Crystal Relic Collector

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Knack • Acquired a Crystal Relic • Bronze Trophy • Rarity 62.9% (Common)

It’s the freakin’ weekend, and do you know what that means? If you guessed housework, and a day out-and-about, then you’re absolutely correct; but if your guess ventured into something about having to entertain the kids when they’ve had a full day of the aforementioned ‘out-and-about’, and they’re eyes are hanging out of their head … then I’m happy to give you a silver medal as well.

What does this all mean? Why, time to fire up the closest friendly family game, of course – and Knack fit the bill. While we’re pretty much tag-teaming the game for the most part, it really is a case of my son playing for a bit, getting killed, and then me having to go back and get through the next chunk until he feels like playing again. Repeat, ad nauseum.

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Even though he still falls over along the way, he’s certainly got the grasp of the game, and he knows when to look in side doors or areas where chests might be. Even though he breezes past a lot of these things while he’s playing, it pleases me that he’s getting a good grasp of side quests. I’ll turn him into a professional gamer yet!

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This trophy is simply for unlocking a particular type of collectible, or ‘relic’ as the game labels them. I noticed that collecting the full set of these crystals appears to be the requirement for unlocking ‘Vampire Knack’, which – perhaps most importantly – is necessary for another trophy entirely! I can’t see myself in the likely multiple playthroughs needed to obtain the full set, but by the same token, I said that a lot about Max and the Curse of Brotherhood, and then I had to keep going back to it to cater to my son’s obsession, and used the time to 100% it. Silver lining and all that.

Tomorrow is pretty much a dedicated family day, so I’m not sure where I’m going to land when it comes to achievements. I still have many of my quick-and-dirty achievements on Steam there to work my way through, which might be a nice change from the more ‘meaty’ stuff I’ve been working on lately. Final Fantasy VII, in particular, is proving particularly taxing on the mind.

I’m not sure if that reflects the game, the twenty years since it’s been out or … more troubling … my mind!

Father and Son

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God of War • Obtain all other trophies

It’s done. Valkyries, Ravens, Artifacts, Mists, Chests, Rifts … well, actually, I think I’m still missing a rift … but either way, the Gods of Trophies have seen it fit to bestow on me the Platinum Trophy for God of War.

In the famous phrase from The Handmaid’s Tale: Praise Be.

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I will be honest … this last, final grind towards 20,000 blood mists was incredibly tedious. I can see why people who ‘don’t care’ about achievements or trophies might just as easily skip over this part. For many of my last few battles, I was facing a steady stream of Wulvers and Trolls, which – while not necessarily difficult – were annoying.

I’ve spent a fair part of my afternoon wondering ‘what’s next?’. I started off with a quick 10 minutes of Dark Souls (not the remaster, just the good ol’ fashioned classic) to see if it floated my boat (it didn’t) before I ended up on Rocket League for a few mindless matches against the best the web could throw at me. I have to say: I loved every minute of it. After the mental drain of a trophy cleanup, sometimes it’s good just to snuggle up with a contemporary classic.

I might treat myself to another few hours of it.

Treasure Hunter

God of War • Use treasure maps to find all of the dig spots

Look, I’ll be honest – I just wanted to talk about God of War a bit today – because I’ve been putting in the hard yards and I feel like I’ve earned a ‘bit’ of a narrative around my journey to platinum.

First things first – yes, I beat the Valkyrie Queen. Yes, it felt good. And yes, I am officially on ‘the home straight.’

The battle itself was, as expected, tough. Very tough. For all the guides I read and the videos I watched about how to beat her, I ended up essentially doing my own thing and just pressing the fight. It involved a bit of mastery around the relic attacks, and once I spent some time tweaking them to maximise the chance of actually hitting her (one of them, for instance, the ‘spinning axe’ attack, seemed to always fall a touch short) and getting better at dodging her attacks (except the one where she jumps into the air and slams down on top of you … I never quite mastered that), I started to slowly find her health get lower and lower each encounter … to the point at which I actually had her health at zero and then got killed by what must have been a last-minute projectile.

That one, in particular, was almost controller-through-the-TV worthy.

