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Re: Games Beaten 2017

Posted: Sun Mar 12, 2017 10:58 am
by BoneSnapDeez
Sunsoft had a trio of hard-as-hell Metroidvanias back in the day. The Wing of Madoola and Atlantis no Nazo stayed on the Famicom. There could be a few others I don't know about too. I give them all a "mixed" reception.

Re: Games Beaten 2017

Posted: Sun Mar 12, 2017 1:04 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 CD, Xak I・II)
11. Xak II (PC Engine CD, Xak I・II)
12. Neutopia (TurboGrafx-16)
13. Captain Silver (Sega Master System)
14. Märchen Veil (Famicom Disk System)
15. Vanguard (Atari 2600)
16. Kangaroo (Atari 2600)
17. Front Line (Atari 2600)
18. Mario Bros. (Atari 2600)
19. Harmonia (Steam)
20. Donkey Kong (Atari 2600)
21. Jungle Hunt (Atari 2600)
22. Dragon Slayer: The Legend of Heroes (TurboGrafx CD)
23. Gorf (Atari 2600)
24. Neutopia II (TurboGrafx-16)
25. Dungeon Magic (PlayStation 2, Taito Legends 2)
26. The Lost Vikings (SNES)

The Lost Vikings is one of my all-time favorites, and a game that demands to be replayed every couple of years. I've owned it since I was 15 or so and it was purchased out of sheer amusement. Just look at the cover.

Silicon & Synapse serves as developer here. This is the studio that would later become Blizzard. As such, one may expect this to be a port of a PC game, but The Lost Vikings was initially developed for the SNES and then later released on the Genesis, Amiga, Amiga CD32, PC, and GBA. I'd recommend this original version above all others. The controls were tailor-made for the SNES controller, and playing the game elsewhere inevitably feels a touch awkward.
The Lost Vikings is a ranking member of that ambiguous "puzzle-platformer" genre. The game consists of thirty-seven (mostly) enormous stages, with a goal of moving three vikings from start to finish. This trio doesn't move in tandem like the heroes of Sorcerian; control of a viking is assigned with a tap of a shoulder button and while one is active the other two remain motionless.

The "gimmick" here is that each vikings has drastically different means and abilities. Erik is the only one that can jump. He can also run and reveal hidden areas/items by bashing headfirst into walls. Said bashing can also be used as an offensive tactic, though it's not always recommended as it leaves Erik stunned momentarily. Baleog is the primary offensive character. He wields a sword, as well as a bow and (upgradable) arrows. The combat takes a little getting used to. There's no real recovery time after hits, but many enemies behave in a Metal Slug fashion in that their attacks can cause injury but not the enemy sprites themselves. Finally, we have the chunky Olaf. He provides the defense with a shield. He can also use the shield to glide slowly down vertical sections.
Surviving the game's many challenges requires the vikings work together cohesively. This can manifest in a number of ways. In some earlier stages it's best to have the vikings march together in a line with Olaf leading the charge with his shield, with some occasionally switching to Baleog and Erik for offense and jumping. Other stages immediately split the vikings in three directions where they each perform disparate tasks and then meet again at the exit. Solutions to various puzzles and scenarios become less obvious as the game progresses, requiring some more thoughtful maneuvering of the viking trio. There are times where Baleog must ride Olaf's shield, which requires rapid alternating presses of the shoulder buttons and d-pad. At other moments the vikings must move (almost) in unison, with Olaf holding his shield aloft to block raining projectiles. In the factory stages Olaf can be moved (via the shield) by a giant magnet, which allows him to cross into otherwise inaccessible areas.

Overall, the level design is absolutely brilliant. There are some real head-scratchers, but those seemingly insurmountably difficult sections will start to feel easy peasy after repeated attempts. This is a game to be chipped away at. Death is frequent, and imminent, but the vikings will proceed a bit further on every attempt and those "voilà" moments that occur when solutions finally reveal themselves are something to treasure.
The stages themselves are are monstrous as they are varied. There are six "worlds" (each consisting of several levels) to work through: a spaceship, prehistory, Ancient Egypt, an industrial factory, a surreal "candy land", and a return to the spaceship. Such randomness is explained by the game's story. The vikings have been abducted by aliens and are trying to work their way home. Sporadically appearing "portals" look promising, but will inevitably lead to some other bizarre landscape (spoiler alert: the final portal in the final level does lead home).

