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MrPopo
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by MrPopo Mon Jun 08, 2020 11:51 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
26. XCOM: Chimera Squad - PC
27. Sakura Wars - PS4
28. Stela - Switch
29. Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2 - DC
30. Darksiders III - PC
31. Shadow Warrior (2013) - PC
32. Robotrek - SNES

From the makers of ActRaiser and Illusion of Gaia comes an RPG where a young boy protagonist must go out into a modern world, battle creatures and a goofy team of evildoers by sending out his minions one at a time which are stored in white and red balls. Then Nintendo ripped it off for Pokemon. Robotrek was originally called Slapstick in Japan, and the title was apt; the game is definitely designed for younger audiences and doesn't really take itself too seriously. It's also incredibly breakable mechanically, which makes up for what might have been an otherwise tedious experience (though there are some level design issues that it won't overcome).

The game's story is nothing to write home about; the bad guys cause trouble, you stop trouble, they kidnap your dad, you rescue him, then some unexplained time travel happens which reveals what could actually be an interesting plot point if it wasn't completely glossed over. You then go into space, making the box art not a lie (unlike Phalanx). You save the day, and then there's a festival in the end credits.

The real draw of the game is the crafting and robot customization. You start off with a single robot and can build two more; the second two robots have stronger melee and ranged attacks respectively (though it isn't huge, just enough to hit certain breakpoints if you're optimizing). The robots have a fixed stat pool that is based on your level, but you are completely free to spend those points however you want (and reallocate them any time you have the crafting interface open). So if you want to crank your HP down to 1 and your damage and evasion up to max because you're essentially unhittable the game will let you. Speaking of, this is the easiest way to get through the game.

Similarly, the crafting system in the game is reasonably open. Now, a lot of it is gated by the availability of materials, and several key pieces are either limited quantities or aren't available in shops until later, but if you know what you are doing you can have the best weapon (statistically second best, but due to resistances is better overall) before the third boss. You can combine this with the game's "programming" system for special moves. For every robot you can assign up to eight button combinations mixing up using your right hand, left hand, and backpack weapon (up to three presses); these are then available in battle. One combination will have you attack all enemies on screen with a physical attack; this is sufficient to kill 90% of the game's enemies on the first turn (and you always get the first turn if you aren't blindsided). Unfortunately, in the late game there are a lot of enemies with high defense and health that resist the programmed attacks, which is about the point you want to craft a bunch of Vanish items and just skip combat for the rest of the game.

My biggest complaint was one of the dungeons in the middle had a LOT of story triggers that you need to engage in, not all of which are intuitive (and most require multiple conversations with an NPC). You end up running all over creation if you don't realize exactly what you need to do, and causes things to drag (not to mention needing to continuously equip and unequip a key item). But the game overall doesn't overstay its welcome, and there is something cathartic about slaughtering everything in your path and then watching bosses flail helplessly at you as they miss.
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Games Beaten: 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
Blizzard Entertainment Software Developer - All comments and views are my own and not representative of the company.
dust_hound
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by dust_hound Tue Jun 09, 2020 11:53 am

Beaten 9th June 2020 - Klonoa: Door to Phantomile (PSX, played on PS VITA)

This game was a solid 5/10 for me - it didn't excel in any area, but wasn't hugely lacking either. It just exists. You play as Klonoa, a cat-rabbit kind of thing living in a little village with his buddy Huepow. The latter is a weird green orb that inhabits what looks like a giant wedding ring which one day in the past had crashed down from the sky, leading to the two forming a friendship. Through the game, you're introduced to a diverse cast of strange characters, and the plot gradually unfolds into an eventual fight for the existence of the world.

Presentation-wise, Klonoa has some really nice prerendered cutscenes and the overall look is bright and cheerful, with consistent art style and realtime 3D parts as solid as could be achieved on the original Playstation. Klonoa and other characters and enemies are pre-rendered sprites similar to Donkey Kong Country et al., whilst the backgrounds are polygonal. The prerendered sprites frequently zoom in and out, but never seem to actually reach a point where they look like they're properly in focus. Klonoa himself only really looks good when zoomed in during in-engine cutscenes, and during most of the game just looks like a rather vague mess of pixels. That said, I quite liked the visual style, even though it got a little messy at times.

Sadly, Klonoa's 2.5D platformer gameplay didn't really live up to the promise held by the nice visuals and concept. Klonoa controls fairly simply - there are two buttons in addition to the d-pad: shoot and jump. Shooting fires out a "wind bullet" which maybe extends one character length in front of Klonoa. This is used to activate switches or pick up bonuses, or inflate enemies. The 2.5D perspective occasionally made it difficult to use the wind bullet well, as often I'd either be short, or would get too close resulting in collision damage. Anyway, small enemies get inflated and picked up so they can be carried around and thrown at stuff. Big enemies get inflated but can then act as makeshift platforms. Throwing an inflated enemy into another enemy destroys both. If an enemy jumps into you and hits your carried enemy, they will both be destroyed, so fuck you if you were going to use that carried enemy for a puzzle. Of course, the enemies needed for puzzles will always re-spawn, but man that was annoying at many points. Jumping is fixed-height, but the air time can be extended a little by pressing and holding the jump button again mid-jump. Annoyingly, this also greatly slows Klonoa's horizontal movement, so I had a lot of stupid deaths due to mis-timing based on how far I thought he would travel. Pressing the jump button mid-air whilst carrying an inflated enemy will throw them downwards allowing Klonoa to do an extra mid-air jump. Sometimes you would need to use an enemy to double-jump, then grab another enemy mid-air to double jump again.

