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PartridgeSenpai
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by PartridgeSenpai Tue Feb 11, 2020 5:04 am

Partridge Senpai's 2020 Beaten Games:
Previously: 2016 2017 2018 2019
* indicates a repeat

1. Invisigun Reloaded (Switch)
2. Human: Fall Flat (Switch)
3. Shantae: The Pirate's Curse (3DS)
4. Darksiders: Warmastered Edition (PC)
5. Splatterhouse (PS3) *
6. 3D Dot Game Heroes (PS3)
7. Tokyo Jungle (PS3)
8. Pictobits (DSiWare)

9. Puzzle Quest: The Legend Reborn (Switch)

Puzzle Quest on the original DS is one of my favorite games ever and one I've beaten more times than any other RPG I can think of, having completed it once with each of the original four classes over the years. I was super psyched to see that Puzzle Quest had come to Switch, and then sprung on the remake a month or two ago when I saw it was on sale half-off. I didn't realize at the time that this wasn't a direct port of the old DS and PSP game. It isn't even a complete collection of the PS3/360 versions bundled in with the expansion content released for that version of the game as well. This is the original game, the Plague Lord expansion, as well as a heap of more brand new content to make Puzzle Quest feel more different and alive than ever. The Switch doesn't tell you playtime from an easily accessible place, but I'd reckon it took me at least 40 hours to complete all the game's main and side quests on normal difficulty.

The land has been at peace for many centuries, but the sudden appearance of undead lead the headstrong young knight (the main character) on a quest that quickly goes from simple errand running to saving the whole world from the reincarnation of a death god. The story telling is nothing super special, but the main character is way more of a jerk than I remembered them being. There are two endings to the game, but they rely on whether or not you make one specific choice very early in the game, and it's one you probably had no idea could cascade that far down. There are other binary choices you can make in certain side quests (of which there are VERY many), and this version also removes the ability to save-scum like you could in some older versions, so you're stuck with the choices you make. The presentation is pretty typical Western fantasy tropes, but the cast of side characters isn't without its standout fun additions (like Drog, the super hungry Ogre who is always on the hunt for his next meal, be it animals, rocks, or something beyond our plane of existence XD).

The main draw is, as ever, the same thing Puzzle Quest has always had. The meshing of a match-three Bejeweled-style gameplay on top of an RPG game works as well as it always has. You play against an opponent, and the board has four colors of gems you can match for that element of mana, skulls to match to deal damage, stars to match to get EXP, and coins to match for gold. Depending on your character class, you'll learn spells as you level up, and the mana you get in battles can be used to cast those spells (doing everything from board resets, making the enemy lose turns, buffs/debuffs, etc). You have four types of equipment you can equip to give all sorts of passive bonuses (including very important elemental resistances to give possibilities for enemy spells to fizzle). You also have skill points to allocate every level to increase chances for free extra turns, maximum mana pools, wildcard multiplier generation chances, and the rewards of EXP and gold after winning a battle. The game is RNG at its core, but there's a LOT you can do to mess with the game and try and break the systems in ways that fit to how you like to play it.

The main systems aren't without their hiccups though. There's a personal citadel that you can build up with the gold you earn to be able to do things like capture enemy units to learn their spells or use them as mounts (to get their spells). You can also search non-city travel nodes for magic runes that you can use to craft your own equipment at your citadel. However, while the spells are often useful, they're SO hard to learn (it requires getting luckier for longer on a match-3 board, trying to hit certain totals of collected magic) that they're hardly worth putting much time into because the spells you learn normally are usually more thane enough. The same goes for the equipment you can craft yourself, as anything really worthwhile will take you AGES to successfully craft, and the equipment you get from the main quest, side quests, or even the stuff that appears in the shop (from a massive, random pool of items) will be more than enough, not to mention often better, than anything you can craft yourself. A lot of the stuff in the shop is REALLY good as well. There's no way I would've ever beaten the Plague Lord content's final boss if I hadn't stumbled across a magic tome that makes you immune to disease, turning that fight from something nearly impossible to a far fairer fight.

You will get bogged down as you traverse the map fighting really easy monsters at times, who don't take that long to kill but it's still time taken up, but it's possible to skip them by entering and then abandoning the fight, but it depends on the speed of your mount. It's a mechanic so poorly explained it's taken me until this, my 5th playthrough, to realize it's a thing, and it was by such accident that I thought I'd found a glitch on this port instead of a mechanic I'd never realized before.

