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Ack
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Re: Games Beaten 2019

by Ack Tue Sep 17, 2019 3:31 pm

BoneSnapDeez wrote:
MrPopo wrote:Souls-inspired Metroidvanias


Oh dear, is this the new thing in indie gaming??


Yeah, probably. When they're not doing throwback roguelike FPS or 8-bit style platformers, Metroidvanias inspired by the Souls series seems like an obvious choice.
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Re: Games Beaten 2019

by marurun Tue Sep 17, 2019 3:48 pm

Basically, they remove the ability to grind your way out of tough fights.
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Re: Games Beaten 2019

by BoneSnapDeez Tue Sep 17, 2019 4:39 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)


Cosmic Avenger
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Konami is generally credited with inventing the side-scrolling horizontal shmup, with 1981's one-two punch of Scramble and Super Cobra. However, a third game of this specific genre dropped the same year. Titled Cosmic Avenger, it was developed in Japan by Universal, the same outfit behind Space Panic, Lady Bug, and Mr. Do!. While Konami's classics continue to be featured on compilations to this very day, the now-defunct Universal's effort received a single port (ColecoVision, 1982) and has since faded into obscurity.

Like many of these old scrolling shooters, Cosmic Avenger consists of one lengthy stage, that eventually subtly loops without a hint of fanfare. The player guides a ship that must contend with both airborne and grounded targets. There are malicious flying saucers, stationary bombs, turret guns, even moon buggies that resemble those found in Irem's Moon Patrol (though this game was released first). Thankfully, the player's ship is equipped to deal with the onslaught. The ColecoVision's two fire buttons are used to emit both forward-traveling bullets and bombs that drop down in an arc. Controls are mostly okay, despite the inherently awkward nature of the ColecoVision's controller (and yes, the keypad buttons are to be ignored). The player has some control over the scrolling, as pressing right on the joystick causes both the ship to speed up and the screen to scroll ahead faster. Interestingly, it's not possible to outrun all enemies, as some will give chase, even reappearing back onscreen once passed. A handy "radar" along the screen's top indicates both the position of the player's ship and such enemies. It needs to be stated that the scrolling here is rough; we're not talking MSX levels of choppiness but it does become nausea-inducing after some time.
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The ColecoVision did a decent job at replicating the graphics of early arcade games, this one being no exception. The game opens up in a beautiful alien cityscape, heavy on the reds, purple, and blues. There are some really cool touches to the architecture, including multi-windowed skyscrapers and spotlights that shine forth diagonally. Unfortunately, the city quickly gives way to more barren territory, including a nearly all-black moonscape and a very blue underwater stretch. The audio is of mixed quality. It's competent for the most part, but the underwater shots are given this shrill annoying ring to them. There is music, scarcely, but it just amounts to a generic "level start" jingle.

I find many of the earliest scrolling shmups to be of questionable quality, as they lack the addictive score-chasing nature of a simple fixed shooter like Galaga, while also lacking the incredibly unique scenery found in later scrollers like Gradius and R-Type. Cosmic Avenger though, it gets the job done. While far from outstanding, it's still an enjoyable effort from one of Japan's most interesting forgotten developers. Along with the aforementioned Scramble and Super Cobra, we're looking at a pretty solid "trilogy."


Mouse Trap
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There sure were plenty of single-screen "maze" games back in those early days. One such game was Exidy's Mouse Trap. Exidy is perhaps best known for some strangely controversial and ultra-violent arcade titles. This is a bit of a shame: partly because those games weren't particularly interesting, but also because Exidy's best output was in the realm of simplistic Golden Age classics. One of Exidy's most notable titles was Mouse Trap, originally released in the arcades in 1981, ported to the ColecoVision the following year as a launch title.

Mouse Trap seemingly follows the Pac-Man blueprint extremely closely. Each stage takes place within a small single-screen maze, where the player controls a mouse who must eat all the "dots" (they're supposed to be small pieces of cheese) in order to advance. There are also dog biscuits to collect. These transform the mouse into a dog (seriously), who can then "eat" the cats, booting them out of the maze. They eventually reenter after a brief time out. There are also some larger items to collect, which aren't necessary but do add to the point total.
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Yes, Mouse Trap certainly would not exist without Pac-Man, but don't dismiss this as an outright clone just yet. Mouse Trap does its own thing, and does it relatively well. First and foremost, the mazes are completely sealed at the edges, and lack those iconic screen-looping paths that characterized Pac-Man. Instead, to avoid getting the mouse caught in a narrow corridor, the player must manipulate a series of blue, red, and yellow gates. These can be swung open and closed by using (wait for it) the keypad on the ColecoVision controller! Buttons 1 to 3 correspond to each of the gates, which can thus be opened and closed separately. The goal is to strategically entomb those filthy felines and clear a path for the mouse to that sweet succulent coagulated dairy. It's an innovative control scheme (the game came packaged with a controller overlay), but I nevertheless find it hard to play Mouse Trap without looking down at the controller periodically. Then there's the matter of the dog biscuits. These are not activated automatically, but are instead stored by the player until needed, and can even be carried from one stage into the next. This makes the game significantly easier than the likes of Pac-Man (at least initially) as one can always bust out a biscuit (button 5) in a panic moment. Defeated cats reenter the screen along the edges, rather than the center, which takes a moment to get used to.

