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ElkinFencer10
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by ElkinFencer10 Thu Apr 09, 2020 12:38 pm

Games Beaten in 2020 - 18
* denotes a replay

January (1 Game Beaten)
1. Pokemon Sun - 3DS - January 14*


February (2 Games Beaten)
2. Star Wars: Jedi - Fallen Order - Xbox One - February 15
3. Pokemon: Let's Go, Eevee! - Switch - February 29*


March (10 Games Beaten)
4. Pokemon Shield - Switch - March 1*
5. Doom [1993] - Switch - March 6*
6. SD Gundam G Generation Cross Rays - PS4 - March 6
7. Lego DC Super Villains - Switch - March 19
8. Doom II: Hell on Earth - Switch - March 19
9. Doom 3 - Switch - March 20
10. Doom 3: Resurrection of Evil - Switch - March 22
11. Doom 3: The Lost Mission - Switch - March 23
12. Doom 64 - Switch - March 26
13. Star Soldier: Vanishing Earth - Nintendo 64 - March 28


April (5 Games Beaten)
14. Wolfenstein 3D - Steam - April 1
15. Doom Eternal - Xbox One - April 3
16. Age of Empires (Definitive Edition) - Steam - April 4
17. Age of Empires: Rise of Rome (Definitive Edition) - Steam - April 5
18. Animal Crossing: New Horizons - Switch - April 9


18. Animal Crossing: New Horizons - Switch - April 9

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Animal Crossing is a series that I've heard a lot about from a lot of friends and always meant to get into but somehow never did. I even bought New Leaf on 3DS when I saw the Nintendo Selects release on sale for like $15, but I never actually got around to playing it. When New Horizons was announced for Switch, I knew that this game would be my entry point to the series, and wow, what an entry point that was!

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I knew going into this game that it would either be a game of which I quickly grew bored or a game that quickly consumes my life. Unsurprisingly, it turned out to be the latter. As of the time of writing, the game has been out for just under three weeks, and I've put nearly 100 hours into it. The premise is simple; the ruthless venture capitalist, Tom Nook, designs this "island getaway" package where you can move to a deserted island and start a new life (a new life that immediately begins deeply in debt). It's basically just indentured servitude but with cute animals and fewer beatings. At first, you only owe Tom Nook for the moving expenses. If you want to upgrade from a tent to a house, though, that's another loan. From there, you can expand your house six times, each expansion requiring an increasingly large loan. When all's said and done, you end up owing Nook a total of 5,696,000 bells. That's a lot of money. You also have to pay him whenever you want to change the outside appearance of your house (although that becomes free once you pay off the last upgrade loan), whenever you want to move your house, whenever you want to build a bridge, or whenever you want to build a staircase. You also have to pay him if you want to add a new house to your island to get a new villager. Donald Trump wishes he had the business acumen of Tom Nook.

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The most striking thing about the game for me was the visuals. They're bright, they're colorful, they're gorgeous, and they're CUTE AS HELL. There are a ton of different villagers you can recruit to your island, loads of clothes to wear, and an ENORMOUS selection of furniture and designs to use to decorate your house and your island as a whole. You can also make your own designs to use as wallpaper, flooring, canvas paintings, clothes, or wall art - something they should NOT have let me do. I spent my entire playthrough jumping from outrageously lewd outfits to fabulously effeminate outfits. Especially once that Bunny Day event hit. NOBODY can pull off that cute flowery yellow dress like I can. #swag

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So as for the "goal" of the game, your main objective (other than do whatever the hell you want because it's Animal Crossing) is to get your island to a three star rating so the world renowned musician and all-around Good Boy K.K. Slider will come perform a concert on your island. To do that, you need to get villagers to move to your island, upgrade your resident services, and make your island generally appealing to folks. Build bridges, build stairs, clear away weeds, put up decorations, etc. Once you get K.K. Slider to perform on your island, the credits roll, and you unlock the terraforming ability, letting you add or remove waterways, cliffs, and paths from your island.