Klonoa seemed to be a game a which couldn't decide if it wanted to have great environmental puzzles or great skill-based action, and mashed those two things together without giving either of them sufficient developer consideration. What we ended up with is a mix of two things:

1) Tricky platforming sections that are beatable with skill, but are made more difficult than they should be due to the imprecision of the 2.5D perspective. Think Schrodinger's moving platforms which are maybe in the foreground and maybe in the background etc. Throw in sections that seem like they're almost deliberately designed to be as annoying as possible without much payoff, and you can sort of see why the game didn't become a big franchise - it has none of the elegant design and balance of the triple-A franchises like Mario, and gameplay ends up being more of a chore than an enjoyable adventure. For example, there are frequently times when enemies spawn almost on top of your location - if you know where to look out for them it's fine, but they often leap in from the foreground or background, and it's hard to avoid bumping into them as they arrive on your part of the z-axis. Things are made worse by the fact that any damage blasts Klonoa backwards, so if you're on a tiny platform suspended above a bottomless pit or lava, for example, it's just frustrating.

2) Puzzles that are often timing-based - e.g. grab an enemy, use them to double-jump up so you can hit one switch, land and hit another switch, then race across to the other side of the screen to hit the final switch - but you often feel that you somehow glitched past it, rather than solving it in the undisputably correct way. This is especially strange, since the puzzles mostly have only one real solution. I was pretty confused by feeling this way, but I think it's just another reflection of the lack of competence with which the game's systems were designed. It's less of "aha, that's how to do it", and more of "thank god I stumbled through that part".

The last stage in particular is an especially egregious example of this unpleasant melange of ideas - hard platforming sections with instant death, where the puzzle is how to utilise the enemies to help you get across big gaps, except there's added pressure of other enemies coming towards you. Bosses are generally quite good, with imaginative patterns, but the final boss really does outstay its welcome as it has three phases where you can die instantly if you fall off the edge. To be fair, it has set patterns that are exploitable, but again the 2.5D perspective troubles, plus Klonoa's weird movement inertia, just created more headaches than enjoyment.

Thankfully with enough practice, it's all beatable of course and it wouldn't take a huge amount of time investment to become good enough at the game to go through without taking any damage at all. I know that others love Klonoa, but for me it's a one-and-done game. I'm glad to have played through it so that I can know what people are talking about when they discuss it, but the negative feeling I got during my ~8hr play time far outweighs the positive. Thankfully I only paid 5EUR for it on the EU Playstation Network. I'd have felt pretty ripped off if I'd paid full-price at release back in 1998, and even more so if I were an ebay whale paying the current ridiculous prices for a disc. A quick glance on the UK ebay sold listings revealed £50 for a disc-only copy, and £150 for boxed.

Despite my quite negative review, I do think that the world of Phantomile and its inhabitants are extremely charming. I'd definitely recommend Klonoa for a playthrough if you can find it for a low price, but for me it's certainly a buyer-beware situation where the prices for physical copies are not really a marker for quality.
pook99
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by pook99 Tue Jun 09, 2020 9:37 pm

82. Soldier of fortune: payback (xbox 360)

Completely generic FPS, generic story about terrorists, generic tough guy protagonist, generic weapons, muddy graphics, and a cliff hanger ending. The game is mostly really easy but you get some random difficulty spikes which, when combined with long loading times between deaths, can get frustrating really quickly.

This game is the very definition of average, I bought it at gamestop for $2.50 so at that price I feel good about it, but if I paid more I would feel ripped off. Not worth it, if your in the mood for a FPS there are dozens of better things you could be playing
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Ack
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by Ack Wed Jun 10, 2020 11:44 am

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)

9. Tenchi wo Kurau II (Arcade)(Beat 'Em Up)
10. Dark Sun: Shattered Lands (PC)(RPG)

11. Lichdom: Battlemage (PC)(FPS/RPG Hybrid)
12. Star Wars: Republic Commando (PC)(FPS)

13. DOOM 64 (PC)(FPS)
14. Half Dead 2 (PC)(Adventure)

15. Powered Gear - Strategic Variant Armor Equipment (Arcade)(Beat 'Em Up)
16. Torchlight II (PC)(RPG)

17. Battle Circuit [Japanese](Arcade)(Beat 'Em Up)
18. Hard Reset Redux (PC)(FPS)

19. The Stanley Parable (PC)(Walking Sim)
20. Waking Mars (PC)(Adventure)
21. Requiem: Avenging Angel (PC)(FPS)

22. Night Slashers (Arcade)(Beat 'Em Up)
23. Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath HD (PC)(Action Adventure)

24. Strikers 1945 (Arcade)(SHMUP)
25. SiN Episodes: Emergence (PC)(FPS)
26. Crysis Warhead (PC)(FPS)

27. Metro 2033 (PC)(FPS)
28. Good Job! (Switch)(Puzzle)
29. Blasphemous (Switch)(Action Adventure)

30. Two Worlds: Epic Edition (PC)(RPG)
31. Chex Quest HD (PC)(FPS)

32. NecroVision: Lost Company (PC)(FPS)
33. Icewind Dale (PC)(RPG)

34. Icewind Dale: Heart of Winter (PC)(RPG)
35. Icewind Dale: Trials of the Luremaster (PC)(RPG)


Since I had completed the main game of Icewind Dale, I decided I should continue directly through the expansion and then the downloadable bonus dungeon that was developed for it. I have mixed feelings here, partly because of design decisions, partly because this is getting into high level Dungeons & Dragons, and some things break down at this point.