The additions to the original DS game are twofold: The Plague Lord DLC that was for the old console release, and the entirely new stuff for the Switch version of the game. The Plague Lord DLC is an interesting late-game diversion that is somewhere between pretty par for the course and outright unfair. The disease debuff is REALLY nasty if you don't have a good way to deal with it with your chosen class (as I didn't until I got that particular disease-proofed item). That especially goes for the Plague Lord himself, who is genuinely somewhat of a piss-take with just how absurdly hard he is without that item that makes you immune to disease.

The content added for the Switch version is stated to be the Golem Lord quest line, but it's actually a fair bit more than that. Three major quest lines that are in the beginning-to-middle point of the game have been added, including the Golem Lord, on top of some other miscellaneous additions. These largely consist of giving you more enemy variety (my personal favorite are the giant ants), new mounts, as well as more potential companions to recruit from all the new side quests added. One of the two ending paths through the game takes away a lot of your party members, but going through all the new side content will allow you to get back up to a full roster of 8 followers (who don't actually fight in battle with you. They're just passive buffs that trigger against certain enemies), and that was a really nice addition. It fleshes out the world a bit more, particularly in the area around the beginning of the game, and it's a lot of really quality content. Not all of it is perfect, as the Golem Lord quest line in particular has no level requirements to begin it, meaning that you can start fighting opponents who are WAY too strong for you very close to the beginning of the game. Hardly a cardinal sin, but something that could easily discourage a newer player, and given how well paced and power-gated the rest of the game's content is, it's really weird that it's so poorly done in this one instance.

The presentation is all around just fine. The art has a nice hand-drawn style to it, even if the characters/enemies who were added in the expansions, particularly the stuff made for the Switch port, are REALLY obvious to pick out, as their art style is clearly different from the original's, but it still all fits the same general aesthetic well. The music is fine, but I had a podcast on for most of the game, as you can only listen to the same few tracks so many times before it gets a bit dull in a game this long. The performance is fine, although the game does have loading hiccups during battle from now and then, and one time the game did soft-crash on me just as a fight ended (but it did save that I'd beaten the fight, so all I lost was the time it took me to hop back into the game).

Verdict: Highly Recommended. It's still Puzzle Quest as good as it ever was. If you didn't like it before, this is absolutely not going to win you over, but if you want a good, low-stress time waster that's really easy to hop in and out of on your Switch, you're gonna get a lot of mileage out of your $15 if you go with Puzzle Quest.
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BoneSnapDeez
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by BoneSnapDeez Tue Feb 11, 2020 1:57 pm

1. ACA NeoGeo: Cyber-Lip (Switch eShop)
2. Pengo (Atari 2600)
3. Kirby's Epic Yarn (Wii)
4. Knights of Xentar (PC)
5. Hoshi o Sagashite... (Mark III)
6. Dead Zone (Famicom Disk System)
7. Samurai Sword (Famicom Disk System)
8. High School! Kimengumi (Mark III)
9. Princess Tomato in the Salad Kingdom (NES)
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I can't review Princess Tomato in the Salad Kingdom without feeling like a bit of a hypocrite. All of those annoying idiosyncrasies of Japanese adventure games -- the lack of clues, the trial and error item usage, the slipshod navigation -- it's all here in spades. But I can't help but love this. It's just so persistently charming and delightful. Plus, the characters are anthropomorphic vegetables and fruits. That helps.

Princess Tomato was released on the NES in North America in 1991, though the Famicom cartridge appeared a few years prior. The game's history is even deeper than that, however. See, Princess Tomato is cut from the same cloth as E.V.O. and Crystal Beans (common titles surely everyone has played), as it straddles that line between sequel and remake. Princess Tomato is in fact based on an earlier Japanese computer title called Sarada no Kuni no Tomato Hime. While both games feature the same characters and plot, Princess Tomato boasts all new graphics and swaps out the text parser in favor of a console-friendly menu system. (Sarada no Kuni no Tomato Hime is worth a look though, if only to gaze upon the bizarre character art that appears to have been crafted in MS Paint.)

