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pierrot
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by pierrot Sat Feb 08, 2020 3:26 pm

Note wrote:7. Shenmue II (Sega Dreamcast)

Nice! It's hard to say what the exact cause was, for me, but after I played the PAL version of Shenmue II, back in 2002, my Dreamcast pretty much stopped being able to read GD-ROMs. I sort of blamed it on the boot disc I was using to bypass the region protection, but I had also put many, many, many hours into PSO, and SoA on it. FWIW, I recently played through the Japanese version (bought brand new) on a used JP console, that's given me quite a lot of years and hours of service, at this point, with no issues.

I remember really liking the fourth disc when I first played Shenmue II, but replaying it recently, I was kind of blown away by it. I really love Kowloon, as well, but Disc 4 was both really unique, and really special. I already kind of miss that Shenhua.


Note wrote:I like that the creators set up the story to be a trilogy from the get go.

So, do you mean the "trilogy" of chapters in Shenmue II? Because if not, I feel like you should really know that the series was never meant to be a trilogy, and
Shenmue III isn't the end of the series.
The plan for Shenmue has shifted a lot since its inception. I believe at first, when it was Virtua Fighter RPG, it was going to be a less "FREE" experience on the Saturn, and when it shifted to development for the Dreamcast, it was planned to be a game released in two parts (the first half, and the second half). Sega got impatient with the development, though, and AM2 was pretty much forced to release what they had in installments, with the Shenmue I & II that we got comprising mostly the first 2 chapters of the 11 that were originally planned. Disc 4 of Shenmue II is actually from a later chapter, in the middle of the story.

As it stands the end of Shenmue III puts the story roughly
where part 1 of the original two-part story probably would have ended.

I've kind of been wondering recently how they were even intending to release something that probably would have been Shenmue II x3, on anything fewer than 12 GD-ROMs. :lol: Then do it again for a part 2.
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by Note Sat Feb 08, 2020 4:36 pm

pierrot wrote:Nice! It's hard to say what the exact cause was, for me, but after I played the PAL version of Shenmue II, back in 2002, my Dreamcast pretty much stopped being able to read GD-ROMs. I sort of blamed it on the boot disc I was using to bypass the region protection, but I had also put many, many, many hours into PSO, and SoA on it. FWIW, I recently played through the Japanese version (bought brand new) on a used JP console, that's given me quite a lot of years and hours of service, at this point, with no issues.

I remember really liking the fourth disc when I first played Shenmue II, but replaying it recently, I was kind of blown away by it. I really love Kowloon, as well, but Disc 4 was both really unique, and really special. I already kind of miss that Shenhua.


Yeah, I wish I had another Dreamcast so I could have tested out Disc 3 on another console. Luckily, I clocked all my PSO hours on my Gamecube, which I think has helped the life of my Dreamcast. However, I have not played Skies of Arcadia yet! It's been on my to get list for years but I haven't run into it at any local shops -- maybe later this year or next I will just go the online route.

Disc 4 is pretty amazing. I really like the setting and totally agree that it's very memorable. Shenhua is an awesome character, I look forward to learning more of her story in the next release. The setting in Disc 4 alone got me interested in the third game.

pierrot wrote:So, do you mean the "trilogy" of chapters in Shenmue II? Because if not, I feel like you should really know that the series was never meant to be a trilogy, and
The plan for Shenmue has shifted a lot since its inception. I believe at first, when it was Virtua Fighter RPG, it was going to be a less "FREE" experience on the Saturn, and when it shifted to development for the Dreamcast, it was planned to be a game released in two parts (the first half, and the second half). Sega got impatient with the development, though, and AM2 was pretty much forced to release what they had in installments, with the Shenmue I & II that we got comprising mostly the first 2 chapters of the 11 that were originally planned. Disc 4 of Shenmue II is actually from a later chapter, in the middle of the story.

I've kind of been wondering recently how they were even intending to release something that probably would have been Shenmue II x3, on anything fewer than 12 GD-ROMs. :lol: Then do it again for a part 2.


That's my fault, I was under the impression that Shenmue III would be the final release. I haven't read too much about it, and haven't checked any in-depth reviews, as I didn't want to spoil anything for myself. I was aware that it was originally in production for the Saturn, then the DC, but I didn't know it was planned to be 11 chapters. Lol. That release would've taken up a whole shelf at the game store. Either way, I hope Yu Suzuki is able to complete his vision for the series, as I really enjoyed the first two games.
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by pierrot Sat Feb 08, 2020 8:35 pm

Note wrote:That's my fault, I was under the impression that Shenmue III would be the final release. I haven't read too much about it, and haven't checked any in-depth reviews, as I didn't want to spoil anything for myself. I was aware that it was originally in production for the Saturn, then the DC, but I didn't know it was planned to be 11 chapters. Lol. That release would've taken up a whole shelf at the game store. Either way, I hope Yu Suzuki is able to complete his vision for the series, as I really enjoyed the first two games.

