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Note
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by Note Fri May 22, 2020 1:23 pm

BoneSnapDeez wrote:25. Super Castlevania IV (SNES)

In summary, this is quite a sumptuous platformer. It may not be one of my all-time favorites within the genre, but as far as Castlevania games are concerned, it's undeniably one of the strongest. I'd rank it a touch higher than Simon's Quest (which I do indeed enjoy) and a touch lower than Symphony of the Night (which is really a different beast altogether). It's also a mandatory playthrough for anyone interested in hitting all the "big names" on the SNES, the finest console we're likely to ever see.


Awesome that you finally beat this one! Was fun to read your take on the game too since I also finished it for the first time not too long ago. I also didn't really play the Castlevania games growing up, not for any specific reason, except that I had limited access to games and went for others. As far as Castlevania titles go, I'll most likely play Symphony of the Night next. Perhaps later in the year, as I was able to track down a copy. Now I just need another PS1 memory card.
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by Note Fri May 22, 2020 1:56 pm

BoneSnapDeez wrote:26. Phantasy Star Online (Dreamcast)

There are a great many hack and slash RPGs to be found these days. A seemingly infinite amount. And Phantasy Star Online remains the best of the bunch. With deep combat, memorable environments, and peerless aesthetics, it perfectly scratches that "just one more dungeon" itch. It's worth addressing the other "versions" of Phantasy Star Online before concluding. A literal Phantasy Star Online Ver. 2, also for Dreamcast, is essentially the same game with some tweaks. For those who can't get enough of Dreamcast PSO, hit Ver. 2 up second as one has the option to import their character. PSO with additional "Episodes" for the GameCube and PC (the Xbox version is now a worthless frisbee as it required a connection to a now-dead server even for single-player!) contain all the Dreamcast content plus more. It's enticing stuff, but almost veers into "too much of a good thing" territory. I always find myself coming back to the self-contained vanilla DC game. I can't play as the girl human ranger, I can't save everyone on Pioneer 1, but I can catch a glimpse of Sega at their absolute peak.


Also, just wanted to chime in and say PSO is one of my favorite games of all time, and might be the online game I put the most time into. It's up there with Counter-Strike, Ragnarok Online, and Diablo 2.

I experienced it on the Gamecube, with human ranger being my favorite class. Around the time of release, I trekked down on the train, about an hour from my neighborhood just to pickup a Japanese broadband adapter (which also worked on a US system) from a mom and pop video game store in a small mall in Chinatown -- great times. Later on, I also purchased that large GC keyboard controller. I really went all out for this game. Unfortunately, I ran into save file corruption problems (which seemed to be a common issue in the GC version of the game), and the character I put the most time into was lost. I'd like to revisit either the single player option and maybe pickup the original DC version, or see if my girlfriend would like to try a co-op campaign on the GC port. She's a fan of hack-and-slash action RPGs and I think she'd like this title too.

Thanks for the great review, brought back some good memories of all the hours I clocked in this game.
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by BoneSnapDeez Fri May 22, 2020 4:51 pm

Did you ever play Blue Burst? It's the only version of PSO I actually played "online" -- as you're required to do so. Nevertheless, I still played single-player. Fun times, though Episode IV is just so-so.

Some day I'd still like to play a cracked ISO of the Xbox game. Never got to experience that.
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Note
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by Note Fri May 22, 2020 5:20 pm

BoneSnapDeez wrote:Did you ever play Blue Burst? It's the only version of PSO I actually played "online" -- as you're required to do so. Nevertheless, I still played single-player. Fun times, though Episode IV is just so-so.

Some day I'd still like to play a cracked ISO of the Xbox game. Never got to experience that.


I never tried Blue Burst or the Xbox port of the game actually. I was interested in downloading Blue Burst since I heard there were people still playing it online, but I have a Mac at home and have found it tough to get PC games that need additional setup steps to properly run.

A funny PSO related story ... when I was in college, I mentioned how much I liked the game to one of my roommates at the time, and he ended up grabbing Phantasy Star Universe for Xbox 360. He also purchased a new TV ... I believe it was a plasma TV and around the time they were just released. He ended up playing the game so much, it permanently burned the life bar and status menu into the TV. Lmao.
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by pook99 Fri May 22, 2020 6:05 pm

I never played PSO but my brother logged well over 1000 hours into the game, he was absolutely obsessed with it and it was literally all he played for pretty much the entire lifespan of the game.

