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Re: Games Beaten 2019

Posted: Sun Jan 06, 2019 7:20 pm
by noiseredux
1. Super Mario World
2. Super Mario Bros 2
3. Bust-A-Move Universe

Bust-A-Move Universe
2011, Arika


I've been a fan of the Bust-A-Move series for a while now. You may also know these games as Puzzle Bubble. Or maybe more likely now, as those mobile Bubble Witch games that ripped off the original Taito series wholesale. But to me, Puzzle Bobble was one of the big highlights of the Neo Geo Pocket Color library. And as such, I have some very fond memories of that cutesy little puzzle game on a tiny little screen.

Bust-A-Move Universe (or, Puzzle Bobble 3D) is yet another entry in the long running series and... I can't say it's perfect. I mean, Puzzle Bobble in general is always going to be fun. If you're not familiar, there's a bunch of bubbles up at the top of the screen in clusters, and you (or rather Bub or Bob from Bubble Bobble) are down below using a little cannon thingy to fire colored bubbles up above at them to burst them. It's just the right blend of SIMPLE and STRATEGY to zone out with. As such, the series has always been a go-to game for me to play while listening to the TV.

Universe does very little to differentiate itself from the rest of the series. Which is fine. But even as a standard Puzzle Bobble game, it's just kind of mediocre. My main plight is the lack of real content. There are eight worlds to beat in the main Puzzle mode - each with a handful of levels - but I blew through these and watched the credits roll in probably less than two hours. Sure there's sort of completionist achievements to attempt that MAY keep you playing, but truthfully, I'd rather just have a lot more levels to play once. And preferably more interesting, memorable and challenging ones. Especially when you consider that that's exactly what those mobile Bubble Witch games do indeed offer.

There are special powers you can use in each world, but I never found the game challenging enough to really bother using any of these. There are also boss battles at the end of each world but these are super yawn-worthy. You literally just fire bombs at a moving object boss and try to deplete its life in a short time limit. The weird thing is it doesn't even matter if you succeed or not - you still proceed to the next level. So again, replayability is handled horribly here.

And the controls are iffy as well. The dpad is too finicky, and using the L and R buttons to fine tune still isn't fine tuney enough. It honestly just feels like a thrown together attempt at a Puzzle Bobble entry. And while the formula is no doubt fun, I have to think that there's got to be a better option on DS or 3DS out there than Universe. I just don't have the interest in going for those extra achievements. I guess I could check out Challenge mode, but really I just wanted better (and more) levels in the base game and slightly more respect paid to the series on this one.

Re: Games Beaten 2019

Posted: Sun Jan 06, 2019 8:35 pm
by PartridgeSenpai
Partridge Senpai's 2019 Beaten Games:
Previously: 2016 2017 2018
* indicates a repeat

1. Night Slashers (Switch)

2. Bye-Bye BOXBOY! (3DS)

It was on sale for the new year, so I finally picked up the final part of the BOXBOY trilogy. I loved the last two, so I thought I'd enjoy this one. I was right! This is an excellent close to the series, although I'd be lying if I said I didn't hope it continued in some form (perhaps a spiritual sequel).

I found the 2nd game BOXBOXBOY! a bit underwhelming in retrospect, as the just two boxes thing didn't really spice up the main game (granted the bonus levels were hard as usual). Bye-Bye BOXBOY! has levels with special powers for your blocks (rockets, bombs, warps, and snake), which really spice things up, in addition to little escort missions as well for some worlds. The puzzles are also well designed with a good difficulty curve as normal for the series. The bonus stages are once again properly tough as well, with some really creative uses of the new powers it introduced earlier (each new power and escort level is only in that particular world. They don't carry from world to world).

Verdict: Highly Recommended. If you're just gonna play one BOXBOY! game, let it be this one. It's by far the best paced, designed, and polished of the three, and it's a steal at the current price of 3.50. You'd be hard pressed to find a better deal for a better puzzle game on 3DS ^w^

Re: Games Beaten 2019

Posted: Sun Jan 06, 2019 10:18 pm
by prfsnl_gmr
Good reviews. I also really liked every game in the BoxBoy series. I thought the third was a bit underwhelming compared to the second, though. (The ability to make a second set of boxes added so much complexity to the puzzles, and the third game didn’t reach that level until I unlocked the post-game content.). As you noted, though, they’re all pretty great, and I recommend all of them.

