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PartridgeSenpai
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by PartridgeSenpai Tue Jul 14, 2020 6:58 pm

prfsnl_gmr wrote:Second, I’m glad you enjoyed The Messenger, Partridge. All of your criticism’s are 100% valid, but I still loved that game to death. It was so challenging, so fast, and so fun.


Totally! After I finished Picnic Panic, I just started a NG+ and just kept playing until I had a thing I had to do. It's a game that's just so fun to PLAY, and mechanically I think that's why it reminds me so much of Shovel Knight. They're both games I've finished after many hours and just been like "I could play that again, sure" :lol:
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alienjesus
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by alienjesus Tue Jul 14, 2020 7:16 pm

prfsnl_gmr wrote:First, awesome reviews, AJ. Just amazing. I really like it when someone goes on a kick with esoteric games on an esoteric system.


I have a couple more Game Gear games to get through still too, but need a little more time to get through them. I have an strategy game and an RPG in the wings.
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prfsnl_gmr
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by prfsnl_gmr Tue Jul 14, 2020 9:25 pm

alienjesus wrote:
prfsnl_gmr wrote:First, awesome reviews, AJ. Just amazing. I really like it when someone goes on a kick with esoteric games on an esoteric system.


I have a couple more Game Gear games to get through still too, but need a little more time to get through them. I have an strategy game and an RPG in the wings.


Sweet! I’m looking forward to your reviews! (Also, I hop the RPG isn’t Phantasy Star Gaiden. That’s the last GG game I beat, and it was terrible...)

@pidge

Agree completely. The Messenger may not do everything right, but the action platforming is amazing. I’m really looking forward to the developer’s next effort.
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Ack
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by Ack Wed Jul 15, 2020 11:26 am

dust_hound wrote:@Ack - great write-up of Battle Realms. I'd heard of it but never tried it, so thanks for fleshing out my mental picture of what it'd be like to play.


Thanks for the kind words, dust_hound. It's not bad, but I did find some of it frustrating. I'm still working my way through the expansion, but so far I have enjoyed it considerably more.
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BoneSnapDeez
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by BoneSnapDeez Wed Jul 15, 2020 5:32 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)
28. Scar of the Doll (Steam)
29. Kirby's Adventure (NES)
30. Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure (PlayStation)
31. Hangman (Atari 2600)
32. Metal Slug (Neo Geo MVS)
33. Metal Slug 2 (Neo Geo MVS)
34. Masters of the Universe: The Power of He-Man (Intellivision)
35. Shark! Shark! (Intellivision)
36. Videocart 1: Tic-Tac-Toe / Shooting Gallery / Doodle / Quadra-Doodle (Channel F)

37. Haunted House (Atari 2600)
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As the game's title and (excellent) box art indicate, Haunted House (1981) is a horror game. The protagonist, who is enshrouded by darkness save for a pair of panicked eyeballs, deemed it wise to explore a haunted mansion once inhabited by one Zachary Graves. Apparently Old Man Graves possessed a magic urn that split into pieces during the earthquake of 1890 (yes Atari backstories are incredibly detailed). The game's goal is deceptively straightforward: simply grab and reunite the three urn segments, and then escape through the east door on the mansion's first floor. Haunted House is notable not only because it's one of the primordial horror games (though amusingly an unrelated Odyssey Haunted House predates it) -- but for also being among the earliest survival horror titles. That is, the game doesn't just showcase a "spooky" motif, but offers up gameplay predicated on strategizing and sneaking.

All new players should begin with the default gameplay mode 1. Here we see (literally) the full size and scope of the Graves mansion: four floors, each with six rooms, for a total of (gets out calculator) twenty-four total rooms. Each floor has two "columns" of three "stacked" rooms, with hallways and doors serving as connectors. Staircases will lead the player up and down floors. However, there's no sprite difference between the staircases that ascend versus those that descend. The urn pieces appear to be scattered randomly, generally with a maximum of one per floor, requiring a full exploration of the mansion. Collected urn pieces will automatically fuse together, thus "the urn" always consumes but one item slot. Spotting items requires one illuminate a small segment the player's surroundings, by lighting a match with "the button" -- blessedly, the supply of matches is infinite. As a lovely side effect, such match-lighting causes the protagonist to resemble a meatball with eyes.

