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prfsnl_gmr
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Re: Games Beaten 2019

by prfsnl_gmr Mon Oct 07, 2019 3:44 pm

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

72. Surround (Atari 2600)
73. Borderline (SG-1000)
74. Omega Race (VIC-20)
75. Star Battle (VIC-20)


Surround
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When I was much younger I used to play a "snake" game on my graphing calculator. The game starred a snake moving around a field, eating randomly appearing items. Each time the snake consumed an item it grew longer, eventually twisting its way across the bulk of the playing field. The goal was to gobble up as much as possible, without running into the outer border, or smacking the snake's head against its ever-increasing body. It just so happens that there was another variation of "snake" that made some waves in the late 1970s. This foodless one-on-one variant pits two players (or a single player and a computer) against each other. The "snakes" grow automatically as they continuously move, the goal being to trap (or simply outlast) the opponent - whoever smacks into something loses. Several arcade games showcased such gameplay, though Atari brought the action home with their launch title Surround.

Unsurprisingly, Surround features multiple "modes" of gameplay, fourteen to be exact. Though two modes feature a computerized opponent, this is certainly best played with a duo of human players. While the AI isn't completely incompetent (like that of Street Racer or Air-Sea Battle) it's still pretty lame, and incredibly exploitable. Grab a buddy, and a second joystick. Seriously. The default gameplay mode has two players face off in a closed-in arena. You'll have to use some imagination to envision any reptiles: each player takes control of a square that leaves a winding "wall" behind as it moves. First one to hit any wall is toast. Movement is four-directional, and some simple beep-beep sound effects play as maneuvering occurs. Strategies vary based on the skills of the two playing. You can be aggressive and try to envelop an opponent as soon as possible, play the "long game" by making huge loops around the outer edges of the screen while slowly closing in, or just "hide" as best as possible while waiting for the opponent to make a critical error. Two skilled opponents make for some tense matches; first player to hit ten points is declared the overall winner.
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As for those other gameplay modes, they change the rules a little. One causes the snakes to speed up as they make progress (the audio also speeds up each time a "gear shifts" which is pretty cool). Another eliminates the arena wall and allows for "wrap-around" movement. Yet another allows for eight-directional movement instead of four. Lastly, the players can choose an "eraser" mode, where the fire button toggles track-laying on and off. Of course, we reach fourteen total modes by allowing the players to combine said attributes. Mode 12, for example, allows the players to wrap around the screen, speed up, move diagonally, and elect to stop laying track. It's total chaos!!!

Graphically, the game looks rather plain and many of the color choices are questionable. It's like the developers were trying to show off how many colors the console could support, and some stage backgrounds are quite gaudy as a result. There are some "video graffiti" modes tucked into the tail end of the cartridge, which allow players to "draw" onscreen. Slightly amusing for the time, but also rather slow and tedious. Overall, this is a good outing for Atari. The compelling two-player showdowns make Surround one of the more interesting launch titles.


Borderline
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Growing up, I always assumed that the Genesis was Sega's first console. It was the only one I had been aware of, plus its very name suggested a debut of sorts. My mind was blown years later when, in an attempt to play the first Phantasy Star game, I discovered an 8-bit Sega console: the Sega Master System. My mind was doubly blown when, as an adult with disposable income and a game collecting habit, I discovered yet another ancient Sega system known as the SG-1000. The SG-1000 is indeed Sega's first piece of home console hardware. It had the unfortunate luck of being released in Japan on the exact same day as Nintendo's legendary Famicom. While the Famicom achieved even further success with its NES variant, the SG-1000 saw only a limited release and faded quietly, quickly superseded by the Master System. It never even made it to the shores of North America. Though the SG-1000 helped usher in the third generation of gaming consoles, it feels very much like a second gen system, with its joystick controller and hardware specifications that greatly resemble those of the ColecoVision. Unsurprisingly, a huge portion of the SG-1000 library consists of Sega arcade ports, including the system's launch title: Borderline.

Borderline is an "action" title that, to use the game's own terminology, consists of a single looping "round" which is then broken down into a series of segments. First comes a vertically-scrolling "driving" section that's vaguely reminiscent of Bump 'n' Jump, but with more of an emphasis on combat. Enemies fly out of the walls that line both sides of the screen. The selection here is a little disappointing: the only thing to shoot down are these plain white triangular "missiles." Pressing either joystick button executes an attack: the player's jeep emits bullets from the left or right side of its hood. The shot types alternate, which is something to consider while aiming, though good old-fashioned button-mashing usually does the trick regardless. There's a fuel meter that acts as a de facto timer; shooting red gas tanks will replenish it. The scrolling is a bit choppy, and pulling back on the joystick will slow things down. Surprisingly, it is possible to shoot left and right by holding the joystick in one of those directions while shooting. This maneuver is essentially required to hit the fuel tanks, and tricky to pull off without also careening headlong into a wall.
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Following the driving segment comes a series of "digging" sections. Dig Dug is the obvious comparison here, though in the arcades Borderline actually predates Namco's classic monster-popper. These single-screen challenges adhere to more standard action game controls: no screen scrolling and top-down four-direction movement. The "dirt" provides cover from enemy fire, as only the player's jeep is capable of digging. There are also rigid unmovable walls to contend with. The goal throughout the trio of digging segments is to destroy the enemy "reactors" which are guarded by tanks. The tanks aren't especially fearsome. Slow and lumbering, their incoming shots can also be taken out by the player's bullets. It's a testament to the uneven difficultly that characterizes Borderline: while the driving segments can be daunting, mainly owing to the controls, the digging segments take almost no effort to complete.