If you haven’t already, be sure to check out Part Time UFO. The gameplay is very different, but it is also developed by HAL, has a similar aesthetic, is incredibly fun, and has an amazing cameo from a character we both adore. :wink:

Re: Games Beaten 2019

Posted: Sun Jan 06, 2019 10:34 pm
by ElkinFencer10
Games Beaten in 2019 So Far - 1
* denotes a replay

January (1 Game Beaten)
1. Army Men 3D - PlayStation - January 1*


1. Army Men 3D - PlayStation - January 1*

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Army Men 3D was the third game in the Army Men series following the Windows releases of Army Men and Army Men II and marked the series' debut on home consoles. Army Men 3D, taking advantage of the hype around 3D game worlds in the mid to late 90s, is essentially a slimmed down remake of the original Army Men but as a 3D third person shooter. As is par for the course with the Army Men series, it's not a breathtaking game that will make anyone's Top 10 PS1 games list, but it's a fun enough little game especially for fans of the series.

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Being a remake of the original game, Army Men 3D follows the same basic story as Army Men albeit abridged. The short version is that the Green Nation has been invaded by the Tan Nation, and Green intelligence reports that the Tan are assembling a mysterious super-weapon that's being transported in three pieces. Playing as Sarge, you have to fight your way through Tan forces to secure the three pieces of the key so that you can not only keep the weapon out of Tan hands but discover just what it's supposed to do. This PlayStation remake cuts out probably a quarter of the game which, given the move from PC to PlayStation, makes sense, but fortunately, what's cut out is largely filler missions that aren't central to the story. The shorter level list ends up working out well too given the somewhat awkward controls that result in what I felt was a more difficult game than the Windows game. Overall, I'd say they're roughly comparable in length with Army Men 3D coming in maybe a little shorter.

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Visually, the game is about as "okay" as it gets for PlayStation games. It certainly doesn't look bad for the hardware or the era, but it doesn't look especially good, either. This is especially true of the cutscenes. It doesn't preserve all of the cutscenes from the PC original, but it does have the iconic opening and closing cutscenes. The problem is that these scene are extraordinarily low resolution and noticeably choppy. To some extent, that's an unfortunate reality of video on mid-90s CD technology, but it's a shame that the presentation took such a hit because of it. It's admirable that 3DO tried to include those two most dramatic scenes, but given the hit the presentation took, I almost think it would have been better to try to remake the scenes in a style the PS1 could more comfortably handle.

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The audio is probably the part of the game with which I have the most issues. The voiced dialogue is extremely minimal which, truthfully, is more a blessing than anything else given the quality of the cutscenes and the soundtrack. The music is...truly awful. It's not even that the music itself is what's bad; it uses the same actual song from the PC original. What makes the music in Army Men 3D so bad is not what music is uses but how it uses it. Instead of using the whole song for what I assume are disc space reasons, it uses a two or three measure clip. And it loops it. Endlessly. For the entire game. I got through about a level and a half before I muted the TV and just turned on Sirius.

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Army Men 3D is as competent a first entry into the home console space as a game in that particular series can be expected to have. It's not bad. Excluding the music, it's really not. I'd even go as far as to say it's a fun time if you're into the premise of Army Men. Unfortunately, if you're NOT into the premise of Army Men, it's...okay. The biggest problem is that the whole thing just feels unpolished. If you're a fan of the series, absolutely play it. If you're just a PlayStation enthusiast, then I'd still recommend giving it a play as it's a solid even if forgettable title. Overall, though, it doesn't stand out much from the other "hella 1990s" games on the system.

Re: Games Beaten 2019

Posted: Mon Jan 07, 2019 10:24 am
by dsheinem
Games Beaten 2019

Kentucky Route Zero Act 1 - PC *new*
All Our Asias - PC *new*
Shape of the World - Switch *new*

Total: 3


I am starting the year off with some more "atmospheric" and "surreal" titles, and might play in this space a bit for the next couple of weeks (I seem to get into a groove of playing these kind of games about once or twice a year).

While I am digging the score and the graphical style, Kentucky Route Zero hasn't really impressed so far on the gameplay or story front. I am hoping things pick up with Act II when I get to that in the near future.

