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alienjesus
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Re: Games Beaten 2018

by alienjesus Thu Feb 01, 2018 8:29 pm

Well, I suppose I should finally get round to posting, huh. I've actually beaten 5 games so far this year and posted about 0 of them here :lol:

Games Beaten 2018
1. Letter Quest Remastered Switch eShop *NEW*
2. Batman NES *NEW*
3. Little Nemo: The Dream Master NES *NEW*

Letter Quest Remastered

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Letter Quest Remastered is a puzzle game of sorts for Switch, but let’s face it, it’s actually a puzzle game for tablets. It looks like a mobile game, it plays like a mobile game, and it feels like it had a budget that was intended for a mobile game.

That’s not to take away from the game though, which is a fun time waster. You play a grim reaper character who is trying to find pizza but is being accosted by evil bunnies for reasons which are never elaborated upon. Fighting enemies is done by making words out of 15 randomised tiles. The longer the words, the more damage you will do, and the harder to use the letters in it are, the more damage they’re do. Thus, a word like Judgement will be exponentially more powerful that a word like Lair.

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However, Letter Quest also has a layer of RPG-light mechanics baked in on top of this word puzzle gameplay. Enemies will attack you after each of your turns, and these can leave status effects on your tiles – rock tiles are unusable for a few turns, spike and poison tiles hurt you if used, tornado tiles change to a new letter each turn, virus tiles duplicate themselves (which sucks if a Q becomes viral) and more. This makes you carefully think about what words to play – sometimes taking damage is worth it to pull off a big attack, and at other times doing minimal damage to clear a problematic status effect tile is worth it too.

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In addition, you can get crystals which are used to upgrades stats and provide buffs. There’s the obvious hp, defence and attack buffs, but also more weird effects such as ‘healing when you use the letter E’ or ‘Doing more damage if the word contains the same letter twice in a row’. You can also buy potions with your crystals to heal yourself in a pinch.

The game is fairly short at 30 stages, but each stage features 4 variations – the standard mode, a time attack version, a version with a limiting rule (like ‘enemies do double damage’ or ‘Only letters from M-Z are available’) and a hard mode version where enemies all have some kind of buff too (like ‘only takes damage if 2 or more corner letters are used’ or ‘takes no damage from words containing the letter A’).

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Letter Quest is simple and fun, but it does get repetitive after a while. I found myself using the same words regularly too (Quince was a favourite!). It’s worth a shot and is a great time filler, but don’t expect a lot of depth. The art and music is kinda odd too and I’m not fond of the style. That said, I enjoyed my time with the game and it was a great game to play on my train journeys around Christmas and New Year. It’s worth a crack if you like this kind of thing.



Batman

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This was the first game I beat for Together Retro this month, and like all of the games I had picked out to play through, I was somewhat apprehensive about it. I’d played it a little bit before and found it very difficult, so I wasn’t sure how it would go.

Well, I needn’t have worried, because once you get into the groove, Batman isn’t too bad difficulty wise. It’s also a ton of fun to play, thanks to the versatility of Batman’s moveset. Besides the usual running and jumping, Batman can also walljump, which is used extensively throughout the game. You also have a choice of 4 weapons, each of which has different uses. The punch is powerful and uses no ammo, so you’ll use it a lot. Obviously the downside is it’s range. Batarangs are fairly weak but can hit multiple times and have better range, but use 1 ammo a throw. The harpoon gun or whatever it is used 2 ammo and shoots right across screen, but it’s slow and weak. I found it mostly worthless. Luckily, the spread shot, which uses 3 ammo, is fairly powerful, covers the length of the screen, and is incredibly useful, despite being an ammo hog.

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The level design in Batman is pretty basic, and the design of the levels is not very exciting, but they offer lots of ways to use all of Batman’s skills creatively to proceed. Health is limited, but later levels offer respawning enemy points which you can farm, Metroid style, to recover live and ammo. These can be frustrating though, as it’s easy to get hit and lose some of your hard work.

