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Ack
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Re: Games Beaten 2019

by Ack Thu May 30, 2019 12:11 pm

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)


Having played through the original release of F.E.A.R. back when it came out, I was always curious to see how the later entries into the series held up and whether they ramped up the horror or changed up the shooting components in any way. Instead, I found more of the same, with perhaps less horror in the mix.

F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin

The base sequel now has you playing as an elite soldier named Becket who has been chosen for a special squad based on his incredible baseline talents as a psychic, though it's not something he necessarily shows off. It's more given as the reason why you can kill so many folks and keep on going. Becket's squad is sent in to extract an Armacham executive in the wake of the first game's ending, but with a nuke going off in the middle of a city, things quickly go to shit. Soon, Becket finds himself battling both Armacham security teams as well as the replica soldiers of the first game, combined with the odd mutant or ghost soldier from Alma as he tries to commit to a plan to destroy the psychic superwoman. To add to it, the members of Becket's squad were chosen largely for psychic potential, and Alma goes after their minds too. Things don't work quite the way you want, and instead the game ends with an awkward final battle in which you have to take down your fellow soldier in a weird psychic alternate world while Alma basically rapes your body in a chair. Yeah, that's...something special.

What's the actual gameplay like? Well, many of the weapons of the first game return, along with a couple of new types and some varieties of grenades. You can carry four weapons at a time, so I tended to walk around with an SMG or rifle, some kind of distance specializer (shotguns or sniper rifles, depending upon the level), a heavier rifle for taking on the bigger armored targets up close, and then some kind of full on heavy weapon. It didn't always work out as some weapons can be found only sparingly, but you typically will have something available, even if it's not ideal. As for the enemies, they come in a few flavors of human opponents that use cover, try to flank, and use grenades to flush you out...poorly. Half the time, they seem to take themselves out more than anything. The slow motion ability of the first game also returns, so outside of armor, your enemies don't really have much chance. That said, they do seem to have a lot of armor.

Every now and again, the game gives you the opportunity to jump in a giant mech with regenerating health and ammo. Those segments are fun, since you're now getting to mow down everything with two miniguns and missile launchers. Unfortunately, they're few and far between, and they're short. You maybe walk around the block or go up through a parking deck, and that's it. I wish there was more to this.

The horror element has also been greatly toned down. Occasionally, you'll face ghost enemies or crawling mutant men, but that's it. There's no sudden flashes of Alma watching you like in the first, and the supernatural enemies tend to either go down too quickly or are frustrating bullet sponges that I basically ran up to and emptied all of my magazines into so I could put them down. The more horror-oriented moments mainly rely on corpses being pulled away and blood getting everywhere, but that's par for the course with a lot of what I play, so it wasn't a big deal.

As for the actual levels, it's basically endless corridors and repeating rooms in orientations that feel mazelike and don't make much sense. The school level has multiple rooms marked finance, while the hospital continues on and on and on. Add in the labs which don't really stand out from each other, and it all just feels bland. Admittedly, this is a problem in the first game too, so things didn't change much.

There are a few features I like, such as the ability to go back and replay old levels once you beat them. They also track how many pieces of intel you found, so you can review if you missed something. In a game ruled by a checkpoint saving system, it's nice to have something that mitigates it at least slightly. You can only have one save active at a time though, so don't go back until you're done with the game.

F.E.A.R. 2: Reborn

This is the "expansion" for F.E.A.R. 2, and it is short. I beat it in about an hour. That said, it offers some slight changes that I appreciated. For one thing, you're now playing a replica soldier, so your HUD is entirely different. You also don't get things like the slow motion ability until specific events happen. Second, because it is so short, the levels come together in a way that feels right, like it's one continuous environment that you can easily string together. A particular favorite moment of mine involves you fighting your way through other enemies to then jump into a collapsing building and slide down to the bottom so you can escape. Hell yeah.

Of course, once your abilities are restored, you're basically back to the same old game with a new HUD, but there are more horror elements with Alma than in the base game. In one scene, I opened a door to find her child version standing there, and she then threw a car at me. Very nice. Another element is that she now occasionally sends ghosts after you which can only be seen when you activate your slow motion ability.

Beyond that, there really isn't much to say. You could play through the whole thing twice and earn every "Award," the PC port's equivalent of achievements, in a couple of hours. I certainly hope nobody was forced to pay full price for this.

