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Sprite Machine

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  1. Sprite Machine

    Rayman Origins

    Necrobump... I'm late to the party (only eight years, I'm getting better), but this game is absolutely lovely. What a joyous, happy, arty, beautiful, solid and challenging little thing of wonder it is. The soundtrack is incredible, the attention to detail and animations are charming, the level design and moveset mesh perfectly, the difficulty is well-judged and it's obsessively addictive from its easy opening levels to its ludicrous trial-and-error finalé. I haven't played a Rayman game since the original on PS1, but this is on another level. One of the best platformers I've ever played. [*Reads back through several pages of discussion about what 2D platformers should cost if they aren't Mario-themed*] [*Backs away slowly*] Oh, I hadn't seen anyone mention it, but it really reminds me of Locoroco (another 2D platformer at retail, fact fans!). There's something about the slippy-slidey sections and general bouncy feel of the thing that channels that game. And the music, particularly the underwater doobidy-doobidy singing bits. (I will get the sequel on a telly-console/PC, though. The Vita misses out on all the co-op stuff and it sounds really well done.)
  2. Sprite Machine

    Metal Gear from the beginning (Currently @ MGSV:TPP)

    Major plot spoilers and opinions to follow! Huey is accused of working for Cipher, undermining Diamond Dogs' mission and intentionally getting lots of their staff killed. The evidence is powerful but inconclusive; Huey pleads innocence but Miller lays down a verdict of guilty and all the men chant for his life to be forfeit. Boss steps in and tells them Huey will be exiled instead. He's put on a raft and set adrift with a few supplies to keep him alive. And that, I gather, is the end of Huey's story. I don't know what to think about him; he's got the voice and mannerisms of Otacon, so I instinctively trust him, but he's done some weird shit, including using his son Hal as a test subject and possibly killing Hal's mother on purpose... but who knows? Maybe that's the point. After taking care of some more side-ops, a final main episode unlocks, tantalisingly called "The Truth". This is it, the end of the story and the explanation for what's been going on here. It takes me back to the hospital, the prologue of the game, replayed. Except this time it's a little bit different. The man in the coma is Big Boss, as before, but the man looking at him, with the bone fragment stuck in his head... is not. So, I was kinda right to suspect something weird was going on here. While I found the 'build your own face' odd at the time, I figured it was just something to do with an online mode custom character maker or something like that. But no, this was Venom Snake's messed up memories. The plastic surgery turned him from this man with the player's name and face, into a copy of Big Boss. The horn, the arm, the shrapnel... none of that happened to Big Boss himself, it was another of MSF's soldiers who was in the helicopter that day, one of Boss's best men. Boss was indeed in a coma but "Venom" was too, and was intended to become the body double, the decoy. The moment where my own character (which I modelled to look a bit like me) and my own name are presented to me as in-game character on a photograph was quite a novelty... although having experienced a similar thing in MGS2 (with the dogtags), I was prepared for this sort of weird fourth-wall breaking stuff. And the twist that you are not playing as who you thought you were, or that the legendary Boss/Snake is viewed through a different lens... that's something that Kojima did in that game too. It all seemed very fishy from the start, of course. I suspected the bandaged man was an illusion (hence not really interacting with Boss) but I was wrong, they were both actually there. The real Boss climbed out of the truck and rode off into the night, to set up Outer Heaven or whatever. The fake Boss, Venom, took over MSF/DiamondDogs, guided by Ocelot's standing orders, with Zero's help, for... reasons. Who knew about this, who was in on the plan and why? I don't really know yet. Perhaps some tapes will fill in the rest. This does explain why Ocelot told Venom that Eli wasn't his son/clone after all - it was technically true, but beyond that, they've been keeping him in the dark until such time he was ready to know. With a pre-recorded tape from the real Boss to trigger it, Venom's memories - previously manipulated through hypnotic techniques, are unlocked and the truth comes out at last. Boss and Venom, two sides of the same coin. One real, one Phantom. And it was the Phantom killed by Solid Snake in the original Metal Gear game, not the real Boss (the sequel claimed he 'survived', which is only sort of true after all). A far-too-quickly scrolling timeline recaps some of the events of the MGS universe. I was hoping for something to more conclusively connect everything together. As it stands, we don't really know how Boss's Outer Heaven project came along. Narratively, the reason for separating them like is to allow for Venom to maintain his position as the "good guy", whilst the man who will become the series' villain can be off "somewhere else". I find this a little unsatisfying. The twist itself doesn't mean much, other than to make everything I've worked for feel a bit pointless. Still, while I reflect on all of this, I'll listen to some log tapes, complete some loose ends and attempt to unlock the remaining story mission (Quiet's final mission?). When I've gathered my thoughts, I'll reach some sort of final opinion on the game and the series as a whole, as this is where it all comes to an end. God, this game is loooooooooong. Have I said that already? I started playing it over a year ago, FFS!
  3. Sprite Machine