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My favorite part of the game, though, is the connectivity. You can visit friends' islands. You can have them visit your island. You can send each other letters and gifts. It's just such a nice, relaxing, friendly game. Unless Flake visits your island and digs up all your flowers. >_> You can also build the museum where you can donate one of each bug, fish, or fossil you find to show off in exhibits, and being a TOTAL and unrepentant nerd, that was probably my favorite part. I liked discovering a new fossil or catching a new bug, but my absolute favorite thing was catching a new fish. Some bugs and fish only appear during certain hours and certain months of the year, so there's a lot of reason to keep coming back to the game now and then easily built in.

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Animal Crossing: New Horizons may have been my first Animal Crossing game, but it certainly won't be my last. Honestly, I really can't think of much negative to say about it. The fishing can be annoying with the big fish sometimes fleeing within half a second of biting your lure, giving you almost no time to start reeling in, and it's annoying that you can't craft in bulk, but those are such minor complaints in the grand scheme of the game. It's such a perfect little relaxation game. "What do you do?" is a question I see online a lot, and legit, you just do whatever you want. You just vibe, man. Fish. Hunt bugs. Landscape. Whatever. Animal Crossing is what you make of it, and that's exactly what we need during the biggest pandemic in over a century.
Exhuminator wrote:Ecchi lords must unite for great justice.

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pook99
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by pook99 Fri Apr 10, 2020 9:56 pm

@prfsnl_gamer: Kamiko was one of the first switch games I beat, I think it was my 3rd after blaster master zero and breath of the wild, definitely a fun way to kill $5

@Bone: the 5th Alex Kidd game and they are still doing rps? Un-fucking-believable. My hatred of the master system knows no limits, but objectively speaking its not hard to see why nintendo won the 8-bit console wars, the NES had mario as a mascot and Master system had Alex Kidd, it really is a great analogy of the massive differences in quality between those 2 systems

54. Wario Land: shake it (wii)
55. Mega Man 4 (nes)

54. Wario Land: shake it

Honoring my Halloween costume this year I decided to finally play a game that has been unopened in my collection for over a decade.

Like most games in the series the plot is very simple, a princess is kidnapped by an evil pirate and it is up to Wario to save her minions to break the seal binding her, defeat the pirate captain, and save the day. Of course, since this is Wario, he couldn't care less about the princess or the kidnapped fairies, but when he discovers the pirate captain also is in posession of a magical sack that produces unlimited coins, he decides to save the day.

Wario land is a bright and colorful sidescroller. Controls are simple one button jumps and one shoulder charges. As the name implies you can also shake the wii mote to produce all manner of different results. Shake enemies to get items, sacks to get you coins, shaking the wiimote lets you climb, swing, ground pound and much more. It is a fun mechanic and when you discover a new environment usually a good shake will teach you how to interact with it. In addition to the wonderful visuals I really enjoyed the soundtrack, including warios little voice overs which have him mirror things that Mario says in his weird creepy voice.

Wario is more about exploring then pure platform challenges. This is not a hard game, there are no bottomless pits to be found, and the only time you really are in danger of dying are in the boss fights. The challenge in this game comes from finding hidden treasures and completing several level specific challenges. This makes the game perfect for anyone, if you just want to relax and enjoy the game going from point A to point B than it is really pretty easy for just about anyone to complete, however discovering all the treasures and completing all the challenges will take a considerable amount of time.

The game is divided up into 5 different worlds, each world has 4 levels and ends in a boss fight. The bosses are all very unique, fun to learn, and do a great job of playing to the various abilities of wario. Some of the later bosses are tough but very manageable when you learn all their patterns.

Wario Land: shake it is a fun platformer for anyone, it is easy enough for gamers of all skill levels to enjoy but offers enough depth and secrets to keep anyone busy for a long time.

55: Mega Man 4

How much more can I say about Mega Man? I love the series, and I am a much bigger fan of Mega Man with the charge buster than without. MM4 is a brilliant game and definitely in the top tier of the series. It also occurred to me recently that I never played Mega Man Zero 2 and 3 so this game has inspired me to try them next.
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by Note Sat Apr 11, 2020 1:20 am

1. Streets of Rage 2 (Sega Genesis Mini)
2. The Ninja Warriors (Super Nintendo) [3x]
3. TMNT IV: Turtles in Time (Super Nintendo)
4. Golden Axe (Sega Genesis Mini) [3x]
5. Beyond Oasis (Sega Genesis Mini)
6. Super Double Dragon (Super Nintendo)
7. Shenmue II (Sega Dreamcast)
8. Shining Force 2 (Sega Genesis)
9. Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island (Super Nintendo)
10. ActRaiser (Super Nintendo)
11. OutRun (Sega Genesis)
12. X-Men 2: Clone Wars (Sega Genesis)
13. Captain Commando (Super Nintendo)