The game wastes no time in establishing its plot. Princess Tomato has (surprise surprise) been kidnapped, by the nefarious Minister Pumpkin. The kingdom's benevolent ruler, King Broccoli (who's strangely now dead according to the prologue), sends out his most valiant knight, Sir Cucumber, to retrieve the princess from the Zucchini Mountains. Meanwhile, the once peaceful Salad Kingdom is being terrorized by Minister Pumpkin's minions, who are known as "Farmies" (sounds like some bad 4chan slang). Sir Cucumber is far from alone in his quest. During the first few minutes of gameplay he encounters Percy, a small and adorable persimmon, who becomes a sidekick. When NPCs aren't present, much of game's dialogue consists of conversations between Cucumber and Percy, which proves to be exponentially more entertaining than the standard narration.
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One thing that quickly becomes apparent is how meaty (not literally) of a game Princess Tomato is. Even with a walkthrough, it takes several hours to traverse the Salad Kingdom. As for those who dare to approach this tale without any outside help, a week's vacation and the patience of a monk is all but required. This tale is broken up into nine chapters. A password is provided between each, which allows one to quit the game and resume later. This is marginally sufficient, though some of the later chapters (especially the eighth) are absolutely huge and almost it's unfeasible to think that a first-time player could roll through one of these in a single sitting. Though clearly a Japanese adventure title, it's easy to spot some Western influence in the game's design. There are numerous dead ends, red herrings, worthless items, useless NPCs, and optional areas that never need visiting. Contrast this to the typical Portopia formula of the era, where the player was expected to visit every screen, speak to every NPC, and collect every item -- in the correct order. That said, there's no way to "die" within the Salad Kingdom. It's easy to get stuck, and a serious mistake can cause the player to lose some progress, but Game Over is essentially nonexistent.

The game's main menu consists of fourteen commands, which I'd say is a tad excessive. I have no idea why Japanese developers were so intent on having separate "look" and "check" options (if you check something aren't you inherently looking at it as well?). In any event, it's fun to experiment, as unneeded commands can often elicit humorous responses from the Salad Kingdom's inhabitants. There's even a "praise" option to flatter the cuter of the vegetables; it only needs to be used a couple of times to complete the game, but it's amusing to bat eyelashes at anyone and everyone. Percy has his own dedicated command, should one wish to witness some impromptu chitchat between him and Sir Cucumber. Tiny little Percy calls Cucumber "Boss" and unfortunately never doles out any hints; instead he provides some comic relief or expresses confusion. Navigation is done by selecting the "move" command and then a subsequent direction, though it's a bit cumbersome. The game eschews cardinal directions in favor of more "descriptive" terms, but it just makes things more confusing. For instance, "go back" seems like it would take the player to whatever room they were in previously, but the command is actually more in line with "head back towards the stage entrance." Also, some areas don't even show up until certain conditions are met. The game is fond of "triggers" -- for instance, a room might not appear until an NPC tells you "there's a so-and-so room over there." Getting information from the various plants often requires an entire series of conversations. Moreover, some plants don't give up the goods until you've spoken to them, exited their dwellings, and then returned to speak to them again. Classic adventure game "refreshing."

What buoys the game out of potential mediocrity and frustration are the hilarious and personable fruits, vegetables, fungi, and nuts encountered along the journey. There's even a beautiful human woman, who is inexplicably Princess Tomato's sister(?!). Everyone is unique and has a story to tell. There's a drunk grape (get it?), classy club-going citrus, hostile banana bunches, even a thicc showering orange (Cucumber and Percy can spy on her... dat citric acid). Specific scenarios are hilarious as well. My personal favorite is the result of the North American localization. At one point in the game, Sir Cucumber and Percy are meant to obtain a pack of cigarettes, and then find a book of matches in the trash. A lit cigarette is later slipped to a prisoner through the bars of his cell door. As this was obviously too intense of a situation for American gamers, the cigarette and matches have been swapped out for coffee and donuts. This means that the boys willfully pluck a donut from a bathroom garbage can, and then give it to a prisoner, who proceeds to devour it Costanza style. There's a sort of espionage subplot to the game as well. Thanks to some purloined credentials, Cucumber and Percy are able to convince various folks that they are in fact allied with the dastardly Farmies. This doesn't always work, however, and leads to some serious consequences. At other points in the adventure, the duo have issues aligning themselves with suspicious Resistance members. For a game starring a bunch of walking talking greenery, the storyline's more interesting than it has any right to be.
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Visually, this one holds up nicely. Images are "stills" (no animation) but pleasantly drawn. While the characters are obviously at the forefront, the game boasts some cool environments. There are your expected garden scenes, but what follows includes an stealthy prison escape, plenty of cave spelunking, and a confrontation within Minister Pumpkin's chambers. Not to mention the countless dwellings, shops, and bars that can be explored. The soundtrack is of the fun and perky sort, well-suited for a game that doesn't take itself too seriously. Those who choose to go the emulation route would be wise to check out the password screen regardless; it hosts the best theme in the entire game.

