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nullPointer
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Re: Games Beaten 2018

by nullPointer Mon Oct 29, 2018 7:55 pm

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]
11. The Great Giana Sisters [Amiga] [Together Retro - 03/2018]
12. The Colonel's Bequest [PC/GOG] [Together Retro - 03/2018]
13. Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions [PSP] [Together Retro - 02/2018]
14. The Guardian Legend [NES] [Together Retro - 03/2018]
15. Rush'n Attack [NES]
16. A Fork in the Tale [PC/Win9X] [Together Retro - 04/2018]
17. Formula One: Built to Win [NES]
18. Salamander Deluxe Pack Plus: Salamander [PSX]
19. The Dame Was Loaded [PC/GOG] [Together Retro - 04/2018]
20. Sonic the Hedgehog 2 [GEN]
21. Kyūyaku Megami Tensei: Digital Devil Story: Megami Tensei [SFC][Translation: DDSTranslation] [Together Retro - 05/2018]
22. Operation C [GB]
23. Call of Duty: Finest Hour [PS2]
24. Battletoads [NES] [Together Retro - 08/2018]
25. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy: Trials and Tribulations [3DS]
26. Gunstar Heroes [GEN] [Together Retro - 09/2018]
27. Koudelka [PSX] [Sacnoth September]
28. Castlevania: Dracula X [SNES] [October Horror]
29. Silent Hill 2 [PC/Win] [Together Retro - 10/2018]
30. Splatterhouse [TG16] [October Horror]

31. Resident Evil 2 - DualShock Ver. [PSX] [Together Retro: Golden Age of Survival Horror - 10/2018]
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Part of what I enjoyed the about the first Resident Evil game was how well it was able to fulfill its cinematic aspirations and the degree to which it was an homage to its influences in horror cinema. Particularly in the first half of the game, it really has this great Night of the Living Dead vibe going for it, being what with trapped in a spooky old house as it's slowly overrun by zombies. Resident Evil 2 builds upon and often enhances this zombie movie atmosphere as projected through the lens of survival horror. Where Resident Evil (1) is a successful homage to Night of the Living Dead (among others), Resident Evil 2 goes full-on zombie apocalypse in much the same way that Dawn of the Dead builds upon the story started in Night of the Living Dead. In the interest of full disclosure, I should also mention that Dawn of the Dead is one of my all-time favorite horror movies. So it's probably no surprise then that Resident Evil 2 was a huge hit with me.

Resident Evil 2 is undoubtedly one of the best survival horror games to have appeared on PlayStation. I wouldn't even argue if someone were to call it the best survival horror game on that system - no small boast considering that Survival Horror was one of the key genres upon which the entire PlayStation brand was built on in those days. This was a highly anticipated sequel that somehow managed to live up to the hype that it had generated.

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The setting is executed incredibly well, and it's worth noting that this game mostly pre-dates the notion of 'zombie-apocalypse-as-genre' setting by several years. Resident Evil 2 was not so much 'following a trend' in this regard as it was laying the groundwork. And yet, playing it for the first time in 2018 when 'the zombie apocalypse' is so firmly embedded in our cultural lexicon, the story and setting in this RE2 still manages to somehow feel fresh and interesting. Perhaps this is simply due to the fact that it's so straightforwardly earnest in its approach. It's not trying to be 'subversive' or to incorporate 'layers of nuance'. No this is a straight forward zombie apocalypse in which your only mission is to survive. The intent is stated directly from the outset, "You have once again entered the world of survival horror. … Don't run out of bullets, bitch.*" And then Resident Evil proceeds to build upon that intent and completely knock it out of the park,.

* Additional text mine.

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So yes, Raccoon City is being overrun with zombies, and much like in RE1, your first decision will be to pick a protagonist with whom to tackle this vexing issue. Here your choices are rookie cop Leon Kennedy or plucky civilian Claire Redfield who happens to be the sister of Chris Redfield from the first game. Each character has noteworthy strengths and weaknesses (Leon ultimately gets a better weapon load-out, Claire can … uh … pick locks). In this outing though each character has their own dedicated disc. In fact it really is pretty remarkable how much content Capcom squeezed into RE2. Essentially you're looking at four campaigns worth of material here as both Claire and Leon have A and B campaigns, which play out differently depending on who you choose from the outset. And that doesn't even touch on the bonus and challenge campaigns available after beating the game. If you're looking for bang-for-your-buck replay value, Resident Evil 2 is the gift that keeps on giving.