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14. The Pirates of Dark Water (Super Nintendo)

This is another game I was unaware of when it was originally released, however, I did see the cartoon on television after it's original run, and it was being syndicated on Cartoon Network in the mid 90's. I remember liking the cartoon, and was intrigued in checking out the beat 'em up game that Sunsoft made for the SNES when I heard about it later on. I had briefly tried it out a few years ago, but finally sat down with it the other night to give it a go.

The first thing I noticed in this game is the variety of attacks your character has. You have a normal punch, a heavier attack with your character's weapon, a special attack (which drains life), a dash attack, a jump attack, and a dashing jump attack. You also have two different throw moves, and the ability to block. Sunsoft put the SNES controller's buttons to good use. Also, the gameplay is fast paced which is nice to see on the SNES, as the system has a few beat 'em ups that are on the slower side. There is also no slow down in the game, which I found to be impressive.

The level designs are really well done, and are pretty detailed. The level variety also stands out. You go through levels that consist of a port city, caverns, a jungle, and a ship at night during a rain storm. Each level has nice animations in the background and sometimes even objects in the foreground. From what I can recall of the cartoon, I think they did a good job of staying true to the source material. There is one level that contains some platforming, it's not too difficult to get through, but with boulders and other things coming at you, it's easy to take a cheap death or two. I think the platforming section could've been removed. Another weird design choice, is one of the later boss battles is fought in a vertical shoot 'em up type of sequence, totally different from the rest of the game.

The soundtrack is really good IMO. I'm not certain if any of the songs are from the cartoon, but I did like the game's soundtrack, and I feel like it goes well with the gameplay. However, I did think the sound effects were a weak point. The volume of the sound effects are low in comparison to the music. When I would gain an extra life from points, because the sound effect was so low, I usually wouldn't even notice it. Also, some of the attack sound effects just aren't as satisfying as you would hear in other beat 'em ups.

My main complaint is that after the first few levels, the pace slows quite a bit, and the levels are longer than your average title in the genre, with more waves of enemies per screen than one would expect. At some points it feels like you're just not able to progress because wave after wave keeps coming on the same screen. The second half of the game takes much longer to finish than the first half, and I think this is the game's main flaw, as it can become a bit of a drag. I think if the developers just stuck with the formula of the first few levels throughout the entire game, this would've elevated the game quite a bit.

Overall, I do recommend The Pirates of Dark Water for SNES. I think most fans of this genre will enjoy it, just don't go into it expecting a game on the same level as the best in this genre. This is a very good title IMO, but if adjustments had been made to the pacing of the later levels, the sound effects, and if the platforming was removed, this could have been one of the best beat 'em ups on the console. I still say give it a shot.
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by alienjesus Sat Apr 11, 2020 12:46 pm

Games beaten 2020:

1. Ys: The Oath in Felghana PSN Vita *NEW*
2. Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age Switch *NEW*
3. Super Mario Party Switch *NEW*
4. Moss PSVR *NEW*
5. Paper Mario: Colour Splash Wii U *NEW*
6. The Firemen SNES *NEW*
7. Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon SFC *NEW*
8. Kuukiyomi: Consider It! Switch eShop *NEW*
9. Valkyria Chronicles Switch eShop *NEW*
10. Illusion of Time SNES *NEW*
11. Trials of Mana Switch *NEW*
12. Undertale Vita *NEW*
13. Rastan SMS *NEW*
14. Rainbow Islands SMS *NEW*


Writing reviews has felt like a bit of a chore lately, so this is my first post in this thread of 2020. I've decided rather than put off writing reviews all year and never adding to this thread, I'll instead post very brief thoughts on each game as I go - and eventually I'll get back into the long reviews.

