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Re: Games Beaten 2020

Posted: Wed Apr 01, 2020 5:56 pm
by pook99
@prfsnl_gamer: I forgot to mention the "pixel hunts" I actually detested those sections for the most part and spent way too much time just looking around aimlessly, I even had to look up a walkthrough once or twice. One particularly aggregious thing that stood out to me was when you are outside and the squad is standing around the dead body and you have to somehow find a tiny pile of green goo on an entirely green floor, I think if I didnt look up the walkthrough I'd still be looking for it.

I didnt fight the final final boss, I have a weird thing that once the credits roll, no matter how much I enjoy the game, I lose all motivation to keep playing it. I did look it up on youtube after the fact and it definitely looked cool

@MrPopo: I'm glad you liked it as well, it really is a fun and refreshing take on a classic series

@Ack: I feel reasonably confident that torchlight 2 is the game that gave me carpal tunnel, when I first started gaming on a laptop (prob around 2013/14) I discovered steam and torchlight 2 and played for dozens of hours on a laptop pad, and shortly thereafter developed carpal tunnel.

Games Beaten:

48. Pirate Blast (wii)
49. Ghost rider (GBA)
50. Mega Man 7 (snes)

It is funny how your perspective on a game can change after a short time. If you asked me last year to rate Mega Mans (I actually think I asked myself in a thread) MM 3 would have been very high on the list and MM7 was very low. It's not that I didnt like MM7, it just struck me as one of the weaker entries in the series

After playing through them both my perspective has flipped, for some reason the flaws of MM3 stood out in a huge way this go around and if I was to rate the series today MM3 would likely be in the bottom 3 (right above 10 and 8) and MM7 would be much higher.

I'm not exactly sure why, but I just appreciated MM7 far more this go round, I appreciated the nice 16 bit visuals, the bosses and how they responded to weaknesses, and found myself really enjoying the level design. Outside of the unbearably hard final wily fight(probably the hardest in the series) and one godawful wiley level, I don't really have any complaints and definitely need to rethink my views on this game.

Re: Games Beaten 2020

Posted: Wed Apr 01, 2020 8:06 pm
by Sload Soap
Yakuza 0

I was in a debate recently on where the best place to start for a newbie looking to get into the Yakuza series. I said Kiwami 1 as the PS2 original is a bit outdated. Someone else insisted 0 as it's a prequel and therefore the beginning of Kiryu's story. Having now finished 0 I would stick with my first assessment as Yakuza 0 has too much in it that will only really make sense for a Yakuza fan.

I would also disagree that this is the start of Kiryu's story and actually see it more as Majima's game. Goro gets the best city (Osaka), the best business sidequest (the hostess club management game) and generally his tale has more heart and meaning than Kiryu's. Kazuma's story is mostly just a retread of his story in Yakuza 1 with some events shuffled. It's absolutely fine though and as ever serves its purpose of being backdrop for the main game which is as full of amusing sidequests and mini-games. As usual in a Yakuza game sidequests feature everything from dominatrixes to slot-car racing to a dance off with Michael Jackson. Standard bonkers.

The combat has had a slight shake up with both Kiryu and Majima having three fighting styles although I found that the heavy styles for both characters were overpowered enough to make the other two choices kind of pointless. Once you max complete each character's main business sidequest, which is admittedly a pretty decent portion of the run time, you then unlock an ultimate fighting style which is basically their default style from the other games. Majima's ultimate is so ludicrously overpowered there really is no reason to use anything else.

Money plays a bigger aspect in the game than before reflecting the late 80's time period the game is set. You now pour money into yourself to unlock abilities and the prices for these soon rocket into the billions of yen so although the business sidequests are optional, they're also kind of not as you won't earn enough through regular gameplay to get any kind of beefy. As mentioned Majima's sidequest is good fun with you recruiting and training girls for your hostess club, winning the best assets off your rival's, and eventually earning massive sacks of cash. Kiryu's actually end up with getting a steadier and healthier income through his real estate dealings but it's a much more laborious process than it needs to be and requires an absolute ton of cash to get anything done. I found it a bit tedious to be honest and it deffo takes longer than Majima's to reach its conclusion with a lot of forced waiting while your earning are collected. Maybe Yu Suzuki snuck into the office on the day they thought this side quest up?