Well, that's F.E.A.R. 2. I'm glad it's done, and I see no reason to ever revisit.
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Markies
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Re: Games Beaten 2019

by Markies Thu May 30, 2019 9:59 pm

Markies' Games Beat List Of 2019!
*Denotes Replay For Completion*

1. Power Stone 2 (SDC)
2. Radiata Stories (PS2)
3. Dusty Diamond's All-Star Softball (NES)
***4. Saiyuki: Journey West (PS1)***
5. Shining In The Darkness (GEN)
***6. Metropolis Street Racer (SDC)***
7. Half-Life 2 (XBOX)
8. Soul Blazer (SNES)
9. Mario Party (N64)
10. Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance (GCN)
11. Street Fighter Collection (PS1)
12. Pokemon Stadium 2 (N64)

13. Burnout (PS2)

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I beat Burnout on the Sony Playstation 2 this evening!

I remember being introduced to Burnout 3 by my cousin and being absolutely blown away by the game. I have always been a big fan of racing games, but I don't think I have ever played a game that had that much speed and destruction in it. Eventually, I bought my own copy and I played the hell out of it. In fact, my friend and I used to play it many nights together. So much so, that we had to stop early enough because driving home was getting too difficult after playing for so long. As it always does, my curiosity grew in wanting to discover the series so after a long time searching and finding it in the most out of the way store possible, I finally tracked down a copy and was able to play it for the first time.

Burnout is a very original game in that it doesn't feel like any other game out there. It doesn't have the frenetic pace of Burnout III. It doesn't have the actual realism of Gran Turismo nor does it have the arcade feel of OutRun. Burnout seems to tow the line between all of them, almost feeling like a simplified version of the Need for Speed series. The driving feels like it is grounded in reality as you weave out of traffic going 135 MPH. But, you aren't crashing into huge explosions or flying hundreds of feet into the air. You do crash, a ton, but it feels like a realistic crash. The tracks and the cars are very simplified as you only have a small amount of either and the Championship Cups are only a total of 6 to beat the game. So, there is not much to the game, but what is there is still rather fun. It's not the most exciting or unique game in the world, but it is still fun nevertheless.

The only slight negative I would have in the game is that the races are incredibly long. The final race took over 20 minutes with most laps averaging somewhere around 3 or 4 minutes throughout the entire game. You don't repeat courses too much and the AI is incredibly fair as they will crash just as much as you do, but fatigue for the races eventually sets in.

Overall, it was interesting to go back and see the roots of the Burnout series. I can see how they eventually turned the volume up to 11 and just went all out with the craziness. But, from the beginning, the game had some good roots and could be built upon such a good foundation. It's a solid, if a little boring and mediocre, racing game that would appeal to racing game fans.
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ElkinFencer10
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Re: Games Beaten 2019

by ElkinFencer10 Fri May 31, 2019 8:13 am

Games Beaten in 2019 So Far - 28
* denotes a replay

January (12 Games Beaten)
1. Army Men 3D - PlayStation - January 1*
2. Ys I: Ancient Ys Vanished - NES - January 4
3. Mega Man - NES - January 6
4. Mega Man 2 - NES - January 6
5. Mega Man 3 - NES - January 6
6. Mega Man 4 - NES - January 7
7. Dr. Discord's Conquest - NES - January 7
8. Mega Man 5 - NES - January 26
9. Just Cause 3 - PlayStation 4 - January 26
10. Mega Man 6 - NES - January 27
11. Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight - Vita - January 27
12. Mobile Suit Gundam: Encounters in Space - PlayStation 2 - January 27


February (2 Games Beaten)
13. Earth Defense Force 5 - PlayStation 4 - February 2
14. Fallout 76 - PlayStation 4 - February 3


March (4 Games Beaten)
15. Octopath Traveler - Switch - March 2
16. Resident Evil 0 - PlayStation 4 - March 9
17. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered - PlayStation 4 - March 10
18. Fire Emblem: The Binding Blade - Game Boy Advance - March 30


April (3 Games Beaten)
19. Moemon - Game Boy Advance - April 5
20. Yoshi's Crafted World - Switch - April 10
21. Wargroove - Switch - April 26


May (7 Games Beaten)
22. Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen - Switch - May 5
23. Battlefield V - PlayStation 4 - May 9
24. Timespinner - PlayStation 4 - May 12
25. Earth Defense Force: Iron Rain - PlayStation 4 - May 17
26. Shenmue - PlayStation 4 - May 19
27. Xenosaga Episode I: Der Wille zur Macht - PlayStation 2 - May 26
28. Team Sonic Racing - Switch - May 29


28. Team Sonic Racing - Switch - May 29

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Team Sonic Racing is Sumo's third attempt at making a Sonic kart racer following Sonic and All-Stars Racing and the incredible follow-up, Sonic and All-Stars Racing Transformed. Releasing a kart racer on PlayStation and Xbox is an obvious choice, but not many developers have the skills to take on Mario Kart on its home turf, and while I wouldn't say that Sumo was able to beat them, they definitely put up a good fight. Like Transformed before it, Team Sonic Racing manages to deliver a kart racer that is obviously inferior to Mario Kart but is, nonetheless, a fun and competent kart racer.

