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PartridgeSenpai
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Re: Games Beaten 2021

by PartridgeSenpai Tue Jan 26, 2021 3:20 am

Partridge Senpai's 2021 Beaten Games:
Previously: 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
* indicates a repeat

1. Atelier Rorona: The Alchemist of Arland (PS3)
2. Portal 2 (PC) *
3. Atelier Judie: The Alchemist of Gramnad (PS2)
4. Pipo Saru 2001 (PS2)
5. Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon (N64)
6. Atelier Viorate: The Alchemist of Gramnad 2 (PS2)
7. Kirby's Dream Land 3 (SFC)

8. The Legend of Mystical Ninja (SFC)

This is a game I owned as a kid on Wii Virtual Console, and I never got too far in it. I gave a good ol' try to get through it last year, but I got stuck on the final boss. I beat the 4th SFC Ganbare Goemon game on the actual hardware years ago and loved it, and this is one I've always wanted to see to completion before venturing on to the other two mainline 16-bit titles. After playing through one of the N64 games a week before, I decided to give this one another shot but this time on my SFC Mini instead of on the Wii VC, so I had the power of save states on my side this time XD. I actually managed to fare pretty well, and I even managed to beat the final boss in just two attempts (and I beat the second attempt taking only one hit the whole time, much to my own surprise).It took around three hours to beat the Japanese version of the game with some limited save state uses to save time re-grinding through certain objectives.

Mystical Ninja is the localization of the third mainline game in the Ganbare Goemon series, and the first 16-bit incarnation of the series as well. Goemon and his very effeminate friend Ebisumaru (localized as Kid Ying and Dr. Yang) are a pair of ninja based on the great thief Goemon of Japanese myth, but here he's just a wacky character effectively out of a gag anime. As is the case with the rest of the series, you travel around Japan to save the country (in this case, Princess Yuki and her father, the emperor) in an adventure full of anachronisms, risque humor, and a tone with the aesthetic trappings of feudal Japan but the tone of a gag anime. There isn't a ton of dialogue in this one, as this is much more of an action game than an adventure game (unlike later games in the series), but what is there is silly in an overall inoffensive way (which is more than I can say for later games in the series ^^;).

The gameplay is largely a refinement of the Famicom games, and they're for the most part sorely needed refinements. Both Goemon and Ebisimaru can go on these adventures (continuing a co-op tradition started in the Famicom games), and there are two different kinds of gameplay: town sections and platforming segments. The town sections are a sort of top-down view where you go around usually just looking for the entrance to the platforming segment where the boss awaits you, but sometimes you'll need to get money for a gate pass or some other key item. Only the last stage really has much of a puzzle element to its town segment, and it's mostly there to give you an opportunity to not only earn but spend money on things like armor, health, and extra lives. There is overall a lot less grinding in these sections than the Famicom games, and the villagers within them have responses ranging from just silly to helpful information on where to go next (although in most cases, just wandering around will get you where you need to go eventually). The hit detection on enemies and yourself in these areas is a bit awkward, some stages lack armor/health shops simply for the sake of being mean to you, and they definitely get a bit too punishing later in the game as far as enemy range goes, but they're a net neutral for the game, in my book.

The platforming sections are where the game shines a lot stronger for me. Each of the game's nine stages has one of these with a boss at the end, and it's Konami's 16-bit days at their finest. Jumping and hit detection feel way better than they do in the town sections, and the level design never has any nonsense with leaps of faith. You can use your money as projectiles or use your melee weapon to fight stuff, and you can power up your melee weapon Castlevania-style by finding lucky cats from defeated enemies. Though sadly, unlike most Castlevania games, your weapon power goes down when you get hit (continuing a tradition from the Famicom games).

