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PartridgeSenpai
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Re: Games Beaten 2021

by PartridgeSenpai Fri Jun 04, 2021 5:24 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)
53. Tiny Toon Adventures (Famicom)
54. King Kong 2: Ikari No Megaton Punch (Famicom)
55. Yume Pengin Monogatari (Famicom)
56. Rock Man & Forte (SFC)
57. Rock Man X2 (Switch)
58. Rock Man X3 (Switch)
59. Rock Man X4 (Switch)
60. Rock Man X5 (Switch)
61. Rock Man X6 (Switch)
62. Rock Man X7 (Switch)
63. Rock Man X8 (Switch)
64. Mega Man: Powered Up (PSP)
65. Magical Taruruuto Kun: FANTASTIC WORLD!! (Famicom)

66. Maken Shao (PS2)

Maken X on the Dreamcast was my most disliked game that I beat last year. In a year where I played Drakengard 2, Sonic Heroes, Shenmue 3 (which honestly wasn't even a consideration for the "most disliked list", but still), and plenty of other less-than-great games, Maken X stood out among the rest as the worst of the bunch. A first-person swordfighting game on Dreamcast and also one of the only action games Atlus ever developed in-house, it's a super unique and weird thing I had to play. Unique: yes. Good: no. A combo of the weird combat and the poor implementation of first-person controls on a console with only one joystick made this one a really hard game to enjoy despite its super wild and weird premise (and art by the same guy who did it for Shin Megami Tensei 2). Surely, this remake several years later on the PS2, a remake that is on a console with 2 joysticks that also changes the camera perspective to third-person, would be the push in the right direction that this delightfully weird game needed to succeed, right? Well, it took me about 12.5 hours to reach the end of the Japanese version of the game (with one of the good endings) to try and find the answer to that question.

The story of Maken Shao is basically identical to the plot of Maken X. Although a couple more expository cutscenes have been added here and there, it doesn't change the story terribly meaningfully outside of giving you a slightly better picture of the world at large. You play as Maken, a strange sword infused with the power of "Image", a bold new area for science that's a mystical energy linking all human consciousness (I think). You also play as the young girl Kay, who is forced to mind meld with Maken to save her father after he's taken by an Illuminati-like group who are bent on using his research to allow their own Maken-equivalent to destroy the world.

The setting and character design is definitely one of the strongest parts of the game, as you would expect from Atlus. You go all over the world to weird locations and see just what the Hakke (a term left totally unlocalized in the English release, that basically means something like "Eight Controllers") are doing to the world to corrupt it for their dark master. There's even a ham-fisted morality system where you answer moral questions from Kay after each level in the shared mind-space of Image you have with her, and that's what decides your endings (mostly). It's a strength effectively identical to how Maken X has it, as nearly all of the really wild stuff from the original game is here, save for all of the swastikas (can't have an Atlus game without those) which have for some reason been replaced with the Japanese character for "nothing" 無 (although all of the other very obviously Nazi symbology has been left in place, I guess to pass the minimum bar to release the game in Europe? O_o).

The gameplay on the other had has been pretty radically changed. On the smaller side, you have some well appreciated quality of life features introduced. In Maken X, items you picked up were immediately used, but in Shao, you hold onto them (a maximum of one at a time) and can use them when you see fit. No more backtracking through levels to collect that one health powerup you left for safekeeping! The other very appreciated addition is the inclusion of mid-level save points. Not just checkpoints, which the original game didn't have at all (from what I remember), but bonafide save points that you can turn off the console and come to later. It makes retrying bosses way WAY easier, which is nice because Shao is a game in many ways even harder than the original Maken X. The last addition is that changing characters on the map screen is now far easier and can be done from one big menu instead of hunting around the world map for where you happened to leave the character you wanna play as next.

That's right, changing characters! Just as in Maken X, Maken is a creature of Image, which means it can also interact with the Image inside anyone. What that means on a narrative and gameplay level is that Maken can consume the consciousness/Image of defeated bosses (and certain willing allies) and you can then play as that character! The original game had an EXP system where you got experience points from killing enemies that made an overall level go up, and you needed to be at or above the level of any bosses/characters you wanted to possess. However, that system has been done away in this game in lieu of something else, and that brings me to the start of the long, LONG list of ways this game is somehow significantly worse than the original Maken X.

Instead of the old leveling system, now defeating any enemy gets you Image points that are basically money that you spend to swap bodies. This point system also works on a combo system where you get higher multipliers of points for killing consecutive enemies without taking damage. That's right, they took away the ability to freely swap characters (in a game where you still are very often required to use a particular character to play over half the stages in the game), and now you need to grind points for the privilege. But that's not all, as there's actually still a leveling system, but not it's locked to each character instead of just to Maken itself.

Each character has a "Synchro" meter for how synchronized Maken is with their body, and as this increases you unlock new combos to do with your character. Once Synchro reaches 100%, you can swap to that character for no Image cost at all, and you even get a max HP boost, a max attack boost, and even a magic attack you can activate by holding the button. The original Maken X had no leveling, and you had all your combos immediately as well as your magic attack. However, being in third-person instead of first-person, a lot of the old moves wouldn't really make sense, so basically every character has had their moveset meaningfully tweaked to fit the new camera perspective. The Pope (in all his strange, winged puppet-wearing glory) is still the best character despite the moveset change (even after they got rid of his super overpowered magic spell of temporary invincibility, they just replaced it with an arguably even better healing move you can use after a short recharge), but that's ignoring a bigger problem.

The one thing, perhaps more than anything else, that makes Maken Shao a worse game than its predecessor is ironically enough one of the things you'd think would be one of the best things about it: the new camera angle. While the movesets got a change for third-person, the levels didn't, and that means you're now going through levels designed for first-person with a third-person camera, and that really sucks in a melee-focused game. In fact, you're often so big that you're blocking the character you're locked onto and trying to hit, so the fact that you can see your feet (thanks to the new camera) is counteracted by the bigger problem of not being able to see in front of your own nose. Bosses and enemies with wind-up attacks now flash before they do their special moves, and that's a REALLY good change, since otherwise there are a fair few bosses whose attacks would be nearly impossible to dodge because you're so huge compared to them.