The game looks acceptable (and yes, incredibly similar to what was on the ColecoVision in North America), but the massive monochrome chunks of brick and soil leave something to be desired. A musical ditty plays throughout, which is competent enough if not especially memorable. Sega was really fighting an uphill battle here. Nintendo launched their Famicom with arcade royalty in the form of Donkey Kong and Donkey Kong Junior. Meanwhile, Borderline made little splash in the arcades and this port isn't enough to make anyone a believer. Had the difficultly been smoothed out and the controls tightened we'd perhaps have a winner on our hands. Instead, this stands mostly as an intriguing piece of history rather than a compelling play. And given the rarity (and accompanying prices) of SG-1000 cartridges, Borderline is best left to the most dedicated Sega devotees.


Omega Race
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I can't be the only one that assumed Omega Race would be a racing game, right? It really isn't. Omega Race is a shooter, released in the arcades by Midway in 1981, subsequently ported to multiple home consoles and computers. This isn't your typical fixed shooter though (Midway did have one of those, called Gorf); Omega Race is more akin to Atari's Asteroids and Sega's Space Fury. In other words, the player's ship has a free range of movement, the joystick is used to rotate and align the ship's nose, and a "thrust" command is used to accelerate forward. The most common variant of Omega Race is on the 2600. That particular port came packaged with a special controller (actually, it's a very odd "adapter" for the standard joystick) with two buttons: one for fire and one for thrusting. It's an interesting idea, and rather faithful to the arcade original's control scheme, but ultimately unwieldy and frustrating. Instead, I'd opt for something like the Commodore VIC-20 port, which uses the traditional "up for thrust" mechanic.

Gameplay is self-explanatory. Steer the ship and blast all enemies in sight. There are flying UFOs to contend with, along with stationary mines. Enemies get more aggressive if allowed to linger onscreen, with the ominous background music speeding up to serve as a warning. An occasional "death ship" appears, which needs to be blasted quickly as it can outrun and outmaneuver the player's ship with ease. The game's a "looper" with one repeating piece of scenery, perfectly suited for high score chasing.
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Despite the obvious inspiration, Omega Race doesn't stick too closely to the the Asteroids formula. There's no screen wrapping; hitting the edge of the screen causes the player's ship to "bounce" off. This can be detrimental, as the closed-in arena makes it tougher to avoid certain enemies, but a well-timed bounce is a great way to reposition. Additionally, the game's score/life display isn't contained within the typical horizontal bar situated at the screen's top or bottom. Instead, it's housed within a rectangle set dead in the screen's center. This rectangle is also "bouncy" and makes the battlefield resemble a large racetrack. And while playing it feels like you're constantly "running laps" with the ship. Kind of like a ..... hey, wait a minute.

The graphical style is interesting. This was Midway's only arcade release to utilize vector graphics, a look that was carried over into the VIC-20 port. This means that the game's entirely in black & white (minus the title screen), with every sprite resembling some sort of hard-angled geometric shape. The lack of detail won't please everyone, though I personally adore the stark unambiguous visuals. Why this wasn't ported to the Vectrex (the console to actually use vector graphics exclusively) is beyond me, though a homebrew port was apparently crafted many years after the game's initial relevancy.

Overall, Omega Race is a solid effort from Midway and Commodore. The "track" playing field subtly adds a layer of intrigue and strategy that would be missing from your bog standard Asteroids knock-off. It's a quick play, but a memorable one. To reiterate, I'd steer clear of that Atari port in favor of this (everyone has a VIC-20, right??).


Star Battle
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Star Battle is a space-themed fixed shooter released for the Commodore VIC-20 in 1981. There are seemingly millions of games just like this, so what makes Star Battle different? Well, it was programmed by the late Satoru Iwata. Yes, that Satoru Iwata, the one of HAL Laboratory, later to become president and CEO of Nintendo. This particular game dates back to his pre-HAL days, when he was involved with Commodore Japan. Who knew?

Don't get excited though. This isn't come obscure Japanese hidden gem that somehow slipped into the Commodore library (check out Curse of Babylon on C64 if you do desire such things). No, Star Battle is simply an attempt to recreate Namco's Galaxian for the VIC-20 computer. It's an unauthorized "clone" game, if you will. All the core elements of Galaxian are present. One or two (alternating) players control a spaceship firing vertically into a horde of alien fiends. The blue, purple, red, and yellow extraterrestrials all adhere to slightly different attack patterns, and move at varying rates of speed. In addition to firing their own projectiles, aliens will frequently swoop down in a kamikaze fashion, attempting to make direct contact with the player's ship. Points are gained upon defeating the bad guys, and the game "ends" only when all lives are depleted. The iconic "flags" to mark stage progress have been retained here as well.
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Now, Galaxian is an excellent game, offering up a simple but addictive dose of score-chasing, with a steadily climbing difficulty curve. Had Star Battle competently emulated Galaxian we'd have a real winner. Unfortunately, it falters in many places. While the alien sprites look correct when still, they move in a rather choppy fashion. There's plenty of sprite flickering, which can lead to some frustrating missed shots. Sound effects are terrible: alternating between staticky thumps and shrill whines. The shortcomings of Star Battle make it a difficult game to contend with, and there's little incentive to keep practicing.

These copycat games were common on old computers, probably because the publishers either couldn't (or didn't want to) obtain proper licensing rights. Anyone who's delved into the VIC-20 library has likely encountered Star Battle -- along with Avenger, Jupiter Lander, and Radar Rat Race (which copy Space Invaders, Lunar Lander, and Rally-X, respectively). One could argue that Star Battle may have served a purpose as a compromised but playable "substitute" for Galaxian, for those 80s gamers that owned a VIC-20 but no gaming console. However, Galaxian did receive a proper VIC-20 port via Atarisoft, a few years after Star Battle hit the scene. This essentially renders Iwata's creation moot, though it's undeniably a cool historical oddity. Kirby would be willing to inhale it, I bet.


Awesome reviews, Bone. I really appreciate these. They’re such a great window into the world of second generation gaming.
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MrPopo
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Re: Games Beaten 2019

by MrPopo Tue Oct 08, 2019 2:00 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
49. The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening - Switch
50. Borderlands 3 - PC

Borderlands 3 is the fourth main entry in the looty shooty franchise (yay for Pre-Sequel fucking up the numbering). It serves as an iterative entry that doesn't bring as many new things as Borderlands 2 and Pre-Sequel did. But what it does do is strip off most of the things that tended to be tedious about previous entries (though not 100% of them, though I'd argue it brings it down to the level of "I don't mind").