And there's more! A bird enters the maze occasionally. This feathered foe is immune to the dog attacks and must simply be avoided. That said, playing on the lowest difficult omits these periodic avian ambushes. There's also a big rectangle labeled "IN" at the center of each maze. Should the mouse "go in" it is then transported to a random corner of the maze, making this a risky move indeed. All said, there's quite a bit going on here. The gate manipulation is highly reminiscent of Lady Bug (also a ColecoVision launch title), and the creative approach to the otherwise straightforward "maze genre" lays the framework for Exidy's excellent Pepper II, released shortly after.

Graphically, the game holds up well. The maze itself is rather sparse looking, which aids in navigation, while the gates stand out boldly against the black backdrop. The sprites are rather hilarious. The cats are bright yellow and twitch around feverishly. Meanwhile, the mouse is represented by a perpetually-chomping giant mouse head, which becomes a woofing bulldog head when powered up. There are some tunes in the game, which switch out every three stages or so. I can't tell if these are originals or public domain tracks, but it's pretty upbeat stuff that suits the game nicely.

Progressing in the game causes the cats to move faster and faster until it's nigh impossible to avoid them. In early stages, it's actually possible to simply ignore the gate mechanic in favor of the dog biscuits, but one must begin to master the gates come stage five or so. All told, Mouse Trap provides an unexpected twist to the maze game formula, and is quite the intriguing launch title.


Zaxxon
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Zaxxon is a scrolling shooter by Sega, released in the arcades in 1982. It then saw an almost comical number of ports, many of which are only semi-functional. While Japan eventually received a very solid iteration of the game on Sega's own SG-1000, North American gamers were wise to turn to the ColecoVision. Arriving months after the arcade original, Coleco's take on Zaxxon is a fine example of competent arcade-to-console porting.

Zaxxon stands out among the sea of space-themed shooters, due to its unique method of scrolling. Is it horizontal? Is it vertical? It's isometric! This means that the game's landscape is oriented at a slant, from the screen's bottom-left corner to top-right, creating a type of three-dimensional perspective. The controls are naturally altered to accompany such a viewpoint. Pressing right on the joystick moves the player's ship towards the screen's bottom-right, while pressing left does the opposite. Unlike other early scrollers (say, Konami's Scramble), the ship of Zaxxon can't fly "on ahead" into its ever-scrolling environment, nor can it pull backwards. Instead, it's locked along an axis, and pressing up or down changes altitude. Maintaining proper altitude is crucial, as enemies appear at various height and there are segmented laser-emitting brick walls that must be cleared successfully. Note that the altitude controls are inverted in that stereotypical airplane fashion, where pushing down pulls the player's ship up and pushing up causes it dive down. To assist with the altitude positioning, Zaxxon features a persistent shadow displayed under the ship, as well as an altitude meter that rises and falls based on the ship's location.
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While it sounds confusing on paper (or, at least, when I attempt to explain it) everything comes together brilliantly in the game. The ColecoVision's girthy joystick is perfectly suited for maneuvering the ship, and the shadow/meter combo synergizes perfectly to indicate altitude. Moreover, there aren't many buttons to contend with. Either side button on the ColecoVision controller can be used to fire (straight ahead, at present altitude), everything else can be safely disregarded. Of course, Zaxxon isn't simply an obstacle course: there are hostile aliens to contend with, plus an ever-depleting fuel meter. The enemies manifest themselves in various ways. Some mimic the behavior of the player's ship, flying ahead and firing rapidly. There are stationary ground targets (which "conveniently" block fuel containers), rocket launchers that shoot vertically, and saucers that hover just a smidge above the ground. Staying alive requires that one grab fuel, and often. Don't run into these canisters to collect them. Instead, employ video game logic: just blow 'em up! On the game's lowest difficulty setting, skipping an occasional canister is fine. But crank that difficulty dial up to "4" and the ship becomes quite the gas-guzzler.