This problem also manifests in other weird ways, such as the fact that you now have width. Before I forget to mention it, I should clarify that Maken Shao may be on the PS2, but it doesn't really use two joysticks. The game still functionally plays like the Dreamcast game, but turning the camera when standing still is easier now. You're no more or less mobile than you were before, for the most part (although a little less, I suppose, since they took out the over-head 180 jump move). In the original game, you were just a camera with arms, so every character was about the same "size". But now, every character has to physically exist in space, and that is an issue in more ways than simply taking up a large portion of the screen space in a game packed with lots of narrow corridors. In those corridors are quite frequently enemies with guns. Some characters used to have ranged magical attacks, but the one that used to be my favorite had his removed, so you're a lot more vulnerable to these gunners now (not to mention how you gotta grind for 30 to 60 minutes to even see what a given character's moveset is like by maxing out their level). Worse still, basically every character is too physically large to actually dodge these bullets anymore, leading to quite a few points where you have no choice but to trudge down a hallway simply hoping you don't die before you get to the guy to club him to death. This makes an already hard and frustrating game even more hard and frustrating in a way that is utterly unfair and above all unfun.

The presentation is fairly strong visually, as mentioned before, but that's all holdovers from Maken X. The music is never anything super special, but the character and monster design is just SO wild (the mafia boss and president being two of my personal favorites) that they're at least looking up pictures of.

Verdict: Not Recommended. Maken X had the honor of being the worst game I played last year, and it's looking like Maken Shao has a very high chance of being the worst game I've played this year too. It is a triumph of design that a game as flawed and mistaken as Maken X was actually made so significantly worse an experience to play through. It's not a positive triumph or one worth bragging about, but it's certainly an achievement in and of itself. If you MUST experience this, play Maken X, because it's just a better (though still not good) version of this. As it is, Maken Shao only reveals the more glaring flaws with Atlus's approach to action game design, and that they probably would've been better off making a full blown sequel instead of this weird Frankenstein's monster of a remake.
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MrPopo
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Re: Games Beaten 2021

by MrPopo Sat Jun 05, 2021 11:33 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
38. Metaloid: Origin - Switch
39. SaGa Scarlet Grace: Ambitions - Switch
40. Metro Exodus: The Two Colonels - PC
41. Metro Exodus: Sam's Story - PC
42. Panzer Paladin - Switch
43. Returnal - PS5
44. Dark Void Zero - DSiWare
45. Panzer Dragoon Saga - Saturn

Panzer Dragoon Saga is one of the last games to come out for the Saturn in the US, so it had a low print run and was quickly hard to come by. Add in it being one of the few RPGs for the system and you have a highly desirable title. So how does it stack up to those lofty expectations? Ehhh... it's not bad, but it isn't great.

The game seeks to translate the rail shooter gameplay to an RPG. So you still are on a dragon back, you have your gun which is good for single targets and the lock on lasers good for multiple targets. The way the battles work is that the enemies are at the center of a circle and you maneuver around it in four quadrants. When you're standing still you build up ATB bars; you can bank up to three. If you are moving it pauses. You're going to want to move around for two reasons; one is to avoid attacks. The game will mark a quadrant as green, clear, or red. Green indicates you are completely safe, red means you are at risk of a major attack, and clear means you can be hit by normal attacks. You also are going to want to move in order to find the best ways to hit enemies; most enemies have a weak point that can be hit from one direction. Usually this involves you needing to be in a red quadrant. So you need to balance safety with getting damage out there. You also have access to magic spells which are mostly just damage in a different way and cost two ATB bars.

Unfortunately, while this battle system is unique it ends up being pretty thin in practice. Fights pretty much come in two forms. The first form is a fight where you can sit in a safe spot, build up three ATB bars, then move in position to find a weak spot and unload before dodging back out. The other form is you can't avoid damage, so you just sit in the weak spot and unload with an occasional heal. Because you only have a single combatant it ends up limiting the amount of things they can throw at you; they can't do anything that does a full disable and they can't give you much non-damage stuff to do because you don't have enough actions for it to be worthwhile. The later boss fights generally come down to figuring out the pattern of when they are vulnerable and when they aren't.

While the game is four disks, the bulk of those disks are used for the prerendered video they use for 75% of the story. The game oscillates between you flying around on the dragon exploring a dungeon and then sitting through 20 minutes of cutscenes. And while other games are just as guilty of overly long cutscenes *cough*Xenosaga*cough* it feels like it sticks out even more here because there is very little non-cutscene story. There are 1.75 towns; a full town, a half town, and a quarter town, and the way you maneuver through them is awful. It's a weird floaty auto centering camera with you moving not quite fast enough, and then to interact you bring up an on screen cursor and target the thing you want, with the game having different effects if you are close or far away. It's sort of like how you did combat in Shadowrun on the SNES, but if I recall correctly Shadowrun still had the normal "get close to the thing and hit interact" for non-combat stuff. The towns also just have layouts that take too long to get around in for no good reason.

The game has something like 10-12 areas total, with each one being about the size of an area in any other RPG of the time (or the previous generation). But since those games had 4-5 times the number of areas they actually felt like they had content. And that's the problem with PDS; it feels very unfinished. But at the same time making it have much more combat would also have been bad, because the combat isn't interesting enough to sustain a 30 hour game. It almost feels like they prototyped the battle system, though it was neat, started building the game, realized they ran out of ideas, put a small bit of story scaffolding around it and pushed it out the door.

Overall, Panzer Dragoon Saga is majorly overhyped by the people who have played it on emulation, to say nothing of the price a physical copy commands. Definitely do not pay money for this without emulating it first and getting through at least two disks. If they ever did rerelease using an emulator wrapper (the source was lost long ago for a proper port) and sold it for $20 I'd say sure, go for it.
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Raging Justice
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Re: Games Beaten 2021

by Raging Justice Sun Jun 06, 2021 5:00 am

Games Beaten:

Kaze and the Wild Masks

Raging Justice - Switch, Xbox One, PS4, PC

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So right before I created my user account for this forum, I started playing this and thought it was pretty cool. I even went and used the game for my user name. Well, I finally went ahead and beat it and I have to say that it's a fun, solid beat 'em up that does just enough to give itself a unique identity while still making it clear what its influences are.

The first thing you'll notice about this game is its visual style. The game has digitized looking characters that remind me of games like Killer Instinct, Mortal Kombat, and Pit Fighter. Actually, this game was made by ex-Rare employees who worked on Killer Instinct. I love this as it gives the game a unique look that immediately sets it apart from the competition. Characters are very large too, which reminded me of Final Fight, a game that no doubt served as an inspiration for this game.

Raging Justice feels like a throwback to Final Fight in gameplay too, with a rather simple combat system that's easy to pick up and learn. Though Raging Justice brings some interesting things to the table to set its combat apart from old classics like Final Fight and Streets of Rage. If you double tap forward, characters do a dash attack. Playing as Rick Justice, I found this move quite useful and used it a lot. It's fast, and cancels most enemy attacks, and doesn't have much recovery time, though given that it usually knocks enemies down it's not like they have a chance to hit you anyway. This move would make the game a cakewalk were it not for one thing. It does have a slight cool down period where you can't use it again for a second or two. So you can't just spam it all day.

