Category: Adventure


The entrance to the final world: Click Clock Wood!

Click-Clock Wood is pretty unique, in that it’s one level with four different ‘seasonal’ forms.  The beginning of the level functions as a hub to the various seasons, and let’s you move between them.  It’s a lot of cause-and-effect gameplay, with some areas and things only accessible in certain seasons, but for now we only have access to Spring, so here we go!

Again, I started by exploring the perimeter of the level, checking landings and platforms thoroughly.  We collected a bunch of Notes, but no sign of Jiggys or Jinjos anywhere.  There is, however, a Mumbo Hut, where we’re turned into a fairly ridiculous-looking bee.  Luckily, the bee can bumble-fly indefinitely, and give us access to a few higher areas that we couldn’t get to before.  We found a squirrel inside the main tree who seems to want more acorns, a Jinjo trapped in a plant, and even a Jiggy at the very top of the tree!  I also found the switch to open the Summer aspect of the level, but being a bee, I can’t pound the switch.


A very pleased looking me… I mean ‘bee’

There’s a large beehive attached to the main tree that we couldn’t get inside as a bear, so we try again as a bee.  We managed to get in and see a Jiggy sitting there, but it looks like it’s encased in something and we have no way to get it out.  We do collect another Jinjo, though, and then head back to Mumbo to get changed back.  Now that I have an idea of the layout of the level, we do some double-jumping back to the Summer switch and pound it, opening the way to the next part of the level.  Continuing up, we pound a large egg that we saw earlier and release a baby eagle from inside, and at the very top of the tree, find a doorway which leads to another Jiggy!

I feel that’s it for here, so it’s back to the hub and we head through the Summer door.  A Jinjo makes itself known right near the entrance, so we snag that and set about collecting caterpillars for the eagle from earlier, as well as hunting for new Notes and Jiggys.  We help a beaver, Gnawty, get back inside his home, but can’t make it past the doorway as there’s a steep slope stopping us from continuing.  Hmm…


I don’t know how to get this Jiggy!

 The Autumn switch is easy to find, and after some more running around we discover a new path that wasn’t available in Spring, leading to another Jiggy.  We’re still a few caterpillars short, though, so we press onwards and grab another one, while finding another Jiggy hidden inside the treehouse which is getting more complete with each passing season. We’re able to get inside the beehive as a bear this time, but we still can’t get the Jiggy and the guard-bees are vicious and pursue you until you leave the hive, so we’ll hold off on that one again.  We manage to feed our collected caterpillars to the eagle chick who thanks us and goes back to sleep, but doesn’t hand out any collectibles, and the top of the tree has nothing new to off, either.  I guess it’s over to Autumn to see what’s in store over there.


These guard-birds are extremely annoying

Autumn seems heavy on the Notes, but that’s a good thing.  The eagle wants a bunch more caterpillars as well, so while we’re already looking everywhere in the level, we might as well collect what we can.  We picked up another Jinjo on top of a pile of leaves, and noted that Mumbo is still closed for business in this season.  Looks like we’ll have to take some risks to get the rest of these Notes.  We climb the tree again, grabbing what caterpillars we can find, and the squirrel ropes us into collecting acorns for him, as well.  Man, Banjo’s delivery service.  We dropped off the caterpillars with the eagle (still for no reward) and hit the Winter switch before we went back to collect the acorns.  Luckily, they were all pretty close to the squirrel, except for one which I’ll probably have to be in Bee form to grab.


Soooooo treacherous.

Winter’s last on the list, and we’ll give it a thorough look-over before we start bouncing between areas.  It’s probably the area that allows the most freedom, since there are Flight Pads scattered around the level for us to use, and use them we do.  First it’s straight up to the eagle, who finally gives us a Jiggy for feeding him all this time.  During the flight, I also notice the last Jinjo on top of Mumbo’s Hut, so we grab him and get our Jiggy for collecting them all.  There are notes scattered all over the place as well, so we grab as many as we can, which leaves us only 5 short of having them all.  There’s not much else in Winter besides a Grunty Switch for a Jiggy in the hub world, so it’s time to hoof it back to Spring, switch back to Bee mode, and then explore the others worlds in the insect state.


Lazy squirrel is too lazy to collect his own nuts.

But first, we head back to Summer, smash the rock preventing the beaver from getting back into his cave, and then head to the same place in Autumn.  We can finally swim up the area and claim a couple of Notes and another Jiggy!  Only a couple more to go!  It seems like we can’t take our Bee form to the other seasons, so I have to rethink my strategy a bit.  We finish collecting acorns for the squirrel, and that gives us the 8th Jiggy, and one’s in the beehive.  I decided to investigate the one other suspicious area in the level, and after planting some eggs and watering it throughout the seasons, the plant blossomed and gave me the 9th Jiggy!


This huge flower had to be watered through each season, and took me forever to figure out.

Just the one in the beehive left!  And Jiggy was actually easy, once I realized I just had to kill all the attacking bees in the hive.  I was just so sure it had something to do with being a Bee, or that giant flower.  Looking in all the wrong places, I guess. Well, that’s it for Click Clock Wood.

I grabbed the last Jiggy from the Grunty Switch outside the level (had to stay in Bee form to fly up to it), and headed to the finale!  I opened a Note Door earlier in the same area as Click Clock Wood, so I figured that should be the next area.  It only needed 760 or something, but it feels good to have all 900.  I don’t know why I do these things to myself.


The final world has more in common with Mario Party than Donkey Kong Country.

It’s… a quiz show/board game?  Yea.  That’s exactly what it is.  What is this place?  It plays like a board game, forcing you to complete a challenge on each square as you make your path towards the end.  Squares have various challenges, like questions about visuals or audio from the game, little trivia bits about levels, questions about Grunty (to which her sister was providing answers throughout the game), or boss-rushes and mini-game challenges.  It’s totally nuts, and infuriating, but kinda awesome!  Also, Grunty is now a star player, and her poorly and hilariously-wrought rhymes pervade the whole thing.  It’s pretty trying, since it’s such an odd mixture of gameplay and obscure observation skills, but eventually we make it to the end… and don’t fight Grunty?  We just rescue Tooty, and Grunty says she’ll escape while we’re forced to sit through the credits.  That’s brilliant.


This crazy witch took a few tries, but we prevailed in the end!

In any case, once the credits are over, I decided to go check it out one more time.  This time, the board was wide open, and there was a passage into another area off to one side.  A Note Door barred our way, or would have if we didn’t already have all 800 Notes.  Through the pasageway up to a final area where we’re able to face down with Grunty and put and end to her mischief.  She’s a pretty intense boss with a number of forms, so it takes some time to finally kill her off, as I memorize each pattern and counter it.  She finally loses though, and we blast her out of the mountain and run off for a final credits sequence!  That’s it for Banjo-Kazooie, finally off the list!