This isn't the hardest 16-bit Konami game, for sure, but it ain't no slouch. Unless you can find the hidden golden lucky cats to increase your health bar (and those health bonuses go away when you beat a stage), you're generally only 4 or 5 hits away from death. You can mitigate this during the town segments by buying food to revive you upon death or armor to take more hits for you, but those are only gonna be useful for one life. The game has a pretty fair and reasonable difficulty curve until about stage 6 or 7, where it throws the kid-gloves off and starts barely even giving you shops to go to. That said, the bosses are all well designed with most of them having reasonable tells for when they're gonna do their attacks (the kabuki boss is awful and I hate him though XP). I suppose sticking to Goemon's origins as a legendary bandit, it's sometimes better to run by enemies than actually fight them, especially if you wanna conserve your money/ammo (which is often one of the best weapons to use at any point), and I largely chalk up me beating the game this time compared to failing before to my willingness to use money as a weapon (where before I saw it as too wasteful).

The presentation is really what you expect from 16-bit Konami: heckin' awesome. The game has a bright, cartoony art style that all sorts of colorful and charming. That's all peppered in with fun character designs and an absolute banger of a soundtrack. Goemon games are just about always good in these departments, and this game is no exception. As far as regional differences go between the SNES and SFC releases of the game go, there are very few. It's largely down to a couple partial-nudity based jokes being removed as well as the revival food being changed from rice balls in the SFC version to pizzas in the SNES version (which still fit the irreverent tone of the game pretty well).

Verdict: Highly Recommended. As is the case with just about everything Konami did on the SNES, this is an excellent action/adventure game. It's got some issues with difficulty curve and signposting here and there in the later game, and it's definitely pushing the bounds of reasonable co-op game design during the platforming segments, but it has nonetheless stood the test of time very well regardless. It's definitely outshined by its Japan-exclusive sequels, but the first game should not be forgotten as a powerful debut into the 16-bit era for the series.
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Re: Games Beaten 2021

by MrPopo Thu Jan 28, 2021 1:30 am

Previous Years: 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020

1. EYE: Divine Cybermancy - PC
2. Legend of Grimrock - PC
3. Legend of Grimrock 2 - PC
4. Shovel Knight - Wii U
5. Yakuza: Like a Dragon - PS4
6. Yoshi's Island - SNES

Yoshi's Island is a late game to the SNES that was under development for four years; basically every time Nintendo learned a new trick with the SNES they added it to Yoshi's Island, leading to an incredibly attractive game with some awesome parallax scrolling and a ton of sprite manipulation thanks to the Super FX2 chip. It's a pretty fun platformer overall, though there are some of the gimmicks hurt the pace.

The game is set when Mario and Luigi are babies being delivered by the stork; Kamek attacks the stork and kidnaps Luigi. Mario falls in Yoshi village and the Yoshis decide to take him to rescue Luigi. At the end of each level you toss Mario to the next Yoshi in line. You traverse through six worlds of eight levels, with a fortress and boss fight every four. Each world also has a bonus level if you 100% every level in the game. And this is the first point that differentiates the Yoshi series from the Mario series; the Yoshi series is much more of a collectathon.

Yoshi has the ability to swallow enemies and turn them into eggs, or just spit it out at other enemies. The eggs can be thrown to kill enemies, pick up coins and flowers, and activate mystery balloons which do a variety of things. The eggs will also ricochet off of walls (which is needed at several points). Yoshi can also ground pound and do a flutter to extend his jumps; the flutter can be done repeatedly to cross some pretty major gaps and avoid large parts of some levels. Naturally that means you don't do the collectathon stuff, but considering you'll probably give up on it pretty quick it's not a big deal.

This game also sets up that shy guys are going to be Yoshi's primary enemy, rather than goombas. Goombas do show up in a couple levels, same as koopas, but for the most part you're dealing with shy guys, piranha plants, and new enemies. One thing that's kind of weird is the game is rather inconsistent on what can and cannot be jumped on safely; unlike Super Mario World Yoshi generally can't stomp on anything spikey without being hurt. Which leads to the other major gameplay change from Mario games; Yoshi is effectively invulnerable. When hit baby Mario is kicked off his back and must be retrieved. A timer counts down while this happens; this timer is based on how many stars you have (one of the collectables) and will regenerate back up to 10 if it drops below. If the timer runs out then you lose a life as Mario gets grabbed. Yoshi can get killed by spikes, lava, or pits, though. I did find, though, that the way they implemented you getting hit got me killed a lot; about half the time it halted my momentum in air, dropping me in a pit, while half the time it seemed to knock me back further than expected, again, a trip to pit town. The way Mario bounces off is also random, which can get nasty in tight corridors if an enemy blocks you.