Bosses are unfortunately not very inspired, and I found just spamming attacks was often the best strategy – even bosses who killed you before you could kill them had to make use of some spamming, and accepting you would take a few hits along the way.

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Unfortunately despite my earlier comments about difficulty, the last stage of Batman does ramp it up considerably with an absolutely brutal gauntlet of wall jump through tiny gaps surrounded by damaging hazards and around dangerous enemies which ups the difficulty considerably. This is followed by 2 boss fights, both of which are rather challenging unfortunately, and were easily the worst part of the game. The Joker was definitely the worst, with inconsistent movements, hitboxes and damage output which meant that you could do the same thing on 2 separate ones, and have completely different levels of performances. A game over meant back to the start of the brutal final level, and that really sucked.

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However, this brutal end gauntlet is an unfortunate blemish on a generally solid game. Sunsoft’s music output on NES is fantastic, and this is another bit of evidence to support that statement. The gameplay is smooth, if demanding towards the end, and the level design is well constructed if a bit uninspired visually. Batman is a fun licensed game that’s worth your time. But bring some patience, because that last level can hurt.



Little Nemo: The Dream Master

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Here’s the second game I beat for this months Together Retro, and it’s another one I was concerned about the difficulty of. And it can be pretty tough – enemies are pretty aggressive, and nemo can’t hurt them at all a lot of the time.

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In Little Nemo, you play as Nemo on a quest to save Dream Land, which you do by feeding the local wildlife sweets. When certain animals eat 3 sweets, they start snoozing, and then you can jump into them to benefit from their powers. Sometimes you ride on the animals back, and sometimes you wear their skin in a slightly horrific way. Animal powers offer many benefits – some can attack, some can fit through small spaces, some can fly, or climb walls, or break blocks. You need to make use of all of these skills in order to scour the level thoroughly – because unfortunately, this game requires you to find hidden items to beat the levels. Most stages require you to find 5-8 hidden keys scattered throughout, and getting to the end of the level minus one key is all too common and depressing.

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And it’s this mechanic that killed off any enjoyment I had with this game initially. I found the aggressive enemy placement and the forced exploration gelled badly, and at a more basic level I just didn’t find searching out the keys very fun. Eventually I gave up trying to play through this game legit, and came back armed with level maps to show where I could find the keys.

Armed with this information, Little Nemo started to become fun. Knowing where to go meant that the focus was on how to get there and not where to go in the first place, and swapping animal skills and progressing through the levels became far more enjoyable as a result.

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The game still had it’s flaws. I swear there are a few instances where I just couldn’t see how avoiding damage was possible (a part where you climb a wall as the mouse whilst evil homing dandelion seeds rain down on you comes to mind), and the difficulty level was inconsistent too, with a spike during the last level, where you’re forced to fight bosses for the first time using a magic wand.

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However, thanks to unlimited continues, some persistence saw me through, and I saved the world of Dream Land and got a nice kiss which Nemo didn’t seem to appreciate much. Whilst I enjoyed the game in the end, I still swear by the fact that playing it with maps is far more enjoyable, so if like me you can’t get into the game legitimately, give that a go.

Overall, Little Nemo isn’t a must own classic in my eyes, but it’s a decent, affordable platformer that offers up some solid challenge on the NES. It’s at least worth giving it a go.

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Re: Games Beaten 2018

by REPO Man Fri Feb 02, 2018 10:16 am

Diet Go Go for Arcade (via FBAlpha on RetroPie), a really fun single-screen platformer in the vein of Snow Bros and Bubble Bobble.

I must have died SO MANY TIMES! :lol: Thank God for free play!
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Re: Games Beaten 2018

by ElkinFencer10 Fri Feb 02, 2018 11:49 am

Letter Quest looks interesting, but the whole "find the word" thing looks a little juvenile. Are the RPG elements and such enough to keep it from feeling like that?
Exhuminator wrote:Ecchi lords must unite for great justice.