In terms of gameplay, we're talking about the "Golden Age of Survival Horror" :wink:. This part either gels with you or it doesn't, and I suspect that it may boil down to whether you lived through the "Golden Age of Survival Horror" or not (or whether you're just a diehard and well rounded retro-gamer). All the usual suspects are here. We have (gorgeous) pre-rendered backdrops, and cinematic fixed camera angles. We have 'tank controls' and combat that is occasionally hindered by those fixed camera angles. We have tight management of resources which cause one to constantly question whether to risk running through a crowd of zombies or whether to stand and fight. For my part, all of this feels almost like second nature; this is the "World of Survival Horror" after all. But I'm always curious how comfortable this play style is for younger gamers, particularly for those with no exposure to retro gaming through the early days of 3D gameplay.

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Despite its age, this game still looks surprisingly good. I tend to enjoy when pre-rendered backdrops are executed well, and they are executed particularly well in Resident Evil 2. There's no mistaking that the character and creature models hail from the early days of polygonal graphics, but some nice textures serve to make them slightly easier on the eyes. Sound design maintains the same level of excellence, and while the music is mostly ambient it does a great job at conveying the mood of the game. Finally it needs to be said that the voice acting here is pretty well done for the time of release. I mean … they're not going to win any awards or anything … but the acting is in a whole different league than that found in the first game.

Resident Evil 2 is one of, if not the best horror experience to be had on PlayStation, and it's easy to see why it's hailed as being such a masterwork. This is how it's done folks. One can only hope that the upcoming remake maintains the same level of quality as this source material. In retrospect, October has been an incredible month in that it afforded me the opportunity to play two legendary survival horror sequels almost back-to-back. All hail the Ancient Eldritch Gods of horror gaming.
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ElkinFencer10
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Re: Games Beaten 2018

by ElkinFencer10 Tue Oct 30, 2018 7:30 am

Of the three 5th gen main series Resident Evil games, 2 is definitely the best game IMO both in terms of my personal enjoyment and overall game design.
Exhuminator wrote:Ecchi lords must unite for great justice.

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nullPointer
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Re: Games Beaten 2018

by nullPointer Tue Oct 30, 2018 7:38 pm

ElkinFencer10 wrote:Of the three 5th gen main series Resident Evil games, 2 is definitely the best game IMO both in terms of my personal enjoyment and overall game design.

I've not yet played RE3: Nemesis, but I can wholeheartedly believe that. It would take something pretty amazing to top RE2. Hey great work on your reviews lately, BTW! Always a pleasure to read.

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]
11. The Great Giana Sisters [Amiga] [Together Retro - 03/2018]
12. The Colonel's Bequest [PC/GOG] [Together Retro - 03/2018]
13. Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions [PSP] [Together Retro - 02/2018]
14. The Guardian Legend [NES] [Together Retro - 03/2018]
15. Rush'n Attack [NES]
16. A Fork in the Tale [PC/Win9X] [Together Retro - 04/2018]
17. Formula One: Built to Win [NES]
18. Salamander Deluxe Pack Plus: Salamander [PSX]
19. The Dame Was Loaded [PC/GOG] [Together Retro - 04/2018]
20. Sonic the Hedgehog 2 [GEN]
21. Kyūyaku Megami Tensei: Digital Devil Story: Megami Tensei [SFC][Translation: DDSTranslation] [Together Retro - 05/2018]
22. Operation C [GB]
23. Call of Duty: Finest Hour [PS2]
24. Battletoads [NES] [Together Retro - 08/2018]
25. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy: Trials and Tribulations [3DS]
26. Gunstar Heroes [GEN] [Together Retro - 09/2018]
27. Koudelka [PSX] [Sacnoth September]
28. Castlevania: Dracula X [SNES] [October Horror]
29. Silent Hill 2 [PC/Win] [Together Retro - 10/2018]
30. Splatterhouse [TG16] [October Horror]
31. Resident Evil 2 - DualShock Ver. [PSX] [Together Retro - 10/2018]

32. Capcom Generations: Chronicles of Arthur: Ghouls 'n Ghosts [PSX] [October Horror]
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The real question of course is why one would wear only a pair of boxer shorts under a full suit of plate mail. I mean the chaffing alone must be horrid, not to mention the oxidation effects of all that sweat build-up in the armor itself. Ah well, maybe when you have balls of solid cast iron, you don't have to worry so much about chafing. We're talking of course about Sir Arthur the iconic lead in the Ghouls n' Ghosts (n' Goblins) series of games.