My trophy for this entry, however, is part of my ‘cleanup’, and involved finding three final treasure caches that you are guided to from maps you’ve collected along the journey. My fairly significant exploration of the world had already uncovered all the maps that I needed, and so for the final three steps I had to look up a bit of a guide to see what I might have missed. Sure enough – the caches were just in tricky little spots that I had already explored, but were just off to the side of an area that likely had a battle that caused me to rush through it – or they were ‘just’ aside the main path. In short, there was no big revelation or new area that I discovered while doing this trophy, but it is another milestone on the path to platinum.

So, there’s only a few trophies left. The first is unlocking all the workshop chests, which largely amounts to a bit of grinding. I was tossing up between doing this and killing the Valkyrie Queen, and I have to say – I’m glad I killed the Queen. Now I have the luxury of just killing bad guys and opening chests, and I feel like that is the right level of catharsis that I’m seeking from God of War at this stage.

That is, of course, until they patch in New Game Plus.

Dangerous Skies

God of War • Free all of the Dragons

Another episode of Kratos and Son tonight, and – as promised – thus concludes the third and final dragon free from both the metaphoric and literal constraints of Norse mythological life.

I have actually already free’d this dragon as part of my first God of War playthrough on my other PSN account, which made finding the shrines and releasing him a touch easier this time around.

Much of my effort now has concentrated on cleaning up small tasks like killing Odin’s ravens and finishing up the odd task still on the to-do list. Given enough time, and a good walkthrough – anything is possible.

And I’ve already found plenty of good walkthroughs!

Who’s A Good Snagglebeast?

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Ratchet and Clank • Defeat the Snagglebeast on Nebula G34 • Bronze Trophy • Rarity 47.1% (Rare)

I’ve been meaning to write about Ratchet and Clank for a while, as I’ve been playing on-and-off with the kids. I think it was a PlayStation Plus title that I’ve just blindly added to my library over time (I still add the freebies each month), but – I’m just going to say it: it is visually stunning. For a game that has its roots in a cartoon-esque caricature, somehow Insomniac have done a good job of finding the middle ground in the Venn Diagram of cartoon and … realism? That might be a bit of a stretch, but it is very hard to articulate the what and why it looks so good.

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I’ve actually made considerable progress on Ratchet and Clank today, well – I think I have. The trophies have been coming on fairly heavy, and I’m making my way through the planets with comfort, so unless there’s a big swing back around all of the levels, then I’d say I’m travelling ‘well’ for a completion ‘soon’.

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The Snagglebeast trophy itself is for, you guessed it, defeating a Snagglebeast. The battle itself was actually moderately difficult, and I’ll be lying if I said I ‘breezed’ through – but a couple of deaths and leaning into the full arsenal available to Ratchet saw this battle turn far less complicated than something out of Dark Souls.

I’ll keep the good fight going … since Max and the Curse of Brotherhood, I’ve been left with the LEGO games and a few other indie games to play with my kids, so this – at the very least – is a welcome break in momentum.

Squareboy vs Bullies

Squareboy vs Bullies • Defeat all the Bullies • Platinum Trophy • Rarity 82.2% (Common)

Another game that has a problem reigning in their capital letters. Well, sorry Rohan, but I’m going to have to override your decision this time. But all-in-all, thanks for the game!

I think that this concludes the list of games I had on my cheap-and-easy-to-platinum-in-a-couple-of-hours list, so I’ll be back to Hatoful Boyfriend and Hitman GO soon enough. It’s been a welcome taster back into the world of PlayStation, so much so that I even listened to the Blogcast for the first time in a long time this morning on the way into work. Hearing Justin Massongill talk about loading up his Vita with Persona 5 and making an effort to grab a platinum took me back to my own commuting days – many of my platinums on my old account came from the LEGO series during my daily hour-long commute (both ways). Others on the train had their Nintendo DS or their phone – but I lauded over them all with my Vita, knowing full-well that I was earning myself some PlayStation trophies while they did nothing to build evidence of their gaming career. It’s petty, I know – but that’s kind of the whole point when I’ve made my blog out of earning an achievement a day, no?

