.  At least that’s the vibe I’m getting so far from Blade & Bones.  This is yet another game that does not explain controls to you in a good way, it took me several minutes and random button presses to figure out how to get in my inventory to change weapons (pro tip: it’s not even a button press, you have to click in the left thumb stick and go from there.  So annoying.)  The story is a bit cheesy, but lays out your objective in order to beat the game – find the 7 swords.  There’s a day/night cycle that you can manipulate which is cool.  Here’s where the Rogue like aspect comes into play: you start the game with 7 Purity and when you die you lose one.  After you re-spawn, you get a pop up that tells you that if you lose all your Purity, you lose your save file.  I can tell this is going to be a very frustrating game for me to try to complete.

Friday the 13th: The Game


Definitely a game better suited to playing with friends instead of a pick up group.  It’s both fun and a little scary at the same time since it’s so campy but it’s hugely entertaining and has a decent replay value, but those trophies…ugh.

 Killing Floor 2

Another game that’s a lot of fun and best with friends (and a full compliment of 6) I’m definitely looking forward to more nights of making fun of the French weapon vendor and being the only German guy in the Motorhead reunion tour.

Polarity:  Ultimate Edition

Managed to finish this one in one sitting!  It’s a satisfyingly short first person puzzle game that does collectibles the way I like:  there’s only 3 in each level and you can see them all in plain sight, you just have to figure out how to get to them.  The bare bones story here is that you’re a hacker working for a mysterious benefactor and the levels represent the computers that you’re hacking (similar to Deus Ex: Mankind Divided‘s intense Breach mode, only without any stealth elements).  The only thing left for me to do in this game is get the co-op trophies and I’m finished!

Destiny 2

Destiny, part 16

It’s been a little over 3 weeks since the gameplay reveal of Destiny 2, and I figured it was time to put in my 2 cents on what we’ve seen so far.

I am freaking excited to play this game!

It was a little soul crushing to see the Tower in ruins, my home for the last 3 years, gone.  It was exciting to see the Vanguard in action;  Ikora blasting the Cabal ship with her Nova Bomb, Cayde firing the Golden Gun and Zavala using his Ward of Dawn to try to save everyone in the Vanguard room when the Cabal attack.

I’m excited to see what is (or was) in the north part of the Tower when I get my hands on the game and to explore what’s left of the Tower before we leave it behind.


Definitely going to main one of these guys first!

I’m also excited to play the new classes and learn how their abilities work and interact with each other.  I’m a little bummed that Warlocks can’t self resurrect anymore, but I’ll trade it for being able to rain swords of fire from the air.  It’s definitely going to make things interesting trying to raid without the usual linchpins of self rezzing Warlocks, bubble Titans and tether Hunters.

I also can’t wait to explore the new planets and zones.  I’m happy that public events will have on screen timers now instead of having to rely on 3rd party apps that may or may not be accurate.  I’m looking forward to exploring the places and seeing what I can find.

Like this lovely place for example.

I’m happy that the director got a face lift and looks pretty snazzy now.


And I’m so happy that we don’t have to go to orbit anymore to go to a new location.  We can just pick a new place and BAM! off we go.

A new raid, new strikes, new locations, new classes.  I can’t wait for September to get here.

In spite of all the negativity floating around the internet about the game, I can’t wait.  All the haters and trolls can suck it.  If they don’t like what they see then they can play something else (like the next Call of Dudebro)


I can’t wait to play one of these guys either!

What I’m Listening To, part 9

The way these posts work is, I’m going to post the lyrics with my thoughts in between the lines like this.

Assemblage 23 – Skin

Identity sometimes seems fleeting
An ever-changing tapestry
But at it’s heart is the foundation
The very essence of our being

Do you know who you are inside?  I do.  Or at least most of the time I think I do.

Shed your skin
Cast off your chains
Feel the sun upon your face for once
And wash away the pain
Shed your skin
Be who you are
Unencumbered by the weight
Of hiding every little scar

Just be yourself, everyone else is taken.  Take everything that everyone expects you to be, their perceptions of you, and throw them out.  Be your own person, uninhibited, unbound, unchained.  Fly.

At times the self seems in transition
A mere projection on a screen
But what happens when you turn the lights on
And things are not as they once seemed?

Examining yourself, taking a good long hard look can be a difficult task.  But when a new piece of information comes along causing or forcing you to re-examine who you are, weather the storm until you find solid ground again, the journey will be worth it.

Shed your skin
Cast off your chains
Feel the sun upon your face for once
And wash away the pain
Shed your skin
Be who you are
Unencumbered by the weight
Of hiding every little scar

Who we are is always changing
A never-ending course of growth
But deep inside there is a pillar
Deep inside there is a soul

Or is there?

Shed your skin
Cast off your chains
Feel the sun upon your face for once
And wash away the pain
Shed your skin
Be who you are
Unencumbered by the weight
Of hiding every little scar

Life and Death, part 6

Ever text someone at just the worst possible time?

Yesterday, I asked my friend Alex if he’d like to get something for dinner before he went to work.  His response was something I didn’t expect.