Ghouls n' Ghosts is the second game in that series slotting in between Ghosts n' Goblins (Arthur's fist adventure) and Super Ghouls n' Ghosts (which despite the Super title is an entirely different game than this one). Following the events of the first game, Arthur went on a quest to discover the most powerful weapons and magicks in the event that Lucifer and his minions of Hell once again besieged the land. And wouldn't you know it, they did attack while the kingdom didn't have its native son to protect it! Naturally Arthur blazes a path back to the kingdom, but he's too late … his beloved Princess … uh … Prin Prin lays dying, struck down by the demonic horde. Oh you suckas are gonna pay now …

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As is often the case with sequels, perhaps the easiest way to judge it on its merits to by means of direct comparison to its predecessor. And in this regard Ghouls n' Ghosts improves on Ghosts n' Goblins in almost every conceivable way. The graphics and sound build admirably upon the rather rudimentary graphics of the first game. The weapon set has likewise been expanded not only to include new weapons, but individual weapons can be upgraded by means of pickups as well. But what's more, you can now even fire your weaponry vertically (both upwards and downwards), in a noteworthy first for the series. I guess Arthur's quest to discover new weapons really paid off after all! Whereas the first game was a relatively straight forward platforming affair, Ghouls n' Ghosts incorporates some interesting mechanics that keep you on your toes. One auto scrolling segment has you jumping on statues … from tongue to tongue … as they extend and retract. It's nice to see the series injecting fresh elements into the formula.

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There are certain elements that you expect to find in a Ghouls/Ghosts/Goblins game though. The boxers shorts are obviously one element, and Ghouls n' Ghosts maintains that quirky sense of humor the series is known for. Another element one expects to find in these games is the ball busting difficulty. Ghouls n' Ghosts also keeps that aspect alive. This is a tough game, and it doesn't always do the best job at maintaining an even progression of difficulty. I found levels 3 (which includes that auto scrolling segment I mentioned earlier) and 4 to be the most difficult levels in the game (there are five levels total). And of course there's the 'other' aspect of these games that one expects … the way they infamously troll the player with a 'false' ending, at which point you have to play through the entire game a second time to get the 'true' ending. And just to be sure that they've really and fully poured some salt in the wound, the 'real' ending also requires that some rote objective has been met (if it's not met you can't even reach the true final boss). Yeah Ghouls n' Ghosts obviously does that too (and FWIW the conditions that need to be met are that you must be wearing the Golden Armor and you must be armed with the Psycho Cannon). This is my least favorite aspect of these games. It just seems like the most disingenuous, kick-in-the-teeth means of extending gameplay. It's a bit of a shame really because Ghouls n' Ghosts is a great game, but I sure would have liked to have seen a few new/different levels rather than having to go through all of them twice. I guess it's asking too much that the armies of Hell play fair, lol.

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All the same, you kinda know what you're getting yourself into when you play these games (and if you didn't before, you do now). Ghouls n' Ghosts is a good-enough game, and it is every inch of it representative of the series that spawned it. If you enjoy the series, you'll enjoy this one. If you don't enjoy the series … well those boxers are going to do nothing but chafe. Put some armor on, ya filthy degenerate.
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laurenhiya21
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Re: Games Beaten 2018

by laurenhiya21 Wed Oct 31, 2018 1:41 am

Will I ever catch up... Who knows haha.

8/21: Delicious - Emily’s New Beginning (Steam)
Sometimes I need something easy and relaxing to play, and Delicious - Emily’s New Beginning fit the bill pretty well. It’s just a simple, casual restaurant management type game, similar to something like Dinner Dash. It’s not too different from many other games in the same style, but it does have two things that make it different from most: the story and baby management.

The story is fairly simple and just follows Emily around as she tries to balance managing her restaurant while also spending quality time with her baby, but it’s definitely a lot more involved than other casual games. The characters all have different personalities and such, which is not particularly impressive compared to a more story focused game, it’s still a nice touch that the devs didn’t need to add in for this sort of game. The other different thing about the game, the baby management, is not as interesting.

The game has this mechanic where the baby can wander around the restaurant and interact with customers. If the customers like the baby, they’ll get all happy and get some hearts. If they don’t like the baby, you have to whisk her back to her pen before the customers start getting mad. Additionally, if you let the baby wander around for too long, she’ll get cranky and annoy everybody. This made the baby just incredibly annoying for me and I just kept her in the pen for the entire game. I’m not sure if you’re supposed to find her cute and love seeing her wander around or something, but the baby is just too much hassle to manage for very little gain. I rarely had my customers go below max heart level anyway.

Anyway, I thought that Delicious - Emily’s New Beginning was an alright game. Fine for something chill to play, but it’s not really something that I’d recommend anybody to go out of their way to play.

8/29: Cu-On-Pa (SNES)
Normally I’m not too into puzzle games, as I tend to really suck at them, but one day I randomly came across Cu-On-Pa, decided to give it a shot and I actually really liked it!