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If you double tap up or down, you'll hop up or down the screen. It's like switching horizontal lanes in Guardian Heroes, and is a great way to avoid enemy attacks. You can also attack enemies who are on the ground, which is quite fun. So once you knock someone down you can, to quote the legendary Jim Ross, "stomp a mudhole in their ass". Other than that, you have staple moves like your basic melee attack, a grapple, a throw (Rick does a kind of slam), a 360 move that knocks down enemies and saps your health, and a back attack.

There's tons of weapons you can use too, some of which appear randomly. Sledgehammers, baseball bats, knives, swords, you name it and it's in here. My fave is the shotgun. It doesn't appear often, but holy hell does it tear shit up when it does. You have a very limited number of shots, but it'll down basic thugs in one shot and will tear off a good chunk of a boss's health bar. I rarely ever found myself without access to a weapon in this game. They are plentiful and they bring the pain. If there is one downside to this though, it's that enemies can use them against you too and believe me they WILL. Although thank God I never saw an enemy pick up the shotgun and use it against me.

You can use the environment against enemies too like most beat 'em ups. Hit a phonebooth and it'll come crashing down on an enemy. Pick up items like trash cans and throw them at people. There's even other crazy stuff like a lawn mower you can ride, or rats running around that you can actually kick into an enemy LOL. You have to watch out for stuff too, like a construction vehicle in one stage that tries to drop stuff on you, and of course - like any good beat 'em up - jerks on motorcycles who try to run you over.

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Now there's a couple things about how this game is designed that are really interesting. You play as cops, which in and of itself is nothing too strange for the genre, but this game really makes it a part of the gameplay. You can actually arrest enemies in this game! You have to stun them first though, which means filling up their stun bar. It becomes a tricky juggling act between outright killing people or stunning them. Stunning enemies is generally harder, and it's annoying when you want to arrest a stunned enemy and other people get in your way. It's annoying too when you accidentally hit a stunned enemy in the heat of battle instead of arresting them. So what, you may ask, is the point of arresting enemies? They will leave behind health items. Yes, Raging Justice actually gives you a way to make health items appear. It's a very neat mechanic given that most beat' em ups force you to wait until you find a health item in a stage when you're getting close to dying. In Raging Justice you actually have some agency over your health management.

Also, there are warrants in each stage for specific individuals. Arresting all of these people gives you a good cop rating for the stage and a 1-up. If you want lots of lives you'll need to look for 1-ups in each stage AND get a good cop rating. Now the flip side of this is if you kill enemies who have warrants out for their arrest with a weapon, you get a bad cop rating. Good cop/bad cop ratings will affect the game's ending.

Raging Justice has a cool level select system too. When you start a level the game will always save your BEST status. This means if you start level 2 with 50% health and 1 life left, then replay level 1 and finish it with 80% health and 2 lives left, then whenever you start level 2 from that point on you will always have 80% health and 2 lives left. This encourages you to replay levels in order to make subsequent levels easier. This also makes getting a 1cc playthrough (for which there is a PS4 trophy) a lot easier as you can replay stages to stock up on extra lives for later stages.

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Lastly, the game has a challenge system in place. Every level has optional challenges you can complete, further incentivizing you to replay them. These range from silly things like knocking an enemy's dynamite right back into their face before it explodes, to things like speed running a level, beating it without dying, getting a certain score, picking up a certain amount of cash from defeated enemies, and finishing a boss fight within a certain time limit. These give the game a little replayability, but goddamn are some of them annoying. Arresting people and getting good cop/bad cop ratings factor into some of these challenges, and it can get infuriating in really hectic levels trying to single out specific people, stun them, then arrest them, while dealing with all these other people trying to kill you. Weapon KOs on individuals with warrants can be hard too, when enemies don't let you pick up a weapon, or there isn't one lying around. And once again, there's the actual task of hitting the guy (or gal) with the warrant when you have tons of enemies all over you getting in your way or distracting you. If you're trying to do all the challenges, the game will at some point piss you off. The last few levels are where things get really hairy.

The game has multiple difficulty levels too, and a completionist might want to do ALL of the challenges on ALL of the difficulties. You'll have to if you're going for the Platinum trophy on the PS4 version

Speaking of difficulty, Raging Justice feels nicely balanced in this regard. On at least the normal difficulty, you can get through most levels without dying if you know what you're doing. Don't get me wrong. Some enemies are annoying, like the taser carrying women and the dogs, and some later bosses are aggravating too. Also, difficulty spikes up towards the end of the game, particularly when trying to do the optional challenges as I mentioned. Plus things get tougher on higher difficulties. Still though, just playing the game on normal difficulty and beating it is well within any player's reach if they are familiar with the genre. Even on higher difficulties, Raging Justice never feels as cheap and rigged as a lot of other old school beat 'em ups. It never feels like a "quarter muncher".

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I was actually surprised at some of the things the game let me get away with, like taking down a boss in 3 or 4 shots from a shotgun. Bosses are usually so overpowered in beat 'em ups, I love that the game allows you to use weapons on them and that they are actually quite effective. Also, for beat 'em up pros, you probably are quite familiar with infinites. Both Final Fight and Streets of Rage had them and sure enough, I found one here too that's great on bosses, helps a lot with the time based challenges.

I also have to praise this game for its hit detection. Unlike many other beat 'em ups I rarely struggle to hit my enemies. In some games it's like if you're not horizontally lined up JUST RIGHT you can't hit the enemy. Not so here, at least not when I was playing.

The game has co op, as I know some people always want to know that. It has three selectable characters too, and while they are a bit different I found that you can pretty much play the game the same way regardless of who you use, which is slightly disappointing. I stuck with Rick Justice, because who doesn't love that name?

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Raging Justice has a nice sense of humor. Some of bosses are quite funny. One of them looks like a pimp and has the absurd attack of just spinning around the screen with his cane. Another one is a circus freak. Also, when enemies hit you they do a little celebration and the way they look toward the screen while doing it is like they are taunting YOU the player, not your in game character. When you hit enemies with some weapons, they get smashed into the background and go splat. The game's constantly praising your attacks too with words like "epic" and "brutal" coming onscreen. At one point, you have a dude called "Rick JUSTICE" on your screen fighting an ATTACK helicopter with his GODDAMN fists LOL. Course, that's before I realized the sledgehammer was much more effective. Anyway, it's fun when beat 'em ups don't take themselves too seriously. Nice cheesy dialog too, see below pic:

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If there's a con to the game, like many games in the genre it can get a bit repetitive after a while. Like many good brawlers though, the game knows that and isn't too long of a game. If you're not interested in the extra challenges or higher difficulties, you can easily finish this in maybe an hour to an hour and a half.