All Our Asias is a free PC game made by basically one guy that also happens to teach game design at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. It uses PS1-style graphics to create a weird semi-open world traversal through someone's memories/mind/alternate universe/something...it is very weird, presents some insightful(?) ideas about activism and Asian identity, and otherwise gives you a lot of strangeness (if that is your thing). The score here is ace too.

Shape of the World is a visually striking but somewhat clunky and confusing trip through a dozen or so psychedelic landscapes in pursuit of...seeds, shells, and triangle shaped doors? Maybe? There is a varying degree of interaction and movement here, and some decent score work at times. I am glad I played it, but can't see going back to it much.

Previously: 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010

Re: Games Beaten 2019

Posted: Mon Jan 07, 2019 5:44 pm
by PartridgeSenpai
Partridge Senpai's 2019 Beaten Games:
Previously: 2016 2017 2018
* indicates a repeat

1. Night Slashers (Switch)
2. Bye-Bye BOXBOY! (3DS)

3. GTA4: The Ballad of Gay Tony (Xbox 360)

I picked up this game on the recommendation of several friends that it was the best part of GTA4. The copy I got was the standalone pack of the two DLC's, so I checked out the first DLC, The Lost & The Damned, first and HATED it for the whole couple hours I spent with it. The Ballad of Gay Tony immediately hit me with a much better style and color palette and a more engaging story, but that wasn't exactly a high bar to clear. It took me a little under 10 hours to do just all the story stuff.

The Ballad of Gay Tony follows the escapades of the titular character "Gay" Tony as you play as his business partner/body guard Luis Lopez. Tony is an aging gay man who is going through a bit of a midlife crisis and has borrowed a ton of money from some really bad dudes to keep his clubs open and to fuel his drug habit, and the game consists of Luis going around and fulfilling obligations to these mafia-types to pay back Tony's debts as well as clean up his other related messes. The story is by far the best part of the game, as Luis and Tony not only have good chemistry, but they're also just fairly well written characters.

Tony is a bit of a stereotype, but not in a grating or obnoxious way as GTA so often loves to do. The rest of the main cast are certainly more on the line of obnoxious/offensive in how they're portrayed, but the game makes up for this in how well acted Luis is, as his straight-man (no pun intended) way of dealing with things is a consistently entertaining foil to the madcap cast of characters he has to deal with. The pacing of the story is all over the place, as characters are picked up for certain missions and then never spoken of or referenced again. Sure, you can hang out with your childhood friends and go to clubs or play air hockey together, but once you finish the couple missions with them and unlock the totally optional (thank god) "drug war" combat sections, you never engage with them again in the story, and the same goes for a decent number of the guys Tony owes money to.

The overall narrative is carried heavily by the likability of its characters, and if you hate the characters (which I honestly wouldn't blame anyone for in a GTA game), this game is likely gonna be a really miserable slog. The world of GTA 4, with all of its "satire" of American pop-culture is honestly as grating and not funny as ever. The radio stations in the cars have good music, but are so often interrupted by such miserably annoying fake advertisements I often found myself listening to songs I didn't even like just so I could get off of stations that were playing ads. This is an element that also really adds to that aforementioned "miserable slog".

Anything that isn't the story is a flat-out negative in this game. GTA 4 may've been popular at the time, but MY GOODNESS has it aged poorly. Even without the beige filter that The Lost & The Damned put over everything, this is still a really ugly game. The cutscenes look pretty good still, but that doesn't make up for all the texture pop-in and ugly textures the actual game is FILLED with. It also runs pretty badly on a 360, with the framerate pretty consistently diving into areas where it begins to affect gameplay as well as the lack of RAM on the console consistently leading to super annoying crap like cops spawning literally just out of your line of sight so outrunning them takes FOREVER. The other side of this also means that some NPC's who I'd need to start a side-quest or even just buy a hotdog to heal myself occasionally just wouldn't spawn, so I'd need to just look around or leave and come back so they'd finally spawn in.

The driving isn't great, but it isn't bad. It was certainly annoying enough that I hated doing any races in the game because if you hit a bump on the curb (or a piece of scenery trash) you FLY into the air like you're made of cardboard. However, the REAL sticking point for why this game is so consistently not fun to play is it's main meat of most missions: the combat. This game has an insane amount of shooting in it for a game where the shooting is so god damn bad.