You roll a cube around a grid, and you need to match the colour on the cube with certain coloured spots on the grid. If you don’t match the coloured square, you can’t roll over it and need to reorient the cube until you can. Clear all of these squares, and you proceed to the next level. Other than the squares you need to roll over, you can also roll over lightning bolt squares that will explode, which clears squares around it. With these lightning squares, you can really set up chains to clear a ton of other squares at once for a lot of points. There’s not much more to the game than that, but the levels vary quite a bit. Some levels are slower and you can take your time on them, but others have a short time limit so you need to go quickly. Some levels allow you some leeway on how you want to clear a square, but others are more like a puzzle and you need to carefully figure out exactly how you need to clear a square. What’s also great about the game is that there are multiple difficulties to play on (I think they all have different stages?), which is great for me since I’m bad at this sort of thing ha. The Easy mode was perfect for me since it started out pretty simple, but eventually got much more difficult without a giant difficulty spike.

I don’t really have many negatives to say about the game. I guess sometimes the some of the tunes are a bit annoying (the tune changes every 10 levels though), but that’s about it. It is a Japan only game, but not only is the game very English friendly (it’s a puzzle game after all), but it also has an English patch for if you want to be able to read the tutorial. So overall, I’d say check it out even if you’re not normally into puzzley games.
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nullPointer
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Re: Games Beaten 2018

by nullPointer Wed Oct 31, 2018 2:00 am

laurenhiya21 wrote:Will I ever catch up... Who knows haha.

You and me both! Great reviews Laurenhiya.

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]
11. The Great Giana Sisters [Amiga] [Together Retro - 03/2018]
12. The Colonel's Bequest [PC/GOG] [Together Retro - 03/2018]
13. Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions [PSP] [Together Retro - 02/2018]
14. The Guardian Legend [NES] [Together Retro - 03/2018]
15. Rush'n Attack [NES]
16. A Fork in the Tale [PC/Win9X] [Together Retro - 04/2018]
17. Formula One: Built to Win [NES]
18. Salamander Deluxe Pack Plus: Salamander [PSX]
19. The Dame Was Loaded [PC/GOG] [Together Retro - 04/2018]
20. Sonic the Hedgehog 2 [GEN]
21. Kyūyaku Megami Tensei: Digital Devil Story: Megami Tensei [SFC][Translation: DDSTranslation] [Together Retro - 05/2018]
22. Operation C [GB]
23. Call of Duty: Finest Hour [PS2]
24. Battletoads [NES] [Together Retro - 08/2018]
25. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy: Trials and Tribulations [3DS]
26. Gunstar Heroes [GEN] [Together Retro - 09/2018]
27. Koudelka [PSX] [Sacnoth September]
28. Castlevania: Dracula X [SNES] [October Horror]
29. Silent Hill 2 [PC/Win] [Together Retro - 10/2018]
30. Splatterhouse [TG16] [October Horror]
31. Resident Evil 2 - DualShock Ver. [PSX] [Together Retro - 10/2018]
32. Capcom Generations: Chronicles of Arthur: Ghouls 'n Ghosts [PSX] [October Horror]

33. The Walking Dead: A New Frontier [PC/Steam]
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Once you get deep into an episodic story, it gets a little bit hard to talk about without spoilers. I'm going to do my best to avoid that in this review, but do be aware that I'm talking about the fourth game (or fifth depending on how you count them) in a series with (more-or-less) one long continuous story line.

Perhaps it was the fact that Telltale Games suddenly and unceremoniously folded up shop this month that once again put the Walking Dead games on my radar. Or maybe (and perhaps more honestly) it's that I've played one Walking Dead Game every October for the last five years. So it was with a touch of bittersweet good byes that I embarked into the world of Walking Dead: A New Frontier, knowing that the days were numbered for all of these characters, both the living and the dead alike.

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Telltale really eked out a niche for itself with this style of cinematic adventure game, making liberal use of quicktime events, and branching dialogue trees which rival some visual novels in terms of depth and complexity. It's not a style for everyone, but I quite enjoy it. It's a style of cinematic game that leans heavily into the 'cinematic' without indulging in charade or pretense of being something that it's not by means of cliched 'cinematic elements'. It knows what it wants to be and goes all in. Among other things this style allows for some excellent writing, character building, and voice work, all of which are present in Walking Dead: A New Frontier. Telltale really had some of the best writing and voice work on the industry. Come at me bros.

