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pierrot
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Re: Games Beaten 2019

by pierrot Mon Dec 02, 2019 4:35 pm

MrPopo wrote:The biggest thing about the game is that most enemies take several hits to take out, with man requiring even multiple melee hits (though it fortunately has a knockback to non-bosses). Since the game likes to spawn enemies behind you to force you to keep moving you can frequently get into bad spots where if you don't approach the enemies in a particular way they will get to you before you have enough damage on them to take them out. This was my biggest complaint, as I am used to the non-stationary enemies in Contras going down in one hit or so.

This was my main criticism of Blazing Chrome, also. I didn't really like the game, overall, because it was kind of too close to a game I love (Hard Corps) while still being too far away. Visually, they had it in the bag, but the way it played; the way levels were laid out; enemy placements and designs; the crappy weapons; that stuff just didn't work for me.

I actually thought it kind of played better as a hack 'n slash than a run 'n gun--.
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dsheinem
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Re: Games Beaten 2019

by dsheinem Mon Dec 02, 2019 5:22 pm

Games Beaten 2019

Kentucky Route Zero Act 1 - PC
All Our Asias - PC
Shape of the World - Switch
Hidden Folks - PC
Hyrule Warriors - Wii U
Onrush - PS4
Assassin's Creed Origins - X1
Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown -360
Metro Exodus - PS4
Split/Second - 360
Far Cry: New Dawn - PS4
Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon - X1
Marvel vs Capcom Infinite - PS4
Rage - PC
Red Faction: Armageddon - 360
Momonga Pinball Adventure - Switch
Psycho Soldier - Vita (Arcade)
Super Mutant Alien Assault - Vita
Burly Men at Sea - Vita
Sigil - PC
Fat Princess - PS3
Borderlands 2: Commander Lilith and the Fight for Sanctuary - PC
Monster World IV - Genesis (PS3)
Marvel's Spider-Man - PS4
Mega Man X4 - Switch
Armored Warriors - Switch (Arcade)
Battle Circuit - Switch (Arcade)
Borderlands 3 - PS4
Hyper Dyne Side Arms - PS3(Arcade)
Legendary Wings - PS3 (Arcade)
The Outer Worlds - X1
Akai Katana - 360 *new*
RayStorm - PS2 (Arcade)
Operation C - PS4 (Game Boy)
Kid Dracula - Switch (Famicom)
Castlevania: The Adventure - Switch (Game Boy) *new*

Total: 36


Previously: 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010

I forgot to list Akai Katana in my last update, but I finally played through this Cave title, one of the very few I hadn't spent time with. It is fine for what it is, but I wouldn't rank it amongst my fave Cave horis or fave Cave titles for the 360. Worth a play for genre fans and it certainly has enough to dig into for folks looking to 1cc it and try various modes, etc...but the basic design ideas didn't really do it for me.

Likewise, Castlevania: The Adventure is a bit of a letdown for the series and for Konami's otherwise amazing run of games around this time period. The game is sluggish, level design is uninspired, jumps are often difficult to land and border on unfair, and completing the four levels doesn't take a very long time (good for your batteries, I guess?). In the end, it comes across as sort of a poster child for "bad portable port of a major console franchise".
Last edited by dsheinem on Mon Dec 02, 2019 5:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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prfsnl_gmr
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Re: Games Beaten 2019

by prfsnl_gmr Mon Dec 02, 2019 5:45 pm

I didn’t much care for CV: The Adventure either, but I thought the third level (the one where you are constantly flogging away from spikes) was pretty rad. The sequel, Belmont’s Revenge, is much, much better.
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BoneSnapDeez
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Re: Games Beaten 2019

by BoneSnapDeez Tue Dec 03, 2019 2:49 pm

1. Ys III: Wanderers from Ys (Famicom)
2. Dragon Scroll: Yomigaerishi Maryuu (Famicom)
3. Ninja-kun: Majou no Bouken (Famicom)
4. Hello Kitty World (Famicom)
5. Galaxian (Famicom)
6. Esper Dream 2: Aratanaru Tatakai (Famicom)
7. Ninja Jajamaru-kun (Famicom)
8. Jajamaru no Daibouken (Famicom)
9. Front Line (Famicom)
10. Field Combat (Famicom)
11. Portopia Renzoku Satsujin Jiken (Famicom)
12. Mississippi Satsujin Jiken: Murder on the Mississippi (Famicom)
13. Space Harrier (Famicom)
14. Geimos (Famicom)
15. Attack Animal Gakuen (Famicom)
16. Sky Destroyer (Famicom)
17. Ripple Island (Famicom)
18. Oishinbo: Kyukyoku no Menu 3bon Syoubu (Famicom)
19. Bird Week (Famicom)
20. Baltron (Famicom)
21. Yie Ar Kung-Fu (Famicom)
22. Challenger (Famicom)
23. Ikki (Famicom)
24. Dough Boy (Famicom)
25. Atlantis no Nazo (Famicom)
26. Bio Senshi Dan: Increaser tono Tatakai (Famicom)
27. Yume Penguin Monogatari (Famicom)
28. King Kong 2: Ikari no Megaton Punch (Famicom)
29. Congo Bongo (Atari 2600)
30. Coconuts (Atari 2600)
31. Arcade Archives: Donkey Kong (Switch eShop)
32. Dragon Quest V: Tenkuu no Hanayome (Super Famicom)
33. Johnny Turbo's Arcade: Super Burger Time (Switch eShop)
34. Fire Fly (Atari 2600)
35. Fire Fighter (Atari 2600)
36. Space Jockey (Atari 2600)
37. Airlock (Atari 2600)
38. Makai Hakkenden Shada (PC Engine)
39. Squeeze Box (Atari 2600)
40. Lagoon (SNES)
41. Atlantis (Atari 2600)
42. Xak III: The Eternal Recurrence (PC Engine CD)
43. Blue Blink (PC Engine)
44. Ys IV: The Dawn of Ys (PC Engine CD)
45. Cally's Caves 3 (Steam)
46. Planetarian: The Reverie of a Little Planet (Steam)
47. Contra (NES)
48. Arcade Archives: Vs. Super Mario Bros. (Switch eShop)
49. Arcade Archives: Moon Cresta (Switch eShop)
50. Johnny Turbo's Arcade: Joe and Mac Caveman Ninja (Switch eShop)
51. Ice Hockey (Atari 2600)
52. Indy 500 (Atari 2600)
53. Video Olympics (Atari 2600)
54. Fast Eddie (Atari 2600)
55. Muv-Luv (Steam)
56. Air-Sea Battle (Atari 2600)
57. Combat (Atari 2600)
58. Street Racer (Atari 2600)
59. Food Fight (Atari 7800)
60. Galaga (Atari 7800)
61. Donkey Kong (ColecoVision)
62. Cosmic Avenger (ColecoVision)
63. Mouse Trap (ColecoVision)
64. Zaxxon (ColecoVision)
65. Armor Battle (Intellivision)
66. Armor Ambush (Atari 2600)
67. Basic Math (Atari 2600)
68. Astrosmash (Intellivision)
69. Astroblast (Atari 2600)
70. Donkey Kong (Intellivision)
71. Beauty & the Beast (Intellivision)
72. Surround (Atari 2600)
73. Borderline (SG-1000)
74. Omega Race (VIC-20)
75. Star Battle (VIC-20)
76. Mahou Kishi Rayearth (Game Gear)
77. Muv-Luv Alternative (Vita)
78. Joe & Mac (SNES)
79. Muv-Luv photonflowers* (Steam)
80. Cadash (TurboGrafx-16)
81. Cadash (Genesis)
82. Circus Charlie (Famicom)
83. Ankoku Shinwa: Yamato Takeru Densetsu (Famicom)

84. Gyromite (NES)
85. Suishou no Dragon (Famicom Disk System)


Gyromite
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Gyromite is a 1985 NES launch title, which also saw a release on the Japanese Famicom two months prior. The North American version is notable for being rushed onto shelves. The initial run of Gyromite carts contain the Japanese Famicom PCB hooked up to a pin converter to boot the game on the 72-pin North American NES console. As such, the title screen of Gyromite still displays the words Robot Gyro, which is what the game was known as in its native land. For some time Gyromite was a favorite among retro game collectors, as said converter could be removed and utilized to run additional Famicom games on an NES; of course today there are much easier workarounds. And we've just scratched the surface of the game's idiosyncrasies.

At first glance, Gyromite appears to be a traditional old Nintendo platformer. Stages span a couple of screens horizontally, and are comprised of a series of girders and ropes. The player takes control of a professor named Hector. He's trying to rid his laboratory (40 consecutive stages) of dynamite before the timer hits zero. Said dynamite is defused simply by touching it. Hector's enemies are these cutesy alien-dinosaur things called "smicks." As Hector wields no weapon and is too tubby to jump, the smicks must be dealt with by more creative means. They're attracted to the radishes scattered throughout each stage. These can be picked up and moved by Hector; when a smick is busy munching they can't deal any damage. The player can also operate a series of blue and red pillars. Pillars can be raised or lowered to create (or block) pathways, and even crush an unsuspecting smick or two. But watch out, as Hector can be squashed into oblivion as well.

The audiovisual presentation is utilitarian, but pleasingly retro. Like most "black label" titles, the game boasts a perpetually black background, with the stage designs themselves resembling those of Donkey King Junior, albeit more cluttered. The sprites are charming, and the animation is rather amusing, especially when Hector takes damage. The soundtrack is endearing, but expect to hear the same simple ditty over and over.

As for the controls, that's where things get weird. See, Gyromite is one of the games to employ the use of the cutest NES accessory: R.O.B. the Robot. And by "one of the games" I mean one of two. The other, Stack-Up, is very rare, and quite terrible. R.O.B. is used to manipulate the aforementioned blue and red pillars. Basically, when the player presses the start button the screen begins to flash lights in quick succession: this switches to "R.O.B. mode" where the robot can be instructed. R.O.B. was originally packaged with a series of "gyros" (spinning tops), levers, and other assorted plastic junk. Through some very tedious choreography R.O.B. shuffles some things around and eventually raises or lowers an in-game pillar. It's all just a complex method to get R.O.B. to press A or B on the second controller. Which begs the question, can Gyromite be played sans R.O.B.? Yes, yes indeed. Which is incredibly useful: while Gyromite is cheap and easy to obtain, a complete R.O.B. is the exact opposite. So, with R.O.B. abandoned we're left with three control options: 1) a single human player uses both NES controllers to play the game, 2) one human player controls Hector while another human player controls the pillars (great way to play with a young kid), and 3) ditch the traditional NES altogether and use an emulator to totally reconfigure controls to a single controller.
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This all sounds dreary and terrible and rather difficult. But here's the thing: the game is designed to match the incredible slowness of R.O.B. the Robot. Hector waddles around leisurely. The smicks are out for a stroll. Pillars bob up and down lazily. Players are allowed eight minutes to complete each tiny stage. Thus, even when juggling two controllers, any moderately competent player is going to simply dominate Gyromite. The game's only real "challenge" was predicated on forcing the player into a relationship with R.O.B., who can be ditched at a moment's notice. Not to say the game is a complete cakewalk. There are some scattered tricky moments, and some stages can become unwinnable if dynamite isn't defused in a specific order. Though, generally speaking, a R.O.B.-less playthrough lacks challenge, and the difficulty itself levels off pretty quickly (stage 40 isn't really any harder than stage 20, for instance).

