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MrPopo
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Re: Games Beaten 2021

by MrPopo Sat May 08, 2021 2:53 pm

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
7. Vectorman 2 - Genesis
8. Super Mario Sunshine - GC
9. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time Master Quest - GC
10. Bomberman '93 - TG-16
11. Cannon Fodder - PC
12. Panzer Dragoon II Zwei - Saturn
13. Dragonborne - Game Boy
14. Rock n' Roll Racing - PC
15. The Lost Vikings - PC
16. Blackthorne - PC
17. Contra III: The Alien Wars - SNES
18. Bravely Default II - Switch
19. Axelay - SNES
20. Ryse: Son of Rome - XBOne
21. Killer Instinct (2013) - XBOne
22. Heretic Kingdoms: The Inquisition - PC
23. Thief: The Dark Project - PC
24. Killer Instinct - XBOne
25. Killer instinct 2 - XBOne
26. Record of Lodoss War: Deedlit in Wonder Labyrinth - PC
27. Thief 2: The Metal Age - PC
28. Wing Commander II - PC
29. Wing Commander III - PC
30. The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel IV - Switch
31. Shadow Man Remastered - PC
32. Wing Commander: Privateer - PC
33. Salt and Sanctuary - Switch
34. The Elder Scrolls: Arena - PC
35. The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall - PC

Remember when I said Arena was mostly an exercise in seeing where things began? Well Daggerfall lets you see the link between Arena and Morrowind in terms of gameplay but is one of the biggest piles of jank I have ever seen. Never have I seen a game that reaches so far and falls so short. The best thing I can say is development of Daggerfall gave Bethesda the experience to pull back and pull off Morrowind.

Daggerfall is set in the Iliac Bay region; the southern part of High Rock and the northern part of Hammerfell. You are an agent of the Emperor sent to investigate why the former king of the kingdom of Daggerfall is haunting the area. Through your investigate you discover that there are several different factions in Iliac Bay that are vying for power. The three prominent kingdoms of Daggerfall, Wayrest, and Sentinal, as well as the orcs of Orsinium trying to form their own country, the necromancer lord the King of Worms, and a mysterious Underking. Once you've done all the main quests that introduce these factions the game suddenly decides 'oh, by the way, there's a magical artifact that will animate a weapon that will allow one faction to gain power and you get to decide who gets it". Future games end up going with "all the endings happened because the weapon was so powerful it broke time" and allows them to clean up the fact that the game was far too big.

While Arena was mostly D&D influenced from a character mechanics standpoint, Daggerfall introduces the "learn by doing" skill system. Your class will have three primary skills, three major skills, and five minor skills. You level up every time you have gained 15 points of skill ups, but it only considers your three primary, the top two major skills, and the top minor skill. Upon leveling you will gain between 3-6 attribute points to allocate to your skills. So you don't have to do the "build your character to maximize attribute gains" thing; that's just save scumming on level up. One thing available in Daggerfall is that classes, in additions to stats and skills, can take advantages and disadvantages. Each of these have an associated point cost, but you don't need to make it even out. If you lean in one direction or the other it increases or decreases the rate of skill gain for your class. So with careful planning you can be immune to all magical effects and damage, heal in real time, and still increase skills as fast as possible, for very minor penalties due to developer oversights. One minor thing to point out is skills only rank up when you rest, so if you don't do so (and fast travel counts as resting) you will feel like you're not progressing.

The skill list has the standard various weapon types, magic types, running, jumping, swimming, mercantile, sneak, lockpick, but it also has a swathe of language skills. These give you a chance upon encountering an enemy of the type for the enemy to be non-hostile. This ends up being very underwhelming and hard to level up outside of training. I recommend you skip these, and it's obvious why they were dropped going forward.

The game has the same sort of combat as Arena; you hold right click and swing in various ways to execute various moves, each of which impacts your chance to hit and damage (increasing one decreases the other). New to the game is that the engine supports room over room. They went hog-wild with this, with tons of ramps for the dungeons to go up and down and be built like pretzels. This usually leads to you not being aware that there's an enemy there until you can't move through it and have taken some damage. And there's elevators, which are buggy as shit and you'll fall through, and the levitate spell, which is buggy as shit and half the time won't let you ascend/descend unless you also move forward or backwards. And there's water, which is buggy as shit as you basically can easily get stuck in it until you find the magical incantation that gets the game to recognize you're trying to get out.

I want to draw special attention to the pretzel rooms. The dungeons are built out of blocks that are placed on a horizontal plane, with each block having two fixed connections in each cardinal direction. Each of these blocks is horribly convoluted, leading to dungeons that are an utter pain to map out. There's a lot of verticality just for the sake of verticality. After your first couple dungeons you quickly learn that you want to avoid doing dungeons outside of what is required by the plot.

Speaking of the plot, there's a lot of frustration there. While the first couple of breadcrumbs are handed to you, it's not obvious that you need to be leveled up a bit to even pick them up. And some of the plot requires you to talk to NPCs unprompted long after you've gotten used to them sending you letters first. And one series requires you to keep dungeon diving to an NPC with no shortcut. You will grow to hate it.

Unlike Arena, here the entire game can actually be walked across from town to town. The entire area is almost twice the size of Great Britain, and 99% of it is unnecessary. There are very few non-random quests outside the main plot. There are a variety of factions to join with benefits, but the quests for them are all entirely random to just get you some reputation with them to rank up. Most of the faction benefits that aren't spell related aren't really worth the time; at least the spell stuff lets you break the game by exploiting scaling.

The game is just a series of "we wanted to do bigger and more" without them really having the ability to execute and without considering whether it was worthwhile. There's a reason that future games shifted to procedural generation to quickly get a broad strokes and then hand placing all the actual content that players would interact with. Content that isn't rewarding is content that isn't worth having.