Where’s Grunty? You see that rock on the bottom of the screen? Somewhere under there.



Sweet, now that we’re done Mad Monster Mansion, it’s off to… oh no.  RUSTY BUCKET BAY!!  Noooooooooooo!


This will lead us to the next world… eventually…

Rusty Bucket Bay is probably one of the more infuriating worlds I’ve ever played in a platform game.  It’s just mean.  And of course, before I can willingly subject myself to it, I’ve gotta figure out how to open it up.  I manage to open the gate behind Mad Monster Mansion and found a small house in behind it.  Banjo can’t get in though, so it’s back to Mumbo in the Mansion, and Pumpkin-Banjo lives again!  After sneaking into the house through a crack, I find a switch in a coffin in the shack.  Hitting it raises the water level in a previous area, and starts a search for the next switches.  After finding the rest of them to raise the water level the rest of the way, and activating another Cauldron for quick access, we head into the level.  God help us.


Pleasant, right? Almost picturesque.

One of the big reasons that Rusty Bucket Bay is such a pain is because the oily water uses up your air twice as fast when you’re swimming, and of course, a lot of switches and items are underwater.  You even lose breath from swimming on the surface of the water, and don’t regain any of your Breath points until you’ve been out of the water on dry land for several seconds.  We hopped around and collected some Notes and our first Jinjo of the lot, hidden underwater beneath a grate near the beginning of the level.  We continued to explore the perimeter, found a couple more Notes, and made the dumb mistake of jumping into a caged area to rescue another Jinjo.  We got the little guy, but there’s a shark prowling in the caged area, and we don’t have much time in the water before he snacks us down.

There was a hole in the wall that led to a secret area with a Honeycomb Piece, so that’s awesome, but still no exit.  The shark ended up lunching us to death once we came back out, so I guess that’s one way to escape that are?  Argh.  On the way back to where we were, though, I saw a window that looked out of place, so we smashed it and dropped to another area… with a Jiggy!  That’s one down!  Another few Notes, plus a 1-Up, and we exited through the water and swam to dry land.


How did that guy get over there?

As we continued circling the level from the outside, we found a toxic waste pit with another Jinjo trapped at the edge.  How do these little guys get themselves into these messes?  We grabbed him, despite crappy camera angles costing us some damage, and headed into a nearby storage container to grab some more Notes.  Other containers had another Jinjo and another 1-Up, so none of it was for waste, but at that point we hit a wall and had to go back.


Totally not-suspicious switch.

Back to the beginning of the level, we headed up the ramp onto the boat.  We have a few Jinjos, one Jiggy, and about a third of the Notes in the level already, so this is probably where the meat of the level lies.  I explored the upper decks first, grabbing some more Notes and finding a pipe to jump down.  Inside, there was a switch to change the speed of the rotors in another room, so I’m glad I hit this first.  We found a Jiggy at the very top of the ship, then jumped down the rest of the pipes on deck to see if there was anything below.  A few more Notes and a Jinjo later, and we’ve explored all the pipes, too.  I seem to be running out of places to look, but I notice a door in the bottom of one of the smoke stacks, and Beak Bash it open to find some more unexplored territory.


The guts of the ship. Oh, and did I mention that’s a bottomless pit beneath us?

Inside is the engine of the ship, and the reason I hit that propeller switch earlier.  Several sets of rotors and spinning platforms are all over this area, but I navigate through them an score my third Jiggy, along with another bunch of Notes.  Over 80 Notes now, but not even half the Jiggys.  Another switch reveals a Jiggy outside the ship on the other side of the engine (which will be a gigantic pain to get to), and I’m pretty sure a dolphin that we saw earlier, trapped by the anchor, has one.  We hit another propeller switch, and the engine stops completely… for a set time period.  Luckily, we have everything in this area, so we boot it out of the engine room and to the back of the boat, grabbing the Jiggy with seconds to spare.


I wonder if there’s an area that tells you what switches to hit? I just guessed and got lucky.

Trail and error net me my fifth Jiggy at the top of the ship, with a code-entry puzzle involving steam horns.  Every mistake costs a life point, but a few lucky guesses net me the proper combination and we claim the prize.  The angle also affords me a new view of a crane from earlier, and I see how I can use the ladder on it’s side to claim grab another Jiggy that’s been sitting in front of me for a while.  There’s still one area that I can’t seem to get to, but I’ll look for a way to move the anchor in the interim.

Some more poking around revealed that some of the portholes on the side of the ship were also breakable, so we explored another couple of rooms, nabbed ourselves another Jiggy and a Stop’n’Swap Egg, as well as some of the last of the Notes kicking around the level.  Some random exploring sticks me to a rope near the top of the ship, which I climb up to access the crane I’ve been missing.  From here, I can access the last Jinjo and it’s Jiggy, as well as a few more Notes, and I can open up the last area of the level.  Woot!


It’s a boss-in-a-box. Well, a bunch of them, I guess.

It’s a boss! Luckily, this box is kind of a pushover.  Three hits is all he takes before he splinters into two smaller boxes, which split into smaller boxes, etc.  It’s a little frantic, but we clear out all of the bits, and claim our ninth Jiggy!  But where’s the last one?  How do I help that dolphin?  And where are the four Notes that I’m still missing?  We continue to poke around the level, and although I think I’m looking for a Flight Pad, we end up finding the Grunty Switch for the level, so we’ll collect that Jiggy when we get back to the hub world.

I swam around the dolphin for a bit, and finally found that we could go inside the ship through the anchor hole.  Inside were a couple enemies, the last four Notes (that’s all 100 of them!), and a switch to bring up the anchor.  The dolphin leaves behind the last Jiggy, so we grab it and exit out of this awful level!  Finally!

We pick up the Jiggy from the Grunty Switch is Rusty Bucket Bay, and with the 33 Pieces we still have, we should have no problem unlocking another level… if we can find the platform.  Luckily, I unlocked a Note Door earlier right near here, but didn’t explore it too deeply.  Guess it’s time to do so!  It leads into a meadowed area, with the entrance to Click Clock Wood at the top.  We hit a switch to activate the Puzzle Platform needed to unlock the level, but it’s back at the beginning of the hub world.  Ugh.  Well, a couple of Cauldron teleports take us back to the beginning and we push the pieces into place, before teleporting back to the same room we were just in, now housing the entrance to the final(?) world.



YEA, one of the premier platformers of the generation!

Since I seem to be on a Rare(ware) kick, and still need to clear one more thing off of my backlog, I’m gonna pick Banjo-Kazooie back up and finish it off.  It’s been a while since I’ve played, but I know I’m already fairly far.  The game states I have 63 Jigsaws and 600 Notes, and tells me I’ve maxed out 5 of the 6 Worlds I have access to, missing 1 Jigsaw in Freezeezy Peak.  Let’s head there first and grab the one we’re missing!