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Just as the transforming karts and tracks were the main gimmick in Sonic and All-Stars Racing Transformed, the three-person racing team mechanic is the main gimmick in Team Sonic Racing. Races consist of 12 racers broken into four teams of three. The main gameplay is like a standard individual race, but each place is assigned a certain amount of points. These points are tallied at the end of the race, and whatever team has the most points wins. You could, theoretically, win the race in the first place, but if your teammates finished 11th and 12th, respectively, your team would still lose. There are more subtle team aspects, too; the teammate in the highest position gets a glowing trail behind them that can give teammates a brief speed boost. You can also give held items that you don't need to teammates. Actions like these will fill your "Ultimate Team" gauge, and when it's full, you can activate your "Ultimate Team" power. This gives you and your two teammates a temporary speed boost and invulnerability. It's basically Star Power from Mario Kart.

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As I said, while Team Sonic Racing is a lot of fun, it's far inferior to its main rival on the Switch, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. The main reasons for this, in my opinion, are the relatively limited track selection in comparison to Mario Kart 8, the relatively uninteresting tracks in comparison to Sonic and All-Stars Racing Transformed, and the fact that the controls and mechanics just, overall, don't feel as polished as Mario Kart 8. Granted, the game retails for $20 less than Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, so it's fair with that in mind, but it's definitely a step down from Mario's latest kart outing. The exclusion of non-Sonic Sega characters was also a let-down for me as I really enjoyed getting to race as Ulala and BD Joe, but at least they include the vast majority of the Sonic series's characters.

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In terms of the game's visuals, it's a bit of a mixed bag. On the one hand, Team Sonic Racing on Switch looks MUCH better than Sonic and All-Stars Racing Transformed looked on Wii U. On the other hand, it doesn't look as good as Mario Kart 8 Deluxe on Switch. It also doesn't perform nearly well; Mario Kart 8 Deluxe keeps a rock solid 60 FPS whereas Team Sonic Racing keeps an average 30 FPS with the occasional dip into mid-20s. Those frame rate dips aren't bad enough to ruin the gameplay, but it is noticeable, and given that the target is half of what Mario Kart 8 Deluxe delivers, the end result is a product that feels markedly less polished and less skillfully developed than Nintendo's recent kart racing masterpiece.

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The online play is...rough. I've heard that patches are in the works, but as it was at launch, it was a major challenge to get put into the same lobby as friends, it was nearly impossible to end up on the same team as friends if you did manage to get in the same lobby, and connection failures and disconnections were extremely common. The connection issues definitely seem to be decreasing in frequency, at least from my experience, but Sega definitely dropped the ball on the online play at launch, at least on Switch.

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Team Sonic Racing is a fun and competent kart racer, and if you're playing on PlayStation 4 or Xbox One, I'd recommend it would hesitation. On Switch, however, I don't really see much reason to buy Team Sonic Racing over Mario Kart 8. I mean, I bought both, and I can say pretty confidently that I'll almost never play Team Sonic Racing after this because Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is a thing that exists. On PC...I mean, it'a PC. Either play one of the ten billion racers for PC or use Dolphin to emulate Mario Kart Double Dash on Gamecube. And that's really the biggest downfall of Team Sonic Racing; it's a really fun game, but it's just not as good as the competition. As a result, there's just not much reason to play Team Sonic Racing over the other choices despite the legitimately high quality of this game. Nonetheless, however, judged on its own merits and not in comparison to other games of the genre, Sumo once again created an excellent kart racer that would make for a great multiplayer experience.
Exhuminator wrote:Ecchi lords must unite for great justice.

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pook99
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Re: Games Beaten 2019

by pook99 Fri May 31, 2019 11:22 pm

72. Castlevania 3
73. Streets of Rage 2

73. Streets of Rage 2: Nothing to say here except this is possibly the greatest beat em up of all time, its likely that everyone here has played it, if you havent do so immediately. It is about as close to perfect as a 90's era beat em up could get.

