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Re: Games Beaten 2020

Posted: Sun Apr 12, 2020 5:48 pm
by pook99
@Note: good review of SNES Final Fight, the other 2 games in the series are both better in pretty much every way and since they were designed from the ground up for the SNES they don't have the technical flaws/slowdown that you see in the original

Re: Games Beaten 2020

Posted: Sun Apr 12, 2020 6:43 pm
by Note
pook99 wrote:@Note: good review of SNES Final Fight, the other 2 games in the series are both better in pretty much every way and since they were designed from the ground up for the SNES they don't have the technical flaws/slowdown that you see in the original

Thanks! Glad to hear the technical flaws were taken care of in the later games. I played the sequels briefly years ago, but I'll most likely sit down and try to play through them sometime soon too.

Re: Games Beaten 2020

Posted: Mon Apr 13, 2020 11:48 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
17. Resident Evil 3 (2020) - PC
18. Overload - PC
19. Final Fantasy VII Remake - PS4

Well, after one weekend marathon and 34 hours I've finished the FF7 Remake and exited the city of Midgar. I laughed, I cried (well, got sad), I got Tifa's best dress (totally by accident), and I yelled at a stupid inconsequential design decision. I enjoyed every minute, and I can't wait until the next game (and I expect it to be a trilogy).

Now, before I get into the meat of it it's helpful to go back to the original game. With the benefit of hindsight you can see that FF7's plot was very reminiscent of long running shounen manga/anime; you have an initial bit of story that is pretty much standalone, with a couple of hints at a deeper world that the author has thought up. But he's not sure if he's going to be picked up for a long series. So you have a short contained storyline that mostly serves to get us to know and love the characters. Then once he's been picked up for a long runner he's free to wrap up that storyline with a plot twist that leads into the major story that will drive the rest of the run. A good example of this is Bleach; you have the first bit which is Ichigo as a substitute Shinigami, then Renji and Byakuya show up to take Rukia home. That's effectively the same as Sephiroth killing President Shinra and the party escaping on the highway. It's kind of a weird way to go about things, in hindsight, as the story was going to finish with the final Sephiroth fight from the beginning (what with it being a finished game).

So, with that out of the way, I can talk about the general changes made in the story of the remake. The remake doesn't ever pretend like things like Cloud's memory or Sephiroth aren't important or have deeper implications. The undercurrents of Sephiroth's plan to become a god are there from the get-go. Additionally, the Shinra Company are fleshed out more to have deeper tendrils then we first thought. The game benefits from knowing how the general plot is laid out, and they spend more time in consideration of when to introduce various elements to weave them tighter in the story. It's the same story, but there's a bit more meat to it, as well as things that will make veteran players go "interesting!" when something happens that's new or expanded.

Speaking of expansion, one thing that sticks out is how the overall pace of the story has been slowed down to be given room to breath. I did a playthrough of the original a couple weeks ago (right before Doom Eternal hit) so I would be able to compare and contrast. And the events of Midgar in the original are over in a flash. The second you get back from bombing the first reactor you go blow up the next one. Then you wake up, try to get back to Sector 7, get sidetracked by Wall Market, then do the pillar battle and finally go rescue Aerith. You're dashing from one thing to the next. The remake slows things down a bit. In between the first bombing and the second you are given a chance to do odd jobs around the Sector 7 Slums, as well as a new piece of content where you get to know the other members of Avalanche better. Similarly, after taking Aerith home from the church you spend some time helping out around the Sector 5 Slums (since you don't have any reason to rush back). The Wall Market segment is expanded to have more going on. Finally, after the plate falls you're given one last chance to help people before doing the climb (as you're confident that while they'll never release Aerith they want to keep her unharmed). Additionally, many segments that were a short couple of screens were turned into longer dungeons; this mostly serves as a way of giving the characters more time to banter with each other (which happens a lot). You get to know everyone much better in this game than we did in the original in the same time frame.

The biggest change gameplay-wise is the combat. Now it has a ton of action elements. I hesitate to call it a full on action RPG like a Tales game, though. The combat isn't nearly as involved systems-wise, and enemy tracking is such that you're not really going to be dodging much; outside of giant attacks meant to be dodged or long-running ground aoe your options are to block and reduce damage or face tank. You have an ATB bar that fills up to two segments (or three after you use a special limit break which means each segment fills faster). It fills by a certain rate when you are controlling a character, but striking with basic attacks by any character fills that character's gauge much faster. So you wail on an enemy until you fill a segment or two, then you can use actions. This could be spells, or items, or the new weapon skills. These are abilities that are inherent to each of your weapons and can be learned with practice (so you learn each weapon's skill then pick the weapon you want to use long term). Each of these weapon skills is better in a certain situation, so it behooves you to learn them all.