Since I can’t remember any of the moves, or where to go, I ran around the overworld for a while getting my bearings, and figuring out why my Jigsaw total is wrong.  I forgot that you spend Jigsaw Pieces to unlock worlds, so 31 is my Jigsaw total, minus the ones I’ve spent to unlock various worlds.  It’s all making sense now, but I’m still missing a few!  I managed to find Grunty’s sister again, and confirmed the following about our evil hag opponent:

  • She wears a Flea Circus under her girdle
  • She brushes her teeth with Moudly Cheese-flavoured toothpaste
  • She washes her hair with rancid milk
  • She gets her clothes from Saggy Maggie’s Boutique
  • She was called Jelly Belly at school
  • Her favourite sport is Belly Barging
  • She attended St. Dungballs’s School
  • Her party trick is blowing up balloons with her butt
  • She sleeps in a dumpster
  • She won the biggest butt competition
  • She posed in her longjohns of the cover of Fat Hag Monthly
  • Her bedroom has smelly socks hanging from the ceiling
  • She has a loogie bush growing in a pot beside her bed
  • She has enormous streaky brown undies
  • She keeps a Dragon’s Foot in her pocket for luck
  • She cuddles her dirty undies in bed at night
  • Her broom is a Lardmaster 2000
  • She has rat bagels for breakfast
  • And dog dung burgers for dinner
  • Finishing with cockroaches and cream for desert
  • Her favourite pastime is flying radio-controlled bats
  • Greasy Grant was her first and only boyfriend
  • She used to have a greasy warthog for a pet

These will all factor in to a mini-game later, but for now they’re just fun lore.  I also found the Picture for Click Clock Wood, but no Jigsaw Platform to use in order to unlock it.  What the hell, Rare?  I eventually found my way to Freezeezy Peak, and searched around for the missing Jiggy.  It wasn’t too long before I found the Walrus at the start of the race section again.  He wanted another race, and it looked like I needed the Running Shoes ability in order to beat him.  Luckily, I picked that up in the last level, so after grabbing the Running Shoes we handily beat him in a race and collected the final Jiggy for this level.  Now I guess it’s back to figuring out where to go next?


Freezeezy Peak is COLD!

After pressing on past Freezeezy Peak, we ended up inside a volcano which contained the Puzzle for Gobi’s Valley.  I’ve already unlocked and beaten that one, so I guess we keep going?  I found a suspicious-looking graveyard area just beyond the Puzzle, but no open doors, so we headed back into the volcano and headed deeper into it, looking for the next Puzzle.  I hit a dead end, blocked by a tunnel that was too small for Banjo to fit through, so we headed back.  In the area prior to the volcano, I found a couple teleport cauldrons that hadn’t been activated yet and activated them, and also found a Note Door, asking for 450 Notes.  Luckily, I’ve got 600, so we pass through the door and head through a few small areas connected by underwater tunnels.  At the end, we finally find the Puzzle for Mad Monster Mansion, and throw some Jiggies at it to activate it.


Alright, next world unlocked!

We head back to the suspicious graveyard, which holds the entrance to the latest world, Mad Monster Mansion.  We’re greeted by a large, dilapidated house as we arrive in the level.  Some initial recon around the house give us a bunch of Notes, and upon inspection I find that we can break lit-up windows and enter rooms in the house.  After plundering the various rooms for a number of Notes, and a couple of Jinjos, we head through the Chimney and are confronted by a large green ghost… who’s sleeping on a Jiggy and a Flight pad.  We take care to maneuver to not touch the floor as we head to him, and we’re rewarded with our first Jiggy of the level, and a third of the notes already.

There was big hedge maze to our left as we entered the world, but I also remember seeing a cellar behind the house.  Leave no stone unturned and all that, so we head around back into the cellar.  There’s a ghost and a few Notes, but we also find another Stop’n’Swap Egg, a Jinjo, and another Jiggy hiding inside various barrels once we crack them open.  In a courtyard to the right of the haunted house, there a few Notes and another Jinjo, and behind the house there’s a strange shack with light coming out of it.  We collect the Notes from on top, then bash in the door and head inside.


Video Game Rule #3: Always check inside barrels

Inside, there’s a picture of Banjo and Kazooie on the floor, and a Jiggy in the center with what looks like an upside-down shot glass over top of it.  Around the border of the picture are a number of tiles, some with Grunty’s face, others with letters.  The shot glass talks to us and tells us it’s a puzzle, and when we jump on top of it a ghost appears.  At this point, we can surf around with the shot glass, and it looks like there’s enough letters on the tiles to spell BANJO KAZOOIE, so we surf around and light up the tiles to spell it out, avoiding the ghost.  We claim another Jiggy, and exit this shed.


Whatever drinking game this is modeled after, I like it!

Heading past the shed, we note another locked gate on our way and eventually end up at a well.  We grab the Notes and powerups from around the well before jumping in.  We collect another Jiggy and a bunch of Notes from inside before jumping out and heading back to the hedge maze from the beginning of the level.  Inside the maze, we find the last Jinjo (and the resulting Jiggy), as well as a few Notes and powerups, although we’re again blocked by a gate preventing us from exiting into another area.  Need to figure out how to unlock these.


Those ghosts are damn hard to avoid, too.

The maze is still kind of a dead end, with another gate blocking us from getting into another area with a large church and graveyard.  We find another way across from the roof of the haunted house, and collect the Notes on the roof of the church, as well as the Jiggy from the spire on top.  There are a bunch of pots in the graveyard, too, and once we drop some eggs into them, flowers bloom.  Of course, once we get flowers in all the pots we’re given another Jiggy.

There’s also access to one of Mumbo’s huts, so we jump in there and have him turn us into the new animal for this level.  It costs us 20 tokens, but he turns us into a… pumpkin?  The pumpkin form allows us to fit through tiny passages, and I think we’re supposed to use it inside of the haunted house… except that I lost a life somewhere, and all of the windows aren’t broken anymore.  Grr.  We do find a small drainpipe that we can fit down on the roof’s gutters, though, and it drops us onto another Jiggy and a few Notes in a small area I noticed.


Cutest pumpkin EVAR!

So we’re down to our last Jiggy, and I know exactly where it is.  It’s inside the church, but I’m not sure how to get in.  There’s a switch that opens the door for a limited time, and a pair of Running Shoes to get me there, but these gates are still in my way, and I’m stuck on getting rid of them.  That’s until, cursing myself for a fool, I try attacking one and knock it open.  Turns out there’s a lock on one side of the door, and if you attack the locked side it’ll open.  I’ve been doing this level the long way all along.  Kill me now.  In any case, I hit the switch, grab the Shoes, and dash into the church.


Seriously, worst organ player ever. Have some enthusiasm!

