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PartridgeSenpai
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by PartridgeSenpai Thu Jul 23, 2020 10:40 pm

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

1. Invisigun Reloaded (Switch)
2. Human: Fall Flat (Switch)
3. Shantae: The Pirate's Curse (3DS)
4. Darksiders: Warmastered Edition (PC)
5. Splatterhouse (PS3) *
6. 3D Dot Game Heroes (PS3)
7. Tokyo Jungle (PS3)
8. Pictobits (DSiWare)
9. Puzzle Quest: The Legend Reborn (Switch)
10. WarioWare Gold (3DS)
11. Disaster: Day of Crisis (Wii)
12. Sleeping Dogs: Definitive Edition (Xbone)
13. Sleeping Dogs: Nightmare in North Point (Xbone)
14. Sleeping Dogs: Year of the Snake (Xbone)
15. Dynamite Headdy (Genesis) *
16. Shovel Knight: King of Cards (3DS)
17. Shovel Knight: Shovel of Hope (3DS) *
18. Shovel Knight: Plague of Shadows (Switch) *
19. Shovel Knight: Specter of Torment (Switch) *
20. Shovel Knight: Showdown (Switch)
21. Dragon Quest Builders 2 (PS4)
22. ActRaiser (SNES)
23. Castlevania: The Adventure ReBirth (WiiWare)
24. Mega Man X (SNES)
25. Breath of Fire II (SNES)
26. Ape Escape 2 (PS2) *
27. Doubutsu No Mori+ (GC)
28. Ape Escape (PS1)
29. Ape Escape 3 (PS2) *
30. Maken X (DC)
31. Cubivore (GC)
32. Wario World (GC) *
33. Hatoful Boyfriend (PC)
34. Fire Emblem: Mystery of the Emblem (SFC)
35. Baku Bomberman 2 (N64)
36. Chameleon Twist (N64)
37. Gato Roboto (PC)
38. The Messenger (PC)
39. The Messenger: Picnic Panic (PC)
40. Baku Bomberman (N64)

41. Bomberman Hero (N64)

This is a game I rented as a kid but got stuck in and never ended up beating. I remembered liking it a fair bit, but when I picked it up a couple years back I bounced off it hard. This time I ended up liking it more than ever, and I completed the main game 100%, even getting all the gold medals in addition to the purple ball thingies. I played through the Japanese version, and the game doesn't keep track of how long you've played it (and neither did I), so I really have no idea how long it took me ^^;

Where Baku Bomberman 1 and 2 are more like "classic Bomberman meets action platformer game", Bomberman Hero is Bomberman staring in a proper action platformer. In an intro that is a delightfully silly homage to Star Wars Episode IV, Princess Mirian is captured by the bad guys while trying to flee them in a tiny escape ship, and gives her robot companion Pibot a very important data disc to escape with to find Bomberman. It's a very lighthearted story that doesn't take itself seriously at all, but it's a delightful framework for the adventure with how campy and colorful it is. The game itself is overall very colorful and nice looking with a good soundtrack to boot (in grand Hudson fashion).

The gameplay is much more standard action platformer than either Baku Bomberman game. You can jump with the A button, throw bombs with the B button, kick bombs with down on the C-stick. You can tilt the camera with the other C buttons, but only temporarily. The game is played with a fixed camera going through linear stages one at a time, and for the most part the camera is never really an issue (on the normal final boss it can be a bit awkward, is all). There are point totals to aim for in each level (which are annoyingly only told to you after you beat the stage XP), and getting a 5-rank in all the stages unlocks a secret 6th world after you beat the normal final boss. The point challenges for the boss levels themselves are very cleverly done, with your score starting at 10,000 and counting down to 0, so they're more like time attack challenges.