Oh, you're good. I almost didn't even want to mention it, because I respect wanting to not be influenced by others' opinions and things, but It seems to have been a really common misconception, even after the game was released. So I was just hoping to save you from maybe being setup for something like that. The series has always had a wild development history, and I've been familiarizing myself with it again lately, but it's pretty tough to keep track of.

Glad to hear you enjoyed Shenmue II, though!
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by dsheinem Sat Feb 08, 2020 10:54 pm

prfsnl_gmr wrote:
Have you had the opportunity to play Fantasy Zone II W? It is a god-tier shmup that HG101 considered the very best of both the Fantasy Zone series and the “Defender” shmup genre. It was originally released only in Japan for the PS2, but it is available in NA for the 3DS..


I think I have? Is that on the Sega 3D Classics cart for the 3DS? If so I may have messed around with it for a few...
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by MrPopo Sat Feb 08, 2020 11:47 pm

1. Elite Dangerous - PC
2. Soldier of Fortune - PC
3. Star Wars: TIE Fighter: Defender of the Empire - PC
4. Star Wars: TIE Fighter: Enemies of the Empire - PC

Enemies of the Empire is the second expansion for TIE Fighter and wraps up the overall storyline that has been going since the base game. Like Defender you get three more battles of ~7 missions each. Unlike Defender you don't get any chance to use the TIE Defender, as the Empire's production capabilities were destroyed in Defender, and a couple missions in to the third battle you also lose access to the Missile Boat, so you're back to using the TIE Advanced (which is still a decent ship, mind you, but it is a bit of a letdown). The first battle is mostly you fighting back against Zaarin, while the second battle is you supporting the build up to the Battle of Endor. You remember how in Jedi Mon Mothma tells the assembled people "many Bothans died to bring us this information"? You're the one who killed all those Bothans. Finally, the third battle has you finally taking out Zaarin.

Overall I think it's a better put together expansion than Defender; I didn't notice any bugs or general scripting frustrations like I did with the previous expansion. However, there was one mission that is a right bastard; it's basically luck based because you have too many tanky enemies and not enough firepower to take them out before they fail a mission objective unless your AI partners decide to actually be effective for once (spoilers; they don't). There's also a couple of missions (including the last one) that start you off in the middle of enemy fire that are quite hectic at the start and can get you killed fast, but at least the restart is fast (vs. losing 5 minutes in to a mission) and if you get past the initial things calm down a lot. Overall I think the TIE Fighter trilogy beats out the X-Wing trilogy in terms of enjoyment; everything is just a little more interesting in TIE Fighter and they, for the most part, got mission difficulty better nailed down.
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by Ack Mon Feb 10, 2020 1:46 pm

1. The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening (Switch)(Adventure)
2. Final Fight [Japanese Version] (Switch)(Beat 'Em Up)
3. Ziggurat (PC)(FPS)
4. Magrunner: Dark Pulse (PC)(FPS)
5. The King of Dragons [Japanese](Arcade)(Beat 'Em Up)

6. Captain Commando [Japanese](Arcade)(Beat 'Em Up)
7. Knights of the Round [Japanese](Arcade)(Beat 'Em Up)
8. The Witcher (PC)(RPG)


Knights of the Round

I've kept going with Japanese Capcom beat 'em ups, so I decided to sit down with the import arcade release of Knights of the Round. First and foremost, there aren't any major changes from the Japanese to the US release beyond some kanji that was translated to English. Otherwise, I haven't been able to find any notes on any sort of regional changes, so if you are familiar with the arcade game in the US, this won't be a difficult transition.

As for the game itself...well, I still prefer The King of Dragons. Knights of the Round feels like the fusion point where King of Dragons meets Final Fight. You're still gaining levels like KoD and swinging weapons, but your appearance changes based solely on this as opposed to KoD's gear. You can also perform combo attacks a la Final Fight, but the trade off is no throws. However, you can do a few special attacks depending on the character, you can block similar to KoD's tank characters, and you can also ride horses for some mounted combat. This reminds me of the Captain Commando mechs but with considerably better design.

In execution, not all of this works. Blocking was easier to pull off in King of Dragons, and I have a bad habit of performing some of the special attacks for Arthur and Lancelot when trying to perform other attacks. As a result, combat feels disjointed, and I feel like I consistently get my butt kicked by the boss fights and tougher enemies due to my control issues. That said, this is a me problem, so your mileage will vary.

The Final Fight boss patterns have been thrown out, though the acrobatic Black Knight from KoD does show up with some variations in KotR. Beyond that, it's an original take, with some additional niceties, like getting a rough overlook of the level map at the start and seeing your progress if you wipe and use a continue.