Inside, it was a giant-sized church, with ghosts haunting and a disembodied hand playing a tone-deaf organ.  After collecting the notes ,we talked to the hand and had to follow him along the keyboard, stomping the keys he played.  This was no game of Simon, though, we just followed him along and stomped the keys right after he finished playing.  We’re rewarded with our final Jiggy for the level, and after grabbing the last 4 Notes, we were clear and moving on!


Still in World 6, we hit up Misty Mine.  Again, I’m filled with trepidation that it’s a mine cart level, but it to be just another platforming run, and it falls with ease.  The next level however, Loopy Lights, almost gives me an aneurysm.  It’s using the lights-out gimmick again, but this time you have to hit switches to turn the lights back on.  With switch placement, deliberate stretches with no light, and enemies ready to kill you the first misstep, I lose more lives to this level than any before it.  Such rage…  Platform Perils isn’t bad, a level using moving platforms that fade out after a short period.  A few tight spots, but nothing that we can’t get through.  Necky’s Revenge is the boss, and it’s just an amped up re-hash of the earlier Necky boss.


Loopy Lights, you are infuriating. Thank god levels like you exist.

The final world, Gang Plank Galleon, is… oh, wait.  It’s just King K. Rool?  But he’s the last boss!  I thought there was a world to go with him!  Huh.  Well, I guess not!  He’s actually not that difficult either, and after sitting through his fake ending, designed to lure us into a false sense of security, we beat the last few hits out of him and clear the game.  That was… anti-climactic?  Oh whatever, it’s a 1994 platform game.  What am I expecting, Shakespeare?




Continuing into the snow-covered fourth world, we hit Slipslide Ride, which proved the first genuine challenge of the game.  Quite a few lives were lost to the slippery slopes and self-climbing ropes of the second level, which served as a reminder of how the difficulty in the game ratchets up as you hit the fourth world.  Ice Age Alley proved less of a challenge as a more traditional platform level, populated by tight jumping challenges and carefully placed enemies.  Croctopus Chase! ended up being an underwater chase level, and the slightly slower pace helped me blaze through it in one go, despite a few rough spots.  Torchlight Trouble, despite being the introduction of Animal Buddy Squarks the Parrot, was a piece of cake, so it was off to Rope Bridge Rumble.  It turned out to be a treetop level populated by jumping tires and BuzzBees, with a few Kremlings thrown in to mess you up.  A life or two claimed to jumping puzzles, but not as bad as the first level.  The boss, Really Gnawty Rampage, ended up being an amped-up version of the first world boss, and despite his new moves, his predictable patterns led to his downfall.


Those ropes proved tricker than most of the bosses in this game.

The fifth world, Kremkroc Industries Inc., fills me with fear.  I have a slight memory of this place being balls-difficult compared to earlier levels, but I guess we’ll jump in and see what’s happening.  Oil Drum Alley introduces it’s namesake, a flaming oil drum, with a fiendish series of jumping puzzles which end up getting the better of me a couple times.  Trick Track Trek ended up being a moving platform level, with a number of obstacles and enemies being dumped onto the platform with you.  Elevator Antics, despite it’s name, was only hanging rope puzzles for the first half of the level before the elevators came in.  I’m noticing an ongoing trend with vertical platforming in this world as well, which I’m not as good at.  Poison Pond was a step forward for the underwater levels as well, a tip-toe careful maze of enemies and buzzing blades ready to kill you the second you stray off-course.  Mine Cart Madness, the name of which sends a slight shiver of terror down my spine, surprisingly falls in one attempt!  I even accidentally jumped and missed the Checkpoint Barrel, so the last half of the level was sheer luck and nerves getting me through it.  Blackout Basement would be a fairly generic level, if it didn’t black out the screen for two seconds every two seconds.  The addition of limited visibility again turns this level into a creep-forward piece, filled with tight jumps and platforming guesswork.  Boss Dumb Drum was super-easy, just a gauntlet of regular enemies to kill with no twists.


Y’see that level? Neither can I. Welcome to Blackout Basement.

World six is Chimp Caverns.  I have a distinct memory in my head of a mine cart level that almost drove me to drink during this game.  I’m not sure if I’ve already passed it, but every time I see a ‘cave’ name level, I tense up.  Maybe it was Mine Cart Madness, and I already beat it through fluke?  The first level, Tanked Up Trouble, was a moving platform level with a twist, needing me to collect fuel power-ups to keep the platform moving.  The power-ups, of course, are in highly dangerous areas, but I manage to get through on my second time.  I’m seriously running low on lives now, too.  Manic Mincers uses more buzzsaws to create some tricky jumps, and they give you Rambi right at the beginning of the level.  He’s pretty useful in keeping ground enemies from killing you while you’re avoiding saws.



This blew up the eyeballs of every kid who booted it up in their SNES

Because I don’t know what’s good for me, I’m picking up Donkey Kong Country to play as a time-killer.  I just love me some platforming, and I’ve been getting this urge to play a DKC game.  I’ve beaten the first two with friends, but come to think of it, I don’t think I’ve ever actually beaten them by myself.  Now’s as good a time as any, I suppose.  Also, as the first 32-bit game for the SNES, it’s a little piece of history, and proved that the system still had some kick left in her.  Other 32-bit games would follow suit, and they were just one of the several technical marvels of it’s time the SNES was host to: true 3D implementation in StarFox, 32-bit games in Donkey Kong Country, and even fully voiced sections in later SA-1 chip games.

I’m always a little blown away by the graphics on this one.  I mean, this was Super Nintendo!  It didn’t have 3D graphics!  Those are sprites?  But they look like models!  This game was such an awesome technical achievement for it’s time, and the fact that it’s a kick-ass platformer with excellent level design only makes it better.  Also, the slightly irreverent sense of humour and attitude towards video gaming and the Donkey Kong franchise as a whole is a cherry on top, and Rare proves for the first time that they’re capable of taking a franchise, populating it with rich, fun characters, and pushing it out to a new generation.


3D sprites, weather effects, awesome level design… what’s not to love?

The first world, Kongo Jungle, falls with no problem at all.  That’s probably because I’ve started this game a dozen times only to have it fall by the wayside before the third world.  Still, it’s fun to play through, and see how many of the secrets I remember from previous runs.  The colors and sprites remain lush and fluid, and the soundtrack continues to kick ass, so the first bunch of levels are a romping jive of speedrun as I whip through them.  No deaths though, and I took the opportunity to stock up on lives for later areas.  We also meet Rambi and Enguarde for the first time, and do an Expresso bonus level for a bunch of lives.


Some of the best underwater levels EVER

The second world, Monkey Mines, starts to offer a few challenges, pushing some minecart levels that basically require memorization.  I died once on Mine Cart Carnage!, but recovered handily and finished the rest of the level without issue.  The next level went down easy, but it’s the Stop & Go Station that always throws me.  Like the Eel in Jolly Roger Bay in Mario 64, I seem to have a deep-seated fear of this level.  I don’t know what it is, maybe the mindless rampage of the enemies, or their indestructible nature, but this level gives me the willies.  We burn through it, but I’m screaming inside the whole time.  Millstone Mayhem is much easier, and we manage to pick up a third Enguarde token and grab another 10 lives from his bonus stage.  The world boss, Necky, is a giant buzzard that spits nuts at us.  He kills us once before I cotton to his pattern, but the next time we burn him without getting hit.