There's also a mode B. Most of these old NES games feature such a mode, which is usually just a slight tweak to difficulty. But in Gyromite mode B presents a completely different challenge. Here, both radishes and dynamite have been scrapped. The goal is to steer a sleepwalking professor from stage entrance to exit: he lumbers along mindlessly like the protagonists of Lemmings. This mode is entirely R.O.B. reliant (controller two reliant) as the only way to change the professor's course is to manipulate the pillars he encounters. Should the pathway be insufficient, the dear professor encounters a smick and loses one life. All told, mode B provides a creative spin to the core gameplay, not to mention 25 new stages (bringing the grand total to a whopping 65). There's only one issue: while mode A is slow, mode B is downright glacial. There's no way to speed up the professor's walk cycle, and the bulk of playtime consists of waiting for him to move from one set of pillars to the next.

Gyromite is a bit of a small tragedy. The core design is rather creative and quite good, but its (supposed) reliance on a gimmicky accessory really takes the experience down several notches. Given its unorthodox play method, I would hesitate to recommend buying a copy. That said, if you have a cartridge collecting dust because you lack a R.O.B. don't despair. Plug in two controllers and pop that bad boy in. It's quite a trip.


Suishou no Dragon
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While Final Fantasy was likely the average American gamer's first exposure to Square, the developer had been cranking out Japanese exclusives for years prior. A supporter of both obscure Japanese computers and the Nintendo Famicom, in 1986 Square also began releasing games for Nintendo's fledgling Disk System. Their disk library included such "classics" as Tobidase Daisakusen (3-D WorldRunner) and Hao-Kun no Fushigi na Tabi (Mystery Quest), as well as oddballs like the initial duo of Deep Dungeon dungeon crawlers, the Egyptian-themed RPG Cleopatra no Mahou, and the Ys-like bumper Kalin no Tsurugi. But Square's first Disk System title was of a different breed altogether. Known as Suishou no Dragon, it's a Japanese style adventure game, not unlike Enix's own Portopia Renzoku Satsujin Jiken. Nowadays, we'd call it a visual novel. The game received a (very good) fan translation in 2003.

The plot involves a teenager named Hugh who, while flying in deep space, encounters a peculiar "suishou" (crystal) dragon. He soon wakes up dazed, to find his ship damaged and friends missing. Under the guidance of a mysterious woman named Jean, it's up to Hugh to recover his missing shipmates. What's immediately apparent about Suishou no Dragon is how gorgeous the character designs are. Artwork is presented courtesy of Nippon Sunrise, and the game boasts that classic 80s anime science fantasy look. Most NPCs are female and rather pretty (how shocking), complete with eye-blinking and mouth-speaking animations. Sounds fairly basic, and yet there are plenty of visual novels today that present only pure static images. In comparison to the ladies, the scenery is a bit bland: gray hallways, desert expanses, and the black vastness of space.

Actions are chosen from a menu, and a cursor is used to select onscreen objects for examination and manipulation. The game ditches the traditional text-based menu system in favor of a horizontal strip of images. The player has the option to move, examine an item, take an item, talk to NPCs, use an item, open doors, operate computer terminals, and abandon (or sell) their goods. There's even a save function, though anyone familiar with "the route" can roll through this game in twenty minutes. Success is predicated on experimentation, and Suishou no Dragon can be completed by anyone who has the patience for trial and error gameplay. In Portopia, it was impossible to "die." Poor decisions led to a reprimand delivered by the chief of police. Similarly, an error made in Suishou no Dragon simply sends the player back a few "steps" accompanied by a brief "try again!" pep talk.
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While the game exudes a compelling atmosphere, there are some odd issues to contend with. Control is strangely clunky. Here's but one example. To choose to "move" once must hold down the B button and scroll through the action options until the move icon is selected. This then transforms the standard arrow cursor into a different arrow, indicating direction of travel. Picking a direction isn't done via the obvious method (with the d-pad) but by tapping B until the arrow rotates and points the appropriate way. Then A is pressed to confirm, though this movement action can be cancelled at any time... by pressing the start button. Speaking of directions, there's some inconsistency here. For instance, a "down" arrow can refer to southward movement or a drop "down into" a vertical shaft, depending on the scenario. And the game's oddly quiet. There are some great title, opening, and ending themes (by Nobuo Uematsu) but the experience is virtually silent otherwise. Sound effects are incredibly sparse, unless you count the continuous whirring and humming of the Famicom Disk System.

Suishou no Dragon was originally packaged with a full-color manga detailing the game's backstory. It's just as entertaining as the game itself, if not more so. The game was also the subject of a ridiculous (though not wholly implausible) hoax. It was said that a cheat code could be used to disrobe the Cynthia character. Apparently this statement was conjured up by a Japanese video game magazine to test whether or not other publications were blindly copying their articles. Surfing around the internet for additional information led me to a fan-made flash animation where Cynthia indeed gets undressed. I wish I could say I'm surprised this exists.

This is a strange one. What's here is good, but there's simply not enough here. I'm left wishing the game was longer..... and better. It's amazing how many developers threw together a rudimentary visual novel during the Famicom era. Despite its shortcomings, the fantastic artwork and Square connections make Suishou no Dragon one of the more intriguing examples.
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Ack
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Re: Games Beaten 2019

by Ack Tue Dec 03, 2019 2:52 pm

The First 50:
1. Dusk (PC)(FPS)
2. Project: Snowblind (PC)(FPS)
3. Soldier of Fortune: Platinum Edition (PC)(FPS)
4. Ziggurat (PC)(FPS)
5. Wolfenstein 3D: Ultimate Challenge (PC)(FPS)
6. Destiny 2 (PC)(FPS/RPG)
7. Destiny 2: Curse of Osiris (PC)(FPS/RPG)
8. Destiny 2: Warmind (PC)(FPS/RPG)

9. Destiny 2: Forsaken (PC)(FPS/RPG)
10. Star Wars: Rebel Assault (PC)(Rail Shooter)

11. Castle Werewolf (PC)(FPS)
12. Project Warlock (PC)(FPS)
13. Castle Crashers (PC)(Hack and Slash)
14. This Strange Realm of Mine (PC)(FPS)
15. BioShock Remastered (PC)(FPS)
16. BioShock 2 (PC)(FPS)
17. BioShock 2: Minerva's Den (PC)(FPS)

18. Blood (PC)(FPS)
19. Blood: Cryptic Passage (PC)(FPS)
20. Blood: Post Mortem (PC)(FPS)

21. Shadow Warrior (PC)(FPS)
22. Shadow Warrior: Twin Dragon (PC)(FPS)
23. Shadow Warrior: Wanton Destruction (PC)(FPS)

24. F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin (PC)(FPS)
25. F.E.A.R. 2: Reborn (PC)(FPS)

26. Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines (PC)(RPG)
27. Men of Valor (PC)(FPS)
28. Ultima III: Exodus (PC)(RPG)
29. Albedo: Eyes from Outer Space (PC)(Point and Click)

30. Midnight Ultra (PC)(FPS)
31. Amid Evil (PC)(FPS)
32. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (PC)(RPG)
33. Betrayer (PC)(Horror)

34. Borderlands 2: Commander Lilith & the Fight for Sanctuary (PC)(FPS/RPG)
35. Far Cry 2 (PC)(FPS)
36. Apocryph (PC)(FPS)
37. Eye of the Beholder III: Assault on Myth Drannor (PC)(RPG)

38. Menzoberranzan (PC)(RPG)
39. TimeShift (PC)(FPS)
40. Heretic Kingdoms: The Inquisition (PC)(RPG)
41. Shadowgate (PC)(Point and Click)

42. Might & Magic Book One (PC)(RPG)
43. Miasmata (PC)(Adventure)
44. Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood (PC)(FPS)
45. Legendary (PC)(FPS)
46. Hedon (PC)(FPS)
47. Last Rites (PC)(FPS)
48. Half-Dead 2 (PC)(Adventure)
49. Dishonored (PC)(Stealth Adventure)
50. Might and Magic II: Gates to Another World (PC)(RPG)

51. Dishonored: The Knife of Dunwall (PC)(Stealth Adventure)
52. Dishonored: The Brigmore Witches (PC)(Stealth Adventure)


What? DLC? On MY Games Beaten thread?

Yeah, yeah, get over yourself. These two Dishonored DLCs pair together into a full length campaign with nearly as much content as the base game, and I played through them both twice in very different ways, so I'd say I've put in enough time to call them both out separately. In fact, I've gone through at this point and earned every achievement they offer, tried out all the new gear, explored every new level, and found every piece of gold and magical trinket. I even went back on a few levels to figure out how to murder literally everyone, so yeah, I'm calling it.

The Dishonored DLCs have you take on the role of Daud, the assassin who murdered the empress and set events in motion in the base game. While you have the ultimate decision over whether he lives or dies in that, these two cover what Daud is doing in the meantime, and you know what he's doing? He's saving the daughter of the same empress he murdered in front of Corvo from a powerful witch. Why? Because the great and powerful Outsider apparently finds it interesting to pit his children against one another.

Yeah, the expansions fill out more about the repercussions of Corvo's escape and the city-state's decline but also give further backstory into the Outsider's chosen few. There are only a handful, and while in some cases their gifts are somewhat different (Daud's powers are similar to Corvos but not quite the same) to the radically off (the big enemy, Delilah, use earthen witchcraft and powers around painting and capturing the soul). To kick all this off, the Outsider simply gives Daud the name Delilah, and that's it; from there, it's investigation, betrayal, assassination, and murder. Simply knowing the others exist pits these characters against each other.

Of course, not only does Daud receive some modified powers, such as stopping time while choosing a teleport location or seeing runes and bone charms while using his vision power, he also can summon his assassins and gets the pull ability, which is hugely beneficial when getting through the game silently. His gear is also different, incorporating new mines that can knock guards out and gas canisters that stun them long enough to sneak up and finish the job. And while his gear gets similar upgrades and the most important pieces are there (namely silent boots), it's not entirely a 1 to 1 parity. The most interesting change is that Daud has connections, so he can spend money for favors between missions, some of which give additional info, some of which grant extra items or more cash. In fact, some of your decisions in previous DLC missions can actually impact which favors are available later across DLCs.

The new DLCs also offer a little more variety in enemy types, with armored butchers with saws appearing in the first, while the second has the witches and their skeletal dogs. The new levels offer a variety of means to go about your missions, and one involving warring gangs in the Garment District is particularly involved, with the player going back and forth between several locations. Between the two DLC sets, I preferred the levels of the Knife of Dunwall slightly, though both offer some good design and interesting challenges.

While not everyone is into achievements, the ones here do encourage alternate playthroughs, greater challenge, and some creative thinking. I particularly liked the idea of sticking an arc mine on a rat, as it isn't something I would ordinarily have thought to do. The base game generally used achievements well, and the DLCs continue that trend.