First, Heart of Winter, the official expansion, is meant for a party of level 9 characters at minimum. I went in a few levels higher and still had a learning curve with some of the new enemies. I appreciated this, because it not only gave me a challenge in the game, it also helped expand my knowledge of 2nd Ed D&D monsters. The Wailing Virgin ghost is new to me, and it turns out is also not evil unlike most other undead, so my combat tactics had to change! There are also high level spells to find, even up to the truly powerful 9th level. And the end encounter gives us the one thing that had been missing from the game, a final boss battle with an ancient dragon.

The downside to this is that, by the time I was done, my party was sitting roughly between levels 18-14, and the few times I had gotten gear better than what I carried over from the base game, it had only further beefed up an experienced party. Now I had access to so many spells, buffs, and items, I was successfully able to clear whole maps without taking a single rest. By the end, the game was throwing hordes of foes in waves, and I still managed to wade through with simple ease.

To add to this, due to my high level and the enemy's lack of one major magic counter, the final battle proved to actually be easier than the base game. What was missing? Dispel Magic! Icewind Dale's final encounter starts with this, so you have to buff during the fight. No so for Heart of Winter, so you can walk in with a fully pumped team and get started on killing immediately. No, instead the game decided to offer up a single casting of Power Word: Kill, which, while able to completely knock out a party member, kill them, and remove them from the party so that they can never be resurrected, still wasn't enough to stop a group of way too powerful player characters simply walking up and slaughtering a dragon and her effective phylactery (though she's not considered a Dracolich...huh). Yeah, it was a little odd. Oh, and the game also exports your party right before the final fight, so there's little benefit to actually beating the boss if you're looking to come back.

That's ok, because I then restarted the expansion with my new and improved party that was exported from right before that battle so I could go check out the new dungeon, Trials of the Luremaster. If Heart of Winter had issues with player power, TotL is just ridiculous, relying instead on cheapness to try and counteract the effect of having characters who are reaching epic levels.

What do I mean by this? Epic levels are when characters reach level 20 and beyond, where you have gotten so powerful that you can take on the most powerful monsters, and gods are basically paying attention to you. Shoot, you can probably kill a god at this point; they have stats, after all. During TotL, my party thief hit epic levels, and everyone else was getting damn close, so the game needed a counter. This counter was to make the game be frustrating.

Trials of the Luremaster is near constant combat, which isn't the issue because Icewind Dale relies heavily on combat. No, the issue is that the game likes to throw constant groups, enemies with heavy resistances to near everything, insta-kill enemies, and nuisance enemies. For instance, in one crypt area, there are casters who will simply teleport one of your party members away, possibly to the far side of an as yet unexplored level. They do this the instant you see them too, and they don't need line of sight to finish the spell, so you're either having to make a beeline to kill them before they get the spell off or hoping they send you somewhere close enough you can walk back without encountering a group large enough to kill a singled out character. Other times, you face back-to-back battles with dreaded Beholders, who have the Death Ray ability similar to the Power Word: Kill spell. Yep, fail the save, and that party member is killed and knocked out of the party, never to be revived.

Hell, the final battle of the game mainly consists of taking down waves of enemies and then going after the Luremaster, who teleports when you so much as look in his direction while constantly casting offensive spells. By the end of it, I figured out his teleport points and parked my guys around the room as close as possible, hoping I could get in a free hit before he vanished. The fight took nearly half an hour as a result.

Heart of Winter I enjoyed; it gave me my dragon encounter as well as some interesting fights, and it let me see how truly powerful my party had become. Trials of the Luremaster was more a nuisance than anything else, and I'd recommend it only to those who really love Icewind Dale. Even if I were to ever go back to this, I'd skip the Luremaster content. It's just not fun.
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I have a movie review website now: https://moviereviewsbyamook.com/
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BoneSnapDeez
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by BoneSnapDeez Thu Jun 11, 2020 6:06 pm

1. ACA NeoGeo: Cyber-Lip (Switch eShop)
2. Pengo (Atari 2600)
3. Kirby's Epic Yarn (Wii)
4. Knights of Xentar (PC)
5. Hoshi o Sagashite... (Mark III)
6. Dead Zone (Famicom Disk System)
7. Samurai Sword (Famicom Disk System)
8. High School! Kimengumi (Mark III)
9. Princess Tomato in the Salad Kingdom (NES)
10. Sindbad Mystery (SG-1000)
11. Steins;Gate (Vita)
12. Champion Boxing (SG-1000)
13. Squidlit (Switch eShop)
14. Skyblazer (SNES)
15. Tokyo Dark: Remembrance (Switch eShop)
16. Bubble Bobble (Famicom Disk System)
17. Steins;Gate Elite (Switch)
18. Johnny Turbo's Arcade: Joe and Mac Returns (Switch eShop)
19. Johnny Turbo's Arcade: Express Raider (Switch eShop)
20. Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle (Genesis)
21. Sword of Vermilion (Genesis)
22. Steins;Gate: My Darling's Embrace (Switch eShop)
23. Oink! (Atari 2600)
24. Bio Miracle Bokutte Upa (Famicom Disk System)
25. Super Castlevania IV (SNES)
26. Phantasy Star Online (Dreamcast)
27. Chaos;Child (Vita)
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Let's get one thing out of the way. Chaos;Child is not Steins;Gate. It may share the same developer. It may (loosely) be a member of the same series. It may even share the same stupid semicolon. But while Steins;Gate was a taut thriller, an absolute nail-biter of an adventure, Chaos;Child is an abject mess: confusing, seemingly contradictory, comically overlong, and utterly bizarre in terms of both plot and designs. It's also quite good, in spite of itself.