The Witcher

I'm finally getting around to what has become a flagship property for CD Projekt and GOG. Later entries are highly regarded, but not having read the books the series is based on, I wanted more background before considering those, so I hopped into the original. This...may have been a mistake.

The first The Witcher is not a bad game, per se, but it is plagued with a variety of problems. Some of these are technical, such as crashing issues, events not flagging properly, and even issues with character models (some characters have hair that apparently vibrates and beards that grow straight up). Some problems are endemic to the time of release, such as trying to convey an epic adventure in small hubs that eventually feel more like prisons, a not entirely uncommon trait of the time as games tried to expand into open worlds. And some problems relate to lack of knowledge about the book series, as the game ends up throwing a few things at you that you more than likely won't understand without any background. By the end of the game, I felt I had missed something and consulted Popo for help.

And then there is the combat system, which I think was supposed to have a rock-paper-scissor vibe but which results in you just picking scissors for most of the game because it is almost always effective.

Still, I gonna give it credit. It was a largely untested dev team, a property few knew about outside of its native Poland, and an engine that was being radically transformed. That they got anywhere is amazing, and what they managed to do was give us a world populated with interesting characters and altered by choices we make, not in a simple black and white morality system but with massive shades of grey...and a lot of black too.

How do I mean? Well, one central choice is choosing between a heroic order of knights that turn out to be fanatically genocidal or a bunch of elven and dwarven guerillas happy to turn to terrorism and using children as hostages for their own ends. You could stay neutral too...but they're gonna kill each other and everybody else too. Things don't always unfold how you expect, and you're most often going to end up relying on your swords to save the day...and not really save it. It feels dirty and realistic. I appreciate that as a mature view of a fantasy world, much more so than the collectable "sex cards" you earn by getting laid.

Look, most folks I know who have played these games don't see much reason to return to the first game, and now that I have beaten it, I don't see much reason too either. But I do look forward to playing the second game sooner rather than later. If nothing else, I'm more curious to see this world and where CD Projekt goes with it.
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by MrPopo Mon Feb 10, 2020 2:15 pm

Yeah, the black and grey morality is a hallmark of the games. Whenever you pick between factions they both have things that make them bastards, so you need to decide which brand of bastardy you prefer.
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by Ack Mon Feb 10, 2020 2:20 pm

MrPopo wrote:Yeah, the black and grey morality is a hallmark of the games. Whenever you pick between factions they both have things that make them bastards, so you need to decide which brand of bastardy you prefer.


Yep. I ended up genocidal as a result. Too bad, the dwarves weren't bad.
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by BoneSnapDeez Mon Feb 10, 2020 3:13 pm

I like The Witcher but yeah, that weird rhythm-based combat was never my thing. Just let me do Diablo-clicks, dudes.
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by PartridgeSenpai Tue Feb 11, 2020 5:04 am

Partridge Senpai's 2020 Beaten Games:
Previously: 2016 2017 2018 2019
* indicates a repeat

1. Invisigun Reloaded (Switch)
2. Human: Fall Flat (Switch)
3. Shantae: The Pirate's Curse (3DS)
4. Darksiders: Warmastered Edition (PC)
5. Splatterhouse (PS3) *
6. 3D Dot Game Heroes (PS3)
7. Tokyo Jungle (PS3)
8. Pictobits (DSiWare)

9. Puzzle Quest: The Legend Reborn (Switch)

Puzzle Quest on the original DS is one of my favorite games ever and one I've beaten more times than any other RPG I can think of, having completed it once with each of the original four classes over the years. I was super psyched to see that Puzzle Quest had come to Switch, and then sprung on the remake a month or two ago when I saw it was on sale half-off. I didn't realize at the time that this wasn't a direct port of the old DS and PSP game. It isn't even a complete collection of the PS3/360 versions bundled in with the expansion content released for that version of the game as well. This is the original game, the Plague Lord expansion, as well as a heap of more brand new content to make Puzzle Quest feel more different and alive than ever. The Switch doesn't tell you playtime from an easily accessible place, but I'd reckon it took me at least 40 hours to complete all the game's main and side quests on normal difficulty.

The land has been at peace for many centuries, but the sudden appearance of undead lead the headstrong young knight (the main character) on a quest that quickly goes from simple errand running to saving the whole world from the reincarnation of a death god. The story telling is nothing super special, but the main character is way more of a jerk than I remembered them being. There are two endings to the game, but they rely on whether or not you make one specific choice very early in the game, and it's one you probably had no idea could cascade that far down. There are other binary choices you can make in certain side quests (of which there are VERY many), and this version also removes the ability to save-scum like you could in some older versions, so you're stuck with the choices you make. The presentation is pretty typical Western fantasy tropes, but the cast of side characters isn't without its standout fun additions (like Drog, the super hungry Ogre who is always on the hunt for his next meal, be it animals, rocks, or something beyond our plane of existence XD).