I still have one more run of the original game to do, and there are still the Trials of Dunwall, a challenge-based DLC which offers up interesting ways to explore the game's mechanics and pushes you to push your knowledge and skill. Some of them are quite difficult, so I may pick at them for a while instead of giving them a dedicated push. I'm feeling a little burned out on the game right now, so we'll see how I choose to approach it going forward.
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prfsnl_gmr
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Re: Games Beaten 2019

by prfsnl_gmr Thu Dec 05, 2019 11:19 am

First 50
1. The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Anniversary (NDS)
2. Reigns (iOS)
3. Castlevania: The Adventure (GB)
4. Castlevania II: Belmont’s Revenge (GB)
5. Castlevania Legends (GB)
6. Yankai’s Triangle (iOS)
7. Mega Man III (GB)
8. Mega Man IV (GB)
9. Mega Man V (GB)
10. Sin & Punishment (N64)
11. Love You to Bits (iOS)
12. Mega Man Powered Up - Old Style (PSP)
13. Mega Man Powered Up - New Style (PSP)
14. Mario vs. Donkey Kong (GBA)
15. Mario vs. Donkey Kong 2: March of the Minis (NDS)
16. Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Minis March Again! (NDS)
17. Detective Pikachu (3DS)
18. Super Fantasy Zone (Genesis)
19. Fantasy Zone Gear (GG)
20. Fantasy Zone - The Maze (SMS)
21. Fantasy Zone (Famicom)
22. Fantasy Zone (NES)
23. Kung Fu Master (2600)
24. Kid Dracula (Famicom)
25. Kid Dracula (GB)
26. Fantasy Zone (TG16)
27. Double Dragon V (SNES)
28. Fantasy Zone II (Famicom)
29. Street Fighter: The Movie (PS1)
30. Fire Fly (2600)
31. Pac Man (2600)
32. Extreme Sports with the Berenstain Bears (GBC)
33. Fantasy Zone (PS2)
34. Space Fantasy Zone (TG16)
35. Arnold Palmer Tournament Golf Fantasy Zone (Genesis)
36. Mega Man (GG)
37. Konami Pixel Puzzle (iOS)
38. Qix (Arcade/NES)
39. Congo Bongo (Arcade)
40. Phantasy Star Gaiden (GG)
41. Phantasy Star Adventure (GG)
42. Panzer Dragoon Mini (GG)
43. Spartan X-2 (Famicom)
44. BS The Legend of Zelda: The Ancient Stone Tablets (Super Famicom)
45. BS The Legend of Zelda (Super Famicom)
46. Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Mini-Land Mayhem! (NDS)
47. Double Dribble (NES)
48. Super Pro Football (INTV)
49. Indy 500 (2600)
50. Tecmo Bowl (NES)

51. Ninja Gaiden (GG)
52. SonSon (Arcade)
53. Wonder Girl: The Dragon’s Trap (iOS)
54. Minit (iOS)
55. Ninja Gaiden (SMS)
56. Surround (2600)
57. Pocket Bomberman (GBC)
58. Shadowgate (iOS)
59. Kuru Kuru Kururin (GBA)
60. Metroid Prime Hunters - First Hunt (NDS)
61. Mekorama (iOS)
62. Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles (PSP)
63. Akamajou Dracula Peke (TG16)
64. Darius Burst (iOS)
65. DoDonPachi Resurrection HD (iOS)
66. Vigilante (TG16)
67. The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (Wii)
68. Oxenfree (iOS)
69. Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest (NES)
70. Tormentum: Dark Sorrow (iOS)
71. Hidden Folks (iOS)
72. 3D Classics Urban Champion (3DS)
73. Ufouria (NES)
74. Eternal Ring (PS2)
75. Super Phantom Cat (iOS)
76. Vectorman (Genesis)
77. The Room: Old Sins (iOS)


Super Phantom Cat is a mobile platformer. It has twee graphics and music, and it received good reviews. Apparently, those reviewers haven’t played a platformer, however, and I found the level design and mechanics to be really dull.

Vectorman is a Genesis game with great graphics and some baffling design decisions. I wrote about it in this month’s TR thread.

The Room: Old Sins is the fourth game in the Room series. It serves as a prequel to the other games, and it’s just as good as it’s predecessors. It looks great, and the puzzles are clever. After four games, however, the formula’s getting a bit stale, and while I will certainly play more games in the series, I wouldn’t mind seeing the developer try something else.
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Re: Games Beaten 2019

by alienjesus Thu Dec 05, 2019 5:44 pm

Games Beaten 2019:
First 50:
1. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Switch
2. Alex Kidd in The Enchanted Castle Switch
3. Streets of Rage Switch
4. Vectorman Switch
5. Galaxy Force II Switch
6. Flicky Switch
7. Phantasy Star 2 Switch
8. Sonic the Hedgehog Switch
9. Altered Beast Switch
10. ESWAT: City Under Siege Switch
11. Columns Switch
12. Virtua Fighter 2 Switch
13. Kirby Star Allies Switch
14. Katamari Damacy Reroll Switch eShop
15. Pokémon: Let's Go, Eevee! Switch
16. Octodad: Dadliest Catch Switch eShop
17. Sword of Vermilion Switch
18. Decap Attack Switch
19. Golden Axe Switch
20. The Revenge of Shinobi Switch
21. Beyond Oasis Switch
22. WarioWare Gold 3DS
23. Shining in the Darkness Switch
24. Kid Chameleon Switch
25. Streets of Rage 2 Switch
26. Bio-Hazard Battle Switch
27. Super Thunder Blade Switch
28. Gain Ground Switch
29. Phantasy Star III: Generations of Doom Switch
30. Sonic the Hedgehog 2 Switch
31. Comix Zone Switch
32. Vectorman 2 Switch
33. Light Crusader Switch
34. Crack Down Switch
35. ToeJam and Earl Switch
36. Dynamite Headdy Switch
37. Golden Axe II Switch
38. Shadow Dancer: The Secret of Shinobi Switch
39. Columns III: Revenge of Columns Switch
40. Shining Force: The Legacy of Great Intention Switch
41. Kirby No Kirakira Kizzu Game Boy
42. Klonoa Wii
43. Looney Tunes Collector: Martian Alert! GBC
44. Mario Tennis N64
45. Fire Emblem Warriors Switch
46. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time [Randomiser] N64
47. The New Zealand Story SMS
48. Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana Switch
49. Shenmue 2 Dreamcast
50. Castlevania GBA

51. Mario Party N64
52. ActRaiser SNES
53. GoldenEye 007 N64
54. Mom Hid My Game Switch eShop
55. Money Puzzle Exchanger Switch eShop
56. Gunbird Switch eShop
57. Tokyo School Life Switch eShop
58. Musynx Switch
59. Gremlins 2: The New Batch NES
60. Subsurface Circular Switch eShop
61. Yoshi's Woolly World Wii U
62. ToeJam & Earl: Panic on Funkotron Switch
63. Bare Knuckle III Switch
64. Gunstar Heroes Switch
65. Space Harrier II Switch
66. Sonic Spinball Switch
67. Phantasy Star IV: The End of the Millennium Switch
68. Sonic 3D Blast Switch
69. Rabbids Go Home Wii
70. Alien Storm Switch
71. Alien Soldier Switch
72. Untitled Goose Game Switch eShop
73. Landstalker: The Treasures of King Nole Switch
74. Fatal Labyrinth Switch





Bare Knuckle III

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Streets of Rage 3 is a game I’ve had since I was a kid, and whilst I’ve always liked it OK, It’s definitely my least favourite game in the series. The reasons for this are fairly well known I think – a change in style for the soundtrack, weird recoloured sprites and more importantly, overly difficult gameplay. But a few years ago I finally sat down and played Bare Knuckle III, the Japanese version of the game, which resolved many of my issues. Honestly, the soundtrack has never bothered me too much, despite liking the first 2 games far more, but Bare Knuckle 3 was a much easier game, with a more coherent plot, and no weirdly recoloured sprites. I actually said in my review at the time that I found the game much more satisfying and rated it very highly based on that version.

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And so when it came time to play the game again for the Mega Drive Classics collection, I decided to take advantage of the fact the collection has selectable regions for this game and play through the Japanese version again. But this time, I didn’t come away feeling quite as positive as before. Don’t get me wrong, the game is still far superior in it’s original form, but a second playthrough had me picking up flaws I hadn’t noticed before.

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First of all, the game somehow lacks impact compared to the first 2 games. I think it’s partially to do with the speed – Bare Knuckle 3 is far faster than the previous 2 games, even accounting for the fact I’m used to playing them at 50hz. Your punches combo much quicker than before, and that results in a few changes – enemies react quicker out of being hit to accommodate for the increased speed. But this means that there’s less of a pause both between you throwing punches and enemies reacting them – it makes it feel like you’re slapping them with a feather because they don’t seem to flinch from impact. The sound effects too seem to be a bit weaker, less bone crunching than before. This might be compounded by some audio lag I noticed. I suspect this is actually throughout the collection, but this game was one of the few where I noticed that sounds weren’t matching up accurately with actions – a common emulation issue, but I wonder if this game was more impacted than others for some reason.

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Secondly, the fact remains that even with the improvements, Streets of Rage 3’s level design isn’t the best. It’s not bad per se, but it often relies too much on level gimmicks that are fun first time round, but become irritating the more you encounter them – stuff like the trains coming along on one stage – fine when you can move between tracks, but annoying on the section where there’s only one track and you have to halt momentum to duck for cover every time a train comes. Other examples include the animal traps in stage 6, the bulldozer in stage 3 – these things come up a lot. The bosses also all have similar annoying traits of not being that different – they all seem different but fundamentally have the same challenge – they’re hard to hit because they move faster than you, and they have ways to throw you off when you do start comboing – Shiva, the samurai clones, Mona & Lisa and the robots in the final stage all suffer from this. Even Roo and Bruce the clown, the mini boss from stage 2, have elements of this.

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So overall, I don’t feel quite as positive about Bare Knuckle 3 as before. It’s still a revelation if you’re only used to playing the western version of the game, but the fact remains that SoR2 is a much stronger title regardless. It’s fun, and a classic of the genre, but it still lives in the shadow of it’s predecessor a little too much.

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Gunstar Heroes

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Gunstar Heroes is a game I have played to death before, so I know it’s a high quality title already. So I was looking forward to sitting down with it once again as part of the Sega Mega Drive Classics collection.

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And unlike Streets of Rage 3, I don’t have any new insights or perspective on the game. Gunstar Heroes remains the fantastic experience it has always been – fast paced, frantic and eclectic, with exciting setpieces, challenging bosses, fun changes of pace and so many options of ways to play – even if I do tend to fall back to my old standby of double flame fairly often.

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It truly is amazing how much of a masterclass of game design Gunstar Heroes feels all of these years later. It’s a game that truly shows off it’s systems hardware, without compromising the gameplay experience or feeling too gimmicky. Each stage offers up something new and different whilst again not distracting from the fun of it’s core run ‘n’ gun gameplay. It’s also reasonably challenging whilst offering it’s players lots of leeway due to lots of health (which increases the further into the game you are) and options of which level to take on next for the first 4 stages.

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No game is perfect of course, and I always found the spaceship stage to be a bit underwhelming, especially as it can throw you for a loop depending on weapon type – for example, my favoured flame/flame is verstatile at hitting all around me in run n gun mode, but very inflexible and short range in the shmup stage, as are most of my other favourites - meaning I normally end up swapping weapons before and after that one stage to prepare appropriately. I also feel like some boss fights are better than others, and the final boss isn’t one of the good ones.

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But overall, it’s hard to deny that Gunstar Heroes is still phenomenal. It’s one of the best games on Mega Drive (certainly top 5 material for me), my favourite run n gunner of all time and one of Treasure’s very best – and that’s a high watermark indeed.

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Space Harrier II

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Spacer Harrier is often regarded as a true Sega Classic. One of Sega’s line of super popular super scroller arcade games, it’s lauded for its music, graphics and fast paced gameplay. Sega clearly has a love for it too, and I’m sure many a Sega fan feels a beautiful nostalgic rush when that familiar voice of ‘Welcome to the Fantasy Zone. Get Ready!’ plays out. And so, as someone who regards themselves as a huge Sega fan, I of course am a huge fan of the game too.

