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Ack
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Re: Racketboy forums’ Summer Games Challenge 2019

by Ack Mon Jun 17, 2019 4:30 pm

MrPopo wrote:I'm going to want to know more details about Men of Valor; it looks like it should just be MoH: AA in a jungle. And I can highly recommend Wasteland to you.


I can understand where the similarities come in from just looking at it, but no, I'd say Men of Valor is a different experience. For one thing it is buggier. Way buggier. Like character models stuck halfway in the floor, events not happening correctly, audio clips randomly repeating, and so on. When I start the game, I have to wait for the audio to play to know when to hit escape; the intro movies aren't actually showing up, I just hear the sound of gunfire. Then the game has to be hit with Alt+Enter, Alt+Tabbed out, and then go back into the options menu, or else it will crash on start up from problems with the video settings. The game is a mess.

It also usually has you working in tandem with a squad of some kind, which the game doesn't let you stray too far from. Problems with Men of Valor include random gunfire from the side of the map to force you to do things the way it wants; stray, and you die. You have a few options, but if you're not doing what it wants, it will kill you, often almost instantly. It's not always worth it to put rounds in the trees, because Charlie isn't there, it's just the game being a dick.

Now all that said, I'm still really enjoying it for how it captures the Vietnam War. The game takes place over a roughly 3 year period, with your player character a black Marine named Dean from Tulsa, Oklahoma, who arrives in Da Nang roughly around the beginning of the arrival of US combat troops in 1965 and is set to leave when the Viet Cong launch the Tet Offensive in the beginning of 1968. That's a little unusual to be there roughly 3 years when a normal rotation was 2, but eh, it's trying to hit the major points of the first phase of American ground combat in the Vietnam War.

During that shift, you'll notice some fascinating changes, from changes in battlefield tactics to the evolution of weaponry. When you start out, you're using the likes of the M14. By the end of the game, you're sporting a CAR-15. The Viet Cong also start off using outdated weapons, which are eventually replaced with Soviet and Chinese-manufactured assault rifles and machine guns. The enemies you face also change, starting with Viet Cong dressed as civilians but eventually forcing you up against NVA soldiers as the fight transitioned. During the period that the game takes place, the Viet Cong are the primary threat, though they drop off in the wake of the Tet Offensive to let the NVA take control of major combat operations. This transition in the late 1960s is somewhat reflected in the missions you take on, which I appreciate. For example, one mission involves a night time raid under the orders of MACVSOG. The SOG was effectively an early specops and psyops unit that was heavily downgraded after 1968. It's interesting getting to see them represented in their pre-Tet Offensive version, when they were very active in operations against North Vietnam.

You're also not in a vacuum. The ARVN forces are represented, as is one mission which features bringing ammunition to some Australians in a machine gun emplacement defending the MACV base in Hue during the Tet Offensive. Australia had a lot of troops in Vietnam backing American forces. I appreciate that the game recognizes this, even if it's small. Other aspects include an ARVN soldier asking through a translator why a black man would choose to be a US soldier in the wake of the Civil Rights movement, musical hits of the era popping up on radios, and even a level early on where a journalist writes a hit piece against the Marines because they pretty much humiliate him in the field...though admittedly your unit did just burn down a village, albeit under orders that the Viet Cong will return if you don't.

Tackling the journalism angle is probably where the game has its biggest misstep, though after that early letter, it only gets reflected in the loading screen letters at the start of each mission from the main character and his father, a WWII veteran who is contending with what he's seeing at home, a son in Vietnam, and a second son that has gotten into drugs and is eventually forced into joining up.

Another thing that surprises me is that characters get killed. Sure, it happens in war movies, but war-based FPS games tend not to dwell so much on loss. When it does happen, it's often shown to be some kind of valiant sacrifice or some such crap. Here, folks sometimes just get killed, and there ain't a thing you can do about it. The first level starts with some Viet Cong stopping an American patrol with a cow and then taking out a Marine with a booby trap, and upon reflection, Dean realizes he didn't even know that guy's name. Later he loses a childhood friend, and then in one scene, he and a buddy are the only survivors of the opening salvo of the Tet Offensive, which kills all of their new friends in Hue. By this point, Dean doesn't even react to the deaths, he just goes for a gun to defend himself.

I'm closing in on the final levels now, and I'm betting I'm gonna end up with a hokey ending that will annoy the piss outta me, but until then, I'm enjoying myself. I studied the Vietnam War in college and then continued to study it afterwards because I find it a fascinating mess with far more angles than we realize. Somehow, the horrors of Vietnam on the American psyche has become something akin to fun for me. It's too bad there are relatively few FPS games set there. My fiancee asked me why, and I had to explain that folks just don't find it a "fun" war.

Also, despite the freaking essay I just wrote in this thread, this still ain't a classic.
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Re: Racketboy forums’ Summer Games Challenge 2019

by MrPopo Mon Jun 17, 2019 6:22 pm

Man, that's a real shame regarding the technical and game design issues, because I agree with you that Vietnam is unfortunately underrepresented in gaming. I'd argue all the Modern Warfare games also aren't covering a "fun war", but they do have fun toys, so maybe that's why they keep selling?
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Re: Racketboy forums’ Summer Games Challenge 2019

by Key-Glyph Tue Jun 18, 2019 12:29 am

More progress in Zelda II was had yesterday!