When the Wizardry-loving Yuji Horii crafted Portopia he decided to throw some first-person dungeon crawls into the mix. This became something of a trend in Japanese adventure games, and a trio of such mazes appear in Princess Tomato. While the change of gameplay is appreciated, said mazes are quite clunky due to some seriously limited visibility. The final maze is especially brutal. It can only be completed if the player manages to decipher the shortest route possible, with no detours, and then walk along it flawlessly from start to finish. The game also features combat! Specific key enemies will challenge Cucumber and Percy to a duel. For those without instructions, these skirmishes are almost completely indecipherable. It works like this. Each battle consists of a game of "Finger Wars." Finger Wars consists of several rounds, each broken into two halves. The first half-round is a rock-paper-scissors contest, with buttons on the d-pad being assigned to each command (for instance, up is rock). In the next round, the rock-paper-scissors loser must try to avoid looking in the direction the winner points a finger. If the directions do end up matching, the finger-moving "guesser" is then granted a point. Certain point totals are required to beat the various enemies. It may all sound completely random, but certain foes will attempt the same strategies repeatedly. Studying their moves is the key to victory.

I bestow my highest recommendation upon Princess Tomato in the Salad Kingdom. It's a uniquely bizarre and effervescent title like nothing else on the NES, or elsewhere for that matter. Sadly, tracking this one down is a bit of a challenge, as the NES cart is expensive, and as for the Virtual Console release... well, let's not talk about that. Play this any way you can.
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prfsnl_gmr
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by prfsnl_gmr Tue Feb 11, 2020 3:46 pm

Amazing, cirrus cloud-level IQ post, Bone. I am so jealous you have that game. I really need to get a copy.
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BoneSnapDeez
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by BoneSnapDeez Tue Feb 11, 2020 10:31 pm

:lol: It's probably the only NES game I own that you don't!
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dsheinem
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by dsheinem Tue Feb 11, 2020 11:11 pm

Games Beaten 2020
Mortal Kombat 11 - PS4
The Force Unleashed II - 360
Tatsunoko vs. Capcom - Wii
Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light - 360
Super Fantasy Zone - Genesis
Fable Heroes - 360
Castlevania Bloodlines - Genesis *new*
My Friend Pedro - X1 *new*

Total: 8


Previously:
2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010

I had never played more than the first level of Bloodlines before, a decision that now seems like it was a poor one. This is a great Castlevania title that's equally as good as any of the other entries in the series that had been released up until this date. Beyond that, it is one of the best games of its kind on the Genesis - the controls feel spot on, the level design is inspired, the boss sprites are big, the music is awesome - the whole package is here, and I am glad I finally got around to playing it through. This marks the 4th Castlevania game in just the past few months that I have beaten for the first time (joining the two GB games and Kid Dracula on the stack of recently defeated entries). I am finally starting to come around on the series :lol: I just fired up Super Castlevania IV for the first time earlier today...

My Friend Pedro is a surreal side-scrolling platformer/bullet-time shooter that has a vibe somewhere between a game like Hotline Miami and a humor-oriented Adult Swim-branded game. In any case, it is a blast to play through and the level design is worth checking out.
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prfsnl_gmr
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by prfsnl_gmr Tue Feb 11, 2020 11:21 pm

Glad you’re coming around on Castlevania. It’s a good series. There are so many entries, though. I’ve beaten a lot of them, and I decided to map out the rest to see about getting through them. I still have ten games to get through, not counting the digital games that are no longer available to purchase.
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MrPopo
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by MrPopo Wed Feb 12, 2020 1:40 am

Bloodlines is definitely one of the best non-Sonic platformers on the Genesis. And I like it better than CV4, though Rondo is still my favorite of the 16 bit gen.
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Games Beaten: 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
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marurun
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by marurun Wed Feb 12, 2020 2:35 pm

  1. Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night (Switch)

Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night (Switch)
I beat this game a couple or three weeks ago, but I wanted to hold off on writing this review until I had spent some more time with it, justifying that I wanted to 100% a number of categories, like maxing all the shards and having all the items in my inventory. I will detail how this backfired near the end of my review.

