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Re: Games Beaten 2017

Posted: Wed Jan 25, 2017 3:39 pm
by BoneSnapDeez
1. Chrono Trigger (SNES)
2. Gyromite (NES)
3. Lucy -The Eternity She Wished For- (Steam)
4. Ys III: Wanderers from Ys (Famicom)
5. Radical Dreamers (SNES)
6. Video Games 1 (TI-99/4A)
7. Portopia Renzoku Satsujin Jiken (Famicom)
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Portopia Renzoku Satsujin Jiken (or, The Portopia Serial Murder Case) is an influential old murder mystery game created by Yuji Horii in his pre-Dragon Quest days. It was originally released on Japanese computers, and later ported to the Famicom where the text parser was replaced by a menu system (among other changes). A fan translation was released in 2011.

You play as a detective, who is joined by a loyal assistant. The goal is to solve a recent murder of some (seemingly) reclusive and wealthy individual. This tale is heavy on the dialogue, with most of it being comprised of detective and assistant conversing back and forth. It's a nice change from the typical brief internal monologue style so common in adventure games, and the game's overall tone is pretty humorous even in light of the heavy subject matter.
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Gameplay unfolds in a screen-by-screen first-person viewpoint, where static scenery and/or character portraits present themselves. Everything is controlled by menus. You can look around, search for clues, take objects, dial phone numbers (manually!), hit suspects (damn, Japan...), question locals, interrogate specific individuals, make arrests and more. The majority of possible actions are superfluous, but it's quite fun to experiment. I'm actually not sure how to "lose" the game, but I believe the case must be reopened if you end up declaring the wrong suspect to be the perpetrator.

As goes for all old adventure games: should you choose to proceed with no hints or walkthrough, good luck! The overall field of exploration is quite small, only expanding once certain "triggers" are hit. I got stuck at one point early on. An internet walkthrough told me I had to go to Kyoto. I had no option to travel to Kyoto. I wandered all over performing every action I could. After returning to the game's starting point I had my assistant question the locals. They uttered some unrelated banter and immediately after the assistant proclaimed "Hey let's go to Kyoto!" and thus the pathway presented itself. So yes, it's one of "those" games. Searching for evidence is entertaining but also far trickier than it needs to be. For instance, when uncovering a hidden object with a magnifying glass an extremely small and specific set of pixels must be highlighted or the game won't register a hit.
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Unique to the Famicom port is a Wizardry-like style maze that appears towards the game's end. It's a nice touch, but it also kinda bland and the expected "hidden passage" is, well, really hidden. Good luck.

The story is pretty awesome and well-written (kudos to the fan translators as well). It kept me guessing for the bulk of the game, though I was able to figure out "the big twist" about 3/4th of the way through. And this is an adult game. There are dead bloody bodies strewn about. Not to mention the strip club and stripper interrogation.
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Graphics are delightfully primitive and there isn't much music to speak of, though the police siren "theme" is pretty startling and hilarious.

Highly recommended. This is a fantastic way to spend an afternoon and a great historic glimpse into classic Japanese game design. And since carts still go for <$2 there's no reason to pass this up.

P.S. If you need a Retron 5 patch holler at me. This is one of those games that requires a modified one. I'd post a link but I dunno if that's allowed.

Re: Games Beaten 2017

Posted: Wed Jan 25, 2017 3:44 pm
by prfsnl_gmr
You're awesome, Bone. I'll definitely follow up with you on that translation patch.

Re: Games Beaten 2017

Posted: Wed Jan 25, 2017 4:27 pm
by Exhuminator
BoneSnapDeez wrote:Portopia Renzoku Satsujin Jiken (or, The Portopia Serial Murder Case)

Wicked beat!
BoneSnapDeez wrote:only expanding once certain "triggers" are hit. I got stuck at one point early on. | For instance, when uncovering a hidden object with a magnifying glass an extremely small and specific set of pixels must be highlighted or the game won't register a hit.

This is the thing I hate about these old Japanese menu based adventure games. And why I hadn't played this one yet.
BoneSnapDeez wrote:The story is pretty awesome and well-written (kudos to the fan translators as well).

And this is why I'd still like to play it someday. I've read Hideo Kojima cited this as one of the games that made him want to join the industry.
BoneSnapDeez wrote:Highly recommended. This is a fantastic way to spend an afternoon and a great historic glimpse into classic Japanese game design.

Man I love reading reviews like this for old classic games, especially esoteric* Japanese ones. This is the kind of stuff I'd like to see more of around here! Big kudos to you for keeping it real Bone.

If you haven't beaten it yet, I'd like to suggest this as a followup:

I'm suggesting it purely as a scholarly exercise though.


*Relatively speaking that is.

Re: Games Beaten 2017

Posted: Wed Jan 25, 2017 4:32 pm
by Sarge
Even highly-lauded games like Snatcher suffer from the trigger problem. It's basically a big text tree you have to explore, and sometimes it can be easy to miss an option... or even worse, when it expects you to do the same option multiple times for a trigger.

Re: Games Beaten 2017

Posted: Wed Jan 25, 2017 4:34 pm
by isiolia
1. DKC Returns (3DS)
2. √ Letter (PS4)
3. Deus Ex: Mankind Divided (PC)

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided more or less picks up where Human Revolution leaves off - or, rather, where the Missing Link DLC (which I haven't played) leaves off. It's once again about taking control of Adam Jensen and his mostly artificial body that he never asked for in a first-person action/stealth RPG. Based on his lack of a reflection, I also have to assume he's a vampire, but the game never addresses it.
Per usual for this sort of thing, I played through with a focus on sneaking around and not killing people, and abusing quicksave so, so much.