The normal platforming stages rarely outstay their welcomes, even if ultimately they don't have a ton of variety to them. Bomberman controls quite well, but throwing bombs can be a bit of an inexact science at first and takes a bit to get used to, as aiming a shot diagonally is something the game often wants you to do but doesn't make easy XP. There are also many vehicle stages. They're gimmick levels that range from Star Fox-like Bomb Jetpack levels, similar but more controlled (you can go backwards if you want) underwater levels, infrequent but very easy to control Bomb-Copter levels, and the utterly terribly hoverboarding stages (which there are mercifully only two of). The vehicle stages aren't so bad if you're not aiming to hit the point totals on every level, and even then the point totals in them are often very mercifully low compared to the total point totals possible to get in each level. The hoverboarding parts are easily the worst and most difficult parts of the game, but overall the game itself is fairly easy.

Verdict: Recommended. It's not gonna set your world on fire, but it's something a bit different and it's a very competently put together game. If you like 3D platformers on the N64 and want something that's a little different from all the collectathons on the platform, this game can be a great way to spend a weekend. It's a bit of an oddball in that it's probably the only console Bomberman game to lack a multiplayer mode of any kind, but it's a good single-player experience that's easily worth $10 at least.
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PartridgeSenpai
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by PartridgeSenpai Fri Jul 24, 2020 12:21 am

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

1. Invisigun Reloaded (Switch)
2. Human: Fall Flat (Switch)
3. Shantae: The Pirate's Curse (3DS)
4. Darksiders: Warmastered Edition (PC)
5. Splatterhouse (PS3) *
6. 3D Dot Game Heroes (PS3)
7. Tokyo Jungle (PS3)
8. Pictobits (DSiWare)
9. Puzzle Quest: The Legend Reborn (Switch)
10. WarioWare Gold (3DS)
11. Disaster: Day of Crisis (Wii)
12. Sleeping Dogs: Definitive Edition (Xbone)
13. Sleeping Dogs: Nightmare in North Point (Xbone)
14. Sleeping Dogs: Year of the Snake (Xbone)
15. Dynamite Headdy (Genesis) *
16. Shovel Knight: King of Cards (3DS)
17. Shovel Knight: Shovel of Hope (3DS) *
18. Shovel Knight: Plague of Shadows (Switch) *
19. Shovel Knight: Specter of Torment (Switch) *
20. Shovel Knight: Showdown (Switch)
21. Dragon Quest Builders 2 (PS4)
22. ActRaiser (SNES)
23. Castlevania: The Adventure ReBirth (WiiWare)
24. Mega Man X (SNES)
25. Breath of Fire II (SNES)
26. Ape Escape 2 (PS2) *
27. Doubutsu No Mori+ (GC)
28. Ape Escape (PS1)
29. Ape Escape 3 (PS2) *
30. Maken X (DC)
31. Cubivore (GC)
32. Wario World (GC) *
33. Hatoful Boyfriend (PC)
34. Fire Emblem: Mystery of the Emblem (SFC)
35. Baku Bomberman 2 (N64)
36. Chameleon Twist (N64)
37. Gato Roboto (PC)
38. The Messenger (PC)
39. The Messenger: Picnic Panic (PC)
40. Baku Bomberman (N64)
41. Bomberman Hero (N64)

42. Blazing Lasers (TG16)

I asked Maru, the resident PCE super fan, on what games I should start with on my PCE Mini that arrived earlier this week. This was one of the three he recommended as foundational games for the system. A good introductory shmup, he called it. I overall agree with that sentiment, as this was a game I thoroughly enjoyed. I beat it in one sitting, nearly 1CC-ing it, but needing to resort to save states at the final boss (who took me many tries to kill XP).

Blazing Lasers was originally a licensed tie-in for the movie Gunhed in Japan, but had all of the licensing scrubbed out of it for its US release on the Turbografx (which is likely why that's the version included on the PCE/TG16 Mini). You're a space ship going through 9 areas on a mission to save the world, I guess. Aesthetically the game is all over the place, going from inside some sort of horrific meat tunnel to over a rocky desert covered with pyramids and Moai heads in the span of going from one level to the next, but the sound is pretty darn good and the framerate & graphics all look great, een for an early HuCard game.