Frankly, I ended up having less fun with Daggerfall than I did with Arena; while Arena was pretty primitive it at least all worked fairly well, whereas Daggerfall feels like they did the bare minimum of "it compiled" testing, leaving to a janky mess with a moment to moment gameplay being less interesting. The best part is how much more focus we see on them trying to make the world more living and breathing which would pay off much more in future games.
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ElkinFencer10
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Re: Games Beaten 2021

by ElkinFencer10 Sun May 09, 2021 11:17 am

Games Beaten in 2021 - 29
* 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 - January 27


February (5 Games Beaten)
13. Gun Gun Pixies - Switch - February 1
14. Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel - PS4 - February 8*
15. Pantsu Hunter: Back to the 90s - Vita - February 13
16. Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II - PS4 - February 17*
17. Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky - Steam - February 23


March (3 Games Beaten)
18. Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky SC - Steam - March 4
19. Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky 3rd - Steam - March 7
20. Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel III - PS4 - March 21


April (7 Games Beaten)
21. Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel IV - PS4 - April 5
22. Muv-Luv Unlimited: The Day After 00 - Steam - April 7
23. Muv-Luv Unlimited: The Day After 01 - Steam - April 10
24. Muv-Luv Unlimited: The Day After 02 - Steam - April 11
25. Muv-Luv Unlimited: The Day After 03 - Steam - April 13
26. Neptunia Virtual Stars - PS4 - April 18
27. Before Your Eyes - Steam - April 18


May (2 Games Beaten)
28. New Pokemon Snap - Switch - May 2
29. Resident Evil 8: Village - PS5 - May 8


29. Resident Evil 8: Village - PS5 - May 8

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A note first off - I don't care how Capcom stylized it; I reject the number drop from the title and personally insist on calling the game "Resident Evil 8: Village." It used the same color change for the "VIII" that the previous game did for "VII," and that game was officially "Resident Evil 7: biohazard," so I'm putting the 8 in there where it belongs. Anyway, with that said, Resident Evil 8 is a direct sequel to Resident Evil 7 taking place three years after the events in Dulvey, Louisiana. The first person perspective is retained, and Ethan Winters returns as the game's protagonist.

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Ethan Winters and he and his wife, Mia, have been put into a sort of witness protection by the BSAA and moved to Eastern Europe (I think Romania) to try to keep them safe from the global bioterrorist group responsible for the Dulvey Incident. Everything seems fine aside from some probably run-of-the-mill marital tension between Ethen and Mia at the beginning of the game until BLAM Chris Redfield bursts in, fills Mia with bullets, and kidnaps Ethan and their six month old daughter, Rosemary. Story things happen, and Ethan eventually finds himself alone in a quaint village filled with monsters. Thus begins his quest to rescue his daughter, avenge his wife, and find out what the hell is going on with Chris Redfield, the BSAA, and this monster-infested hellscape.

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As Ethan makes his way through the village, has to contend with five main antagonists, Mother Miranda and her four "children" - Lady Dimitrescu for whom the entire internet is horny (and no, she is NOT a vampire; the game makes that explicitly clear and has only one element that even remotely hints at possible vampirism); the creepy doll-maker, Beneviento; the stage 12 cancer patient, Moreau; and my personal favorite, the engineer Karl Heisenberg. I liked all of the antagonists, but I thought that splitting the attention between five "big" antagonists rather than having one recurring big baddie like Nemesis or Mr. X made each one feel a bit less impactful.

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Let me state first off that try as I might, I'm not going to be able to be 100% objective with this review. I'm a huge Resident Evil fan and have been since high school, and there are a few things about this game that just kind of rubbed me the wrong way. The first of those is the overall feel of the game. It's obviously trying to be a next-gen Resident Evil 4. It takes place in a primitive village filled with violent creatures, there's an insane cult, the goal of the game is to rescue a kidnapped girl, and it's noticeably more action-oriented than its predecessor. Oh, and it has a nearly identical style of inventory management system and mysterious shopkeeper. Now none of that is actually bad, but my issue is how on the nose it all is, and I'm fully aware of what a monumental nitpick that is. It's just that after how huge a departure 7 was from the rest of the series, I was a bit disappointed to see 8 basically boil down to "4 in first person with a worse protagonist." It was an instance of the game doing everything right on paper but just not quite sticking the landing for me personally.

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The biggest disappointment with the game for me was that I honestly just didn't find it that scary for the most part. The village itself is definitely creepy, and House Beneviento legitimately scared the hell out of me (there was some obvious inspiration from PT), but beyond that, it was kind of meh as far as "horror" goes. I didn't find Castle Dimitrescu particularly scary, Moreau's area wasn't scary at all, and Heisenberg's factory was kind of average-level creepy with a couple of jump scares. I feel like that's where 8 missed the mark with mimicking 4; Resident Evil 4 stayed genuinely scary in my opinion, but 8 leaned just a little too heavy on the action to the detriment of the horror. The last 30 or 45 minutes of the game genuinely felt more like Call of Duty Zombies than Resident Evil. Again, I know I'm nitpicking here, but horror is my favorite genre, so it's hard for me not to.

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I've nitpicked and criticized a lot, but there are some things that even I couldn't find fault in. The game looks fantastic, for one thing. I thought RE7 looked great, but playing on PS5, Resident Evil 8 just looks phenomenal. There are a few textures here and there that left some to be desired, of course; the torn sofa cushions in the village look legitimately terrible and like an upscaled PS3 texture. By and large, though, it's really impressive visually, and the sound design is superb. The sound effects are done extremely well - something that can really make or break a horror experience - and having RE7's version of Go Tell Aunt Rhody start playing quietly in the background at various points tied the ambiance together nicely. The voice acting, as well, is top notch. The only fault I had with the voicing is that Rosemary's crying sounded nothing like a real baby would in that situation; just passive whining rather than full on screaming you'd actually get from a baby. Having dealt with an actual baby before, it was unrealistic enough to break my immersion a little bit in the game's opening. That's really my only complaint, though.

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Resident Evil 8: Village is a solid follow-up for 7, but it doesn't quite live up to the Resident Evil name the way its predecessor did in my opinion. It went a little too far in the action direction and left a bit to be desired as far as horror goes. It's a fun game, and there are definitely parts that had my heart racing and my palms sweating, but overall, it was about on par with Resident Evil 6 for scaring me. I do consider it a must-play for Resident Evil fans and survival horror fans, but if you're expecting it to be as consistently creepy and keep you as on-edge as Resident Evil 7 did, you're in for a let-down. Capcom has always had some trouble finding that proper balance between horror and action with Resident Evil - I still scoff whenever someone mentions Resident Evil 5 - but I would definitely say this is the least offensive example of a horror game leaning too hard on action.
Exhuminator wrote:Ecchi lords must unite for great justice.

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MrPopo
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Re: Games Beaten 2021

by MrPopo Sun May 09, 2021 6:30 pm

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
7. Vectorman 2 - Genesis
8. Super Mario Sunshine - GC
9. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time Master Quest - GC
10. Bomberman '93 - TG-16
11. Cannon Fodder - PC
12. Panzer Dragoon II Zwei - Saturn
13. Dragonborne - Game Boy
14. Rock n' Roll Racing - PC
15. The Lost Vikings - PC
16. Blackthorne - PC
17. Contra III: The Alien Wars - SNES
18. Bravely Default II - Switch
19. Axelay - SNES
20. Ryse: Son of Rome - XBOne
21. Killer Instinct (2013) - XBOne
22. Heretic Kingdoms: The Inquisition - PC
23. Thief: The Dark Project - PC
24. Killer Instinct - XBOne
25. Killer instinct 2 - XBOne
26. Record of Lodoss War: Deedlit in Wonder Labyrinth - PC
27. Thief 2: The Metal Age - PC
28. Wing Commander II - PC
29. Wing Commander III - PC
30. The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel IV - Switch
31. Shadow Man Remastered - PC
32. Wing Commander: Privateer - PC
33. Salt and Sanctuary - Switch
34. The Elder Scrolls: Arena - PC
35. The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall - PC
36. Resident Evil Village - PC

Village is the latest RE game, taking place a few years after 7 and starring the same protagonist. It brings back the first person viewpoint and severe body trauma of 7, but now takes a lot of direction from RE4. It serves to explore a fairly wide swathe of gameplay within the general RE setting and continues to move the story forward in a way that gives them more room to grow, which was something they struggled with for a while after nuking Raccoon City.