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Except actually, no, I’m not. I can’t stand it. I think it’s cheap, repetitive and not much fun to play. I respect it for it’s place in time, and I think it’s better than other similar titles (Afterburner is a dire experience, fight me), but I also think it’s a flawed genre that wouldn’t actually become fun until 3D games took over and made it easier to actually see how far away things were and not have your vision be blocked by your character (aka Starfox good, Space Harrier bad). I also think Space Harrier has even been surpassed by other games of a similar vein by Sega themselves – the Arcade versions of Thunder Blade and Galaxy Force II are much better for example.

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However, the Mega Drive ports of both of those games were supremely lacking, with the 16 bit hardware unable to match the sprite scaling depths of those much more ambitious titles, and so, whilst not expecting much, I chose to leave Space Harrier 2 until last of the 3 to beat for the Mega Drive collection. Surely the Mega Drive could offer up something more comparable to such an early arcade title, as opposed to the more complex Galaxy Force or Thunder Blade.

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And, to be fair, I was right. Space Harrier II is still far from matching it’s arcade predecessor, but it is a much closer match than the other rail shooters on the collection. The sprite scaling is still very choppy, but the lack of 3d effects, shifting speeds or changing depths makes it much more approximate overall. It’s a shame then, that I still just don’t really think the gameplay holds up. You fly through 13 levels, shooting enemies whilst dodging obstacles – the enemies, their projectiles and also environmental hazards.

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Environmental hazards remain the sticking point – due to the shoddy scaling and their large size, sometimes they flick up to the next size sprite and hit you in a place that you had no real way to tell was safe. I fundamentally think the flawed scrolling makes an already flawed premise worse. The music is utterly forgettable in this mega drive sequel too, which takes away the one thing I kinda liked about the original.

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The game has 13 levels, but you can play the first 12 in any order. However, you must finish all 12 in one run to unlock level 13, and I wasn’t going to play for days to achieve this, so I have to admit to making use of the save state and rewind features of the collection for this one. I have no regrets, because I have no intention of every playing this one again. I actually think I slightly preferred the much maligned Galaxy Force port more, and I would rate this game near the bottom of the collection alongside such dirge as Super Thunder Blade and Kid Chameleon (and please, lets not start that debate again!).
Absolutely pass on this game, it’s not worth it at all. Play one of the myriad ports of the arcade game if you absolutely must play Space Harrier, but my recommendation is just to sack it off, listen to the soundtrack of the arcade game on Youtube, and play a good game instead.

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Sonic Spinball

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Back in the day, as a kid, I was a huge Sonic the Hedgehog fan. I owned Sonic 1, Sonic 2 and Sonic & Knuckles, but I was always curious to try out the other games in the series – however, my game purchasing was very limited – all my games came from a local market stall, and most of them were within a tight price range that meant I often couldn’t afford some games I wanted. I remember at various times turning down games like A Link to the Past for some other rubbish because it was too pricy. Anyway, as a Sonic fan, I was keen to play other games in the series too – Sonic 3 especially, obviously (always just out of my price range when it was there), but also Sonic Spinball and Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine. I was very close to buying Spinball a few times, but it was always unavailable when I had the money to spend, so I actually never bought it.

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To this day, I still don’t own a physical copy of the game for original hardware – the reasons have changed though. Back when, it was about money and availability, but I’ve long since had the means now. However, as an adult and with access to the internet, I have had a lot more access to information about the games quality, or lack thereof. I’ve also had the ability to try the game a few times over the years, which suggested that those opinions were accurate. And so I’ve not been looking forward to getting to this game on the collection.

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Sonic Spinball takes Sonic and throws him into a pinball game of sorts. It aims to combine elements of the Sonic games with pinball, which in theory should work pretty well – after all, springs, bumpers and pinball flippers have been recurring elements of Sonic stages since the very first game, so it’s not much of a stretch to essentially make whole levels out of the mechanics. And that’s what they do – each of the game’s stages features you exploring the multiple sections of the level searching for chaos emeralds. Once you have found enough emeralds in each stage, you can advance to the boss area and take on Dr. Robotnik to beat the stage and move on. At some areas of the table, you’ll be able to interact in a different way – for example, you may be able to move around on foot as sonic briefly, steer a minecart down a track or propel sonic upwards with air by pressing the button. The concept of this is all pretty neat, and I could imagine it being a lot of fun.

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I say imagine, because ultimately the game’s flaws are not in concept, but execution. It’s weird to me that this game both manages to feel like a flawed pinball game, with heavy, awkward physics and angles that are too hard to hit reliably, but that it also manages to feel like a flawed sonic game too – sonic’s movement is INCREDIBLY stiff and his jumping is atrocious when on foot too. Honestly, the pinball physics in the actual sonic titles are far superior despite not being made for a pinball game, and it’s beyond me why they didn’t use those in the first place. It really hampers the enjoyability of the game.

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And wow, you sure can tell this is an American Mega Drive game! I’ve heard a lot of American’s online recently talk about euro-jank – the recurring weirdness seen in lots of European games of the era – stuff like shmups with enemies taking way too many hits, and games with one hit deaths and deadly water drips – and I actually think some of that is fair (although there’s plenty of amazing Euro games from the era too that I feel get unfairly sidelined in those discussions) but as a counterpoint, this sure is American jank. You know what I mean I’m sure. Everything is heavy in movement, stiff to control and covered in a 90s comic book filter of looking way too edgy and dark. This doesn’t feel like the world of Sonic the Hedgehog -it’s nothing like the tone, atmosphere or environments we’ve seen in the other games up to this point (and yes, I know those were developed in America too sometimes – but US-jank is equally not across all games of the region in the same way as Euro-jank.) And as the final nail in the US-jank coffin, it of course uses the atrocious GEMS engine for music. Admittedly, it’s one of the better uses of the engine out there, but it still feels a bit like if you played the legend of Zelda theme using only the ‘meow’ cat noise from Mario Paint – the instrument holds back the composition regardless.

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Overall, I didn’t hate Sonic Spinball. Some of the ideas in the mechanics and the levels were decent, and the music managed to be decent despite the GEMS engine. But it was held back by flawed execution, mediocre physics, and a tone and atmosphere that just didn’t fit Sonic the Hedgehog at all. Probably one to pass on in my opinion, but I wouldn’t begrudge anyone who does enjoy it.

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Phantasy Star IV: The End of the Millennium

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Phantasy Star is a series that I’ve not had the greatest time with on this collection. It’s never been truly awful (although 2 came close…) but it’s been consistently underwhelming compared to the quality of the first game. 2 was grindy and lacking in meaningful story or character development, with twisty, frustrating dungeons full of tedious dead ends. 3 was unpolished and felt a little rushed – it never really utilised it’s core concept very well, and it was a but mindless, and easy. And so, I wasn’t super excited to get stuck into the 4th game, despite many people telling me that it’s not only the best in the series, but one of the best RPGs of it’s era, able to stand toe-to-toe with the competition on Super Nintendo. But it was next on the list, so I gave the game the benefit of a doubt, and jumped in. Hopefully the positive opinions were right on this one.

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The first thing I noticed in the game was an improved focus on story. We meet Chaz and Alys, our heroes, and are introduced to their occupation as hunters, fighters who help people by solving problems and defeating monsters. We get introduced to the quest they’re currently on to investigate a university basement full of monsters, and get an insight into their characters. In the first 3 minutes of the game we learn more about Alys and Chaz than we learned about almost the entire part of 2 and 3 in 20-40 hours. The cutscenes play out with comic book style pop up pictures and they look pretty great for the system. The graphics in gameplay aren’t quite as impressive, but it’s still a step up from what came before and it’s appreciated.

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The improved story continues throughout – we get introduced to our various characters with enough time for them to develop a motive for joining us, and these are often called back instead of promptly forgotten like in PS2 and PS3. If there’s one thing the game gets right compared to it’s predecessors, it’s this. The game includes some emotional moments and some surprises, even some callbacks to earlier games, including the black sheep of Phantasy Star 3.

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Gameplay wise, there’s so new battle mechanics, although the core principles are generally the same. However, the new mechanics are interesting – aswell as the usual techs which use TP to cast (aka magic) each character also now has skills, battle abilities which can be used a limited number of times between healing at inns. These often offer more powerful battle abilities or character specific healing or support abilities and become your main tool for boss battles. As you level up, you get more and more uses, and later in the game you will use these way more than spells. You can also set up auto-battle macros, which can be utilised to instantly cast a set of skills without having to manually input them – you can set up 8 of these to save time in bosses, although you’ll sometimes get irritated resetting them when your party swaps out. Casting certain spells in combination one after another can also combine them into a single powerful spell, but this mechanic was not used much by me – I found that it was normally easier to use skills, as the combo spells could be disrupted if an enemy moved between them, often resulting in a handful of weaker abilities being used instead.

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I had a great time playing through Phantasy Star 4, and compared to it’s predecessors it’s a big step up. The story is much improved and feels more crucial to the experience now, and the gameplay is more interesting and involved too. Some characters felt a little over or under powered (Gryz for example was useless…) but it never felt too problematic. Dungeon designs weren’t super exciting but they also weren’t packed with dead ends like 2 or super short like 3, and the game was not overly grindy. It also manages to nicely tie up some of the story elements from the previous 3 games to make the series feel more unified. So overall, I agree with a lot of people’s thoughts that Phantasy Star 4 is a pretty great game, and potentially the best in the series (I still think PS1 might be the more impressive entry for it’s time, but 4 has definitely aged better.

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What I don’t agree with though, is that this game rivals the best the SNES has to offer. Apologies if you think otherwise, but I think this opinion is delusional. Phantasy Star 4 is a solid game with improvements to plot, gameplay, graphics and music, but compared to the stuff Squaresoft was putting out at the time, it’s still feels outdated. Even a game like Final Fantasy V, which is often regarded as quite weak storywise, has, I feel, more developed characters and more frequently steers the plot, whilst also having a much more interesting and in-depth battle system, and much superior graphics and sound for gameplay (if not cutscenes). Phantasy Star 4 is good, but it feels like a game that’s finally caught up to what it’s predecessors should have been – and in the meantime, it’s competition has long surpassed that.

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Phantasy Star 4 is a game I enjoyed, and I’d recommend it to people to play. However, it can be a bit pricy these days, and if you’re going to spend that money on an old RPG, there’s plenty I’d recommend first. If you’ve played the likes of Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy already though, and want another great RPG to fill your time with, you could do a lot worse than this.

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Sonic 3D Blast

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Here’s another game I’ve beaten before. Sonic 3D: Flickie’s Island was a game I had as a kid but never really got far into it. I played through the first couple worlds, but always had problems with the perspective by the time I reached the more challenging levels from world 3 onwards. I beat the game years later though, and at the time I commented that it was better than it gets credit for. So going into it again for the collection, I figured it’d be enjoyable enough.

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Sonic 3D Blast (the collection includes US roms, so I’ll use the US name) is an isometric platformer starring Sonic. Now, that instantly presents problems right away, with basic each part of the description. First off, Isometric is a bit of a dirty word in general, but it becomes worse when you remember I played this portably on the switch – a console with no true d-pad, just 4 buttons that serve that function. This caused a few issues on occasion as it made hitting diagonals a little tricker than it should have been. Secondly, platformer – isometric platformers can be a nightmare with it hard to interpret your movement in the space accurately. Luckily, this is one of those isometric games where up actually moves you upwards, not diagonally, so it wasn’t as confusing as it can often be. There’s also fairly decent signalling of platform positions with shadows, although some later levels still caused problems, especially in areas with vertical wall climbing. Lastly, of course, this game stars Sonic, a character who moves fast, which makes for some challenging when trying to navigate the isometric space. This one, whilst not completely debilitating, is definitely something the game never quite manages to overcome.