Mechanically it plays VERY similarly to Star Soldier, with 4 main weapons you can upgrade through as well as several sub weapons as well. The main difference between this and Star Soldier that I found was that in Star Soldier is that in Star Soldier your weapon powers down when you get hit (in some games), while in this game you just die XP. I personally preferred weapon 3 (the shield laser) and the shield sub weapon as well. That shield can take a TON of punishment, and even when you get hit, your weapon also provides a shield. Sure, the weapon powers down when you get hit, but the lower rank shield laser weapon is arguably better than the higher ranks in many regards, so that never bothered me much XD. There is also a golden extra life mechanic, where instead of going backwards to a checkpoint, you immediately respawn. While I never figured out how that was activated, it was still nice to get here and there.

Verdict: Highly Recommended. This is a very fair shmup, and there were only a time or two (the last level when you die to the final boss, for example) where the place the game respawned me at was just utter trash and I had no chance of possibly surviving. It's a really good balance of quick reactions and diversity of powerups (although weapon 4 kinda sucks). The presentation is good and the length is just right. It's a nice easing into the genre for newer players (especially with that awesome shield) and a good but fair challenge for experienced players as well. It may not be as memorable as something like Star Parodier or Parodius, but it's still a great time and it absolutely deserves its good reputation.

------

43. Neutopia (TG16)

Moving onto the next game Maru recommended, this is the Zelda clone series of the PC Engine. Neutopia is a game I've heard Maru talk about before but I've never tried. He said it was just okay, and that's about the place I'm at if not a bit lower. I played the English version of this and used save states a lot mostly for preserving bombs and making getting through the game a bit less time consuming.

Neutopia is a really shameless Zelda 1 clone with some NPC elements from Zelda 2 thrown in for good measure. You have a top-down perspective with a main character going through 8 dungeons to get 8 power objects to then fight a big bad guy and rescue the princess at the end. It's not a terribly memorable game in regards to anything about its presentation, but it's doesn't really fail at any element of the presentation. It's honestly a really surprisingly well translated game for 1990, with only some minor punctuation errors here and there. The game just isn't terribly ambitious, so it didn't leave much of an impression with me.

This is pre-LTTP, so your main character Jazeta's main attack is just sticking his sword out directly in front of him like Link does in Zelda 1. This wouldn't be so bad if Jazeta weren't also taller than his feet are wide, so you have a big problem of your sword hitting a relatively small area in front of you compared to how tall your hitbox is. The sword is borderline useless a lot of the time with how numerous and fast enemies are, and that never improves throughout the game. Your sword only gets more powerful, never wider or larger.

This is heavily mitigated, though, by the fire wand that you get relatively early in the game. This is something Neutopia copies from YS moreso than it does from Zelda, but that fire wand is an invaluable tool with how it can not only fire at range, it also gets more powerful the higher your health is (and it gets stronger the higher your max health gets as a result), and it's also a ranged attack that you can fire even diagonally. All that said, the combat is routinely quite frustrating and while the bosses tend to be easy to very easy, the normal enemies swarming you is easily the most difficult thing in the game.

Outside of that, the dungeons aren't terribly interesting, and are very derivative from Zelda 1 in how they're mostly just a series of rooms. There aren't really ever any larger puzzles or even rooms bigger than one screen, and dungeons don't even have keys aside from locking the boss room. The dungeons are more exercises in bomb conservation/use to find the increasingly numerous hidden rooms in each successive dungeon, and battle gauntlets as you fight through trying to find the crypt key and the crypt itself to fight the boss in it. There is also one hidden upgrade for either your shield, sword, and armor (to help you block more projectile types, hit harder, and protect against damage better respectively) in each dungeon and sometimes hidden in the overworld.