Raging Justice could have easily been right at home in an arcade cabinet in the early 90s. It's a good, fun game, and I imagine even more fun with a friend (I played solo). One of the better beat 'em ups to come out in recent years. I'd even go so far as to say it's more fun than the original Final Fight and the original Streets of Rage (it's got nothing on Streets of Rage 2 though). I don't hear much about this gem of a game. People are always talking about more well known games like Streets of Rage 4, Scott Pilgrim, Fight'N Rage, River City Girls, or the upcoming Shredder's Revenge. Raging Justice is totally worth a look though. Here's the trailer:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XtaNfJP3Y38
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prfsnl_gmr
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Re: Games Beaten 2021

by prfsnl_gmr Sun Jun 06, 2021 11:05 am

Awesome review. I need to play this game, apparently.
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Re: Games Beaten 2021

by ElkinFencer10 Sun Jun 06, 2021 4:36 pm

Games Beaten in 2021 - 39
* 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 (9 Games Beaten)
28. New Pokemon Snap - Switch - May 2
29. Resident Evil 8: Village - PS5 - May 8
30. Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age - Switch - May 15
31. Torment: Tides of Numenera - Xbox One - May 18
32. Pepsiman - PS1 - May 20
33. Super Blackjack Battle II Turbo: The Card Fighters - Switch - May 20
34. Reel Fishing: Road Trip Adventure - Switch - May 23
35. Planetscape: Torment - Steam - May 26
36. Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne - Switch - May 31


June (3 Games Beaten)
37. Hentai vs Evil - Switch - June 1
38. Troll and I - Switch - June 2
39. Zombie Army 4: Dead War - PlayStation 4 - June 5


39. Zombie Army 4: Dead War - PlayStation 4 - June 5

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Zombie Army 4: Dead War is the sequel to the Zombie Army Trilogy and has what I consider to be almost the perfection of video game enemies. It's a scientific fact that the four greatest video game foes are Nazis, communists, aliens, and zombies. Well, this game has zombie Nazis; all we need to make this better is a three-way conflict between the zombie Nazis, an army of alien communists, and the player. Still, though, this is pretty top tier. The game takes place in an alternate timeline 1946 roughly a year after the events of Zombie Army Trilogy. Hitler has been killed and sent to Hell, but his undead army still ravages Europe in a conflict that has come to be called the Dead War. You're a resistance fighter fighting to end the undead scourge.

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If you've played any of the Sniper Elite games, then you know how the basic gameplay works. Your main weapon is your sniper rifle which is accompanied by a secondary weapon (either a shotgun or submachine gun) and a pistol. You also can have up to four explosives with you and can choose from a variety of grenades and mines. I, personally, always used a Mosin-Nagant, a Trench Gun, and a Webley Mk IV along with some combination of incendiary grenades and frag grenades. Not a big mine person, personally, and SMGs burned through ammo too quickly for my taste. You can also find heavy weapons occasionally in the world - a heavy machine gun, a flamethrower, a Panzerschreck; and my personal favorite, the Preacher, a big ass blunderbuss. The Preacher always made me thing of my pastor friend, Avery, so it's got a special place in my heart.

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In addition to the regular slow and shuffling zombies, there are some special zombies you'll need to look out for. You've got the suiciders that sprint up to your screaming and covered in dynamite, the officers which will spawn or frenzy zombies and can only be killed with a shot to the heart (not the head), the elites which will carry heavy armor, machine guns, flamethrowers, etc, and the...I don't know what they're actually called, but they spit giant globs of green gunk at you that causes damage over time. Then there's the creepers; if you know what Lickers are from Resident Evil, they're a lot like them. My absolute least favorite are the blind screamers, basically a straight rip of the Witch from Left 4 Dead. If you provoke them, they'll call another screamer, damage you with their screams, and rip you with their claws, and they are absolute bullet sponges.

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The game's campaign is broken into eight missions and a final boss level. Each of the eight regular missions is further broken into four chapters, and it can be played solo or with up to four players. There's a lot of tinkering you can do to make the game as easy or as hard as you need it to be, and the aim assist with the sniper rifles is EXTREMELY generous although it can, of course, be disabled entirely. I played the whole thing solo, but the number of zombies will scale to match the number of players. Or you could play solo but set it to spawn the 4 player number of zombies anyway if you're a masochist. Whatever floats your boat, man. As with the previous trilogy, the story is decent but not outstanding; what matters here is the zombie slaughtering mayhem, and that has been perfected here. Exploding brains from bullet camera shots, slow motion mine explosions, a zombie shark that can be manipulated into eating your enemies - this game mas made zombie killing into an art.

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One of the things that immediately jumped out not only to me but also to my roommate when he saw me playing this game was how good it looks. Granted, I played on my PS5, so I was getting 2160p60, but it's a really good looking game regardless. I thought the original Nazi Zombie Army looked good, but in the roughly eight years since that release and this one, it's clear that Rebellion has applied a good bit of polish to the game. The sound design is great, too. The Webley sounded a little weak to me, but otherwise, the guns sound fantastic, the zombie sound effects are great, and the background music fits perfectly. The voice acting, while maybe not Nolan North tier, is definitely very competent and shouldn't give anyone any complaints.

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Zombie Army 4: Dead War may not be a perfect game, but it's definitely a damn good one. It probably won't go down in history as a "must play" game of the eighth generation, but if you're into zombie killing and/or sniping, this is definitely not a game to miss. The story, while not the focus for most people, is well done, and the voice acting is solid enough not to break your immersion. Whether you play solo or with friends and on Xbox or Playstation, this is definitely a game worth checking out. Fingers crossed that it gets ported to Switch to join Zombie Army Trilogy on the go.
Exhuminator wrote:Ecchi lords must unite for great justice.

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Markies
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Re: Games Beaten 2021

by Markies Sun Jun 06, 2021 6:41 pm

Markies' Games Beat List Of 2021!
*Denotes Replay For Completion*

1. Midtown Madness 3 (XBOX)
2. X-Men 2: Clone Wars (GEN)
3. Sonic Adventure 2 (SDC)
4. Mega Man 7 (SNES)
5. Xenosaga Episode III: Also Sprach Zarathustra (PS2)
6. Bust A Move 4 (PS1)
7. Phantasy Star IV (GEN)
8. Gunbird 2 (SDC)
***9. The Legend Of Zelda: The Wind Waker (GCN)***
10. Fable: The Lost Chapters (XBOX)
11. Growlanser: Heritage Of War (PS2)
12. Double Dragon (NES)
13. Star Ocean (SNES)

14. Pokemon Snap (N64)

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I beat Pokemon Snap on the Nintendo 64 this afternoon!