The game also features vehicle transformations, which really kills the pacing. When you find a vehicle transformation you start a timed segment to try and get to the end and touch the Yoshi block; if you do so you get to move on, otherwise you get teleported back to the start. If it's required to get through then the transformation respawns, whereas if it was just to get a collectable it won't respawn. All the vehicles handle like ass. Another thing that really kills things is the handful of levels that have a foreground that hides paths through tunnels in a hill; every time you transition the game pauses to make a noise and hide/show the foreground. Which would be fine if you had long segments in one or the other, but the game likes to have it be constant transitions. I'm not sure what they were thinking with that one.

The game's boss fights are pretty solid; each one has some new way of winning, with most involving egg throwing in particular ways, but some of them have other requirements to win. None of them take too long or get too nasty, so it's the right amount of difficulty for a game like this. This also ends up being one of the ways the game shows off what the Super FX2 chip can do; lots of large sprites that get rotated and scaled in response to what you're doing.

Overall it's a pretty fun game, but heaven help you if you try to 100% it. The game has some quite difficult levels, so if more recent games have turned you off for being too easy I recommend you give this one a try.
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PartridgeSenpai
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Re: Games Beaten 2021

by PartridgeSenpai Thu Jan 28, 2021 7:53 am

Partridge Senpai's 2021 Beaten Games:
Previously: 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
* indicates a repeat

1. Atelier Rorona: The Alchemist of Arland (PS3)
2. Portal 2 (PC) *
3. Atelier Judie: The Alchemist of Gramnad (PS2)
4. Pipo Saru 2001 (PS2)
5. Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon (N64)
6. Atelier Viorate: The Alchemist of Gramnad 2 (PS2)
7. Kirby's Dream Land 3 (SFC)
8. The Legend of Mystical Ninja (SFC)

9. Atelier Marie: The Alchemist of Salburg (PS1)

My adventure through the Atelier series continues with what was the very first game in the series released wayyyy back in 1997. I had thought going through Atelier Judie would be a really big change from Atelier Rorona, given how old one was compared to the other, but I'd been quite surprised at just how much of the fundamentals were the same. Here in Atelier Marie, however, is where the real archaisms of the series lied. It was quite a learning curve just getting to grips with how the series worked back then, but I actually ended up enjoying my time with this much more than I thought I would. I played through the PS1 original version (via my PS3, as my PS2 is having some annoying audio issues), and while this is yet another game in the series that doesn't keep track of your play time, I reckon it took me some 40-odd hours to get the canon ending that leads into the sequel (although really I could've gotten any of them, as I effectively 100%'d the game save for one final item I couldn't be bothered to save scum enough to get).

Atelier Marie, as with virtually (but not quite) all Atelier games is the story of Marlone, or Marie, as her best friend Schia calls her. She is a student at the alchemy academy in Salburg, and she holds the proud distinction of having the worst grades in the history of the academy. In order to actually graduate, her teacher Ingrid gives her a special final task: In the course of five years of running her own atelier shop, she must create an item of good enough quality that Ingrid decides to let her graduate.

While Ingrid DOES call it a "shop" that you're running, it's really just the "filling item requests at the town bar" system that basically every Atelier game after this would use, and the whole "do X task before Y time limit expires" is solidified and executed on surprisingly well in this initial entry. There's not THAT much text or characterization, certainly compared to later games in the series, but what's there is funny and charming in the way that this series does best. My personal favorite part of Marie's personality being how aggressively little she cares about all of the city's festivals and events that Schia drags her to XD. The game takes a little while to get going, and ultimately the time limit you're given seems pretty generous (even with all of the usual save scumming for efficiency that I anxiously do in every one of these games that I play), as I had nearly 100%'d the game's content before the halfway mark of the 4th year. That said, it's a really solid first step for the series, and while mechanics of the game have certainly not aged fantastically and the messaging in the writing leaves something to be desired for 1997, I can definitely see why people fell in love with this series and why it got to keep getting sequels as long as it has.