75. Epic Mickey
76. House of the dead 3

My first 2 games for the summer challenge are completed, I will post some thoughts in the summer games section about these 2 games.
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by dust_hound Sat May 23, 2020 8:01 am

I also loved PSO at the time on Dreamcast, but despite playing it for at least 10-15 hours I never felt engaged enough to pay serious attention to my character or to progress through the story. I think I lost out by only doing singleplayer but have never been one for playing online.

This year so far I've actually only properly finished two games:
Odin Sphere Leifthrasir (PS VITA)- amazing graphics, decent story, but it's like 10 hours too long and several boss fights and stages are repeated ad nauseam due to the overlapping way the story is told. Despite there being 5 different characters, I never explored their individual skills enough to make myself feel that the gameplay changed distinctly each time. Others probably had a very different experience to mine, though.

Persona 3 Portable (PSP) - great characters, good story. Horribly boring and repetitive gameplay - just my opinion, and I know lots of people love it. I know it's a JRPG, but the main location where most of the game's "active" gameplay takes place is a tower with almost 300 floors, divided into 6 blocks which are pretty much just palette-swaps of each other. I mean, come on! Then there's the usual JRPG trope of the repetitive enemy encounters.

I also "finished" Eco Fighters (PSP Capcom Classics Collection Reloaded) by credit-feeding (42 credits) through to the end on the hard setting. OK, I know that's not technically finished, but a 1CC is far far beyond my age-addled skills, and I'm happy to have even reached the end in any way.
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by MrPopo Sun May 24, 2020 1:20 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
20. Trials of Mana (2020) - Switch
21. Persona 5 Royal - PS4
22. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Campaign Remastered - PC
23. Sublevel Zero Redux - PC
24. Final Fantasy XII: Zodiac Age - PS4

Zodiac Age is the HD remaster of the International Zodiac Job System update of FF12 (which, contrary to the name, was only released in Japan). It adds a bunch of quality of life improvements on top of what IZJS already added, but there is still a lot of roughness that can't be corrected without a full from-the-ground-up remake. Still, this is definitely the definitive edition of the game, and it isn't BAD by any means.

Zodiac Age takes the license board jobs of IZJS and now lets every character learn two jobs. Since the jobs are very uneven in terms of capability being able to use two means you can use all the jobs the game provides across the six members of your party and makes every character much more well rounded, while avoiding the "do everything" nature of the original License Board. You can either combine jobs to double down on a strength or use two unrelated jobs to gain a real breadth of capability.

The game rebalances the overall difficulty and item progression. They mostly unfucked the treasure system, though top gear is still in chests with a low spawn rate (but if it does spawn you'll 100% get the item). The Diamond Bracelet now turns every chest into either a Knot of Rust or a Meteorite, so no more juggling it to try and get gear; put it on when you want Knots and Meteorites, take it off when you want useful stuff. And those chests that give you an item 100% of the time? That overrides the Diamond Bracelet. There is still one overworld area of the game that uses the old mechanics of rolling the dice and seeing what happens with the Bracelet on, but it's also completely unnecessary; none of the items are best in slot. The game also gives you the various Gambit conditions MUCH earlier, so you can get to programming your team right away. And that's one of the game's strengths; letting you put together a combination of Gambits and then letting the battle roll without undue micromanaging.

They added a 4x speedup in addition to the 2x speedup of IZJS, but it's basically unusable. 3x would have been better; at 4x you move too fast given how much crap there is in the terrain to get hung up on. And 2x still feels a bit too slow in town because they decided you should move slower in town for some reason. And this is the first of things that are problems the game has.

The bigger problems are a bit more fundamental. The game's story is quite light; less focus on characters, more on the larger geopolitical situation. And these story bits are quite spread apart. You might go through two large open areas in between even minor character dialog, and many cutscenes have minimal dialog, just characters walking. It's a weird choice, and it hurts things overall. Similarly, the way the terrain is set up is reminiscent of MMO design, so you have these large areas with a lot of areas to go in but not a lot of reason to. It's sort of like the problem OoT's Hyrule Field has, where about a quarter of the map you never visit unless you specifically want to search for an extra piece of heart or something, but now imagine that is every single area. The game's MMO leanings also come from some of the boss mechanics. Some bosses will just straight up become immune to magic or physical (or both) when their AI script tells them to, and it'll last for a good two minutes. This is the sort of thing that you might see in an MMO boss to encourage a diverse party and to indicate that there is something else to be attended to (e.g. new adds, the people who can't hurt the boss deal with them). Since this game isn't actually an MMO this ends up just being frustrating, and potentially a source of cheap deaths.