First of all, you don't have a weapon wheel. You just tab between weapons by hitting right and left on the D-pad. You can also only hold one type of each weapons (how many types there are is unclear, as you only cycle through them and gun stats aren't a thing visible to the player in any way), they aren't upgrade-able, and a lot of the better guns you get through missions aren't actually sold in stores and therefore buying ammo for them is impossible (yet they DO sell RPG launchers in stores, so whatever). The basic task of gun maintenance and even knowing which guns are better than others is needlessly obscured and cluttered.

Secondly, combat in missions is made even more frustrating by the fact that your enemy radar is terrible. Very very frequently, if your current mission objective doesn't involve killing enemies, you won't even be shown enemies on your radar, just the interaction points you're trying to tick off to get through the mission. So some missions you have an ability to plan around more than what you can see, and others you can't. It's entirely arbitrary, and makes the awkward system that is actual gunplay even more of a pain to deal with.

Lastly, and most importantly, is the aiming and shooting. Aiming is done in a very confusing system that the game takes far to long to try to adequately explain to you in any detail (there is a controls menu you can look at at the pause menu, but there are three different control sets, and the labels for what each button does blink between different types of situational actions ever couple seconds, making it an absurdly difficult menu to read. I literally never figured out how to aim and fire weapons while driving, let alone change weapons while driving). You hold LT to lock onto an enemy within your line of sight with the gun you currently have out. If you wanna free aim, you gotta half-hold LT, or take out the guy you're currently looking at. If you're in cover (which is different from just crouching), sometimes you can fire multiple times at what you're aiming at with the auto-aim, and sometimes you can't. It's very circumstantial and I never figured out the nuances behind it.

I have to stress that the most horrible part is really the aiming itself, especially in cover. I turned the aiming sensitivity all the way up, and the speed at which the character aims the guns was just never consistent and always jittering all over the place (especially when in cover), making hitting anything not auto-aimed THAT much more of a pain in the ass. Add this all to how you can die really quickly, and really the only thing I can say that's any good about the combat-packed mission design is that at least the load times are mercifully quick.

Verdict: Not Recommended. GTA 4 is a game whose systems have aged very badly. Saints Row 1, for all it copies from GTA's style, improves on its mechanics to such a high degree that I find it retroactively staggering that a game I thought was so mechanically flawed was so superior to this game. Don't even get me started about Saints Row 2, which just blows absolutely everything about this game out of the water. If you really want a "drive around and cause mayhem" game on your 360, Saints Row 2 is just about as cheap as any GTA 4 stuff, and is a far superior (and enjoyable) play experience than GTA 4, Gay Tony-version or otherwise. Unless you just HAVE to see the story, I would stay far, far away from this historical building block for the open world-city genre.

Re: Games Beaten 2019

Posted: Mon Jan 07, 2019 11:20 pm
by pook99
1) Kung Fu Z (android)
2) Celeste (steam)

I bought Celeste during the winter sale. I heard tons of amazing things about this game from everyone, and decided I needed to try it and see if it lived up to the hype.

For anyone who does not know, Celeste is a hardcore platformer, you will die a ton(I think my final death total was about 760) but the game does everything in its power to not be frustrating. Every new screen is a checkpoint, there are instant respawns, and you can save and quit at anytime and pick up from the exact screen you left off on. For the most part each screen is relatively short, but there are a few that are a bit longer. None of them are overly long or frustrating, and the ease of saving progress gives the game a very strong feeling of, "Just one more try".

Controls are super tight and intuitive, you have a jump and a dash. You can dash once per jump and there is a visual indicator of whether or not you used your dash(your characters hair turns from red to white). You can also cling to walls and climb them for a limited amount of time, as well as wall jump. As soon as you land on any surface your dash is immediately recharged. Every new level creates a new clever gimmick that changes the way you play, so for example, level 2 has these large black spacey squares that you can dash through and when you exit the squares your dash is recharged for another go. Each level introduces a new mechanic with a simple screen that lets you test how it works and then throws all manner of challenges at you and uses those obstacles in a variety of creative ways. All of this makes every level feel fresh, every gimmick is done well, and almost every one of them is fun. I did hate the wind gusts on level 4, but other than that I enjoyed everything the game threw at me.