Chaos;Child was originally released in 2014 on the Xbox One, of all places, as part of the Science Adventure series. It was subsequently (heavily) ported, with some releases hitting the West (this particular Vita version arrived in 2017). While the game contains some cutesy passing references to Steins;Gate, Chaos;Child is more importantly a continuation of the story told by Chaos;Head, the first Science Adventure title. This presents a small conundrum because, as of this writing, Chaos;Head has not been officially localized or released outside of Japan. That said, Chaos;Child contains an entirely new cast of characters. And while the writing does acknowledge the events of Chaos;Head, Chaos;Child manages to work as a standalone experience.

This visual novel blends two genres that all VN fanatics have become accustomed to: mystery and horror. Set in 2015 in Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan, a series of inexplicable murders are occurring, the bodies all staged in disturbingly elaborate fashions. The murders appear to be emulating, and even share dates with, another string of killings committed six years prior, which occurred around the same time an earthquake leveled Shibuya and left a generation of young people destitute and alienated. The "new" murders -- soon dubbed the "Return of the New Generation Madness" -- are accompanied by groups of grotesque two-faced "Sumo Stickers" left on-scene. Detectives are on the case, naturally, though the game's protagonist is one Takuru Miyashiro, head of his school's newspaper club and one of many "Chaos Children" whose lives were upended by the aforementioned 2009 earthquake.
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The characters are an interesting bunch. Takuru, perhaps the first and only VN protagonist to live in an RV, is a compelling hero. He's the prototypical "channer" type: an internet fiend who's extremely confident in his own breadth of knowledge (literally referring to himself as a "right-sider") but also perpetually unsure of how to speak and act when confronted by any number of real-life social situations. Hellbent on getting to the bottom of the recent killing spree, Takuru's joined by his club pals: his wisecracking buddy Shinji Itou, and an assortment of, you know, "the ladies." This cluster of female characters is reminiscent of those gals from Muv-Luv, with ludicrous unnatural hair colors/styles and somewhat "trope-y" personalities: the "big sister" girl, the gaming/otaku girl, the spacey airhead girl, the hyperactive girl with the little fang tooth. All are adorable and uniquely charming (Arimura Hinae is "best girl" by the way). The additional side characters are, for the most part, rather intriguing. One of the detectives is actually a middle-aged woman, which is a refreshing change of pace.

Production values are extraordinarily high. The backgrounds are gorgeous, with the artists delivering one grimy blood-soaked scenario after another. Character art is colorful and well-composed, if not a little generic when stacked up against the likes of Steins;Gate. There's an abundance of unique "stills" to uncover, as well as some very brief animated sequences. Voice acting is additionally exemplary. This is especially true of the protagonist, whose perpetual fear and hesitation is palpable. As for the soundtrack, it ventures into dark ambient territory quite often. There are plenty of slow moody pieces to accentuate the game's gradual unraveling, in terms of both story progression and the withering sanity of the protagonist. The OST is also, however, perhaps a touch overindulgent at around fifty or so tracks -- some are only heard once or twice throughout the journey.

As for the story itself, it seems to function best when it's not trying too hard. The overall presentation of Takuru is rather peculiar. He's explicitly said to be "delusional." The game presents him as a bit of an unreliable narrator and, perhaps taking a cue from the likes of Higurashi, occasionally tosses him out the driver's seat in favor of third-person narration or the viewpoint of a compatriot. The core murder mystery is incredibly engrossing. Clues are pieced together slowly, some kept while others discarded in favor of new information. Deaths are gruesome and (fortunately?) shown and described in explicit detail. Some specific scenarios are unbelievably tense, especially those initial "trespassing" incidents where Takuru and his crew take it upon themselves to sneak into a hotel murder scene and sealed hospital ward.