Of course, there are enemies to contend with. Specifically, tarantulas, vampire bats, and the vengeful ghost of Mr. Graves himself. These are ruthless and will track down the player without mercy. The ghost is especially brutal as walls do not hinder its progress. The player is allotted nine lives, which sounds more generous than it is. Moreover, enemies will enter a room with the flurry of howling winds, which temporarily snuffs the match, leaving one to stumble around in the newfound darkness. There is a reprieve to the ghoulish assault, which comes in the form of a magical scepter possessing a monster-repellent effect. The catch is that only one item can be held at a time, so those who pick up the scepter must also set down the collected urn pieces.
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As far as early console games go, this is a stroke of genius as it presents multiple avenues to the player. One can search for the scepter immediately and, while invincible, make a note of the urn pieces to be collected thereafter. Or, one can alternate between carrying the scepter and individual urn pieces, periodically dumping said pieces by the mansion's exit. Particularly intrepid players may choose to forgo the scepter altogether and instead rely solely on reflexes, and perhaps a modicum of luck. Of course, anything can change in an instant, due to the randomization of both enemy and item placement. Upon finishing the game, one is granted a score based on remaining lives and match use.

Flip that switch to gameplay mode 2 and the fun really begins. Now the mansion is completely dark, those nice color-coded walls now the deepest shade of blackness. The status bar numeral referencing floor number remains, however, and crafting a mental map is critical to efficient exploration. Mode 3 introduces a master key, placed in the opening room, and (you guessed it) the addition of locked doors. Now things get downright nasty. The "one item at a time" rule still applies, so those using the key will have to temporarily dump the urn or scepter. And yes, things remain pitch black, including the doors themselves. Additional modes move the key's starting position, add enemies, and grant enemies special abilities. For instance, bats will eventually be able to steal items and the ghost becomes impervious to the scepter.

Graphics are "good" -- most specifically in the first mode where the mansion layout is actually visible. The enemies are well-drawn and recognizable, and the darting eyeballs are a real hoot. The pupils always align in whatever direction the player is headed. The sound design is brilliant, with its creaky footsteps and eerie winds. Distinct noises are made when bumping into walls or locked doors, and staircases will play either low or high notes depending on direction. As the mansion becomes darker and more complex due to door-locking, it becomes vitally important to rely on audio cues to navigate. As an added bonus, those who complete the game are treated to a rendition of The Twilight Zone theme, copyright be damned. With its deep gameplay and visionary aesthetics, Haunted House remains one of the top Atari 2600 games and serves as proof that the system could handle nuanced adventure titles. Absolutely essential.
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by Ack Wed Jul 15, 2020 8:57 pm

One of the greatest Atari 2600 games. Man, I love Haunted House.
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MrPopo
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by MrPopo Wed Jul 15, 2020 11:57 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
34. EVO: The Search for Eden - SNES
35. Blast Corps - N64
36. Command & Conquer: The Covert Operations - PC
37. Command & Conquer Red Alert: Counterstrike - PC
38. The Last of Us Part 2 - PS4
39. Exodemon - PC
40. Halo: Reach - PC
41. Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary - PC
42. Halo 2: Anniversary - PC
43. The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel - PS3
44. Halo 3 - PC[

Halo 3 hit the PC Master Chief Collection yesterday so I figured I'd use it as a palette cleanser between Cold Steel games. I was not expecting it to be quite so short, though. I went and looked through my campaign stats and Reach was 5 hours, 1 & 2 were 6 hours, and 3 was only 4 hours. So noticeably shorter. It ends up making the story be a real whirlwind as it wraps up the threads from the first two games but it also means that the game doesn't overstay its welcome.

See, I've been musing on when they screw up the gunplay as seen in Reach. Turns out it was in 3. The weapons are a bit anemic feeling, and every weapon (that wasn't a dedicated sniper or rocket launcher) has been nerfed so nothing can take out enemies super quickly like you'd like. Fortunately, the game still operates on a system where pushing forward to the next checkpoint and leaving enemies behind is perfectly viable. This game has a lot more NPC support, so this tactic actually is preferable most of the time. Only near the end of the game do you need to get back to clearing areas so the game can checkpoint; they won't checkpoint if there are too many enemies near the trigger, which is likely a safety feature.

Weirdly, the game does not start immediately where Halo 2 leaves off. I guess they felt that wasn't conducive to having the short tutorial and action ramp up that each game starts with, so apparently in a four issue comic series they have Master Chief get kicked off the ship and fall to Earth, where Halo 3 picks up. You take the portal on Earth to the Ark which built the Halos, kill the final Covenant leader, and destroy the partially rebuilt Halo from the first game, wiping out the Flood that followed you. So fingers crossed their threat is eliminated (I'm positive it isn't). Also, nearly every major supporting character kicks it, one of them in a really stupid way. Maybe the voice contracts were ending?