The plot is not terribly dissimilar from that of 2, where there is a villain who wants to open the vaults for massive power and they spend a lot of time dicking you over as you try to stop them. What sets Tyreen and Troy apart from Handsome Jack is that they are basically YouTube stars who have weaponized their legion of followers, quite literally. Their fans, the Pandoran bandits, are utterly devoted to them and refer to them as the God Twins, and the twins feed them through the magic of social media. It never gets quite to the level of social commentary; rather, it has just the right amount of parody to current trends in social media engagement. There's riffs on a lot of the clichés for YouTube stars, and frankly it's just real enough to be amusing. Tyreen's voice actress also totally has the cadence down of a YouTube star, and overall I think her character is more consistent than Handsome Jack (though he still has higher highs).

Borderlands 3 plays mostly like a refined Borderlands 2; the new stuff rom Pre-Sequel has been dropped, mostly due to not being in the venue of the moon (though there is one level that brings back the low gravity). The two main gameplay expansions are to the skills and to the guns. On the skill front you now have a different skill for each of the trees, and you can pick which one to equip. You'll unlock more as you go deeper in the trees, and you'll also unlock enhancements to the skills that you get for free once you're deep enough in the tree. This provides a lot more variety to the gameplay compared to the previous games, and serves as the best improvement to the gameplay. The improvement to the weapons is in making the weapons even more distinct than they already were. While for the most part in Borderlands 2 the differences in weapons was in the sorts of stat ranges they had (and things like Tediore reloading as grenades, Maliwan always being elemental, and Jakobs never being elemental), now weapons tend to have a variety of secondary effects. Many of them have some sort of toggle to a secondary ammo type that provides utility. Maliwan let you swap between elements, while Atlas lets you fire a tracking dart that causes your shots to auto aim onto the target. Dahl swaps between semi-auto and burst fire, while Torgue has your shots turn into stick bombs that explode for extra damage after a second. It all combines to keep the gameplay fresh, as you'll still be upgrading your guns throughout the game as you get higher statted gear, but you need to adapt to changing weapon properties and handling. You can never get too complacent with the gameplay, which is important. Also, it seems that the Legendary drop rate was jacked up compared to previous entries; I ended the game with 30+ Legendaries collected and it keeps the "oooo, this is fun" factor going. It's similar to how Diablo 3 realized that giving out interesting Legendaries more often made for better overall gameplay when you don't need PVP balance.

The changes to quests ends up being the biggest improvement over previous games, in my opinion. The previous games suffered from a major amount of backtracking; you would do a story mission that sent you to a combat area, you'd clear it out, then go back to the friendly area only to find that there are now three or four quests sending you back to that combat area (where everything has respawned). It's the sort of thing that tends to drain you, as it feels like obvious padding. That sort of backtracking is mostly gone. The number of overall sidequests has been greatly diminished, in favor of various collectable-esque challenges on the maps. These are consistent things that can be checked ahead of time; finding three voice logs from the first Vault Hunter so you can find a super loot cache, stealing vehicles to get vehicle upgrades, and killing a named monster, to name a few. Not every one is on every map, but they serve to get you to explore a bit and the rewards are worthwhile. The sidequests that remain, for the most part, send you to areas you wouldn't see if you just follow the main quest line, and they tend to be the source of the standard Borderlands quirkiness. There are a handful that do have you repeat an area, but these are almost always justified by the story behind the quest. This keeps them from feeling too much as padding, and as a result I didn't mind the few times it came up.

The game does start off a bit slow, story wise. It's not until you're nearly finished with the first couple maps that the engagement with the villains picks up, and at that point the game gets fun, and not just "yeah, yeah, more Borderlands". That's also about the time that you have gotten enough skill points to start to feel the benefits of the customization. So if you're a fan of the previous games and aren't impressed at the start, stick with it. It will pay off, and this game does the most to fill out the backstory of the Borderlands IP, which was a very welcome thing.
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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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Markies
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Re: Games Beaten 2019

by Markies Tue Oct 08, 2019 10:50 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)
14. Phantasy Star III (GEN)
15. Batman: The Video Game (NES)
16. X-Men Legends (XBOX)
***17. Final Fantasy VII (PS1)***
18. Maximum Pool (SDC)
19. Puzzle Quest (PS2)
20. Jet Moto (PS1)
21. The Legend of Zelda: Collector's Edition (GCN)

22. Dead Or Alive 3 (XBOX)

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I beat Dead or Alive 3 on the Microsoft XBOX this evening!

Dead or Alive is probably my favorite 3D fighting game franchise with Soul Calibur coming up a very close second. I just love the flow of the battle and the counter system adds a layer of depth instead of just mashing buttons. I was introduced to the series via DOA2, but I went backwards afterwards playing the original and then the original DOA2 on the Dreamcast. With those out of the way, it was finally time to play DOA3, which was one of the main reasons I bought a XBOX. With the Racketboy forums having a monthly theme of Launch Games, I figured now would be great time to finally play the next installment in the series.

The main difference in DOA3 is the additions of unique environmental aspects to the stage. There are trees in the way and slippery ice, but the main aspect is stages with levels on them. You can now hit your opponent off the stage and they would land below dealing massive damage. These are all incredibly fun along with adding something to aim for. Besides that, the fighting is still pretty much the same. There is no real change in the core mechanics. Some new characters were added with their unique fighting style, some of them being better than others. The graphics, as always, are absolutely stunning. The game really shows the power of the console as the characters look completely gorgeous. There is also little effects like the snow being trampled upon as you walk over it that really pull you into the game.