The game starts off with you in a house that there is no way you can afford (2000 sq ft in Europe and you are not wealthy). Chris Redfield is sent by the bank to repossess it after you fail to make your mortgage payments and shoots your wife dead for lying on the mortgage application. He also takes your baby as collateral; should have read the paperwork more closely. You end up waking up outside a rural village where some sort of disaster has taken place. Pretty soon monsters happen and you need to progress through and find your baby.

The game is more action oriented than 7; there's a gradual buildup as you acquire more weaponry, but you always feel reasonably capable once you're past the opening, whereas in 7 you spent half your time avoiding enemies who were functionally invulnerable. You still need to be smart about how you approach combat, as your weaponry is all semi automatic and enemies can swarm you if you're not careful (not to mention watching your ammo). The whole thing is carefully balanced and you'll find yourself having spent a lot of resources on the boss fights, so it always feels earned.

One thing the game does is provide a variety of experiences. There are four main areas you need to explore as part of the plot and each one has a different feel. One is reminiscent of the classic RE mansion with puzzles, locked doors, and a mixture of enemies that are easy to take out and more threatening ones that block progress until you can get the necessary trigger. The second area is entirely based on horror and puzzles; your weaponry is taken away at the start and not returned until the end. The third area is built around navigating through an area where you are constantly at the risk of instant death if you don't move carefully and precisely. The fourth area is pretty combat focused; at this point you have quite the arsenal so the game is willing to make you use it. This is a mixture of horde battles and some major enemies that involve baiting out weak points that need to be targeted. It all serves to explore various ways to have gameplay within the "omg monsters" space.

Overall it's a pretty solid entry into the franchise. Given they' fully embraced "the player should aim at enemies" I think they hit a good balance of combat, puzzles, and the ability to use heavier ammo to ignore having to be precise on annoying classes of enemies. And there's a few good story hooks planted at the end to foreshadow what is upcoming. I just hope they don't waste one of them entirely on a DLC episode, because it deserves to have a full game.
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prfsnl_gmr
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Re: Games Beaten 2021

by prfsnl_gmr Sun May 09, 2021 7:05 pm

Great reviews, guys. Beating a new RE game within two days of release. I would expect nothing less from my homies Elkin and Popo! :lol:
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ElkinFencer10
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Re: Games Beaten 2021

by ElkinFencer10 Mon May 10, 2021 10:39 am

prfsnl_gmr wrote:Great reviews, guys. Beating a new RE game within two days of release. I would expect nothing less from my homies Elkin and Popo! :lol:

Just saying, I beat it the day after release. Just took me till yesterday to write my review. =P
Exhuminator wrote:Ecchi lords must unite for great justice.

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PartridgeSenpai
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Re: Games Beaten 2021

by PartridgeSenpai Wed May 12, 2021 5:57 am

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

Games 1~51
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)
10. Ganbare Goemon 2 (SFC)
11. Paper Mario: Origami King (Switch)
12. Star Fox 64 (N64) *
13. Super Paper Mario (Wii) *
14. Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door (GC) *
15. Demon's Crest (SNES)
16. Cathedral (Switch)
17. Super Mario 3D World (Switch) *
18. Bowser's Fury (Switch)
19. Rogue Heroes: Ruins of Tasos (Switch)
20. moon (Switch)
21. Casltevania 64 (N64)
22. Captain Rainbow (Wii)
23. Doraemon: Nobita To Mittsu No Seireiseki (N64)
24. Blast Corps (N64)
25. Doraemon 2: Nobita To Hikari No Shinden (N64)
26. Custom Robo (N64)
27. Doraemon 3: Nobita No Machi SOS! (N64)
28. 64 Trump Collection: Alice No Wakuwaku Trump World (N64)
29. The Sunken City (PS4)
30. Lair of the Clockwork God (Switch)
31. Star Fox Adventures (GC)
32. Atelier Elie: The Alchemist of Salburg 2 (PS1)
33. Billy Hatcher & The Giant Egg (GC)
34. Mole Mania (GB)
35. Gargoyle's Quest (GB)
36. Rock Man 4 (Famicom) *
37. Wai Wai World (Famicom)
38. Mega Man: Dr. Wily's Revenge (GB)
39. Mega Man (Switch) *
40. Mega Man 2 (Switch) *
41. Mega Man 3 (Switch) *
42. Rock Man 5 (Famicom) *
43. Mega Man 6 (Switch)
44. Mega Man 7 (Switch) *
45. Mega Man 8 (Switch) *
46. Mega Man 9 (Switch) *
47. Mega Man 10 (Switch)
48. Rock Man World 2 (GB) *
49. Rock Man World 3 (GB)
50. Rock Man World 4 (GB)
51. Rock Man World 5 (GB)


52. Wai Wai World 2 (Famicom)

Back when I was hunting down a copy of the first Wai Wai World, I discovered to my surprise that there's actually a sequel! Apparently a much better known sequel, as the resale mall had like a dozen copies of the sequel but only one of the original XD. After how much I enjoyed the first one, I just had to pick up the sequel to see how it compared. The answer to how it compared is, well, tricky to answer exactly, but I did ultimately enjoy my time with it, despite how surprised I was with what I got XD. It took me about an hour to beat on real hardware.

The story of Wai Wai World 2 is similar to the first game in that it doesn't really matter. A big bad guy, similar to the last one, is threatening the Konami multiverse, and Professor Cinnamon is once again sending a hero to save it! However, this time Konami Man and Konami Lady are staying behind, and the professor's newest invention, the robot Rickle is off to save the day with the help of some Konami comrades! You have some returning faces from the first game, as Fuuma, Goemon, and Simon Belmont are here to heck stuff up again, but there are also some new faces as Upa from Bio Miracle Bokkute Upa and Bill from Contra join the party (while Mikey, King Kong, and Moai are left out of this adventure).