Speaking of those mechanics, holy heckin' jeebus is this one oddball of a game when compared to even an entry as soon as Atelier Judie. There is SO much different about this game compared to later ones (and this is outside of stuff like UI refinements) I don't know where to begin, but I'll try to be as succinct as I can here. For starters, not only do you effectively have no cap on your item container (99 of any item is the max, but not total beyond that), and not only do items never expire, but items simply aren't unique. Item qualities and traits simply don't exist yet, and items of the same type are always completely identical to one another. This also means, by extension, that recipes never use generics or categories of ingredients, and items by and large take a bit longer to make than they do in other games. Viewing your inventory/container is kind of a pain with the UI as clunky and menu-heavy as it is, but overall it's a fairly familiar crafting system once you get beyond the aesthetics. You still make stuff to fill requests, you still get more recipes by buying them from shops or finding them via story events, and you still have to buy tools to help make stuff like you do in later PS1 and PS2 games. Though, weirdly enough, you don't have an alchemy level. You have a "knowledge" level that increases as you acquire more items, recipes, and even in-game information by talking to NPCs, and you have your character level that goes up by killing monsters and crafting items. Both of these things seem to increase your odds of successful alchemy, but it's not ultimately THAT different from how later games split your alchemy and adventurer levels.

You also don't have LP, but you also don't REALLY have MP or spells either. Non-basic attacking special moves are limited to one per character and are determined by the weapon they're using, and using these special moves can be done infinitely (I got a huge AOE one for Marie and she was heckin' MELTING fools by the end of the game XD) as they don't use MP. What DOES use MP is items, which anyone in the party can use as long as you equip them with them. Now the alchemist herself DOES have a ton of MP compared to most of the fighters that'll tag along with her, but the whole "only the alchemists can use items" thing that later games do is totally absent here.

Combat itself isn't thaaat difficult, or rather, it isn't terribly technical. Certainly not to the point where the lack of an ability to create your own weapons really matters to any significant extent. This has the whole grid-based rows and distance mechanics that later PS1 and PS2 entries would use a lot, but I really either felt that I was stomping enemies or getting my face stomped in myself, and a lot of that seemed to come down to "have I upgraded my weapons as much as I can yet?", "Am I using weak party members?", and "what level am I REALLY?". Combat is a really secondary thing in this game, and as long as you bring a big pile of healing items, you'll usually be able to at least limp away from fights even if you can't win them outright.

There's also some weird pacing in regards to when you unlock certain areas to gather items in (like you're gonna wanna go to the mountain asap, as even though you can't really survive there, the bar tender will tell you a rumor about a much closer, lower-level cave where you can get nearly all the same ingredients only AFTER you go to the mountain once), and the areas themselves are really odd. They really aren't areas, per se. They're more like screens you go to after several days travel, and then you pick to either gather another day, heal the party, or go home. There is absolutely no exploring of any kind in the wild areas outside Salburg.

Even the way you recruit your party members is odd, as they just have their own lives outside of you, and you actually need to get lucky enough to bump into them at the bar, alchemy shop, palace, or wherever. They still often cost money to get to come with you, and stronger ones generally cost more per-outing. While they don't have THAT much character to them, what IS there is generally fun and charming as the series is known for. My personal favorite (though I never really used him much) is the former bandit king who is only no longer a bandit king because you beat his gang up so bad that no one respects him enough to follow him any more XD

The game's art style is like the later PS2 games I've played in the series but even more chibi-looking (at least in the walking-around parts). The 2D illustrated stuff is quite 90's but much more appealing than I found Judie's art style to be, and I really liked the character designs in this (although the alchemists themselves are definitely a bit eccentrically dressed to really fit in with their surrounding NPCs much ^^;). In a challenge to my assumptions about the early games' music that I'd gotten from Atelier Judie, the music in this game is by and large really good, and it's of the quality I expect from the series. There are some odd choices, like just how jaunty and happy your workshop's theme is, but I still really liked it and the workshop theme is something I've heard so often that I think it will never leave my head XD