The only negative I have about the game is the final boss. DOA is known for not having the fairest boss fights, but DOA3 takes it a step beyond. The entire fight is fought over the shoulder, which is the first and only time that is used in the game. He uses basically a double light saber, he shoots projectiles and the screens becomes blurrier the more damage you take. He can keep you at bay, break your combos and just completely break the game. In a way, it's more stupid and annoying than challenging.

Overall, Dead or Alive 3 delivers on exactly what I wanted in a DOA game. The game play is still fast paced and the fighting is still a perfect mixture of strategy and timing. The graphics are utterly stunning and the characters are simply beautiful. The final boss annoys me, but I can look over him and just enjoy the fighting system. Another great entry into one of my favorite fighting franchises.
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prfsnl_gmr
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Re: Games Beaten 2019

by prfsnl_gmr Thu Oct 10, 2019 9:52 am

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

51. Ninja Gaiden (GG)
52. SonSon (Arcade)
53. Wonder Girl: The Dragon’s Trap (iOS)
54. Minit (iOS)
55. Ninja Gaiden (SMS)
56. Surround (2600)
57. Pocket Bomberman (GBC)
58. Shadowgate (iOS)
59. Kuru Kuru Kururin (GBA)
60. Metroid Prime Hunters - First Hunt (NDS)
61. Mekorama (iOS)
62. Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles (PSP)
63. Akamajou Dracula Peke (TG16)


Mekorama (iOS) is a cute little puzzler I’ve been playing on and off on my phone for years. It plays a lot like Captain Toad Treasure Tracker, but with smaller, simpler levels. Also, it’s free. I recommend it.

I played through Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles (PSP) For this month’s TR. it is a solid 2.5D remake of one of the best Castlevania games. I really enjoyed it, and I wrote a lot more about it in the TR thread.

EDIT: Unlocked and beat Akamajou Dracula Peke (TG16). Only a few screens long. Not worth writing about, really.
Last edited by prfsnl_gmr on Tue Oct 22, 2019 10:35 am, edited 2 times in total.
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ElkinFencer10
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Re: Games Beaten 2019

by ElkinFencer10 Thu Oct 10, 2019 2:55 pm

Games Beaten in 2019 So Far - 60
* 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


June (5 Games Beaten)
30. Xenosaga Episode III: Also Sprache Zarathustra - PlayStation 2 - June 2
31. Gato Roboto - Switch - June 3
32. Katana Zero - Switch - June 4
33. The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct - Wii U - June 8
34. Dark Savior - Saturn - June 12


July (12 Games Beaten)
35. The Elder Scrolls V: Skryim - Switch - June 7
36. The Elder Scrolls V: Skryim: Dragonborn - Switch - June 7
37. The Elder Scrolls V: Skryim: Dawnguard - Switch - June 7
38. Tiny Troopers - Switch - July 8
39. Tiny Troopers 2: Special Ops - Switch - July 8
40. Persona Q2: New Cinema Labyrinth - 3DS - July 10
41. Super Robot Wars T - Switch - July 13
42. Super Mario Maker 2 - Switch - July 13
43. Command and Conquer - Saturn - July 16
44. Command and Conquer: Covert Operations - PC - July 16
45. Super Neptunia RPG - PlayStation 4 - July 18
46. My Girlfriend is a Mermaid!? - Switch - July 19


August (5 Games Beaten)
47. Fire Emblem: Three Houses - Switch - August 10
48. Wolfenstein Youngblood - Xbox One - August 24
49. Fire Emblem: New Mystery of the Emblem - DS - August 27
50. Metal Wolf Chaos XD - PlayStation 4 - August 31
51. Fire Emblem: Archanean War Chronicles - SNES - August 31


September (5 Games Beaten)
52. Golf Story - Switch - September 2
53. Red Dead Redemption - PlayStation 3 - September 7
54. Far Cry 4 - Xbox One - September 14
55. Muv-Luv Extra - Vita - September 19
56. The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening - Switch - September 23


October (4 Games Beaten)
57. Muv-Luv Unlimited - Vita - October 1
58. Panty Party - Switch - October 2
59. Mario Kart Tour - Android - October 3
60. Muv-Luv Alternative - Vita - October 10


60. Muv-Luv Alternative - Vita - October 10

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Holy crap, my dudes. I thought I knew what the word "intense" meant. I mean, I played through the original Famicom Disk System Super Mario Bros 2. I've seen the effects of Operation British in Mobile Suit Gundam. I've read Stephen King's "IT." I've heard the heaviest songs that Cannibal Corpse has to offer. I've endured the psychological abuse to which Doki Doki Literature Club subjects its players. But this? The suspense and heart-wrenching events of the story in Muv-Luv Alternative give the word "intense" and all new meaning for me. I cheered. I screamed. I cried. I laughed. Okay, so there wasn't much laughing this time, but there was a solid chuckle or two. But DUDE. I wasn't prepared for how intense this game got. I know I keep reusing that word, but I truly can't think of a better way to describe the interaction between the fast and hard hitting events of the game and the emotional investment I had in this story, this world, and these characters.

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Muv-Luv Alternative picks up immediately after the events of Muv-Luv Ultimate, the second of the two parts of the first Muv-Luv release. For the most part, the game works exactly the same way - it's a visual novel with the occasional choice here and there - but unlike Extra and Ultimate, Alternative really only has one real ending. The choices you make can have minor effects on a couple instances of character interactions in the story, but the main events of the story stay the same. In that respect, it gives much less agency than the previous game, but that's intentional because the tone and point are a little different here. There is no picking your best girl in Alternative. That's a luxury you can't afford with the BETA breathing down your neck. From start to finish, Alternative is a mad dash to pull humanity back from the brink of extinction and unravel the mysteries surrounding Takeru's ability to shift between worlds and timelines. This is not a happy feel-good story like Extra, and this is not an inspiring story of triumph in the face of adversity like Unlimited; this is a story of perseverance and duty in the face of unspeakable horror, hopelessness, and despair.