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alienjesus
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Re: Games Beaten 2018

by alienjesus Fri Feb 02, 2018 12:08 pm

ElkinFencer10 wrote:Letter Quest looks interesting, but the whole "find the word" thing looks a little juvenile. Are the RPG elements and such enough to keep it from feeling like that?


The find the word elements are just for opening treasure chests, and they're actually frequently made up of uncommon letters making them actually fairly challenging.

The normal gameplay requires a fairly solid level of skill, as the in the mid game can be pretty tough without going back to replay missions.
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Re: Games Beaten 2018

by ElkinFencer10 Fri Feb 02, 2018 12:18 pm

Sounds like something I'll want to try at some point.
Exhuminator wrote:Ecchi lords must unite for great justice.

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alienjesus
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Re: Games Beaten 2018

by alienjesus Fri Feb 02, 2018 4:35 pm

Games Beaten 2018
1. Letter Quest Remastered Switch eShop
2. Batman NES
3. Little Nemo: The Dream Master NES
4. Mickey's Wild Adventure PS1 *NEW*
5. Mario & Luigi: Dream Team Bros. 3DS *NEW*


Mickey’s Wild Adventure

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And here we have the third and final game I finished for this months Together Retro theme. Mickey’s Wild Adventure is a Playstation 1 remaster/port of Mickey Mania, which was previously on Mega Drive, SNES and Mega CD. This one mainly draws from the Mega CD version, with all the CD quality music and voice samples that that port added, but it also adds some new stuff too – redesigned ‘3D’ stages that actually use 3D this time, and a new sub-level where Willie the Giant from Mickey& The Beanstalk chases you.

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Mickey’s Wild Adventure is one that I’ve had for a while again, and is another one where initial plays convinced me it was pretty tough. And whilst it takes some time to adjust to thanks to some odd physics (hitboxes are bigger than the thing’s they are on, and if you stop holding the jump button Mickey won’t jump to his full height and drops like a stone) it’s actually another one where I’d mostly overrated the difficulty level – mostly…

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Mickey’s Wild Adventure features Mickey journeying through 6 (or 7, thanks to a hidden bonus stage) of his classic cartoons trying to save all the various Mickey Mouses within them before taking on Pete (the Prince & The Pauper version) at the end. The cartoons featured include Steamboat Willie, The Mad Doctor, Moose Hunters, The Lonesome Ghosts, Mickey & The Beanstalk and The Prince and The Pauper, with The Band Concert (one of my faves!) appearing as a hidden bonus level.

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Mickey can fight by jumping on enemies or throwing marbles at them, and can take 5 hits before dying. This is easily done thanks to the large hitboxes of mickey and enemies and the tendency to cluster enemies in big groups that harass you, but you get used to it. Whilst the enmy placement is a bit shoddy, the level design is mostly fun, with unique mechanics and setpieces for each stage – including ‘minecart’ style segments, chase segments, moving level hazards, 3D rotating towers or more. It’s all pretty fun and well constructed overall, with one exception I’ll get to later.

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Mickey’s Wild Adventure also looks and sounds great. The music is bouncy and fun and has a decent quality for early PS1, and the animation of the game is beautiful – the levels are vivid, colourful and bright, and one of the games most memorable moments is when the Steamboat Willie stage slowly fades into colour as you progress through it – it’s very impressive.

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The biggest problem with Mickey Mania is that the stages are not built equally. Whereas the likes of SteamBoat Willie and Moose Hunters are super short, some of the other stages go on much longer, and a game over sets you back to the beginning of the whole world upon dying. Nowhere is this more harshly felt than the final world – The Prince and The Pauper – which is both the hardest stage by far and also WAAAAYYYY longer than everything else. This one level encompasses almost HALF of the entire game, and that’s just not very well balanced. I game overed here a few times before I finally finished it, most of the time RIGHT before the final boss fights.