72. Castlevania 3:

CV 3 is kind of a weird game, on a cognitive level I understand it is my 2nd favorite CV game, but for some reason I am always a little hesitant to play it. It appears on so many "hardest games of all times" list that I almost feel psyched out before I play it. Its weird because I have beaten the game a million times in my life but I think all the youtube I watch has warped my mind and instilled a bizzare irrational fear of the game in me when I'm not playing it.

As soon as I turn it on I am immediately reminded why I love the game so much. The graphics are top notch, the game is much faster and smoother than the first, and the soundtrack is most likely the best soundtrack of any game in the NES library.

This game has so much going for it. Multiple branching paths, multiple characters, and some of the best designed and challenging levels around. I decided to get grant for my playthrough this time, which I have not done in years. I usually skip his level and go straight for alucard so I can bat spam random hard parts, but I wanted to try something different and I'm glad I did. Grant was a lot of fun to play as, being able to control his jump and cling to walls adds a nice dynamic to the game and it really is pretty stunning how good konami did in balancing the 3 different characters. All 3 of them are good in their own way, grant makes navigation much easier but sucks in combat, sylpha wont help you platform your way around but she rips bosses apart, and alucard offers a nice way to cheese some parts alongside a long range(albeit weak) attack.

There is just so much to love about this game, most notably the challenge. This is not an easy game, it gets tough pretty early on and stays tough to the end, but it never feels cheap. The difficulty follows a nice curve and beating each level is incredibly satisfying. The bosses here are a mixed bag and probably the only negative I have about the game. On one hand there are some great bosses here, the death fight is amazing, the dragons that breath fire are cool, and I love the final fight vs. dracula, but my goodness how many times do I have to fight that idiotic cyclops? If you haven't played the game there is a cyclops, you fight him 3 times, the first time is a one on one fight, the second time you fight mummies then him, the 3rd time you fight mummies, then him, then a red demon. The fight is mind numbingly easy and just does not need to be repeated as many times as it is.

If you haven't played this game, it is obviously a must play, but I would be shocked if there was a single person on a forum like this who has not played it.

Having said that, I played this game, bloodstained curse of the moon, castlevania 1 and 4, all in relatively close proximity to one another. I knew I loved bloodstained but was curious how it would hold up if played back to back with the game that inspired it. As good as bloodstained is it just does not compare to this game, although it definitely does an amazing job of giving us a spiritual sequel, I think the soundtrack + intense challenge makes CV 3 a more satisfying experience for me.

Amazingly, for the first time in my life, I also am questioning if castlevania 4 is actually my favorite CV game. After playing them back to back, it is too hard for me to tell. I LOVE CV 4, it is the most unique CV game of the linear series and has the coolest set pieces, but it is also one of the easiest ones. I feel like the challenge + branching paths + multiple endings/characters gives CV 3 an edge in a few categories. These 2 have always been my top 2, but I'm not so sure of the order anymore.
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ElkinFencer10
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Re: Games Beaten 2019

by ElkinFencer10 Sat Jun 01, 2019 8:47 am

Games Beaten in 2019 So Far - 29
* denotes a replay

January (12 Games Beaten)
1. Army Men 3D - PlayStation - January 1*
2. Ys I: Ancient Ys Vanished - NES - January 4
3. Mega Man - NES - January 6
4. Mega Man 2 - NES - January 6
5. Mega Man 3 - NES - January 6
6. Mega Man 4 - NES - January 7
7. Dr. Discord's Conquest - NES - January 7
8. Mega Man 5 - NES - January 26
9. Just Cause 3 - PlayStation 4 - January 26
10. Mega Man 6 - NES - January 27
11. Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight - Vita - January 27
12. Mobile Suit Gundam: Encounters in Space - PlayStation 2 - January 27


February (2 Games Beaten)
13. Earth Defense Force 5 - PlayStation 4 - February 2
14. Fallout 76 - PlayStation 4 - February 3


March (4 Games Beaten)
15. Octopath Traveler - Switch - March 2
16. Resident Evil 0 - PlayStation 4 - March 9
17. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered - PlayStation 4 - March 10
18. Fire Emblem: The Binding Blade - Game Boy Advance - March 30


April (3 Games Beaten)
19. Moemon - Game Boy Advance - April 5
20. Yoshi's Crafted World - Switch - April 10
21. Wargroove - Switch - April 26


May (8 Games Beaten)
22. Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen - Switch - May 5
23. Battlefield V - PlayStation 4 - May 9
24. Timespinner - PlayStation 4 - May 12
25. Earth Defense Force: Iron Rain - PlayStation 4 - May 17
26. Shenmue - PlayStation 4 - May 19
27. Xenosaga Episode I: Der Wille zur Macht - PlayStation 2 - May 26
28. Team Sonic Racing - Switch - May 29
29. Xenosaga Episode II: Jenseits von Gut und Böse - PlayStation 2 - May 30


29. Xenosaga Episode II: Jenseits von Gut und Böse - PlayStation 2 - May 30

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Xenosaga Episode II: Jenseits von Gut und Böse (which translates to "Beyond Good and Evil") is a direct sequel to the first Xenosaga game, and it picks up pretty much right where the original left off. Because of that, I won't go into the story itself at all in this review but rather focus on how this part of the story is told. It's immediately clear that Monolith took note of the things that were criticized in the previous game because there are some pretty major changes to some of the gameplay elements especially combat.