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The first thing to keep in mind about Alternative is that it is MUCH longer than Extra or Unlimited. It's only 10 chapters, but each chapter takes several hours to get through. I didn't time myself or look up average playtimes to confirm this, but I'd hazard a guess that a single playthrough of Alternative will take longer than a playthrough of Extra and Unlimited combined. Granted, there isn't as much incentive for repeat gameplay in Alternative since you're not picking a best girl, but still, it's quite the hefty visual novel. It also answers a lot of the questions that I still had after Unlimited, and its focus on the world and the way the events of the story affect the characters rather than focusing largely on the effects of interactions between the individual characters serves to help you get really sucked into the world building and invested in the game's world and history.

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The visuals are pretty much the same as in Extra and Unlimited, although there are some animated bits in Alternative and some sections where the text scrolls automatically regardless of your manual or auto settings to give the game a real sense of urgency and action. This is one of those few games where I really did find myself totally unable to put it down. Everything about the game perfectly accented the game's tone. The music was a perfect fit, the tonal inflections of the voice acting reinforced the emotions of the scenes, and the writing was exceptional. It may not be the best writing I've ever seen in a game, but it was absolutely top tier.

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Muv-Luv - the entire trilogy - is one hell of a ride that I really can't oversell. It's incredible, and Alternative is an almost perfect conclusion. The tone and atmosphere are so dark and serious, and while it contrasts with the tone in Unlimited and especially Extra, it really reinforces the change in Takeru's mentality and personal goals. This definitely isn't a game you can play without playing the previous one first, but by the same token, I don't see how anyone can play the first game and not have an immediate NEED to play this one. My only complaint with Muv-Luv Alternative was that it had to end. I need more. There's an epilogue after the end chapter that leaves just enough questions to keep the door open for another true sequel down the line, so it's my fervent hope that âge sees fit to bless us with more Muv-Luv.
Exhuminator wrote:Ecchi lords must unite for great justice.

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BoneSnapDeez
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Re: Games Beaten 2019

by BoneSnapDeez Thu Oct 10, 2019 4:39 pm

^ Too scared to read that, just in case there's a sliver of a spoiler dropped. But I will! I'll wait until I finish the game myself (in another week or two?).

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

76. Mahou Kishi Rayearth (Game Gear)
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Of all the Magic Knight Rayearth (Mahou Kishi Rayearth) games to arrive during the mid-90s, the eponymous Game Gear title was released first. In fact, it's the only one with a 1994 release date (barely, mid-December), while the other six(!) landed in 1995. There were high hopes for this one, apparently. In addition to a standard release, there was also a limited edition red cart, which came bundled with a matching red Game Gear system. This red Game Gear is now a pricey collector's item, exponentially cooler than the game itself. Now, with this huge cluster of licensed games being dumped at once, one would expect some rather low-quality titles. Indeed, in my review of the Game Boy Magic Knight Rayearth I called the game mediocre, recommending it only to diehard fans of the source material. But Nintendo's Rayearth games were developed by the obscure outfit Pandora Box; surely the brain geniuses at Sega managed to churn out a more quality product? 'Fraid not. Not only does this little gray (or red) cartridge house the worst game of the Rayearth series, it also contains one of the weakest JRPGs of the era.

The story of Magic Knight Rayearth (the game) doesn't follow the plot of the manga/anime from beginning to (unexpected) conclusion. Instead, it's presented as more of a brief sidequest or a piece of alternate history. Three Japanese school girls - Hikaru, Umi, and Fuu - are sucked into another dimension while on a field trip to Tokyo Tower. They land in the magical world of Cephiro, where plenty of hijinks ensue. The goal of this specific Game Gear exclusive quest is to rescue Makona, the adorable rabbit-esque mascot-y buddy, who's apparently been captured. There's a surprisingly large amount of dialogue and exposition contained within this bite-sized RPG (fan-translated in 2018), but most of it is needless filler. Even worse, the girls never really converse with each other. In the source material, all three were strong-willed (albeit in different ways), with their clashing personalities leading to some fascinating tensions and subsequent resolutions. But here in Sega-land they all just shout out generic "let's do it!" slogans in tandem. Constantly.
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As for the game itself, it's a Japanese RPG crafted in that tried-and-true Dragon Quest fashion. The girls aren't able to wander around any sort of "world map" -- instead locations are selected via a cursor, similar to Ys III. The game has a strange unfinished feel, as two of the environments offer up no exploration. Rather, a cutscene is displayed when they're selected. That leaves just four places to visit. Game Gear Rayearth is bookended by a bland forest and an even blander final dungeon. Both are constructed in near-identical fashion, a series of rectangular clusters cobbled together. Said "rectangles" span about two screens each, horizontally -- there's actually no vertical scrolling in the entire game! Additionally, there's a single town, far too large and full of useless NPCs. The most "interesting" locale is another(!) forest -- this time an endlessly looping and mildly infuriating "lost woods" sort of thing. Note that there's no reason to ever revisit an area after it's been cleared, this is a decidedly linear experience. There are your typical inns (for recovery and saving) and shops (for buying items). There are no weapons or armor, just recovery items with zero descriptions included. Most can be safely ignored. It's likely theoretically possible to complete the game without buying anything, though those HP-filling shortcakes provide a nice safety net.