Anyway, as we're 3.5 months into the year and I'm making my first post, here's some thoughts about each of these games:

Ys: The Oath in Felghana:
This is my 4th Ys game after Ys 1 on SMS, Ys 1 & 2 chronicles on PSP and Ys VIII on switch. I've enjoyed my time with the whole series so far, but this is my first time playing one of the games from this era. It's graphically a bit of a mess, and the difficulty curve is still odd - one new weapon or armour takes an area from barely possible to total pushover in one go early on. Still, I had fun playing through the game for Together Retro in Jan, and I look forward to trying others in the series.

Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age:

I've always loved Final Fantasy XII, but I'd never beaten it before now. Whilst I find it's mechanics interesting, the slow pace can make it feel like a slog, as can the generic identical nature of your characters. Luckily. Zodiac Age fixes these by adding a much needed fast forward option (2x or 4x speed) and a job system that adds some constaints and variety to your character. It's no FFV, but it helps. The game still looks visually impressive all these years later, and the music is great. The story goes a bit weird for the final boss, but I still love the game overall. This was a good way to play the game, and I cant imagine ever going back to the PS2 copy.

Super Mario Party:

I used to buy the new Mario Party games every year, but I eventually got kinda sick of them. After a long break between Mario Party 5 and now, I picked this one up and generally had a good time. The game boards are smaller and more focused, which speeds games up - something I greatly appreciate nowadays, even if it can limit the strategy and variety in games due to the much smaller pool of options. There's a bunch of side modes which are all fun, but which can outstay their welcome eventually due to a more limited mini game pool. Whilst there's room for improvement here, I still really liked my time with this game - the mini games are mostly pretty good (if a bit too short sometimes) and the game has a lot of charm.

Moss:
I got a PSVR for Christmas, and this was the first game I played through with it. It's often lauded as one of the best on the platform, but I wasn't quite as enamoured as some. Dont get me wrong - it's a lovely game. It's also one of my big 'oh wow' moments in VR - seeing the tiny dioramas and Quill, your mouse buddy in VR is a real impressive sight, as is the giant church you start in. The game is rather short and easy though, and lacks a little in variety. You control Quill with the controller but can also manipulate the environment. The camera angle is fixed but you can (and need to) lean about to look under, over and around objects to see behind them. I enjoyed my time with Moss, and it proves that VR can be used for more than just First person shooters, but like most VR stuff - it feels a little more of a great tech demo or proof of concept than a full game. But thats fine with me, as what I wanted from VR was to try something that felt different and new, and I got that.

Paper Mario Colour Splash:

I've owned this one for years, but only now did I get around to playing it. I adore the original Paper Mario and TTYD, as many do, but I've had mixed opinions on the series since. Colour Splash is a notable improvement from it's predecessor Sticker Star, but it's with a caveat. Whilst the writing, situations and characters are much more interesting and memorable, the core gameplay battle system is still rather dull and pointless, as in the 3DS title. The main issue is that there's little reward to battling - no level ups or similar means the only reward from battle is paint and stickers to use - for battling. Basically, by not battling you lose nothing, so I often found myself trying to ignore enemies. The game feels a bit long for it's simple nature, which I never found with the first 2 games too. Colour Splash is an OK title, and a step in the right direction. But it's still not a patch on where the series started in my eyes.

The Firemen:

I played this one for February's Together Retro (games only released in PAL and Japan, not US). This is quite a rare and pricy game in Europe, but it's a really interesting one. You play as a firefighter called into a burning skyscraper on Christmas, and you and your partner are tasked with fighting the blazes, rescuing survivors and saving the day. You use a hose to fight fire, and it feels like a top down shooter in some ways as fire actually attacks like enemies - shooting fire balls, rushing at you and more. It's a lot of fun, and quite challenging, especially in later levels. There are some negatives though - the game is super short (about 45 minutes long if you beat it in one go), but this is compensated for with limited continues, high difficulty and strict timelimits. It feels a little cheap towards the end which is a shame. There's also one power up that boosts your firepower but leaves you at 1 hp after it runs out, which sucks. Accidentally grabbing this is basically asking to use one of your very limited pool of continues. Overall, this is a fantastic game, but be prepared to deal with some old-school bullshit to enjoy it.