Verdict: Recommended. I really didn't expect myself to enjoy this game as much as I did. It's definitely in that PS1 JRPG space of "actually fairly simple but the UI is clunky enough that it has a bit of a learning curve regardless" going on, for sure, but it holds up surprisingly well given how long it's been since it came out. This and its sequel have a fan translation available online via the PS2 port of both games together, so this is one that can even be played in English (though I can't speak to the quality of the translation, as I haven't seen anything of it). If you're curious on the origins of the Atelier series, while this game certainly has its foibles and lacking in quality of life features, it's remains a pretty solid game in its own right, and if you're anything like me, it'll probably be something you get some fun out of despite all that stuff X3
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Re: Games Beaten 2021

by ElkinFencer10 Thu Jan 28, 2021 5:33 pm

Games Beaten in 2021 - 12
* denotes a replay

January (12 Games Beaten)
1. God of War - PlayStation 3 - January 1
2. God of War II - PlayStation 3 - January 2
3. God of War: Chains of Olympus - PlayStation 3 - January 3
4. God of War: Ghost of Sparta - PlayStation 3 - January 4
5. God of War III - PlayStation 4 - January 6
6. God of War: Ascension - PlayStation 3 - January 9
7. God of War [2018] - PlayStation 4 - January 16
8. Epic Dumpster Bear 2: He Who Bears Wins - PlayStation 4 - January 16
9. God of War: Betrayal - Mobile - January 17
10. Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit - Switch - January 18
11. Muv-Luv photonflowers* - Steam - January 22
12. Muv-Luv photonmelodies♮ (Steam) - Steam - January 27


12. Muv-Luv photonmelodies♮ (Steam) - Steam - January 27

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As was the case with Muv-Luv photonflowers*, Muv-Luv photonmelodies♮ is a collection of side stories in the two Muv-Luv universes. There are only three stories in photonmelodies♮ as opposed the 12 in photonflowers*, so I'll give a brief overview of each of them. While there's only a quarter of the stories in this pack, each one is beefier with one of them actually being the official fourth main story in the series. All told, I spent over twice as long on photonmelodies♮ as I did on photonflowers*.

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The first story in photonmelodies♮ is Muv-Luv Alternative Chronicles: Aspiration which follows Makabe Sejiyurou, a pilot cadet with the Japanese Imperial Royal Guard who is sent to England's Dover Base for a 10-day UN exchange program so that he can learn more about how the European Union forces fight and about their TSF design philosophy. I got EXTREMELY annoyed with Sejiyurou's melodramatic BS at first, but after a while, he started to loosen up a little bit, and I started to warm up to him a bit. He's placed with the 44th West German Army Tactical Armor Battalion "Cerberus," West Germany's most elite TSF squad comprised of some of the best pilots that the EU has to offer. They also all happen to be from German nobility. As such, Sejiyurou is not only hoping to learn more about being a surface pilot to serve the Empire on the front lines against the BETA but also about European knights' code of chivalry and how it compares to Japanese samurais' bushido. Between the cultural gulf between German and Japanese society, the truly wacky antics of some of the Cerberus pilots, and the stick firmly lodged deep inside Sejiyurou's colon, there is a plethora of entertaining and hilarious situations in which Sejiyurou finds himself despite being in England, the last shred of Europe not yet under BETA control. It got off to a bit of a rough start, but by the end of the story, I was actually sad to see Sejiyurou return to Japan. Hopefully we'll get more Muv-Luv centering around Cerberus and Sejiyurou in the future.