The beginning of New Frontier takes us once again to the beginning of the Outbreak, with a new set of characters, the Garcias. Tolstoy wrote in Anna Karenina that, "Happy families are all alike, but every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." And with the Garcias we can see that family tensions are running high and in their own way. Main character Javier is a washed up ball player at odds with David, his abusive control freak older brother. It is this tension that defines their relationship in all matters, from how to handle their aging parents, to the protectiveness Javier feels towards David's wife Kate who's also impacted by David's psychological abuse. Well the zombie apocalypse makes strange bed fellows, and soon enough David is out of the picture leaving Javier, Kate and David's kids to eke out survival amidst the complete societal collapse. Throughout the game, the story makes effective use of flashback segments, and we eventually find out what happened with David, as well as details of the shared history between various characters.

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A sudden turn of misfortune finds Javier alone and in a grave predicament when … poof … deus ex machina puts him face to face with an old friend. Well not so much a friend of his per se, but rather a friend of ours, as in the player. Clem comes to his rescue every bit the badass that her mentors have taught her to be. (I'd have put a spoiler around this, but I mean … c'mon … she's right there on the game banner; you had to figure she was going to show up sooner or later) This is incredibly effective, IMO, because we now see Clem from the perspective of an observer, and not in the role of her protector as in the first game, but from the perspective of someone who is rescued by Clem. Again and again over the course of the game, Clem shows herself to be a capable warrior and protector in her own right despite her young age. This world has made her hard and frankly a bit of a badass. It's so weird to say, but after assuming the role of her protector in the first game, and playing as her in Season Two, it's hard not to feel a hint pride at the badass she's become. It's an effective story decision, IMO, and one that would have been lessened had we simply assumed the role of Clem directly once more.

Each of The Walking Dead games (with the possible exception of the first) has more or less relied on the old monster movie trope that "it is in fact we who are the real monsters". So it's not like New Frontier is winning any points for originality as far as that goes, but when the writing is this good, it's hard to hold it against it to any significant degree, and to be fair the source material relies almost exclusively on this device well. The character drama is quite good though, and as I mentioned the voice work is fantastic as always. Almost all of the Walking Dead games have been incredibly effective at playing on the emotions of the player, and New Frontier is no different in this regard. I won't lie as to being torn up regarding the late-game fate of one character in particular. It's my understanding that under certain circumstances, the fate of this character is different. I might check that out at some point.

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One point of interest in nearly all Telltale games is to compare your key choices against those of other players. For the most part my choices aligned with other players, save for one chapter where I seem to have diverged significantly (I tend to play these games with a philosophy of 'violence as a last resort or in defense of self/party'). What I found incredibly interesting though, was that almost every decision involving Clem was incredibly one sided, with a high majority of players siding with Clem in all matters. And for my part, I was not terribly different in this regard. Looks like I'm not the only one with an illogical sense of parental protectiveness and pride in the character she's become. Clementine will remember that.
Last edited by nullPointer on Wed Nov 07, 2018 12:59 am, edited 1 time in total.
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noiseredux
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Re: Games Beaten 2018

by noiseredux Wed Oct 31, 2018 9:33 am

1. Ducktales: Remastered
2. Grand Theft Auto V
3. Diablo III: Darkening Of Tristram
4. Final Fantasy Type-0
5. The King Of Fighters: Neowave
6. Guardian Heroes
7. Puyo Puyo Tetris
8. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
9. Gunstar Heroes
10. Call Of Duty 4: Modern Warfare
11. Ultimate NES Remix
12. The Legend Of Zelda: A Link To The Past

The Legend Of Zelda: A Link To The Past
1992, Nintendo


I don't see anything wrong with a little bump and grind. Admittedly, that sort of opening might be better suited for a write-up on one of the Ys games, but I'm going somewhere with this. I didn't get a SNES until the Christmas of 1993. And didn't get A Link To The Past until sometime in 1994. I would have been thirteen at the time; in junior high. Of course at that age you'd play whatever game you had until it was your birthday or Christmas or whatever. I actually got A Link To The Past from a friend and yet I have no memory of what I traded him in exchange. I guarantee you that I got the better end of the deal, though.

A Link To The Past became my Friday night ritual for MONTHS. Probably for the entire year of 1994 and possibly bleeding into 95 as well. In my memory this game takes up a gigantic chunk of formative gaming years. And it was a big enough world to allow for what felt like never-ending exploration. Of course having now played Breath Of The Wild... well, wait - I'll come back to all that. Let me mention the music.

So Friday night I'd be at my dad's house which is where the SNES was (I had different consoles at each of my parent's houses). It seems like back then we'd always order either pizza or fish and chips on Friday nights, and it seems like ABC's TGIF shows were always on TV while we were eating. A quick look at Wikipedia says that the 94 lineup was Family Matters, Boy Meets World, Step By Step and Hangin' With Mr. Cooper. Although ABC lost me after dinner. After dinner was Zelda time. And I'd just lose the rest of the night to A Link To The Past, playing until I couldn't keep my eyes open anymore.