The biggest and most immediately obvious difference between this game and the first one is a big shift in genre. Instead of a Castlevania 2-style action adventure game, this is a straight up action platformer as you go through a succession of stages to reach the big baddy at the end. You also don't rescue friends who join your party, and instead you pick between four groups of three characters at the start of the game. You also can't change characters at will, as you need to collect a power up to be able to do that. The power up starts a little roulette going in the lower left (or right, as this is once again a co-op game) corner between the icons representing your three partners, and when you input the button command, you'll swap into being that character.

To add in a further twist, only Rickle can actually take damage and die. Your comrades actually can't die, but they can only stick around for a limited time. They have about a minute to heck stuff up, and each hit they take takes five seconds off of their clock. Your comrades also play fairly faithfully to how they do in their own games, with some exceptions (Goemon throws his smoking pipe only to have it return to him like a boomerang, which I don't think is a thing in the Famicom Goemon games XD). Bill can shoot very far in four directions (sadly not eight like in real Contra), Simon Belmont has his whip and the good range that comes with it, Fuuma has quite short range but hits like a truck, and Upa may have short range with his rattle, but he's also tiny so he's harder to hit, and his hits turn enemies into platforms (just like it does in his own games). The whole thing is such a different approach from the first game that it's not super easy to directly compare them in many ways, but nonetheless it's certainly an interesting approach to putting a new spin on the neat idea presented in the first game.

Further expanding on a way this game is similar to the first is the shifting genres that this game takes place in. While the first Wai Wai World was mostly an action platformer with a shooting homage to Twinbee and Vic Viper at the end, this game has several shmup stages (in both the Twinbee and Gradius styles, complete with their respective power up systems), a puzzle stage, and even a racing stage. It also has a couple points with branching paths, so for example you can pick if you'd rather do the puzzle stage or the racing stage. Even the platforming stages have some variety thrown in, as there are horizontally as well as vertically scrolling stages, and even an auto-scroller or two. Everything is quite competently done, and it makes for a well varied if a bit short romp (as this game isn't terribly hard compared to what you'd probably expect for a Konami Famicom game).

The presentation is quite good, and what you'd likely expect from a late-life Famicom game from one of the greats like Konami. The sprites are big and well detailed, and the music is full of fun remixed tracks from the games they're based on. The only real complaint is that sprite flicker can get quite noticeable at times, as is also so common among more graphically ambitious late-life Famicom games.


Verdict: Highly Recommended. This is a platformer that's stood the test of time really well. It's quite short and also challenging in a fair way, and it's well worth checking out if you're able and a fan of these kinds of action games. The gameplay on display is nothing that's going to blow you away, sure, but if you want something familiar yet a little different to spend a retro afternoon on, this fits the bill very nicely.

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53. Tiny Toon Adventures (Famicom)

Another Konami game on the Famicom I picked up for quite cheap, this is one I'd heard good things about aaaages ago, but have just never got around to trying. I remember hearing it framed as some sort of Mario 3 wannabee that was also pretty good, so "something Mario 3-ish, I guess" is what I went in expecting. What I got was a bit more Konami than that, but I can certainly see where the comparisons come from aesthetically. It took me about 1.5 hours to beat the game on original hardware.

The story for the game is pretty simple. Buster Bunny goes to his TV one day to see Montana Max broadcasting a message to him. He's kidnapped Babs! The only way to get her back is for Buster to collect all the keys to Max's mansions scattered around the land. But that's easier said than done, as they're all guarded (in some respect) by Max's goons! It's a very cut and dry story, but it does the job fine of setting the stakes.

This is one of the many Konami-made action platformers of the era with changeable characters as a mechanic to help add more depth to the game without the need for more buttons. When you enter one of the game's six stages, you have the choice to pick between Plucky Duck (who can hover by mashing the button, just like tanuki Mario), Dizzy Devil (who gets an attack by pressing the button that kills things he touches), or Furrball the cat (who can wall climb) to be your partner through the stage. However, you can't just swap between them at will, and you need to find the star powerup in a stage to swap between characters. Thankfully, you can just scroll the balloon it came out of off the screen to get another if you change your mind, but it feels a bit needlessly awkward.

The stages themselves are pretty hard, and a lot of that comes down to the fact that it's one hit between you and death. Though you can find a heart powerup in a stage to give you an extra hit, they're increasingly rare as you go through the game so you can't rely on them to save you (I'm not sure stages 5 and 6 have one in them at all). The stage design is usually pretty good and fair, but especially in later stages projectiles or enemies that appear suddenly from the scenery or from the screen scrolling too fast can kill you in ways that are hardly fair. It's a mix of good challenge and "just memorize it" challenge, with the entirety of the (admittedly fairly short) final stage being a long sequence of "just do it nearly perfect" platforming sections that send you back to the start of the stage should you fail. At the very least the bosses are pretty good and not too hard, but dang can the stages be mean.

The presentation is a mixed bag but overall quite nice. On the more positive end, this is a very pretty looking Famicom game, with sprites that are well detailed while not being too big, albeit the enemy variety isn't terribly large (not that it really needs to be). The less positive side is that while the music there is well done, there isn't very much of it, and a nice rendition of the Tiny Toons theme song plays through at least half of the game's stages.


Verdict: Recommended. It's on the harder side, but this is a really solid Famicom action platformer. If you use save states, it'll make this a much more manageable and easy time, I imagine, but even if you don't, it's something that can likely be conquered in an evening if you put the time and energy in. It certainly ain't Mario 3 beyond how the color palette and sprite quality looks, but it's still a quite solid Famicom game worth looking into.

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54. King Kong 2: Ikari No Megaton Punch (Famicom)

From Wai Wai World, I'd known for quite some time that Konami had made a King Kong game, and years ago I looked it up expecting some side scroller only to be surprised that it's a top-down adventure game of some kind. I wrote it off back then, but looking for fun Famicom stuff to play, I couldn't pass it up for the couple bucks it was going for. It's certainly an odd game, but it's also quite a solid one as far as Famicom games go. It took me about 40 minutes (according to the game's clock) to beat the game using maps online to help me.

Now despite what the title may make you think, this isn't actually the sequel to any other King Kong game. (as Gunstar so kindly taught me) This is actually the movie version of the movie "King Kong Lives", which was localized into Japanese as "King Kong 2". King Kong is brought back to life with an artificial heart and a blood transfusion from a new "Lady Kong", but then she's stolen away from him and he's locked away. King Kong awakens in his prison furious at his lady love's capture, and he effortlessly breaks his bonds and sets off on an adventure to find her. Now, the game actually has amazingly little to do with the movie, beyond aesthetics like the artificial heart and the basic mission to save Lady Kong, but it's more than enough for a Famicom game from 1986 to give you the overall idea of what you're doing.

