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Re: Games Beaten 2017

Posted: Sun Feb 05, 2017 11:42 am
by ElkinFencer10
BogusMeatFactory wrote:
BoneSnapDeez wrote:Holy shit. Leave it to Elkin to actually beat that game... and that quickly!


I also, "beat," The game like Elkin, but the game is far from over. It looks like the story will definitely continue in episodic content that will be released later as a lot was set up and very little was wrapped up.

Also I would like to add a correction to elkin's review and that is, when you lose, you can use orbs to revive your team, but a cheaper and better alternative is to use these necklaces which are more common to find as rewards.

Yeah, I only had one of those necklaces. v.v

Re: Games Beaten 2017

Posted: Sun Feb 05, 2017 4:40 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)
8. Exile (TurboGrafx CD)
9. Exile: Wicked Phenomenon (TurboGrafx CD)
10. Xak (PC Engine, Xak I・II)
11. Xak II (PC Engine, Xak I・II)

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Let me talk about Micro Cabin for a second. They were one of the late great JRPG developers of yore. As they were undeniably similar to Falcom, it's hard to think of one without thinking of the other. And it's impossible to talk about Xak without referencing Ys. But more on that in a minute.

Micro Cabin experimented with multiple genres but eventually settled into the role of JRPG developer. Their initial 8 and 16-bit titles were all originally released on Japanese computers, though some were later ported to the Super Famicom, Mega CD, and PC Engine CD. Notice I didn't say "SNES" or "Sega CD" or "TurboGrafx CD" - sadly all those ports remained in Japan.

At the advent of the 3D CD-ROM era, Falcom abandoned the console scene temporarily (minus some reissues and ports for the PSX and Saturn) to focus on development for Windows computers. Micro Cabin, on the other hand, turned their interest towards the fledgling destined-to-be-hot multimedia CD-ROM powerhouse... the 3DO. A trio of games was developed and localized: The Life Stage: Virtual House (simulation), Guardian War (strategy RPG), and Lucienne's Quest (turned-based JRPG). While these are undeniably fantastic, the 3DO flopped and the English-language Micro Cabin triumvirate faded into obscurity. At this point the company headed towards Sega-land and the Saturn and pumped out some frothy RPG sexiness, though only the SRPG Blazing Heroes saw a Western release. After a small handful of titles on the PSX, Dreamcast, and GBC, Micro Cabin's final releases consisted of the (localized) Warship Gunner simulators for the PlayStation 2. They then shifted focus to pachinko machines and later folded completely.
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During their heyday, Micro Cabin's "flagship" series was Xak. These games are defined by a protagonist with bright unnatural hair, fast-paced "bump" combat, plenty of cutscenes with pretty ladies, an arcane and epic mythology, and aggressively passionate ass-kicking musical arrangements. Does this sound familiar at all? Yes, the Xak series is modeled directly after Falcom's Ys. But consider this a homage rather than a soulless rip-off. Anyone who enjoyed Adol's adventures would be wise to check out those of the blue-haired Latok.

Xak I・II (yes, with a dot) is a compilation featuring enhanced ports of the first two games in the series. They've been redone with beefed-up music, graphics, additional storyline elements, and have been merged into one long experience with a lengthy cutscene connecting the two installments. Hmmm.... Sounds like some other great PCE two-game compilation!

Anyone who played and enjoyed Ys Book I & II will have a huge nostalgic grin on their face after booting this one up. Xak I・II wastes no time before plunging Latok into lightning-fast zip-around-the-screen skirmishes. And the beautiful scenery, abstruse ruins, detailed characters... it's all here. It's like discovering that there's another (though, admittedly lesser) Ys Book I & II out there. And that ain't a bad thing.