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The final boss fights are fairly easy but enjoyable. The one where you call in all the different Mickey’s to help you defeat Pete one by one is the highlight.

Mickey’s Wild Adventure is actually a pretty great game let down by the final level being too long and hard whilst also being the least interesting, with very few new gameplay elements to show off. However, the whole experience is definitely worth it, and I recommend persisting and playing through it. It’s not as good as the Illusion games in my eyes, but it’s still fun and it’s much more aesthetically impressive to boot. Definitely worth a shot.



Mario & Luigi: Dream Team Bros.

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Mario & Luigi is a series of RPGs that I’ve been having some diminishing returns withj over the years. I absolutely adored Superstar Saga on GBA, but I found that Partners in Time on DS was much more flawed – enemies had a million HP and everything just took too long. Bowser’s Inside Story was a step-up, but I still felt it didn’t feel as interesting, inspired, challenging or funny as the original game. And so we arrive at Dream Team Bros. (just Dream Team in the US, no idea why Europe felt the need to remind us they were related), the first game on 3DS. Does it fix the issues I had with the series and bring it back up the dizzy heights it started from. Well you’ll have to read this review to find out (spoilers: it doesn’t).

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Dream Team Bros. sees the titular duo, along with the princess and her revenue, being invited to the exotic Pi’illo island to promote it’s burgeoning tourism industry. Upon arriving, stuff happens and eventually an evil bat dude named Antasma is unleashed, and he kidnaps the princess, because of course he does. Mario and Luigi also discover that Luigi is really good at falling asleep, and when he does so on a new friend – Prince Dreambert, a Pi’illo citizen who can turn into a pillow, he opens a portal to the dream world which Mario can adventure into, and be joined by Dreamy Luigi, a magical luigi conjured in the imagination of the real one to protect his big bro. Luigi’s psychology isn’t expanded on too much here, but it’s interesting see how much he both relies on and wants to help his big bro in the few times where his thoughts become available to see.

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The premise of the game then is interesting enough, and has some potential for humour. The battle system is as solid as ever too, with enemies having tells which you can react to to dodge and counterattack, avoiding damage, and similarly timed hits for your attacks to deal more damage. Exploration is solid enough too, with the bros teaming up to use new abilities and puzzles to progress. So far so good.

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Unfortunately, not only does Dream Team Bros. suffer from the same issues as Partners in Time – enemies having too much HP and your attacks (especially special moves) taking way too long, causing battles to drag on far longer than necessary, but it’s compounded by the most annoying, obnoxious and verbose tutorialising in the series to date. Every single new mechanic is explained with 5 minutes of dialogue which is both unnecessary, and not optional. It’s not even funny, which was something Superstar Saga often managed to achieve when excplaining new mechanics. In addition, it gets worse, because EVERY NEW PUZZLE THE GAME OFFERS comes with a pop-up of Dreambert going ‘oh, hey guys, here’s how you do this’ and talking you through the whole damn thing. SHUT UP PILLOW FACE, IT’S NOT THAT HARD AND YOU’RE TAKING AWAY THE FUN AND SATISFACTION OF DOING IT MYSELF. It’s endemic to the whole game. You’re never ever allowed to spend 30 seconds figuring out something on your own, instead you have to listen to 5 minutes of some dude telling you exactly what to do.

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So puzzles are unsatisfying, and you’re quickly thrown back into battles again, which all take just a few too many turns to feel quick and breezy and end up getting tiring. One room at the end of the game had 5 battles in it, and took me about 10 minutes to clear. After I defeated all the enemies, I timed myself walking through the room again. It took 14 seconds. That’s how long things get drawn out here.

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The problem with Dream Team Bros. is that I like it OK, but I wanted to love it, and with just a few adjustments I would have. Quicker battles (even special moves can take a full 30 seconds to pull off…), less exposition, letting you actually play the game yourself without spelling everything out to you – all of these would have made for a far more satisfying and enjoyable game – particularly the latter one.