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The second story in photonmelodies♮ is Muv-Luv Alternative Chronicles: Resurrection. Here we see some familiar faces, specifically Yuuko and Isumi's Valkyries from Alternative. Resurrection follows Silvio Orlandi, an intelligence agent for the EU who's been cybernetically augmented following a disastrous mission failure which killed his best friend and very nearly killed him with his legs and left arm being eaten by the BETA before he's miraculously rescued. Yokohama base, home of the Alternative IV project, is the only base in the world no intelligence agency has managed to infiltrate thanks to Yuuko's brilliant intuition and her "spy shield" remnant of the failed Alternative III project. That is, until Yuuko invites the UN big wigs to Yokohama for a presentation on Alternative IV's progress. She requests the EU send Orlandi as her body guard to protect against terrorist threats, the two biggest being the Christian Allegiance, a terrorist group that believes the BETA to be God's punishment for humanity's sins, and the supporters of Alternative V who want to see Alternative IV sabotaged. This gives Orlandi his ticket inside to gather intelligence, but over the course of his mission, he finds that not everything is quite as he's been led to believe. As far as the characters go, I had already grown to love the characters who returned from Alternative, but Orlandi annoyed me in the same kind of way that Sejiyurou did albeit not quite as badly. Like Sejiyurou, though, he grew on me over the course of the story. The plot, though, is far better than in Aspiration in general. Aspiration started fairly low for me in terms of my interest before spiking whereas Resurrection stayed fairly in the middle with a slight increase towards the end. Neither of the Alternative Chronicles stories really blew me away, but I did thoroughly enjoy both and would love to see more with those characters. You actually do get a VERY brief cameo of Orlandi at the end of the Total Eclipse anime, and the very end of Resurrection teases the events of Total Eclipse.

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The last of the three stories in photonmelodies♮ is easily half of the length of the whole game, and it's definitely the main attraction here. Muv-Luv Altered Fable: A Shimmering Shard of Spacetime (which I'll simply call "Altered Fable" from here on) is the official sequel to Muv-Luv Alternative and picks up immediately where Alternative left off. Takeru wakes up once again in October but with no memories whatsoever of his struggles against the BETA or the unspeakable atrocities he witnessed and survived. It looks like everything has corrected itself and looped back to the beginning of Extra...except that Mitsurugi Meiya isn't the only new student to transfer into his senior class. As showing up is her twin sister, Mitsurigi Yuuhi, and the enigmatic girl genius from Russia who skipped multiple grades, Yashiro Kasumi. This is not completely as it seems, though; Kasumi bursts into tears upon seeing Sumika and Takeru. She remembers everything. She alone knows the horrific fate that befell them when the BETA invaded. Other characters from Alternative make appearances, too; Irinia Pyatkh shows up as an exchnage teacher from Poland as does Irma Thesleff from Finland, Albert Walken from the United States, and Paul Radhabinod from India. Later, the Valkyries show up - Isumi Michiru, Hayase Mitsuki, Suzumiya Haruka, Munakata Misae, and Kazama Touko.​ Four of the characters from Muv-Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse also get a super brief no-dialogue cameo in part of Altered Fable.

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In a lot of ways, Altered Fable is a retelling of the core story of Extra - heck, the original release in Japan was called Extra Final - but it's also more than that. It's like the "true" version of Extra more than a simple retelling or enhanced version. Some of the events are the same - the cookoff, the Christmas party, the hot springs trip - but they're dramatically different because of the extra characters, and that's not even touching on the totally new events like the tropical island trip and the entire ending of the game. There's also much less of an emphasis on picking your Best Girl this time around despite having Yuuhi and Kasumi as potential waifus (the latter of which makes me uncomfortable since she's explicitly stated to be a minor; no "they're 18!" anime logic here). Fortunately(?) the Steam version is a port of the PS3 release with anything questionable removed. No matter who ends up being your "chosen" waifu, it plays zero role in the ending which kind of cheapens the dating sim aspect of it. I didn't mind that at all, though; I was there for the bits of intrigue and mystery they kept dropping. Speaking of that, I won't spoil anything in case anyone reading this wants to play it, but the ending sucked. It was a serious Mass Effect 3 situation; I loved almost all of the game until the last half hour. The ending just...no. There were still mysteries unresolved, I wanted to pick a final Best Girl, and way they resolved the big mystery was just dumb and unfulfilling. Don't get me wrong, the first 98% of the game is so good that it's absolutely worth playing, but the ending is definitely a let down.