The scenery and background graphics are superb. Even within the confines of a specific "world" the developers were thoughtful enough to include multiple landscapes, indoor and outdoor areas, and so on. The spaceship stages are arguably the least varied background-wise but still look pretty rad. Character animations are great. The vikings themselves are especially animated, and humorous. Erik and Baleog flex if standing still for too long, while Olaf picks his nose. Olaf also flashes buttcrack at the top of each and every ladder. Never gets old. The accompanying dialogue is also amusing, chock full of jokes and pop culture references. The vikings even start to give each other shit if a given level requires multiple attempts to clear.
I have mixed feelings about the soundtrack. On the one hand, it's fantastic. There's a frantic thumping 90s techno vibe throughout with plenty of heavy percussion, slap bass, and voice samples. On the other hand, I wish there was more. The combined total of all tracks clocks in at about a scant sixteen minutes, and the ending theme is but a variation of the title screen jingle.

Despite the inherent difficulty contained within the game, it's also very forgiving. Lives and continues are one in the same and you're given an infinite number of 'em. Additionally, it's easy to take a break and return as passwords are assigned to each and every level. And these are the most brilliant passwords ever: four-characters, no vowels, with references to the levels they belong to. So, the bubble level is BBLS, the volcano level is VLCN, the spring-loaded level us H0PP, and so on. You won't even have to write these down. One complaint I have heard about the difficulty is the fact that there are no stage checkpoints. This is a valid concern, as some of the later stages are both obscenely long and full of one-hit death traps. That said, I can't envision how checkpoints could have been implemented in a game like this, and I think if they had been the pendulum could possibly swing to the "too easy" side of things.
I love this game. It's incredibly unique and the offbeat humor and bizarre scenarios offset some of the more frustrating moments. The SNES cart isn't insanely expensive these days (about $40 it seems), and The Lost Vikings remains one of the strongest Western console games out there.

Re: Games Beaten 2017

Posted: Sun Mar 12, 2017 1:36 pm
by Xeogred
Bone, I tried googling Vikings brofist but couldn't find anything, except that The Lost Vikings was the first image result. So that is perfect.

Easily a 10/10. You got me to check out the Genesis version in full last year, but I still like the SNES version a little more so I need to replay that again too.

I still can't seem to get into 2 though. I will try to play it again someday on its own, following up 1 with it and it just never clicks with me. I've beaten the Playstation/PC version before, but not the SNES version (which looks cooler now in retrospect).

I wish there was more. Lost Vikings > Starcraft/WoW/Diablo.

Re: Games Beaten 2017

Posted: Sun Mar 12, 2017 1:41 pm
by BoneSnapDeez
Yeah the Genesis version has those "bonus levels" which is pretty rad, but I still find it substantially worse than the SNES original. The controls are unwieldy and the music is downgraded and kinda tinny, which is a shame because compositionally it's "very Genesis." It's ultimately like Final Fantasy VI Advance or something. More content doesn't necessarily equal a better game.

I've actually never played The Lost Vikings 2! No real idea why. Think I saw some screenshots or something back in the day and it just didn't look appealing to me. I should look into it sometime.

Re: Games Beaten 2017

Posted: Sun Mar 12, 2017 2:28 pm
by Xeogred
You should look into it... now. I'd be curious to hear your thoughts. I think my main beef is that the level locations are pretty drab and boring. The colorful and super varied environments of the first game is amazing. There's also more characters and as you're saying... more isn't always better. Like these three monster characters or something so it's always random what combination of characters you'll get per level.

The SNES cart for 2 is incredibly rare. The PC/Playstation version looks completely different with polygons and redone music.

Re: Games Beaten 2017

Posted: Sun Mar 12, 2017 4:12 pm
by PartridgeSenpai
As someone who also loves Lost Vikings a ton and who also owns the SNES version of Lost Vikings 2, I can say with assurance that I do love them both. I would also say that I get where the complaints that it's a bit ugly come from, but it's just a bigger, more complex version of the first game. A lot more verticality to the levels with two more characters who can both jump (the werewolf who can wall-jump and the dragon who can fly and glide). It IS a bit pricey though at 50 bucks though Xp

Re: Games Beaten 2017

Posted: Mon Mar 13, 2017 12:43 am
by BogusMeatFactory
1. Captain Toad (WiiU)
2. Lost: Via Domus (PS3)
3. Modnation Racers (PS3)
4. Tron: Evolution (PS3)
5. Dead Rising (PC)
6. Fire Emblem Heroes (Android)
7. Yoshi’s Wooly World (Wii U)
8. Stanley Parable (PC)

9. Lone Wolf: Flight From the Dark (Android)
10. Lone Wolf: Fire on the Water (Android)
11. Lone Wolf: The Caverns of Kalte (Android)

Lone Wolf Stuff!

So these were originally choose your own adventure books that had RPG elements including character creation and a combat system. I recently found that someone had released the entirety of the series for free on the Google Play Store with new and improved features to streamline the combat system, include a random number generator for your rolls and keep an inventory and abilities that carry over from book to book.