Combat is incredibly satisfying. It follows the same sort of strategic "angle" system as Ys, but with a touch of Hydlide. Latok's sword is sheathed unless the II button is held. With no button depressed he deals less damage and assumes a more defensive position. At higher levels, weaker foes can be slain without a button press. This is a grind-heavy game, but it's fun grinding (seriously) as the combat never lets up and a level is gained every few minutes. The I button is used for.... jumping? Yes, there are some occasional platforming sequences. They feel tacked-on and the controls are sloppy. Mercifully, they're fairly uncommon.
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There's magic too. The magic system is different in both games and, quite honestly, it's a bit confusing in the second. In Xak, Latok buys spells much like the heroes of the original Final Fantasy. There's a teleport spell (essential), wall-breaking spell (essential), and two (mostly worthless) screen-clearing offensive spells. In Xak II, the teleport spell is the only one available for sale. This time offensive magic consists of Ys II-like fireballs, and a MP meter is depleted during use. Fireballs are conjured up with the II button. But wait, isn't that button used for the sword? Yes, you have to switch between sword mode and the "force shot" in the menu screen; only one can be active at a time. It's pretty clunky. I found myself at one boss towards the end of Xak II that could only be damaged by fireballs. The menu can't be access during boss battles and since I was in sword mode I dealt zero damage. I was also overleveled to the point where Latok couldn't be harmed either so the PC Engine had to be reset! Ouch.

Swinging back to the positives. The music. Good lord the music. It absolutely slays. The speedier tracks played during action sequences are like those of Lagoon: thumping, bass-heavy, and tailor-made for carnage. There are also some soothing slow ambient pieces that wouldn't sound out-of-place in the likes of Terranigma. Here's the kicker though. The best compositions found here are, I shit you not, the town themes. While playing Xak I thought to myself "this is the best town theme I've ever heard" and I'd linger around just to listen to it. That is, until I heard the one in Xak II. Nerd chills, man.
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Graphics are relatively sexy. The characters are "proportional" like those found in Phantasy Star II, so don't expect any big-headed super-deformed freaks. When talking to key NPCs you'll see some great facial portraits. Oh, and there's no shortage of waifus here, if that's your thing. There's a pixie who follows Latok around throughout both games. Then there's Fray, who's sort of a cute-but-clumsy comic relief character. Notable enough to get her own spin-off game, apparently. But Latok's "love interest" ends up being the beautiful and stoic Elise, much to the chagrin of Fray.

Those who enjoy classic CD-ROM cutscenes and voice-acting may be a bit disappointed. Only three cutscenes are present here: one at the beginning, end, and the one that segues from part one to part two. These scenes are the only areas where voice-acting is present as well, as all in-game dialogue is simply text. That said, the cutscenes are full-screen and gorgeous and the voice-acting is exemplary. Quality over quantity.

The environments here are all cliché (you've got your ice dungeon, fire dungeon, woods, and so on) but look pretty swell. The flow of the two games is a lot different. Xak has that traditional town/dungeon/town/dungeon thing going on, while Xak II has one central town with dungeons spread out in the four cardinal directions. The dungeon design is mixed. There's little consistency here. The first dungeon of Xak, for instance, is a confusing labyrinth while subsequent ones are more straightforward. Nothing like Solomon Shrine presents itself in either game though (thankfully...).

Dungeons conclude with a boss battle and the developers really dropped the ball here. They are absurdly easy. Some bosses can be killed in under three seconds. I can't even comment on their individual movements and attack patterns as the skirmishes ended so quickly. The only exceptions to the rule are the bosses at the end of Xak II. These are a bit tricky, though it feels due more so to shoddy programming than genuine design choices.

Xak I・II frequently relies on "triggers" and items with arbitrary uses. Want to enter the first town of Xak II? Make sure you have that mask equipped. Want to extinguish a fire in Xak? make sure you find some medicine and take it to a sick girl first. And it goes on and on. Plenty of items exist just to be traded for others, and some seem to have no apparent use.

This is all amplified by the dreaded Language Barrier. Xak I・II is entirely in Japanese, minus the menu options. Those with no knowledge of the language will undoubtedly be confused, and quickly. There is a silver lining though. The MSX2 versions of these games (released separately) have full translation patches available. Also, the Super Famicom port of the first game has a partial translation done. There is a walkthrough of Xak I・II available on GameFAQs. I found it helpful and I commend the creators, though it does contain several omissions, errors, and sequential problems. It also seems to be written with the assumption that the reader knows at least a smidge of Japanese.
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Xak I・II is big, bold, and beautiful, but comes packaged with some interface and navigation issues commonly seem in old ARPGs. It's Ys Book I & II's slightly-flawed little brother. I'd hesitate to recommend it to just anyone, especially with its lack of English, but those who adored Ys Book I & II will find plenty to love here. Whatever the case, all JRPG fans should check out at least Micro Cabin games lest we let that developer slip into obscurity with the likes of Produce, Quintet, and Xtalsoft.
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Fray says "thanks for reading!"