I had a small boombox in my bedroom at the time that I'd keep a cassette tape in with the 'record' and 'pause' buttons depressed so I was always ready to tape songs off the radio. And while I was still pretty deep into my grunge obsession in 94 (and to be honest, that hasn't changed much even in 2018), Friday nights belonged to Jam'n 94.5's broadcast which was entirely R&B and some light hip hop 'hits' of the day. Their Friday night program was clearly aimed at an early 20's demographic who were probably kicking off their weekend driving to a club or something. But it was my soundtrack to a fucking Zelda game that year.

Here's a dozen-deep playlist to give you an idea and get you in the mood for some Zelda:

"This Is How We Do It" - Montell Jordan
"Back & Forth" - Aaliyah
"Bump N Grind" - R. Kelly
"Anything" - SWV
"Regulators" - Warren G. & Nate Dogg
"On Bended Knee" - Boyz II Men
"Lodi Dodi" - Snoop Dogg
"Kiss From A Rose" - Seal
"Keep Ya Head Up" - 2Pac
"I Wanna Be Down" - Brandy
"Knockin Da Boots" - H Town
"Don't Take It Personal" - Monica

How's that for a link to the past? Most of these songs are exactly the sort of shit we listen to when we are kids and are too embarrassed to admit we ever liked them when we're adults. But hey - there's beauty in banality and I'd like to really date myself here and paint a picture of the time. Plus it's interesting to me how memory works - how one sense is connected to another. The smell of banana hazelnut coffee will always bring me back to this small outside coffee shop that I skateboarded to in Waterville Valley, NH one summer on vacation in high school. And that crazy R. Kells etc will probably trigger thoughts of a 16-bit Hyrule.

When I recently decided that my household needed more than one 3DS again, I had to make a decision about which model to pick up. If you've taken a look at the 3DS family, there are a lot of choices. A standard 2DS is super cheap - and ugly. A New 3DS XL is like a luxury portable - and a bit on the bulky side. While the Switch is lovely for playing anywhere I want in my own house, I am too nervous to actually take it anywhere. I needed something sleek and pocket-friendly. I finally decided on the New 2DS XL for three reasons: a nice big screen; a thin and light body; the ability to play SNES games via the Virtual Console.

The first SNES game I bought on the new device was a no-brainer. We all know the accolades that A Link To The Past has received but ultimately there's one very important one here: if forced to make a choice, I'd rank A Link To The Past as my favorite game of all time. Its version of Hyrule is absolutely magical to me. It's the first game to ever make me just want to explore with no clear need for major progress. I loved just seeing what existed in this world. Oh, I got a shovel? I better dig anywhere that looks suspicious. And once you gain the ability to jump between light and dark worlds it becomes almost two games in one.

The 1994 version of myself spent literal hours doing things like the little archery mini-game or basically gambling by paying a few rupees to pick one chest out of three and continually try to gain more and more. There were no internet walkthroughs in 94 and I rarely would buy a strategy guide (probably because they weren't as easy to come by pre-Amazon), so it means a lot to me that back then I obtained every item, every heart, and felt like I saw everyTHING that this game had to offer. Though the 2018 version of me has a lot less free time for such things, so this time around I basically just plowed through the dungeons, obtaining only items that I actually needed to progress and picking up only upgrades that I happened to stumble upon. Maybe most impressive is that while it does require you pick up certain items, it's still pretty loosey goosey and I was able to beat them game with several items missing from my final inventory.

Still, A Link To The Past is like riding a bike for me. Sure I played through the game when it was re-released on Game Boy Advance, but it was really all those many Friday nights that has ingrained this world in me. There were times where I did a quick Google to remind myself some things: where was the flute buried again? How do I get the upgrade to make magic cost half as much? The most embarrassing was that I completely forgot that Hyrule Castle's front entrance later works as a door to the dark world. Duh. But for the most part, this is a game I really just KNOW. This version of the Zelda theme is the one that sounds most right to me in all its 16-bit glory. This version of Link is the one that looks the coolest to me. A Link To The Past is pure comfort food, friends. Maybe more importantly it's a Zelda game that is phenomenal if you play it like an endless open world game every Friday night for over a year, or if you treat it like a straight up linear adventure and plow through it in a week.
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Re: Games Beaten 2018

by nullPointer Wed Oct 31, 2018 11:19 am

Amazing retrospective noise! Enjoyed every word of it. I love hearing stories of how gaming intersects with memories of specific times and places.