In addition to being an isometric pioneer, Zaxxon is also remembered fondly for its intriguing graphical style. The landscape is some sort of bizarre retro-futuristic creation, what the developers at Sega imagined 2050 might resemble. The game takes place on a series of floating bright blue highways, which periodically drop off into the vastness of black space. Each "highway" segment is littered with strange symbols, artifacts from an ancient alien race. I'm not wild about the "all-black" segments, as it can be hard to properly determine altitude with no shadow, but the remaining detailed sections are top-notch. There's no music whatsoever, but the ship's engine hum corresponds to its altitude. The pitch lowers at it gets closer to the ground. Genius. Zaxxon is a looper, but, perhaps taking cues from the likes of Phoenix and Gorf, it features a "mothership" final boss. This is a nice way to end each loop, but the battle itself is a bit sloppy, and the boss doesn't even have the courtesy to explode when defeated. He just kind of saunters away in boredom, effectively taunting the player to give it another go.

All told, I think I like this just as much as the arcade game. It exquisitely captures the spirit of the original. While other hardware of the era struggled to run Zaxxon (generally failing at replicating the isometric view and/or showcasing questionable control schemes) the developers at Coleco absolutely nailed it. One of the slickest games of '82 and an absolute must-play.
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Re: Games Beaten 2019

by prfsnl_gmr Tue Sep 17, 2019 6:32 pm

If you drop a penny, by the time it reaches the ground it will be going faster than a bullet - level IQ post, Bone.

You really should collect all of your second generation reviews into a book. There’s so much good analysis and content there.
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Re: Games Beaten 2019

by BoneSnapDeez Tue Sep 17, 2019 6:57 pm

Phone number IQ comment.

As much as I love the second gen, I'm getting burned out. Too many of these games in a row is a brain-frying, my dudes.
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Re: Games Beaten 2019

by Ack Wed Sep 18, 2019 2:18 pm

BoneSnapDeez wrote:Phone number IQ comment.

As much as I love the second gen, I'm getting burned out. Too many of these games in a row is a brain-frying, my dudes.

I think it's time you go play a classic dungeon crawler, my man.
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BoneSnapDeez
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Re: Games Beaten 2019

by BoneSnapDeez Wed Sep 18, 2019 3:22 pm

On the Atari, right??
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Re: Games Beaten 2019

by prfsnl_gmr Wed Sep 18, 2019 3:51 pm

Nope. On the Intellivision. That system had the best console RPGs. They actually use the keypad!!!
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Re: Games Beaten 2019

by prfsnl_gmr Thu Sep 19, 2019 10:25 pm

Double post!!!

.....

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)


Ack wrote a great review of Shadowgate a few pages back. I won’t repeat it, and anyone interested in the game should read Ack’s review. I didn’t find the game quite as enjoyable as he found it - there were too many hidden objects, the puzzles employed a lot of video game logic, the torch system is still annoying, etc. - but it’s hard to deny the production quality. The game looks and sounds great, and it mostly plays pretty well too.

In Kuru Kuru Kururin, you guide a rotating stick through mazes and obstacle courses. It’s really, really hard. It’s also a GBA launch game, and I played it for this month’s TR.
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Re: Games Beaten 2019

by MrPopo Fri Sep 20, 2019 2:02 am

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
25. Shining Force III: Scenario 2 - Saturn
26. Shining Force III: Scenario 3 - Saturn
27. Borderlands 2: Commander Lillith and the Fight for Sanctuary - PC
28. Gato Roboto - Switch
29. Timespinner - Switch
30. Amid Evil - PC
31. Pillars of Eternity II: Beast of Winter - PC
32. Pillars of Eternity II: Seeker, Slayer, Survivor - PC
33. Pillars of Eternity II: The Forgotten Sanctum - PC
34. Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night - Switch
35. Orphan - PC
36. Project Nimbus - PC
37. Hardcore Mecha - PC
38. Grey Goo - PC
39. Giants: Citizen Kabuto - PC
40. Wolfenstein: Youngblood - PC
41. Fire Emblem: Three Houses - Switch
42. Metal Wolf Chaos XD - PC
43. Ion Fury - PC
44. Final Fantasy Adventure - GB
45. Astral Chain - Switch
46. Rebel Galaxy Outlaw - PC
47. Blasphemous - Switch
48. Daemon x Machina - Switch

The one sentence review for Daemon x Machina is that it is Armored Core 6 with the serial numbers partially obscured. Your enjoyment will come down entirely to how much you enjoy that sort of mecha action and mecha building. If the idea of figuring out whether getting a little bit more accuracy and reload speed is worth a little less health and defense but a little more bullet and laser defense puts you in decision paralysis then this game is not for you.