Gameplay is mostly made up of clicking through text, though Takuru's delusions are integrated into the plot as well. At pivotal moments, the player is given the option to activate a "positive" or "negative" delusion for Takuru, or bypass both options to chug along in the realm of reality. "Positive" and "negative" are relative terms here, as all delusions are quite strange. Most positive options involve fan service among the female characters, where they'll spontaneously choose to embrace, kiss, or grab their respective bosoms. The rare positive delusions that don't involve the girls are arguably even more out-there. In one, Takuru proceeds to give a male rival a hoedown ("pantsing" if you're not from my part of the country/world). Negative delusions are comically varied: some are predicated on simple rejection by a female, while others involve alien invasions and homicidal frogs. There's some additional player agency in the form of a map hung in the newspaper club's meeting room. Various photographs and notes must be tacked up and rearranged as the investigation progresses. It's an intriguing way to summarize the case details at various moments, though the whole thing also can manifest as a vaguely annoying "how well were you paying attention?" quiz.
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Chaos;Child is fond is twists, which is quite the double-edged sword. The route that leads to the killer is undeniably a winding one. Expect to revise those hypotheses several times throughout. The murderer's "big reveal" is one of the most captivating moments of the whole experience. The very nature of this individual is terrifying on an existential level, and sets the tone for the many hours that follow. It effectively splits the game in two: the mystery and the fallout. There are some peripheral accomplice villains to be unearthed as well, though these are integrated rather poorly, with motives that seem either totally capricious or "nihilistic" in that stereotypical "JRPG final boss" fashion. Many of the game's twists fall flat because (unlike Steins;Gate) they aren't foreshadowed appropriately and don't manage to be integrated into the narrative cleanly. Rather, they often manifest as "gotcha" moments -- what you thought was X was actually Y, mwuahahaha! There's also an emphasis on betrayal: good characters that are really quite bad. These sudden about-faces also rest on a shaky foundation and are often more vexing than convincing.

What's additionally disappointing is the localization. It its core, it's "okay" -- all the character dialogue appears to be translated properly and the game is readable overall. But there are serious drawbacks that can't be ignored. Spelling and spacing errors are too numerous to count. Then there are the specific oddities. For instance, characters are often labeled as "unknown" when first encountered, until their true nature (and name) is deciphered. However, this name acquisition was overlooked in regards to one notable female character, one who has her own character routes and endings, who's simply labeled "unknown" throughout the entire game! Poor kid. The map in the newspaper club room remains untranslated, which is fine until one reaches a specific scene (on one of the peripheral ending routes) where the objective is to identify given neighborhoods properly lest they be stuck with a "bad ending." Most egregious of all: some of the briefest of (voiced) cutscenes have no subtitles, including the one that concludes the game!

While I'm piling on the negativity, it needs to be mentioned that the game often has issues with conversations among the lead characters. They're excessively long, predicated on descriptions of things that could have been shown. In fact, due to the "static" nature of VN graphics, said descriptions often contradict what is displayed onscreen. Like, a girl who's ostensibly sleeping staring at the player with their giant wide open baby blue anime eyes. And, this is very specific, but the characters are rendered breathless and speechless far too often. They sigh, they grunt, they stare at each other blankly, they have entire back-and-forth conversations consisting of nothing but "..." exhalations. Seriously, there needs to be a "..." count taken, there must be hundreds of these.
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As with most non-linear visual novels, Chaos;Child offers up a plethora of endings. However, the "ending structure" is downright baffling. A brief pivot to Steins;Gate, as that game did things properly. Steins;Gate features a "true ending" that's the most difficult to achieve. On the way to the true ending, via trial and error, the player is likely to see the additional side endings first. Thus the true ending functions as a final reward that wraps up everything nicely. Standard procedure. Chaos;Child takes a more controversial approach. First, there's the common route. The player is locked into this on their first run. The killer's identity is solved here and there's a grandiose (and rather lovely) "final boss" battle similar to that of Muv-Luv Alternative. Only after this common route is completed can players chase after the heroine routes. These vary in terms of quality, though all help flesh out the motivations of the leading ladies. But it's a jarring experience -- with the common route done and the mystery (mostly) solved, it's like the player is supposed to "forget" about key events as they play through the heroine routes, which naturally start back at square one. The denouement comes in the form of a long-awaited true ending, blessedly isolated as its own standalone chapter. It's quite good, and a bold attempt at metafiction. But the point still stands: the common route ending, seen at hour 25 of 50, is the game's apex -- everything that follows oozes strong "in case you were wondering..." vibes. For the record, the events of the true ending (cryptically) reveal why the writing follows this path, though the plot could have been tweaked ever so slightly for the sake of coherence. As for achieving various endings, this is dependent on which delusions are chosen once the player begins an additional playthrough. There's no way to parse out which delusion choices will lead to which pathways so the advice I dispense is simple: use a walkthrough. Best to avoid those extraneous "bad endings" as well, which are corny and don't contribute to the player's overall progress.

Oddly enough, I've read multiple reviews of Chaos;Child where the reviewer complains about the game at length and then paradoxically rates it highly. Which is exactly what I'm going to do here. The 8/10 is meant to be taken literally. 80% of the game is impressive, while the remaining 20% (an admittedly sizable chunk) could have been excised altogether, or at the very least heavily modified. As a pure "detective" story it succeeds in weaving a hypnotic yarn, replete with an oddly lovable cast of teenage misfits. Whenever the narrative stumbles it, somehow, manages to redeem itself in subsequent scenarios. Anyway, I can't help but shake the feeling that this is all supposed to be an allegory anyway. Much in the same way that Evangelion and Muv-Luv are about "aliens" but are actually about alienation and insecurity, Chaos;Child is actually about isolation, dependence, maladaptive daydreaming, and the hidden chaos that lurks in all of us. And van dwelling. That RV looks awfully cozy.
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prfsnl_gmr
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by prfsnl_gmr Fri Jun 12, 2020 10:37 pm

Awesome review, as always, Bone, I hope you have those collected somewhere. I’m not sure I’ll ever get in to VNs, but I do enjoy reading about your experiences with them.

.....