The overworld itself differs a bit from Zelda in that there are basically four of them, and you unlock a new one every time you beat the two dungeons in the previous one (with the last two simply unlocking the path to the final boss). There are NPCs scattered all over the place, either in staircases behind bushes you need to burn down or behind a very obvious wall you need to use a precious bomb on, but most of them simply give a little (often nearly useless) information or yet another potion or bomb shop. It really does suck that there's no overworld map, but none of them are too terribly huge, so it's not so bad. It is a little funny how even the way you talk to NPCs, automatically walking halfway up the screen to them so text can appear on the screen, is also nearly exactly how Zelda 1 does it XD

Verdict: Hesitantly Recommended. This isn't an utterly terrible game or anything, but it's definitely not a good game. It's got a lot of unpolished, unambitious, and uninspired design to it, sure, but it doesn't do anything particularly unforgivably poorly. What this reminds me of more than anything is Blossom Tale on the Switch. A Zelda clone that mostly just reminds you of better Zelda games you could be playing instead. However Neutopia has the added hurdle of not having aged that well in the nearly 30 years since it came out, and also needing to use passwords to save if you're playing on the real hardware. It's not a terrible use of your time, but I don't think I ever would've played it had I not gotten it on the PCE Mini.
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o.pwuaioc
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by o.pwuaioc Fri Jul 24, 2020 12:56 am

Maru chose well for you. I do love Neutopia, but Neutopia II is even better, and so maybe you'll like that more.

In the meantime, try Castlevania and Ninja Spirit, which I think would be in my top 3. Splatterhouse, Military Madness, and Alien Crush are classics if you like those types of genres. However, you have plenty of shooters to choose from, and for me that's where the Turbo really shines. Try your hand at Sapphire, Soldier Blade, Spriggan, and Dragon Spirit (closer to the arcade version than the NES game, which is actually pretty different in many places). I'd say Lords of Thunder, too (why no Gate of Thunder!?), but apparently there are some slowdown issues with it.

There are some glaring omissions or the Turbo Mini. No Legendary Axe I/II, Devil Crush (although Alien Crush is there), or Ys III.
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by PartridgeSenpai Fri Jul 24, 2020 9:31 am

o.pwuaioc wrote:Maru chose well for you. I do love Neutopia, but Neutopia II is even better, and so maybe you'll like that more.

In the meantime, try Castlevania and Ninja Spirit, which I think would be in my top 3. Splatterhouse, Military Madness, and Alien Crush are classics if you like those types of genres. However, you have plenty of shooters to choose from, and for me that's where the Turbo really shines. Try your hand at Sapphire, Soldier Blade, Spriggan, and Dragon Spirit (closer to the arcade version than the NES game, which is actually pretty different in many places). I'd say Lords of Thunder, too (why no Gate of Thunder!?), but apparently there are some slowdown issues with it.

There are some glaring omissions or the Turbo Mini. No Legendary Axe I/II, Devil Crush (although Alien Crush is there), or Ys III.


I plan to at least try everything on the mini at some point~
I tried Splatterhouse the other day and I don't think it's really my thing. I did try Soldier Blade a little earlier and had a lot of fun with that. I think I'll give that another go once I finish with Neutopia 2 tomorrow~
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by Note Fri Jul 24, 2020 5:59 pm

Markies wrote:***15. Skies of Arcadia (SDC)***

Skies of Arcadia is probably my favorite DreamCast game and could be my favorite game Sega has ever created. It is such a perfect RPG that feels like a love letter to the golden age of the genre. With lovable characters, a fantastic battle and leveling system and a story that never gets old, the game is perfect in every sense of the word. I just feel great playing it and I just want to always play more. Truly, one of my all time favorite games and a beloved classic.


That's awesome you finished it again. I'm up to the section where you have to enter Soltis, so I'm pretty close to the end. I've really enjoyed it so far, and after putting in 50+ hours, I can definitely say it's become one of my favorite titles on the Dreamcast. Gonna try to finish it this weekend!
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by MrPopo Sun Jul 26, 2020 6:01 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
45. The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II - PS4

Cold Steel II picks up immediately after the cliffhanger end of Cold Steel. War has hit and the party is scattered. You need to get the band back together and see what you can do to stop the war before it consumes everything. Cold Steel II is the payoff to all the plot threads laid in the first game while laying several of its own for future games.

The game's structure is similar to the first game, though it's less obvious how structured it is compared to the first with its school setting. For a given plot unit you first have a chance to run around for a while, then you decide to delve into the unit dungeon, culminating with a boss battle as well as a mech battle (which is the main addition to things). The game is divided into two halves; the first is getting the party back together and culminates with learning about the main thrust of things. The second half is then defeating the antagonists for your sense of justice.