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Muv-Luv photonmelodies♮ is honestly what I wish photonflowers* had been; a few long stories rather than a lot of short ones. The stories in photonflowers* were great, but the length of the stories in photonmelodies♮ really lets you get to know the new characters and get a feel for that part of the universe. With the exception of the ending of Altered Fable, I thoroughly enjoyed my time with photonmelodies♮. I didn't enjoy it as much as I did Alternative, mind you, but it was still great to see what happened after the little teaser ending of Alternative and to see Kasumi's character get developed in a context that isn't constantly one breath away from a gruesome death. You also get to see three totally different places; Europe on the front lines of the war against BETA, a return to Japan on the front lines of the war against the BETA, and Japan in the peaceful BETA-free world. It's a fantastic little side story pack, and I can't recommend it highly enough even with Altered Fable's lackluster ending.
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Re: Games Beaten 2021

by BoneSnapDeez Thu Jan 28, 2021 8:02 pm

ElkinFencer10 wrote:Image


lol I sent that image to prfsnl_gmr in a text message a couple of weeks ago. Peak humor.

Nice review Elkin!
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Re: Games Beaten 2021

by prfsnl_gmr Thu Jan 28, 2021 9:29 pm

Peak humor! :lol:
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Re: Games Beaten 2021

by Forlorn Drifter Thu Jan 28, 2021 10:32 pm

I beat Streets of Rage 4, not sure what to say other than it’s a good beat em up. I’m still not fully solid on how to activate certain moves (the defensive special seems random, but I know that’s wrong). It also seemed easier than the other Streets of Rage games, though I only played on normal.
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Re: Games Beaten 2021

by Ack Fri Jan 29, 2021 12:45 pm

1. Frog Detective 2: The Case of the Invisible Wizard (PC)(Adventure)
2. Revulsion (PC)(FPS)
3. Nonogram - Master's Legacy (PC)(Puzzle)
4. Sekiro (PC)(Action-Adventure)

I've been playing Sekiro for almost the entirety of January. It is my first time really focusing on a Souls-like game from developer From Software. Going into this one largely blind has been an interesting and sometimes discouraging experience, but having now seen all endings and beaten every boss, I am happy to declare myself champion.

Sekiro is an action game set near the end of the Sengoku period of Japan. The game occurs in the lands of the Ashina Clan in its waning days, as government forces move in and clan retainers become increasingly more desperate to save their home. You play as a shinobi known alternately as "Wolf" or "Sekiro" (which translates to one-armed wolf) who is sworn to protect the immortal Divine Heir, a youth named Kuro. Unfortunately, with war perilously close, and people practically slobbering over the possibility of becoming immortal for their own purposes, this isn't exactly an easy thing to do. You'll find relatively few friends in the lands of Ashina, and depending on certain choices, you'll also cause some to turn their backs on you, or worse, draw their swords.

As a game focusing on a shinobi, Sekiro places a heavy emphasis on stealth, assassination, learning to manipulate the landscape and your opponents, parrying and deflection techniques, and sometimes pure stinky cheese. If you don't like the thought of studying a layout, figuring out your enemies' routines, and then methodically sneaking up and taking them down one by one to dismantle the enemy force, well, this is probably not the game for you. Also, if you don't like the idea of having to rely on a mixture of perfectly timed jumps, dodges in various directions, and went to stand and deflect enemy attacks with precision to wear down opponents until you open up a kill shot, well, again, this is probably not the game for you. Combat is a combination of whittling down enemy health and damaging enemy posture to open up kill shots, with posture tending to be the easier route to take. And posture is broken down through deflections and counters, so...yeah, good luck. The name of the game is Sekiro, sure, but really the name of the game is deflection, it just wasn't as catchy in marketing.

Of course, while you will steadily build up combat skills and prowess, this isn't the only means of fighting back. You'll get an array of items, some of which boost your damage or limit damage or posture damage that you take, some of which can inflict status effects, cure them on yourself, and even a couple that stun enemies outright briefly. You also have a prosthetic arm with a range of tools and upgrades to find and unlock. The arm is a powerful tool, and knowing which tool to use can completely trivialize some tough fights. Hell, the prosthetic is where some of the best means to cheese bosses comes from...though not the only. My personal favorite involves abusing level geometry to get a particular boss to walk off a cliff.