The overall story of these books is that you are a Kai Lord, a person with psychic powers. Your monastery was destroyed and all the Kai Lords were killed except for you. The books start off with you on the run from the bad guys to warn your kingdom of their evildoings, only to find the bad guys are storming the city capital.

The second book has you going on a mission to bring reinforcements to help save the city and the third is to hunt down a wanted criminal involved in the attempted siege on the capital.

The books are very tense, filled with danger and intrigue and, even though death can be common in the game, there is always a replayability involved as you make different decisions and take different paths. It helps that the smart phone versions of these games do not allow you to cheat, forcing you to commit to your decisions and follow through the way the game is intended. I remember as a child always cheating and never fully grasping the stories as a whole. Now, if I have a few minutes, I can load it up, do a few pages and put it away and it is such a breeze to use. I am currently on the fourth book of a bajillion and loving every second of it. These are the perfect distractions when I am not playing Breath of the Wild.

Re: Games Beaten 2017

Posted: Mon Mar 13, 2017 1:28 am
by MrPopo
1. Pokémon Moon - 3DS
2. Tony Hawk's Underground - GCN
3. Warhammer 40,000 Dawn of War II: Chaos Rising - PC
4. Warhammer 40,000 Dawn of War II: Retribution - PC
5. Disgaea: Afternoon of Darkness - PSP
6. X-Wing: Imperial Pursuit - PC
7. Star Wars Republic Commando - PC
8. X-Wing: B-Wing - PC
9. Blazing Lazers - TG-16
10. Tales of Xillia 2 - PS3
11. Shining Force CD: Shining Force Gaiden - Sega CD
12. MUSHA - Genesis
13. Sonic CD - Sega CD
14. Final Fantasy Legend III - GB
15. Tales of Zestiria - PS3
16. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild - Switch

Tonight I finished the new Zelda with the Master Sword, all four Divine Beasts Conquered, and all 120 Shrines completed. All of those needed to be stated, as they are all optional. If you really want you can go fight Ganon right from the get go; you'll probably get pasted but it is an option. And to put things in perspective the current world record for any% is 54 minutes while doing all four of the Divine Beasts is sitting at 3 hours.

Breath of the Wild is an open world Zelda game. There is very minimal direction given, and even sidequests rarely give you useful quest markers. It really emphasizes discovery in a way that I haven't experienced since I first played the original Legend of Zelda as a kid. The most notable thing that BotW does is the climbing mechanic. Unlike most third person games where you can only climb slopes of a certain steepness (Bethesda) or need to find special handholds (Tomb Raider), in this game you can climb anything. The only surfaces you can't climb are inside the Shrines and Divine Beast dungeons (as they are heavily puzzle based and climbing would trash half the puzzles), and the only thing that blocks a climb is a 90 degree overhang; the latter is used shockingly rarely. The main limitation is your stamina gauge (from Skyward Sword) and the fact that when it rains you slip really badly (and some areas are in constant rain due to story events). You can and will go anywhere at a rate that makes the most sense to you.

And the reason you really want to go anywhere is the Shrines. You'll notice I mentioned there are only four main dungeons. The slack of traditional Zelda puzzle solving is taken up by the Shrines; 120 mini dungeons scattered throughout the land. Some require you to solve a world puzzle or quest to access them while others are either sitting out in the open or hidden behind a bombable wall. Each of these has a theme, and tend to involve an escalating progression for the theme. For example, one is designed around the electricity effects, so the first puzzle is to activate a switch with electricity while the next one is taking advantage of forming connections with conductive blocks. The reward for each Shrine is an orb; four orbs can be traded for a heart or stamina container. There are also treasures in the Shrines; some may be unique pieces of gear while others might just be rupees or more generic weapons. There are also combat Shrines where you have to fight a mini boss; these help you practice the combat mechanics in a known environment and drop some nice weapons.

Speaking of, one of the other well known features is a weapon degradation system. Your weaponry breaks often in this game, and you are constantly churning through gear. On the flip side, the game also gives out weapons like candy. The weapons are divided into four categories: one handed swords, two handed swords and axes, spears, and bows. Spears are the fastest but deal the least damage; the reverse is true for the two handers. Within these three categories there is a lot of variety. Some have elemental effects, while others might spawn with affixes like doing critical damage on the last hit of an attack chain. When a weapon breaks you get an automatic critical hit, and you can also throw weapons you no longer need at enemies (which is treated as an attack, so a weapon can survive this if it has enough health). Weapons have different levels of health that are fairly intuitive; rusted and wooden stuff breaks easier than high quality steel. You'll also notice that you tend to get better weapons as the game goes on; this can include things like a lower tier weapon spawning with a high +damage affix to keep it competitive. I'm not sure what controls this precisely, whether it's your number of hearts or number of main dungeons.