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The basic setup is that, following the events of Human Revolution, augmented people are now heavily discriminated against. Partly due to continuing the more nuanced consideration of how having augments would influence employment and the like...but mostly because near the end of the first game, most of them were sabotaged and went berserk, killing a lot of people. So, most of the NPCs on the street pretty much just hate them. The attempted social commentary there is heavy handed at best.

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..and probably drawing parallels it shouldn't at worst.

Following an intro mission, you're sent to investigate a subway bombing on behalf of Interpol, who the local police don't want to cooperate with (of course!).

Ultimately, the writing comes second to gameplay. Most NPCs are one-dimensional, fitting whatever role they have. IE, you can't reason with the police, because they're just there to be an obstacle. I assume, in part, due to the fact that there are so many approaches to take in tackling missions, but the game still ends up in basically the same place. Accessible via vents large enough for a man to crawl through, like the Machine God intended.

That being said, the actual gameplay for Mankind Divided is generally improved. Other than potentially not having enough battery power to punch someone. :roll:
Bosses are almost non-existent - there were only a couple encounters I ran into that would qualify, and those were easily handled by hiding and shooting tranquilizer darts. The more frequent thing was really running into influential conversation with key NPCs. Maybe a different playstyle would have changed that, but either way, I didn't get forced to change tactics as the original release of Human Revolution did.

Additionally, the choices that were available to impact the ending were better integrated. It wasn't the "pick a button" that even the original game wound up having. Instead, the end sequence could be a complete (or near complete) success, depending on earlier choices/discoveries made, and simply time taken.

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The PC port seemed decent - plenty of bells and whistles to tweak. One odd exemption was the lack of a toggle for keyboard or controller prompts. It seemed like if my computer had the slightest possibility of a gamepad being connected, Mankind Divided wanted to show me gamepad prompts. I literally had to unplug my bluetooth adapter (as I have a Bluetooth Xbox One pad) to get it to assume I was going to use keyboard and mouse.
Otherwise, it hitched a few times, and hard crashed a couple, but otherwise ran nicely.

Overall, I didn't find the story or characters to be too compelling, but gameplay was solid - mostly just more Human Revolution, albeit more consistent. Still, that's about all I'd say about it. It didn't try anything new, even for a level or two like Dishonored 2 did. Good, certainly worth playing if you like the genre, but far from essential.

Re: Games Beaten 2017

Posted: Wed Jan 25, 2017 4:39 pm
by Exhuminator
@Sarge

I just think it's interesting how whole generations of Japanese adventure games' core design (menu based navigation) was a result of programmers' initial experience producing menu based business applications. Thus making an adventure game using that format was a simpler affair, compared to say a parser based interface with King Graham walking around.

Re: Games Beaten 2017

Posted: Wed Jan 25, 2017 4:56 pm
by Juan Aguacate
TSTR wrote:Ah, that sounds wack with the difficulty spike. I had higher hopes. Maybe if it hits bargain bin prices when it comes to PC, I'll check it.


Yeah, it happens around chapter 4. I think I said after chapter 4, so I edited my post.

I mean, it's still manageable. I've played harder games, just that it gets annoying and less fun around chapter 4. The game starts introducing more annoying enemies around that point like these constantly respawning flyers that keep grabbing your head forcing you to shake them off. You have to destroy what's spawning them, but of course there's enemies trying to stop you (who are annoying themselves), along with the aforementioned fliers, and the spawning thing may be surrounded by some obnoxious environmental hazard as well. You also run into the annoying bull enemies that can take off half your health with one hit unless you have upgraded your health and defense a bit, and also what I call the "banshee bitches".

And like I said, the final chapter is a pain if you haven't purchased "super power mode" upgrades for your ranger when you leveled up as every enemy will be constantly invincible. And it's not like the game lets you respec your points either.

I'm just so tired of devs thinking that every time you make a retro style beat 'em up it just has to be cheap, like that's some kind of rule. Some of the trophies are a bitch too like one for beating an entire chapter, which is like three stages, without taking damage and another one for getting to floor 50 of Rita's Tower, which is a survival mode. Ugh.

Again, I want to give props to A King's Tale Final Fantasy XV, a fun beat 'em up that isn't cheap at any point in the game and has FUN challenges in its unlockable Dream Battles.

Re: Games Beaten 2017

Posted: Wed Jan 25, 2017 5:29 pm
by marurun
Classic belt-scrollers were cheap as hell to steal your quarters. Modern games don't have to steal your quarters. No excuse for cheap, save that it's harder to design than legit skill-hard.

Re: Games Beaten 2017

Posted: Wed Jan 25, 2017 7:15 pm
by Xeogred
Yeah isiolia, it pains me to say, but you'll probably completely forget about Mankind Divided in a month or so. I sunk 40 hours into it and had a blast, but it ultimately feels completely forgettable. Even Invisible War left a bigger mark. The gameplay is maybe the best in the series, but HR is 10x better in its pacing, structure, and narrative. And I love HR, but it wasn't perfect either.

Still, certainly a lot better than Eidos Montreal's take on Thief.

Re: Games Beaten 2017

Posted: Wed Jan 25, 2017 10:56 pm
by Raz
1. Dragon Quest Builders (PS4)
2. Professor Layton and the Unwound Future (DS)
3. Wild Guns: Reloaded (PS4)
4. World Heroes (SNES)
5. Arkanoid: Doh It Again (SNES)

It's Arkanoid! I'm not familiar with Breakout-style games besides flash versions I probably played years ago, but this is a pretty cool version of Arkanoid. It has a single player mode where you progress through 99 stages. Some are fun, some are frustrating, and some are boss battles. There's also a level editor and some two player modes available as well.