In terms of gameplay, like Trails in the Sky 2nd it takes pains to give you a sense of progression even though your party is already at levels of power. All your crafts gain a second level of power that makes them more effective (and are learned over time) and now quartz has levels. So while you start off with all your slots unlocked the better quartz requires you to upgrade your slots to be able to fit them in. This ends up easing off on your sepith budget, though, as you definitely don't need to upgrade every slot (whereas in the first game you needed to unlock every slot in order to get the power you need). All of your foundational stat quartz still fits into un-upgraded slots, and that'll make up half or more of your quartz anyway.

The biggest addition is the mech battles. These are used to punctuate story beats, and they take a lot of notes from Xenogears. The animations have a weight to them that makes it feel like you are piloting something large that is being forced to move like a human. They are built around reacting to what your opponent is doing; depending on their stance you want to attack different parts to do extra damage, and one of your best tools is your dodge and counter move. You also get a support partner who are critical to winning the fights. The support partner uses their own resource to either cast a status spell or a damage spell, as well as being able to use that resource to heal the mech and can take a turn to refill the resource. In a sense it feels like Xenogears' fuel; a system to be managed to use in the right ways and not be empty at a bad moment.

The game wraps up the story arc started with the first game pretty well, but leaves off with several revelations and an obvious "so what's going to happen next?" There's no obvious impending threat like the first game, but it's clear that there is a lot more story to be told.
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by MrPopo Sun Jul 26, 2020 9:38 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
45. The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II - PS4
46. Command & Conquer Red Alert: Aftermath - PC

Aftermath is the second of the Red Alert expansions. Unlike the other expansions to the original Command & Conquer games this one takes the time to add several new units to each side. This ends up making it the easiest of the expansions because the designers have dipped back into the idea of having maps teach you about new units, so they are more campaign-like rather than just trying to test how well you've learned the game. There are still a handful of missions that are mostly there to test your RTS skills, but for the most part they are "here's a new unit, let's feature it in a situation that lets you make the most of it". The other thing you'll notice is the new units are not balanced at all. Honestly, outside of the Missile Sub (which gives the Soviets something to do with their navy besides destroying the enemy navy) they all are overpriced and not worth it. The mechanic lets you make one mission easier if you know how to trigger the reinforcements with him, but in a regular fight he's far too slow to keep up with the tanks (unlike the medic who moves at the same speed as all other infantry). Similarly, the tesla troopers are far too slow to be worth it given their price; just use a tank instead. And both side's new tanks are extremely high priced, extremely fragile, and only make up for it by doing good but not outstanding damage. But at least by baking away from "how hard can we make these?" the missions stay fun.
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by PartridgeSenpai Mon Jul 27, 2020 8:55 am

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

1. Invisigun Reloaded (Switch)
2. Human: Fall Flat (Switch)
3. Shantae: The Pirate's Curse (3DS)
4. Darksiders: Warmastered Edition (PC)
5. Splatterhouse (PS3) *
6. 3D Dot Game Heroes (PS3)
7. Tokyo Jungle (PS3)
8. Pictobits (DSiWare)
9. Puzzle Quest: The Legend Reborn (Switch)
10. WarioWare Gold (3DS)
11. Disaster: Day of Crisis (Wii)
12. Sleeping Dogs: Definitive Edition (Xbone)
13. Sleeping Dogs: Nightmare in North Point (Xbone)
14. Sleeping Dogs: Year of the Snake (Xbone)
15. Dynamite Headdy (Genesis) *
16. Shovel Knight: King of Cards (3DS)
17. Shovel Knight: Shovel of Hope (3DS) *
18. Shovel Knight: Plague of Shadows (Switch) *
19. Shovel Knight: Specter of Torment (Switch) *
20. Shovel Knight: Showdown (Switch)
21. Dragon Quest Builders 2 (PS4)
22. ActRaiser (SNES)
23. Castlevania: The Adventure ReBirth (WiiWare)
24. Mega Man X (SNES)
25. Breath of Fire II (SNES)
26. Ape Escape 2 (PS2) *
27. Doubutsu No Mori+ (GC)
28. Ape Escape (PS1)
29. Ape Escape 3 (PS2) *
30. Maken X (DC)
31. Cubivore (GC)
32. Wario World (GC) *
33. Hatoful Boyfriend (PC)
34. Fire Emblem: Mystery of the Emblem (SFC)
35. Baku Bomberman 2 (N64)
36. Chameleon Twist (N64)
37. Gato Roboto (PC)
38. The Messenger (PC)
39. The Messenger: Picnic Panic (PC)
40. Baku Bomberman (N64)
41. Bomberman Hero (N64)
42. Blazing Lasers (TG16)
43. Neutopia (TG16)