In Bloodstained: Ritual of the Nights (henceforth RotN), you are Miriam, a Shardbinder created by the Alchemist's Guild, a young girl experimented upon to be used (along with others like you) as a tool to allow demons into the world and thus secure continued relevance for the Guild in the face of obsolescence at the continued advance of technology. You start the game to discover you are one of only 2 remaining Shardbinders, and the other is aligned against you. You will wander the sprawling grounds of a castle summoned from Chaos and littered with monsters. You will kill those monsters and take their stuff. Some of it you will equip, some you will sell, and some you will craft. You will also randomly earn Shards, which grant you various types of powers and attacks. You will also earn levels to gain HP and MP to use your varied abilities.

Does any of this sound familiar? Maybe you've played one of these before. They're called Igavanias. They're Metroid-like adventure platformers in the Castlevania series made by Koji Igarashi for Konami. Only this game isn't Castlevania, technically. It is, however, a spiritual and mechanical successor. It is basically Symphony of the Night with a different setting and characters and the incorporation of many of the mechanics that were developed for later titles in the Castlevania series. If you loved Symphony of the Night, enjoyed the successor titles, but are maybe less enthused about some of the later Metroid-likes the Igavanias inspired, RotN might be the game for you. It was for me.

I have very mixed feelings about this game. On the one hand, I really enjoyed much of the moment-to-moment playing of the game, especially once you start to accumulate movement powers. For SotN players, it's a VERY comfortable transition. That said, it suffers some of the same weaknesses of SotN. In the early game your character feels very sluggish and incapable of easily traversing the environments of the game. This makes the early game a real chore. There are so many systems you see hints of that you can't get meaningful access to, and so many areas you can't reach that you somehow have to remember. There are also a number of areas that are poorly sign-posted which may leave you wondering just what on earth you need to do to advance. But that's what the internet is for. Look it up and don't feel bad about it. And once you are midway into the game, suddenly things start to open up. You'll have weapons to choose from, crafting and cooking items to collect, some movement tech to make getting around easier, and the ability to grind when you need to if enemies seem too tough.

The Shards mechanic is pretty much the Souls mechanic from Aria of Sorrow and Dawn of Sorrow, and that's where the meat of the game seems to be, getting random attack, boost, and ability drops from enemies. And even familiars have returned from SotN! You'll recognize a number of them right away. A number of the weapons are also direct homages to SotN, including, finally, a worthy Crissaegrim stand-in. There's also a sword you can throw like a boomerang, a successor to SotN's Heaven Sword and Rune Sword. In fact, mechanically, the game feels like it ought to be titled Symphony of Sorrow.

The game has decent sound effects and good music. It sounds very SotN. That said, it relies a lot more on real, or at least realistic-sounding, instruments, so you don't get some of the cool synth-stuff that SotN featured. The tunes are pretty good background, though many are not especially compelling on their own. The game does largely sound... as one might expect it to, really.

Graphics are a different story, however. I was worried by early images of the game. The 3D looked bland and artistically plain. Iga's team reworked things quite a lot since then, though a lot of it seems to be by adding effects and retooling some textures. It looks like the same game, just with more stuff slathered on it. The result is a game that is still relatively bland and plain. There's a lot of shader action going on, and most of what it serves to do is to slow things down. And Miriam and other characters and enemies seem to stand out from the background a bit. Some areas seem to have lighting going on in the background, but the interactive elements of the stage all seem subject to pretty neutral, flat lighting. This can make Miriam feel like she's not really in some of the environments so much as pasted on top of them. The same goes for many enemies and objects. When you zoom in on Miriam and other characters, the faces are also quite bland and not well-modeled. In fact, it's clear the character models are meant to be small on screen and appreciated at a distance. This is a game you don't want to get too close to. The animation is also mixed. While Miriam has some nice movement, the NPCs and even some of the enemies can have stiff movement and stilted animation. In action the game feels just fine, but when the game slows down to run the NPC cinematics those issues really stand out.