Most of the game is spent in combat. Battles are turn-based and enemies are randomly encountered. Everything about the combat here is absolute garbage. First and foremost, the encounter rate is insane. Just utterly outrageous. Due to some sloppy programming it's possible for the girls to get into battle after taking just a single step away from of a previous skirmish. The enemy designs are an absolute joke. Just a hodgepodge of random "things" -- plants, rocks with eyes, puffballs with eyes, weird indescribable blobs. Rather than the typical palette swaps, the game uses numbers to denote tougher enemies. So, for instance, in the game's opening forest the girls must battle plant varieties 1, 2, and 3, with the plants labeled with a "3" being the hardest. Boss fights are underwhelming; most are just slightly tougher versions of regular enemies. However, a couple of bosses are lifted right from the source material. One example being the warrior Ferio, who must be fought seven times in a row.
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Combat mechanics are admittedly kind of interesting. On paper, at least. The game attempts to employ a sort of active time battle system, like that of the great Final Fantasy IV. In other words, a character is ready to make a move once charged up, this "charge" being based on a speed statistic. How this is manifested graphically is utterly bizarre. There's a rapidly-scrolling nausea-inducing "film strip" looping around the screen's bottom, containing images of the three girls. While "waiting" the girls' entire bodies are displayed; a heroine is ready to strike when the image switches to a portrait of her face. It's then up to player to click on which knight executes a command, by pressing a button at the moment her face swings by. Battle commands are standard: attack, magic, items, run. Fuu provides healing magic, while the others focus on offense. In a bizarre attempt to "simplify" things, neither HP or MP are presented numerically. MP is represented by a blue bar, while HP is represented by a square "frame" around the image of each magic knight. There's also little feedback in regards to how much damage is being inflicted upon enemies. Occasionally, the kidnapped Makona is able to psychically "aid" the ladies by casting his own "card" spells. Said spells override whatever combat option was chosen by the player, and occur randomly. Occasionally, there are bad effects, like the loss of health or magic points. But even the "good" cards provide little relief. For instance, it's common to get a "refill MP" card when all knights have full MP, or a "revive" card when everyone has remained alive. Or an automatic "run away" when you're desperately trying to grind for experience. Ah yes, the grind. It's here, present, and necessary. Battles themselves proceed at a glacial pace and all foes are HP-tanks. Combine this with the constant need for (and initiation of) combat and it can take five minutes to walk across a single screen. It's a dreadfully tedium that makes The 7th Saga feel like Contra in comparison.

Joining the unpleasant gameplay is a serious heaping of subpar aesthetics. While the Game Gear boasted an impressive range of available colors, they're severely underutilized here. The game has a grainy undercooked appearance, and not a single background, foe, or venue is memorable. The sprites of the magic knights are kind of cute but rather strange. In the source material they were tall, pretty girls. Occasionally they were drawn in a chibi fashion, during those more outlandish and funny moments. Here they're super deformed throughout the entirety of the game, along with every other character. It just looks stupid, even the Game Boy managed to get the proportions correct. As for the soundtrack, it's just low-effort trash. There are no compelling original tunes, and Sega even managed to butcher the iconic opening theme. Only the first few bars are played before it clumsily loops.

This is a bad game. A lazy insipid cash-grab trying to ride the coattails of a popular anime franchise. It's astonishing that Sega's Saturn Magic Knight Rayearth turned out to be such a winner. An NPC in this game recommends that the player go out and try that (instead?). I concur.
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PresidentLeever
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Re: Games Beaten 2019

by PresidentLeever Fri Oct 11, 2019 5:24 am

Hmm looks nice to me. I don't doubt it plays poorly though.
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alienjesus
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Re: Games Beaten 2019

by alienjesus Sat Oct 12, 2019 12:13 pm

Games Beaten 2019:
1. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Switch
2. Alex Kidd in The Enchanted Castle Switch
3. Streets of Rage Switch
4. Vectorman Switch
5. Galaxy Force II Switch
6. Flicky Switch
7. Phantasy Star 2 Switch
8. Sonic the Hedgehog Switch
9. Altered Beast Switch
10. ESWAT: City Under Siege Switch
11. Columns Switch
12. Virtua Fighter 2 Switch
13. Kirby Star Allies Switch
14. Katamari Damacy Reroll Switch eShop
15. Pokémon: Let's Go, Eevee! Switch
16. Octodad: Dadliest Catch Switch eShop
17. Sword of Vermilion Switch
18. Decap Attack Switch
19. Golden Axe Switch
20. The Revenge of Shinobi Switch
21. Beyond Oasis Switch
22. WarioWare Gold 3DS
23. Shining in the Darkness Switch
24. Kid Chameleon Switch
25. Streets of Rage 2 Switch
26. Bio-Hazard Battle Switch
27. Super Thunder Blade Switch
28. Gain Ground Switch
29. Phantasy Star III: Generations of Doom Switch
30. Sonic the Hedgehog 2 Switch
31. Comix Zone Switch
32. Vectorman 2 Switch
33. Light Crusader Switch
34. Crack Down Switch
35. ToeJam and Earl Switch
36. Dynamite Headdy Switch *NEW*
37. Golden Axe II Switch *NEW*
38. Shadow Dancer: The Secret of Shinobi Switch *NEW*
39. Columns III: Revenge of Columns Switch *NEW*
40. Shining Force: The Legacy of Great Intention Switch *NEW*
41. Kirby No Kirakira Kizzu Game Boy *NEW*
42. Klonoa Wii *NEW*


Dynamite Headdy

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Dynamite Headdy is a secretly one of the best platformers on the Mega Drive, and I don’t think it gets the credit it deserves a lot of the time. The game features a huge selection of levels with lots of new and interesting mechanics from stage to stage. It has some amazing technical tricks for the system that impress but also manage to fit within the gameplay and not feel too much like out-of-place gimmicks. It has some nice visuals and an eclectic soundtrack, and it’s generally a really fun game.

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One of the reasons it probably didn’t gel with people as much is it’s difficulty. Dynamite Headdy was a tough game in its original Japanese release, but then it was made harder when localised to the west – you start with less continues and it’s harder to get more. Bosses take more hits and have harder to avoid attacks. Some fights are ruined by the changes in my opinion – Baby Face goes from a fun change of pace (the boss is part of a shmup level) to an insane marathon of bullet dodging that just isn’t much fun, the boss fight on the endless staircase becomes a 10 minute slog due to making his pattern random instead of fixed, and lots of other examples.