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Mario & Luigi: Dream Team Bros. is probably my least favourite in the series so far, although Partners in Time is about even with it. It’s certainly not a bad game at all, but for me, that’s why it’s even more disappointing. It should have been better, but it let me down. Worth a play, but if you’ve never tried the series before, start with Superstar Saga or Bowser’s Inside Story instead. They’re better.
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Re: Games Beaten 2018

by Segata Fri Feb 02, 2018 6:06 pm

Cybernator/Assault Suits Valken.

Not as good as Leynos (well the remake not played the Genesis version) but still a really cool game. The soundtrack is great but once again not as good as Leynos. If you played any of the games in the series or Metal Warriors or Gunhound EX you get a good idea what to expect. You're a mech and you shoot shit. It's awesome.They are a good challenge. I think I will try and see about getting the remake on PS2 but after that, I think I'm done with the series as I don't plan to get Target Earth or Assault Suits Valken 2 on PS1 as it's a Strategy game. Sorry, not a whole lot I can say. Just a great SNES mech shooter.
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Dreamcast is love,Dreamcast is life!
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Re: Games Beaten 2018

by nullPointer Fri Feb 02, 2018 7:11 pm

alienjesus wrote:Mickey’s Wild Adventure


Wow, there's some beautiful eye candy going on with this one! I'm going to have to give this one a try one of these days. Good write-ups!

The List So Far:
1. To the Moon [PC/Steam]
2. Super Mario All-Stars: Super Mario Bros. 3 [SNES]
3. The Goonies [Famicom] [Together Retro - 01/2018]
4. Disney's Kim Possible: Revenge of Monkey Fist [GBA] [Together Retro - 01/2018]
5. The Addams Family [SNES] [Together Retro - 01/2018]
6. The Adventures of Batman & Robin [SNES] [Together Retro - 01/2018]
7. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy: Justice for All [3DS]
8. Mickey Mousecapade [NES] [Together Retro - 01/2018]
9. Assassin's Creed II: Discovery [NDS]

10. Half-Life: Source [PC/Steam]
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Half-Life was a game that I missed at the time of its original release and never got around to playing in subsequent years. The primary reason for this is that I was an exclusive console gamer at the time and too darned poor to really delve into the popular PC games of the time. By the time I reached a point in life where I could afford a capable gaming PC, I had developed quite a considerable backlog of classic PC titles I missed out on in their heydays. So this was the year that I finally got around to playing Half-Life and witnessing the events of the 'Black Mesa Incident' first hand. Trying to decide which version of Half-Life to play for the first time in 2018, was not without some careful consideration. Usually in situations like this I favor remastered versions of classic titles due to the upgrades and modern conveniences they provide, but even in this case you have at least a couple of options with Half-Life. The Black Mesa remake looks absolutely gorgeous, but still lacks the final Xen levels. So with this logic in mind I opted for the Source version of the game. Before we talk about my experience specifically regarding the Half-Life: Source port, I'd like to discuss some of my impressions of Half-Life in general.

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It's easy to see the ways in which this game is considered to be a landmark title. Half-Life is a masterwork of "show-me-don't-tell-me" narrative structure in gaming. There are no cut-scenes in Half-Life, no immersion breaking quicktime segments, no lengthy hand holding moments of character exposition in which the plot is explained to you. Any and all plot advancement takes place within the game engine itself. And yet you never feel lost in terms of the events unfolding. The trick of course is that Half-Life makes great use of scripted events for the purpose of plot exposition. At any given moment in the game there are often several events unfolding around you. Scientists and security guards fight a losing battle against the alien invasion. Marines engage the enemy in their own firefights. And as the player you have the option to become an active participant in these events or simply remain a passive observer. The cumulative effect of this narrative technique is that Half-Life feels immersive and cinematic, even though it never relies on a generic toolbox of 'cinematic elements' like we so often see in modern games of this type. Half-Life pulls off the rare feat of feeling both cinematic and immersive.