I have now acquired the downstab technique, saved a dying woman's life, gotten fairy power, yoinked a raft, and busted my third palace. The guardian on the mechanical horse was an absolute (and unexpected) joy.

I saved and quit right after razing the palace, so now I get to spend a whole week dreaming of where the raft may take me next time I play. So exciting.

Before I set sail, however, I have to find this lost mirror I've somehow overlooked. It's been bothering me that I haven't come across it. I know it's in an earlier area based on how the game's item-gathering logic has gone so far, so a little backtracking will have to happen next week to uncover it. No spoilers or hints, though! I will find it and discover what it does under my own power. Just thought I would mention this, since someone else I know was "surprised I got this far" without the mirror. I told him to say no more. How intriguing.
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Re: Racketboy forums’ Summer Games Challenge 2019

by MrPopo Tue Jun 18, 2019 12:45 am

What are your stat levels at now?
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Re: Racketboy forums’ Summer Games Challenge 2019

by marurun Tue Jun 18, 2019 10:30 am

I wish I had time and stayed up late enough to watch you play Zelda II. I love the game so much, and you’re going at it with relatively fresh eyes. The vicarious joy must be palpable.
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Re: Racketboy forums’ Summer Games Challenge 2019

by Key-Glyph Wed Jun 19, 2019 5:50 am

MrPopo wrote:What are your stat levels at now?

When I conquered the third palace I was at Attack 5, Magic 5, Life 6, but after the boss and an extra minute or two of grinding I ended on Life 7.

marurun wrote:I wish I had time and stayed up late enough to watch you play Zelda II. I love the game so much, and you’re going at it with relatively fresh eyes. The vicarious joy must be palpable.

Aw, well, I'll be playing it for several more Sundays I'm sure, starting at 4 PM Pacific. Maybe we'll cross paths yet!
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Re: Racketboy forums’ Summer Games Challenge 2019

by alienjesus Wed Jun 19, 2019 6:42 am

1. ActRaiser (SNES)
2. Fire Emblem: Seisen No Keifu (SFC)
3. GoldenEye 007 (N64)
4. Mario Party (N64)
5. Mario Tennis (N64)
6. Castlevania (GBA)
7. Mother 3 (GBA)
8. The New Zealand Story (SMS)
9. Shenmue 2 (DC)
10. Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots (PS3)

It's been a slow start this year, but my second game is done. I played through The New Zealand Story on Master System, and I had a decent time. The game looks excellent for an arcade port on an 8 bit system, with big colourful graphics. The sound's not too hot though - one kinda shrill theme that plays on a short loop.

This port is one of the better ones from my understanding, but most ports of the game seem to be somewhat flawed, missing enemies or levels or whatever. This one is missing some of the arcade secrets, a few warps and a few enemy and vehicle types, but it's fairly complete.

The game is a bit hard, but not due to level design difficulty for the most part. There are a few nasty areas and the time limit is too short on some levels (you get chased by an undodgeable instant death enemy when time is out, only avoidable by reaching the end before he gets you), but mostly the difficulty just comes from this games relative stinginess with extra lives and continues early on. Once you master the first few levels you can build a nice stockpile to tide you through, but it's a little too mean with them for my liking.

Anyway, I'm glad to knock this one off the list - it's one of my longest unbeaten games, over a decade at this point. It's a decent time, and I suspect I'd enjoy the arcade game, but I wouldn't rate it over comparable games like Bubble Bobble.


I'm still slowly working on Mario Party with the wife when I can, but I think my next solo game I'll be picking up is Fire Emblem - I'm way overdue starting it for my Together Retro this month, and I'm in the mood to get stuck in now. I have a free weekend coming up, so hopefully I can make a dent in the list then.
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Re: Racketboy forums’ Summer Games Challenge 2019

by BoneSnapDeez Wed Jun 19, 2019 7:59 am

Were those Taito platformers really popular in Europe? I always got that impression.
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Re: Racketboy forums’ Summer Games Challenge 2019

by alienjesus Wed Jun 19, 2019 8:05 am

BoneSnapDeez wrote:Were those Taito platformers really popular in Europe? I always got that impression.


So I might be just a bit too young to know for sure, but all the British retro gaming media I read seems to suggest that the likes of Rainbow Island and New Zealand Story were quite popular. They seem to have had some good quality ports to home computer systems too, and were ported to most of the popular consoles at the time too, so they were quite well known I think.

I couldn't tell you if the arcade versions were hits, but it seems like the ports were generally quite popular.
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Re: Racketboy forums’ Summer Games Challenge 2019

by ElkinFencer10 Wed Jun 19, 2019 9:01 am

Ack wrote:Now, moving on to the next game, I started up Men of Valor

I was hanging with pfsnl_gmr at a game store last night and saw a copy of Men of Valor on Xbox. Your negative opinion of it inspired me to waste $5 on it and subject myself to it although I'm hoping some of the performance bugs are less apparent on Xbox.
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