Millstone Mayhem gets a little hairy towards the end, but Winky’s there to help us!

The third world, Vine Valley, is where the difficult starts to ratchet up.  Now that we’re getting into the meat of the game, it’s fair to start throwing some tricky levels at us, and force us to think our way around them.  Vulture Culture chucks a bunch of blast barrel puzzles our way, but we manage to get around them and even score the KONG letters, some of which are hidden in secret areas.  Tree Top Town gives more blast barrels, but we miss getting both the complete KONG letters and Winky!  How did we miss Winky?  Forest Frenzy uses rope as it’s primary mechanic, making us scoot up and down a rope that’s constantly moving forward to avoid various flying enemies, and Diddy, being faster, is way better at it then DK.  Temple Tempest brings us back to Millstone Mayhem from World 2, but these millstones are after you!  We burn through the level, losing a life, but making it to the end without too much trouble.  Orang-utan Gang heads back to the treetops, and introduces some mean barrel-throwing monkeys, but not before it gives us the keys to the Ostrich!  Expresso rules this level, and once on his back it’s a quick run to the end of the level.  Clam City! is a typical water level, but with a lot more focus on avoiding attacks from enemies.  We managed to score a third Winky token, though, and grab a bunch of lives in his bonus stage.  The world’s boss, Bumble B Rumble, is a giant bee that we have take out.  Luckily, the level provides us with barrels to throw, but we still have to avoid it’s erratic attack patterns long enough to kill it.  We manage it one go, though, so it’s off to the next world!


Please don’t cut this rope…

Gorilla Glacier is the fourth world, and surprise surprise, it’s all snow and ice.  Despite the whole mechanic of ice messing with mobility being a little bit tired, it trains your platforming to be more precise by necessity  getting you ready for the later worlds.  Snow Barrel Blast starts us off on the wrong foot immediately, killing us three times with between sliding on ice and barrel blasting into enemies.  Guess we’ve gotta take this one a bit slower… what was I saying about precision platforming?  It takes a few tries to get through the blast barrel section at the end, with the fast barrel rotation and quick enemies heightening the tension, but we manage to make it through in the end.


On Planet Jasindu, it’s more bad news.  Captain Slag’s Space Pirates are attacking Kerchu City, and if we don’t hurry, they’ll get to the Dimensionator first!  But first, there’s a hidden gel facility on the planet, so we’re going to explore that first.


It’s kind of nice to occasionally have an area dedicated to a specific gadget puzzle. Helps to mix it up.

The facility is pretty straight-forward, just a number of environmental puzzles utilizing the Gelatinator, a puzzle device we’ve used before.  There’s a bunch of bolts and some experience in it for us, but we also get an add-on to boost box-bursting and pickup range.  Once we’re done that, it’s just a straightforward play until the boss at the end, who’s kind of a pain in the ass.  There’s a long rail-grinding section before you fight him, and every time you die you have to do the whole thing over again.  I know, seventh-generation problems, but you just expect more checkpoints in modern games.  Then again, R&C has a history of being  a little unforgiving on checkpoints.


Grinding always makes me want to play Sonic…

We finally find the Dimensionator once we beat the boss, only to have it stolen immediately by Captain Slag.  Charting their trajectory points us to the rest of Slag’s fleet in the Ublik Passage, so that’s where we’re headed next.  Security’s sure to be tight, so we’re gonna work on getting the last of our weapons up to Lv. 5 for the last boss.  Jasindu’s all robot-y, gears and wire mesh everywhere, and the enemies are tough as balls.  Many deaths were registered on this planet as I developed strategies to deal with problem areas.

Lots of mini-bosses attacked, too, and while they give awesome experience to a weapon, I really hate running out of ammo fighting a miniboss and then having to take down a hoard of small attackers.  There are no small attackers in this level, so the pressure is on.

After a while, we hop on a floating ship and have to fight a couple ‘naval’ battles by destroying enemy ship’s cannons, easier said than done while dodging all sorts of incoming fire.  After a few more pirate jigs to get through some doors, and a whole bunch more exploding pirate robots, we finally get to Slag’s ship.  He challenges us, in true pirate style, and we whip out the big guns and blow him up.  Rusty Pete, the Captain’s right-hand er… robot… tells Ratchet that since he killed the Captain, he’s the new Captain!  Woot!  We have an armada!


Arr, prepare for boarding me hearties!

Before Ratchet can grab the Dimensionator, though, Qwark burst in and snags it!  He says he’s heading off to hurl it into a black hole, jumps into an escape pod, and unwittingly blasts off to Planet Reepor, the Cragmite home world.  Of course.  We have to drop into the planet, so there’s no way out of this one!

After another HALO jump, it just wave after wave of enemies for like 10 straight minutes.  They’re throwing the kitchen sink at us, and while we manage to avoid dying during the rush, we also get 2 more weapons up to Lv. 5!  All right!  We head inside and turn a couple of switches, opening the route into the deepest part of the level and allowing another swarm of enemies into our defensive area.  Another weapon gets a level, and although we don’t have much further to go in the game, I’m pretty sure it’ll come in handy.

After lasering our way into another building, we confront Tachyon, who has Qwark by the throat.  Tachyon activates the Dimensionator and pulls the Cragmites in from whatever dimension they’re trapped in.  Ratchet is knocked out by an explosion, and despite Clank’s best efforts, he falls down to the planet below before Clank jumps in after him.


Lots of bad guys on the bad guy home planet. Go figure.

Another Clank solo segment, and this time there are way more enemies to contend with.  Luckily, we pick up Zoni rather quickly and then it’s just another platforming segment with occasional puzzles.  Once Clank makes it back to the ship, it’s time for Ratchet to have his own solo area.  It’s weird not having Clank to amp up my jumping, but beyond that it’s a fairly typical area.  Lots of enemies, tons of bolts, and this time they’re not playing around.  I fall into something of a pattern for killing Cragmites, mostly based on using the Mag-Net Launcher to immobilize and damage them while I pump some rounds into their faces.  Seriously, a new weapon this late in the game?  Use it all you can, I guess.

Once we return to the ship, Ratchet and Clank meet up again and share a brief moment of bromance, before their spaceship warns them that the Cragmites are attacking Miridian City, the last non-Cragmite capital city in this quadrant.  We’re headed off to Planet Igliak, where we hope to stop Tachyon once and for all!