44. Neutopia II (TG16)

Onto the sequel! Right after finishing the first Neutopia, I fired up the sequel and was really impressed at just how different it is. Maru told me that Neutopia 2 was better but ultimately more of the same, and that's a statement I found to be true. That said, it's so remarkably different that it's something I had a much better time with. I also played this one in English, and since the PCE Mini doesn't keep times like the Nintendo mini consoles do, I don't really know how long I took. I'd say about 8-10 hours at the most. I also used save states a fair bit to keep my progress from being set back by dying, and I'll continue as to why that turned out to be a very good thing a bit later.

Neutopia 2 picks up some time after the first game ends. The main character of Neutopia 1 didn't marry the princess, but he did have a son, and that is your main character (whom you name yourself). Your mother awakes from a dream where your father dies while fighting a monster, and you set off on a quest to rescue your dad. Unlike the first Neutopia, this isn't just a "go get the 8 thingies to fight the final boss" quest. There are 8 dungeons again, sure, but they're more connected to specific goals at each point in the story (like a dungeon hiding a story-important item). The overworld is still more or less divided into several sections of "do everything here, then progress", but it's dressed up in a way to better hide that fact. The story and narrative are still very basic and doesn't really have anything revelatory in either its presentation or flow, but it's a significant upgrade from the first game and feels like a story rather than just the set dressing for an action adventure game.

Something else also significantly improved is the combat, at least mostly. The game now has the ability to walk diagonally, and that also means the ability to stab diagonally. Not only this, but you can also effectively "slash" your sword now by quickly turning after stabbing (not unlike 3D Dot Game Heroes would do 20 years later). This turns the sword from a useless joke into something that's actually your primary battle tool throughout the game, like it should be. There's also a very high-range flail you get that's pretty cool, but I never used it much since it's "cursed" so that you lose 10 gold every time you use it XP

Unfortunately, this has also come at the expense of the usefulness of the 3 magic wands in the game. The game's knockback system has been drastically altered since the first game. Instead of just always flying away from you, now enemies fly in the direction the character is facing. While you can usually use that to your advantage so enemies don't fly back into you too much (just because you turned to back up after firing a spell at them), some spells explicitly fire directly behind you, meaning if those shots land, you will be hit by the enemy it hits. The wands' damage is also just far weaker than the sword's. It's not inexcusable, but it's not exactly something as significantly better than the first game's combat as it seems to be at first.

The dungeons are ultimately the gauntlets of damage-before-the-boss they were the last game, lacking any puzzles beyond trying to conserve your bombs so you can bomb the right wall eventually (bomb conservation sucks and this game relies on it WAY too much). That said, the bosses are FAR better. While they sometimes are bullshit and a bit too hard, they're nowhere near the cake walks they were in the first game, and are a significant improvement. Some enemy types (I'm looking at you weird spiny things in the snow forest) are utterly unfair and horrible, but the enemy variety is also better.