Re: Games Beaten 2017

Posted: Sun Feb 05, 2017 5:51 pm
by marurun
Bone, you and Elkin both put so much work into reviews and I just love reading them. Especially the PC Engine ones.

Re: Games Beaten 2017

Posted: Sun Feb 05, 2017 6:10 pm
by ElkinFencer10
Games Beaten in 2017 So Far - 12

January (10 Games Beaten)
1. Persona 4 Arena - Playstation 3 - January 1
2. Chrono Trigger - SNES - January 7
3. Ys: The Vanished Omens - Master System - January 8
4. MUSHA - Genesis - January 10
5. Dragon Quest Heroes: The World Tree's Woe and the Blight Below - PlayStation 4 - January 11
6. Ys I - TurboGrafx-CD - January 13
7. Ys II - TurboGrafx-CD - January 14
8. Dragon Quest Builders - PlayStation 4 - January 23
9. Resident Evil 7: Biohazard - PlayStation 4 - January 26
10. School Girl/Zombie Hunter - PlayStation 4 - January 29


February (2 Game Beaten)
11. Fire Emblem Heroes - Android - February 3
12. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD - Wii U - February 5


12. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD - Wii U - February 5

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Legend of Zelda is a series that is and always has been near and dear to my heart. I've beaten every game in series except for Triforce Heroes and the three CD-i games at least once, and I'm working on getting every release of every game. I naturally had Wind Waker HD preordered several years back (still have the Ganondorf statue in my game room), but it wasn't until last week that I actually got around to sitting down and replaying it. Don't get me wrong - I'd played and beaten Wind Waker years ago, but that was on the Gamecube, and that was also a good 12 years back. With Breath of the Wild releasing in a month (yes, I have it pre-ordered on both Switch and Wii U), I figured now was a good time to revisit one of the most underappreciated games in the Zelda series and see if it stands up with how good I remember the original's being back when I was a kid.

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The Wind Waker is for games what the Dreamcast is for consoles - really damn good but torn to pieces by critics when it was current. Fortunately for Wind Waker, however, it's a lot easier to re-release games years down the line when people start to realize what a gem they missed. I mean, it lessens the impact when the system you put the re-release on is your version of Sega's Dreamcast, but let's not split hairs. Before we let the whole "HD" part seep into this review, let's pay proper respect to the OG Wind Waker - it looked fucking gorgeous. The Gamecube was NOT a weak piece of tech, and the brilliant stylistic choice of cel shaded graphics made the visual limitations of the time all but disappear. Because of that cel shaded style, the resolution bump from 480i to 1080p isn't as noticeable as it would be for a game with a "realistic" art style, but Nintendo more than made up for that by buffing other areas of the visual presentation. The colors pop like they never did on the Gamecube, the lighting and fog effects have been completely redone, and environment models and draw distance have been given major overhauls. As I said, the game already looked incredible, but it takes on a whole new life with the TLC that the folks at Nintendo put into this remaster.

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The music in Wind Waker, of course, has always been the best in the series in my opinion, and playing it through a modern soundbar and subwoofer is like stepping into nirvana. The control, while obviously hindered by the use of an inherently inferior controller (which, really, is any controller that isn't the Gamecube pad), works great. The aiming with your bow, boomerang, hookshot, and grappling hook, is actually dramatically improved with the addition of the Wii U gamepad's gyroscope, allowing you to use the right stick for big movements and just move the gamepad for finer adjustements. The added use of the gamepad's touch screen for item management and map display is also a very welcome addition, letting you switch your equipped items on the fly or travel the Great Sea without having to stop to check your map.