I can’t, I have the girls until I have to leave for work because mom had to make an emergency trip to Canada to see aunt Yvette.  She has lung cancer and it has spread to both breasts and other parts of her body.  She’s opting for doctor assisted suicide at the end of the week.

Ouch.  Needless to say, he’s not taking this news well as after that he was more than a little upset at her decision.  Having witnessed firsthand what cancer does to a person, I feel like she is justified in her decision to end her life while she is still in full control of her faculties.  It’s what I would want were I in her place.  It’s what I will demand if I’m ever in that situation.

I still remember the daily living horror of watching my mother wither away while she had cancer.  Initially she was herself, only sick.  But as the last year of her life went on, the pain became unbearable and the sickness slowly eroded her humanity until what I was looking at from day to day was a husk, a shell of a human being, kept alive by drugs and our selfishness, our inability to let her go peacefully.  Had I had any say in the matter and any level of maturity (I was 17 when she died) I think I would have had that talk with my family about letting her go, whether they liked it or not.  I can still remember her last night at home.  I stood there with my father and watched helplessly as she went through her death throes and finally stopped breathing.  This is the personal hell I endure, that I live with from day to day.  Most of the time the flames don’t bother me, but today I feel their wrath.

My knee jerk reaction to Alex’s disdain for her decision to end her life was a simple question:  who would you be keeping her alive for, her or yourself?  It’s a painful question and not one with an easy answer to say the least but I think it’s one that everyone with a sick and dying relative should think about.

What I’m Playing, part 16

Dead Rising 2: Off The Record

This post is entirely about Sandbox Mode.  Story Mode may or may not be covered in a future post depending on if I feel like being bothered or annoyed by this game again.

So there was another publisher sale on PSN this week, this time for Capcom.  As usual, I browsed the sale and looked to see if anything was a must buy for me, but as is usually the case, everything that was on sale was something I already had – except Dead Rising 2: Off The Record.

From what I had seen previously about the game, it didn’t look like they had iterated much on the series (like some other franchises we know) so I figured a $10 price point was just about right since memories of the irritation from the first game still annoy me to this day.  More on that in a minute.

So for this weekend’s bite size gaming, I decided to give it a shot and right off the bat, I remembered why I haven’t been back to this series in years.

Rehash Rehash Rehash…

At the start, you are greeted with 2 options:  Story Mode (nope) and Sandbox Mode (oh hell yeah!) and since I didn’t feel like having every minute of my playing timed like in the first game, I went with sandbox mode.  I was greeted with a little older (and fatter) Frank West jumping out of a helicopter just like he did many years ago to take on the zombie horde.  And, just like many years ago, I was met with a janky camera and a character that controls like a tank and apparently doesn’t run (at least not that I have figured out from experimenting with the controls.  No wonder Frank got fat.)  I was also met with the age old task of saving your progress yourself, which I don’t have a problem with until I get careless and die and have to redo several minutes (sometimes hours) of gameplay.

Not off to a good start kids…

Our setting this time around is Fortune City, which if I remember correctly was the setting for Dead Rising 2 (I never did play it even though I have it.  I know, I’m a bad gamer.)  Once I got my bearings and was greeted with the tutorial on how challenges worked, I was off to start killing.  Challenges are marked as purple stars in the environment and the handy dandy map and are, of course, rated on a scale from bronze to silver to gold.  There are many Challenges to play, scattered all over the place, but they aren’t all immediately available, they must be unlocked by killing enough zombies and the amount you need to kill caries from Challenge to Challenge.  I think at the time of this writing, I’ve tried maybe 2 out of the ones that are available to me.  I’ve been having more fun just crafting the absurd weapons and seeing how many zombies I can kill with it until it breaks.  Another noticeable change in Sandbox Mode is that the survivors all are trying to kill you.  The first one I came across was a shotgun and bomb toting mailman that, after trying a handful of times to kill, I eventually just left him to die at the hands of the zombies.  I hope they found him tasty.  There was also the psycho bride with bad makeup, a James Bond wanna be and the crazy chef in the food court full of overweight zombie women in moo moos and hair curlers.

Other things that they rehashed from the other games were the stat boosting magazines that you could carry in your inventory and those oh so annoying to find PP Stickers.  It actually took me a long time to remember that I could photograph the enemies and environment for bonus experience points, I’m embarrassed to say.

Great, this shit again.

Also, Capcom decides to still punish players with a poor targeting system when it comes to guns, making them pretty much useless in the game.  I know, I get that the idea is to use items in the environment as weapons and craft the absurd weapons from things laying around in the shops and safe rooms, but it would be nice if players had the option to be a gun toting maniac at the end of the world if they wanted to be.

At the time of this writing I’m currently level 10 with a body count of 2,727 that has taken me about 8 or so hours to acquire, with a break for lunch in between sessions.  I don’t think I’ll go out of my way to platinum this game, but if I ever feel the itch to just kill zombies with silly weapons, I know where I’m going to turn.

  • Is platinum attainable?  Yes but you’ll need a co-op buddy
  • % of trophies at the time of writing according to PSN: 11%