The 80's theme was a bit of a let down as well. Don't expect Vice City styled nostalgia, the most that you get is a disco minigame, the aforementioned reliance on money and some women wearing suits with big shoulder pads. That's about it. Since most characters in Yakuza games either wear a suit of some form of traditional Japanese dress the whole look remains fairly timeless.

I still highly recommend it though and it's a must for fans of the series. I'd still say Kiwami 2 is the best in the series (although I'm yet to finish 5 or play 6) but it's pretty close.


Wandersong is a very cute game about a bard who goes on a quest to save his world from annihilation armed only with his amazing singing voice and his boundless optimism. The main two things you need to know are that there is a dedicated dance button and you can sing pretty much whenever you want. It's more puzzle platformer than rhythm game as it doesn't really punish you for being off beat and your singing is often used to solve environmental puzzles. It looks as good as it sounds and while the story starts cliche it becomes more character driven throughout and ends on a genuinely uplifting note. Literally. The below picture essentially sums up the entire experience. I liked it a lot.

Crash Team Racing: Nitro Fueled

This was a bit of a disappointment. I beat the adventure mode and a few cups but I wasn't having too much fun with it so left it there. Beenox are in charge again after doing pretty decent work of the N-Sane trilogy but, like their remake of Crash Bandicoot, what has essentially happened is a less skilled developer has tried to remake an actual classic from a top tier developer and you end up with a game that is 90% solid remake and 10% oh god, why did you change this?

I found most issues arose from drifting which is really quite problematic when your game is based almost exclusively around CTRs take on classic Mario Kart drift mechanics. Basically I found that drifting sent your kart too far wide and actually in a lot of instances, when combined with the atrocious rubber banding of the AI, would leave you going slower in corners than if you just drove normally. And that rubber banding really is awful as the AI is actually pretty incompetent to the point it will frequently drive off the track into pits for no discernible reason. Let me tell you, it's pretty galling to be beat on the last corner by a Coco Bandicoot you've seen hit three TNTs and fall into a pit that same lap just because she has some mystery speed boost.

To makes things worse this artificial difficultly seems to come in peaks and troughs with most races being pretty challenging on standard difficulty with a few being, for seemingly no reason, absolutely maddening. So, Pinstripe (the penultimate boss) is hair pullingly, wall punchingly stupid hard but the actual proper boss of the whole game Nitrus Oxide is beatable first time. I can't really at that point say it's player skill because on average the game is less difficult than Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed but these spikes are like trying to play while on fire and someone is kicking you in the dick. It's a real shame as well because a lot of effort has gone into the game elsewhere with each character having a multitude of skins and new courses and characters from the inferior Crash Racing games upping the variety. The post launch support has also been excellent with new courses, characters and cups being added to make a robust single and multiplayer experience. It's all a bit surface level but it is appreciated all the same.

I'm also not really too keen on the structure of the adventure mode and with its overworld of adjoining maps. I get fans would have probably cried bloody murder if they were left out but unlike Diddy Kong Racing, the overworld is mostly static and frankly pointless. It just wastes time driving to the next event and then back there again to do the CTR/time challenges. Just give me it as cups with a boss battle, it's fine.

Unlike the N-Sane trilogy, which I do recommend because Beenox only ruined one out of the three games on that disc, here the whole package is kind of tarnished because what used to be a highly polished game that relied on it's precise mechanics has lost about 5-10% of that precision. And in racing 5-10% is basically everything.

Jurassic World Evolution

This was fun. It's a pretty shallow sim/management game where you get to basically make zoos for dinosaurs. There's a healthy campaign mode where you take control of parks with various existing issues and try to get them up to snuff. Generally this means getting from a no star rating to about three but the real game happens when you try to get each island up to the top five star rating as that takes more in depth use of the various ways you can arrange both your parks and your dinos.