The main draw is, as ever, the same thing Puzzle Quest has always had. The meshing of a match-three Bejeweled-style gameplay on top of an RPG game works as well as it always has. You play against an opponent, and the board has four colors of gems you can match for that element of mana, skulls to match to deal damage, stars to match to get EXP, and coins to match for gold. Depending on your character class, you'll learn spells as you level up, and the mana you get in battles can be used to cast those spells (doing everything from board resets, making the enemy lose turns, buffs/debuffs, etc). You have four types of equipment you can equip to give all sorts of passive bonuses (including very important elemental resistances to give possibilities for enemy spells to fizzle). You also have skill points to allocate every level to increase chances for free extra turns, maximum mana pools, wildcard multiplier generation chances, and the rewards of EXP and gold after winning a battle. The game is RNG at its core, but there's a LOT you can do to mess with the game and try and break the systems in ways that fit to how you like to play it.

The main systems aren't without their hiccups though. There's a personal citadel that you can build up with the gold you earn to be able to do things like capture enemy units to learn their spells or use them as mounts (to get their spells). You can also search non-city travel nodes for magic runes that you can use to craft your own equipment at your citadel. However, while the spells are often useful, they're SO hard to learn (it requires getting luckier for longer on a match-3 board, trying to hit certain totals of collected magic) that they're hardly worth putting much time into because the spells you learn normally are usually more thane enough. The same goes for the equipment you can craft yourself, as anything really worthwhile will take you AGES to successfully craft, and the equipment you get from the main quest, side quests, or even the stuff that appears in the shop (from a massive, random pool of items) will be more than enough, not to mention often better, than anything you can craft yourself. A lot of the stuff in the shop is REALLY good as well. There's no way I would've ever beaten the Plague Lord content's final boss if I hadn't stumbled across a magic tome that makes you immune to disease, turning that fight from something nearly impossible to a far fairer fight.

You will get bogged down as you traverse the map fighting really easy monsters at times, who don't take that long to kill but it's still time taken up, but it's possible to skip them by entering and then abandoning the fight, but it depends on the speed of your mount. It's a mechanic so poorly explained it's taken me until this, my 5th playthrough, to realize it's a thing, and it was by such accident that I thought I'd found a glitch on this port instead of a mechanic I'd never realized before.

The additions to the original DS game are twofold: The Plague Lord DLC that was for the old console release, and the entirely new stuff for the Switch version of the game. The Plague Lord DLC is an interesting late-game diversion that is somewhere between pretty par for the course and outright unfair. The disease debuff is REALLY nasty if you don't have a good way to deal with it with your chosen class (as I didn't until I got that particular disease-proofed item). That especially goes for the Plague Lord himself, who is genuinely somewhat of a piss-take with just how absurdly hard he is without that item that makes you immune to disease.

The content added for the Switch version is stated to be the Golem Lord quest line, but it's actually a fair bit more than that. Three major quest lines that are in the beginning-to-middle point of the game have been added, including the Golem Lord, on top of some other miscellaneous additions. These largely consist of giving you more enemy variety (my personal favorite are the giant ants), new mounts, as well as more potential companions to recruit from all the new side quests added. One of the two ending paths through the game takes away a lot of your party members, but going through all the new side content will allow you to get back up to a full roster of 8 followers (who don't actually fight in battle with you. They're just passive buffs that trigger against certain enemies), and that was a really nice addition. It fleshes out the world a bit more, particularly in the area around the beginning of the game, and it's a lot of really quality content. Not all of it is perfect, as the Golem Lord quest line in particular has no level requirements to begin it, meaning that you can start fighting opponents who are WAY too strong for you very close to the beginning of the game. Hardly a cardinal sin, but something that could easily discourage a newer player, and given how well paced and power-gated the rest of the game's content is, it's really weird that it's so poorly done in this one instance.

The presentation is all around just fine. The art has a nice hand-drawn style to it, even if the characters/enemies who were added in the expansions, particularly the stuff made for the Switch port, are REALLY obvious to pick out, as their art style is clearly different from the original's, but it still all fits the same general aesthetic well. The music is fine, but I had a podcast on for most of the game, as you can only listen to the same few tracks so many times before it gets a bit dull in a game this long. The performance is fine, although the game does have loading hiccups during battle from now and then, and one time the game did soft-crash on me just as a fight ended (but it did save that I'd beaten the fight, so all I lost was the time it took me to hop back into the game).

Verdict: Highly Recommended. It's still Puzzle Quest as good as it ever was. If you didn't like it before, this is absolutely not going to win you over, but if you want a good, low-stress time waster that's really easy to hop in and out of on your Switch, you're gonna get a lot of mileage out of your $15 if you go with Puzzle Quest.
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