Bishoujou Senshi Sailor Moon:

This is a beat-em-up title which was released only in Japan and France where you play as one or 2 of 5 sailor scouts and fight your way through 5 levels in the usual fashion, punching goons. It's a very pretty game and it has some great presentation, including some great vignettes from the show between levels. The title theme music is straight from the anime too and it's awesome - unfortunately, the other music is not so hot, as it's too chirpy and doesn't fit the action. The sailors all feel different in their own way, with Jupiter being a bruiser, Venus having a long range whip etc, but a major issue is that the movesets are very limited - a basic combo, jump attack, projectile charge move, 2 throws and your super move which knocks enemies away at the cost of health - that's your lot. Don't expect much variety here. Also, don't expect much difficulty past level 1 - the first boss is by far the hardest part of the game, and it shouldnt be too difficult to beat this in your first sitting if you get the hang of him, as I did. It's a fun enough time, but don't spend much on it.

Kuukiyomi: Consider It!

Kuukiyomi is a switch eshop title where you must assess different social situations and make a considerate action in response. Think of it like Warioware, but with good manners. As an example, you might be put in a situation where you're on a train and 2 people arrive together but you're in the middle seat between 2 empty spaces. The considerae thing would be to move over 1 seat so they can sit together. The game is very Japanese, and so some of the actions rely on social interpretation I lack, meaning I sometimes struggled to know if I was doing it right. The game is lacking in significant feedback too, meaning sometimes I wasn't sure if I'd done right or not, as the game was unclear. This is the main issue with the game imo, and makes it less fun for a westerner. The game is super cheap though, so worth giving a shot if it sounds interesting. Be prepared for some confusion though.





Because this is quite a lot to write already, I'll post the remaining reviews tomorrow!
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by BoneSnapDeez Sat Apr 11, 2020 1:48 pm

mwahahahaha aj with the review dump.
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Note
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by Note Sat Apr 11, 2020 2:31 pm

1. Streets of Rage 2 (Sega Genesis Mini)
2. The Ninja Warriors (Super Nintendo) [3x]
3. TMNT IV: Turtles in Time (Super Nintendo)
4. Golden Axe (Sega Genesis Mini) [3x]
5. Beyond Oasis (Sega Genesis Mini)
6. Super Double Dragon (Super Nintendo)
7. Shenmue II (Sega Dreamcast)
8. Shining Force 2 (Sega Genesis)
9. Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island (Super Nintendo)
10. ActRaiser (Super Nintendo)
11. OutRun (Sega Genesis)
12. X-Men 2: Clone Wars (Sega Genesis)
13. Captain Commando (Super Nintendo)
14. The Pirates of Dark Water (Super Nintendo)

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15. Final Fight (Super Nintendo)

This was one of the first Super Nintendo games I saw in action when I was a kid. Growing up, my uncle used to have house parties on the weekend from time to time, and my other cousins would come by and bring their SNES with a game or two. I remember one afternoon playing this game for the first time in my uncle's living room, while the adults were blasting music and drinking. If my memory serves me correctly, I believe this was the second time I had a chance to play a SNES, and was most likely in the summer of 1992, before I got my own system later that year.

After not revisiting this game for a long time, I came across a cartridge in good condition for cheap last year and decided to pick it up. The graphics aged well IMO, and this is still one of the better looking early titles on the SNES. The levels are detailed and look good, and the character sprites are a good size on the screen. I also really like the soundtrack to this game, the music to the first level is iconic IMO. The other song I really like is in the end of the third level, after you fight the two Andore enemies. My only gripe with the soundtrack is that later in the game, some of the songs repeat. I think it would've been better if each section had it's own unique background music.

Regarding the gameplay, the controls feel fine, and the characters have a good set of moves at your disposal. My main issues with the gameplay is the slow down and the difficulty. Whenever there are a good amount of enemies on screen, or if there is a section where barrels drop or are rolling at you, the game slows down, and it's tough to react to whatever is coming at you. Also, the amount of damage certain enemies or obstacles inflict seems unbalanced. Some attacks from enemies and bosses can take away over 3/4th's of your life bar, which seems a bit much. I know there's also a lot of issues stemming from the port of the game in comparison to the original arcade as well, most apparent is the lack of a co-op mode, which is a big issue IMO, and the lack of the third selectable character, which were later corrected in later editions and ports.