Your basic resource here is fossils which you farm to research new and ever more exciting dinosaurs. You send out missions to dig sites around the globe and with the returning fossils are able to build up a genetic profile of a given dinosaur. Once it reaches 50% you can breed one and stick it on display. You then have to manage enclosure sizes, viewing platforms, guest aminities like hotels and restuarants, transport and diversity of dinosaur stock. There's not much point in having seven enclosures if each one has a couple of tricertops in it and conversely there's no point in having 15 different species if no one can see them.

There is some stuff the game doesn't explicitly tell you that is massively important on how dinosaurs will behave, namely what percentage of their enclosure needs to be woods/grassland or how many other dinosaurs they can live with before they start to rampage. You kind of have to learn this as you go as you don't know these requirements until you breed a dinosaur. However once you solve it you can basically ring a group of Raptors and a T Rex in tissue paper as they'll never break their confines if they're content. Again, it's not super deep but there is about enough there to keep you thinking, at least in campaign. The sandbox mode lets you turn these requirements off if you just want a massive pen with all your favourite dinosaurs knocking about.

If it wasn't for those semi-hidden stats it'd be too much of a breeze but if you just want to mess about or have dinosaur mad kids then stick it on sandbox and go to town. It's a good timesink and lord do we need those right now.

Re: Games Beaten 2020

Posted: Wed Apr 01, 2020 10:45 pm
by Markies
Markies' Games Beat List Of 2020!
*Denotes Replay For Completion*

1. Pikmin 2 (GCN)
2. Banjo-Tooie (N64)
3. Contra: Hard Corps (GEN)
4. Super Baseball Simulator 1,000 (SNES)
5. Chip 'N Dale Rescue Rangers 2 (NES)
6. Pinball Hall of Fame: The Gottlieb Collection (PS2)
***7. Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories (PS2)***

***8. Cruis'N USA (N64)***


I completed Cruis'N USA on the Nintendo 64 this evening!

Cruis'n USA is the first in the series and it is also the worst in the series. The tracks run from insanely difficult to pitifully easy with really no in between along with half the game being in California, even though it is called USA. The backgrounds look fairly terrible and the game never controls perfectly. I do give it some leeway as it is the first in the series and the music has some really good tunes. But, I much prefer World and even Exotica to this one.

Re: Games Beaten 2020

Posted: Thu Apr 02, 2020 1:32 am
by MrPopo
1. Elite Dangerous - PC
2. Soldier of Fortune - PC
3. Star Wars: TIE Fighter: Defender of the Empire - PC
4. Star Wars: TIE Fighter: Enemies of the Empire - PC
5. Star Wars: X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter: Balance of Power - PC
6. Star Wars: X-Wing Alliance - PC
7. Phoenix Point - PC
8. Serious Sam HD: The Second Encounter - PC
9. Descent II - PC
10. Inbento - Switch
11. Ori and the Will of the Wisps - XB1
12. Doom Eternal - PC
13. Serious Sam 2 - PC
14. Black Mesa - PC
15. Descent 3 - PC
16. Darksiders II - PC

Darksiders II follows Death on his quest to save his brother War for being blamed for starting the Apocalypse early and fucking up the balance with a simple task; bringing back Mankind. In the process we find out more about the world of Darksiders and discover that RPG elements can really trivialize things when not properly balanced.

The game is concurrent with Darksiders I; it starts while War is trying to convince the Charred Council that he wasn't going rogue, with Death riding off to figure out how to bring back Humanity. This journey takes Death through the land of the Makers (a race of giant blacksmiths who can create golems), the land of the Dead, and outposts of Heaven and Hell (plus a short visit to Earth). This is in a more open world fashion than the first game; you start off with a horse and the maps are built around this. Think of it like every zone is Hyrule Field from OoT, and then you have various dungeons you can enter to progress the plot. The game dials back a bit on the obvious OoT ripping off; you don't have quite as many mobility options and the dungeons are smaller (but there's more of them). The bosses are about half Zelda puzzle boss and half action game be good at the combat engine fights.