What exactly you're doing is going through eight stages collecting power ups and fighting bosses to collect eight keys. Those eight keys unlock the door to a final boss in the ninth stage who you of course need to vanquish to save Lady Kong. The gameplay itself involves going around in a Zelda 1-style overworld punching things to kill them. Punching is quite dangerous, as it naturally involves getting very up close and personal, so the thinking kong's way of taking out enemies is your other attack: throwing boulders. Now, you CAN go through each stage taking out each boss as you go, but that's the hard way. The other way is to do what I did, and go around collecting max health upgrades, max boulder upgrades, speed upgrades, and (most importantly) boulder power upgrades until you're beefy enough to mulch those bosses down as fast as possible, because those guys have quite a lot of health and are basically impossible to take down with only wimpy punches.

However, that's easier said than done. I used maps I found online, and hoo boy am I ever glad I did because this game is absolutely out to kill you. Once you get beyond the first stage, you'll very quickly find that not only are these stages designed like non-euclidean mazes (as screens aren't necessarily connected to the screen "next" to them), but you might not even be in stage 2. Permanent upgrades (those being health and boulder capacity, as speed and boulder power reset to default upon death), extra lives, as well as bosses and portals to other stages lie inside doors hidden under destructible debris found around each map, and there are several doors in each stage leading to different other stages. There really isn't any need to do all the stages in order, but exactly what leads where and how can get very confusing. If you played this without a map, you'd definitely be making one yourself, as you are really gonna need those upgrades to take down the bosses and survive the onslaught that the normal enemies throw at you. Playing with a map is basically easy mode, while making your own is basically super hard mode, and there isn't much difficulty balance between the two, unfortunately ^^;

The presentation is alright, but it's above average I'd say for '86. There isn't a ton of music, but what's there is nice enough and well done. The otherworldly landscapes and weird, surreal bosses you're fighting are nicely detailed, albeit there's very little internal consistency of setting between stages. Heck, you don't even start in the city the opening cutscene puts you in. You start in a canyon, and that city(?) is stage 5. This is firmly in the category of licensed games of the era that are only very tacitly connected to the source material, and they could really be anything else (which only makes it even stranger that the game never came out in other territories, as it would be super easy to just edit the Kong stuff very simply to just make this about nearly anything else with the same stages and gameplay).

Verdict: Hesitantly Recommended. This is a quite solid game, but I think only certain types of people are going to find much value out of it these days. It's an interesting curiosity on the Famicom, for sure, but you've gotta be pretty hardcore into retro stuff to be into this sort of thing enough to play it without looking up maps like I did, and if you DO look up maps like I did, you'll likely find the game a bit too short and easy. It's a cool historical piece that will likely never be re-released anywhere because of the license, and if what I've described here sounds cool to you, you'll likely enjoy this cheap, very text-light action adventure import.

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55. Yume Pengin Monogatari (Famicom)

This is another game I heard about so long ago I don't even remember how I heard about it, but I remembered it being recommended from whomever it was X3. Among weird Japan-exclusive Konami games, I'd reckon this is one of the better known of ones outside of Japan, at least in retro gaming circles. It didn't come as cheap as I'd hoped I could find it, but I was honestly just happy to find it for the normal Famicom (as I'd somehow thought this was a disc system game XP). I finished the game in about 40 minutes on the original hardware.

This game has a plot that is simultaneously very strange and also really vile (I've described it to my friends as "fat shaming: the game"). The main character Penta loves to eat, but he's getting dumped by his girlfriend Penko because he's gotten too fat, and she's started dating a big, buff jerk penguin named Ginji. Penta is determined to lose weight to win her back, but Ginji sends his goons after Penta to literally hurl food down his throat to keep him fat. It has probably one of the most awful morals I can think of among games of the era, but the silver lining is that it does make for some quite interesting game design.

This game is an action side scroller, but you don't really die unless you fall down a pit. You don't even actually have a life bar. Your goal here is to get fit, and accordingly you have a "fitness meter" at the bottom of the screen with a marker of how fit you need to be by the end of the level. You achieve this by collecting weight loss shakes scattered through the levels and being carried by Ginji's goons, and your method of attack actually changes as you get larger or thinner (from an awkward belly slam at your largest, to a projectile firing scream attack at your thinnest/smallest). But you can't grind out shakes forever, as you also have a (quite generous) time limit to finish each stage within. While this does lead to some odd ludonarrative dissonance in the case of things like the final stage, where you're saving Penko FROM GINJI who has kidnapped her yet you still need to avoid getting too fat so she'll love you again, it makes for a very interesting (albeit a bit short) action platforming experience.

The presentation is what you'd expect from a late-life Konami-made Famicom game: sprites are colorful and highly detailed, characters are cute and very charmingly designed, and the music is also quite good. The goons and bosses Ginji sends at you in particular are very oddly and charmingly designed, and the whole thing has a very Parodius-y feel to it.


Verdict: Recommended. If you can get past just how awful the premise is, this is a pretty darn fun and not too tough Famicom game to kill an afternoon with. It's not the cheapest game or the easiest thing to find, but it's well worth trying out if you're in the mood for an action platformer that's a bit weirder than your usual fare.

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56. Rock Man & Forte (SFC)

After playing through Mega Man 1-10 a while back, I had a good few people tell me I should play this game as well to genuinely finish out the classic series. I had the GBA version as a kid, and I got fairly far in it but never managed to beat it. I had hesitated for a bit, as this version actually isn't available for sale digitally anywhere (not in any of the collections, and the only versions on Virtual Console are the very inferior GBA port), but I discovered much to my joy that I actually did have this ROM sitting around in my collection (it was just filed differently than I expected it to be). I broke out my Xbox One game pad and it took me about 4 hours to complete the game without save states or rewinds using ZSNES.

Coming out on the Super Famicom in the mindbogglingly late year of 1998, Rock Man & Forte (better known as "Mega Man & Bass") was the last of the classic Mega Man games until Mega Man 9 a decade later. You can play as either titular character (I myself picked Mega Man) as you fight against the mysterious new robot King, who has raided Wily's lab and Dr. Light's Robot Museum to collect blueprints of past robot masters to create his new master army to make a world devoid of humans where robots can live in peace. It's got a fair amount of text for a Mega Man game, but the story still boils down to a very familiar formula where King was actually being used by Wily the whole time. It does the job just fine, and King himself is a well-designed new character (even if he has the life expectancy of most new Mega Man antagonists ^^;).

The game recycles two robot masters from Mega Man 8, Tengu Man and Astro Man (who both fight quite differently than their PS1 counterparts), but then has six more original robot masters for you to fight in addition to the fortress at the end. However, this is definitely one of the weakest of the classic series, and it is arguably also the worst of them for similar reasons for why Mega Man 10 isn't very good. Sure, the bosses vary between some of them being really weirdly easy (especially with their weaknesses) or being trials of frustration to deal with (the category into which most of them fall), but the big bugbear here is the stage design and how it relates to the two playable characters.