Beyond the difficulty and annoyance of conserving bombs, the main thing I'm glad I used save states for is the way that the game uses its stop-time item. The weapons you use to fight things and heal yourself and such are generally exactly the same as the last game, but there is a new item enemies can drop when you kill them: an hourglass. This freezes time in the room you're in for your enemies for what appeared to me to be forever (although maybe it's just a super long time). If it is indeed forever, then you can soft-lock yourself in certain areas, since there are some cloud-like enemies who split into smaller pieces when hit, and when hit during a time freeze, they split in a way that means they can't be killed. Maybe I just didn't wait long enough, but it certainly seemed like I'd managed to lock myself in a dungeon room because I couldn't kill all the enemies in it XP

The game's presentation story-wise was improved a bit, and the graphics and music were as well. The graphics feel far less generic and are generally significantly improved. It's still recognizably Neutopia, but these feel far less like they were ripped from some 1990 version of the Unity asset store and fit a larger, more cohesive style. The music is still nothing I ever really noticed to great effect, but it's still a bit better than the first game. Nothing MP3 player-worthy, but overall an improvement worth mentioning.

Verdict: Recommended. Neutopia 2 is a game whose peaks and valleys are more extreme than its predecessors, but there are far more peaks than valleys. I felt like I was on auto-pilot for quite a long time in Neutopia 1, just going through the motions of playing videosgame, but Neutopia 2 was something I was actively having a good time playing. It still has some annoying bits lending to its age, but it's a far superior game to its predecessor and one I feel much less uncomfortable recommending to someone looking for a good Zelda-like game.
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by Note Mon Jul 27, 2020 11:36 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)
24. Resident Evil 6 (360)

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25. Skies of Arcadia (DC)

Skies of Arcadia is a game I've been interested in buying and playing for years but continued to put it off for no particular reason. I finally used May's Together Retro which was themed on the Dreamcast as an excuse to track down a copy and start playing through it. I had watched a friend of mine play a bit of it around the time it was released, and I was familiar with the fact the teams that worked on Phantasy Star and Panzer Dragoon worked on this title, but other than that I was pretty blind going in, and actively avoided any type of spoilers.

As far as graphics go, I think Skies looks really good for a title from this era. The cut scenes are well done, with graphics that are a bit crisper than in the usual gameplay. I also like the random illustrated images that appear sporadically throughout the game to help with the story. The design of the world map is fantastic -- the world is easy to navigate, and very fun to explore, especially with the discovery system. The design of the characters and environments are really unique, and totally stray from the cliches found in RPGs. The soundtrack is amazing too, one of the best soundtracks on the Dreamcast IMO and the music here definitely adds to the mood of the environments.

Gameplay wise, this game really just gets it right for a RPG. As the adventure starts, you get thrown right into the action. The battle system is another element of the game that's easy to navigate, and the menu system in the battle is well designed. Also, you start out the game with access to an airship which is awesome, as with so many RPGs, you don't get access to a vehicle until about halfway through, or sometimes even later. The ship battles are also a lot of fun. I think it's a really cool feature that the ship battles play totally different from the regular combat sequences. The ship battle grid system adds another layer to the gameplay and helps keep things fresh, as some of the bosses and important events occur in this ship battle mode. I found the basic strategy in this mode really fun to figure out.

My only knock on this game is the animation sequences in battle. You can skip the animations for your characters, however you're not able to skip any long animation sequences stemming from enemy moves, which can be annoying in some boss battles. This was really the only issue I had with the game, however this was a common issue in titles from this era. I've heard people complain about the encounter rate in the Dreamcast version, but honestly I didn't think it was a problem, and it seemed pretty standard. But keep in mind, I haven't played any new RPGs since the PS3/360 generation, so I'm not familiar with quality of life improvements in modern games.

Overall, I really enjoyed Skies of Arcadia and this game totally lived up to my expectations and all the good things I've heard about it over the years. I definitely did myself a disservice by waiting so long to play it, but I'm glad I finally did. Skies has now taken a spot amongst my favorite Dreamcast titles, and possibly one of my favorite RPGs I've ever played. This is definitely one of the best games I've played this year, and I'd like to revisit it again eventually. If you haven't played it yet, it's highly recommended!
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by Markies Tue Jul 28, 2020 12:48 am

Glad to hear that you enjoyed it as well! :D

I'm also glad you didn't experience too many random encounters as well. I've heard that Legends on the GameCube fixes that, so I'll be curious to play it on that as well.

But it really is such a great game! Everything that makes a RPG great!!
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