Sekiro also offers a lot of content, ranging from a large tree of skills and upgrades that you will not be able to max out on a single playthrough, certain key branching story points with a total of four endings, a few hidden bosses and minibosses, NPCs with their own branching stories, and so on. Reach an ending, and you can even continue on to another playthrough with tougher enemies and bosses but more skill points to gain. Peppered throughout are levels with a stunning array of scenery but also fights with opponents more than happy to smack you around like a chump until you learn how to play the way Sekiro wants. There are hidden paths back through as well as means to artificially inflate the difficulty if you so desire. Hell, a lot of my time has just been spent retreading ground to find what new things I hadn't noticed before, and even on my most recent playthrough, I was finding new things that I hadn't noticed before.

I like Sekiro a lot, even if it did kick the crap out of me more than a few times. I also like beating Sekiro even more, watching boss fights that early on seemed impossible now become almost effortless, and getting my routes down to the point I walk into an area and already react the way I need to before my opponents are even seen.

And with Sekiro down, I'm now more curious about the earlier Souls games as well and whether it's worth looking into ports on the Switch or previous Steam releases.
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MrPopo
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Re: Games Beaten 2021

by MrPopo Fri Jan 29, 2021 4:13 pm

I'd recommend you go with Bloodborne next Ack; the off-hand gun emphasizes a more mobile playstyle and key counters to open a riposte, which is not too divorced from what Sekiro is doing. And the Victorian Lovecraft aesthetic is definitely up your alley.
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prfsnl_gmr
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Re: Games Beaten 2021

by prfsnl_gmr Sat Jan 30, 2021 12:52 am

1. Horace (Switch)
2. Ghostrunner (Switch)

Ghostrunner is a brutally difficult first-person action platformer. In it, you play as a cyborg ninja in a neon-lit cyberpunk hellscape, and it is totally f***ing awesome.

The platforming is stupendous, like mash-up of classic 2D action-platformers (e.g., Ninja Gaiden, Shadow of the Ninja) modern first-person action-adventure games (e.g., Metroid Prime, Mirror’s Edge, SUPERHOT). The game also moves ridiculously fast, and despite its extreme challenge, is only occasionally frustrating.

Moreover, the combat is immensely satisfying. A typical fight plays out like: (1) wall run; (2) jump on top of drone; (3) stab drone; (4) steer crashing drone into enemy; (5) jump off drone before it explodes; (6) dash behind shielded gunner; (7) stab gunner in back; (8) slide under blast from laser array; dash toward laser array; (9) cut laser array in half; (10) deflect attack from enemy ninja, stunning it; (11) decapitate ninja; (12) get shot by random gunner you hadn’t noticed before; (13) try again. All of this takes about 12 exhilarating seconds, and since the game lets you approach battle anyway you want, victory is as much about strategy as it is about execution and reflexes.

The soundtrack is pretty much non-stop EDM bangers, which fit the action perfectly, and the game looks great. (The Switch port, which I played, obviously takes a bit of a hit from other versions, but it is still stunning.) For what it’s worth, the game also has a compelling, if somewhat predictable, narrative, and the voice acting is relatively solid throughout the game.

The game isn’t flawless. Despite you cyborg ninja’s extreme agility, he can’t climb at all, meaning you will often find yourself on a ledge or pipe near an easily climbable wall, but nonetheless unable to reach your destination. Your only choice in those circumstances is to throw yourself in a bit and start over. The game’s extreme difficulty make it frustrating at times, and it’s attempts at puzzles all fall flat. Finally, the Switch port really can’t handle a few segments, and at two points, the frame rate dips really impacted the gameplay. (Restarting the game helped in one section toward the end where it got really bad.)

Still, the rest of the game is so great, I forgive its flaws. I’m anxiously awaiting a sequel, and I sincerely hope the game gets a physical release in North America. It would be a “day 1” purchase for me. Ghostrunner is a very early Game of the Year contender for me, and I really can’t recommend it highly enough.
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