It's a decent conclusion to the trilogy, and it's not a bad game by any means. But given what I already experienced in Reach this feels like the point when the series starts to go downhill. I still have ODST and 4 in the Master Chief Collection which are supposed to come out later this year. I'm not expecting ODST to rise above 3 and Reach, but we'll see what happens with 4. Also, I'd like to point out that Master Chief is a fucking robot. He NEVER emotes in any game, it's just much more apparent in this one when there are several moments when it would be appropriate. Hell, if he just didn't talk it would be better, but instead he talks in the same flat monotone no matter what.
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pook99
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by pook99 Thu Jul 16, 2020 8:21 pm

@Bone: Nice review of Metal Slug 2, I don't know if I ever played it because so many of those games blend together, but I'm glad to know there is a playable italian character who is not Mario or in the Mafia. Also I havent thought of Haunted House in about 34 years, I haave vague memories of playing that and empire strikes back on new years eve with my parents friends kids, its no resident evil but it is a cool game.

@senpai: I agree with your assessment of the messenger, I absolutely loved the first half and while the second half was okay there was way too much long backtracking and it broke the awesome flow that the first half of the game had.

@alienjesus: I can't even imagine playing streets of rage on game gear, the original is so ingrained in my head I don't think I would like a scaled down version of it. Ninja Gaiden on GG is largely mediocre I agree, it probably wouldnt have been as disappointing if it was just called something else, pretty much every ninja gaiden game ever made is amazing and that one is just meh, I'll revisit it from time to time but it definitely lacks that special something that makes Ninja Gaiden, Ninja Gaiden

@prfnsnl_gamer: Grizzland is on my steam wishlist and I will now remove it from my wishlist, I was on the fence but your review pretty much solidifies that I would hate the game

99. TMNT 2: Arcade game (nes)
100. TMNT 3: Manhattan project (nes)
101. TMNT 4: turtles in time
102. Chicken Little: Ace in action (wii)
103. TMNT: fall of the foot clan (game boy)

Went through a little marathon of some old school TMNT games and will probably play hyperstone heist sometime soon as I really enjoy that game.

99. TMNT 2

This was a game I absolutely loved as a kid but has not aged well. As a kid it was the best possible home port of my favorite arcade game that 8 year old me could ever ask for. As an adult with 30 years of playing better beat em ups it falls short in a variety of ways.

First off, just about every enemy takes 2 hits to kill and they have fairly generous invincible frames, so if you use your regular attack you will hit an enemy once, back off for a second and hit them again for the kill, it is very tedious and completely inefficient. Each turtle also has a special attack (done by quickly sliding your finger from jump to attack) that kills enemies in one hit. So basically the entire game has you doing this special move over and over again, literally hundreds of times.

The boss fights arent much better, they all come down to either poke and run tactics or quick jump kicks and hope you dont get hit tactics. They are pretty dull and some are way too long, Krang for example takes 73 hits to take down, which makes for an incredibly long, thumb busting, and tedious boss fight.

Having said all that I still enjoy the game for what it is, nostalgia goggles are strong here, and despite the games shortcoming it is still fun for me, but probably not recommended for those without any nostalgia for it.

100. TMNT 3: Manhattan project

The tmnt game that got ovelooked by so many, released late in the nes lifespan, and I believe even after turtles in time this was a game that was easy for people to ignore, which is a shame because it is a decent game that fixes the problems of its predecessor for a much smoother play experience.

Enemies are no longer invincible for too long meaning your regular attack is not useless, you also have a one hit ko throw attack which is more powerful but gives less points (used for extra lives) so there is a trade off there. Lots of different kinds of foot soldiers with different attacks are here and the bosses are generally much better with more fair attack patterns and spots to safely wail away on them while they recover from attacks.

TMNT 3 is a fun game, it still pales in comparison to most modern day beat em ups but it is worth checking out for turtles fans and if you like tmnt 2 you will definitely enjoy this.

101. TMNT 4: turtles in time

Hailed by many to be one of, if not the, greatest beat em up of all time, while I personally would not go that far, it is an absolute masterpiece and one of the finest beat em ups to come out of the 16 bit era. Great graphics, tons of enemies on screen at once, fun levels, and every boss you would want to see in a tmnt game. This is definitely on the easier side of the spectrum but an absolute must play for fans of beat em ups.

103. TMNT: fall of the foot clan.

This was one of the first game boy games I played as a kid, it is as simple as you can get. Walk from left to right, smack enemies when they appear, jump over obstacles, repeat until you reach an easy boss, do that 5 times and your done. Despite its simplicity I do enjoy this game, probably more for nostalgia than anything else, but I don't think I would recommend it to anyone without a fondness for it.