Because of COVID, my local Board Game and Video Game Conventions were both cancelled. Honestly, that was the most that COVID affected me negatively, so I consider myself rather lucky. But, over that summer, I decided to do my own gaming convention. I went to several gaming stores in my area and did a little bit of shopping. I bought some great Board Games and helped my transition to the new consoles that I will be adding. However, I really only bought one video game, Pokemon Snap. I've always liked the Pokemon series, but I've never really loved it. With a friend of mine renewing my enjoyment of the series, I figured it would be a good time to play it before I got myself back into it. And with me wanting to beat a N64 game this year, I figured I could use a quick little Beat before my next big Adventure.

In some ways, it is hard to call Pokemon Snap an actual game. It's more like an adventure or an experience. You get in this little Pod, you take pictures of Pokemon, after a few minutes, the adventure is over and you are then scored on your pictures. And that is it. Obviously, the game does have a few little tricks to help you get better shots, but that is all the game is. It is really neat to see the Pokemon interact with each other and just be themselves. They all have unique personalities, so I'm glad that they give them a chance to just be them. Also, it really is cool to see them in 3D, as that is still a rarity.

The biggest issue with the game is that forces you to play the same stages over and over again. There are only like 6 Courses, so you need to grind the different types of Pokemon and grind out your score as well. It's fun and enjoyable at the beginning of the game, but by the end, I just wanted it to be over with so that I could move on. I know the game is short regardless, but they stretched an incredibly short game to make it completely thin and almost transparent.

Overall, I still enjoyed my time with Pokemon Snap. I got the game for like $10 or $15 and I think that is the perfect price for the game. If you love Pokemon and can get it cheap, I would highly suggest the game. It wears out its welcome rather quickly, but the beginning of the game and the experience is unique and different. It won't blow anybody away, but for a neat little game where you can watch Pokemon run around, its a fun experiment.
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Raging Justice
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Re: Games Beaten 2021

by Raging Justice Sun Jun 06, 2021 11:28 pm

prfsnl_gmr wrote:Awesome review. I need to play this game, apparently.


It's pretty cool

I have one more addition to the thread, another game that didn't take long to finish but was a lot of fun

Narita BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOY!!!!!!

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It's mandatory that you say the name that way, by the way.

Do you like the 80s? No, then don't play this game. It's pretty much the gaming equivalent of Kung Fury.

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If you don't know what Kung Fury is, shame on you. If you do, you're in the right place. This game is for you. You'll know as soon as you hit the title screen with the Tron style picture and the very 80s sounding song playing in the background. Narita Boy is a game that BLEEDS 80s...and I loved every minute of it

Narita Boy is a game you can't start talking about without addressing the visuals and the music. The game looks amazing. There are tons of interesting looking character designs, beautiful animation, memorable and fascinating environments, pixelated characters, and the whole game is made to look like you're playing it on an old computer monitor.

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It's very retro. It's full of little things that will remind you of the 80s. From Tron references, to a car that looks like the DeLorean, to a statue of a character that looks like he's doing the Karate Kid crane kick.

Interestingly, the game also reminds me of old, cinematic, platformers. Largely due to the fantastic character animation and the ever changing, fascinating, world and the many interesting NPCs that populate it. Had me thinking of stuff like Blackthorne, Out of this World, etc. Plus, the game animates so smoothly it'll make you think of old classics like Earthworm Jim and Aladdin (Genesis version).

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The soundtrack is one of the best I've heard. If this wasn't a niche, indie, title I think it would be regarded as one of the all time great gaming soundtracks, up there with stuff like the Streets of Rage series. It's all very retro and very 80s and it's all excellent. You WILL have many of these songs stuck in your head long after you have finished this game. It's a memorable soundtrack. How the music blends in with what's happening onscreen is masterful as well. Check out these samples:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0cq9mdQsagg
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NuWx5ZoIj3A

Narita Boy is one of those games that will likely be called a Metroid style game like so many 2d sidescrollers these days. Yes, you will backtrack. Yes, you will acquire new abilities and use them to access new areas. However, I hesitate to lump this in with other Metroid type games. Why? Because Narita Boy is not a game with a big, interconnected, map you can explore however you see fit. In this game, you will reach a new area, acquire new abilities needed to play through it, do some backtracking for items needed to make progress (usually keys to unlock doors), all while interacting with the game's various NPCs, platforming, and fighting various enemies, and then you will fight a boss and move on to the next area. Once there, the previous area is PERMANENTLY CUT OFF for the player. There's actually an optional side quest that you can screw up if you don't find what you need in each area before moving to the next one, and this affects the game's ending. Make sure you explore thoroughly. Narita Boy is a more linear affair than a typical Metroid game. I just want to make that clear since video game reviewers call everything under the sun "metroidvania" these days.

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The game tells an interesting story regarding a Digital Kingdom in need of a hero a.k.a. you, to free it from HIM and the Stallions. You get sucked into a computer game that transports you to this kingdom and thus your quest begins. The game is full of interesting characters that you'll meet along the way. Fair warning though, the game is a bit dialog heavy (NPCs talk A LOT) and throws a LOT of exposition at you right at the beginning of the game. Narita Boy does a pretty good job at world building and establishing its lore. It all seems overwhelming at first, but ultimately, the game mostly boils down to you having to kick HIM's ass along with his Stallion minions.

There is also an interesting back story regarding "The Creator" , who is basically the guy who created the game you got sucked into and is basically the Digital Kingdom's God. Part of your quest is to retrieve his shattered memories. The tale that you'll uncover as you go through his memories is quite interesting.

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Lastly, while Narita Boy is a game that takes its main story line seriously and even gets a bit dark at times, the game is also full of light hearted, funny moments that I won't spoil. Wait until you see the first boss :lol:

So the bulk of the gameplay here is hack n slash combat, with some platforming sprinkled in here and there. Platforming in Narita Boy can feel a bit weird at first. The way he jumps feels a bit...floaty, I guess. It takes a bit of getting used to. This makes some of the platforming sections feel a bit trickier than probably intended until you get used to how he jumps. Also, some platforms can be hard to make out from the background. This is largely due to the game's rather unique visual style. Video games have a tendency to make things you can interact with stand out visually, often in very unnatural ways. Narita Boy doesn't always do that with its platforms. It's more interested in creating a memorable visual environment for you to get sucked into.

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The combat is great. The game has a large variety of enemies, each with their own unique ways of fighting. You'll have to constantly adapt to new enemies and new enemy combinations. As you acquire new abilities, combat evolves with you being put into battles that will test your ability to use those abilities. Combat always feels tactical. You can really think your way through most fights. It's all about what move to use when, though your reflexes will certainly be tested as well. Your main form of attack is by using the "Techno-Sword", which lets you hack away at enemies while also bestowing you with powerful projectile attacks, one being like a shot gun blast, the other being a high damage, long range laser attack that hits anything in a straight line in front of you all the way across the screen. These attacks use up energy from a bar at the top of the screen. This means you can't spam them and will have to rely on your sword a lot. You'll get other combat abilities as you get farther in the game, some of which double as traversal moves. It's kind of like the Guacamelee series, where a new move means a new way to fight and a new way to platform.