    Metal Gear from the beginning (Currently @ MGSV:TPP)

    Oh right, I need to build up my base platforms.
  4. Sprite Machine

    Metal Gear from the beginning (Currently @ MGSV:TPP)

    Next on the [EXTREME] list is "Cloaked In Silence", a repeat of the Quiet battle, which gives her one-hit-kill sniper bullets and pinpoint accuracy. No thank you! Then there's "Metallic Archaea" again, the hardest goddamn combat scenario in the whole game, this time with one-hit-kill Skull soldiers to contend with. Again, no thank you very much! I will not be tackling these; they are a cheap way to pad out the game and I hope they aren't mandatory to see the conclusion of the story. After a more leisurely mission to destroy some armed vehicles (my first helicopter take-down, yeah!), I find myself back at Mother Base watching Ocelot interrogate Eli over his recent attempt at armed resistance. However, Eli is not taking this lying down and is rescued by the Floating Boy, controlling Metal Gear and some helicopter pilots. Metal Gear bursts through the wall of the interrogation room, Eli hops into the cockpit and he, along with all the children, fly away from the base. A group of kids has escaped with a weapon of mass destruction - that's gonna end well. Later, through some log tapes, I learn that the DNA test results show Eli is not, in fact, Big Boss's son or clone after all. That he is just some unrelated child. All signs point to this being wrong, but surely DNA doesn't lie. I'm not sure where they're going with this plotline... brushing it under the carpet for continuity reasons, maybe? After flying back and forth and doing a few side ops, the next story mission eventually unlocks, and it's a little bit grim to say the least. A new strain of the parasites has broken out in the quarantined platform of Mother Base. A team went in to assess the infection but didn't come back, so Boss has to go in alone (with a gas mask) and deal with it himself. This is a horror-themed level with little freedom or interactivity and no ranking. The staff have been turned, or are turning, into zombie-like shuffling hordes. The parasites are driving them to get outside and spread the disease to the bird life and Snake has to kill some of the staff who try to reach the exit. I find one of the scientists who has modified some goggles to detect the infection, just before he dies. Then, by using this detector, I can see that every single staff member in the whole area has been infected and I have to shoot every last one of them before I can leave. One after the after, a quick bullet to the head, "staff member has died" and "heroism decreased" appears on screen for everyone I put out of their misery. It's relentlessly bleak, my god. I suspect this was the strain of parasites that the Floating Boy gave to Eli, so this is all his fault. There's a mass funeral/burning ceremony afterwards and Boss wipes the ashes of one of the soldiers on his face like war paint. The scene ends as they all gaze out across the ocean. So... is that it? Is that the end of the game? I have so many more questions that need answers. A quick google suggests there are more levels but I have some specific requirements to meet before they unlock. This will be difficult as loads of my staff are dead. Also, apparently, I need to start taking Quiet out on missions...
  5. Sprite Machine

    Sonic The Hedgehog (Live Action) Nov 2019

    Kill it with fire.
  6. Sprite Machine

    Metal Gear from the beginning (Currently @ MGSV:TPP)