102. Chicken Little: ace in action (wii)

This is one of those random wii games I found at a local store for 5 bucks or so and just picked it up for whatever reason and I'm glad I did as this was a really fun game.

I don't know anything about the source material, but the story here is chicken little and his friends are playing a wii game where he and his friends are represented in over the top action hero ways. So chicken little is a giant, buff chicken commando, his ugly duck female friend is a sexy cartoon duck and his fat pig friend is a jacked wart hog who drives a tank. The story is cute, well written, and will give you a few chuckles.

Graphics here are nice and look like they are taken right out of a pixar movie. There is a good deal of cutscenes and the quality of the voice acting here is superb.

Gameplay here is broken up into 3 sections, chicken little plays like a 3rd person run n gun platformer(think ratchet and clank), the pig has you in a tank blasting tons of enemies, and the duck has you playing in a spaceship flying around blasting other spaceships, giant space stations, and more. All 3 sections are loaded with action, tons of things to shoot, and control really well. There are no gimmicky motion controls here, rather it does what the wii does best which is aiming with the wiimote. I really wish I could use this control set up for modern games, the more I play with it, the more I prefer it to dual analog controls as aiming is just really easy and extremely accurate.

This is a relatively easy game, you have unlimited lives, pretty generous checkpoints, and fairly liberal amounts of health pick ups scattered about the levels. There are plenty of secrets to find which reward the player with money used to buy all sorts of upgrades such as a larger health bar, upgraded weapons, and new sub weapons. There are 4 worlds, with 6 levels each all that end in a boss fight. The variety of levels here definitely keeps things interesting, between the 3 different playstyles and new gimmicks and gadgets being introduced all the time, it maintains a nice level of freshness throughout the whole adventure.

This is definitely a hidden gem on the wii. I don't think I ever heard of it and if I didnt stumble on it for so cheap I would have never played it, but if you like mindlessly running around shooting cartoon robots and spaceships you really cant go wrong with this.
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BoneSnapDeez
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by BoneSnapDeez Thu Jul 16, 2020 9:38 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)
28. Scar of the Doll (Steam)
29. Kirby's Adventure (NES)
30. Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure (PlayStation)
31. Hangman (Atari 2600)
32. Metal Slug (Neo Geo MVS)
33. Metal Slug 2 (Neo Geo MVS)
34. Masters of the Universe: The Power of He-Man (Intellivision)
35. Shark! Shark! (Intellivision)
36. Videocart 1: Tic-Tac-Toe / Shooting Gallery / Doodle / Quadra-Doodle (Channel F)
37. Haunted House (Atari 2600)

38. The Earth Dies Screaming (Atari 2600)
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The Earth Dies Screaming? Sounds a little dramatic, huh? It also sounds like the name of one of those corny science fiction alien invasion flicks of decades past, which it is. The film was released in 1964, almost two decades before the game. There's nothing to really indicate that this game is even "based" on the film, however, besides the obvious title similarities and the alien fiends. The instruction booklet doesn't even acknowledge it. It's reminiscent of the game Alligator People, also by 20th Century Fox (though never officially released), which has just about nothing to do with the 1959 theatrical masterpiece. Except, ya know, the alligators. In fact, when released on Atari's 8-bit computers, The Earth Dies Screaming was renamed Final Orbit.

As far as genre goes, The Earth Dies Screaming (talking about the game here), is a first-person space shooter. Similarities to the (vastly more interesting) Star Raiders and Starmaster are immediately apparent. The big difference here is that The Earth Dies Screaming contains no strategic or simulation elements whatsoever: it's just shoot, shoot shoot. It's up to the player to prevent the deadly "Trillian Fighters" from destroying both their ship and/or the Earth itself.
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Controls are finely-tuned and the game is conceptually easy to grasp. The player can loop infinitely left and right, and can hold up or down to fly towards or away from the Earth. Alien ships are represented on a radar screen; it's best to purposefully seek them out as opposed to waiting for an ambush. A crosshair, which tracks the enemy's vertical movement, is used to assist in aiming. Kamikaze fighters will head directly for the Earth's surface, while the standard alien fighters will do so only if allowed to fly by the player's ship. A color-coded status bar, broken into two chunks, is used to display the respective health of the player's ship and the planet Earth alike. It is possible to regain health, though it's a tricky maneuver that requires one follow a specific type of alien spacecraft to its base.