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The gameplay and control aspects are both excellent for the most part. Everything feels quick, highly responsive and tight. I'm not sure Half-Life really broke new ground in this regard, but it's still among the best 'feeling' FPS games of its time. The shooting mechanics are fun, solid feeling, and the wide variety of assorted weaponry gives the player several options of play style. If you prefer to charge in head first, guns blazing there are weapons to support that. If you'd rather proceed with caution using traps and environmental elements to your advantage, there are weapons to support that too. And while there's not a massive number of enemy types, there are certainly enough to necessitate a variety of strategies. If there's one gameplay aspect where the game falters just a bit it's in the first person platforming segments. While it's certainly possible that I just need to 'git gud' at the platforming segments, Half-Life doesn't feel as good or precise as … Portal to draw one example from the Valve stable. This is the only aspect of Half-Life in which you can occasionally feel like you're fighting against the controls rather than being fully immersed in the game.

So let's talk just a little bit about the Source port of Half-Life. It doesn't have … the best reputation. And unfortunately that reputation is at least partly warranted. It's just that some aspects of the game lack the amount of polish one might expect especially when we consider that this is a Valve developed game. Most weapons are soundless during the reload animations. Graphical glitches run the gamut from minor to almost game breaking in certain areas. I almost couldn't finish the 'Residue Processing' level due to the fact that the world kept on dissolving into a psychedelic rainbow nightmare. Coupled with the fact that this level requires more platforming than any other level, it was a significant issue. At least one other level exhibited similar major graphical glitches though not for as long or egregiously. These are moments of severe incongruity in an otherwise fantastic game. It just seems unfortunate that Valve has never bothered to address the issues with this port.

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In hindsight I might have gone with the original release of Half-Life and just applied a high-res graphics mod, but I rather doubt that it would look as nice as Half Life: Source. Because that's the thing; Half Life: Source looks really nice 95% percent of the time. It's just that the experience is brought down by infrequent but significant glitches. If you can look past the occasional glitch, you'll find a lot to love in Half Life: Source. Half-Life is still a stunning achievement in gaming even all these years later. But if glitches like these are going to ruin the experience for you, then your best bet will likely be waiting for the final (eventual) release of Black Mesa, or alternately simply loading up the original release.
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Re: Games Beaten 2018

by PresidentLeever Sat Feb 03, 2018 7:03 am

1. Ys IV (PCE CD)
2. Exile (w/ Unworked Designs patch)(PCE CD)
3. Macross 2036 (PCE CD)
4. Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed (PC)
5. AM2R (PC)
6. TaleSpin (NES)
7. Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II (PC)
8. Super Mario 64 (N64)

Was never a fan and I'm still not too keen on it, mainly because I could never be completely comfortable with the controls/camera for more than short bursts here and there and because I hate being thrown out of levels and having to repeat stuff. Just felt like giving it an honest chance so I can enjoy the speedruns, maybe appreciate the later 3D ones better and to really know what I'm talking about when it comes up. It's a shame there's no proper remake with stick control.
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Re: Games Beaten 2018

by PartridgeSenpai Sat Feb 03, 2018 4:41 pm

Partridge Senpai's 2018 Beaten Games:

Previously: 2016 2017

* indicates a repeat

1. Tyranny (PC)
2. Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number (PC)
3. SUPERHOT (PC)
4. Hotline Miami (PC)*
5. Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons (PC)
6. Mario X Rabbids Kingdom Battle (Switch)

7. Nine Parchments (Switch)

This is a game that is a Magicka II-style action game by the studio behind the Trine series. I heard it, via a podcast, described as a more colorful and deep Magicka. Upon seeing gameplay, it definitely did seem to be a Trine-ified Magicka 2, and as that's one of my favorite games, AND it was on sale on Switch at the time, I slapped down the money for it right then and there. Given that it is a game about moving, aiming, and shooting in that way, it does require two joysticks to play, and therefore cannot be played with just one joycon. I really wanted to play with a friend, so I picked up a Switch Pro Controller as well. I played through the first half or so with a friend last night over around four hours, and then went through the last half myself this morning in about another 3. It certainly isn't Magicka II, or even Magicka 1, but it's something I enjoyed my way through regardless.