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In this replay of Wind Waker 12 years after my first playthrough, there are some things that stuck out to me as well as some things that I hadn't noticed as a child. The first is the game's difficulty. I always knew that Wind Waker was probably the easiest of the console Zelda games (perhaps the easiest Zelda game in general), but just HOW easy the combat was had faded from memory. The ONLY boss in the entire game that gave me trouble was the third form of the Puppet Ganon boss. The puzzles were very simple to solve save for one or two, and half of the time I got stuck for any period of time in a dungeon was because I had overlooked something obvious - "right under my nose," so to speak. What surprised me the most, however - and this hurts to say as an avid Zelda fan - is how quickly the game wore out its welcome for me. By the time I reached the Tower of the Gods, I was about ready to be done, knowing full well that I was only about halfway through. I think I didn't feel that way as a kid because of how incredible the freedom to explore the Great Sea felt coming off of Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask, but truthfully, the sailing got tedious this go around.

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What really killed my enthusiasm for the last half of the game was primarily two things. First, as anyone who's played the game can guess, is the god awful Triforce shard fetch quest. It is, thankfully, streamlined a bit in the HD remaster, but it's still a pain in the ass, and it still feels completely pointless. The second - and bigger - enthusiasm killer for me tied into the Triforce shard hunt, and that's the game's reliance on randomly stumbling upon places and side quests for things that are required for the story. I know that secrets and puzzles are Zelda's thing, but some of the things in Wind Waker felt excessive. Having to have the Power Bracer to get the Earth Temple, which you can only get if you have the Ice Arrows and Fire Arrows, which you can only get if you have the cyclone teleport song, which you can only get if you shoot the pissy cyclone god enough times who only appears if you stumble on the gigantic cyclone in the sea. Putting a Triforce shard on the Ghost Ship which you need Ghost Ship Map to find which is hidden in a random dungeon on a random island with no other significance. I might just being whining like a bitch here - which I'm wont to do - but the amount of things that you'd have to be extremely lucky, extremely thorough and with a great memory, or use a walkthrough to find just in order to progress the main quest seemed over the top.

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Now that I've voiced my gripes with the game, let's talk about the positives. The combat in Wind Waker is, in my opinion, the most fluid, fun, and natural feeling of any Zelda game, and that's a definite plus. It's legitimately FUN to kill enemies in this game. If you're in an exploration mood, there are a LOT of secrets on the Great Sea to find, and it's a HUGE sea to explore. The Zelda series is long known for its lore and ability to take the same base story and make it interesting every single time, but Wind Waker excels in that especially in my opinion, second perhaps only to Skyward Sword or Link to the Past. One of my favorite aspects of Wind Waker - which, to the best of my memory, is absent from every other Zelda game - is the survival gauntlet hidden on Outset Island. Yes, the first 30 floors are required for a Triforce shard, but there are another 20 floors beyond that, each floor more difficult than the last, on which to test your mettle. For a game with combat this well done, that might be my favorite optional feature of all.

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This is a kiddie game on a kiddie platform, right? Dude got stabbed straight in the face with a sword; that's metal af.

Having replayed it years later and as an adult, I don't think Wind Waker is nearly as good as many of my friends say it is or as even my own memories say it is. That doesn't mean that I think it's a bad game - it's one of the best games of the 6th generation - but the nostalgia glasses are real for me on this one, folks. I absolutely recommend playing through Wind Waker, either on Wii U or Gamecube, if you're into Legend of Zelda and haven't played it yet, but keep a walkthrough handy for when you inevitably get frustrated with the damn Triforce hunt or the other ridiculously well hidden required items.

Re: Games Beaten 2017

Posted: Sun Feb 05, 2017 7:04 pm
by alienjesus
ElkinFencer10 wrote:The second - and bigger - enthusiasm killer for me tied into the Triforce shard hunt, and that's the game's reliance on randomly stumbling upon places and side quests for things that are required for the story. I know that secrets and puzzles are Zelda's thing, but some of the things in Wind Waker felt excessive. Having to have the Power Bracer to get the Earth Temple, which you can only get if you have the Ice Arrows and Fire Arrows, which you can only get if you have the cyclone teleport song, which you can only get if you shoot the pissy cyclone god enough times who only appears if you stumble on the gigantic cyclone in the sea. Putting a Triforce shard on the Ghost Ship which you need Ghost Ship Map to find which is hidden in a random dungeon on a random island with no other significance. I might just being whining like a bitch here - which I'm wont to do - but the amount of things that you'd have to be extremely lucky, extremely thorough and with a great memory, or use a walkthrough to find just in order to progress the main quest seemed over the top.