Graphics are generally good, with the perpetually scrolling atmosphere of Earth being the main highlight. The "blasting" sound effects are standard Atari fare, and there are some accompanying flashes of varying colors, based on what targets are hit. Overall, the game's rather dull. There's nothing here but endless shooting. Yes, this describes a great many Atari games, but The Earth Dies Screaming offers nothing approaching the iconic villains of Space Invaders, or the progression of Gorf and Phoenix, or the depth of the aforementioned Star Raiders and Starmaster. It's a slow and tedious experience, where enemies are picked at piecemeal. There's a glut of dead space air and a whole lot of time spent doing absolutely nothing. The game supposedly gets more challenging as it progresses, though I'd suspect that the bulk of the challenge stems from player fatigue. In a world where Battlezone exists there's no reason to give The Earth Dies Screaming more than a passing glance.
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Ack
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by Ack Fri Jul 17, 2020 5:05 pm

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

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

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)

36. Ravenloft: Strahd's Possession (PC)(RPG)
37. Singularity (PC)(FPS)
38. The Witcher 2 (PC)(RPG)
39. Still Life 2 (PC)(Point and Click Adventure)
40. Myst IV: Revelation (PC)(Point and Click Adventure)
41. Gato Roboto (Switch)(Action Adventure)
42. Painkiller: Overdose (PC)(FPS)

43. Battle Realms (PC)(RTS)
44. Battle Realms: Winter of the Wolf (PC)(RTS)

Winter of the Wolf is the expansion for Battle Realms, offering up things like bug fixes (in v1.0 Battle Realms you could apparently destroy enemy buildings by Ctrl-clicking them) as well as an entirely new prequel campaign as the Wolf Clan. While the Wolf serve as a pseudo-bad guy in the original set of levels, here they are rising out of slavery to eliminate their Lotus Clan overseers.

Years before, the Wolf Clan lived in a different land. However, floods and storms drove them to use the power of their sacred totem, the White Wolf Skull, to teleport them to the island nation that makes up the world of Battle Realms. They were initially welcomes by the Serpent and Lotus clans, until one day those clans invaded and enslaved them. Seven years later, the last heir to the Wolf throne decides it is time for the uprising and must lead his clan out of the mines and up against the evil Lotus sorceress who has enslaved them. And yes, she does corrupt the White Wolf Skull for an attempt at eternal winter. The title was literal, folks.

From a basic game perspective, Winter of the Wolf operates the same way as Battle Realms, though you do not receive the option to make decisions as to where to invade. You do however eventually build bases, train and crosstrain units, and fight to build Yang points for unit upgrades. However, the Wolf campaign offers greater variety in map styles, with many levels focusing not on base construction but on building up a band of warriors and using their abilities to navigate traps. It's about how these units work and what benefits they pose. Also, it's about mob tactics.

Yeah, it's nice when an RTS faction has a totally different playstyle, and the Wolf do from the Dragon and Serpent clans of the base game. Instead of orderly squads, dedicated healers, and cavalry, the Wolf work best when you armor them up in a mixed mob. You don't have a stable; you instead feed horsemeat to your pet wolves and can then bring them along to add to your mob. You don't just upgrade, you also get the choice of getting armor or accepting the boon of lycanthropy, which can turn a dying soldier into a fierce werewolf with full health in an instant and sway the tide of a fight. Unit upgrades also aren't as crucial because they're more often situational, like giving more stamina for running or doing more damage for a ranged unit only if it has a higher elevation than the target. This means you can sit back and relax a bit instead of constantly pressing on with the aggressiveness of the Dragon and Serpent clans, because you really don't need so much Yang.

Building size is also a major consideration for playing Winter of the Wolf, because your buildings are so huge, you're often stuck with real estate decisions. This actually makes the game more interesting, because you're now forced into making calls on trying to expand your base into potentially hostile terrain or send in a weaker task force in the hopes of eliminating a target. What's nice is that on the maps where you have this problem, you usually have a lesser goal than killing the enemy; there's a balance here that works way better than Battle Realms. It also does something in the end that proceeds the kind of Hero focus later found in DOTA-likes, ending with a single Hero unit who must march around a short map and take on the final boss in a mano-y-mano showdown.

In short, I thought Winter of the Wolf was more fun, more interesting, and overall better balanced than the base game. I'd actually recommend playing it first, before ever touching the main campaign; it's almost the same length, coming in at 11 maps, one short of Battle Realms' 12, but it just has better flow and fewer frustrations. If you're gonna play Battle Realms, definitely play Winter of the Wolf...so long as you're cool with some of your units doing bad Schwarzenegger impersonations.
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