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The combat in Xenosaga II makes some big changes from the first game. The flow of the combat feels a lot less monotonous first and foremost. Rather than being based on having enemies vulnerable either to energy attacks or physical attacks, Xenosaga II changes combat to focus around vulnerable "break" areas, and each enemy has their own target pattern to exploit. Basically, your attacks are broken up into three "ranges" - C attacks target low areas, B attacks target middle areas, and A attacks target high areas (these generally - but not always - correspond to Triangle, Square, and Circle, respectively). To exploit an enemy's weakness, you have to hit the right areas in the right order. One enemy might take three consecutive B hits to "break" and make vulnerable whereas another's pattern might take CBCB attacks in order to break. It's not groundbreaking or revolutionary, but it definitely requires a bit more strategy and planning than combat in the first game the end result of which is an overall less mundane fight system.

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Unfortunately, I was immediately pulled out of my immersion once I got past the prologue by some rather jarring design choices. KOS-MOS, Shion, and MOMO all went through some fairly major character design changes (especially the latter two), and the voices for Shion and MOMO are radically different. I think MOMO's new voice is legitimately bad, but regardless of good or bad, how big the changes were made for a fairly abrupt shock for me, and I just wasn't feeling it. They did give MOMO a bow for combat in this game, though, so that's pretty dope. I'd still rather have her old voice and give up the bow, but if I have to deal with this terrible new voice, at least I get to shoot things with space arrows. To the game's credit, though, the visuals saw a nice improvement in the transition from the first game to this one. It's not a revolutionary change - it's still PlayStation 2, after all - but the game's visuals overall look more detailed, a bit sharper, and overall more refined.

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Xenosaga II is a good bit shorter than the first game averaging around 20 hours rather than 30 hours, but what's only a little bit shorter are the cut scenes; from what I've been able to gather, the first game had somewhere between eight and nine hours of cut scenes, but despite being around 30% shorter, this game only has about an hour less in cut scenes, clocking in somewhere between seven and eight hours from what I've read. This leads to cut scenes' having a tendency to feel EXTREMELY long and, after a while, EXTREMELY boring. Yeah, there are some cool cut scenes, but good lord, guys, all things in moderation. The story itself feels even more chaotically told than what I saw in the first game. The Gnosis are barely mentioned in this game, and while it does mention U-DO more than the first game did, it only somewhat explains what, exactly, U-DO is. It talks about the URTVs, artificial people created specifically to fight U-DO, but again, it doesn't explain what it is that makes them different from Realians, the other artificially created people. As I told someone on Twitter, I feel like there's probably a really good story waiting to be told here, but it's told so haphazardly that I just end up getting irritated rather than intrigued.

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Xenosaga Episode II is largely considered the black sheep of the trilogy, and I have to agree with that assessment. It had the potential to be an overall improvement - it looks a lot better, and the combat is significantly less mundane - but the questionable design changes and the storytelling that's just all over the place totally killed it for me. It was, mercifully, much shorter than the previous game, but all things considered, I'd say it's about on par with entertainment value. Like the first game, it's definitely not bad, but it definitely didn't do it for me. It's a competent follow-up, but it's not winning any awards for engrossing storytelling or innovative gameplay.
Exhuminator wrote:Ecchi lords must unite for great justice.