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Combat feels fluid and it's always a treat to see what strange new enemy the game will throw at you next. This includes bosses, most of which are quite memorable. Boss fights are well designed (except one that I found a bit annoying due to the randomness of his attacks) and like everything else in the game, have a unique and interesting visual design to them, and typically have some interesting dialog to say to you as well. Wait until you see "The Black Rainbow". The name alone is awesome.

Narita Boy is a very solid, action, platformer, with a great emphasis on hack n slash gameplay and a great retro, 80s vibe, and aesthetic. The story, lore, and world building is great. Just don't go into this expecting a story on par with an RPG though. It's a game where a write up doesn't really do it justice. You have to experience it. There's a certain joy of discovery that comes with playing the game. It's blend of interesting characters, story, memorable world, and the amazing way it blends it all together with its unique visuals and music make it a game that is more than the sum of its parts. It's a fairly short game, but there's never a wasted moment. You can tell a lot of heart, effort, and creativity went into making this a game where something interesting is always happening. Often times I had to stop playing just to take in the visuals. The Digital Kingdom is an odd looking, yet compelling place that is always keeping your eyes invested in what's going on. The game is very cool and I hope more people check it out. It's on all major platforms I believe. May the Trichroma be with you!

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Re: Games Beaten 2021

by REPO Man Mon Jun 07, 2021 12:29 am

I didn't care for Narita Boy after playing a demo. But I gotta say Kung Fury is frickin' tits! Have you seen Commando Ninja? It's free on YouTube and would make a BITCHIN' game.
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Raging Justice
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Re: Games Beaten 2021

by Raging Justice Mon Jun 07, 2021 12:37 am

REPO Man wrote:I didn't care for Narita Boy after playing a demo. But I gotta say Kung Fury is frickin' tits! Have you seen Commando Ninja? It's free on YouTube and would make a BITCHIN' game.


Okay, that's definitely going on my watch list. The title already has me sold on it :lol:
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Re: Games Beaten 2021

by PartridgeSenpai Mon Jun 07, 2021 4:50 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)
53. Tiny Toon Adventures (Famicom)
54. King Kong 2: Ikari No Megaton Punch (Famicom)
55. Yume Pengin Monogatari (Famicom)
56. Rock Man & Forte (SFC)
57. Rock Man X2 (Switch)
58. Rock Man X3 (Switch)
59. Rock Man X4 (Switch)
60. Rock Man X5 (Switch)
61. Rock Man X6 (Switch)
62. Rock Man X7 (Switch)
63. Rock Man X8 (Switch)
64. Mega Man: Powered Up (PSP)
65. Magical Taruruuto Kun: FANTASTIC WORLD!! (Famicom)
66. Maken Shao (PS2)

67. Getsu Fuuma Den (Famicom)

This was a game I more or less picked up not just because it's a Konami game (so likely to be at least pretty good), but also because the main character Fuuma is one of the characters in Wai Wai World. I didn't really know much anything about the game other than that it seemed to be in hell, so I dove right in and beat it in one sitting~. I used online guides mostly for the dungeon maps and for what items did, and it took me just about five hours to beat the game on real hardware.

In a very Famicom way, the game has a pretty weird story that honestly isn't THAT important. Some 12000 or so years in the future (apparently), in the first year of the demon lord, the demon lord Ryuukotsuki emerged from Hell to try and take over the surface world ruled over by the three Getsu brothers. The brothers ended up defeated, and only the youngest of the three, Fuuma, survived. On a quest to save the world and avenge his fallen brothers, Fuuma starts out to retrieve their three legendary pulse blades and stop Ryuukotsuki once and for all. It isn't ultimately any more complicated than collecting a Triforce with only three pieces, but it makes for a unique setting at the very least and does exactly as much as it needs to.

The setting at hand is the hell-ified surface world that Ryuukotsuki has begun to make his own, and you traverse it between an overworld and pathway-like stages. You go around a top-down overworld, and whenever you bump into a stage, you need to get to the other end of it to get to the other side of it on the world map. The stages themselves several dozen in number, but they're all just linear paths in which you jump over pits, kill enemies, and find the occasional special item or powerup.

The way this game approaches powerups and items is kinda weird, at least compared to a lot of other games I've played. The closest thing I could compare it to would be something like Ys, as your sword's power grows as you kill more and more enemies. It takes a fair while to get to max power, but you'll very likely get that strong before you beat the game. There are hidden items in stages as well as items sold in shops, with some being consumables and some being genuinely their own items. The new weapons you find are super useful and have unlimited uses, and the consumables range from having fairly confusing uses to some being damn near invaluable, and acquiring new items is always worth it when you can afford them. The extra weapons you can find are extra useful especially because Fuuma's normal sword's range is SUPER short, so those ranged weapons you find are gonna save your hide a LOT, at least until the sword significantly out-powers them. It's not a terribly unique or complicated system, but it's a pretty darn fun version of that sort of thing.

There are three dungeons hiding three bosses that guard the three pulse swords that you'll need to fight Ryuukotsuki, but while the bosses (which are all generally pretty good fun and well designed) are fought in the same 2D style the rest of the game is done in, the dungeons are first-person mazes (which are a huge pain in the butt, and I wasn't in the mood to make my own maps, so I looked up maps online XP). It's not really true to call them first-person, actually, as they're actually third-person behind Fuuma. At specific points, you'll encounter monsters that you need to fight by slashing your sword in front of you, and moving back and forth will cause you to slash at them in diagonals. These are pretty neat fights, even if they get a bit repetitive once you've seen the three or four encounters that particular dungeon has to offer. The 3D dungeons aren't awful (even without looking up maps), but they're definitely the weakest parts of the game (particularly because when you run out of lives at the bosses, you of course have to go through their entire slow plodding designs AGAIN to get to the boss again XP).

The presentation is pretty darn solid and what you'd expect of Konami for the time. The graphics are colorful and well defined, the bosses and enemy designs are creepy and well detailed, and the music is pretty darn good too (with the overworld theme in particular being quite the memorable track).


Verdict: Recommended. It's not exactly Castlevania in how well done any of it is, but it's a very solid runner up as a sort of little brother to Castlevania 2. This actually came out about a month and a half before Castlevania 2 (making it more like a slightly older cousin, I suppose :b), and really does feel like the game you would've bought at the time if you didn't have a disc system yet so you couldn't get Castlevania. While it definitely isn't as good as Castlevania 2, it's not that far behind it, and if this Zelda 2-style side-scrolling action/adventure genre is your jam, this is definitely not a title to miss out on. You'll probably need a guide to know what different items do, but once you get beyond that, this is far from the hardest action/adventure game on the Famicom to import either, and the price is pretty cheap to boot~.