Mega Man 10's big problem comes from its stages feeling too homogeneous because they need to be completeable with all three main characters. Rock Man & Forte has the opposite problem but for the same reason. Mega Man has the charge buster and the dash-slide he has in every other classic series game between Mega Man 4~8. Bass, on the other hand, has no charge beam but an 8-way rapid fire (which are each a little weaker than Mega Man's normal shots), as well as a Mega Man X1-style dash ability instead of the dash-slide. This means the game is divided into two significantly difficult variations depending on whomever you picked to play as, because you can't change character midway through the game. If you picked Mega Man, your charge shot will allow you to generally have an easier time with most bosses, as will your ground slide in dodging attacks. If you're Bass, your dash ability will give you a generally much easier time with the stages, but your eight-way shot and lack of a charge shot will make certain bosses easier and certain bosses harder.

I would tentatively put Bass as the easier to play of the two, as it doesn't much matter if you can beat bosses if you can't even GET to them, but the problems are there all the same. The stages are generally really meanly put together in ways that remind me of games like Mega Man X6 and Rock Man World 3. Particularly as Mega Man, there are some jumps he can JUST barely make due to his lacking a dash ability, and the difficulty curve of the game is all over the place as a result. Inafune apparently wanted this game to be made for the more "hardcore" of the Mega Man fanbase, but the effect is similar to how the original Super Mario Bros 2 was also made for "super" players. The overall experience feels designed to be difficult rather than fun, so it's far more often frustrating that you're dying to cheap deaths rather than satisfying as you conquer a good challenge.

The game also has a shop where you can buy a bunch of (very good) upgrades, though only one of them can be equipped at a time, for most of the best ones. There are also a bunch of collectibles to find scattered through all the levels in the form of little ID cards of genuinely all of the boss and allied robots that have appeared in prior Mega Man games (even super obscure ones like the bosses in the Wily Tower in the Mega Man: Wily Wars). However, just to add insult to injury in one more tiny way regarding the playable characters, some of them can only be gotten as either character, so if you want a completed collectible database, you'll need to play through the game at least once as each character.

The presentation is pretty good for the most part, particularly the graphics. This is pretty damn amazing looking for a Super Famicom game. Tons of assets are taken right out of Mega Man 8, sprites, animations, and all, and the game still runs great despite that (though that could easily be due to my running it on an emulator). You do have the problems that Mega Man 7 has with Mega Man being a bit big and overly animated so it's hard to do the platforming, but it's nowhere near as bad as it is in that game. The music is also pretty good, but that part of the game is overall nothing special.

Verdict: Hesitantly Recommended. This game is veeeery close to being not recommended, but while it may be mean as heck, it's still got a baseline level of quality in its design that can make it an enjoyable time. If you're a BIG Mega Man fan and just have to play every game in the series, or just really like action platformers and don't mind a bit of a sub-par experience, this is worth playing (although likely not importing with how expensive it can be ^^;), but if you're a more casual enjoyer of either of those two things, I'd avoid this one like the plague. This is easily the worst of the classic series, as far as I'm concerned, and you'll need to be really dedicated to conquer this bugger and see the adventure through to the end.
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Re: Games Beaten 2021

by Ack Fri May 14, 2021 11:12 am

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)
5. Grim Dawn (PC)(Action RPG)
6. Grim Dawn: Ashes of Malmouth (PC)(Action RPG)
7. Grim Dawn: Forgotten Gods (PC)(Action RPG)

8. Viscera Cleanup Detail: Santa's Rampage (PC)(FPS)
9. Viscera Cleanup Detail: Shadow Warrior (PC)(FPS)
10. Shrine (PC)(FPS)
11. Record of Lodoss War - Deedlit in Wonder Labyrinth (PC)(Adventure)
12. Forgotten Realms: Demon Stone (PC)(Action)
13. Red Alliance (PC)(FPS)
14. The Forest (PC)(Horror)
15. Pixel Puzzles: Japan (PC)(Puzzle)
16. 12 is Better Than 6 (PC)(Top Down Shooter)
17. Torchlight II (PC)(RPG)


12 is Better Than 6

A Mexican man with amnesia works as a slave in a mine. He gets tired of the abuse, leads an uprising, and then cuts a bloody path across Northern Mexico, Texas, and New Mexico in an effort to remember who he was and how he ended up enslaved. By the end of his adventure, he'll have racist Texas Rangers, corrupt lawmen, his disloyal former gang of banditos, a band of bloodthirsty Native Americans in the employ of the US government under false pretenses, a cartel of Chinese mineworkers, and the US Army all out for his head. And he will kill them all, because it's a top down shooter where hesitation means you're dead.

Yeah, 12 is Better Than 6 is similar in gameplay and attitude to Hotline Miami, only with a Spaghetti Western setting. You're still committing acts of mass violence in a plot that's forcing you ever onwards to commit more violence, but the people you're killing are as terrible as you are, so the morality isn't really a consideration. In fact, pretty much everyone's a racist asshole to you anyway, so why not see who's faster on the trigger? And instead of the smooth hot pinks and baby blues of '80s Miami, you're wading through dirt rendered only in stylized black, white, and red. And you're gonna see a lot of red.

The main difference between a game like Hotline Miami and 12 is Better Than 6 is that there is a heavy emphasis on gunplay here instead of melee. That's not to say there isn't melee; it's just primarily used for stealth, so you can sneak up on someone and quickly gut them without alerting their buddies. But if they have a gun out, well, you haven't got a prayer, so let the shooting start. And you have some options there too. Your firearm options are single action revolvers, lever action rifles, double-barreled shotguns, and even the bow and arrow. Each one has differences in how much ammunition they have available, how fast they fire, how they handle range, and how much noise they put out. The shotgun is shorter range and only holds two rounds, while the bow only holds one arrow at a time and must be charged up for power but is silent. Most interesting is that, because weapons are single action, you actually have to cock them before firing, so you need to be ready to go when a group of guys suddenly rush your doorstep.

There are other weapons available too, such as dynamite, gatling guns, and even a cannon. And as you progress, you earn money which can be used in occasional towns to buy upgrades which do things like double how much ammo you hold, attach dynamite to rats so they can run at your enemies, or even hold two revolvers at once (the eponymous 12 is Better Than 6). And you will need all of your weapons and tricks as you fight across moving trains, through deep mines, or inside army posts.

If you like this kind of rapid action and rapid respawning to redo everything if you aren't perfect, then 12 is Better Than 6 will probably delight you, just as much as it delighted me.


Torchlight II

I have beaten this before, but I recently went back to it to finish the game with the last class I hadn't beaten it with. Torchlight II is a continuation of the first game and offers a take on Diablo II-style world traversal as opposed to the Diablo-style dungeon of the first game. The game is also bright and colorful despite the dark events and hideous monsters around you, so it's pretty to look at.