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prfsnl_gmr
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Re: Games Beaten 2019

by prfsnl_gmr Sat Jun 01, 2019 9:02 am

Wait...what? Xenosaga II is a 20 hour game with almost 8 hours of cut scenes? Do the cut scenes count in the completion time (i.e., it’s a 12 hour game) or not (i.e., 20 hours of gameplay plus 8 hours of cut scenes)?
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Re: Games Beaten 2019

by MrPopo Sat Jun 01, 2019 10:00 am

So you might have noticed this already, but Xenosaga Episode III FINALLY explains a bunch of the shit that has been tossed at you. Whether or not you appreciate the payoff is another thing, but at the very least you should be less in the dark about what's happening by the end.
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Games Beaten: 2015 2016 2017 2018
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pook99
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Re: Games Beaten 2019

by pook99 Sat Jun 01, 2019 11:33 am

I've never played any of the xenosaga games so I appreciate these reviews. I loved xenogears on ps1, but my friends tell me if I am going to play another xeno game it should be the one on the wii and the switch sequel.
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MrPopo
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Re: Games Beaten 2019

by MrPopo Sat Jun 01, 2019 12:06 pm

1. Octopath Traveler - Switch
2. Dusk - PC
3. Forsaken Remastered - PC
4. Tales of Eternia - PS1
5. Resident Evil 2 (2019) - PC
6. Pokémon Trading Card Game - GBC
7. Metro Exodus - PC
8. Thronebreaker: The Witcher Tales - PC
9. Project Warlock - PC
10. Magic: The Gathering - PC
11. Ghost 1.0 - PC
12. Call of Duty 2 - PC
13. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice - PS4
14. Revelations: The Demon Slayer - GBC
15. Mechstermination Force - Switch
16. Shadow Warrior Classic Redux - PC
17. Lost Sphear - Switch
18. Warcraft II: Beyond the Dark Portal - PC
19. Dragon Quest III - NES
20. Rage 2 - PC
21. Blood - PC
22. Harvest Moon 64 - N64
23. Battlefield V - PC
24. Sigil - PC

Sigil is the new Doom episode from John Romero. He set out to make what could have been a fifth episode to Doom had it come out back in the day, and in that way I think he succeeded brilliantly. In terms of feel this is a natural progression from Thy Flesh Consumed and goes even deeper into the Hell aesthetic for interesting level design. The level design involves a bunch of tough stuff, but not much that feels blatantly unfair like some of the fan-produced packs like to get into. If you have quick reactions you will be able to make it through the ambushes (the occasional getting trapped by several Pinkies notwithstanding). Since the game is on the original Doom base WAD you don't get the double shotgun, but they don't get Archviles, Gunners, and Pain Elementals, so it all works in the balance. One thing it likes to do is toss in Barons of Hell as the standard "oh shit, you need to DEAL with this" monster.

Architecturally the level design is fantastic. There's some really neat new things he produced that we haven't seen before, and it makes the levels feel closer to a Doom rendition of what you might see in Unreal. So it's all stuff that could have been there had they thought of it at the time. The levels make use of a lot of switches to shift level geometry, which breaks up the action into chunks, giving you a breather in between. But you also learn that "yes, I need to be prepared for shit". The final level also involves you needing to take out both a Spider Mastermind and a Cyberdemon, and demonstrates why the Cyberdemon is the baddest of the original Doom monsters (and make you wonder even more why he was the episode 2 boss instead of episode 3). All in all this is a great set of levels that shows the Doom engine is still a solid experience.
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Games Beaten: 2015 2016 2017 2018
Blizzard Entertainment Software Developer - All comments and views are my own and not representative of the company.
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PartridgeSenpai
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Re: Games Beaten 2019

by PartridgeSenpai Sun Jun 02, 2019 5:40 am

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)
4. Katamari Forever (PS3)
5. Detention (PS4)
6. Donkey Kong 64 (N64) *
7. OctoDad: Dadliest Catch (PS4) *
8. FlintHook (Switch)
9. God of War (PS4)
10. God of War HD (PS3)
11. Tiny Barbarian DX (Switch)
12. God of War 2 HD (PS3)
13. Starlink (Switch)
14. Shin Gundam Musou (PS3)
15. Battle & Get! Pokemon Typing DS (DS)
16. Banjo-Kazooie (N64) *
17. Super Mario 64: Rumble Edition (N64)
18. Mario Party 3 (N64) *
19. Paper Mario (N64) *
20. The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (SNES) *
21. The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening DX (GBC) *

22. The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages (GBC) *
23. The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons (GBC) *

Rounded off my revisit marathon of the old isometric Zelda games with a linked playthrough of the two Oracle games on the Gameboy Color. As with Link's Awakening, I just bought them on the Japanese 3DS eShop, as it was the cheapest and easiest way to play them for me (and I'd never gotten a chance to play through them in Japanese before, so this was a very neat way to do that~). Ages took me just under 13 hours to get through, and Seasons took me just a hair over 10 hours. I didn't do alll the content in both (and made no dedicated effort to collect rings in either), but I did do most of the heart pieces and the trading sequence in each. They're games which were released as a pair, and even have content that can only be accessed by using a code at the end of one at the start of the other. All of my praises and comments of one are really directly linked to the other in many ways, and the way they were developed side-by-side as well just made it make more sense to me to do a combo-review for them both instead of just constantly referring back and forth to each of them in two separate reviews to make all the same points twice XD.