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Which is why, if you’re going to play Dynamite Headdy, I’ll always recommend you play through the Japanese version. Luckily, if you play it through the Sega Mega Drive Collection on Switch like I did, you can switch the games region to enjoy it as it was meant to be played. And enjoy it you should, because Dynamite Headdy is pretty great.

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Golden Axe II

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Golden Axe is a game I have lots of nostalgia for, and when I replayed it as part of the Sega collection earlier this year, I thought it still held up pretty well. It’s far from perfect, but it features just enough interesting setpieces, environmental hazards and enemy variety to be enjoyable.

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Golden Axe II on the other hand, is a game I’ve never really played before now. I didn’t own it as a kid, and so this was my first time through the game. And unlike Golden Axe 1, I didn’t really enjoy myself much. It’s hard to pin down why really – mechanically it’s very similar. You have the same 3 characters, the same attacks its built on the same engine, most of the enemies are the same. For all intents and purposes, it may as well be a bonus map pack for the first game.

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And yet, it just doesn’t feel quite right. The levels feel more flat and less interesting – more stone buildings and less harbour towns and stone paths on the back of an eagle here. The music is decent, but just doesn’t feel as memorable as the first game. And the game just feels completely devoid of any original ideas, and with it, kind of loses the heart of the first title.

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Golden Axe 2 is by no means a bad game. In fact, I could understand people liking it more than the first, especially if they played this game before that one. But as a sequel, it feels underwhelming, lacking the charm and character of the first game whilst offering up nothing new of its own. It’s worth a play, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to buy it. Play the cheaper and better first game instead.




Shadow Dancer: The Secret of Shinobi

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I’ve previously played 2 out of the 3 Shinobi titles on the Mega Drive, having finished both Revenge of Shinobi and Shinobi 3 in the past. However, I’d never given Shadow Dancer a go – not out of any kind of lack of willingness, but because the opportunity just never arose. The game always looked interesting, but it being closer to the original arcade Shinobi was offputting, as that was a game I didn’t enjoy, with its 1 hit kills and stiff gameplay.

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But I needn’t have worried, because Shadow Dancer on the Mega Drive is a blast. It’s fast paced and action packed, but with just enough of that tactical gameplay that I associate with Shinobi – one hit death forces you to be careful with how you approach enemies with better ground that you – jumping up or dropping down into a bullet has big consequences. You can be helped out though, by your ninja dog sidekick, who can be set onto enemies, stunning them for a bit and letting you move in for the kill. The dog can’t die, but can be hit, which causes it to shrink down into a puppy form temporarily, unable to attack in the meantime.

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Shadow Dancer’s mechanics weakest point comes with boss fights, which can be brutally challenging with the single hit deaths. The one boss fight on top of the Statue of Liberty (the game has some fun stage designs too!) caused me a lot of headaches in particular.

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Still though, Shadow Dancer is a good game and I feel it compliments the other Shinobi games on the system really nicely. Revenge of Shinobi is really deliberate and careful, Shadow Dancer is fast paced but simple, and Shinobi 3 is about utilising a well rounded moveset. All three are great, and worth your time.

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Columns III: Revenge of Columns

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Columns 3 is a game that never originally released in Europe, and so this was my first time playing it. The first Columns game on Mega Drive is another game I have some nostalgia for, and I was curious how a sequel would even build upon it – after all, Columns was a very simple game with simple mechanics, a distinct art style and music.

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Well, it turns out that Columns 3 reinvents the game quite a bit – rather than a thoughtful historical aesthetic and slow, calm music meant for longer 1 player sessions, it draws a lot more from the likes of Puyo Puyo and becomes a cartoony, competitive, multiplayer puzzle game. The main story mode has you progressing through a pyramid playing Columns against various monsters in a way that is entirely consistent with Puyo Puyo, and the cartoony art style and music reminds me of it too. And whilst I enjoy the original Columns, I also love me some Puyo, so I’m fine with the change.

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Mechanically, being a head-to-head puzzler means that you need a way to ‘attack’ the opponent. This is done in a few ways – the first is the ‘crush’ mechanic – by building up 10, 20 or 30 jewels matched, you can press a button to ‘crush’ your opponent – removing his currently falling jewels from play and raising the floor of his well up higher, pushing his gems towards the top of the screen. The amount raised depends on how many jewels you’d matched, and then resets the count. It also lowers the floor of your well if it’s already raised. Creating combos of gems will make a flashing gem appears. Matching this gem does a random attack effect on your opponent, such as turning his screen black-and-white, making itharder to match gems, flipping it upside down or more. Finally, after a certain number of matches, a magic gem block appears containing an upwards pointing triangle, a downwards pointing one and a square. Landing it with the downwards triangle at the bottom lowers your well, the upwards one will raise your opponents well, and the square will remove all gems of the colour it lands on from your side.

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These mechanics actually make for a pretty fun and tactical game. For example, saving your crush for when their magic gem appears lets you remove it from play but in the meantime you lose some of your defensive and offensive options to lower your well and raise theres. The random effects from combo jewels can be super detrimental but are harder to trigger and more unreliable. It’s a fun game and I highly recommend it. I just wish it had come out here so I could go and buy an original copy more easily!

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Shining Force: The Legacy of Great Intention

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Shining Force is a game I’d on tried once, briefly, on the Xbox 360 Mega Drive collection. I played a map or so, thought it was interesting enough, and then kinda stopped. I think being a long time Fire Emblem fan, I was somewhat put off by how the game was so similar to Fire Emblem but different enough to where things threw me off – such as the use of MP for spells and lack of counterattacks from enemies.

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So this was my first real attempt at the game, and I honestly quite enjoyed it. I still think it’s a bit of a poor man’s Fire Emblem in some ways – it’s certainly easier and a good deal goofier than that series – but it’s still a lot of fun and really charming. I suppose I should have expected as much from Camelot. I’ve had lots of people tell me how Phantasy Star is the definitive Sega Mega Drive RPG series, but to be honest they always felt kinda B tier after the original. The Shining games, have a real feel of quality which can stand head to head with some of the better SNES games.

