Worked on Planitia. I now have two different computers (as opposed to client and server on the same computer) connecting and swapping data. They are playing a multiplayer game! The only problem is that they are not playing the same game. I’ve got synchronization problems, but I knew I was going to, and I’m pretty sure I know how to fix it. Fortunately Planitia is much, much simpler a game than most.

Played Castle Crashers. If you’ve got an Xbox and you don’t have this game, fix that. The game is just a purely fun side-scrolling beat-em-up (remember those?) with RPG elements on, and it’s exponentially more fun the more people you get playing. It also has that one brilliant design decision that makes for superior games…something that other games don’t do but seems completely obvious once a game does it. And that something is that gold, weapons, and pets are shared between the characters on your account. So if you start a new character, you’ll be able to buy all the potions, sandviches, and bombs that you need. You’ll also be able to immediately switch out your starter weapon for something better and pick up a pet, one of which helps you level up faster. My god! It’s like they actually asked themselves, “How can we make it less tedious and more fun for players to level up multiple characters?”

Of course, you can also shine levelling up multiple characters and just put all your time into one…which Megan did, getting to level 45 over the weekend. Of course, even with maxed-out strength and defense, Insane Mode is still kicking her butt.

And finally, played Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus. I’d heard about these games but I’d never tried them out.

(See, I just don’t get this. Why didn’t I? I was all over the Jak & Daxter and Ratchet & Clank series of games like white on rice…why didn’t I get into Sly before now? I can’t explain it. Sucker Punch should be right up there with Insomniac and Naughty Dog…but they aren’t. I mean, the games were successful enough to merit sequels and the company is still going, but they weren’t the huge breakout successes they deserved to be, in my opinion. It doesn’t help that their first game, Rocket: Robot on Wheels, was one of the best platformers for the Nintendo 64…and nobody ever heard of it.)

Anyway, the game has a great style with some interesting characters. Sly’s a thief, but he only steals from criminals (claiming that it’s too easy to steal from regular folk). When Sly was a kid, his family was attacked by a group of criminals called the Fiendish Five, who stole the Thievius Raccoonus, the book Sly’s family had recorded all their thieving techniques in. The Fiendish Five split the book up into five parts and now Sly, all grown up, wants to get them back.

Which is just an excuse for some very smart platforming and collecting. While I was initially annoyed that Sly is a one-hit wonder (no hitpoints – one hit kills him) I was then gratified to see the game immediately move to mitigate this. Collecting one hundred coins gives Sly a “lucky charm”, which will allow him to get out of one jam – and it will even allow him to recover from falling into water or off the level, something I’ve never seen a game do before. There are also places where you can simply pick up lucky charms, and you can store up to two of them, effectively giving Sly three hitpoints. If you’re having trouble with a certain segment of the game, the game will start spawning Sly with a lucky charm on him – a good idea.

Plus, in the second world (of five) you can find a page of the Thievius Raccooonus that allows Sly to fall into water without losing a lucky charm, making him even more durable. So they do a good job of making Sly appear initially weak so that the player understands that this is a sneaking game, but then almost immediately mitigate his weakness so that things aren’t too hard.

Complaints? Well…the jumping seems a little “floaty”. Sometimes Sly will kind of hover in midair while the game seems to decide his fate. About half the time this actually works in the player’s favor but it doesn’t really make me feel like I’m in control of him. And it’s a bit of a shame since the control is tight otherwise. Also, the camera controls are backwards from what I’m used to and you can’t swap them, you just have to get used to them.

Still, that hasn’t prevented me from enjoying the game. I’m on the third world now, and things are toughening up – and getting kind of creepy, since the boss here is a big fat green voodoo priestess. I’m looking forward to finishing the game and moving on to Sly 2…and I need to find a copy of Sly 3 somewhere.