The plot to the game feels weirdly half done. The most important bits are presented in game through cutscenes and the mission structure. You slowly learn of a big bad and the plot to fuck over humanity and you stop said big bad in the end. But then there's a level of ancillary stuff that is only expressed through a text-only message system that shows up in between missions. The messages come from the faceless quest givers who post up missions your AI mission control tells you about, and they speak to events that are never properly shown in the main game scenes. It's almost like the writing team wrote a huge treatment before the gameplay team was like "dude, we can't use all that" and then they shoehorned in the messages so the writing team wouldn't start crying at the injustice in the world. The main storyline is not objectional, but it definitely won't light your fire.

But you don't play a game like this for the story. The main thing you need to know is something exploded part of the moon, it rained down on the Earth and created these femto particles which are poisonous to most humans but not to special humans called Outers. Said Outers then pilot giant mecha piloted by femto and fight against rogue AIs that are drawn to the femto (and some of those rogue AIs are ginormous robots). There's three companies that are mining the femto and they give you missions, but with an utter lack of characterization of the three you won't actually notice; the closest you get is that as the game goes on your missions will conflict with missions given by opposing companies. And that's where the fun parts of the story happen.

See, unlike some other Armored Core games this game relies on a cast of fellow colorful mercenaries. One mission you'll be fighting with them, another mission you'll fight against them (because they were hired by the enemies of your contract). There's never any hard feelings (at least until the main plot kicks in) but these provide much of the challenge as the game goes on. They have all the same capabilities as you, so your ability to master the game's systems will determine just how well you do. Fighting enemy mecha (including the AI controlled ones that aren't as good as the mercenary piloted ones) is also the main source of your upgrades. See, whenever you kill a mecha you can loot its corpse for one part; there's a bit of randomization (as only up to four parts are available on loot, but a given body has a fixed total inventory) and the game helpfully tells you if you already have that part or not. This looting and then upgrading (you can convert one part into another one for cash) is where your main upgrade paths are. You'll want to pick parts that best suit your playstyle, as many of them have very different feels from each other, and you will notice it when you swap parts out.

For your offense you get to hold weapons in both hands as well as having a spare weapon behind each shoulder. You then get a shoulder weapon (either a big cannon, a missile launcher, or a healing backpack) and an auxiliary device that enhances your abilities. You have limited ammo but destroying small enemies can drop ammo for you, so for the most part you won't run out until you start regularly fighting mercenary mechas and giant AI robots (though the latter usually spawns small dudes for ammo refills for you). Your main weapons can include rifles, SMGs, bazookas, laser rifles, and swords. The latter are particularly potent; you have a bit of a homing to your dash and later ones can chain across killing several small dudes. Again, find the ones which suit your playstyle, as they all handle very differently from each other. The final way to pimp out your combat experience is by upgrading your character; this is done through a variety of cybernetic enhancements. Some of these buff your mecha, and some buff you (you can get out, but outside one mission where you infiltrate a base you only use it as a desperation when your mech blows up), and several steps along the way gradually replace your fleshy human parts with metal parts. By the end of the game you look like Robocop if you go all in on the cybernetics.

The game is divided into story missions, which you can only do once, and free missions, which can be used to grind cash and parts. Money is always a bit tight but never to an overwhelming degree; you just can't simply buy all the things. The difficulty curve is pretty good, with a couple of exceptions. There are two missions midway through the game that stack the odds pretty bad against you; one is against two enemy mercs with no backup and they have about the same stats as you (a later mission is a three on one but they have drastically reduced health). This is a nasty battle of attrition and some exploiting of enemy behaviors is essential. The second nasty mid-game mission puts you against three enemy mercs with backup, but you are under a very strict time limit and they have pretty good health. I ended up only beating it because I got lucky and got two knockbacks into instant death terrain against them (the second happened a few second out from failure). Once past those it's back to the expected difficulty curve until the final boss. The final boss is massively overtuned with a bunch of nasty attacks that can either chain knock you away or melt your health, and there aren't much in the way of good strategies outside of taking a sword and taking advantage of the fact that when you're in his face his attacks can't hit you. But then he will randomly start spinning and damage you, so you still have to hope his pattern works out well for you and he doesn't just spam the spin move.

Outside that utterly awful final boss it's a fun ride from beginning to end. There's enough variety in mission objectives that you don't really get much in the way of fatigue; they're basically all varieties of "destroy all the enemies" but there's enough subtle difference to keep you engaged. Just don't try to look too deep into the story, because it's a measure of excuse plot. Just enjoy the fact that they got Char and Amuro's VAs to voice pilots who are obvious expy's of their famous roles.
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