1. Her Story (iOS)
2. Elminage Original (3DS)
3. Legend of Grimrock (iOS)
4. Silent Bomber (PS1)
5. Crash Bandicoot (PS1)
6. Bust-a-Move 2 Arcade Edition (PS1)
7. Transformers Cybertron Adventures (Wii)
8. Squidlit (Switch)
9. Sydney Hunter & The Curse of the Mayan (Switch)
10. Mega Man Legends (PS1)
11. Revenge of the Bird King (Switch)
12. Blossom Tales: The Sleeping King (Switch)
13. Gato Roboto (Switch)
14. Kamiko (Switch)
15. Night Slashers (Arcade)
16. Subsurface Circular (Switch)
17. Iconoclasts (Switch)
18. Wonder Boy Returns Remix (Switch)
19. Resident Evil 3 (PS1)
20. The Messenger (Switch)
21. The Messenger: Picnic Panic (Switch)
22. Samsara Room (iOS)
23. Heroes of the Monkey Tavern (Switch)
24. Sayonara Wild Hearts (Switch)
25. Gris (Switch)
26. Donut County (iOS)
27. Donkey Kong Country 2 (SNES)
28. Donkey Kong Country 3 (SNES)
29. Contra (Arcade)
30. Super Contra (Arcade)


I picked up the Contra Anniversary Collection for my Switch the other day, and since I’d never beaten it before, I immediately started playing the Arcade version of Contra. While it doesn’t hold a candle to its NES counterpart (or, as I discovered, it’s even better Famicom counterpart), it is actually a pretty solid run ‘n gun. After beating it on the “easy” difficulty, I gave it a shot on “normal” difficulty and, to my surprise, ended up 1CC’ing it. (Just got in the zone, I guess.) Although there is no 30-live code and although you’re limited to five continues, I think the game is ultimately much easier than its console counterparts once you learn how to play it, and I would like to try it on original hardware again sometime.

When I start to think I’m good at Contra, Super Contra comes along to remind me that I’m pretty terrible, which is OK because, you know what, Super Contra?! You’re pretty terrible too. I struggled to beat this game on even the “easy” difficulty setting, and I have no plans to revisit it now that I’ve rolled the credits. The game throws way too much stuff at you, and for some reason, there’s a slight delay when hanging the angle of your shots. (That is, it controls worse than its arcade predecessor.) The overhead sections are just bad, and a massive step down from Contra’s corridor levels. The game is also full of “cheap” deaths that are completely unavoidable unless you’re expecting them. Not recommended.
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by MrPopo Sat Jun 13, 2020 3:14 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
26. XCOM: Chimera Squad - PC
27. Sakura Wars - PS4
28. Stela - Switch
29. Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2 - DC
30. Darksiders III - PC
31. Shadow Warrior (2013) - PC
32. Robotrek - SNES
33. Shadow Warrior 2 - PC

After the Shadow Warrior remake turned out to be quite well done I was looking forward to the sequel. Unfortunately, the gameplay and characterization/story changes makes it a poor follow up. The best that can be said is they licensed a brand new song from Stan Bush for the final boss music. And in fairness, it's a pretty bitchin song.

SW2 is set five years after the first game. The premise is that the actions you took during one of the boss battles caused the Shaodw Realm to partially merge with Earth. Cue demon war, followed by eventual uneasy peace. The immortals from the first game integrate with society in various positions of power, and now chi has been turned into chi tech and used to cyberpunk stuff. You initially are hired for another delivery job before getting swept up in events that involve another soul being stuck in your head and you needing to stop a big bad from their evil plot.

The gameplay has been changed from a series of crafted levels that you progress through into a looter shooter. You get a series of main and side missions, click a map to teleport to an area with procedurally generated level layouts (justified by the realm merge making things chaotic and will shift when you're not looking), do your objective, and teleport out. This means the best way to go tends to be to just dash past everyone because there isn't much reward in fighting; the karma exp is still as hidden from you as ever so you never really get a sense of how much fighting is doing for your skill point gain. The looter part comes from the massively increased number of weapons and the socketing system. Every weapon can take three enhancements which can be swapped in and out at will, your standard stuff like increased damage, increased fire rate, changing a portion to an element, etc. You get roughly one new weapon per mission, and the damage banding means most of them are side grades. The main way you increase in power is through the socketed stuff. And it's a total pain; the interface involves a lot more clicks than the fast Diablo or Borderlands check the card vs. your equipped. Fitting in with this they also have enemies have modifiers; elemental resistant/weak, elemental aura, stronger, tougher, etc. Ripped straight from Diablo, but it just doesn't feel like it fits here. The way they do the procedural levels is different from most FPS's; rather than a bunch of small setpieces that can form large mazes they instead go with a handful of large setpieces with a handful of connection points. This makes the levels feel much better crafted, though their open nature (to allow them to spawn objectives in a bunch of spots) also means you're more likely to just skip past everything because they can't even block you.

On the story side they don't really do a good job of explaining how the immortals suddenly adapt to modern society in a handful of years. And everyone's characterization gets completely fucked up. Aside from Lo Wang (who just gets a bit more juvenile and erasing some of the character development from the first game) and Xing (who is just as much of a bro as before) every other character feels completely different from their portrayal in the original game. And the story loses the subtlety of the original game; it's much more of a standard excuse story. Weirdly, the good story bits still exist, but they're locked to the randomly dropped logs that aren't guaranteed to be dropped in order and require you to grind to get them all. It's weird how they split the content like that, because I genuinely enjoyed reading them; they do a lot of interesting world building and make me want more, while the game's main story is paint by numbers.