The game also has a lot of harder than the final boss content. I don't call it post-game because you can do it long before the final boss and there's no "after final boss" save like some games (e.g. recent Dragon Quest games). Doing this content will leave you massively overleveled compared to the final boss, so it becomes a pretty big stomp that sort of undermines what might have otherwise been a cool series of fights. I ended up just berserking the team (including my healer) and let them go to town; I was taking off 10% health per hit. And I didn't even do all the content; I decided doing the Pharos Subterra stuff wasn't worth my time, as it's really only to power yourself up for Yiazmet, that gigantic time sink (he's got approximately 100x the HP of the final boss).

It's well known that 12 had a very troubled production, and you can definitely see the signs of it. It isn't quite as bad as Xenogear's "oops, we ran out of money, here's a PowerPoint interspersed with boss fights", but it still ends up being one of the weaker entries in the series. You can definitely see the potential there, and I wonder what game we might have gotten had production been smoother. But if you are going to play it, definitely play Zodiac Age.
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MrPopo
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by MrPopo Sun May 24, 2020 10:22 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
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
20. Trials of Mana (2020) - Switch
21. Persona 5 Royal - PS4
22. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Campaign Remastered - PC
23. Sublevel Zero Redux - PC
24. Final Fantasy XII: Zodiac Age - PS4
25. Maneater - PC

Maneater is a game with a simple premise; you are shark, eat and evolve. But sometimes the simplest things are the most fun. The game is one giant exercise in catharsis and carnage that executes on its premise perfectly and ends right before it would drag, giving you a well executed power curve and an end game of feeling like the most badass thing in the sea. The designers achieved exactly what they set out to do, and we all benefit from it.

Now, the game has a fun framing story. There's a Deadliest Catch-esque reality show called Maneater, and the game starts off with the show's camera crew following around Scaley Pete the shark hunter. The show includes the slightly shaky camera angles, the occasional boom mic falling into the shot, and the random hashtags in response to things people say in an attempt to be hip. It also features Will Parnell as the show's narrator, and this serves as your primary feedback through the game. Obviously as a shark you don't do any self introspection. But the narrator is happy to describe what you're doing in a bunch of well written anecdotes about sharks and the game's environment that are just slightly exaggerated for parody.

You start off (after the intro) as a baby shark and need to eat your way into maturity. Eating creatures restores your health and gives you resources; fat, minerals, protein, and in rare cases mutagens. Consuming resources in general serves as your exp bar, while individual resources are used to upgrade specific body parts and organs. Progressing the story will move you through the lifecycle; baby, teen, adult, elder, and mega. Each jump in lifecycle gives a noticeable increase in capability, and when you hit elder many of the previous enemy creatures can now be nommed on like the food creatures, rather than needing to get involved in an attack duel.

The game has a fairly simple loop to it. The world is divided into several aquatic areas that are shoreline adjacent (bayou, harbor, seaside golf course, etc), each of which has a home base (where you go to upgrade yourself), three primary objectives, three repeats of each of the primary objectives, an apex predator, three kinds of collectables, and finally a trigger to move the story forward. In two instances that trigger includes a boss fight (once midgame, once end game). The missions all involve destruction, and are in three categories. The first is a population reduction; eat X of a certain creature in a certain area. Once you do it a total of four times you unlock the apex predator that normally eats those creatures and you need to duel to the death. Winning the duel gives you an equippable mutation. The other two are to eat a bunch of humans/kill a specific enemy, then repeat several times. The repeats are optional, but they also give you lots of mutation resources, so they're worth doing. The collectables are to find license plates (bragging rights only), to find crates of food (woo resources), and the third is to find various landmarks; these are a source of various cute jokes and finding all of them in an area unlocks a mutation.