Miridian City is similar to the first area of the game, a bustling city that makes no sense, and now crawling with elite Cragmite soldiers.  Man, all of these guys take serious ammo to defeat, so we’re stopping at every weapon vendor we come across to stock up.  I tried using weapons that would generate Raritanium, too, but in the end it was about taking out enemies fast, and if that could be done from a distance, so be it.  After the final return of the Decryptor SixAxis puzzle, we’re faced with a some very close-quarters combat with fully-grown Cragmites who are, no doubt, protecting their boss.


Flying should not be this frustrating!

We had to head through another GyroCycle area first, though, and found out the GyroCycle can run over baby Cragmites for damage.  I’d tell them to get out of the way, but frankly they’re gross and I can use the bolts.  After crossing a couple extremely unsafe bridges through a construction zone, we have to do another RoboWings section, a flying part that uses, again, SixAxis.  I’m really hoping they dropped most of this SixAxis nonsense in Quest for Booty.

After a final crunch of enemies, we find Qwark locked in a closet, crying to himself.  He has no idea where Tachyon’s gone, but Clank remembers the Zoni told him that he’d be found on Planet Fastoon, the ancient homeworld of the Lombax.

Another HALO jump with the robo-cronies, and it’s time to take out some turrets.  And some enemies.  Sorry, did I say some?  I meant ALL!  Wave after wave of enemies crash into us, and since this if the last level (for reals this time) they’ve got nothing to lose.  Every combination of enemies, from shields to spiders, teleporters and tanks, everyone was in this one.  It was actually a lot of fun, but pretty crazy for a while there.  A few deaths, and even more close calls, but eventually we knocked out the cannons and Talywn could come in for a landing.


The Mag-Nets are actually really helpful, despite how clumsy they look.

More enemy waves, and although I have allies to help me blast through them, it’s a long siege situation.  Talwyn’s working on hacking the bridge so we can head after Tachyon, so the rest of us are stuck protecting her.  It’s a thankless job, but somebody’s gotta do it, and the pay’s not bad.  Tachyon shows up to taunt us, and from there it was a hard press forward.  Talwyn’s robots with with us, and were pretty helpful, actually.  Even the little bit of extra damage they do is advantageous, and the faster we kill these enemies, the less time they have to kill me.  After cranking a skybridge so we could get across, we restocked our weapons and went in to beat Tachyon.

Tachyon opens a portal to where the rest of the Lombaxs are and offers Ratchet the chance to run away and be with his people.  After a little soul-searching, Ratchet decides to stay, of course, and Tachyon jumps down to end our association.  He has two forms, of course.  The first is a robot in a circular arena, which spits out lots of death: missiles, bullets, small enemies, all sorts of stuff.  Fortunately, it’s actually pretty easy to just keep running in one direction around it and kill it off.  I used crappy weapons to do this part, so I’d have the big stuff for later.


Once we had him down a quarter of his life, the Dimensionator started malfunctioning, and frustrated, Tachyon attempted to fix it by hitting it.  The device responded by creating a portal and sucking Tachyon inside.  Despite Ratchet’s insistence that he couldn’t possibly reach back and grab him in the most cliche way possible, it happens, and our duo are sucked into a chunk of rock in an asteroid field with Tachyon.  He’s not happy with us, but now we’re in free-roam mode and we’re done messing around.

It takes a couple of tries to learn his patterns, and each time you restart you have to beat his first form again, but on the third try we manage to avoid his attacks long enough to take him down.  After we trash his weapon suit, Tachyon gives us a last threat and is sucked into another portal as the asteroid collapses.  We grab the Dimensionator and manage to warp back home.



While Qwark proves he’ll never make a decent pirate, or anything besides a giant ham, Ratchet ponders his purpose and existence in the wake of Tachyon’s revelation that he knew his father.  Clank reassures his friend that his purpose is already fulfilled by stopping Tachyon.  Suddenly a portal opens in the air and the Zoni appear, picking Clank up and rushing him towards the portal with talk of finding his purpose.  Ratchet can’t stop them, and as Clank disappears, we’re treated to… the credits.  Wow, way to go on the cliffhanger, Insomniac.  Now I have to play Quest for Booty, you bastards!



It’s *really* pretty.

So… I bought a 3DS. XL.

I didn’t really mean to, but I’d recently made the decision to get one at some point in the future, and then I had a long, exhausting day. And realized I hadn’t bought a new toy since my tablet over a year ago.  And I’m gonna get it anyway, right?

I’m also kinda against the idea of making portable gaming big.  I mean, pocket-sized has always been the way to go.  Original GameBoy excluded, but it was back in the 90’s and people had baggy pockets.  So I’ve scoffed at the Vita, and waited for the slimmed-down redesigns of all my other portable devices.  The idea of picking up an extra-large portable gaming device just doesn’t do it for me, but I’ve basically decided that I have to get one at some point, because games.  Not many games, not yet, but you know it’s going to have it’s gems.  And this is, technically, the slimmed-down redesign, even if it is in extra-large size.

So yea, picked one up, and frankly it’s gorgeous.  Ed’s sister has an original-flavour 3DS, and it’s okay, but it just feels like a DS Lite/DSi.  The 3D screen is pretty awesome, but it doesn’t really do it for me.  But this XL shit is slick.  The bigger screens totally make the 3D worthwhile, it’s the design is all tapered and pretty.  It’s a nice piece of hardware, a bit of the heavy side, but now I can tell people I’m working out and playing video games at the same time!  I didn’t actually buy any games for it, I’m just going to borrow for a while.


I’ve started with Super Mario 3D Land, ’cause why not?  I’ve never met a Mario game I haven’t liked, and that includes Mario Sunshine.  It’s just platforming done right.  This one’s a weird combination of styles, but I’m really enjoying it so far.  It’s open and 3D, more akin to Mario Galaxy or Mario 64 than the 2D New Super Mario, but is much more straightforward and uses guided level designs instead of the open world that other 3D Mario games employ.  It feels a little like playing a 2D Mario game in 3D (in 3D)!

Also, it hearkens back to Super Mario Bros 3.  A lot.  The clincher of the game is the return of the Tanooki Suit and the Leaf power-up.  Previous games have given us back Fire Flowers and Mushrooms, even Yoshi, but this is the first time any of the flying power-ups have made a comeback.  You can’t actually fly with them, mind you, but it significantly slows your descent while jumping and lets you swing your tail in a 360-degree attack.  The 3D aspect seems a bit gimmicky at times but other times it really helps to judge distance and position, so I’m playing with it cranked all the way up.  Music and aesthetics from Mario 3 make various returns as well, everything from level themes to Note Blocks.

As far as the story goes, it’s a Mario game. Bowser’s kidnapped Peach, and he’s stolen all the power-up leafs from the Tanooki tree as well.  He’s using them to power up his armies, and we can’t have that.  Mario jumps into action!


It’s seriously pulling nostalgia-cred.

