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J T
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Re: Games Beaten 2015

by J T Thu Jan 22, 2015 7:25 pm

A Wolf Among Us (01/03/15)
Pac-Man Championship Edition DX+ (All courses S ranked on 01/08/15)
Distance (beta 3315, 01/11/15)
Shantae: Risky's Revenge- Director's Cut (01/16/15)
Sega Bass Fishing (01/17/15)
Fairy Bloom Freesia (01/17/15)
BasketBelle (01/18/15)
Tiny & Big: in Grandpa's Leftovers (01/20/15)
Sideway: New York (01/22/15)

This almost made it into the "games not beaten" thread for numerous glitches and crashes to desktop. I started this game a few years back, shelved it, then only recently got back into it. When it's working, it is a fun game. You are a graffiti artist who has magically been transported onto the walls of buildings with your graffiti. This allows the levels to twist and turn around the building walls that you play on. It's a cool effect and there are a lot of well designed levels that involve Donky Kong Country-esque cannonball shots, grappling hooks, and disappearing platforms. Unfortunately, the play controls lose their flow as they get stuck a lot in excessive animations and you have to anticipate that stickiness for the gameplay. You have to know which moves will require you to wait a few ticks before you can move again. Also, if you double jump too soon or too late, you don't get quite the same extra height, or if you float and stop, you can't begin a float again. It all just makes the game feel like it's killing your smooth groove. There was also some glitch that made it so my character would just get stuck in a ducking position for 2-3 seconds for no apparent reason. These glitchy controls could screw up what was otherwise good gameplay with excellent level design. The final boss had so many glitchy control malfunctions that I almost rage quit the game. I was actually lucky to even get to the final boss because there is a glitch that many people have reported in the Steam forums that is on the final level where the game simply crashes near the end. Your saves only save at the start of the level, not at the checkpoints, so this means playing a substantial chunk of the game over and over until the glitch doesn't happen. Third time was a charm for me, which is how I stayed so persistent on the final boss. I didn't want to have to do that again.

The graphics are pretty good with the graffiti aesthetic, though there certainly could have been more done with this topic. Every graffiti tag looked like it was done by the same artist. There is also lots of repetition of artwork assets, so the game all kind of looks the same throughout every level and it starts to feel a little monotonous. The music is fantastic and produced by hip hop artist Mr. Lif, which gives the game a real sense of authenticity. Unfortunately, the soundtrack is also pretty short, so you get kind of tired of hearing the same songs on repeat before you finish the game. I think with a bigger budget this title could have been a lot better because they would have been able to have more art assets and music.

Final Verdict: The game is about a 6 out of 10. There's not enough variety in artwork or music, and it's ultimately limited by glitchy gameplay and unfixed game crashing bugs. Nevertheless, some brilliant level design and a unique concept make it worth a play.
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J T
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Re: Games Beaten 2015

by J T Thu Jan 22, 2015 7:31 pm

Oh man, I love NES Rygar. I haven't played it in decades, but I was thinking I might make a return soon. I love bouncing on those rolly-polly bad guys.
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nullPointer
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Re: Games Beaten 2015

by nullPointer Thu Jan 22, 2015 7:58 pm

BoneSnapDeez wrote:I still need to finish Rygar. Thankfully with a Retron 5 I don't have to do it all in one sitting.
Ha, yes I neglected to mention that part. I think almost anyone that's beaten this game on the original NES had to leave it running on pause at some point. It's quite a lot to bite off in one game session. That's actually part of the reason I emulate more than I play on my physical system(s) at this point. The ability to set my own savestate based 'check points' means that my gaming can still jive with my time constraints.
BoneSnapDeez wrote:Have you played the original arcade Rygar? It's a completely different game!
Totally! We ran Rygar (arcade) as a high score game of the month a while back on the GameEx forums. It's also great fun, but a very different game, and probably even more intense than the NES version. In this capacity it's a bit like the difference between the NES and arcade versions of Strider.
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Re: Games Beaten 2015

by Hobie-wan Thu Jan 22, 2015 8:14 pm

nullPointer wrote:At any rate, if you've got an appetite for a lesser known action platformer on the NES you could do a lot worse that Rygar.


The first time I played NES Rygar, I had borrowed it from someone and I was grounded. I think my father was on a business trip and my mother was out running errands all Saturday. I spent many hours working my way through it, pausing to jump up every time I heard a car go by to check if my mother had returned home and I needed to shut things down. I did manage to finish it, and it was a lot of fun despite the many delays and terror of car noises. Been a while since I went through it again on other plays, but yeah, fun game and that setting sun.

nullPointer wrote: I do plan on playing through Rygar: The Legendary Adventure on the PS2 later this year though, so maybe that wish will be fulfilled.