Unfortunately, it's not particularly deep, though it is moreso than the first game. Having spent a lot of time with both it and the original, I definitely prefer the second game, but it isn't on par with the likes of Grim Dawn for me. Character construction is generally similar, there are some randomized dungeons to explore at the end of the game, and you can always pursue better gear, but it still feels limited in its approach. At the point I'm at, the remaining things to do feel more like busywork than actual triumphs, like drinking a bunch of potions or fishing a few hundred more times.

Still, if you want a Diablo fix, I have played considerably worse, and if it weren't for the likes of Grim Dawn, I'd probably argue that this is a pretty high tier Diablo clone. The problem is that I've just seen better nowadays, and it's proving tough for me to get past that.
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Re: Games Beaten 2021

by MrPopo Sat May 15, 2021 9:39 pm

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
7. Vectorman 2 - Genesis
8. Super Mario Sunshine - GC
9. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time Master Quest - GC
10. Bomberman '93 - TG-16
11. Cannon Fodder - PC
12. Panzer Dragoon II Zwei - Saturn
13. Dragonborne - Game Boy
14. Rock n' Roll Racing - PC
15. The Lost Vikings - PC
16. Blackthorne - PC
17. Contra III: The Alien Wars - SNES
18. Bravely Default II - Switch
19. Axelay - SNES
20. Ryse: Son of Rome - XBOne
21. Killer Instinct (2013) - XBOne
22. Heretic Kingdoms: The Inquisition - PC
23. Thief: The Dark Project - PC
24. Killer Instinct - XBOne
25. Killer instinct 2 - XBOne
26. Record of Lodoss War: Deedlit in Wonder Labyrinth - PC
27. Thief 2: The Metal Age - PC
28. Wing Commander II - PC
29. Wing Commander III - PC
30. The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel IV - Switch
31. Shadow Man Remastered - PC
32. Wing Commander: Privateer - PC
33. Salt and Sanctuary - Switch
34. The Elder Scrolls: Arena - PC
35. The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall - PC
36. Resident Evil Village - PC
37. SaGa Frontier Remastered - Switch

SaGa Frontier Remastered ports and tweaks the original PS1 game mostly by adding in some cut content and giving the sprites a once over (mostly to make them sharper; no horrible redraws like with some of the other Square "modernizations"). The additional content ends up giving some additional context to the story, but things are still pretty threadbare on that front. And weirdly, while it appears the translated script is still the same as the original they did a pass on monster and technique names, which makes it a pain at times when looking at a spark chart.

So for those new to the SaGa series you should be aware going in that they are mechanics heavy and story light. There are a lot of different things going on and very little of it is surfaced to the player. The actual game content is pretty straightforward, so where you really want a guide is on the mechanics front. SaGa Frontier ends up being Romancing SaGa 3 combined with some pick ups from the first two GB SaGa games. You start by picking one of seven protagonists who will have unique story events. There is then a bunch of optional side content available to everyone and a bunch of optional recruitable characters (but with a lot of limited availability among the protagonists). You still have a system of HP regenerating after combat, but if you fall you lose a point of non-regenerating LP; this can only be restored at inns. If your LP falls to zero your character is dead until the next inn visit (a nice change from Romancing SaGa 3). Your characters can wield a variety of weapons and equipment, though this game pares down the categories greatly. Now you only have swords, guns, heavy guns, and your fists. And like Romancing SaGa 3 you learn skills and gain stats randomly through battle based on what you do.

Now let's talk about how it iterates on that formula. Unlike Romancing SaGa 3 each protagonist has their own story (whereas RS3 just gave each character a unique intro and maybe a handful of unique side events). Some of these stories will railroad you hard before you get a chance to do side content while others barely exist and your story is basically all side content. One of them even has "do the side content" as their story. These stories are fairly bare bones overall; the writing feels like the script writers had finished the outlines and then the people up top said "good enough, put that in the game". The restored eighth protagonist (always planned but had to be cut) ends up filling in some of the missing context on the stories, as his scenario is actually repeating key events of the other seven protagonists in an alternate "what if he'd been a part of things?" scenario. You're still left with a pretty threadbare story, but at least now the whole thing is coherent enough.

The biggest change from Romancing SaGa 3 is the return of various types of races beyond human (RS3 had monsters, but they were functionally the same as humans). Humans are the most versatile; they can equip four items in the weapon slot and four pieces of armor and can equip up to eight weapon skills or magic spells (or any combination thereof). Having six of one type and none of another gives you a 1 point discount on using skills/spells and makes you learn them faster. Humans are the bulk of the cast and their versatility is key. They also have the highest damage output. Robots have returned from SaGa 2, and like before they equip gear mostly as stat sticks. They are not restricted in what they can wear, and can do things like wear four full body suits for the stats. This is the only way they gain stats. They can gain skills from defeated robot enemies; these are mostly passive boosts but a handful of attack skills are available. Learning these attack skills is critical, as the difference in damage output is immense between just swinging a weapon and using a skill. Monsters return from the first SaGa, and as before they fall behind on damage due to the restrictions of their class and evolve by consuming fallen foes. Here the system is even more arcane for getting a specific result AND specific monsters aren't as important as before. Monsters can only equip four accessories (no armor or weapons) and have eight skill slots gained from eating fallen monsters. When a monster learns a new skill they gain a handful of base health (which adds up over time), and then the game reevaluates their type. It basically goes through a list of monsters and looks at each one to see if you have all the necessary skills equipped; if you do you become that monster. This leads to a priority system where sometimes you need to lose a skill in order to become the monster you want. But since you need specific skills to be a particular monster (and not have specific skills in some cases) a top tier monster stats-wise isn't necessarily going to do the best if you can't also get a good attack skill on it. Frankly they're more trouble than their worth. Which brings us to the final race, the mystic. Inspired by the mutants of SaGa, the mystics are vampire-themed and are a weird hybrid of human and monster. Like humans they can learn magic and equip weapons and armor. They cannot learn weapon skills. Like monsters they can feast on enemies; this is accomplished through their three unique pieces of mystic equipment which take up three skill slots (with a fourth being locked empty, thus leaving only four slots for magic). Attacking in battle with mystic equipment is like a normal attack with a KO effect added. If a mystic kills an enemy (either through the damage or the KO) they have a chance of absorbing the enemy. Once absorbed the enemy provides a passive stat buff and provides access to an enemy skill; there is one skill per piece of mystic equipment (e.g. a Chimera has a single target damage move on the mystic sword and a multi target petrify on the mystic boots). These stat boosts are the only way to gain non HP/WP/JP (health and the two pools for skills and magic) gains for mystics. This setup leaves mystics incredibly weak; getting good monsters on their mystic equipment is a crapshoot (getting the kill is hard, and it doesn't guarantee an absorb), they can't get the cost reduction on magic due to only having four slots, magic is not the best way of dealing damage, and monster skills are mediocre.