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68. Rock Man D.A.S.H (PSP)

Better known as Mega Man Legends, this marked the tail end of my incredible month-ish long Mega Man binge, and was the 26th game in the series that I played over the course of April to May this year. This is a game I very briefly tried when I was younger, but I never ended up going back to it for some reason or another. Japanese PSN doesn't have the PS1 versions of the Legends games, but it does have their native PSP ports! They seemed to be pretty straight-up ports with very little change, so I decided to give it a whirl via my PSTV to see mostly how the controls had been changed, if at all. It took me about 8 hours to do just about everything in the Japanese version of the game under the helpful guidance of my resident Mega Man Legends fan, DogStrong~.

Mega Man Legends tells the story of a far flung future's Mega Man. Sure, his name may be Rock (at least in the Japanese version), but this is many many years after even the Mega Man X games end (and likely the Zero games too). The world has been flooded, and the last remnants of humanity survive on their tiny islands by scavenging parts from old technology, and the people who do that scavenging are called "Digouters" (which is, yes, a VERY silly name X3). Rock, his adoptive sister Roll, their grandpa Barrel, and their robotic monkey assistant Data are one such Digouter team, but they find themselves stranded on a small island after their ship breaks down. Rock's quest begins as just one to repair their ship so they can leave, but it quickly evolves into a mission to protect the island from the vicious bandits attacking it and finding the island's hidden treasure before they can!

The story isn't going for any super huge message, ultimately, but it's super engagingly told. The Japanese voice acting is excellent, and it's helped a ton by the cast of colorful characters that inhabit the island. Rock and friends are of course quite memorable, but the same goes for the ever charismatic antagonists of the Bonne family, who are the bandits trying to foil you at every turn. They are a very endearing Team Rocket-kind of bad guys, and their big machines and braggadocios natures make them steal every scene they're in. This is helped a TON by the art style and graphics of the game, which take on a kind of "anime but 3D"-style. The cutscenes are directed in such a way that the faces never look uncanny or weird, and the piles and piles of face textures in the game's files can attest to just how much work went into making every shot look just the way it was intended. For a 3D game from 1998, the graphics hold up super well even now, and that's something not many stylized graphics from that generation can too easily boast about.

The gameplay is very much like a somewhat short Zelda-like experience. The game has an overworld, three main dungeons, and a final dungeon each hiding different objectives you'll need on your quest to uncover the island's biggest secret. On the way, you'll fight tons of ancient Reaverbots guarding these ruins, as well as big boss Reaverbots and the big boss bots the Bonne's pilot. You can help even the odds a bit by finding money to buy extra upgrades for defense and upgrade your special weapons, and you can also buy and find parts you can equip to boost your attack power, rate of fire, special weapon damage, and how many bullets you can fire at once. The game isn't the hardest game I've played of the era, but it's definitely on the tougher side for a Zelda-style game.

Part of that is due to the weird, gimmicky vehicle defense sections the game sometimes throws at you (which aren't impossible, sure, but they're easily the hardest parts of the game), part of that is down to the often hazy signposting, but part of that is also down to the controls. I mentioned earlier that I bought the PSP version very curious about how it controlled, and while the control with the joypad (or joystick in my case, as I used a PS3 controller), they're actually still not very good compared to the original controls. My friend tells me this game controls a lot like the PS1 Armored Core games (which they also really like), as the default controls use tank controls on the D-pad and then use R1 and L1 to strafe back and forth. Circle-strafing is your best friend for the boss encounters in this game, and the main reason the other control methods (one swapping the function of right and left on the D-pad with the L1 and R1 buttons, and the other giving you something resembling analog control instead of the D-pad, but no camera control on the right stick as the PSP of course doesn't have one) are bad is because circle strafing doesn't work with them.

Sure, those control styles are more familiar, but you're going to have a MUCH harder time playing that way because of your inability to circle strafe properly. The game has a kind of lock-on feature, but it locks you in place, so it's very useful if you wanna shoot above or below you, but it's not very useful if a giant robot dog is about to charge you to death and eat your face. This is definitely one of those old games where it simply controls the way it does, and doesn't have any sort of conventions to stick to (in fairness, 3D was still fairly new), and the controls definitely take some getting used to for most players. Once you get the controls down, though, the game has some really fun dungeons and bosses awaiting you, even if there isn't much in the way of puzzles like the dungeons in Zelda tend to have. In true Mega Man fashion, this is an action game first and a platformer second, so fighting stuff is the main mechanical thing on display here more than pushing switches or block puzzles.

As mentioned before, the presentation graphically is absolutely excellent in how it compliments the story as well as creates a timeless graphical style. The music is also quite good, fitting the mood nicely and making battles intense and dramatic. The last thing I'll mention about the graphics is specifically how they are in this PSP port of the game, as they're probably the biggest thing you'll notice that're different from the original. The game isn't a PS1 classic or anything emulated. This is a proper native port to PSP, and so they've had to recreate that old graphical style on the PSP's architecture, and for the most part they've done a pretty darn good job. The only real shortcoming is how a lot of scenery fits together. Stand too close to a wall and you'll likely find its texture hovering slightly in front of where the wall actually stops, and Mega Man clipping into walls slightly or one wall's texture overcoming the one next to it slightly are pretty common graphical hiccups that the PS1 version doesn't really have in the same way (so I'm told). It's honestly barely significant enough to be worth mentioning, but given how little there seems to be online about these versions of the game in English, I thought it was worth at least a passing mention.


Verdict: Highly Recommended. This was still the baby steps of 3D for Capcom, but even without Ocarina of Time laying the groundwork yet (as this came out that same year), they managed to make a really compelling and competent action/adventure game in 3D! Sure, the controls aren't perfect and it's a bit short, but if you can get over the short length and adapt to the controls, there is a ton to fall in love with here. If you think you can grapple with those weird tank controls and can find it for a price that's right, this is definitely a game you don't wanna miss if 3D action/adventure games are at all something you like.