The big change is instead of Zelda style finding life and magic extensions to power up you have straight up RPG leveling. You have a sets of stats and a bunch of equipment that can boost those stats, and you level up as you kill things and do quests. Leveling up lets you put points in a couple of skill trees; each of these trees has a handful of activated abilities using your mana and then a bunch of passive boosts to those abilities (e.g. the teleport slash can gain fire damage or increased critical chance). You only have enough skill points to deck out two active abilities, but the game has very cheap respecs, so don't feel afraid to experiment with what feels good.

The other mechanic of note with the equipment is the Possessed Weapons. These are weapons that you can sacrifice other gear to (in lieu of selling the gear for cash) to give them experience and level them up. Each Possessed Weapon can be leveled up five times, which increases their stats and lets you choose from various randomly selected stats. You can add up to four stats this way (or just strengthen existing ones), and this is where the game can really be broken. You can add elemental, crit chance, and life gain on crit, and combining all three makes you deal a ton of damage and rapidly heal up in fights. Once I remembered Possessed Weapons were a thing (they were introduced back when I first touched the game, then I stopped playing for half a year, so I forgot) I was able to craft an OP weapon and sail through the rest of the game, only having minor trouble with the last two bosses (and I didn't fight them skillfully, I just brute forced).

One final thing of note is that Death is a much more fun protagonist than War was. War treated the entire thing with deadly seriousness, while Death realizes that this game is a bit absurd and has a sardonic personality to match. He also is a bit pulled back design-wise compared to War being the living embodiment of every Rob Liefeld character ever.

Re: Games Beaten 2020

Posted: Thu Apr 02, 2020 6:27 am
by REPO Man
Beat the Borderlands 3 DLC, Moxxi's Heist of the Handsome Jackpot, on PS4 as Zane on Normal. Also have the Guns, Love and Tentacles DLC, so my level cap is 57 right now. I've also got Zane at 57. Really wish the cap was higher. And that I could buy more inventory storage, but I'm maxed out. Maybe I don't need a weapon type for each element (i.e a fire pistol, shock pistol, corrosive pistol, et al).

Re: Games Beaten 2020

Posted: Thu Apr 02, 2020 5:23 pm
by BoneSnapDeez
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)
11. Steins;Gate (Vita)
12. Champion Boxing (SG-1000)
13. Squidlit (Switch eShop)
14. Skyblazer (SNES)
15. Tokyo Dark: Remembrance (Switch eShop)
16. Bubble Bobble (Famicom Disk System)
17. Steins;Gate Elite (Switch)
18. Johnny Turbo's Arcade: Joe and Mac Returns (Switch eShop)
19. Johnny Turbo's Arcade: Express Raider (Switch eShop)

Steins;Gate Elite
In 2009 there was Steins;Gate the video game. In 2011 the Steins;Gate anime was released. And then in 2018 the world was blessed with Steins;Gate Elite -- the video game... based on the anime. Seems like Steins;Gate was pretty successful! Elite was released for various systems, with the PlayStation 4, Steam, and Switch variants all arriving in North America in 2019 (sorry Vita owners).