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See, Sonic 3D is quite a slippy game – sonic moves at speed, and with the 8 way movement he can slide about quite a bit. The game requires precision when jumping on platforms, yes, but even more so when trying to jump on enemies or power up monitors – I ended up making far more use of the roll manoeuvre to roll into enemies rather than narrowly missing my jumps over and over. There is a power up that helps with this by granting Sonic his now standard homing attack, but this is a temporary shield and isn’t reliable, so it can be a real problem to keep. This lack of precision is especially frustrating in boss fights, where it can feel a bit janky whether you hit the boss or not.

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The lack of precision can also be a pain when dealing with the titular (in Europe at least) Flickies – birds you must rescue to progress, with up to 5 in each section. These act like the Flickie’s in..er.. Flicky, in that they tail behind you in a line. The line can be used to help grab power ups in springs as it stretched above you, but otherwise they are a liability – if a bird gets hit, that bird and any following it will scatter requiring you to gather them up again, which can be a pain as they often run into hazards, off cliffs and more. If Sonic himself gets hit, all of the birds scatter, as well as all of your rings – which disappear way too quickly, meaning you could potentially lose your birds, your rings and your life all in quick succession.

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But despite it’s flaws, Sonic 3D Blast just about pulls it off. It’s far from a perfect game, but it’s playable and fun in it’s own way too. It’s not a bad looking game by any means, but it’s a bit basic due to the pre-rendered enemy look and the basic gridlike environment reinforcing the isometric aspect. However, it’s soundtrack is excellent, and clearly I’m not the only one to think that because parts of it are reused in later games such as Sonic Adventure.

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I’d never suggest that Sonic 3D Blast is a must play game, but for the price it goes for these days, it’s worth a punt to see what you make of it. I think it’s a flawed title, but not a bad one. I enjoyed replaying it well enough.

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Rabbids Go Home

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Here’s a bit of a combo breaker, with a game that’s not part of the Sega Mega Drive Classics collection. Rabbids Go Home is a game in the Raving Rabbids series for the Wii, and it seems like it’s a game that has been utterly forgotten over time – or perhaps just outright ignored since the beginning. See, when Mario & Rabbids: Kingdom Battle came out, there were a lot of people exclaiming in surprise that this was the first ‘good’ Rabbids game. Now, regardless of whether you agree on the opinions about the Rabbids mini-game collections being bad, that seems a little unfair to this title, which got pretty good reviews across the board back when it came out in 2009 – in fact, it has a solidly respectable 78% on Metacritic, with a notable number of 80%+ reviews too.

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Rabbids Go Home has a very different premise to the mini game collections that came before it. The Rabbids are all living in a dump, where they live out their days playing music, dancing and shouting BWAAA. They seem to be building a tower out of the rubbish, and it becomes clear that their goal is to use this tower to get to the moon, where, based on the title, I guess they’re from? Maybe? It’s not really clear. But anyway, it becomes clear that you don’t have enough stuff to pile up to get to the moon, and so the rabbids go on a quest to gather more stuff and increase the pile. You play as 2 rabbids, one in boxer shorts and one in a thong, with a shopping trolley. Thong rabbid pushes the trolley around whilst boxer bunny screams at stuff and throws stuff into the trolley. You’re assisted by the cannon rabbid, a y-front wearing rabbid you can shoot at stuff out of the wii remote, and the rabbid band, a group of musician rabbids who help you gather stuff up and provide a music accompaniment.

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The gameplay is hard to describe, but it’s somewhat of a combination between a driving obstacle course and Katamari Damacy – you drive the trolley through the level, crashing into objects which then get thrown into the trolley as you go. Later in the game you get the ability to drift, granting boosts Mario akrt style which you can use to jump gaps, as well as the ability to drive on water. Boosting also can be used to attack things, but shaking the wiimote also makes you shout BWAAA which serves the same purpose. This can be used to break some things to make ramps, find other items inside, or blast the clothes off of people to add to the pile. As you progress, you’ll also come against forces out to stop you which equire you to beat them in battle, normally by hitting them in the back but sometimes via other means. The game is linear – it’s not open and freefrom like Katamari.

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The game likes to mix things up between stages – levels feature unique gimmicks which are sometimes revisited, but help keep things fresh. Examples include a level where I road a jet engine through an airport sucking up people and obstacles – luckily this is a silly game so people just got spat back out in their underwear instead of vaporised. There was also a level where I needed to keep up with a moving truck so I could steal the cow in the back, a level where I used a critically ill patient in a breathing capsule to float through the air, and a level where I chased an intern on a moped through security pass sections before the time ran out. It’s some nice variety, and it keeps things interesting, although by the end of the game things had started to get a little repetitive, even though it was still fun. There’s a surprising amount of content here, and the game lasted me a good 14 hours or so.

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The game has a really bizarre style to it that was both endearing and baffling. There was obviously some toilet humour and silliness, but also some things which felt surprisingly off in terms of tone, although enjoyably so – some of which I already mentioned. First of all, your main rabbid wearing a g-string is already rather odd for a kids game, but considering you basically strip every character you encounter in game down to their underwear too, it still feels oddly inappropriate. There’s some dark turns too, like the terminally ill patient you keep kidnapping in his breathing machine to add to the pile, as well as some dark humour – I laughed out loud when I screamed BWAAA at a man investigating a lift shaft and he tumbled down it head first. There’s definitely some humour aimed at adults too, with the people in the environments commenting some amusing stuff when being chased or stripped, a favourite of mine being ‘my pass was in thereeeeee….now how am I gonna sign out to go home!’ in an office.

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The game is visually pretty nice for Wii – models are simple but this is to accommodate there often being a lot on screen, and the environments still look clean and colourful besides. The soundtrack is a massive unexpected treat though, with a bizarre mixed of licensed elevator music (Rivers of Babylon for example…?!) and the rabbids own band music, which is a wonderfully eclectic Balkan swing which I HIGHLY recommend listening to – check it out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f2yRBCvgWgM&list=PLduYc1zY4gJVC5ix4woa2pykJA7m_l4nt&index=4&t=0s

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Overall, it can be a bit repetitive, and a few moments later in the game were a bit frustrating, mainly when too many jumps were needed in a row, but Rabbids Go Home is a pretty great little title for the Wii that is unfairly forgotten in my eyes. It’s fun, eccentric and pretty unique, and considering how stupendously cheap it goes for now (I got my copy for £1.50) it really should be a must own for any Wii collection.

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Alien Storm

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Now we’ve had our break for Rabbids, it’s straight back to the Mega Drive collection for Alien Storm. Alien Storm is a beat-em-up for the Mega Drive with a sci-fi setting – the earth has been set upon by an alien menace, and it’s up to you to stop them. Somehow, this is a game I’ve ended up playing a few times over the last few years, but that’s not too big a problem, as it’s a fun enough title.

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Alien Storm is a very simple feeling beat-em-up. It kind of reminds me of Golden Axe but sci-fi in a way, but in actuality, the gameplay is perhaps even more simplistic. There’s far less combos to utilise here, no jumping attacks or animal to ride or anything like that. Just a few simple attack strings, a roll button which can be used for quick escapes or for running tackles, and a bomb button which uses some of your energy bar in return for a screen filling attack. Energy also powers your weapon, so running out is a real hazard.

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The most interesting thing about Alien Storm is the way it changes up gameplay every so often, either via a running section or a shooting section. The former are less frequent and less interesting – essentially you sprint forwards and can hammer the shoot button to defeat enemies in your pass. A later boss fight uses this mechanic and is interesting for it as it asks you dodge by jumping too. The shooting sections are far more interesting, set up like shooting galleries where you can destroy not just the aliens but the environment too, revealing health pickups and extra energy. These are not super indepth either, but the balance of the shooting and beat em up sections ends up making the game better than the sum of it’s fairly mediocre parts.

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The difficulty of the game is pretty high, and it honestly feels like it goes on a bit too long for what it has to offer, but Alien Storm is generally a pretty fun title. It’s not something that should be played too regularly (I’ve definitely had enough of it after beating it for the 3rd time in about 18 months) but it’s a pretty harmless good time to break out now and again. And the credits sequence features some really goofy animation that I love too. Worth a try.

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Alien Soldier

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I’m a big fan of Treasure games, as I’ve said on multiple occasions before. I have played and adored Gunstar Heroes, Guardian Heroes, Bangai-O, Ikaruga and many others, and I find them to be unique and interesting and of high quality in general. However, of their Mega Drive output, there’s a few games I hadn’t really tried – McDonald’s Treasure Land Adventure, and Yu Yu Hakusho for example, but also another notable non-licensed title – Alien Soldier.

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I’d given Alien Soldier a brief try once before, and I was very confused, and I died instantly. It’s not a game that fucks about, that’s for sure, and I actually would recommend looking up a bit about how to play before diving into this one – there’s so much to learn here and it takes a while to click – but it’s easier if you go in knowing some of the tricks ahead of time.

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The game has a really long and complicated story involving cybernetic animal mutants and psychic children being murdered and clones and it’s very complicated. But then, this is trying to be a complicated game too. Alien Soldier is a game made by Treasure and aimed at really hardcore gamers. It features intense actions sequences, complex multi-part bosses and some complicated mechanics and it’s really out to impress. As it says on the title screen: “Visualshock! Speedshock! Soundshock! Now is the time to the 68000 heart on fire!”. And it’s out to burn you too, with it’s 2 difficult levels – SuperEasy (read: hard) and SuperHard (read: incredibly hard). They’re similar but have key differences – health recovery is lower on hard for one, which makes a fundamental mechanic very different functionally (I’ll cover this later) but more importantly, SuperEasy has infinite continues whereas SuperHard has no continues and only one life. Also, you don’t heal between levels in this game, just so you know. I played on SuperEasy :D

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You play as Epsilon Eagle (sort of – the story is complicated and mostly irrelevant), an eagle man who can shoot projectiles from his hand. At the start of the game you can choose from up to 6 weapons, gunstar heroes style, but the difference here is you can choose any 4 of them (including the same one multiple times). These can’t be mixed like in Gunstar, but can be switched between in game by pressing A – careful though, as gameplay doesn’t stop whilst you switch weapons. Weapons have energy which is used up when shooting them, but it replenishes over time when not in use – so you can’t spam one weapon endlessly unless you equip it multiple times.

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You can jump too, and pressing jump again in midair makes you hover in place. You can then jump again to double jump out of this hover. If a ceiling is above you, up and jump will flip your gravity so you can walk on the ceiling. You can also switch between fixed shot mode, where you stand still and can aim all around when shooting, and free shot mode, where you can move whilst shooting on the fly – fixed shot being the preferred option here for most encounters.

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Pressing shoot twice quickly performs a counter – a small burst appears, and if you use this on enemy bullets they turn into health. This is crucial for some bosses, and also helps power up the phoenix attack, a crucial mechanic. Pressing down and jump makes you teleport ahead whilst invulnerable, useful for doging attacks. However, if you have full health when doing this, you set on fire and charge forward in the shape of a phoenix. This can do tons od damage, but injures you slightly so you need to replenish health to do it again. On SuperEasy, one counter gives 50 health points, enough to max out from a phoenix tackle. On hard, it gives 20, so replenishing it is way tougher.