RotN suffers from a bevy of performance issues and bugs. I waited until patch 1.03 dropped for Switch to start playing. This was likely a wise move. The game would still crash sometimes when reading a book from a bookshelf, especially if there were any enemies on-screen, and loading times were abysmal between some areas, despite the patch purportedly improving loading times from previous versions greatly. It made grinding a real pain in the ass. I counted off about 30 seconds at one point for a screen transition that didn't have any loading area. And it was a ceiling room transition, and the first time I made it I didn't jump high enough, so I had to wait another 30 seconds when I dropped back to the room below. And patch 1.03 was supposed to be a revelation. So glad I hadn't picked up the game any earlier. Midway through my play patch 1.04 dropped. The longest screen transition dropped to about 6 or 7 seconds and most were no longer painfully noticeable. My book crashes also disappeared, though I did still experience crashes when I had played (including system sleep) for too long and spent a lot of time in the buying/selling/crafting menus. Something about those long lists of items and interactions seemed to push the game over the edge. My advice is to ALWAYS save in the save room next to the crafting area when you are going to engage in some dedicated crafting. And occasionally close out the game completely and reopen it. In addition to all of this, I also experienced some bizarre graphical glitches, with translucent flashes and rays showing up as a result of a number of effects conflicting on-screen. Certain rooms and enemies would set of crazy starbursts with my full equipment load. I snapped a number of screenies but can't get them off my Switch at present. If anyone knows an easy way to transfer those I'll happily add them to this review.

Screen transitions aren't the only slow thing, however. There's one part of the game where you fight a large boss in a scrolling circular tower environment. My frame rate for that fight topped out at about 15 FPS. And while that was certainly the worst example, the frame rate drops pretty regularly in different areas of the game. The Switch version tops out at 30 fps. When it's running at a steady 30 it feels just fine, and I don't feel like I'm missing out not having 60 fps. But the game so frequently drops to lower frame rates that it can feel very stilted in many areas of the game. Most of the time this is a result of background and environmental effects. Basically, they wanted the environments to look pretty and the game suffers. The problem is that when the game looks prettiest it's more due to stronger art design than effects, and the effects are what really drag things down. Again, this game has pretty bland design that's been draped in shader effects and whatnot in an attempt to elevate fundamental issues with the game style. This is the absolute opposite of anything I'd want to see running on the Switch. Given the performance issues earlier builds of the game had on the much stronger MS and Sony consoles, I'm not sure it was a good compromise there, either.

One other problem is that RotN is still an incomplete game. There's still more content that needs finished for the game that had to be put off to improve performance and squash bugs, and I worry that the game's shelf life will make that a difficult economic decision for Iga and 505 Games. And especially on Switch, there's still a bit more work to be done. I hope Bloodstained doesn't become a financial drag and keep the folks involved from moving forward with new things.

I know I've spent more time discussing negatives than positives, so it may sound strange that I ultimately really enjoyed the game. It was such a hefty dose of nostalgia writ new again. I got a bit obsessed trying to gather shards and collect items and crafting ingredients. The only real tension points in terms of the gameplay experience were the very early game when you don't have any significant abilities and when I did new game+ and kept all my attack shards and most of my items, but lots all my mobility shards. RotN is MADE by its mobility. When you lose that it feels bland and boring all over again, even with the cool and varied weapons. And this is what I alluded to at the beginning of this review. All the collecting and crafting is great and fun, but if, like me, you lean completionist, you may end up burning out, because when you go to do New Game+, you'll find that there isn't really much new for you to do, and you'll mostly be continuing the grind while having to wait to get your exciting mobility back.

If you're thinking of playing on Switch, the game is largely stable and performs acceptably well. Now's an OK time to dig in. The game regularly turns up on sale, so if you think this is for you, keep an eye open and pick it up between $30 and $33.
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BoneSnapDeez
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by BoneSnapDeez Wed Feb 12, 2020 3:22 pm

1. ACA NeoGeo: Cyber-Lip (Switch eShop)
2. Pengo (Atari 2600)
3. Kirby's Epic Yarn (Wii)
4. Knights of Xentar (PC)
5. Hoshi o Sagashite... (Mark III)
6. Dead Zone (Famicom Disk System)
7. Samurai Sword (Famicom Disk System)
8. High School! Kimengumi (Mark III)
9. Princess Tomato in the Salad Kingdom (NES)
10. Sindbad Mystery (SG-1000)
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Sindbad Mystery was originally a 1983 Sega arcade game. This particular SG-1000 port arrived the same year; it's one of those SG-1000 releases to hit both Japan and Europe. A more arcade-accurate conversion can also be found on Sega Ages Memorial Selection Vol. 2 for the Saturn. That said, the real mystery here is why anyone would want to play this.

