Four ^H^H^H^H Three out of Four In February Ain’t Bad

I had such high hopes for February, I really did.

I sat on Banjo Tooie, because I wanted to experience it, but I didn't want to experience it quite so close to Banjo Kazooie. I was genuinely looking forward to what Plague Knight had in store for me at the end of Shovel Knight. I wanted to delve into Simon the Sorcerer and find out if time - and my memory of that game - had treated it well. I also wanted to see if - a year on - Jazzpunk was still that spellbinding, silly experience I found it to be while watching Lucahjin play it.

You can read my gung-ho and ready post about all that here.

This tragic tale is a tale of how that all fell flat and how I ended up playing three games that weren't even on my list. Well. Kind of.

[Please Note:  Some of the links in this article will take you away from Twinstiq.  They have been formatted such that they will open new browser tabs.]

The Plague...Of Stupid Jumps

Urgh. In Shovel Knight, your jumps were precise and well-timed. In Plague Knight, you hit the jump button and pray. Not much fun.
Dear Yacht Club Games: Next time, please remember that control of a character in a platformer is PARAMOUNT. How'd you guys screw that up so badly?!

Let's start with Plague Knight, because Plague of Shadows has the most to answer for in this year's four in February.

I have this policy: I can't do a review on something if I haven't actually finished it, myself. This means no Hand of Fate review until I actually finish that game [if I ever do. The ending was particularly stupid, difficulty wise.]

I liked Hand of Fate, don't get me wrong, but that last was frustrating design piled on top of impossible odds.

Shovel Knight does a similar trick to Hand of Fate. For a lot of the game, it's quite a fun romp. Sure, there are problems. It has bad pits of instant death and spikes of sorrow aplenty. But for the most part, Shovel Knight is fantastic. Here. You can even read my review or go watch my Let's Play of it. Shovel Knight is the "right kind of platforming," in my humble opinion. If you die, it's your own fault. Mostly.

Plague of Shadows? It takes all that very careful and nuanced platforming and throws it out the window. It doesn't even give you time to warm up to the new ideas. It just drops you right in at the deep end. I spent five [!] minutes on the first screen trying to figure out what the minion I met even meant about jumping. And it just got worse from there. Your jumps? They're leaps-of-faith. EVERY jump is like that. While you do eventually kind of get the ability to slow the jumps down, it doesn't stop every jump from being you hitting the jump button and immediately reaffirming your faith in your deity-of-choice.

It got to a point where I was in a room with a technically possible jump that was frustrating to pull off because the jump also required silly timing. There were fire spewers in the room and I had to make a fantastically precise and technical jump [something that - remember - Plague Knight isn't particularly good at to begin with] in between each burst of fire. I spent three hours [!] in that one spot. Eventually, Plague Knight just beat me into the ground and I gave up.

And this was how Four in February started off for me.

I'm counting Shovel Knight as a game I played in the month, because I beat that again.

Banjo FPS

In order to 100% Banjo Tooie, you have to do these really awful First Person Shooter bits. The game gives you a gun [Kazooie] and you need to roam around finding random items. It's...not much fun.
Breegull blaster? Really, Rare? Do not want.
I loved Banjo Kazooie.

And I really wanted to like Banjo Tooie, but all I can muster for it are mixed feelings, because the one bit of it that I played that put me off made me re-evaluate the series as a whole.

Some of Banjo Tooie was great. Again, this isn't really a review, because I never finished it, but... start out with your old moves?! Fantastic!

...getting notes is now less time consuming!? Awesome!

...there's an autosave!!!!! Why wasn't this in the first game!!1!!!!?

All these great things then got undermined by my first ever FPS section in the game. Yes. You read that correctly. This is a platformer that takes time out of it's busy, platforming schedule to introduce a mechanic I didn't even think I wanted or asked for. And that's right. The mechanic is a first person shooter section[s]. [I dunno if this shows up more often than the first world, but just in the first world it was the most frustrating part of that level I played.]

So, here's the thing: the first person shooter sections feature respawning enemies, no auto map/map at all and a first boss that's truly annoying unless you know that you can strafe. [I didn't.] They also require you to find a dumb number of collectibles. This is an environment without it's own mini-map or tracker. Can you see how extremely tedious that would be?

I did not want any of this in my Banjo Kazooie game. I wanted some expanded ideas and features, for certain, but...not this.

I abandoned Banjo-Tooie midway through that first world and haven't been back. Instead, I ended up counting a second run of the wonderfully sweet Chronology as my second game.

You can watch my play through of Chronology here. [please pardon the ads. A silly third party with no rights to the game decided to false claim it. I'm trying to get that fixed.]

Simon Says...Don't Play Me!

Jazzpunk is super fun and non serious. Simon the Sorcerer is a beautiful [though crass] point and click adventure I'm ready to re-experience. But not when I'm feeling this apathetic. Even the awful arcade sequences in Space Quest 4 were better than trying to steer my way around these two games.
Even though Space Quest 4 had bad action sequences, I just wasn't up to the task of picking up other games.
These twin frustrating failures made me apathetic. And that affected everything that happened in February. I am currently playing through a text adventure called Gateway. February's failure stalled my run of that. I was attempting to level a mage in World of Warcraft. But that feeling of frustration prevented me from getting very much done. It just wasn't a good month for playing video games.

So, you can kind of see what happened with Simon the Sorcerer [and, ultimately, Jazzpunk.]

My heart wasn't in it. I did manage to finish Space Quest 4 - and you can watch me play that here - and I'm grateful I did that. My trek down Sierra Memory Lane is proving to be quite pleasant., I wanted this February to work out. :(


  1. Avatar
    Tim Chesson says:

    My first two games nearly ended in defeat. I expected Pneuma to be fairly short, but the puzzles and narration nearly became more than I wanted to deal with. I admit I consulted a walkthrough on a couple of the puzzles just to get them completed.

    I still have mixed feelings about Undertale. I also consulted the web for help here and there. I had read it was a short game, but I spent just over 13 hours in it. Every time I decided to play it, it kind of felt like a chore, but once I committed to it for an evening, I often enjoyed the characters and writing.

    My other two, Far Cry 4 and Arkham Origins, were larger open world games that I truly had a lot of fun with. Next year I think I’ll choose games that are more of a known quantity to me, just for the enjoyment factor. I don’t want Four in February to become a chore just due to my choices.

    • Avatar
      greywolfe says:

      i knew what i was getting into with most of these games. what i didn’t anticipate was how their mechanics would drive me away. plague knight is a case-in-point.

      i like the world it exists in [though i’m not crazy about plague knight’s motives and i find it a little weird that yacht club games would go in a “sinister” direction like that, but everything about the characters feels “off” like that to me. i just couldn’t sympathize with plague knight’s ideas or his “plight” such as it is.] – i like the kind of snarkiness that’s there. i even like the idea of reworking each stage. i just can’t get over how TERRIBLE the controls are.

      with banjo-tooie, i had read and heard whispers of the shooty stuff and i thought it’d turn out ok, because everyone speaks so highly of it, but again – the mechanics of the shooter sections absolutely torpedoed any fun i’d previously been having. the game – otherwise – would probably right have been right up my alley.

  2. Avatar
    brokedownsystem says:

    Grey, at least you finished something. I am stuck in…Bloodborne, up against 2 hard chalice dungeon bosses, and 2 apparently remaining dlc bosses. FU, defiled Amygdala!

    I’m actually tempted to keep grinding away at BB instead of playing the Division, but I also feel like I’ll be missing out on any co-op for the Division if I wait say, 1 month. Meanwhile, any potential Yakuza progress remains on hold.

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