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The game is essentially a boss rush, and the bosses are super inventive and interesting. Learning which weapons work best is essential – they both shoot differently and have different effectiveness – biological enemies are weaker to the flamethrower but mechanic ones hate the laser more. It’s also key to make effective use of the counter and the phoenix tackle in order to really master the game and make solid progress – the game expects both to be used by the end. In between bosses you’ll get short segments of run n gun gameplay which often feature health or weapon energy power ups and also weapon capsules allowing you to swap a weapon out for another. I stuck with my starting set throughout though.

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Alien Soldier is a game that has a lot to learn and a lot to remember, but once it clicks, it’s a ton of fun. I’d recommend this in a heartbeat to any fan of Treasure or fun run n gun games, but with a caveat. I’m sure most of you know, but Alien Soldier is one of the rarest and priciest Mega Drive titles out there – this is a game that would probably be best experienced on some kind of collection like this, unless you have £300+ and a lot of time and patience on hand. It’s a shame the original copy is so pricy, because I’d love to own this. For now, the collection will have to do. Play it however you can.

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Untitled Goose Game

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Untitled Goose Game is a game where you play as a horrible goose and terrorise the people of a small village community. It’s become super popular online for a while, with lots of memes and the likes coming off the back of it. But regardless of that, the premise interested me. It’s essentially a puzzle/stealth title where you play as a goose, and you have a checklist of chaos to cause using the objects around you. You’re a fairly realistic goose too – you only have a few actions you can do. You can waddle around on land or swim through water. Pressing X lets you honk, which can startle people or scare some of them. Holding ZR makes you raise up and flap your wings, which is almost useless. Pressing ZL lets you duck down your head which allows you to pass through gaps and also causes you to waddle faster. Lastly, you can pick things up and carry them about, which is the key to most puzzles.

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Each section of the game has you in an area of the village, terrorising a different set of residents. You have some preassigned tasks to complete in each – some of which are obvious (‘rake in the lake’ speaks for itself) and some more cryptic on how to achieve them (‘make someone buy back their own stuff’ for example). One of the tasks will also involve collecting certain objects and bringing them to a certain place – the first involves making a picnic by stealing all of the necessary stuff for example. The reason for your actions isn’t really made clear as such, but it doesn’t matter. It’s just fun being a horrible goose.

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Untitled Goose Game is a short game, with only really 4 major areas of the game – the allotments, the high streets, the back gardens of some houses, and a pub. Playing through each area will take a few hours – you don’t have to complete every challenge in an area to move on, but you do need to accomplish a fair few – which unlocks one last task to access the next area. After beating the game, additional challenges are unlocked for fun, but it’s still a quick experience overall.

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I had a few issues with Goose Game, as the turning circle for the goose is surprisingly wide, and the final section of the game was occasionally frustrating, but overall I had a decent time. It’s not an amazing game, and it’s a little overhyped and pricy for what it is, but I think it’s worth a playthrough. Pick it up on a sale ideally, but either way it’s a nice weekend afternoon game. And you get to be a horrible goose.

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Landstalker: The Treasures of King Nole

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Landstalker is an isometric action adventure game for the Mega Drive. It’s often pretty highly regarded, and I get why. It’s an ambitious game with lots to see and do, and it takes inspiration from some of the best action adventure games of it’s time. But unfortunately, I really didn’t enjoy Landstalker, and this review is mostly going to be me trying explain why.

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So lets start with the fundamentals – the controls. This is probably the biggest obstacle there is to enjoying Landstalker, and that’s a problem. It’s really hard to explain just how bad the controls are, but I’ll do my best. So with isometric games, there tends to be one of 3 approaches to movement. Option A is fairly common, and it has you moving diagonally when you press any cardinal direction – thus, up moves you up right, left moves you up-left etc. In this option, the diagonal directions don’t do anything or they replicate the cardinal direction functionality – thus, quarter of the d-pad moves you in one direction each. Option B is the same as option A, only now the diagonals move you in the cardinal directions. This is needlessly confusing, but still results in an equal 1/8th of the d-pad moving you in each direction. Option C, which both the enjoyable Light Crusader and Sonic 3D Blast use, is to have the directions move you as expected – up is up, up-right is up-right etc. Again, 1/8th of the d-pad moves you in each direction. Which option does Landstalker use? None of the above!

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Landstalker goes for Option D, which I hadn’t even entertained as an option. See, you’re restricted to 4 planes of movement, like option A. But the diagonals work. The problem is how they work. So if you press up, you’ll move up-right. Pressing Up-right also moves you up right. But bizarrely, so does right. Pressing down, left or down-left will all move you down-left. So in this scenario, 2 of the directions use up 3/8ths of the d-pad each. To move on the other axis, (up-left and down-right) you need to press diagonally in these directions, only 1/8th of the d-pad each. But if you do that, then THE FUNCTION OF THE OTHER DIRECTIONS CHANGES! Once you’re moving on that axis, the up and left buttons no longer move you up-right and down-left respectively – they now both move you up-left. This means 4 of the direction keys NEVER CONSISTENTLY MOVE YOU IN THE SAME DIRECTION. This caused me constant frustrations throughout play, and I never got over it.

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This is then compounded by the platforming. Now, in both my reviews of Light Crusader and Sonic 3D, I noted that those games really help with platforming by showing clear shadows and helping you understand the positioning of platformers. Landstalker is one of those other games – not only does it not offer any assistance in isometric platformers, it utterly revels in deceiving you with platforms that look like they’re in one place but turn out to be in another. This causes constantly and frustrating trial and error.

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Unfortunately, it’s not the only adventuring mechanic in the game that sucks – the game also loves to put in INCREDIBLY strictly timed puzzles and pixel perfect precision that cause you to reattempt rooms over and over again. One particularly gruelling puzzle towards the end required you to position Nigel in 10 different pixel perfect spots with milliseconds of time in precision in a row to solve a puzzle. I used the rewind function for this, and no joke, it still took me upwards of 15 minutes to compelte this 8 second sequence, a 10th of a second at a time. It was ridiculous. I dread to think what this was like for people playing on console.

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And it’s a shame that all this is what I mainly remember of Landstalker, because the game has much to recommend it otherwise. It’s quite a pretty game, and the characters are memorable. Some of the game’s puzzles are a lot of fun, and I loved exploring the world, diving into dungeons and expanding my health as I progressed. The problem is, what I wanted to play was a Landstalker, but without all the bullshit. Landstalker minus the ultra precision skills tests, without the terrible isometric platforming, and without the bullshit control schemes. Maybe if they made it top down, let you explore at your own pace. Yes, basically, I want to play Zelda. And that’s why Landstalker is bad. Everything that’s good about the game exists elsewhere in a much better title. Everything that makes it stand out as unique is unbearably bad. I can’t recommend this game to anyone. If you were thinking about it, play Zelda instead.

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Fatal Labyrinth

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Fatal Labyrinth is a very hard game to review, because it is a game that made very little impact on me. It’s a roguelike game where you venture into a tower to defeat the evil dragon at the top and rescue the town. Cue 30 floors or randomised dungeon layouts filled with monsters to defeat and treasures to find to reach the top.
In some ways, Fatal Labyrinth is an unforgiving game – enemies on the very first floor are capable of inflicting sleep and killing you before you wake up, and it’s entirely possible to find yourself starting in a room with several of these enemies – as I did on my first, very short run. The game also features cursed weapons which lower your strength to 0 and are impossible to remove, and a hunger mechanic which punishes you both for not eating enough and for eating too much. Did I mention food pickups don’t indicate how big they are, so it’s entirely possible to go from as low as 45/99 hunger to overstuff in one pickup, halving your movement speed?

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But in many other ways, Fatal Labyrinth is fairly forgiving for the genre. Although potions and spells have randomised effects in each run, you’ll often be able to identify many early on and then they stay the same throughout the game – meaning not knowing what a potion does stops being a problem fairly early on. The game also upgrades weapons and armour fairly often and has a levelling system to power you up even if you don’t find any good upgrades. Most importantly, it has a checkpoint every 5 stages, so if you die you’ll continue from there. This is mainly useful early on, as the later parts of the dungeon tend to be much easier with your higher level, armour and better line up of spells, rings and potions.

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One thing that is clear about Fatal Labyrinth, after discussion with some our resident roguelike aficionados on Slack, is that it’s a really, really basic game in the genre. They seemed shocked at just how little options if offered – no character customisation, custom levelling mechanics, limited environmental traps and honestly, not a lot beyond the very basics of the genre in play.

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And maybe that’s why it doesn’t leave much of an impression. It does very little to stand out as unique. Mechanically it’s bland, and this is matched by it’s very basic presentation – even for an early Mega Drive title, Fatal Labyrinth is subpar. The music doesn’t sound wonderful either, although it has it’s charms. They do tend to wear away after a while though, as you’ll be hearing the same tracks a lot throughout the game.

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Overall, Fatal Labyrinth was fine. It’s weak points are mostly about what it doesn’t do at all rather than what it does badly. It’s a perfectly functional game, just a very simple one. There’s not really a reason to rush out and buy it, but I didn’t hate it either. It’s an OK time killer if you’re desperate, but I imagine most people on here have a ton of better options to play instead.

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Please read my obnoxious number of reviews despite the spoiler tags, it took me a very, very, very long time to write all of this...
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pook99
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Re: Games Beaten 2019

by pook99 Thu Dec 05, 2019 9:52 pm

@AJ: that is one hell of a genesis list, I commend you for wading through that largely mediocre stream of games.

@prfsnl_gamer: I read your thoughts on vectorman in the TR thread and I agree, I never played the sequel and probably won't even bother now. For the life of me I cannot understand how games like vectorman are considered classics, I cheated my way through it earlier in the year, and it was okay, but there are just so many better games in that era.

186. Tayal

Tayal is about as blatant a rip off of a game I have ever played. This game is Mega Man, only instead of playing as a robot fighting robots, you are playing as some warrior kid fighting beefed up animals.

The controls are identical. you can shoot, charge shot, slide, you have a dog who can assist you, you get weapons from enemies, bosses have weaknesses, and there are hidden letters in each stage that give you a weapon if you collect them all. There are 8 stages you can tackle in any order and when you are done you enter a multi-stage castle that ends with you re-fighting all the old bosses and then finally a 3 form final boss. You can also collect green bags that serve as E-tanks. All of this is immediately familiar to fans of the blue bomber.

There is a story here but it is impossible to follow. The English in this game is comically bad and figuring out what is going on is just not possible. Not that you play a game like this for the story anyway, and it will definitely make you chuckle as you progress.

Is the game any good? Overall, I would say yes, providing you are down for a challenge. This games difficulty makes MM9 look like MM 5. It is incredibly tough, every stage is long, there is only one checkpoint, and tons of instant deaths. Be prepared to die and retry a lot. Although the game is very tough it is mostly not cheap, but I definitely scared my cats screaming at my computer on the last set of stages tonight.

The weapons in this game are mostly cool and you will definitely need them in order to advance. In most MM games I just kind of stick to the buster most of the time, but in this game I was constantly diving into my arsenal and using the weapons liberally, this makes the game far more manageable. One cool thing that I really liked is your weapons constantly recharge, which means you never run out of ammo, but you will go through short periods here and there when you cant use one particular weapon. I thought this was very good game design since it really encourages you to use your sub-weapons knowing that you don't need to worry about saving them for the right time.