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69. Brave Fencer Musashi (PS1)

Just as 1987 and 1988 seemed to be the peak years of sidescrolling action/adventure games in the vein of Zelda 2, 1997 to 1998 seemed to be the peak of 3D action/adventure games in the style of Ocarina of Time (though I use both Zeldas here as simple examples, as Nintendo certainly didn't invent either genre). Konami had Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon, Nintendo had Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Capcom had Mega Man Legends, and SquareSoft had Brave Fencer Musashi. Though it's in a similar genre to those other three games, there is a decidedly SquareSoft twist to the formula, as you would certainly expect from them. This was another game I got relatively far in (about halfway through) as a kid, but I ended up putting it down and just never going back to it for some reason or another. This time I was determined to see the game to its conclusion, though, and in the course of about 13.5 hours, I beat the second game based (extremely loosely) on Miyamoto Musashi I've played in the past six or so months XD

The story takes place in the Yakuinikku kingdom, where while the king and queen are on vacation, they find themselves under attack by the Ru Koaaru Empire. In dire straights, they decide to use the princess's magic to summon the legendary hero Musashi, who had saved the kingdom from the king of darkness over a hundred years ago. Upon his successful summoning, however, they find that he's a bit more pint-sized than they imagined him to be, and with a pretty smart mouth as well. Even though the princess ends up getting kidnapped, Musashi sets off on a mission to save her (even if it's mostly only to let him return home to his own world) by finding the five seals of the five rings (a reference to the real life Musashi) and defeating their five guardians. Very much like Mega Man Legends or Mystical Ninja, this game's story is mostly here to be entertaining, and while it might not be quite as memorable as Mega Man, it still manages to be pretty good fun and packed with silly puns and larger than life, buffoonish characters. It does a fine job of setting the stakes and making the world itself a compelling place to explore and fight in.

And fight in this world you absolutely will, as this is an action adventure game! Unlike Ocarina of Time or Mega Man Legends, however, this is a top-down game more like a traditional 2D Zelda rather than a 3D Zelda. There's enough jumping and platforming to put it firmly into the 3D genre rather than the 2D one, but the overall design philosophies veer harder towards something older despite it coming out in 1998. Not that that's a bad thing, as Musashi uses his two swords (another iconic bit referencing the historical figure) to do various combos and deal out magical attacks using the seals you've broken. There's even a system of hurling one of your swords into an enemy to absorb its power to give yourself a special magic attack! There are also the many villagers and workers in the castle who've been kidnapped and hidden in crystals for you to find out in the world. Not only will they be grateful for you saving them, but every one you save increases your magic meter a little, and some will even craft you special upgrades or teach you new combos~.

However, for whatever Musashi has in flavor and style, it also ends up having quite the amount of baggage trying to juggle and balance all of those different pieces. While the game is solidly enough put together, it's often too focused on gimmicks or just too poorly signposted, and it gets in the way of the adventure and the fun. There are some really annoyingly difficult vehicle sections, a hell of a final gauntlet to the final boss, a money system that's almost useless because there's almost nothing to buy, a really annoying day/night system with almost no meaningful purpose, and some really awkward platforming puzzles you're forced to do several times to pad out the playtime. That's only naming the bigger problems off the top of my head, but that's not even an entirely exhaustive list. This game is most certainly a PS1-era SquareSoft product in how it's entertainingly written and has ambitiously designed systems, but it's also a SquareSoft production in how just how much of that stuff tends to trip over itself as a result of its ambition.

The presentation of the game is very good, as one would expect from a SquareSoft game of this era. The characters are colorful and easily recognizable despite their small sizes, the enemy design is memorable, and the music is quite good too. None of it is my favorite in particular of a SquareSoft PS1 game, sure, but it's all very well done and none of it feels like it's only their B-team effort or anything.


Verdict: Recommended. There's a lot to enjoy in Musashi, but there's also a lot to complain about. This is definitely more along the lines of "cool but significantly flawed" that Mystical Ninja: Starring Goemon is than the sort of timeless classic that Mega Man Legends is. If you're into retro 3D action/adventure games, than this is definitely one you should check out, as Musashi definitely does more right than it does wrong despite all its problems. However, if the awkward nonsense that retro games are so often full of bother you to a significant point, then you are likely going to not enjoy your time with this game very much and will feel your time well wasted as a result of trying it.

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70. Joe & Mac (SFC) *

This was something my mom got out of a bargain bin for me as a kid, and it was always a favorite of mine despite not really being any good at it. I used Game Genie cheats to beat it back then, but I'd been feeling like giving it a replay for quite a while, although I was disappointed to learn that the arcade version on the Switch eShop was different enough from the SNES version I knew that I know I would've not liked that version very much. I was so stoked when Joe & Mac was announced as a game coming to Switch Online's SNES service, and I was so excited that I played all the way through it that very day. I didn't use any save states and managed to beat it fair and square on normal mode this time ^w^. It took me about 50 minutes to beat the Japanese version of the game on my Switch.

Joe & Mac is a port of an early 90's arcade game by Data East, and it has a fittingly "doing exactly what it needs to" level of plot to match. Joe & Mac live in a caveman tribe, but the evil cavemen from another tribe have come and stolen all of their Cave Babes! (as the US localization so hilariously calls them XD). They set off to save them and teach those nasty big-nosed cavemen a lesson.

Joe & Mac is a pretty short game, with only a dozen or so stages that can often be completed pretty darn quick, but this is a game where the boss fights are by far the headliner and main event. Joe & Mac have a special high jump and their clubs to whack things with, but everyone knows that firing from a distance has always been the thinking warrior's tactic of choice. Joe & Mac follow this methodology and have a series of ancient tools to throw at enemies if they find one of the powerups in a stage, although they can only hold one at a time. You have bones (rapid fire but low damage), boomerangs (slower than bones but more powerful), fire (only one thrown at a time, but VERY powerful), and wheels (two thrown at a time but pretty tough and can climb up walls) to use against your foes, and different weapons are more useful at different times. The game is definitely still an arcade game with its difficulty, but the stages and especially the bosses are really tightly designed and great fun to fight. Sure, there are a couple of bosses who are a little too awkward or arbitrary in their patterns for my tastes, but by and large they succeed in being worth the price of entry.

The presentation is pretty darn good too~. Joe & Mac have big expressive faces for reacting to things as do their caveman enemies (who are working with the dinosaurs for some reason, but just try not to think about it :b), but again the real stars here are the bosses. The music and especially sound design compliment the bosses great too, with the bosses having big, expressive "I'M HIT!" animations every time they lose a tick of life, and a big "GEH!" sound effect as well that has stuck with me as a kid. It's a big, silly arcadey experience and the graphics and sound do a great job of carrying that forward too.


Verdict: Highly Recommended. This is a game I hadn't played in a long time, but it's one that's held up really damn well over the years. It very much scratches the itch in the part of my brain that always yearns for more Mega Man, and while it's not exactly that same style of gameplay, it's close enough that I love it. If you're a fan of 2D action games and don't mind a bit of a challenge, this is definitely one not to pass up on, especially if you already have Switch Online so you can play it for free via the SNES service~.
I identify everyone via avatar, so if you change your avatar, I genuinely might completely forget who you are. -- Me
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