So, when I was younger, this definitely gave me trouble and I wasn't happy about it. 'The game never even gave me a hint as to where I should go, that seems unfair'. However, as an adult, I realised that young me played Wind Waker wrong.

Of all the 3D Zelda games to date, Wind Waker is the one that takes the most from the original game. It REALLY wants you to explore and find secrets hidden away in the overworld. It helps you out much more thn Zelda on NES though - not only are the islands to explore all neatly packaged up for you, but the fishman nearby is a fantastic source of info about what you might find, or what you might need. Honestly, this guy is crucial to your exploration - talk to him wherever you can, note his hints down and you'll never struggle. He mentions the whirlwinds at like 5 different islands, mentions the 'Triumph Forks' being nearby at over a dozen. He tells you to come back to the earth temple islands with the power gloves and whatnot, and if I recall, he even tells you how many squares away you need to go in which direction to find them. To me, the only issue with the exploration that is left is the time taken sailing - which the new magic sail fixed for me perfectly.

When I played Wind Waker HD, I didn't want it to end halfway through like you. I didn't want it to end at all - I got everything - all the sunken treasures, heart pieces, map segments filled in, the lot. And I had a blast doing it too :D

Re: Games Beaten 2017

Posted: Sun Feb 05, 2017 9:06 pm
by BoneSnapDeez
marurun wrote:Bone, you and Elkin both put so much work into reviews and I just love reading them. Especially the PC Engine ones.


Thanks man! I really appreciate it. I could talk about old ARPGs all day, so the words just kinda spill out.

And I sorta made a (unspoken) New Year's Resolution to put more effort into my Games Beaten posts this year.

And another thing..... Last year I wrote some reviews about obscure FDS RPGs like Kalin no Tsurugi, Seiken Psycho Caliber: Majū no Mori Densetsu, and Sylviana: Ai Ippai no Boukensha and I came to the realization that I had perhaps crafted the only English-language reviews of those games that presently exist on the internet (or at least on the first page of Google!). Game preservation of this weird old stuff is really import - not just in terms of physical sustainability but in terms of information (reviews, scans, guides, and so on).

Re: Games Beaten 2017

Posted: Sun Feb 05, 2017 10:30 pm
by Exhuminator
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5. Killzone: Mercenary | Vita | FPS | 2013 | 4.5hrs | 7/10

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Killzone: Mercenary represents a time when Sony was still trying to deliver good on its original Vita promise; console quality games on a handheld. Thankfully Killzone: Mercenary lives up to this ideal, at least in graphics and control. The campaign itself is a bit too by the numbers for me, and the forced touchscreen interaction wasn't appreciated. Surprisingly enough though the plot is actually good, and incorporates the mercenary theme convincingly. When it comes to visceral splendor, it's hard not to come away impressed with what the Vita was able to pump out with this little handheld FPS.

Re: Games Beaten 2017

Posted: Sun Feb 05, 2017 11:12 pm
by PartridgeSenpai
marurun wrote:Bone, you and Elkin both put so much work into reviews and I just love reading them. Especially the PC Engine ones.


At first I felt so scorned that I was left out of this praise, and then remembered that I never, ever give enough of a shit to use images too (and still won't), so I felt far less grumpy :lol:

Re: Games Beaten 2017

Posted: Sun Feb 05, 2017 11:41 pm
by Xeogred
The worst is when you do randomly put in a lot of effort into a review here and it's the last post on a page, then someone else instantly posts for a new page ... I wonder if that's what someone pooping in your cereal is like.

Re: Games Beaten 2017

Posted: Mon Feb 06, 2017 12:20 am
by BogusMeatFactory
Xeogred wrote:The worst is when you do randomly put in a lot of effort into a review here and it's the last post on a page, then someone else instantly posts for a new page ... I wonder if that's what someone pooping in your cereal is like.


That is why I love browsing the forums on my mobile device. When I click on a thread it picks up to the first post I hadn't read in the thread. Always catch stuff.