(And for similar reasons to yours, the music of Blaster Master is forever intertwined in my memories with the second album released by DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince, Rock The House. It's not a bad combo at all, lol!)
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Re: Games Beaten 2018

by noiseredux Wed Oct 31, 2018 11:30 am

Thanks, null!

Is that the one that had "Boom Shake The Room," because oddly... I feel like I played Blaster Master at a friend's house with that same cassette playing haha.
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Re: Games Beaten 2018

by nullPointer Thu Nov 01, 2018 1:50 am

noiseredux wrote:I feel like I played Blaster Master at a friend's house with that same cassette playing haha.

That's too rad! At this rate I can only hope that someone makes a mashup of these two.

Okay! With only minutes to go before the month of October draws to a close for the year of 2018, I thought I better get my my review(s) done for the final horror games I played this month. Hope you all had a great Halloween!

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]
11. The Great Giana Sisters [Amiga] [Together Retro - 03/2018]
12. The Colonel's Bequest [PC/GOG] [Together Retro - 03/2018]
13. Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions [PSP] [Together Retro - 02/2018]
14. The Guardian Legend [NES] [Together Retro - 03/2018]
15. Rush'n Attack [NES]
16. A Fork in the Tale [PC/Win9X] [Together Retro - 04/2018]
17. Formula One: Built to Win [NES]
18. Salamander Deluxe Pack Plus: Salamander [PSX]
19. The Dame Was Loaded [PC/GOG] [Together Retro - 04/2018]
20. Sonic the Hedgehog 2 [GEN]
21. Kyūyaku Megami Tensei: Digital Devil Story: Megami Tensei [SFC][Translation: DDSTranslation] [Together Retro - 05/2018]
22. Operation C [GB]
23. Call of Duty: Finest Hour [PS2]
24. Battletoads [NES] [Together Retro - 08/2018]
25. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy: Trials and Tribulations [3DS]
26. Gunstar Heroes [GEN] [Together Retro - 09/2018]
27. Koudelka [PSX] [Sacnoth September]
28. Castlevania: Dracula X [SNES] [October Horror]
29. Silent Hill 2 [PC/Win] [Together Retro - 10/2018]
30. Splatterhouse [TG16] [October Horror]
31. Resident Evil 2 - DualShock Ver. [PSX] [Together Retro - 10/2018]
32. Capcom Generations: Chronicles of Arthur: Ghouls 'n Ghosts [PSX] [October Horror]
33. The Walking Dead: A New Frontier [PC/Steam]

34. Cube Escape: Seasons [Android]
35. Cube Escape: The Lake [Android]
36. Cube Escape: Arles [Android]
37. Cube Escape: Harvey's Box [Android]
38. Cube Escape: Case 23 [Android]
39. Cube Escape: The Mill [Android]

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I have to be completely honest here. I played a lot of horror games in October. And as the close of the month drew near I was starting to face some burnout. Well, maybe 'burnout' is the wrong word for it. I was facing some significant indecisiveness regarding what to play next. Ultimately I found myself trawling through internet lists of 'The Greatest Horror Games …', and it was through this endeavor that I eventually I stumbled into the world of Rusty Lake. The specific list in question made reference to Cube Escape: Paradox, the most recent game in this franchise, but suggested that series noobs should start at the beginning. As luck would have it, the majority of Cube Escape games are free (though ad supported). "What the hey," I thought to myself, "The art style looks interesting, and it's hard to go wrong with free … plus when was the last time I really sat down with a mobile game?"

What happened next was that I devoured all the initial Cube Escape games over the course of a weekend. These are fun little puzzle-adventure games you guys. And 'little' really is the proper descriptor here. Each of these games can be beaten in roughly an hour or less, probably much less if it's a replay. But don't let their diminutive nature fool you. The puzzles in these games are quite good, ranging from the relatively easy on up to intermediate levels of difficulty. The setup is that each of the Cube Escape games adheres to an 'escape room' formula in which each 'room' typically consists of four walls, the ceiling and floor … thus the 'Cube' in Cube Escape. You must use items and environmental elements found in each room in order to be able to escape. Obviously this sort of gameplay hinges on well-constructed puzzles and thankfully all of them are solvable using in game clues though many of the clues require a keen eye for observation. The variety of puzzles encountered throughout series is another highlight, and it's seldom that you see the same type of puzzle repeated.