    Yeah, it's kinda misleading. The 'trailer' of exciting footage from "Chapter 2" made it look like a whole load of new shit was going down. It also showed Snake with a much larger 'horn' on his head, which led me to believe something was going to happen to it, but apparently that's just what it looks like if you kill a lot of people, and the trailer was pre-rendered. I've been playing non-lethally and rescuing animals, so my horn is still small. Oh I see! The episodes with the [extra words] in brackets are literally repeats of earlier episodes, just with harder parameters. Even the mission briefings and in-game audio are identical (lazy!). The fact that I didn't realise shows how inconsequential to the plot of the game those episodes are! The brand new missions, or plot-important side missions, have a yellow circle next to them. Not that these are entirely new, either. There are no new locations, I'm just going through old areas doing different things with tougher enemies. It takes me an hour to complete a simple mission to extract some shipping containers from the mansion area, mostly because all of the enemies are covered head-to-toe in body armour and can't be tranqued, but also the lack of checkpoints and need to repeat the same routine again and again. This happens a lot, I carefully plan an approach but then a single mistake takes me back to square one. I can play for hours and achieve nothing, it's so unsatisfying sometimes. I reckon I can get through one episode per play session, which means it should only be a few more weeks until I'm done... side-ops and base-keeping permitting! Meanwhile, the log tapes, man. The log tapes! There must be a good thirty minutes of Code Talker prattling on about the "vocal cord parasites" and their history, evolution and use. They've been helping mankind's transformation into speaking machines since our very dawn, having jumped from dinosaurs to birds to mammals, and yet apparently their existence is unknown except to a few secret researchers. The parasites are basically this era's nanomachines, right? Tiny invisible helpers that seemingly grant superhuman powers and explain all the weird supernatural shit that the game throws at you. Human camouflage, skin regeneration, super strength and speed, the walking dead, etc. In other words... "parasites, son". Some of the children have escaped Mother Base and run away. I must take on several Side-Ops missions to retrieve them. These are quite interesting and make good use of the terrain. One boy is sitting atop a ruined tower patrolled by a couple of brown bears! Another is on the second floor of a big crumbling building, heavily guarded from the front and patrolled inside. Each retrieved boy reveals a little more information - it seems Eli is behind their escapes, and is trying to turn the boys into an army again. To aid my non-lethal stealth strategy, I modify my tranquiliser sniper rifle with a silencer. This proves quite useful for the next [extreme] mission, "Traitor's Caravan", a variant of an earlier mission that I absolutely hated and is now even harder. Approaching a truck that I'm supposed to capture triggers a load of Skull soldiers to jump out of it, turn all the surrounding men into zombies and almost completely block me from extracting the truck. I pick off the zombie men from afar but being spotted at any point is basically game over. I can't drive the truck out without it being destroyed. I have to remain unseen, approach the truck by making a path through their lines of sight and cross my fingers that they don’t see me when I fulton it away. Tense, punishing, horrible level. The next episode is new, and this involves retrieving some intel data hidden in a ruin (another ruin?). As I approach the area, it is absolutely chock-full of armoured soldiers, all looking for the same intel. Picking them off without being spotted is very challenging but, once I've got the location of the intel data, I retrieve it and escape the area unseen. The intel concerns the identity of the Floating Boy, referred to in the file as the "Third Boy". He was in a plane crash or something, but survived the accident. He was near the hospital in Cyprus where Snake was being kept, and when Snake awoke, all of his anger transferred to the boy and amplified his psychic powers. For bullshit technobabble reasons, the boy is able to act as a catalyst for the strong emotions of others, particularly rage and anger. He both gives the Man on Fire his abilities, and acts as a conduit for his need for revenge. A catalyst, not a free agent. And, it was Eli's anger that made the Third Boy activate Sahelanthropus and go on a rampage. Skullface recruited the Third Boy and the Man on Fire for his own ends (hence XOF being at the hospital) but then it all got out of hand and ended up killing him. This, of course, is all relayed through my log tapes. That, plus Kaz talking about hamburgers.
  7. Sprite Machine

    Avengers: Endgame (April 2019)

    Have they got around most of the issues with IMAX cameras for general movie-making now then? (Big, loud, etc.) ------ And the first Antman film, for similar reasons. (Though, curiously, not the sequel.) 16:9 films projected into most cinemas tend not to fit the exact ratio of the screen, so you can end up with empty space left and right.
  8. Sprite Machine

    Detective Pikachu movie

  9. Sprite Machine

    Metal Gear from the beginning (Currently @ MGSV:TPP)