Overall, I do recommend Final Fight on the SNES, but just be aware of the difficulty, and the fact that better versions of the game exist, such as on the Sega CD, the Capcom Classics Collection, or the availability to play the original arcade version on MAME. I'm glad to have it in my collection, as it brings back great memories, and I'll most likely be revisiting the sequels and later editions soon too.
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by pook99 Sun Apr 12, 2020 5:48 pm

@Note: good review of SNES Final Fight, the other 2 games in the series are both better in pretty much every way and since they were designed from the ground up for the SNES they don't have the technical flaws/slowdown that you see in the original
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Note
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by Note Sun Apr 12, 2020 6:43 pm

pook99 wrote:@Note: good review of SNES Final Fight, the other 2 games in the series are both better in pretty much every way and since they were designed from the ground up for the SNES they don't have the technical flaws/slowdown that you see in the original


Thanks! Glad to hear the technical flaws were taken care of in the later games. I played the sequels briefly years ago, but I'll most likely sit down and try to play through them sometime soon too.
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by MrPopo Mon Apr 13, 2020 11:48 am

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
5. Star Wars: X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter: Balance of Power - PC
6. Star Wars: X-Wing Alliance - PC
7. Phoenix Point - PC
8. Serious Sam HD: The Second Encounter - PC
9. Descent II - PC
10. Inbento - Switch
11. Ori and the Will of the Wisps - XB1
12. Doom Eternal - PC
13. Serious Sam 2 - PC
14. Black Mesa - PC
15. Descent 3 - PC
16. Darksiders II - PC
17. Resident Evil 3 (2020) - PC
18. Overload - PC
19. Final Fantasy VII Remake - PS4

Well, after one weekend marathon and 34 hours I've finished the FF7 Remake and exited the city of Midgar. I laughed, I cried (well, got sad), I got Tifa's best dress (totally by accident), and I yelled at a stupid inconsequential design decision. I enjoyed every minute, and I can't wait until the next game (and I expect it to be a trilogy).

Now, before I get into the meat of it it's helpful to go back to the original game. With the benefit of hindsight you can see that FF7's plot was very reminiscent of long running shounen manga/anime; you have an initial bit of story that is pretty much standalone, with a couple of hints at a deeper world that the author has thought up. But he's not sure if he's going to be picked up for a long series. So you have a short contained storyline that mostly serves to get us to know and love the characters. Then once he's been picked up for a long runner he's free to wrap up that storyline with a plot twist that leads into the major story that will drive the rest of the run. A good example of this is Bleach; you have the first bit which is Ichigo as a substitute Shinigami, then Renji and Byakuya show up to take Rukia home. That's effectively the same as Sephiroth killing President Shinra and the party escaping on the highway. It's kind of a weird way to go about things, in hindsight, as the story was going to finish with the final Sephiroth fight from the beginning (what with it being a finished game).

So, with that out of the way, I can talk about the general changes made in the story of the remake. The remake doesn't ever pretend like things like Cloud's memory or Sephiroth aren't important or have deeper implications. The undercurrents of Sephiroth's plan to become a god are there from the get-go. Additionally, the Shinra Company are fleshed out more to have deeper tendrils then we first thought. The game benefits from knowing how the general plot is laid out, and they spend more time in consideration of when to introduce various elements to weave them tighter in the story. It's the same story, but there's a bit more meat to it, as well as things that will make veteran players go "interesting!" when something happens that's new or expanded.

Speaking of expansion, one thing that sticks out is how the overall pace of the story has been slowed down to be given room to breath. I did a playthrough of the original a couple weeks ago (right before Doom Eternal hit) so I would be able to compare and contrast. And the events of Midgar in the original are over in a flash. The second you get back from bombing the first reactor you go blow up the next one. Then you wake up, try to get back to Sector 7, get sidetracked by Wall Market, then do the pillar battle and finally go rescue Aerith. You're dashing from one thing to the next. The remake slows things down a bit. In between the first bombing and the second you are given a chance to do odd jobs around the Sector 7 Slums, as well as a new piece of content where you get to know the other members of Avalanche better. Similarly, after taking Aerith home from the church you spend some time helping out around the Sector 5 Slums (since you don't have any reason to rush back). The Wall Market segment is expanded to have more going on. Finally, after the plate falls you're given one last chance to help people before doing the climb (as you're confident that while they'll never release Aerith they want to keep her unharmed). Additionally, many segments that were a short couple of screens were turned into longer dungeons; this mostly serves as a way of giving the characters more time to banter with each other (which happens a lot). You get to know everyone much better in this game than we did in the original in the same time frame.