Being an adaptation (of an adaptation), the plot here is mostly identical to the original. The protagonist is one Rintaro Okabe, a university student living in the Akihabara district of Tokyo. He also goes by Kyouma Hououin, a self-imposed "mad scientist" alter ego. Okabe is seemingly paranoid and delusional, frequently ranting about being on the run from the "Organization" that tracks such brilliant researchers. He's also prone to engaging in phone conversations with absolutely no one, and bursting into fits of maniacal laughter. Okabe's mad scientist obsession has resulted in him renting a space above a CRT shop, where he tinkers on gadgets with his pals Daru, an otaku hacker, and Mayuri, the adorable and caring childhood friend. One day Okabe and his pals decide to attend a "time travel conference" -- which Okabe soon ditches after deriding the presenter as a fraud. He quickly runs into a girl named Kurisu Makise, who he recognizes as a brilliant young scientist who typically resides in America and has published some critically important work. On his way out of the building, Okabe stumbles onto Kurisu once again, murdered at the end of a desolate hallway. When attempting to inform Daru via text, Okabe notices a sudden shift in his surroundings, as hundreds of pedestrians simply vanish. Even stranger, Kurisu turns up again soon enough -- alive. The members of the "Future Gadget Laboratory" (now featuring Kurisu) pinpoint the cause: a modified microwave they've created, one that was designed to heat food remotely via cellphone, has the power to send text messages into the past. Said messages can influence the behavior of "past" individuals, thus causing immediate modifications to the current worldline. Naturally, the ragtag team begins to experiment liberally, with Kurisu making use of her technical acumen to modify the device further. Such actions, of course, result in some seriously unforeseen consequences, and bring the group into contact with some unsavory folks looking to monopolize time traveling technology.
A visual novel is only as good as its writing. And the writing here is phenomenal. To start: the protagonist. Okabe, despite (and because of) all quirks, is probably the best male hero of any visual novel. He's kind, empathetic, and a dear friend to all close to him -- a far cry from the weirdo pervert trope seen in so many other VNs. The supporting cast is also extraordinarily memorable. The laboratory membership grows as the game progresses, each time graced with another distinctive personality. There's the hyperactive maid café employee extraordinaire Faris; the shy ever-texting Moeka; the androgynous shrine "maiden" Luka; the cyclist and CRT shop part-timer Suzuha. Finally, there are those that aren't affiliated with the lab: the crotchety rent-hiking CRT shop owner "Mr. Braun" and his young timid daughter. There's great cohesion among the "lab mems" and the constant banter is a sight to behold. The lab itself just feels so cozy and inviting. This is a strikingly funny game (at times) replete with plenty of corny net/hacker slang and tons of nerdy otaku jokes.

The time travel mechanics are explained thoroughly, and remain consistent throughout the game's duration. The science, real and imagined, is rather fascinating, and the game tries its best to leave few questions unanswered. There's a "tips" menu that can lead the player into more in-depth explanations about various scientific concepts -- it's also used to clarify the seemingly endless manga, anime, and video game references as well. Some critiques of Steins;Gate (original and Elite) state that it starts off too slowly. I disagree -- it establishes a firm foundation of "ground rules" and then the story rolls along unencumbered. The game deftly avoids the "deus ex machina" pitfalls seen in many time travel stories; and though there are no obvious plot holes some of the "big reveals" seen towards the game's end feel a touch contrived. Elite, like its forebear, is one of those games that refuses to let background characters remain background characters. As any visual novel veteran could predict, the game's tone darkens as it progresses. There are many unsettling scenes, and, like the great Muv-Luv Alternative, Steins;Gate knows how to impose a tremendous feeling of anxiety onto the player.
One unexpected and delightful aspect of the Steins;Gate Elite storyline is its willingness to blend fiction with not only science and technology, but also real-life mysteries and conspiracies. For instance: Okabe is ticked off at the game's opening lecturer, as he believes the man is plagiarising the works of John Titor. As in, the "real" John Titor, the man who made a splash on various message boards decades ago, claiming to be a time traveler from 2036. John Titor (both the "real" one and the in-game one) was searching for an IBM 5100 (renamed "IBN 5100" for the Steins;Gate universe though its likeness is identical), as it was said to contain crucial code necessary to avoid a technological calamity. And the villains of Steins;Gate Elite? CERN ("SERN") -- yes, the CERN, the French research institute and particle physics laboratory, is explicitly labelled as corrupt and evil. They're in the midst of mastering their own time traveling methods to order to rule the past, present, and future. There are also some more obscure references for the gaming/web nerds thrown into the mix as well. For instance, for his "super hacking" Daru utilizes the power of the Sharp X68000, the 1987 twin-towered 16-bit gaming titan. As for the Future Gadget Laboratory website that Okabe occasionally updates: it actually exists, complete with Engrish descriptions of various inventions and a classic Geocities style layout.