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I didn’t think Shining Force was perfect – the levelling mechanics are kind of broken sometimes – I would have characters dealing 3 damage on one map, then getting a level up or two and getting enough attack that they now dealt 15 damage. It through the difficulty balance out of whack – I had a section of the mid game where all my characters were screwed in attack and killing stuff was very difficult, but end game my guys were hitting like trucks and that issue no longer existed. I also hated the item management in the game – every character has 4 item slots, items were automatically given to the next available one, and trying to buy new weapons for guys meant lots of tedious menu navigation to make space.

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Overall though, Shining Force was a good time. I enjoyed my weird ragtag squad (favourites from my team included Kokichi the jetpack riding, lance wielding old codger and Domingo, the floating squid monster mage) and I enjoyed the games overall tone and atmosphere. Translation was OK for the era – nothing fantastic but certainly not the worst, and the visuals were top notch for the system.

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I’m very much looking forward to playing through the rest of Shining Force 2, which I’m working through currently. It’s just such a shame I’m getting into the series now though, considering the price Shining Force CD and Shining Force 3 seem to go for these days. Still, the fact that I’m still somewhat contemplating shelling out for them should tell you how much I liked what I played here!

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Kirby No KiraKira Kizzu

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AKA Kirby’s Star Stacker. Here’s a c-c-c-c-combo breaker for my run of Switch (and Mega Drive) games this year. Back in May I got married, and then my wife and I went to Japan for our honeymoon. I picked up this game whilst I was there, and played it on the train ride home. And speaking of combos, that’s what this game is all about.

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Kirby Star Stacker is a puzzle title where you’re tasked with clearing a certain amount of stars on each level to clear it. Blocks drop down in pairs of 2, with 4 types being available – Kirby’s friends Rick the Hamster, Coo the Owl and Kine the Fish from DreamLand 2, and a generic star. If 2 of kirby’s friends are matched, they will disappear, but this also works if they are joinedtogether in a line by a line of stars – the characters disappear and so do all the stars between them. This is the only way to remove star pieces from play, which is required to beat the stage.

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If you make a combo, Kirby will throw some extra stars into play. These dropin a way where they will form a new line if possible. If this happens, Kirby will throw more stars into play – potentially making more lines and so on. Each time Kirby throws stars into play he throws more, and Kirby’s stars disappear instantly if they don’t make a match, reducing the star counter. Big combos result in Kirby throwing 12 stars at a time, which can make a big reduction to the number needed for clearing the level.

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Kirby Star Stacker is a fun game for the first 4 of its 5 difficulty levels (lovingly titled Normal, Hard, Very Hard, Super Hard and Insane). Normal through Super Hard difficulty don’t particularly live up the their name – they’re short and pretty easy overall, with some challenge by the time you reach Super Hard. But Insane absolutely lives up to it’s name, and to be honest, somewhat ruins the game. It has 50 stages (compared to 16 or so in other difficulties) and requires hundreds of stars cleared per level, making levels drag on WAAAAAYYYY longer too. But the main issue is that the block layouts are such that it’s entirely RNG dependent if you can even make a start – I’ve had levels where there’s only room for 4 tiles to drop in at the start and none of the ones given to me could make a match. Stage 43 in particular took me hundreds of attempts just to clear the first 20 moves or so. It really ruins an otherwise super fun game.

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I still think Star Stacker is worth playing. It was somewhat addictive for much of the time I played. However, those levels in Insane are just that, and not at all fun, so don’t force yourself through them.




Klonoa

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Klonoa is a game I first played a few years back on my PSP. That was an emulated version of the PS1 game, and I thought it was fantastic. So fantastic, that I wanted to own a copy of it for original hardware. Then I saw the price tag that comes with and was sad – I’d begrudge paying that much for a cartridge, but I might fork out on something like that now and again. But for a PS1 era disc? I didn’t think it was worth the risk.

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And so I looked into picking up the remake on Wii. It wasn’t exactly cheap either, but it was a bargain compared to the price of the PS1 copy. And it’s a pretty good remake, very faithful to original hardware. I played through it in a weekend (Klonoa is a fairly short game for the era) and I had a great time. However, despite what some people might say, I do think that this is the lesser version of the game.

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The visuals on the Wii are pretty nice. Colourful and bright, with lots of charm. But they do look like a lot of games from the Gamecube and Wii era, whereas Klonoa on PS1 had a really distinct look that stood out from other games when it released, and even today it feels unique. The PS1 game also had a bit more challenge – Klonoa’s health has increased from 3 to 5 bars in this remake, which makes the game much easier. Klonoa on PS1 isn’t super challenging or anything, but it had a little bite to it before and it’s quite breezy now. The Wii difficulty feels like people imagine Klonoa to be, whereas the PS1 difficulty fit better with Klonoa’s actual dark undercurrent – it’s cute and cuddly, but the story isn’t always! Lastly, some of the techniques used in the PS1 game feel like technical showcases or cool tricks on that system, but on the Wii they’re just, y’know, standard stuff. Games which utilise technical tricks for level design can often lose some of the magic when the technical trick is no longer that tricky in a remake.

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Still, if you want to play the game and own it physically, there’s certainly nothing with this Wii port. Klonoa is a great game either way, and I highly recommend it. Absolutely a must play in my book.

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BoneSnapDeez
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Re: Games Beaten 2019

by BoneSnapDeez Sat Oct 12, 2019 1:13 pm

High IQ post. You make me wanna play my Genesis. And perfect timing, as I just got Kirby's Star Stacker this morning.

Excited about the Switch release of Columns II??
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prfsnl_gmr
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Re: Games Beaten 2019

by prfsnl_gmr Sat Oct 12, 2019 9:35 pm

Yeah...great post, AJ. That was a really great read, I really appreciated your perspective on Klonoa (Wii). I loved the PS1 original, and I really liked the PS2 sequel, but I haven’t played the remake yet.
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