Our protagonist, Sindbad (yes, with a "d") the Sailor finds himself not at sea but on shore, searching for secret treasure. This is a "maze game" with Pac-Man being the most obvious comparison. And indeed, the gameplay is similar to that of Namco's classic: collect the "dots" (they're question marks in this case) and avoid the enemies. Sega admittedly sprinkles some creativity into the formula. The stages themselves are not flat planes, but consist of tunnels, staircases, and catwalks. It's reminiscent of Crystal Castles and Sega's own Congo Bongo. Once all question marks are gathered, a magic lamp appears as the final item to be collected. Grabbing this ends a stage; there are three unique environments that loop indefinitely. Of course, there are are enemies tracking Sindbad's every movement, and an especially aggressive skull pops up once the lamp appears. Sindbad isn't completely defenseless. He is able to dig holes as enemies approach. Strangely, nothing can actually fall into these holes, they're more like black circular barriers that disappear quickly. Each stage also contains a boulder that can be shoved down a flight of stairs, crushing the encroaching fiends. Naturally, the bad guys respawn quite rapidly. One last thing to note: there's a tiny "map" which displays the location of the lamp. Seems a bit extraneous as each stage only fills a single screen, and thus everything can be spotted easily.
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Unfortunately, this isn't much fun to play. The controls are downright unacceptable for this type of game. Sindbad's movements are far too nuanced. Instead of walking in a clear gridlike formation (as one might expect from a game this old) he takes these pixel-by-pixel baby steps. Making a 90 degree turn requires Sindbad be situated in exactly the right position, which he rarely is. The stage designs are baffling too. The screen "loops" (again, like Pac-Man) but you can't simply expect to walk left off-screen to subsequently appear on the right. Instead, each stage contains a clumsily designed "warp" or two. It's easy to forget exactly where each warp will dump Sindbad, usually it's right in the pathway of an enemy. Digging holes takes about a second longer than it should, and pushing the rock around is an exercise in frustration. Graphics are suitably terrible. The game looks like somebody ate a bunch of Easter eggs and then puked them out. The sprite work is extremely unsatisfactory and Sindbad appears to be wearing blackface. As for the music: it's bad.

There really isn't much else to say. What we have here is a sloppy port of a game that wasn't good in the first place, and one of many questionable early SG-1000 releases. 1983 was a tough year.
pook99
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by pook99 Wed Feb 12, 2020 6:36 pm

30. Castlevania 2: belmonts revenge (game boy)

I have long hated the game boy entries in Castlevania, the extremely slow and sluggish character movements just render the games unplayable for me. I have heard from several members on this forum that belmonts revenge is a legit good game and is worth giving a second chance to. I did muddle through the game years ago and hated it but, based on the word of people here I decided to give it another go...but not without some help.

I was on romhacking.net downloading various hacks when I came across a speed hack for this game, it is a simple hack that changes nothing except the speed of the game, most notably simon himself. With the hack in place Simon moves like he does in the NES games and with the usual muddyness out of the way I was able to play through this game with a fresh set of eyes and I am really glad that I did.

I have to say, this game was an absolute joy to play, the level design is very unique and although it feels like a castlevania game, it also has a lot of fresh gameplay elements to it which make it stand out among the usual entries in the series, most notably the abundance of rope based obstacles sprinkled liberally throughout each level.

I really am surprised at just how much I enjoyed this game, but my opinion of the game without the hack still stands. I simply cannot imagine enjoying this game with the usual slow plodding movement associated with it and I would urge everyone who enjoys this game to give it another go with the speed hack in place, it is a whole new experience.

This also begs the question of are the other games in the series worth playing with their speed hacks? I have played them in the past and have hated them for the same reason I hated this game and I will soon revisit them with the speed hack in place and see if they are more fun.
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