The first thing I'll comment on is the original translation of the games. Other than some super minor things like General Onox being named General Gorgon in this version, the translation is pretty hard to find differences in compared to the English version. Nowhere is there something nearly as blatantly obvious on a visual level as Link's Awakening's changing of you returning the mermaid's bikini top to her (instead of her necklace as it is in the English version). However, the one REALLY painfully obvious bit that was changed for the English version is the ring-shop owner. The Oracle games have a ring-system that is basically just passives that Link can equip several at a time at the ring shop after having them identified. In the English version, the ring shop owner is just a bit of an eccentric guy who loves rings and sharing them with people. In the Japanese original, however, the ring shop owner is a pretty damn offensive gay stereotype who hits on Link in like every conversation they have together (he even gives Link the ability to use rings because he says Link is "his type"). '~' to emphasis syllables being said lyrically and hearts punctuate his speech constantly, and I'm just glad he's a pretty easily ignored part of the game, because it's honestly a pretty terrible portrayal that has NOT aged well (although is hardly a rare sight in Japanese media from back then, unfortunately). Like, at least he isn't a villainous character, but using "they're queer" as shorthand for eccentricity is just such appallingly lazy writing on top of the offensive trope that I really can not let it go unmentioned here in good conscience. And while I can let Nintendo themselves slide on this one, as Flagship wrote the scenario for this instead of them, main villains like Yuga and Girahim in more recent Nintendo-written and developed Nintendo games show that they still aren't afraid to use queer-coding to denote eccentricity :/

Pivoting to their design, both games take a lot of graphical assets, like a LOT, from Link's Awakening, and both play pretty similarly to that game. There has clearly been some engine work done on more subtle mechanical levels (for example, picking up pots with the power bracelet takes ever so slightly longer), as well as more directly and immediately noticeable ones (like how you need to be moving forward to throw a bomb/pot in front of you, and not just drop it on top of yourself). Other than that, though, the way the game plays should be immediately recognizable to any who has spent any length of time with Link's Awakening, even down to how you can still reassign any item you have to either the A or B button.

The main difference that is most immediately obvious is how much this game has improved its signposting compared to Link's Awakening. You just about always have a character whom you can go back to talk to for a hint about where to go next, and they always hit you up with a quick, mandatory cutscene not only after dungeons but after key plot developments to give you a kick in the right direction. Knowing where to go next and how to do it is FAR less of a problem in the Oracle games than in Link's Awakening, and it makes getting from point A to point B in each game a much easier affair.

These games have an interesting history that really shows in their final presentation. Originally intended to be SIX games developed by Capcom for Nintendo, two of which being remakes of the first two NES Zelda games, that was soon scaled back to three new games that would be interconnected, and then again scaled back to two. This can be seen not just in how Seasons has many dungeon bosses that are straight-out of Zelda 1 (likely assets finished before the decision was made to scrap that remake idea) to how similar the sub-items in each game are to one another.

However, the other thing I really noticed that made sense with this history is just how much Oracle of Seasons feels like the "first great idea" for the interlinked-game premise, and Oracle of Ages feels like the "good enough supplementary idea". Oracle of Seasons is superior in so many ways to Oracle of Ages, mostly on account of each game's respective gimmick, that is makes Oracle of Ages look a lot worse quality-wise when the direct comparison is forced due to their connected nature.

Seasons' gimmick is a rod that lets you change seasons by standing atop stumps you can find throughout the game. A mechanic that Minish Cap would later almost directly copy with how you can only shrink on top of certain stump (or stump-like objects). You change the seasons depending on what season-spirits you have, and it's an animation that takes roughly a second and a half. The world around you will change depending on the season (snow piling up to make new platforms in winter, leaves covering up pits in fall, water drying up in summer, flowers blooming in spring) and can allow you to access new areas because of it. It works really well, and even though you need to find the stumps to progress are easy to find as the world map is telegraphed very naturally to lead you where to go next. The game has lots of effectively micro-areas that are explored on their own and lead to the next dungeon, and it gives the game a very nice flow that is reminiscent of how quick the pacing was in something like LTTP.