As far as actual gameplay goes, Steins;Gate Elite isn't a pure visual novel, but more of cross between a visual novel and interactive movie. So, instead of displaying story text alongside static sprites, Elite displays text alongside a series of short video clips and anime stills. It works reasonably well, though A-button-mashing speed readers will experience rapid jump cuts as they begin to outpace the speed of the animation. The art is gorgeous, but it does look something like "typical" anime, as opposed to the original VN which showcases some very unusual (and delightful) "grainy" visuals. The voice acting is once again exemplary (I believe the cast is identical to that of the original game and anime), as is the synth-heavy soundtrack.
This all begs the question: if gameplay is minimal and composed of a bunch of anime clips plus the same ol' story, voice cast, and soundtrack... then what's the point of playing Elite when one could simply watch the Steins;Gate anime? The short answer: interactivity. While the anime featured a linear journey to the tale's best (and "true") ending, Elite allows the player to take those alternate pathways, to alternate endings that were seen in the original visual novel. New animation was developed for these routes, naturally. Navigation through the game is still based on the "phone trigger" system, where Okabe uses his cellphone to make and receive calls, and answer or ignore emails -- sometimes altering the flow of time itself. The system has been completely retooled this time around. In the original game, the player was left to pay attention to cues (such as a ringing or chiming phone), and then push a button to bring up the phone's display. Calls and emails could easily be disregarded unless the player consciously decided to interact. Such interaction was time-sensitive as well, as messages viewed too late lacked a response option. In Elite, the phone is always answered automatically, with its display filling the entire screen. Thus, messages cannot be received out-of-context, and the routes through the game become easier to parse. That said, achieving the true ending is still needlessly difficult, as it's dependent on an a seemingly arbitrary series of email exchanges between Okabe and Kurisu. Consult a walkthrough, seriously.

One perk of Steins;Gate Elite is the inclusion of a bonus game. Those who purchased it on the PlayStation 4 or Steam received Linear Bounded Phenogram, a decently meaty spin-off originally released in Japan in 2013. But here on the Switch, Elite owners instead get 8-Bit Adv Steins;Gate, a brief (no saves) tribute to the old Famicom detective stories. It's decent for what it is. Annoyingly, there doesn't seem to be a way to play both Linear Bounded Phenogram and 8-Bit Adv Steins;Gate without purchasing two copies of Elite.

In summation, Steins;Gate Elite is highly recommended. But I say this with a simple caveat: this isn't quite as good as the original, nor is it a "substitute" for that game. Play this after going through the original and viewing the anime. Too much Steins;Gate? I don't think so.

Johnny Turbo's Arcade: Joe and Mac Returns
Well, the title of the game is grammatically incorrect. That's a good start, huh? Oh, I guess it makes sense if interpreted as "Joe & Mac (the game series) Returns" -- it's still pretty weird though. For the uninitiated, the Joe & Mac series consists of four platformers starring some goofball cavemen. The first game was a "console style" side-scroller, though it was released in arcades and then subsequently ported to a million different places. The SNES variant seemed to be the most successful, and indeed the following two Joe & Mac games were SNES exclusives. This fourth installment showcases the duo's triumphant "return" to the arcades. Though unported back in the day, our man Johnny Turbo resurrected it twenty-five later, now officially emulated on the Nintendo Switch.