This game basically has no story. You're one of a group of students in a magical academy. An explosion goes off in a tower, releasing six magical parchments which contain spells into the world, bringing horribly violent and unstable magic along with them (while you retain 3). Your chosen mage(s) go off on an adventure to prove yourself to the head-master of the school to retrieve the six parchments (bringing your total up to nine) and save the world. The three parchments you start with are your three starting spells, and your starting spells differ by character. The characters have some veeeery loose characterization with one or two dialogues between them per level (of 32 levels), but the story is really just a dressing for the action gameplay.

The way the game plays is like a combination of Trine's visual aesthetic combined with Diablo III-style skill trees and active abilities all put into a very linear Magicka-style co-operative action game with an emphasis on friendly fire. Though I would say this shares most of its DNA with Magicka 2, this is nowhere near as hard to play or hop into. Unlike Magicka 2, the only face buttons that do anything for your right hand are a dedicated button for jumping (a kind of dodge, as this game has virtually no platforming), and a blink that has 2 charges which refill over time. Melee is also far, far better in this game than in Magicka. The biggest difference, however, is how this game treats its spellcasting.

There is also no combining elements to make spells of certain kinds in Nine Parchments. What you have instead is a series of active offensive spells, each with their own respective mana pools, which just require aiming with the right stick and a click of the right trigger to set off. There are five different spell elements (frost, fire, lightning, death, and life) and four general types of spells (channeled beams, lobbed bombs, close-range burst, and rapid-fire missiles) with each element's take on that type being slightly different compared to another (frost freezes, fire does more damage/more aoe, lightning jumps between enemies and stuns, etc). This, coupled in with a few strange oddities like a small aura you put down that buffs anyone's attacks inside it for a few seconds until violently exploding on them as well as a "steam" beam (which I think is just a non-elemental beam?) make up your spell list. However, you only get new spells when you complete a level boss that is guarding one, and even then you only get to pick from three random choices (though I believe different characters have different biases as to which 3 they will get a choice from at the end of a stage), and this method of doling out spells can be a REAL pain.

The games doesn't have a terrible variety of enemies. There are only around 10 or so types, but basically all of them have a move set that incorporates some number of the possibles spells you, yourself can get. Mix that around with all the spells the game has, coupled in with how they are not only immune to their element but also later get, auras of group-immunity to a different element, auras of pulsing elemental damage to which they are immune, or even just personal elemental shields of temporary immunity to a different element, and it adds up to a status where if you don't have the right spell load-out, you can really get fucked by some encounters. If you're too eager to get a certain element of spell and get it over represented in your loadout, some later battles can become damn near impossible with just how much you literally cannot use spells to hurt your enemies. If you don't pick one, you can even end up without a healing spell on a solo-playthrough, which would reallllly bone you. On top of ALL of that, on anything other than easy mode, random enemies are "epic" varieties, with more health and two elemental resistances that make them just that much more tough to kill. This is kinda balanced out by how their own damage pulses can hurt their buddies and how their fields of immunity can apply to you as well, but the times where those benefited me and not the enemy were easily counted on one hand in my playthrough. And this gets us onto characters and their spells.