It's too bad that they lost their way with the second. They did leave a massive sequel hook, so depending on the gameplay I'd be willing to give the third a chance if they made one.
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Games Beaten: 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
Blizzard Entertainment Software Developer - All comments and views are my own and not representative of the company.
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by MrPopo Sun Jun 14, 2020 1:38 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
25. Maneater - PC
26. XCOM: Chimera Squad - PC
27. Sakura Wars - PS4
28. Stela - Switch
29. Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2 - DC
30. Darksiders III - PC
31. Shadow Warrior (2013) - PC
32. Robotrek - SNES
33. Shadow Warrior 2 - PC
34. EVO: The Search for Eden - SNES

EVO is an ambitious platformer with RPG elements that unfortunately was not able to back up its vision with execution. The game is very rough and apparently was developed by the company's younger staff; their lack of experience shows. It mostly serves as an interesting historical piece; it doesn't really stand on its own all that well, but at least it isn't super long.

The premise is that you are a lifeform on Earth that needs to evolve until you're fit to be Gaia's husband or something. You will experience five periods of Earth's past; the period where all life was on the sea, as an amphibian during the early period of land life, during the time of the dinosaurs, during the post dinosaur ice-age, and finally during the time of the ancestors of humans. You will need to go through a bunch of levels, evolve yourself to be deadlier, defeat some bosses, and take a time game to the next period.

The evolution mechanic is fairly simple; killing enemies causes them to drop food, which gives you health and evolution points. You can spend those points to evolve a given body part; this is divided into mouth, horn, body, hands & feet, fins, tails, and behind-the-head. The last one clearly a more literal translation; a modern translation might be accessory or ancillary. Not every part is available to every body type; fins get phased out after dinosaurs, while mammals don't do anything with tails (and hands & feet tend to be for special evolutions like the evolution to human). The game doesn't give you any stats on the evolutions; there is a general note on what each part generally improves on you, but there are subtleties as you progress. While 80% of the time the most expensive part is the best, the times it isn't will really trip you up.

See, one of the problems is that evolutions, unlike equipment in an RPG, cannot be sold back. So if you spend 1000 points on an upgrade and then want an upgrade that costs 2000 points you will have spent a total of 3000 points. This ends up incentivizing you to never do intermediate upgrades outside of your mouth (as you usually need to get at least one upgrade to grind in a reasonable amount of time for more evolution points). This becomes painful when you switch body types; this resets your evolution points. You will be starting from zero a minimum of three times; fish, amphibian, and dinosaur. From there you have the option of evolving to a bird or staying a dinosaur to finish out the chapter. When the ice age hits you can go from either form to mammal, and it is heavily encouraged. Non-mammals have almost no traction on ice, cutting your mobility to almost nothing. Birds can fly at ground level to overcome that, but any hit drops you out of flying. So if you're looking to experience everything the game has you will start from scratch five times; that's a lot of grinding.

And what makes that worse is just how janky the combat is. Your primary attack is to bite. The animation involves your head going forward and then your teeth coming out; when the head is out but not the teeth your hurtbox is extended but you don't get a hitbox until the teeth animation plays. And the range on the teeth is pretty crap. All enemies deal minor collision damage, so you'll find many attacks aborted because you were slightly too close. And the game has almost no mercy invincibility, so you can end up stunlocked quite easily by enemies simply deciding to run through you. Heaven help you if you get pinned in the corner by the yeti boss; you can't escape. You have two alternate methods of attacking. The first is to goomba stomp enemies. This is hard to control; the air physics are a weird committed jump where your velocity is committed when you jump but you can invert the X-axis component by pressing the opposite direction on the D-pad. So if you're doing a fast jump to the right and push left you'll instantly stop and start moving at the same speed left; this utterly trashes your precision when jumping. And landing on an enemy makes you do the same jump you initially did. But now that enemy is immune to your jump until you land on solid ground. So you can bop multiple enemies with one jump, but not the same enemy twice. And jump doesn't do a lot of damage. The final attack is with the horns; if you have evolved them and double tap to dash then running into an enemy you'll do damage. This actually ends up being the most reliable way to get in damage, but horns also break after three attacks. And horns are some of the most expensive parts, which makes them basically worthless outside of one special limited transformation that has unbreakable horns.

All of this ends up making the boss fights quite frustrating; enemy hitboxes tend to be extremely generous to them so you'll end up running into attacks when trying to attack yourself. Many bosses you can get into a damage loop, but being a couple pixels off will not only let them escape, but probably get you taking a major amount of pain. The one saving grace is the game has an extremely exploitable system; any time you evolve your HP is regenerated. And you always have the option of removing a part or going down to a low level base. Midway through the game you have the option of lengthening or shortening your neck for a pittance; most of the time it doesn't matter what state it's in (and the times it does it's a pittance to set the right one), so you can just spam that in fights to full heal over and over. The game even has a period where you are at 0 health but in midair to open the menu and evolve, as you don't die until you are on solid ground. Still, several of the bosses can combo you so bad that you can go from full to zero in a second if you get it wrong.