One final thing to mention is your interaction with humans. As you nom them (and they are the most valuable in terms of food) you build up a panic meter; filling it causes shark hunters to come after you. They will infinitely respawn but can be evaded; think of them like GTA's wanted meter. But there's a twist; killing hunters builds up your infamy meter, which is a long term thing. Every time it ranks up a unique hunter will spawn, who tends to be better equipped than what you're facing. Killing the unique hunter unlocks a mutation. Additionally the shark hunters are now permanently upgraded in damage and toughness. It's always at the right level that unless you go out of your way to grind their level up early it never feels overwhelming; rather as you get more deadly they get a bit tougher to compensate, but you will stay on top because you are the best shark.

On the mutation front you have five body slots and three organ slots. The body slots have one of three options, one optimized for damage, one for speed, and one for defense, with each being useful in different situations. You get a set bonus for equipping the same parts (starting with two), and so you're encouraged to stay homogenous. They unlock approximately one per zone; defense parts come from killing apex predators, speed parts from finding all landmarks, and damage are at various unique hunter kills. There's more zones than parts, though, so a handful of those award organ mutations instead. Organs are your sort of catch-all passive benefits. All of these are upgraded using one of the three main resources, with the two highest levels of upgrade also needing some mutagen resource.

The game controls well, though some of the jumps to get to humans/collectables can be tricky. As a hint, equip the speed parts when you want to do those, as they make a noticeable difference. Your primary attack is naturally to bite, and you can also do a tail swipe. You can do a dodge in all four lateral directions and can do a dash forward. Chomping a prey animal lets you keep nomming, while sometimes in fights you can grapple which is a similar thing (though you can also be grappled in return, so be prepared for that). Humans come at you in boats, and you can either smash them to pieces or jump up and nom them off the deck. In fact, you have pretty decent ground mobility; it hits that sweet spot of feeling that yes, this is not what a shark wants to do but still being able to do things like scoop up humans and hit collectables. Just make sure you pay attention to your air meter, since you need water to breathe.

The whole thing took me about 9 hours, which is about right for an experience like this. At that point you've seen everything there is to see, and there aren't really any tricks left for combat. You power your way through and show that you are the biggest, baddest thing in the sea. And speaking of the sea, they did a great job with the environments. They're pretty to look at, and they do a good job in the underwater caves of using differently colored plants to indicate where room exits are, so it feels natural while still being good signposting.

Not much more to say; you can basically tell if you're going to enjoy the game or not based entirely on the trailer.
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SamuraiMegas
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by SamuraiMegas Sun May 24, 2020 11:28 pm

I beat sunset riders tonight. Took 26 continues. It used to take me 5-10 when I was 12...
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pook99
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by pook99 Tue May 26, 2020 3:30 pm

78. Ghost Squad (wii)

Ghost squad is a Sega made light gun game that feels like an updated virtua cop. Graphically the style is the same with enemies that display a targeting reticule before they shoot and hostages around that incur penalties when you shoot them, It wouldnt surprise me if this game started off as another virtua cop game and then sega changed the name for whatever reason.

Ghost squad is an arcade game, there are 3 levels that can be tackled in any order, and one play through only takes about 20 minutes or so but sega has done a nice job of keeping players incentivized to replay levels. Like any good sega light gun game there are branching paths in each level that add a nice degree of replayability, as you complete different paths your level completion percentage increases and when it hits a certain threshold more options open up to you and each stage levels up. Each level a stage earns increases its length, number of branching paths, and number of options available at each path, so you can play each level quite a few times before you see everything the level has to offer. You also level up your character as you complete levels which unlock a pretty huge arsenal of unlockable guns which alter the feel of the game.

In addition to standard shooting baddies, there are also several mini games that the game randomnly launches you into, including hand to hand fights, knife fights, sniping, disarming mines, and a few more. These mini games are simple to control and are generally fun to play, successful completion or failure almost always leads to a cheesy cutscene which is equal parts humorous and cringeworthy.

Keeping in the tradition of sega light gun games the plot is completely over the top, the dialogue is nonsensical, and it will leave you laughing at how bad some of it is, the animation of your character when you fail the hand to hand fight got a nice belly laugh from me, and although it does not match the camp of house of the dead 2 it is very satisfying in its own right.

Ghost Squad is a great game, it is a lot of fun to play, offers a nice degree of replayability, and features really nice and tight shooting with the wii mote. I bought this game at gamestop for $3 and for that price it is an absolute steal, any wii owner who is into light gun games absolutely needs to check this game out.
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