Going back to main gameplay, the four story dungeons are deeper puzzle fests capped off with a boss fight. Doing these dungeons helps you out in the fight against Ganon at the end, as well as giving you some unique powers that are quite useful. Well, three of them are quite useful; the last one is a let down. These dungeons tend to be more involved than the Shrines, and have lots of interleaved pieces. One feature is that you can control some aspect of the dungeon explicitly, such as rotating a portion on demand. The puzzles obviously make heavy use of this. They dungeons are still shorter than the adult dungeons of OoT, but I think for what they're doing they clocked in at the right length. The boss fights are less interesting, though. They are all variations of a core theme and frankly I found them over with too fast. But that might have been because I waited until I had the Master Sword and an armor set that boosts my damage; in two combos I could get each boss to the second phase that comes at half health.

The Master Sword, like in the original LoZ, is gated entirely behind your base heart count. This, combined with the general open world, means you are pretty free to tackle the game in any way you see fit. All of your mobility enhancing options are unlocked in the starting area; these consist of infinite remote bombs, the ability to manipulate magnetic objects (including weapons), the ability to create ice blocks on the surface of water, and the ability to stop time for an object temporarily (though if you smack it while its frozen it stores up that momentum; this is used to build a giant golf course at one point). There are some other things that make your life easier, like armor that lets you swim up waterfalls for no stamina cost, or a leaf that can generate bursts of wind, but everything they let you do you can do another way if you want. The game really wants you to take things at your own pace.

In terms of complaints, I have a couple very minor ones. The first is that some of the Shrines that require a quest to unlock are hidden too well with no indication there's anything there. What I mean by that is that while you can usually do a good job of exploring areas that are empty and might have something, sometimes there will be a hidden shrine tucked in a corner with the quest trigger right next to it; if you don't notice that little thing you will miss it and futilely try to figure out where it was. Most shrines can be found with a short range radar; these ones cannot. I ended up having to use a map for the last 10 or so Shrine locations (but I made a point of solving how to activate them myself once I knew a shrine had to be there) because of this. The other complaint is they really reduced the value of horses in this game. Now, in terms of how they handle it's very similar to Twilight Princess, including being able to fight from horseback. The problem is that the horses are fully persistent in the world; if you leave a horse in one corner of the kingdom the horse will stay there (with an icon on the map), and your ability to whistle only carries so far. Unlike basically every other game with a mount this game does not feature magical horse teleportation. And you realize WHY every game has magical teleportation when you start playing this game. Now, you can teleport the horse by going to one of the many stables around the map and having them summon you the horse, but the first time you jump off because your Shrine radar went off you'll probably have navigated somewhere the horse can't follow, and then you say fuck it and just do everything by foot. It's quite unfortunate, because there were times I wished I could use the horse to get somewhere quicker, usually when I wasn't close enough to one of the Shrines or Map Towers (all of which are fast travel points once activated).

All in all I had a massive blast with this game. As I mentioned in Slack I sort of neglected to do any adulating for the past nine days, which includes things like eating proper meals. Whenever I've evaluated spending an extra 20 minutes on a making a nice meal and playing Zelda the meal lost. This game has an excellently balanced reward cycle that keeps you going, not to mention finding new stuff around every corner. There's a lot of stuff that feels like it was placed for the hell of it, rather than to serve a gameplay purpose. There's a lot of interactions programmed in to lead to emergent gameplay, all of it being real-world intuitive and ironically not video game intuitive. Whenever you think something should work it probably will. I actually had to do some unlearning of my normal video game knowledge.

I expect to be able to knock out Horizon Zero Dawn and Tales of Berseria over the week, so I should have a clean dance card in time for Mass Effect Andromeda. What a year so far.

Re: Games Beaten 2017

Posted: Mon Mar 13, 2017 7:12 am
by dsheinem
MrPopo wrote:
I expect to be able to knock out Horizon Zero Dawn and Tales of Berseria over the week, so I should have a clean dance card in time for Mass Effect Andromeda. What a year so far.

Egads, man. Have you even ever been outside?!

Congrats on the beefy playthrough. I am paybe about 1/4 of the way through the game myself. I am thinking ME:A may be something that has to wait until later this year...

Re: Games Beaten 2017

Posted: Mon Mar 13, 2017 8:05 am
by ElkinFencer10
I'm hoping to have Breath of the Wild finished by the time Mass Effect comes out. I'm not going for the 120 shrines think like popo, but I'm at least going to do the last two divine beasts.