Joe & Mac Returns is in fact the most arcade-y of the whole bunch. There's no scrolling here, just single-screen stages. It's highly reminiscent of Data East's Tumblepop, whose own roots can be traced back to the likes of Bubble Bobble. The goal of each stage is clear and simple: one or two players (controlling the titular cavemen) must vanquish all enemies before moving on. The environments should look familiar to anyone who's played one of the game's predecessors. There's the lush jungle, icy caves, skeleton-strewn dinosaur graveyards, rocky wastelands, and more. Gameplay is virtually self-explanatory, utilizing one jump and one attack button (though they're "switched" in typical Data East fashion). The bros are armed with clubs, which emit a shockwave for some extra distance. It's possible to hop down ledges with the classic jump+down button combo, and most stages are very easy to navigate. Power-ups show up sporadically, which increase speed and weapon strength. Each stage also features a "damsel in distress" cavewoman, who tosses out fruit (for points) when rescued.
Enemies are not defeated automatically when bashed with a club. Instead, they're rolled up and can be tossed into their fiendish compatriots. It's possible to roll up multiple foes at once, allowing Joe or Mac to execute a "mega ball" type of attack and clear out rows of baddies. This game, like the others, disregards all historical and paleontological accuracy, as (bad) cavemen and a manner of dinosaurs coexist in their mission to the take the brothers down. Most stages contain tents that work like portals, constantly spewing forth enemies. It feels a tad clunky in this sort of game, especially since said tents can't be club-bashed out of existence but must be hit repeatedly with balled-up enemies. Bosses are ripped straight from the previous Joe & Mac outings: a T-Rex, a mammoth, an ichthyosaurus, and so on. These bosses are joined by their smaller offspring, who must be repurposed as projectile weaponry. The main villain and final boss is something of a mystery. It resembles some sort of time-travelling steampunk viking.

The graphics are solid, very crisp and colorful. The series is known for its humorous character animations, which are retained here. The music is the best in the whole series. It's heavy on percussion, with persistent caveman-chant vocal samples. Inspiring stuff; it's too bad the sound effects aren't quite as good. The frequent "I got the power!" proclamation (made when powering-up) is downright grating. "Cutscenes" pop up sporadically, and feature one of the cavewomen in some state of undress. The developers apparently thought these were hilarious, as they felt compelled to insert a laugh track.

This one's a bit on the easy side overall, especially with the ability to credit-feed. With fluid controls, a smooth learning curve, and a sixty minute run-time, Joe & Mac Returns is certainly worthy of a playthrough. It's not one of Data East's elite entries, but finally getting this type of thing on consoles is quite the blessing.

Johnny Turbo's Arcade: Express Raider
Express Raider is a Data East arcade title that I totally missed back in the day. Released originally in 1986, the game received the Sly Spy treatment: it was ported, but only to a handful of European computers. This one's got a Wild West theme, as one could perhaps infer from the title. But, as the arcade marquee displays, the player isn't assigned to the role of sheriff. Instead, prepare to control a masked bandit, hell-bent on raiding trains for their caches of gold coins.

Each stage (they loop with increased difficulty) is broken into two discrete segments. First comes the train-hopping fisticuffs. Yes, this bandit is merciful, and prefers not to shoot people at close range, opting instead for a series of punches and kicks. The A and B buttons are assigned to said attacks, while the up button is used for jumping. It all works... unexpectedly well, like a more refined version of Kung Fu. It helps that each train car contains but one enemy. The enemy attacks are pleasantly varied, too. Some engage in hand-to-hand combat while others fire guns, toss bottles, or fling shovelfuls of coal. Additional points can be earned by defeating grounded enemies before boarding the train: these include bank tellers(?) and, as the game calls them, "coyotes." I'm not sure if this is a mistranslation by Data East or just some sloppy artwork, as the "coyotes" appear to be cougars.
Each skirmish comes with its own time limit, as a man will eventually start bombing train cars, so the player is forced to move along at a decent clip. Rather than featuring one-hit deaths (for the bandit or his foes), Express Raider grants the bandit a life bar. It's a life bar that actually increases as he pummels his opponents, which is kind of genius. Each fight feels surprisingly nuanced, as multiple "moves" can be executed in spite of the seemingly simplistic controls. And the time limits and wavering life meter create an addition sense of intensity.