This game has eight playable characters (a jack-of-all trades, one focusing on each of the five elements, a melee-focused one, and a better jack-of-all trades(? - I never unlocked him, for reasons I'll get to later) with each one having 3 different costumes with a level cap of 40. Each of the 3 costumes gives variations on their starting spell load-outs in addition to unlocking another skill tree which any of the costumes can use to allocate points into if so desired. You don't need to stick to one skill tree and can put points between them all, but with the stuff more near the bottom being the best by far, it's best advised to. Each one also has a 4th costume to unlock by completing levels and challenges in hardcore mode (it's the hardest difficulty but a game over means you start from the beginning) with its own unlockable staff and a level cap of 60 instead of 40. This would all be great if unlocking stuff didn't S U C K.

Edit: After mucking around a bit more, I have discovered that the costumes themselves do not have levels, but characters have persistent ones (think Castle Crashers). If you beat a game with one character, then start a brand new game with them (not even NG+), they will have all the levels and abilities they had before.

Edit2: I can also confirm that the notion that different characters get different biases for spells to pick was wishful thinking. Apart from the non-healers getting a healing spell in their first pool, it seems totally random. Also, the 3rd staff for each character is found by doing the quest/action to get it on hard or hardcore mode.

The level linearity, the method the unlockables are done, and the way you gain new spells are the three most sour points of this game by far. Sure, the game has eight characters and each of them has their own staff, but this doesn't mean jack shit because this 4-player co-op game only has two characters (the first costume of the jack-of-all-trades and the heal-focused one) unlocked at the start. To unlock any more other than just costumes, you need to not only find their staves in the levels (one of which I never even found, which is bullshit for a reason I'll get to later) and then find their statue in a level to go on a quest to unlock them permanently. The levels are insanely linear, so the only real way of hiding stuff is behind background scenery, but even then stuff is just shockingly hard to find at times. Put on top of that how you can't even change characters other than when you start a new game, and it almost seems like the game was designed for one person to go through by themself before they even tried to play it with their friends.

This game also has NO chapter select, so if you missed something, you'll have to play through the WHOLE game to try again at it (the 8th character requires a full replay, as his staff is on the last level, but his unlock area is in the 4th to last level). You also can't respec your skill points at any time, so if you wanna try and get a different passive to help you through the area you're stuck at, that's literally impossible. There's also no confirmation or undo button for assigning them, so once that A-button is pressed, that skill is yours until you do a new game+ (aka the only time you can reallocate your skill points).

You do, luckily, have other things to find in each level that helps with that a little bit. One thing to find are quills, and the more quills you collect, the more staves (which give a passive) you unlock. These staves unlocked through finding quills are reskins of the student's standard staves, but these reskins can also be used to get into their unlock areas if you happen to miss the mini-quest of finding their normal one. I never found the electric-mage's standard staff, despite how easy it should be to find this stuff with the extreme linearity of the levels and lack of things like scale-able cliffs, unprompted environmental puzzles, or destructible walls. The other things to find in each stage are chests, but chests just give one of a random collection of hats that are purely cosmetic or just a small (I'm talkin' REALLY small) amount of bonus EXP. Quills are your friend. Quills should be collected.

This game also has a weird issue of bosses never really being that hard while normal enemy packs and ambushes are REALLY tough. I think this is probably down more to how difficult the elemental immunity can make enemy packs and that the bosses don't have these, but it nonetheless still makes for some very anticlimactic boss battles, and that includes the final boss.

Verdict: Recommended. Despite all of its flaws, Nine Parchments is a game undeniably designed to be played in multiplayer. With more players, the issue of poor element coverage and getting boxed in by enemies is severely reduced. If you have some friends (online or local) to play with and you want some more Magicka II action, then this is a great pick up for any console (it's on everything iirc). It's certainly nowhere near as good as Magicka II in terms of humor/story, mechanical depth, or balanced design, but it's a great first try from the studio, and I'm very hopeful that they will give this style of game another try and evolve on the lessons learned here.
Last edited by PartridgeSenpai on Sun Feb 04, 2018 9:02 am, edited 2 times in total.
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