The first few levels serve more as a tutorial, being extremely easy to navigate and beat, but they really help to get the game’s intention across.  This will be a three-dimensional world, but will remain a guided experience a la the 2D Mario games.  The Tanooki suit is fun to play around with, though, and the Fire Flower returns too, so add a couple heaping scoops of nostalgia on, and we’ve got a pretty awesome Mario game.  Also, Star Coins from New Super Mario Bros make a return, adding a touch of the old collect-a-thon nostalgia, and a bit of a challenge for the completionists.  I’m gonna try and get them, but not going out of my mind to find them.

It’s weird how Mario games can do the same stuff over and over, but it still feels fresh and different.  I guess that’s the joy of platformers, you can reuse the same sprites over and over again, but as long as you do something different, it’s a whole new level.  While the first level echoes bits of Mario 3 and Mario 64, the second level takes you below ground in a nod to Mario 1.  Back in a grey-blue block area, with the underworld theme playing, and it’s kind of awesome.

3D Land keeps a few more things from New Super Mario Bros, and conversely from Mario 3, like Mushroom Houses and bonus levels along the world map.  Level 1-4 is only unlockable if you have the requisite amount of Star Coins from previous levels, which provides a nice incentive for collecting as many as possible.  The castle at the end of the world is straight out of Mario 64 (Bowser in the Fire Sea), and we thrash lizard-butt Bowser in the most old-school way possible: by avoiding his jumps and hitting a switch at the end that takes out the bridge he’s standing on.  I want to replay every Mario game now.  Thanks, Nintendo.


There’s even a toad on the other side of this bridge.

Updates might be a little sparse on this one, since being a portable platformer lends itself well to running a level while waiting for something else, but I’ll do my best to stay on top of it.


Once we set down on Rykan V, we’re immediately thrown into Tower Defense mode.  Talwyn’s two robot companions are with us, but it’s basically 10 minutes of enemy dropships tossing enemies at us, and us just wreaking unholy hell with every weapon we have.  Which is kinda what the R&C series is about, really.  Once we blow up all the bots, and take our the turrets, we make it to the Rykan V spaceport.  And who’s waiting there, but our old buddy the Smuggler.  Apparently Tachyon has locked down the whole planet, but he has a Gyro-Cycle he’s willing to sell us… for a price.  Dammit, I was saving up for new armor!  Oh well.  We pay his price and hop on the cycle, which is basically just a platforming section on wheels.


Security is really high at Rykan V’s launch pads.

Once we touch down at the point where the coordinates from the Lombax artifact point, we’re treated to a video from the ancient Lombax’s describing the Dimensionator, the weapon they used to stop the Cragmites.  It’s some kind of inter-dimensional space-hat-thing, but it’s not here.  We have to head to Planet Sargasso to get the unit itself, which is where the Lombax’s training facility is.  There’s not really anything left to do here, so it’s off to Sargasso, and plot points!

Planet Sargasso is primordial-themed, a bit swampy place with dinosaur-ish stuff running around all over the place.  And bugs.  Lots of bugs.  We run into the Smuggler almost right away, and lets us know that he has a Decryptor to unlock a bunch of pads around this planet.  On the plus side, he wants Leviathan Souls for it, so I’ll be able to keep saving for the armor.  There are Leviathans everywhere on this planet, probably twelve or more total, so it shouldn’t be too difficult.  The Leviathans are in new bodies again, like they are on every planet, this time in big horned T-Rex lookin’ bodies.  No life bar this time, either, so we just whip out every weapon we have and whomp away at them.  After collecting three, we use them to purchase the Decryptor from the Smuggler and use it on the launch pad.


The new Leviathans are dinosaurs… okay, sure. Let’s kill ’em.

Another friggin’ Sixaxis sequence?  Seriously.  It’s a plane puzzle, the kind where you roll a marble through a maze by tilting the floor.  There’s a bit more to it, but that’s the gist, and it’s not difficult, just irritating.  Once we unlock the launch pad, it’s a Robowing flying sequence… which is also controlled by tilting the Sixaxis.  Alright, Insomniac, stop showing off!  We make it to the location of the training facility, and after busting our way in we meet up with the inventor from the previous games (who almost doesn’t recognize us in high definition.  Meta).  He says there’s no planet-disintegrating ray anywhere around, but the Dimensionator exists.  So it’s not a zappy weapon?  Who knows?  He flushes himself down his giant toilet (that is, inter-planetary transport system), and we get a call from Qwark telling us to come back to the arena on Murkow immediately. We also get a message from Talwyn, saying that she thinks she’s been followed, and feels like somethings near.  She’s pretty capable though, so we run around killing Leviathans for a while, making a metric assload of bolts in the process.  Enough to buy the Helios Armour (woo-hoo!) with 100000 to spare.  This planet is very, very good for grinding resources.  Note to self.

Back on Murkow, we head into the arean and take down a bunch of baddies followed by a boss.  Qwark gives us a space pirate disguise for winning the arena fight, and shows us a video found in Emperor Tachyon’s underwear drawer.  It’s a trivia cube, talking about the IRIS supercomputer which acted as the galaxy’s search engine.  It was once open for use to the public, but now it resides deep in Space Pirate territory.  So it looks like we’re heading back after to Captain Slag’s pirate gang, but at least we have a disguise this time?  We leave the arena and head for the Kreeli Comet.


Nice place for a filthy space-pirate den!

The Comet is an ice level, with tons of space pirates running around.  It looks like the pirates have completely taken over the complex, so I guess we’re going to have to sneak past them.  The pirate disguise is actually pretty cute, and lets us walk by the enemies without trouble.  When we get to a pirate door (which I also saw on the previous pirate level… a Gold Bolt area, maybe?) we have to play a dancing mini-game to get past the door.  I didn’t realize that there were disco-jig pirates, but maybe they like the electronica aspect because they’re robots?  Hilarious.  The level is pretty long, but it’s basically a straight line with a bunch of enemies.  We bought a new weapon, a flamethrower with crazy-high attack power, so that’s fun too.  Eventually we get to the IRIS computer, but it’s broken and we have to send Clank inside to fix it.

Clank’s levels, which I completely forgot existed in this game, are similar to the ones in previous games where you’re controlling drones that follow you.  The drones, in this case, being the Zoni, those little mysterious robot fairies that only Clank can see.  They’ve shown up a few times and dropped major information and glimpses of the future on Clank, so they’re okay in my book!  The level itself is pretty short, nothing too complex, and we managed to repair IRIS, but the Zoni show that Talwyn has been captured and is being held at Zordoom Prison.


Adorable, if a little creepy, Zoni

IRIS tells us that the Lombax’s finished the Cragmites by sending them to another dimension (while footage from R&C1 plays on background monitors… weird).  This explorer guy we keep hearing about, Max Apogee (Talwyn’s dad) apparently found the Dimensionator, and moved it to Kerchu City.  Ratchet wants to head there immediately, but Clank tells him about Talwyn.  Ratchet doesn’t believe him, but it looks like we’re heading there anyway.  We head to the Planet Viceron, which holds Tachyon’s personal prison, Zordoom.