Then there are the shooting (gallery) stages. Here the bandit rides a horse, blasting bullets at rivals who fire back from train windows. The controls here are rather fluid: the horse can be moved in eight directions, and the two action buttons are dedicated to shooting and ducking. A duck is an easy way to avoid an oncoming attack, but doing so causes the horse to drift to one side of the screen, so it's only a temporary remedy. There's a time limit once again, though now it's merely represented numerically. Now, there is a big issue with Johnny Turbo version of the game: for some reason the aiming cursor from the arcade original is completely absent. It's undeniably a setback, though not a complete deal-breaker: after a little bit of play it becomes relatively easy to "sense" where bullets will land.
Aesthetically, the game's a bit questionable. The large sprites are impressive, but there's a grainy look to everything, which is further amplified by the Johnny Turbo screen-stretching and CRT filter. Music is rather stock, but the persistent train noises set the mood nicely. The game's oddly forgiving, featuring respawn continues rather than the anticipated checkpoint system. Overall, this one fits nicely into that "good but not great" category. A bit rough around the edges, Express Raider is no hidden gem but it is a rather amusing artifact.

Re: Games Beaten 2020

Posted: Thu Apr 02, 2020 6:34 pm
by PresidentLeever
There is a combat arena called the crucible in Darksiders II that you can try as an optional challenge; I don't remember if I finished it personally.

You can also change difficulty level in-game but the rewards from the previously chosen level will stay the same (at least this is doable in Deathinitive edition). I enjoyed that game overall despite the possibility of breaking it, which I didn't really do. Overall it has very good dungeon and world design with some interesting puzzles and the right amount of non-linearity, though they could've tweaked the difficulty dynamically if you went and did some tougher dungeon when you weren't expected to.

3 is supposedly more metroidvania-style in structure, I should play it sometime.

Re: Games Beaten 2020

Posted: Fri Apr 03, 2020 12:52 am
by MrPopo
Yeah, about midway through I stopped doing the optional quests because it didn't really feel worthwhile; I didn't need the rewards and the combat was a solved problem at that point, so it would have extended things for no real reason. And I do plan on digging into 3 at some point; previews of 3 was what actually made me pay attention to the series.

Re: Games Beaten 2020

Posted: Fri Apr 03, 2020 5:41 am
by PresidentLeever
I see, I thought you wanted more challenge from the combat.

Re: Games Beaten 2020

Posted: Fri Apr 03, 2020 8:00 am
by pook99
@Bonesnap: I didnt even know that Joe and Mac game existed, I don't know if it is my cup of tea but I did really enjoy the other 3 games in the series

@MrPopo: I loved darksiders 2, I started darksiders 3 and it seemed ok, I was enjoying it, then I got too busy to play it and when I tried to restart it I had no idea where I was supposed to go because it had been awhile and just uninstalled it.

51. Pankapu (switch)

Pankapu is a visually excellent 2d platformer. It starts out simple enough, you are a little red knight with a sword and a shield. As you progress through the game you gain the ability to switch between 3 different forms, a knight, an archer, and a wizard. All 3 forms have their pros and cons in battle but the main thing you need them for is they each have different traversal abilities that are required to navigate through the levels.

The knight can smash certain blocks and stick to certain surfaces, the archer has a double jump, a dodge, and the ability to ride air currents, while the wizard has the ability to float, slow time, and teleport through certain obstacles. Each character controls well and is generally fun to use, and you can easily switch between them by pressing the L or R buttons.

Pankapu starts out easy but can get tough very quickly, sometimes for the right reasons, sometimes for the wrong reasons. At its best Pankapu has some great platform challenges that really use each characters ability to their fullest and puts out some really tricky sections that are really fun to navigate. At its worst the character switching becomes hard to keep track of and you wind up switching to the wrong character because there is so much going on and then instantly die down a pit. Checkpoints are fairly liberal so even when you do die you dont have to backtrack too much but it can be frustrating. Basically the knight is Red, the archer is Green, and the wizard is Blue. The switch Pattern is RGB so if you start at the knight and hit the R button you go to the archer, if you hit the L button you go to the wizard. Keeping track of where you are on the switching scale can be tough at certain times and I wish they implemented a slightly better means to switch in the heat of action as frequently you have to switch mid jump to get to the next area.

Other than that I did enjoy the game, it is fairly lengthy with lots of collectables and some very tough levels and bosses. I would recommend it for fans of the genre, but with a fair bit of caution.