If you want to play a new mega man style game and love a challenge the game is definitely worth checking out.
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prfsnl_gmr
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Re: Games Beaten 2019

by prfsnl_gmr Fri Dec 06, 2019 10:58 am

Awesome reviews, AJ. I read every one!
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alienjesus
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Re: Games Beaten 2019

by alienjesus Fri Dec 06, 2019 1:34 pm

Games Beaten 2019:
First 50:
1. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Switch
2. Alex Kidd in The Enchanted Castle Switch
3. Streets of Rage Switch
4. Vectorman Switch
5. Galaxy Force II Switch
6. Flicky Switch
7. Phantasy Star 2 Switch
8. Sonic the Hedgehog Switch
9. Altered Beast Switch
10. ESWAT: City Under Siege Switch
11. Columns Switch
12. Virtua Fighter 2 Switch
13. Kirby Star Allies Switch
14. Katamari Damacy Reroll Switch eShop
15. Pokémon: Let's Go, Eevee! Switch
16. Octodad: Dadliest Catch Switch eShop
17. Sword of Vermilion Switch
18. Decap Attack Switch
19. Golden Axe Switch
20. The Revenge of Shinobi Switch
21. Beyond Oasis Switch
22. WarioWare Gold 3DS
23. Shining in the Darkness Switch
24. Kid Chameleon Switch
25. Streets of Rage 2 Switch
26. Bio-Hazard Battle Switch
27. Super Thunder Blade Switch
28. Gain Ground Switch
29. Phantasy Star III: Generations of Doom Switch
30. Sonic the Hedgehog 2 Switch
31. Comix Zone Switch
32. Vectorman 2 Switch
33. Light Crusader Switch
34. Crack Down Switch
35. ToeJam and Earl Switch
36. Dynamite Headdy Switch
37. Golden Axe II Switch
38. Shadow Dancer: The Secret of Shinobi Switch
39. Columns III: Revenge of Columns Switch
40. Shining Force: The Legacy of Great Intention Switch
41. Kirby No Kirakira Kizzu Game Boy
42. Klonoa Wii
43. Looney Tunes Collector: Martian Alert! GBC
44. Mario Tennis N64
45. Fire Emblem Warriors Switch
46. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time [Randomiser] N64
47. The New Zealand Story SMS
48. Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana Switch
49. Shenmue 2 Dreamcast
50. Castlevania GBA

51. Mario Party N64
52. ActRaiser SNES
53. GoldenEye 007 N64
54. Mom Hid My Game Switch eShop
55. Money Puzzle Exchanger Switch eShop
56. Gunbird Switch eShop
57. Tokyo School Life Switch eShop
58. Musynx Switch
59. Gremlins 2: The New Batch NES
60. Subsurface Circular Switch eShop
61. Yoshi's Woolly World Wii U
62. ToeJam & Earl: Panic on Funkotron Switch
63. Bare Knuckle III Switch
64. Gunstar Heroes Switch
65. Space Harrier II Switch
66. Sonic Spinball Switch
67. Phantasy Star IV: The End of the Millennium Switch
68. Sonic 3D Blast Switch
69. Rabbids Go Home Wii
70. Alien Storm Switch
71. Alien Soldier Switch
72. Untitled Goose Game Switch eShop
73. Landstalker: The Treasures of King Nole Switch
74. Fatal Labyrinth Switch
75. Ristar Switch
76. Golden Axe III Switch
77. Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja Master Switch
78. Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine Switch
79. Bonanza Bros. Switch
80. Shining Force II [& Sega Mega Drive Classics] Switch



Ristar

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So if you’ve been following the chronicles of my reviews this year, you’ll know I’ve been playing a lot of Mega Drive games through the Sega Mega Drive Classics collection, and that I’ve been playing them in ‘waves’ – basically, a set of 5 to 6 games each time which are all different genres and different quality, so that I don’t front load the good games or the bad ones and put myself off. Well, Ristar was the first game of the last wave, and game number 46 of the collection. This was the start of the final sprint.

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And I have to admit, I did rig this a little bit so that whilst it wasn’t all the best stuff, I did generally have a high quality set of games for the final push. And Ristar was the first of those games, and one of the ones I’ve actually played previously. At the time, I remember it having some flaws but being generally high quality, and having a lukewarm response to it. I was curious how it would hold up.

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And I guess the first thing to note is that every time I go back to this game having not played it for a while, I always end up wondering why I felt so lukewarm about it. This is a beautiful looking game, with lush and detailed environments, and it controls really smoothly too. The game is a little bit slow perhaps, but that didn’t feel as big an issue on this collection, where it runs at 60hz, compared to the Wii VC release I previously played at 50.

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Ristar’s main method of interacting with his environment is to stretch out his arm and grab stuff. This is utilised in many ways, with Ristar swinging around poles when grabbed, headbutting grabbed enemies, holding on to floating platforms and more. Ristar uses this ability to navigate across 6 planets saving their inhabitants from evil, and each planet has some well used theming to boot. It’s all pretty typical platformer stuff – forest world, water world, fire world, but there are some fun oddballs like a music world too. The worlds feature unique hazards and mechanics which tie in to their theme nicely, and some very fun boss fights too which all feel unique. Some of the most memorable ones include a vulture who steals the spotlight in the music world, and a snowman you melt by feeding him curry in the snowy world.

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The game isn’t without it’s flaws though. Some of the mechanics can feel a little awkward to handle, and grabbing diagonally feels harder than it should be. The game also seems to suggest there will be 8 or 9 worlds on the map screen too, but 2 of them just don’t seem to do anything – suggesting maybe some content was cut? The difficulty ramps up too strongly in the 6th world too, and this is what put me off back in the day I think – I was worried how hard it was with 2 worlds still to go, but I guess that was misplaced concern.

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Anyway, Ristar is often regarded as a hidden classic, and I’m not sure that’s really true. It’s not really hidden anymore, and I personally feel that it’s good, rather than great. But that’s certainly not a bad thing, and this is a more than worthy platformer to play for the system. Give it a go.

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Golden Axe III
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Golden Axe, as mentioned in earlier reviews this year, is a staple of my childhood, and one of the first games I ever beat. I played Golden Axe 2 earlier this year though, and found it to be a very lacking experience – fine, but hard to justify playing over the original as it was just too similar without having any original ideas. Golden Axe III seems to be the black sheep of the bunch because it does stuff a little differently, but I went in cautiously optimistic, because something different is what I was after this time.

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I say cautiously, because again, I’ve played a little bit of this game previously, and I wasn’t impressed. It’s a surprisingly ugly game considering just how late it came out in the system’s lifespan, and I guess Sega didn’t have much faith in the title either as it didn’t even come out in the west except for on Sega Channel – making this are more unknown experience.

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The core gameplay of Golden Axe is here – you walk through Conan-inspired environments hacking and slashing through various enemies who appear. Attacking feels different here though – it feels more combo-ey and Streets of Ragey than the first 2 games which had a more weighty hefty feeling to their attacks. Think Streets of Rage 1 though, not 2. You also have a variety of other moves depending on your character, including throws, special moves and aerials. I played as the panther guy, because the first 2 characters looked too samey compared to Tyris and Ax Battler from the first game, and the big guy looked too slow for my preference – as the panther I had a full screen distance pounce attack which was very useful, if complicated to pull off, as well as a double jump and a diving attack in midair. It’s nice to see some new options, but it’s still somewhat lacking for it’s era.

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There are multiple routes through the game with levels offering branching paths throughout. Branching paths often lead to different bosses, although many boss enemies recur throughout. Sometimes though, you’ll meet one of the other playable characters and get a chance to rescue them by beating them in battle, and these are interesting. I encountered the giant guy and he was pretty tough compared to most normal enemies.

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You can still collect magic to use for a screen clearing attack, and this time you can choose how many magic jars to use by holding the button, although I rarely found the need for this. Bizarreans, the animals you can ride into battle are also back, but I found them to be a bit of a liability – they only tend to have one lacklustre attack, and enemies love to constantly knock you off their back. I found it was generally easier staying on foot and using jumping or dashing attacks as in previous games.

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Overall, Golden Axe 3 is a very underwhelming game. It’s nice that they tried to do something different with new characters, branching paths and extra moves, but it all feels a bit too little too late for the franchise. The rushed and low budget feel of the game really lacks charm too, and despite it’s positives I still think I’d rather play the original. Golden Axe unfortunately just never recaptured the magic on Mega Drive – it started on a high and went on a downward trajectory ever since.

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Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja Master

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Shinobi 3 is game 48 of 51 on my quest to finish the Sega Mega Drive collection, and another game I’ve played before several times. I’m probably what you would call a moderate Shinobi fan – I’ve beaten several games in the series at this point – Revenge of Shinobi, The GG Shinobi, Shinobi X, Shinobi 3DS and of course this one, but I’d not consider them my favourite series ever. But when it comes to Shinobi, there’s normally 2 schools of thought about which is the best game, those who say this game, and those who say Revenge of Shinobi. Personally, I struggle to compare, because they feel very different. I know which game I’d recommend to people most though – it’s definitely Shinobi 3.

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Shinobi 3 is an action game where you play as the ninja master, Joe Musashi. Joe has quite a comprehensive moveset, and it makes him feel fun to play – his default action is to walk through the level and throw knives at enemies, but these knives are limited. However, he can do a lot of other things to – double tapping forward allows you to run, and attacking mid run does a slashing sword attack. Holding the attack button allows you to block projectiles with your sword. Holding up when jumping allows you to grab the ceiling and swing a long it, whereas pressing down and attack in midair throws out a speedy diving kick attack. Joe can also wall jump to high ground, and perform a somersault in midair to extend height and distance, as well as throwing a fan of daggers mid somersault. Finally he can use one of 4 ninja magic once per level or life, which multiple effects – temporary invulnerability, a screen clearing fire storm, a jump enhancing shadow or self-destruction. The latter is more useful than you might think as it does heavy damage and allows you to continue (minus 1 life) from where you used it – instead of dying and going back to a checkpoint.

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This versatility of control is one of the reasons I’d recommend Shinobi 3 before Revenge – the game feels more accessible because you feel like you have more options to deal with the hazards around you than in it’s predecessor. This accessibility also extends to most of the level design – this isn’t an easy game, but the difficulty ramps up more smoothly than Revenge of Shinobi, and never quite hits the heights of difficulty Revenge does. There’s also less reliance on pixel perfect platforming and instant deaths, and more exploration and enemy hazards instead. You also get some fun breaks in the form of horse riding and surfing levels where you run forward constantly grabbing powerups and shooting attacking ninjas.

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There are some inconsistencies in quality and level design, and one level later on jumps to mind instantly. You have to climb up a ravine by jumping on falling rocks, before fighting a tengu demon at the top – this whole section is very difficult and requires precise platforming and move, and one wrong move spells instant death – it feels like a very sharp and temporary increase in difficulty.

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But overall, stuff like that is few and far between. And even when it is present, the game is still enjoyable to some extent due to it looking and sounding phenomenal. The game has a wonderful presentation – the same level just mentioned is truly stunning in motion for the hardware, and the soundtrack of the game is similarly excellent, with a combination of traiditonal Japanese instruments and action packed melodies. Great stuff.