I was excited for the PS2 game, but I was disappointed by it. Maybe I just suck at 3D arena fighter style games, but it got pretty difficult pretty fast. Trying to figure out where one could and couldn't go or reach ledges was pretty annoying as well. Like the original, you could carry one heal item once earned. Eventually there was a very difficult boss fight that I spent a week cursing at, dying and reloading over and over. Finally on Friday evening I was playing while friends were showing up for a movie gathering and I beat the damn boss with the smallest sliver of health left, having of course used the recover item. The game proceeded to throw you right into another boss fight where the boss filled the screen. There was no intervening game. No chance to get your life or the recovery item refilled. I died, shut the game off, and never played it again. :|
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Re: Games Beaten 2015

by nullPointer Thu Jan 22, 2015 8:28 pm

Hobie-wan wrote:
I was excited for the PS2 game, but I was disappointed by it. Maybe I just suck at 3D arena fighter style games, but it got pretty difficult pretty fast. Trying to figure out where one could and couldn't go or reach ledges was pretty annoying as well. Like the original, you could carry one heal item once earned. Eventually there was a very difficult boss fight that I spent a week cursing at, dying and reloading over and over. Finally on Friday evening I was playing while friends were showing up for a movie gathering and I beat the damn boss with the smallest sliver of health left, having of course used the recover item. The game proceeded to throw you right into another boss fight where the boss filled the screen. There was no intervening game. No chance to get your life or the recovery item refilled. I died, shut the game off, and never played it again. :|

Ugh. Yeah, that doesn't sound promising. This could very well wind up being one of my early contenders for Games Not Beaten in 2015. I'll see how it goes, but I'm definitely approaching with some degree of trepidation now. :|
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Hobie-wan
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Re: Games Beaten 2015

by Hobie-wan Thu Jan 22, 2015 8:45 pm

nullPointer wrote:Ugh. Yeah, that doesn't sound promising. This could very well wind up being one of my early contenders for Games Not Beaten in 2015. I'll see how it goes, but I'm definitely approaching with some degree of trepidation now. :|


As I said, it might just be me sucking at arena fighters, but I just got totally frustrated. The game is cheap to get though, I got pretty much nothing when I sold my copy. Hopefully you have more luck when you get to it. :)
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Re: Games Beaten 2015

by BoneSnapDeez Thu Jan 22, 2015 10:36 pm

1. Grandia (PlayStation)

Grandia is grand.

Originally released in 1997 for the Sega Saturn (in Japan only *sniffles*) it was later ported to the PlayStation and localized by Sony themselves. Grandia was developed by Game Arts, also known for the classic Lunar RPGs. I played the remake of the first Lunar game on PlayStation last month, and it was interesting to see how the design of Game Arts' JRPGs matured and developed over such a short time frame.

In Grandia you play as a bunch of kids. Not the bratty melodramatic teens of the Final Fantasy universe, but bright-eyed freckle-faced still-kiss-mommy-at-bedtime kiddos. The lead character is Justin, a wannabe adventurer looking to leave his small town. He's joined at the hip with Sue, a spunky blue-haired 8-year-old, who I believe is supposed to be Justin's adoptive sister (I was relieved to see that this game lacks any adoptive sister romance - I'm looking at you, Lunar). The duo is later joined by Feena, an accomplished adventurer, and several others I won't spoil the identities of. The characters are instantly likable. They're cheery and naïve even in the face of great danger, though individually they have fleeting moments of doubt which causes the others to offer consolation in the cutest ways possible.

The voice acting is mostly solid. Justin sounds a bit like "generic excited adventure boy" but the ladies all sound great. They game is quite dialogue-heavy and is interspersed with mealtime and campfire conversation vignettes. Each character has several portraits that appear while speaking, adding to the charm and depth of conversations. Here's Sue:
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Plot-wise, Grandia is nothing to write home about. An ancient evil, a corrupt empire - we've seen it all before. It's best to simply focus on the interactions between the ever-charming characters. Localization is decent. This isn't Working Designs so don't expect any Home Improvement references, but Sony has managed to squeeze in more than enough humorous chatter into the script.

The battle system: this is why people are still playing Grandia 18 years after its release date. This is one of the best battle systems, if not the best, I've seen in a "traditional" turn-based JRPG. While most similar RPGs are heavily focused on resource management (ie: attack all normal enemies and save spells and special moves for the bosses) Grandia throws out that notion and encourages the player to give every battle their all and to pummel enemies with a variety of melee attacks, special moves, and spells.

The genius of the battle system is how it's entwined with the leveling system. It's not just the characters who level up, but the weapons and magic skills as well. This encourages the player to experiment with a wide variety of skill sets to create efficient and well-rounded characters. For example, one might have Justin attack with a sword for awhile until it become stronger and then switch him to an ax. Sue may be a designated healer with water spells until those become sufficiently competent and she instead becomes an offensive participant wielding fire magic. Maybe you'll have Feena level up fire and wind spells until she becomes a beast with lightning combos, before switching her to Earth-based buffs. The player is forced to consistently monitor character stats, which - rather than being a chore - creates a real sense of development and progression.

There's a sense of strategy involved in these battles too. Speed statistics determine who acts first in combat, and the leveling of skills can increase their respective speeds. Depending on the action, there's a bit of lag between menu input and execution, during which moves can be "cancelled" by well-placed blows of friend and foe alike. Traversing across the battlefield can be advantageous in avoiding enemy attacks that target entire groups. Point is: there's a lot to do during Grandia's battles and they never felt stale throughout the game's duration.