Ages' gimmick is a harp that allows you to change time periods between the present and a hundred years in the past. This is done first through special spots on the map where you can activate a time portal, but you eventually get the ability to do it anywhere in either time period. However, you need to do this a LOT, and the animation for changing time period genuinely takes like 10 seconds, and it's not loading times or anything. It's just a luxury animation that takes that long to do. This means, especially later in the game when you're trying to find out just where to go next, the trial and error to find those places takes FAR longer than in Seasons' where the season changing is so quick. The methods of design necessitated by these gimmicks is where the steep shift in quality between them originates from.

Originally, there were going to be the three games, one for each part of the Triforce: power, wisdom, and courage. Courage (and the intriguing concept of it being based around a color gimmick, not unlike Link's Awakening DX's color dungeon) was scrapped and Power became Oracle of Seasons and wisdom became Oracle of Ages. This means that, as a deliberate focus of the design, Seasons has a bigger focus on combat, and Ages has a bigger focus on puzzle solving. But this extends further than just a marketing platitude.

Ages' focus on not just puzzle solving but time travel means that it has a MUCH larger focus on narrative than either of the other GBC Zelda games, as the causality-focused time travel game mechanic is inseparably linked to the game's narrative. The evil Priestess Veran is constantly coming back up in the story with a new scheme to alter time in her favor usually involving the titular Oracle of Ages, Nayru. By comparison General Onox (aka General Gorgon in the Japanese version) and the Oracle of Seasons he kidnaps, Dinn, are so rarely even mentioned, let alone present, in Seasons' narrative it can be easy to forget they're even there.

But this has the knock-on effect that Ages is a much more frustrating and rigid game to get through, as many more NPC-related sidequests are required to get from dungeon to dungeon as Link alters their fates through the time stream. This ends up slowing the game WAY down with a lot more dialogue (and time travel cutscenes), especially if you can't quite work out how to progress the plot. The signposting in these games is better than Link's Awakening, but it's still noticeably rougher in Ages than Seasons. Where the end of a mini-area in Seasons is often capped off with entering the dungeon for it, Ages is plagued with frequent back-tracking through an area and its NPCs to try and find the dialogue cue you missed that lets you get the next thing that will let you get into that dungeon in the first place.

Seasons still has puzzles, and good ones too. I found them more often far more intuitive than Ages, where I frequently had to look up online how to progress because I just wasn't getting what the game wanted from me. Ages' focus on puzzles for the sake of them really slows the whole game down, and can make its dungeons feel labyrinthine and kinda devoid of enemies because the puzzles are the focus. This makes Ages' dungeons feel like far more of a slog where progression is incremental and mechanical, like work, where Link's Awakening and Seasons' more mediated approaches to dungeon design give them far better pacing and makes the dungeons more fun. Sure, Seasons has a lot of bosses recycled from Zelda 1, but if it ain't broke, don't fix it as far as I'm concerned. Seasons' re-use in a GBC-style of Zelda 1 bosses (and one Link's Awakening boss as a mini-boss) gives it ultimately better boss fights than Ages, which often feel more like an afterthought (or a frustrating, poorly explained puzzle in and of themselves that require looking up how to even harm). Ages feels like its focus on puzzles comes at the expense of the rest of its design, where Seasons feels like a more balanced experience overall, and only has a more pronounced combat focus in comparison to Ages. As far as overall balance is concerned, Seasons feels like a much more natural successor to the pacing set forth in Link's Awakening than it does as a companion game to Oracle of Ages.

Ages' narrative is really nothing special either. It's the most dialogue-heavy of the handheld games for sure, but both Oracle games came out after both N64 titles (and each actually feature NPCs from each N64 game to boot). Ages narrative, the most noticeable and pronounced part of its design, does not do nearly enough legwork to make up for the overall quality lost in its mechanical and design aspects, and even then doesn't hold much of a candle to either N64 game's narrative.

Verdict:
Oracle of Seasons: Highly Recommended.
Oracle of Ages: Hesitantly Recommended.

Both Oracle games were designed around gimmicks, but where Seasons exceeds its status as a gimmick game and just feels like another good Zelda game, Ages feels bogged down by its gimmick every step of the way and never escapes feeling like a gimmick title. Oracle of Seasons feels like a natural progression of the good combat and dungeon design of Link's Awakening with better signposting to boot. Oracle of Ages, on the other hand, feels like a monument to compromise in many ways, and it consistently feels like a game that was put together to fit the theme rather than the other way around, and the quality suffered because of it. Oracle of Ages certainly isn't a bad game, but if you can only play one Oracle game, make it Seasons. Seasons has always been my favorite isometric 2D Zelda game, and this replay re-confirmed that for me. However, all my replay of Oracle of Ages did was cement it firmly at the bottom of the list of my favorite 2D isometric Zelda games.
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