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So overall, I would be hard picked to say whether this is better than it’s sequel, but it’s definitely easier to get into and requires less dedication to complete. Personally, I think this is a good thing – this is a game that revels in the fun of being a ninja, and doesn’t take it too seriously. You go surfing, you fight some mutants, it’s great. And very 90s. This is a top tier game for the Mega Drive, definitely give it a shot.

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Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine

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I love me some Puyo Puyo – it’s my puzzle game franchise of choice. You match 4 coloured blobs to make them disappear, making other blobs fall into their place and hopefully cause a chain reaction. In the meantime, your opponent tries to do the same, and big clearouts on either side sends troublesome extra rubbish to the other side. It’s fast paced and frenetic fun. It’s also a spin off of a Japanese dungeon crawling RPG series called Madou Monogatari, which was never localised and features a pre-schooler mage exploring a dungeon full of wacky enemies. Satan is involved, and wants to date the pre-schooler or something later I think. Basically, it’s super Japanese.

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And so, when it was bought to the west, people apparently decided that Puyo Puyo needed a makeover into something more recognisable to western audiences. On the SNES, the game was given a Kirby themed makeover and became Kirby’s Avalanche or Kirby’s Ghost Trap, depending on your region. And on the Mega Drive, the game was given an Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog (the Saturday morning cartoon) theme and became Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine. Instead of battling through tea-drinking skeletons and dancing fish men to eventually defeat Satan, you instead take on a range of badniks until you can face of against mean old Dr. R.

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But this kid friendly veneer hides a sinister secret. See, the thing you need to know about classic Puyo Puyo is that it’s a lot of fun, but also, the single player mode is super hard. Like, really, really tough. Luckily, this isn’t my first rodeo – not only have I previously beaten this game before, but I’ve also taken out Kirby’s Ghost Trap, Puyo Puyo CD for PC Engine, Puyo Puyo Tsuu for Mega Drive and Super Puyo Puyo Tsuu Remix for Super Famicom. This is a damn hard game, but it’s not nearly as tough as those latter two are. However, that’s not to say that there wasn’t a lot of swearing involved in my finishing this game again! :D

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But beat it I did, and I had a good time doing so. Personally, I like seeing the wacky characters from the Japanese series more, but there’s something fun and very 90s about seeing the sonic cartoon aesthetic on this game – it reminds me of the likes of Tetris Attack and Pokemon Puzzle League in how they’ve tried to make a puzzle game more palatable in the west by adding familiar characters instead, and I think it’s super weird to see Sonic cartoon characters instead of Sonic game characters on the Mega Drive. Mean Bean Machine is a great game, and I’d recommend it to anyone who is patient enough to persevere through the vertical difficulty curve. It’s good, if slightly unbalanced, stuff.

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Bonanza Bros.

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Here we are at game 50 of 51, and this is one I have very little experience with up to this point. Bonanza Bros. is a pretty hard game to categorise into a conventional genre – it’s a kinda arcady, kinda stealthy, thief-em-up. You play as Mobo and/or Robo (no idea which is which), 2 thieves who break into various high security buildings to rob them blind. I’ve read somewhere that in the western release they’re ‘testing security’ instead of commiting burglary, but I have no idea how true this is, as the game doesn’t really have any story other than Mobo and Robo planning the heist and then doing it.

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Bonanza Bros feature seach building in a side on perspective, and you must run around the place grabbing all of the relevant collectables. Many of the rooms allow you to move between the foreground and background layer of the room, and you can use this to dodge bullets or duck behind cover to avoid detection. If you are spotted by one of the many police guarding the facility, they will chase you and attack you, but you can temporarily incapacitate them with your pop gun – this can be more complicated depending on the officer – some only have truncheons and are easily dealth with, but some have guns to shoot back, or riot shields to protect them from your fire from the front. Often it’s best to sneak up and incapacitate an officer early.

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Shooting isn’t the only way to do so though, as sometimes you can make use of the level environment to stun enemies – some later levels for example have presses which can be operated using the level, stamping police flat for a while. More commonly though, you can make use of doors – if you open one whilst the officer is on the other side, you’ll flatten them against the back wall, stunning them for a good length of time and allowing you to continue onwards. There are other environmental elements too, such as one-use zipwires to evade police, but there’s not all the much to learn here. Once you have all the treasure on each level, you must escape to the roof to make your getaway.

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And that’s basically all these is to Bonanza Bros. It’s a pretty simple and pretty short game – there’s only 10 buildings to raid, and completing it is a fairly quick job. It’s not an amazing game by any means, but I found myself generally having fun playing through it. If you find it for cheap, it’s probably worth a shot.

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Shining Force II

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And here we go, at last – game 51 of 51 on the Sega Classics Collection, and it’s one of the longest games on it. Shining Force 2, like it’s predecessor, is a Strategy RPG game where you lead your army of quirky and colourful characters through multiple battles in order to save the world from a terrible threat. It’s very similar to the likes of Fire Emblem, another series I love, but with some crucial differences – turn order is determined by speed here, for example, and counter attacks and double attacks are rare and unreliable. Mages can also cast multiple spells too, but use up MP to do so. Finally, there’s no permadeath here. These differences seem small, but make a big difference to how you play – Shining Force requires some strategy, sure, but it’s a far more lenient and mellow experience than the high stakes and meticulous planning of Fire Emblem. And I personally think there’s a place for both in my life.

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The story this time is longer than before, with the game taking place over 46 battles as opposed to the previous games 30 or so. It’s a more interesting story overall aswell – demons break through a portal and start controlling the minds of people, starting war over the world and driving your entire town away from their home. You settle a new town, and immediately start forging alliances with neighbouring communities and solving problems. It’s not very seriously told, and the translation isn’t amazing (not awful for it’s time either mind) but it does the job overall. There is some weird tonal whiplash sometimes, with some very dark consequences of war discussed by NPCs and the likes, even suicide comes up at one point, but then it’s all just played off in a slightly quirky manner and haha, now here’s something silly. It’s kind of odd, but it’s not so jarring that it put me off.

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The pacing of the story results in some interesting consequences for character balance. First off, the stat growth here is way better than the first game – it’s more gradual and consistent, so I’d not encounter as many issues where a character would fall way behind and then suddenly get +6 attack and become the best in the army with one level up. There’s still some issues with spellcasters having unbalanced spell lists – the first mage and cleric of the game have an atrocious set of spells for example, but these are aided somewhat by other factors now. The first of these is availability – you’ll not get to a full force of 12 units for quite some time, and you’ll only have enough units to start needing to swap characters out by about 1/3 to ½ way through the game. This means you’ll find your earlier characters to have a good level advantage than later ones often, and also often a stat advantage inherently to boot.

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The other mechanic that helps balance these somewhat is split promotions. Every unit can promote into a better one at level 20, but some units can promote into another, alternate class if they use a special item. Often these classes are objectively better, and they can save some of the worse units by making them unique. For example, the Master Monk promotions turns your rubbish cleric into a solid mixed healer/fighter, and the Sorceror promotion makes your first wizard get a new set of much improved spells to utilise. Most of these special promotions are objectively better I think, although a few base classes over some advantages comparatively. The special promotion items for a few jobs come very late too, and you may decide it’s not worth holding on for them. I quickly realised that unless I wanted to min/max my characters (and sod that), I was better off getting a Priest for my second healer and learning spells sooner than waiting for another Master Monk later.

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There are some flaws. Shining Force 2 is a fairly easy game – there were a few opponents who offered some difficulty spikes, especially later on when enemies start using stronger spells, but overall I found there were very few troublesome areas. The last few fights are fun and challenging, but I felt like any set of characters would be a reasonable option this time. This does impact it’s replayability a bit I think – especially as you’re forced to use the same roster for the first 3rd of the game regardless, but I don’t think it harms the game too much. This was a fasntastic experience throughout. Another flaw is the way magic works – the standard offensive magic spell list has an odd effectiveness curve – it’s pretty mediocre at the beginning of the game where it does the same damage as physical attacks but costs MP. Mid-game is does far less damage than physical attacks and costs lots of MP and makes wizards very underpowered. But late game, it does tons of damage for fairly cheap MP costs comparatively, and makes them very overpowered instead. I think they should have balanced spell progression a bit better.

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Other than it’s fun gameplay, Shining Force 2 has a pretty nice presentation overall. I found it to have a catchy soundtrack that didn’t grate on me too much after hours and hours of play, and whilst it’s visually no stunner in gameplay, it’s certainly not a bad looking title. Like other Shining games on the system, it features some lovely presentation in it’s opening as well.

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In the end, I’d probably rate Shining Force 2 as my favourite RPG on the system. This is a true gem that stands toe to toe with some of the best RPGs of the era – for me, this easily surpasses Phantasy Star 4, although it’s a slightly different experience. I love it so much, I’ve started collecting the series on original hardware, and have picked up Shining Force 1, Shining in the Darkness and the exorbitantly expensive Shining Force 3 thus far. This one is definitely on my must have list. A wonderful game to round out the Sega Collection with.

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Sega Mega Drive Classics

And so, I finally finished all 51 games on this collection. I started out in January, and wrapped it up in late October (I’m still behind on reviews), but I’ve had a great time playing through the collection. I’m no expert on emulation, and I’ve heard people say this collection has some flaws, but I suspect they might be pretty minor in the grand scheme of things because I didn’t notice much – an odd sound effect in Comix Zone and some slightly delayed audio in Bare Knuckle 3 was about all I remember noticing. This is a great collection and it’s brilliant to be able to play them all portably. It’s a shame the extra 2 games that were on the PS4 and XBone versions of the title are mysteriously absent here though, but I’ve played them both before so no big loss for me (the other games are Wonder Boy in Monster World and Wonder Boy 3: Monster Lair, if you were wondering). I’d definitely recommend the collection to anyone wanting to explore the Mega Drive library on the go.

And as a final celebration, here is the Official Alienjesus Ranking of All 51 Sega Mega Drive Classics, from best to worst:

Top Tier: Must Play games

1. Streets of Rage 2
2. Gunstar Heroes
3. Sonic the Hedgehog 2
4. Shining Force II
5. Alien Soldier
6. Dynamite Headdy
7. Columns III: The Revenge of Columns
8. Sonic the Hedgehog
9. Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja Master


High tier: Great games


10. The Revenge of Shinobi
11. Decap Attack
12. Shadow Dancer
13. Bare Knuckle III
14. Shining Force: The Legacy of Great Intention
15. Phantasy Star IV: End of the Millennium
16. Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine
17. Light Crusader
18. Ristar
19. Columns


Good tier: Fun games with a few flaws

20. Golden Axe
21. Streets of Rage
22. Toejam & Earl
23. Shining in the Darkness
24. Beyond Oasis
25. ESWAT: City Under Siege
26. Bonanza Bros.
27. Sonic 3D Blast
28. Biohazard Battle
29. Alien Storm
30. Flicky
31. Crack Down

Average tier: Playable, but not the best

32. Golden Axe II
33. Phantasy Star III: Generations of Doom
34. Fatal Labyrinth
35. Phantasy Star 2
36. Golden Axe III
37. Comix Zone
38. Toejam & Earl: Panic on Funkotron

Bad tier: Not very fun games

39. Sonic Spinball
40. Gain Ground
41. Altered Beast
42. Vectorman
43. Vectorman 2
44. Landstalker: The Treasures of King Nole
45. Virtua Fighter 2
46. Galaxy Force 2

Bottom tier: Avoid at all costs

47. Alex Kidd in Enchanted Castle
48. Sword of Vermilion
49. Space Harrier II
50. Super Thunder Blade
51. Kid Chameleon
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