When looking at Grandia's visuals it becomes painfully apparent that this is early 5th gen 3D. Everything is pixelated to hell. Navigation can be clumsy and awkward. Frequent camera rotation is required not just to find your way around, but also to see all the items the developers fiendishly chose to place snug up against the walls. Thankfully most dungeons aren't especially complicated, and since enemies don't respawn you can use their presence to gauge your progress.

The original soundtrack is a bit of a paradox: it's composed well but "sounds" bad. There's a great deal of audio "compression" here and oftentimes the music is drowned out by sound effects and voice acting. Investing in a companion soundtrack CD, or just looking up the OST on YouTube, would be a wise choice. There are some great tracks here, with the victory theme being among my favorites.

Grandia is arguably too easy and most certainly too long. After a short time enemies have no defenses against Justin and company's massive arsenal. In lieu of any overworld, Grandia features an assortment of "connector dungeons" between the various towns and other locales. Many of these are quite dull and seem to serve only as padding. This adventure took me 55 hours - 40 would have been just fine.

One final warning: Grandia does not play nice with the PlayStation 2. I dug out the old gray beast for this one.

The minor flaws highlighted are of no great detriment to the overall experience. This is an excellent game and the beginning of an equally excellent series. It stands head and shoulders above most comparable JRPGs of the era and, yes, it's loads better than Final Fantasy VII. Anyone with even the smallest interest in retro Japanese role-playing games needs to experience this.
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Re: Games Beaten 2015

by Omerta Fri Jan 23, 2015 5:39 am

1. The Last of Us - PS3 - January 16
2. Lollipop Chainsaw - PS3 - January 19

3. Dragon's Crown - PS3 - January 23

This one surprised me. I figured I'd walk through it in one night since it's a brawler.

Quickly found out how deep it actually is and enjoyed a bunch. I haven't heard many praises for this one, but I'd highly recommend it.
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Re: Games Beaten 2015

by BogusMeatFactory Fri Jan 23, 2015 12:10 pm

The first two of the year. Grandia has taken up all my time and I still haven't beaten it so, bare with me!

1. Jazzpunk (PC)
2. Grand Theft Auto: Vice City (PS2)

Jazzpunk - What can be said of this abstract homage to the days of old? As a cyberspy, you explore a virtual reality world in search of secrets. As you explore the world around you, you are attacked with a barrage of jokes, pop culture references and little nods to the world of yore. This is a first person adventure game that is more interactive joke than anything. The story itself is simple: steal information, go on vacation, draw the ire of a nemesis, defeat nemesis. How you go about doing that is a wild and entertaining ride that goes far beyond the realms of reason.

At one point you could be spraying pigeon pheromones on people to have them carried away by an army of flying fowl. At another point, you could be playing the classic First Person Shooter/Marriage Simulator, "Wedding Quake." The entertainment value is high, even for a 3 hour long game. Yes, it is short and there is little replay value. I almost 100% the achievements in my first run through, only missing two achievements, which I could easily backtrack and complete in a matter of minutes. What makes the game interesting is all the little secrets and easter eggs and jokes. Can a game be successful if it really is a series of easter eggs that pour down on you with every button click? Yes. I got the game for incredibly cheap and loved every second of it. They reference things like the Virtual Boy, the 3DO, Zelda and more. Definitely a blast on the first play through, but I don't know if there really is any replay value to the game.

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City - With the upcoming Grand Theft Auto V rearing its menacing gaze on the PC, I felt compelled to do something I have never done... beat a Grand Theft Auto game. I own all of them except IV and V (yes I have the PS1 games), but have never been able to complete them. I always tend to get to a particular mission and get lost on the right way to approach it, leaving myself defeated. Now, I can no longer say that I was defeated. I tackled Vice City with aplomb, devouring its rich and vibrant innards with rancor, shoving its poor shooting mechanics down my gullet with ease. It is so weird to really see the changes between the 3rd and Vice City. You can purchase property, there are new weapon mechanics, you can rob stores and much much more.

I was happy to complete it and for all its shortcomings, I still enjoyed myself. Nothing was more fulfilling than firing the final shot to end the game and to see those credits roll. Even though the characters were still not fleshed out, the storytelling disjointed and unrelated, there was still a level of charm there. I wish there was a more cohesive story. I would not mind there being a complete remake of these games though, with better mechanics, activities and storytelling. Would be nice to see.
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Re: Games Beaten 2015

by noiseredux Fri Jan 23, 2015 12:24 pm

BMF: I had been thinking of doing the same; playing another GTA to pump myself up for V since it got delayed to March. Though I was considering doing the pre-order and playing whichever one you get free w/ it (I think it's San Andreas if I recall). I have played Vice City. And I've played both PSP games. Like you, I've never actually beat one though. I'm not sure I even have any intention of beating V, as I'm far more pumped about just exploring that game than actually playing the story.
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