One thing that is concerning / bothering me about playing on my Vita is that somewhere along the line I seem to have a drifting left stick. What that means is, essentially, that it steers everything ‘up’, like I was pushing on the stick … and without the luxury of just being able to switch it out with another controller, I’m left either suffering in silence, or starting the hunt for a second-hand (or new?) unit. I’m opting for the ‘suffer in silence’ bit for now … as long as I can turn the device on and get to some games, I can deal with correcting the drift every now-and-then, but I did have a few moments where it caused me some grief during Squareboy. It’s also caused me to run into trouble a few times while playing Hotline Miami … something that I thought was my own fault for grazing the touchpad or similar, but it turns out, no – that six year old piece of hardware is probably at the beginning of the end … or at the very least, the end of the beginning.

Staying with PlayStation, I didn’t get a chance to do any more Bloodborne last night – instead opting for my quick Xbox achievement an an early(ish) night. Not that it really helped, I’m still absolutely exhausted today, but I have a three-day weekend coming up so I’m hoping that will be a good chance to recharge the batteries …

… and play the Vita.

Big Adventurer

Little Adventure on the Prairie • Obtain all trophies • Platinum Trophy • Rarity 95.1% (Common)

I wouldn’t normally go out of my way to write about two PlayStation trophies in a day, but I’m on a bit of a roll with my Vita platinums on my new account … and … well, Little Adventure on the Prairie is a bit of a ‘special’ game.

I don’t mean that in a good way.

It’s a little hard to work out whether this game is a student project, has translated badly, is taking-the-piss out of games generally or was an experiment in seeing how robust the Sony certification process was. On any, or all, fronts – it fails terribly.

Take this snippet from PlayStation Universe (via Metacritic) (8 March 2018).

It may be relatively cheap, and alluring to trophy-hunting fiends, but is losing a portion of your humanity really worth playing a game as despicably dire as Little Adventure on the Prairie?

Well, consider that humanity gone, PSU. I can completely understand where the rhetorical flourish is coming from. The graphical glitches, the AI which quite happily lets you bash them on the head for quick kills (or alternatively can float if you lead them off a hill), the inability – literally – to count to twelve and just downright lack of polish make this arguably the most bizarre entry on the PlayStation store I’ve seen.

Then, of course, it dawns on me:

I paid money for this game.

I paid money – admittedly, not much – but I paid money in pursuit of an easy platinum. How many other members of the 75 million-strong PlayStation army have thrown a few bucks to the developers just to give their account a little polish? A few dollars multiplied means that this abomination of a video game is actually making money … and given its quality, I suspect its margins are actually incredibly high.

Why didn’t I think of this first? I am sure with a few hours and a couple of web tutorials I could knock-out something as terrible as this. Sure, I might need to find a publisher to get the product to the store – but there are many, many avenues for independent developers and publishers now that I think it would be a reasonably easy path to take … I mean … Little Adventure on the Prairie has to be the perfect case study for this, doesn’t it?

The best thing about earning this trophy is that I don’t have to do it again. Tick. I’ll stop short of deleting the game off my Vita just yet – it’s simple enough that I reckon my kids could play with it now instead of touching my other games and accidentally triggering trophies.

Those few bucks I spent have to be good for something.

Reached level 10

Horizon Zero Dawn • Reached player level 10 • Bronze Trophy • Rarity 78.5% (Common)

I’ve decided to record a few more of my ‘other’ gaming pursuits – firstly because I enjoy the writing process, but also admittedly because it’s good content. I like using achievements, or trophies, as the subject headings for these entries, as it gives a good indication as to where I’m up to in terms of progress, as well as keeps things relatively in-line with my particular gaming kink.

The start of my session largely focussed on completing ‘The Proving’ – which I referred to as a ‘trial’ earlier (same difference) – which was actually far less onerous than I thought it would be. For something that Rost seemed to think would require years of combat and strength training, it seemed that Aloy simply had to ‘race’ to the finish. Sure, I don’t think I would be in any way, shape or form be equipped to do something like the proving myself in real life, but thematically, I think even a young Aloy was already a regular little free-runner and combatant to the point where I think that Rost’s forbearing was probably a little uncalled for.

Jumping ahead, the last few beats of the story have focussed on tracking down another tribe who ambushed the Proving competitors – meeting up with the tribal war chief, and laying waste to their campsite. Along the way I’ve climbed onto the back of a giant giraffe robot, taken down some flame-throwing behemoths and reached the titular Level 10.

If I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. This is a good game. Guerrilla have done good here.

The journey continues …