The biggest change gameplay-wise is the combat. Now it has a ton of action elements. I hesitate to call it a full on action RPG like a Tales game, though. The combat isn't nearly as involved systems-wise, and enemy tracking is such that you're not really going to be dodging much; outside of giant attacks meant to be dodged or long-running ground aoe your options are to block and reduce damage or face tank. You have an ATB bar that fills up to two segments (or three after you use a special limit break which means each segment fills faster). It fills by a certain rate when you are controlling a character, but striking with basic attacks by any character fills that character's gauge much faster. So you wail on an enemy until you fill a segment or two, then you can use actions. This could be spells, or items, or the new weapon skills. These are abilities that are inherent to each of your weapons and can be learned with practice (so you learn each weapon's skill then pick the weapon you want to use long term). Each of these weapon skills is better in a certain situation, so it behooves you to learn them all.

However, this action economy does have some flaws. The first is the fact that effectively only one character is going to be accumulating the bulk of your ATB charges unless you rapidly switch characters over and over in battle, which will likely slow down your overall ATB rate (based on positioning and possible disorientation). This means that the usefulness of specializing each character in a role is diminished; for a good chunk of the game I had Cloud as my healer, Aerith as my caster, and Tifa as my physical attacker. But I found it was best to just go to town with Tifa; I'd tricked her out with enough ATB materia that she was essentially constantly spamming her weapon skills, and occasionally I'd have Cloud toss out a heal or Aerith toss out a spell. I would have done more spells with Aerith if she got enough ATB segments. There's a support materia that can have the character cast the attached spell when your leader does an ATB action, but since it requires them to also have ATB available it doesn't actually help much; it essentially wastes a materia slot so you don't have to take a second to ask them to cast a spell manually (same with the auto-cure materia).

Another complaint I had about the battle system was that it had just enough action RPG elements to matter, but not enough to be compelling. There's one class of enemy that has a shield that you need to flank around (or counterattack when he is attacking and his guard is dropped). There's a handful of flying enemy types that you usually want Barret to focus on because, while you do have the ability to automatically jump to flying enemies, you can't always reach them or keep up with their move speed. None of these tweaks to the regular fights feels satisfying; they're more annoyances. The boss fights do make up for it; while you have all the same bosses from the original you have another big set of new bosses, some of which are completely new while others are upgraded regular enemies from the original (and all of them feel appropriate as bosses). The bosses are all multi-phase (new attack patterns at various HP levels) and tend to have some major "dodge this" attacks to keep things interesting. The bosses are also the main source of battle music; since regular battles happen organically they use an amped up version of whatever the background music is for your area, so the bosses get things like rearrangements of the original battle theme, or maybe something else, with a handful of fights getting the original boss music; basically whatever fits best given where bosses exist in the story.

Still, none of these are fundamental flaws; the lack of complexity in the battle system means that you can get by with attacking, using skills/magic, and healing when needed. It just feels like things could be more interesting had they stuck with the old ATB system (even if they had the characters move around in full 3D). Magic also ends up being shockingly limited; while I have multiple thousands of HP by the end game I still hadn't cracked 100 MP, and spell costs are about the same as they are in the original (and you'll get the -ga spells by the end). But Tifa ended up being a complete murder machine; she can easily get higher physical damage than Cloud, who is much more of a generalist statistically this game rather than being the best or second best character in every role in the original. So, you know, that's always fun. And the expansion to the story completely overshadows any complaints I have with the battle system. Honestly, my actual biggest complaint is that you always have to control Cloud. Now, you could make the argument that it would take a non-trivial amount of effort to make the other characters controllable. Except they make both Barret and Tifa controllable (complete with ability to destroy boxes for random drops) in two different segments, and Tifa even has a monkey bars section like Cloud has for treasure boxes. Barret doing monkey bars would be the only thing that wouldn't be doable (for Aerith take five seconds and have her smack boxes with her staff), and that could be solved by just putting in a balance beam instead for that handful of treasure chests (the two extended monkey bars segments specifically are for Cloud and Tifa anyway for story reasons). It was clearly just a directorial decision, and it annoyed me.