Artist’s (Qwark’s) rending of Zordoon Prison

It’s a pretty typical prison area, lots of corridors and tons of enemies.  A lot of my arsenal is hitting Lv.5 now, so I’m trying to switch it up and finish leveling up the last of it.  We have go over a grind rail into a series of tunnels and platforms.  There’re spotlights everywhere to avoid, too, which look like they’ll trigger some large enemies if tripped.  I wouldn’t know, I managed to avoid them all.  We have to use the decryptor to open a number of doors and the challenges are getting harder, but I found a trick they built in to make the challenges easier, so that’s nice.

Once we get past all the external security and get into the prison proper, we have to jump down an elevator shaft and maneuver through a laser grid system.  And how do we control ourselves in freefall?  The same way we have in all the previous sections, of course: Sixaxis.  I really hope that the fascination with this control scheme ends in this game.

Once in the bottom of the prison, we collect a Gold Bolt that’s just lying around, and then free Talwyn.  Once she’s free, we have to fight our way out of the whole prison in one go, and now that all the super-security bots are awake it’s no easy feat.  After a few tries I managed to make it past all the baddies and got to the checkpoints, and despite some heavy resistance we made it to the taxi and back to our ship.


Space sequences are getting better, too

We take off for Planet Jasindu, where Kerchu City is.  We have to go through another spaceship battle to get there, though, and this one works a bit better than the last.  Maybe I’m just getting used to the dual-stick controls, but we collect a whole lot of bolts and a skill point, too.  Once we trash the pirate’s outpost outside Jasindu and beat their boss, we head down to the planet and clock out for the night.



Right, so after (finally) beating .hack, I feel the need to clear a couple more games off my backlog before moving onto new stuff.  I quickly perused my Backloggery for games with minimal storyline that I could just pick up and play.  A few Platformers were on the list, but this one really stuck out, ’cause it’s another series that I’ve really enjoyed over the course of it’s life.  I’ve had it forever, only played it a few times, and stopped for no particular reason.  And I can just pop in, kill a bunch of enemies, and beat a world.  It’s perfect.

I don’t remember most of the story, but a quick perusal of Wikipedia and Youtube are enough to catch me up.  Emperor Percival Tachyon of the Cragmite Empire is trying to wipe out Ratchet, the last Lombax in the universe.  The Cragmites, at one time, swarmed the galaxy conquering everything in their path, but the Lombax stopped them cold, apparently with some sort of weapon that vaporized the Cragmite’s homeworld.  Our ‘old friend’ Captain Qwark is cowardly sleazing with Tachyon as well, or as he puts it, “working deep undercover”.


Cragmites: Ridiculous Creatures

I started out on Planet Murkow, where the Imperial Fight Festival was going on.  Well, it’s as good a training as I’m going to get, so we jump into the area and die several times trying to get the hang of 3rd-person shooting.  It’s been a long time.  And why is there no dodge button?  Oh well.  Once we finally kick out the last of the enemies, Qwark gives us a short recap of how he came to be working for… er, that is, working undercover against Tachyon, and gives us a holocron with new information on it as our prize for winning the Festival.  Once we get back to the ship, we play the disc and see what’s up.


Planet Murkow’s “amusement park”

It’s an advertisement, of course, to join up with Tachyon’s army and take over the universe.  Between talking about health plans and salaries, Tachyon mentions that if we join up now, we can help with the assault on the space station in the Nundac Asteroid Ring later today.  He’s sure the Lombax Secret is on that station, so we punch the coordinates into our ship and jump, hoping to beat his army there.

The asteriod ring is a little barren, but we meet up with the Smuggler and his parrot, whom I vaguely remember running into earlier in the game.  Particularly the parrot.  He has the launch codes to get us into the space station, but he wants Leviathan Souls in exchange for it.  Luckily there’s lots of the flying beasties around and we go on a merry romp through asteroid field, using teleport guns and jump platforms to get to different areas, and lots and lots of ammo to take down the Leviathans.  I manage to level up a couple weapons as well, so a good time is had by all.  Once we have all the Souls I feel like collecting (about 4 more than we need), we head back and cash in at the Smuggler.  He gives us the launch code, and we head off to the station.


Crazy space sea monsters! The Leviathans.

The shuttle lands us at a maintenance area, so we have to go through a long platforming section with many pits, laser beams, and jumping puzzles.  It’s pretty fun, although the collision detection is a little sloppy and causes a couple deaths after I jump through platforms and stuff.  Oh well.  Once we finally get inside the station we’re forced to deal with it’s multitude of defense guns and robot armies, and two elderly robots calling us “whippersnapper” over the PA.  Have I mentioned how much I love R&C’s humor?  It’s a winner.  It’s a tough push forward, but after re-discovering the ‘Strafe’ button on the controller, I get a lot more capable and we blast our way into the inner sanctum.  There, we’re correctly identified as a Lombax by the Station’s current owner, a girl named Talwyn.  She doesn’t know why Tachyon would think the Lombax Secret is here, but her father was an adventurer and treasure-hunter who once brought back a Lombax artifact.  It’s gone now, though, taken by pirates in a raid a while ago.  The Smuggler mentioned some pirates near here, though, so after Talwyn and her elderly caretakers depart, we head back into our ship and fly off to Planet Ardolis.

Ardolis is the stronghold of Captain Slag and his scurvy crew of pirates.  Space pirates.  Robot space pirates.  It’s pretty fun, and like all of the levels, looks gorgeous.  The best part is the soundtrack though, which liberally rips off the theme from Pirates of the Caribbean and works it into a swashbuckling rendition while storming the fortress.  We pick up a new weapon from a vendor, the Tornado Launcher, which is powerful but uses the Sixaxis controller to control it.  That’s like, the sixth thing in this game that’s been controlled by Sixaxis.  Insomniac, STAHP!  Once we get into the treasure room, we find the Lombax artifact (although we have no idea what it is) just in time for the pirate leader to find us.  We escape in a smoke blast, but have to fight our way through bands of pirates once the alarm is raised.  We eventually make it to Talwyn, who grabbed the artifact, and manage to accidentally activate it.  It’s a map, showing the planet Rykan V in the Verdigris Sector.  I wonder if all of the sectors are color puns?


It’s no Starfox, but it breaks up the game nicely.

As we hit the Rykan system, we’re pulled into a space battle with Slag and his pirates.  It starts as a turret-shooting section, but before long it hands over control of the ship and we have to cruise around the red-hot Rykan planet, knocking Slag’s goons off our tail.  It’s not a bad sequence, but the controls feel a little floaty, just like the rest of the game.  Once we take out a boss in a sequence that was way too easy (and drawn-out), we drop down to the planet’s surface and quit for the day.