The last level (there are 7 levels) gives your character 2 dashes per jump and then you go through brief segments of each level designed to take advantage of the fact that you can now dash twice per jump. The last level was one of the best designed last levels of any game I have ever played and the developers did a great job of using old obstacles in new ways to take advantage of your new powers.

There is also a story here, and that is Celestes main selling point for most of the hipster reviewers out there. I guess the story touches on mental illness but to be honest I couldn't care less about the story. I did enjoy the cutscenes and the dialogue is definitely well written, the story does not detract from the game at all but I don't play a game like this for the story, I play it for solid gameplay and excellent level design, which Celeste definitely delivered.

So does the game live up to the hype? I don't know, I do know this was a great game and any fan of platformers need to play it. I don't think it will edge out Mega Man 11 as my favorite 2d game of the year, but I would probably put it close to the level of Curse of the moon.

Re: Games Beaten 2019

Posted: Tue Jan 08, 2019 11:42 am
by prfsnl_gmr
1. The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Anniversary (NDS)

The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Anniversary is a delisted, DSiWare-exclusive remake of The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords (GBA). Whereas the original game was multi-player only, the remake has a single-player mode. In it, you control a green Link and red Link, and you must coordinate their actions to get through each of the game’s varied levels...That’s right...levels. Unlike other games in the Legend of Zelda series, The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Anniversary is not an open-world action/adventure game. Rather, it is a cooperative, level-based score-chaser with gameplay mechanics inspired by The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. Accordingly, the game (well...the single-player mode, at least) does not have the challenge, depth, or length of other games in the series. What it lacks in challenge, depth, and length, however, it (partially) makes up for with bite-sized, pick-up-and-play gameplay and pretty awesome boss fights. (It also is not entirely fair for me to say the game lacks challenge or depth...Unlocking all of the game’s features and obtaining very high scores undoubtedly requires quite a bit of practice.)

Overall, the game is quite fun, and a nice, short departure from the rest of the series. (You can roll the credits in just a few hours.) I’ll probably spend a little more time with it before I put it down for good, and I recommend it to anyone looking for just a taste of The Legend of Zelda gameplay.

Re: Games Beaten 2019

Posted: Tue Jan 08, 2019 2:19 pm
by BoneSnapDeez
1. Ys III: Wanderers from Ys (Famicom)
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Ys III: Wanderers from Ys is commonly referred to as the "black sheep" of the classic RPG series, due to the fact that it ditches the top-down view in favor of a side-scrolling ARPG style à la Zelda II and Faxanadu. It's a bit of a dubious moniker -- the third Ys game dropped only two years after the first, no hardfast series formula had been established, and Falcom was already known for drastically retooling game sequels (see the Dragon Slayer series). If anything this is the final installment of the "original" classic trilogy -- Ys games that appeared initially on the NEC PC-88 computer and were subsequently ported elsewhere. Ys III "wandered" to several other computer systems and received no less than five console ports. Shockingly and miraculously, all three 16-bit console versions (SNES, Genesis, TurboGrafx CD) managed to reach the shores of North America. The (much later) PlayStation 2 variation remained marooned in the East, as did this Famicom cartridge (fan translated in 2005). The box art for this one is a bit of a bummer. It features a corny-looking left-to-right character line-up, and lacks both the epic painted landscape and semi-English sentiment that graces the original computer versions.

Each Ys III has a slightly different intro. Boot this up on Famicom and you're greeted with a rudimentary "cutscene" where the powers of Ys I and Ys II combine to make Ys III. I mean this somewhat literally; the Roman numerals actually merge together in a beautiful coalescence. It's corny as all hell, needs to be seen to be believed, and is honestly one of my favorite things about the whole game.
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Ys III sees the return of the heroic Adol Christin (the lone playable character), with his buddy Dogi scrubbing in as the key NPC. There are actually quite a few choice characters here, with decently large amounts of accompanying dialogue. Plot-wise, Ys III is a bit different from its predecessors. Rather than slowly building a equivocal mythology the game is more like an anecdote found somewhere within Adol's larger grand adventure. While stopping for a visit in a particular town, Adol and Dogi find themselves embroiled in some drama involving sibling rivalry, corrupt monarchs, and more. As the game progresses it's revealed that a "supreme evil" type figure is ultimately responsible for the strife, an unfortunate gaming cliché. Said town, Redmont, serves as a central hub, and the game lacks an overworld as all dungeons are selected from a world map via an Adol-cursor.