But to avoid ending on a trivial sour note, I want to reiterate again that this is an invigoration of the existing story. There are definitely spoilers to be had in it for veterans of the game, and it's got me excited to see how they manage things in the following games (my suspicion is it ends with Cloud giving Seph the black materia in part 2, and then part 3 is finishing the story). The expanded characterization of Shinra is great; Heidegger is much more competent and an actual threat, and Hojo is 1000% creepier than he was in the original, as he should be. There's a real sense of love for the original in every minute of the remake, and getting to see things like that weird hole in the sky after the plate falls or to gaze out on the devastation when climbing to Shinra tower bring back that wonder we got in the original when we saw the visual spectacle of the time.
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by Note Mon Apr 13, 2020 9:53 pm

1. Streets of Rage 2 (Sega Genesis Mini)
2. The Ninja Warriors (Super Nintendo) [3x]
3. TMNT IV: Turtles in Time (Super Nintendo)
4. Golden Axe (Sega Genesis Mini) [3x]
5. Beyond Oasis (Sega Genesis Mini)
6. Super Double Dragon (Super Nintendo)
7. Shenmue II (Sega Dreamcast)
8. Shining Force 2 (Sega Genesis)
9. Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island (Super Nintendo)
10. ActRaiser (Super Nintendo)
11. OutRun (Sega Genesis)
12. X-Men 2: Clone Wars (Sega Genesis)
13. Captain Commando (Super Nintendo)
14. The Pirates of Dark Water (Super Nintendo)
15. Final Fight (Super Nintendo)

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16. Gradius III (Super Nintendo)

This year I wanted to make an effort to play some more shmups, and try to get a bit better at them. I can't say that I'm getting much better, as I feel like I'm still terrible at these games, but I managed to finish Gradius III with the help of some extra lives towards the end of the game. I read it was a good game to start with for shmups on the SNES.

This game has a few unique features for the genre. For starters, at the beginning of the game, you can customize what abilities your power-ups will give you throughout your playthrough. As a first time player, I found the amount of different options to be overwhelming, and I was unsure of what most of the choices actually did, but I appreciated the amount of options. I ended up just using the first default setup. There are a few different default setups to choose, or you can customize your own selection of power-ups.

During gameplay, the abilities that are available to be acquired are displayed at the bottom of your screen. When you get a power-up from killing an enemy, it highlights that power-up at the bottom, and you have to select that ability by the press of a button. Or you could wait, and acquire another and select the next. I thought this was a unique way to power-up your ship, as you can strategize based on what you may need for a particular level. The downside to this style is, if you miss the selection you want, you have to get a few more power-ups to scroll through the choices and get back to the one you want.

Graphics wise, I think this game looks pretty good for the genre and as a launch title for the SNES. Your ship and the enemies are both decently detailed for being smaller sprites, and the backgrounds look good as well. I also think the enemies and their bullets coming at you are highly visible, so it's always easy to tell what you need to dodge. There did seem to be some flickering in the graphics, but it wasn't too bad. The music in this title is good, I found the soundtrack to be catchy. There are a few songs that are quite atmospheric too. Another nice feature of the game is that it's two players. That might add to the difficulty of an already tough game, but it's nice to have a co-op option.

Gameplay wise, my main issue is the slowdown. Whenever there are a good amount of enemies on the screen, or a lot of bullets, the game slows down tremendously. You have to be prepared for which sections of the game you're able to play at a regular speed, and which sections you're gonna have to play during slowdown. My other issue, is that I think that your ship is harder to control with more levels of the speed power-up you've acquired. In the later stages when the speed power-ups were necessary to get through, I found myself accidentally crashing into objects. It felt like my ship was being flung further than expected with each press of the d-pad. Perhaps this is just an issue with my inexperience. I'm aware that there is a level missing from this port, and even a pseudo 3D level from the arcade that was cut.

Overall, I do recommend Gradius III for the Super Nintendo, even though I found sections to be frustrating and challenging. I think it's fairly impressive for a SNES launch title. However, be prepared for the slowdown when things get hectic. This is a fun pick up and play title and I would definitely revisit it. Hopefully I can finish a few more shmups throughout the year. Speed up!
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