    Regular missions (chapters) continue in the Afghan and African regions. Nothing new here, except the missions themselves become artificially more challenging by, for instance, removing all my equipment, my dog, my sneaking suit and disabling reflex mode. There's no story development here, it feels like the missions have morphed into Side-Ops style quests, while some of the Side-Ops have turned into story advancement. In one such Side-Op, I'm sent to retrieve the talking AI pod from Huey's old lab, and in another, I have to recover the Man on Fire's body from a heavily-guarded compound. The latter is a sore subject - I spend about an hour looking for the body, but even after clearing the entire base of enemies, I somehow miss the charred corpse lying on the ground in the courtyard next to an open box, and then give up and leave. Goodness knows how, I just kept walking past it! When I go back later, the base is re-staffed and I have to clear it all over again. Urgh! When I finally find the body and attach the fulton recovery balloon, the Man on Fire suddenly springs to life, wreathed in flame and riding a demonic horse. He approaches Boss again and looks like he's going to kill him. For a moment, Boss is wrapped in bandages like he was in the hospital (weird) but then suddenly the Man stops and I see his face. It's Volgin, the Soviet Colonel from MGS3, the big guy who could generate electricity from his body and who was seemingly killed at the end of the game. It's only later, when listening to log tapes that I learn what happened. His body was recovered after that event and experiments were done on him to keep him alive. Somehow, "paranormal abilities" were granted to him, and he escaped by setting himself on fire. Now he's powered by his lust for revenge, having appeared roughly when Boss first woke in the hospital. The Floating Boy may also be helping him, or controlling him, that much isn't clear. Anyway, the Man on Fire's body is taken back to Mother Base and kept in a cage on the quarantine platform. I doubt this will be the end of him, especially now Floating Boy is still around. Much of the story plays out between missions now, rather than during. Huey finishes the development of the first Battle Gear - it's a sort of mini-Metal Gear with a railgun and hover legs to make it float. Ridiculous, of course! I can send it on deployment missions, I think? (Or I could if I had any idea how the bloody deployment missions worked.). Eli acts strangely and is possibly causing trouble or accidents with the other boys. Quiet dives into the some chlorine bath to retrieve a necklace and gets badly burned. Then, later, Ocelot and Miller torture her to make her talk, but she won't. She then does talk, to Code Talker, in his language, and admits that she was sent to spread the English language parasite but is now refusing to do so for some reason. It's also revealed that she was the assassin at the hospital in the beginning. As for Huey, I learn some rather bleak information from an interrogation. The AI pod from the lab had the body of Strangelove inside, as she had been working on it with him. Huey suggests she locked herself inside to kill herself, but he's not convincing. At some point around four years earlier, she and Huey had a son, but for reasons that are not explained, Huey never got to meet him and doesn't know where he is now. His name, of course, is Hal. I feel some big truth bombs are gonna drop soon and there's much more to this than meets the eye. I just have to get through a few more of these [extreme] difficulty chapters...
  10. It is kind of cool to see the faithfully-reconstructed TNG sets again (it's my favourite era of the franchise and it manipulates the nostalgia glands); the production design is great for a limited budget episode, and I guess I can understand why Berman and Braga wanted to wallow in their legacy for the very last episode of televised Star Trek ever... but it's just so badly done. Frakes and Sirtis are distractingly older than their 11-year younger selves, the framing device is contrived, it undermines the good work Enterprise had done that season and feels like a big "fuck you" to everyone who hung on and wanted the show to succeed on its own terms. The framing doesn't even make sense in the context of the TNG episode it's referencing, and even within that it's a spectacularly badly written story in which everyone acts out of character. I guess they thought "computer, end program" was an oh-so-clever final line for the show, but.... bleuuurghhhhhh.
  11. I finally finished my re-watch of Enterprise and, depsite having a very rocky start, I'm sad that it ended just when it was getting good. The Xindi arc for season 3 seemed to give the writers a big boost of confidence and inspiration, and the writer/show-runner shake-up for the fourth season produced some wonderful stories, character arcs, original ideas and fan service. To pull that out of the hat with a slashed budget and the constant threat of cancellation hanging over them, I have to give them a lot of credit. And, ignoring the absolutely dreadful final episode, the season wrapped up beautifully. I even got a little choked up during the final scene of Terra Prime. Watching the documentaries and interviews, it's good that the producers and writers are so candid about what went wrong now, and you get the impression they really loved the show they worked on and tried to do the best they could with it. It's never gonna be my favourite of the franchise (in fact, it's quite low down in the list) but watching it again, I realise there's a lot to like in there and it definitely could have survived another season creatively (just not financially). C'est la vie. Onto Discovery now, I guess...
  12. Sprite Machine

    Playstation Vita

    Firmware spoofing allows store access. I was able to download my purchases normally.
  13. Sprite Machine

    Final Fantasy VII (SEVEN)

    I know, right! I like the little chunky fella better (except in close-ups).
  14. Sprite Machine

    Final Fantasy VII (SEVEN)

    The AI upscaling projects are developing quickly. Remako (Gigapixel method): Satsuki SYW (ERSGAN method): Give it a few months/year and I reckon these will be developed enough for a proper playthrough. Those cutscene-to-background transitions need smoothing out, though. Did the PC version always have such washed-out FMVs?

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