There's definitely a seed of a neat idea, and it's fun to see the kinds of weird creatures you evolve into (as it's pretty mix and match). But the gameplay keeps getting in the way of things; it would be interesting to see someone do a remake of this game with 30 years of learnings on good platformer physics.
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Games Beaten: 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
Blizzard Entertainment Software Developer - All comments and views are my own and not representative of the company.
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Markies
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by Markies Sun Jun 14, 2020 4:22 pm

Markies' Games Beat List Of 2020!
*Denotes Replay For Completion*

1. Pikmin 2 (GCN)
2. Banjo-Tooie (N64)
3. Contra: Hard Corps (GEN)
4. Super Baseball Simulator 1,000 (SNES)
5. Chip 'N Dale Rescue Rangers 2 (NES)
6. Pinball Hall of Fame: The Gottlieb Collection (PS2)
***7. Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories (PS2)***
***8. Cruis'N USA (N64)***
9. Arc The Lad Collection (PS1)
10. Halo 2 (XBX)

11. Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings And The Lost Ocean (GCN)

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I beat Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings And The Lost Ocean on the Nintendo GameCube this afternoon!

After playing through Fire Emblem and Paper Mario, I was looking for my next great GameCube RPG to sink my teeth into. One of the major complaints about the GameCube was the lack of RPG's as they all migrated towards the PS2 that generation. While looking through the library, I stopped upon Baten Kaitos and I remembered that was a game my friend had played and stopped. Figuring it would be a good game for us to play together (it was!) and the fact that I had never played a card video game before, I decided that it would be a good test. After sitting on my shelf for several years, I finally decided that this was the year I would finally play it.

The first part of Baten Kaitos that caught my attention were the graphics as these were some of the most beautiful graphics I have seen of that generation. Without a doubt, it is the most impressive graphics I have ever seen on the GameCube. Each world is its own beautiful set piece as they look like a picture from a picture book. With great music and unique character design, the game has a beautiful aesthetic feel for it. Also, the story is surprisingly engaging as well. There are several twists and turns that I did not see coming and it kept me engaged throughout the entire journey. I think it had a few plot holes here and there, but nothing too glaring. The voice work, though, could be bad at times. Bad voice acting has never really bothered me, so I didn't mind it, but I can see where it would turn some people off. Finally, the card battle combat took a while to get into it, but once I understood, I was immediately hooked. I absolutely loved and I wanted to keep doing battles all throughout the entire game. It's not perfect as I felt some boss battles were a little broken and I felt like I broke the game at the end, but it was still a blast to play and kept adding new layers and depth all throughout the entire game.

Overall, I really enjoyed playing Baten Kaitos. My major complaint would be the fact that you only have a few seconds to make your card selection in the game as that added unneeded pressure. That, some of the annoying boss battles and the weird voice acting would be my only faults in the game. Besides that, it was a beautiful game with a combat system that kept me engaged. With an interesting story and characters, Baten Kaitos is one of the best games I've played all year.
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Note
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by Note Sun Jun 14, 2020 9:46 pm

1. Streets of Rage 2 (GEN)
2. The Ninja Warriors (SNES) [3x]
3. TMNT IV: Turtles in Time (SNES)
4. Golden Axe (GEN) [3x]
5. Beyond Oasis (GEN)
6. Super Double Dragon (SNES)
7. Shenmue II (DC)
8. Shining Force 2 (GEN)
9. Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island (SNES)
10. ActRaiser (SNES)
11. OutRun (GEN)
12. X-Men 2: Clone Wars (GEN)
13. Captain Commando (SNES)
14. The Pirates of Dark Water (SNES)
15. Final Fight (SNES)
16. Gradius III (SNES)
17. Super R-Type (SNES)
18. U.N. Squadron (SNES)
19. Super Castlevania IV (SNES)
20. Arrow Flash (GEN)
21. Forgotten Worlds (GEN)
22. Contra III: The Alien Wars (SNES)
23. Wonder Boy in Monster World (GEN)

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24. Resident Evil 6 (360)

I ended up picking up RE 6 on the cheap last year from a local video game store, simply because it was another two player co-op game on the 360 that my girlfriend and I could play through. We finished a few other couch co-op games on the system, and I thought this might be fun as well. I was aware of the mixed reviews of the game, but for $9, I figured I'd give it a shot. I had also not played any of the newer RE games, so it'd give me a chance to see what the more recent games were like.

Graphics wise, I think the game looks pretty good for this generation. However, the camera angles can be a bit of a pain from time to time. One scene in particular, where you have to run from a monster in Chris Redfield's campaign -- I remember we had to replay this section multiple times as it was tough to get down the pattern and see where you're going due to the camera issues in this section.

The gameplay in RE6 is mixed, as there are four total campaigns, and each one plays a bit different. However, the game overall feels like more of an action game similar to Gears of War (especially Chris Redfield's campaign), as opposed to a survival horror game like earlier entries in the RE series. As a fan of survival horror games you may be disappointed with this entry. Since I was aware of this going in and got the game on the cheap, I was fine with the gameplay, and the game ended up being a pretty fun co-op experience.

Throughout Ada's campaign, the co-op felt like it was a feature that was added at the last second, without much thought being put into it. During Ada's campaign the second player can not open doors, press switches, or any perform any key actions. This is a really odd design choice, and just seems like the co-op feature was rushed. However, this is not the case for the other three campaign modes, where the second character is a vital part of the game and the story.

Overall, I still enjoyed this game, and would recommend it to anyone looking for a cheap co-op experience on the system. We've finished a bunch of co-op games on the 360, and I'll have to do some homework on others I can pick up on the cheap.
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