Which brings me to another system in the game. This game introduces a combo system, seemingly intended as an iteration on the formations of Romancing SaGa 3. Whereas in RS3 if you had the right combination of characters and skills they would do a powerful attack, here the system is much more freeform. Every non-basic attack offensive move has a series of properties for outgoing and incoming, and if you match up a property outgoing on one skill to incoming on another they will combine into a single combo attack. This can extend across all five characters if you do it right. Now, this has two properties. The first is that every skill is guaranteed to hit (not miss or be blocked). The second is that every hit beyond the first ignores enemy defense. This is how you get the big damage in the game (which is important, as the game does not have much options for healing, especially sustained healing). This is also why humans are by far the best race; they have the most skills available and easily available, which lets them form combos better. And the cherry on the top is that the martial arts tree has a built-in self combo skill. If you equip four specific martial arts moves you unlock a self-combo move that is just a chain of all four of those. When you activate it the game randomly has you execute between a three and five hit combo, but only one character needs to act. This pumps out between 5k and 20k damage depending on hits and the enemy. By contrast, the best sword skill does 5k uncomboed. This makes martial arts by far the best (though it is costly), and since humans are the only race that can pull this off they are by far the highest damage dealers.

Each scenario is fairly short, and there is a NG+ feature that lets you select what to carry over; by default it carries over all character stats and items but resets the battle level (over time enemy difficulty increases). This makes follow up scenarios much shorter, as you can focus entirely on doing the story quests and ignore the side content. Which is good, as most of the side content is collecting high level magic spells, which, as mentioned, is mostly not worth it.

Overall, this is a weird game. It feels very half baked; the balance is completely off across the races and as mentioned the story is a complete afterthought. At least in Romancing SaGa 3 the excuse was that it was an extremely non-linear game. Here you have enough plot points designed in that they could have gone deeper, but they didn't really try. I can only imagine how jarring this must have been when the game came out given we already had Final Fantasy VII as an example of what a Square game story could be. I'd say if you enjoyed previous SaGa games then you should give this one a try. But do NOT make this your first one.
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Re: Games Beaten 2021

by prfsnl_gmr Sun May 16, 2021 12:10 am

Amazing review, Ack. Really detailed, and really informative. (Mine won’t be nearly as detailed!)

…..

1. Horace (Switch)
2. Ghostrunner (Switch)
3. Mickey’s Adventure in Numberland (NES)
4. Mickey’s Safari in Letterland (NES)
5. Castle of Illusion starring Mickey Mouse (Genesis)
6. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess Picross (3DS)
7. World of Illusion starring Mickey & Donald (Genesis)
8. Castle of Illusion starring Mickey Mouse (Game Gear)
9. Land of Illusion starring Mickey Mouse (Game Gear)
10. Legend of Illusion starring Mickey Mouse (Game Gear)
11. Portal 2 [co-op] (PS3)
12. Operencia: The Stolen Sun (Switch)
13. The Knight of Queen (Switch)
14. Q.U.B.E. - Director’s Cut (PS3)
15. What the Golf?! (Switch)
16. Prune (iOS)
17. Kenshō (iOS)
18. For the Frog the Bell Tolls (GameBoy)
19. Holedown (iOS)
20. King’s Field (PS1)
21. My Friend Pedro (Switch)
22. MO: Astray (Switch)
23. EQI (Switch)
24. Foxyland (Switch)
25. Carrion (Switch)
26. QUBE 2 (Switch)

I’m QUBE 2, you play as a xenoarchaeologist exploring an ancient structure composed of cubes. You’re swept away to another world, and you must solve a series of physics puzzles to discover where you are and what took you there.

Like the first game, you solve these physics puzzles by placing and manipulating different types of blocks. Orange blocks extend in place; green blocks drop; and blue blocks serve as a type of springboard. As you proceed, you encounter new mechanics, such as magnets, pressure plates, balls, fans, doors, etc. that keep the puzzles fresh and prevent the game from wearing out its welcome. (I beat the game a few seconds under six hours, which was just long enough.)

Unlike the first game, which consisted mostly of sparse monochrome structures, the environments in QUBE 2 are quite varied, and the game looks pretty great. The game is also slightly less linear, letting you take on puzzles within a chapter, mostly, in any order. This provides you a limited sense of exploration, and it lets you come back to a puzzle if you’re temporarily stumped.

The game’s narrative (while completely ridiculous if you think too hard about it) is executed well, and it references the first game just enough to reward those who’ve played it…but not so much as to alienate those new to the series. Moreover, the voice acting is consistently good, and the main character is a likable, compelling protagonist

Overall, I really enjoyed QUBE 2. It does a lot of things right, even if it’s never particularly challenging, and it is a vast improvement over its predecessor. I look forward to seeing what this developer does next, and I recommend QUBE 2 to anyone seeking a compelling first-person puzzle game.
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Re: Games Beaten 2021

by Note Mon May 17, 2021 10:47 pm

1. Golden Axe II (GEN)
2. Time Crisis [Special Mode] (PS1)
3. Streets of Rage (GEN)
4. Time Crisis: Project Titan (PS1)
5. Rayman Origins (360)
6. Borderlands (360)
7. Streets of Rage 4 (Switch)*
8. King of Dragons (SNES)
9. Wild Guns (SNES)
10. Star Fox (SNES)
11. Guardian Heroes (SS) [2x]*
12. World of Illusion (GEN)
13. Raiden Fighters Jet (360)
14. Raiden Fighters 2: Operation Hell Dive (360)*
15. Streets of Rage 3 (GEN)
16. Street Fighter III: Third Strike (Xbox)*
17. Mushihimesama Futari (360)
18. Guwange (360)

Image

19. Star Fox 64 (N64)*

Star Fox 64 is a game I've finished numerous times and wrote a lengthy review on last year, but I revisited and beat the game while on vacation last week, as this title is gaming comfort food to me. It's one of my favorite games on the N64 and probably my favorite rail shooter, based on those I've played. It's just easy to pick up and play but the different level paths add great replay value. There's an additional challenge to get the medals in each level which is pretty tough and will take a lot of practice. Also, I have to mention the soundtrack here -- the opening level's music is awesome, and a really good way to start off the game. The composers did a great job as the soundtrack really adds to the atmosphere of the game. And of course the use of the rumble pak! It's standard nowadays, but at the time it was pretty amazing to get a rumble pak packaged with the game.

If you haven't played this game, or haven't revisited it in a while, give Star Fox 64 a go! It's worth the time.
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