The streamlining continues to be showcased in the dungeons themselves. They're extremely linear, any branching paths are brief jaunts to a needed treasure chest. It makes one wonder if this "needed" to be an RPG at all -- with a bit of tweaking Ys III could have easily been a Castlevania styled action-platforming experience. In any event, the dungeon environments are quite special. There's a mine, forked in two (one segment is played later on), where a cave-in has trapped some novice adventurers. There's a castle whose floor suddenly opens to reveal a fiery underworld. A snowy mountain with a homely cabin layover. A grand castle that contains both a cathedral and clock tower. Sadly, the game does end on a bit of a sour note. The final dungeon -- well, it just flat out sucks. It's the only one structured like a maze, replete with branching paths, pitfalls, and warps. While not wholly horrific, it's just dull and slows the otherwise brisk Ys III pacing to a crawl.

Controls are smooth and efficient. Adol's sword swing has a bit of a funny auto-fire effect, hold down the attack button and it continuously circles like a buzzsaw. At high enough levels he can simply glide through enemies without mercy -- so satisfying. There's an additional layer of complexity, as Adol can attack in midair and also stab both upward and downward. These jump maneuvers are admittedly (and unfortunately) rather clunky; thankfully most enemies are grounded. No RPG would be complete without magic. In Ys III Adol equips rings that grant him a specific attribute (increased offensive or defensive prowess, for instance). Such attributes are temporary, as ring power depletes quickly, and can later be recharged by slaying foes or paying the cute shopkeeper a marginal fee. Additional items are collected throughout Adol's quest, though most are location-specific and activated automatically.
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This is a Falcom game. An early Falcom game. You're gonna have to grind for levels. A lot. Ys III has a max experience level of 12, with Adol making enormous gains between each one. Mercifully, the grinding is quite easy, fast, and mindless, as Adol can simply run back and forth down a given corridor while auto-slaying the respawning foes. Any energy lost in the process is regained by stepping outside of a dungeon. Bosses are largely reminiscent of the ones found in the first Ys game. They're vile, monstrous, terrifying creatures -- that can be destroyed in a matter of seconds assuming Adol's level is high enough. I say this without hyperbole. If Adol possesses a decent level then one can merely charge at any boss and hold down the attack button until the skirmish ends in Adol's favor (save for the final boss battle, which requires at least a modicum of strategy). Any challenge presented by Ys III needs to be imposed by the player, by attempting a low-level game. It's a bit of a shame the fireball sorcery from Ys II didn't worm its way in here -- that at least required some aiming.

Visuals are mixed. There's some beautifully rendered background scenery, but most of it (like the iconic volcano) was saved for minute areas outside of the dungeon entrances. Actual dungeon backdrops tend to be a bit bland. There's a really pretty waterfall scene where the mine splits into two paths, but the lion's share of the dungeon is just shaded in pure black. And while the aforementioned clock tower is gorgeous, it finds itself only making a cameo appearance as part of a larger stretch of plain ol' brick. Enemy graphics are also oddly inconsistent. The larger enemy sprites are well-done, but the game contains so many tiny blurry "bug" type foes that scurry along the ground. And while there are some stunning anime stills in Fami Ys III, the game was just begging for more. Where my ladies at, Falcom?
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Dat music though. Ys III possesses a transcendentally indescribably mystically spiritually time-shiftingly high IQ soundtrack that simply lays waste to virtually all others of the era (and beyond). It hits you from the first note, the opening theme being a brilliant nod to the first couple of Ys installments, and just continues from there. Kudos to composer Mieko Ishikawa. Not a moment of music is wasted. Every song is a driving energetic masterpiece that keeps the game rolling ahead full steam. Any flaw found within the game is worth overlooking just to hear what happens next. Picking standout tracks is nigh impossible, as all are 10/10's, though I have to give a nod to "A Searing Struggle." A thumping fiery anthem (appropriately played whilst Adol traverses a flaming abyss), it was later "borrowed" by Chris Hülsbeck for his Jim Power OST.