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"So what?" you say, "It's a mobile game with decent puzzles. I can barely swing a dead cat without accidentally installing seven of them." I hear ya friend-o, I do. Now put down that cat so it can have its eternal rest. The other hook to these games is the unique art style and especially in the unique atmosphere. One of the major cited sources of inspiration for the developers is David Lynch and specifically his work on Twin Peaks. I've never actually seen Twin Peaks, but it's easy to see some of the Lynch-ian influence at work here. The in-game logic is surreal and often macabre. Each of these Cube Escape takes place in the same world, and for the most part each of them makes oblique reference to the same story and set of events. Determining the exact nature of those events is often left up to interpretation, but really that's half the fun in games like this.

Really if you can level a criticism at these games it's that they can be a bit same-y from one entry to the next, which is part of the reason I'm reviewing them as a group rather than as individual entries. But really their brevity is a saving grace here. Considering they more-or-less revolve around the same story and they're only an hour a piece, you could almost consider them one medium length puzzle-based adventure game with an unchanging set of mechanics.

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The quality does vary a bit from one entry to the next though, so here's my title-by-title break down.

Cube Escape: Seasons
The only game in the series (so far) to feature an active element of time travel. Piece together the memories of an unseen and unknown protagonist to 'change your fate'. This one sets the stage for the recurring story elements and is the hook for the entire series. If this one doesn't grab you, you can probably safely walk away from the series.
8/10

Cube Escape: The Lake
Mental Health and Fishing! You find yourself in a secluded cabin near Rusty Lake. Hey, might as well get to fishing! Who knows what you'll pull out of that lake! Perhaps not as inventive or imaginative as the first game, but a decent second showing.
7/10

Cube Escape: Arles
Enter the world and mind of master impressionist Vincent Van Gogh himself. Although this title ties in to a recurring theme of artwork and paintings throughout these games, there is little else to really connect it with the world of Rusty Lake. As a result it feels a bit disconnected from the rest of the series.
6.5/10

Cube Escape: Harvey's Box
In this one you're escaping from a cardboard box. It's about as exciting as it sounds. Harvey's Box also has a strong reliance on music based puzzles, something that always feels hit or miss to me. They're not bad, but they're not great either. Not going to lie, Cube Escape was starting to lose me at this point in the series. It was going to take a strong return to form to hook me back in.
6/10

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Cube Escape: Case 23
Holy Crap. Yep that'll do it. You're a detective investigating the murder(?) referenced in several of the other games. This one takes place across four distinct chapters (much like the first game) in which each chapter features a distinct room … er … cube (a first for the series). If you were wondering when the Twin Peaks influence would show up, look no further than this. This game goes further than any of the others (so far) in establishing the lore of Rusty Lake. The timed end sequence is kind of a bummer, but not so much as to really sully the experience.
8.5/10

Cube Escape: The Mill
Here I believe you're playing as one of the 'mysterious' denizens of Rusty Lake (no spoilers), but it's hard to say. Open for interpretation! This one builds upon the lore established in Case 23, and in some ways is the direct continuation of that game. This is the first game in the series in which you can freely travel from one room to the next across three different rooms. It's also perhaps the most macabre of the bunch.
8/10

So there you have it. The series continues on in a handful of other Cube Escape games and (to my understanding) further expands the world as a 'traditional' set of adventure games in the Rusty Lake series proper. The next game in the series is in fact Rusty Lake Hotel, which I plan to play at some point, but this felt like a good point in the series to provide a retrospective of the first Cube Escape games before jumping into a big shift in play style. All told I've really enjoyed my time with this series thus far. Recommended for fans of logical puzzles and adventure games. "The past is never dead. It's not even the past." I mean c'mon that should be right in the wheelhouse of every discerning retro-gamer!
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Re: Games Beaten 2018

by dsheinem Sun Nov 04, 2018 10:02 am

dsheinem wrote:Games Beaten 2018

Destiny 2: Forsaken - PS4 *new*

Total: 63


Destiny 2: Forsaken is indeed to Destiny 2 what The Taken King was to Destiny 1, which means that it is all kinds of awesome and absolutely the kind of thing to suck me back into the game for way too many hours. I will share more about it once I feel I am far enough along with the power leveling (I finished the campaign and hit the soft level cap), but suffice to say it is an excellent return to form after a mostly disappointing series of smaller releases.


So I haven't checked in here in a good long time - I haven't really played anything else other than Destiny 2 since early September. :lol:

I think I am finally nearing the finish of my power level grind, so I will (maybe?) move on to other things soon. I have now sunk more pretty much the same amount of time into Destiny 2 as I did with Destiny 1, and both games have completely overtaken my "regularly scheduled gaming" plans for months at a time. Great series.

I have no shortage of other things I want to play...but out of curiosity, what do people think are the end-of-year must play games this year? Any great recent indie games that maybe have been a little buried under the AAA headlines, but that are innovative/interesting and worth the time?
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