There's just something about these old Ys games. Dissecting them piecemeal certainly brings some flaws to the surface, but it doesn't matter. Like the glorious Book I & II, Ys III is just a holistically powerful experience. Fast, frantic, and smooth as ice, it's a type of game that quite literally does not exist anymore. That of the old Japanese computer RPG. What's wild is that, as good as this is, it isn't even the best version of the game (hi there PC Engine). Nevertheless, it's fantastic, absolutely on par with the likes of Zelda II, and shouldn't be missed by anyone who's even tenuously interested in action-RPGs.

Re: Games Beaten 2019

Posted: Tue Jan 08, 2019 2:51 pm
by Ack
1. Dusk (PC)(FPS)
2. Project: Snowblind (PC)(FPS)
3. Soldier of Fortune: Platinum Edition (PC)(FPS)

Soldier of Fortune is an FPS I've been told about repeatedly, both for its quality gunplay as well as its violence and gore. It's a game that takes my assertions about what a quality FPS needs and runs with it, and I was very satisfied with my experience. While I do have some complaints, they're minor compared to the abundance of fun this game provides, and I completed this title completely satisfied with my experience. SoF is something all FPS fans should seek out.

Why am I giving it such high praise? Well, Soldier of Fortune took an ongoing trend of location-based damage in FPS and ran with it in the way of a great action film. You don't simply shoot enemies in SoF; you blow them apart thanks to its GHOUL engine. Kneecap someone, and he grabs his knee and then limps around. Shoot his groin, and he clutches himself in pain. Blow off his limbs, and he screams and writhes before dying. While it doesn't look realistic compared to today's quality models and textures, it's easy to see why the violence was both a selling point and a cause for concern upon the game's 2000 release. You can blast someone's head to ribbons or disembowel them with a well placed bullet. Combined with solid sound effects, and you feel like a walking power house a la Commando.

I have told folks in the past that I often judge an FPS by the quality of its shotgun, and Soldier of Fortune has one that is both phenomenal and viable throughout the game. It tears people apart at close and even medium range, and while it wasn't my favorite weapon once certain other tools became available, I still entered the final levels carrying one, just because I like to keep it handy for close encounters. This quality carries over into other weapons as well, ranging from machine guns to a rocket launcher, pistols, a flamethrower, and even a microwave cannon; I liked nearly all of them, with perhaps the sole exception of the 9mm pistol, which just felt like a peashooter compared to well, pretty much everything. Some enemies respond better to certain weapons too, and while SoF has a concept of weapon weight, you can still equip and carry a variety to handle different kinds of situations.

The items you use in the game are also great, incorporating medkits, body armor, night vision goggles, grenades, and flash bangs. You always want body armor in a title like this, and medkits are for when a sniper manages a painful shot off or a tank gets the better of you. Grenades and flash bangs work very well against entrenched or armored enemies, as do the alternate fire grenades. I never had much need of the night vision, but I've gotten used to playing in the dark from so many horror games...

Where does SoF falter? Well, the draw distance was something I had an issue with. I played around with various options but never found a way to push it out, and enemy snipers can shoot from beyond it, so a few times I had to struggle past foes who could knock off solid chunks of health and armor that I couldn't see. It wasn't to the level of Iron Storm though, where simply poking my head out got me killed; I was still able to run to a better position and rain sweet murderous death bullets at these guys.

There is a plot in SoF that borrows heavily from ongoing real world issues. You're a merc working under the table for the United Nations, taking on terrorist organizations and tracking down nuclear weapons. Unfortunately, a new terror group shows up, led by a fanatical South African colonel who got thrown out at the end of apartheid. Now he's busy selling nukes to folks modeled on the Lord's Resistance Army, genocidal Albanian militants, and a rogue Iraqi general, as well as working with organized crime like the Yakuza. In one great scene, you run face first into Saddam Hussein as he confronts his disloyal general...it's a nice throwback to a pre-9/11 view of the world, where there were more than just terrorists from the Middle East and more colors beyond brown.

Levels have a maximum number of times you can save, so you better be good at your job! Admittedly I usually only saved once in a level anyway, as you autosave at the beginning of new levels. If you need more than 5, you might consider a different difficulty level.

Any other issues? Well, the resolution can't do widescreen, and your HUD doesn't scale as well as I'd like, but that's a nothing quibble; I could still tell if I had health and bullets, so I was good to go. And really, all you need to know is where to shoot.