However, this action economy does have some flaws. The first is the fact that effectively only one character is going to be accumulating the bulk of your ATB charges unless you rapidly switch characters over and over in battle, which will likely slow down your overall ATB rate (based on positioning and possible disorientation). This means that the usefulness of specializing each character in a role is diminished; for a good chunk of the game I had Cloud as my healer, Aerith as my caster, and Tifa as my physical attacker. But I found it was best to just go to town with Tifa; I'd tricked her out with enough ATB materia that she was essentially constantly spamming her weapon skills, and occasionally I'd have Cloud toss out a heal or Aerith toss out a spell. I would have done more spells with Aerith if she got enough ATB segments. There's a support materia that can have the character cast the attached spell when your leader does an ATB action, but since it requires them to also have ATB available it doesn't actually help much; it essentially wastes a materia slot so you don't have to take a second to ask them to cast a spell manually (same with the auto-cure materia).

Another complaint I had about the battle system was that it had just enough action RPG elements to matter, but not enough to be compelling. There's one class of enemy that has a shield that you need to flank around (or counterattack when he is attacking and his guard is dropped). There's a handful of flying enemy types that you usually want Barret to focus on because, while you do have the ability to automatically jump to flying enemies, you can't always reach them or keep up with their move speed. None of these tweaks to the regular fights feels satisfying; they're more annoyances. The boss fights do make up for it; while you have all the same bosses from the original you have another big set of new bosses, some of which are completely new while others are upgraded regular enemies from the original (and all of them feel appropriate as bosses). The bosses are all multi-phase (new attack patterns at various HP levels) and tend to have some major "dodge this" attacks to keep things interesting. The bosses are also the main source of battle music; since regular battles happen organically they use an amped up version of whatever the background music is for your area, so the bosses get things like rearrangements of the original battle theme, or maybe something else, with a handful of fights getting the original boss music; basically whatever fits best given where bosses exist in the story.

Still, none of these are fundamental flaws; the lack of complexity in the battle system means that you can get by with attacking, using skills/magic, and healing when needed. It just feels like things could be more interesting had they stuck with the old ATB system (even if they had the characters move around in full 3D). Magic also ends up being shockingly limited; while I have multiple thousands of HP by the end game I still hadn't cracked 100 MP, and spell costs are about the same as they are in the original (and you'll get the -ga spells by the end). But Tifa ended up being a complete murder machine; she can easily get higher physical damage than Cloud, who is much more of a generalist statistically this game rather than being the best or second best character in every role in the original. So, you know, that's always fun. And the expansion to the story completely overshadows any complaints I have with the battle system. Honestly, my actual biggest complaint is that you always have to control Cloud. Now, you could make the argument that it would take a non-trivial amount of effort to make the other characters controllable. Except they make both Barret and Tifa controllable (complete with ability to destroy boxes for random drops) in two different segments, and Tifa even has a monkey bars section like Cloud has for treasure boxes. Barret doing monkey bars would be the only thing that wouldn't be doable (for Aerith take five seconds and have her smack boxes with her staff), and that could be solved by just putting in a balance beam instead for that handful of treasure chests (the two extended monkey bars segments specifically are for Cloud and Tifa anyway for story reasons). It was clearly just a directorial decision, and it annoyed me.

But to avoid ending on a trivial sour note, I want to reiterate again that this is an invigoration of the existing story. There are definitely spoilers to be had in it for veterans of the game, and it's got me excited to see how they manage things in the following games (my suspicion is it ends with Cloud giving Seph the black materia in part 2, and then part 3 is finishing the story). The expanded characterization of Shinra is great; Heidegger is much more competent and an actual threat, and Hojo is 1000% creepier than he was in the original, as he should be. There's a real sense of love for the original in every minute of the remake, and getting to see things like that weird hole in the sky after the plate falls or to gaze out on the devastation when climbing to Shinra tower bring back that wonder we got in the original when we saw the visual spectacle of the time.

Re: Games Beaten 2020

Posted: Mon Apr 13, 2020 9:53 pm
by Note
1. Streets of Rage 2 (Sega Genesis Mini)
2. The Ninja Warriors (Super Nintendo) [3x]
3. TMNT IV: Turtles in Time (Super Nintendo)
4. Golden Axe (Sega Genesis Mini) [3x]
5. Beyond Oasis (Sega Genesis Mini)
6. Super Double Dragon (Super Nintendo)
7. Shenmue II (Sega Dreamcast)
8. Shining Force 2 (Sega Genesis)
9. Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island (Super Nintendo)
10. ActRaiser (Super Nintendo)
11. OutRun (Sega Genesis)
12. X-Men 2: Clone Wars (Sega Genesis)
13. Captain Commando (Super Nintendo)
14. The Pirates of Dark Water (Super Nintendo)
15. Final Fight (Super Nintendo)


16. Gradius III (Super Nintendo)

This year I wanted to make an effort to play some more shmups, and try to get a bit better at them. I can't say that I'm getting much better, as I feel like I'm still terrible at these games, but I managed to finish Gradius III with the help of some extra lives towards the end of the game. I read it was a good game to start with for shmups on the SNES.

This game has a few unique features for the genre. For starters, at the beginning of the game, you can customize what abilities your power-ups will give you throughout your playthrough. As a first time player, I found the amount of different options to be overwhelming, and I was unsure of what most of the choices actually did, but I appreciated the amount of options. I ended up just using the first default setup. There are a few different default setups to choose, or you can customize your own selection of power-ups.

During gameplay, the abilities that are available to be acquired are displayed at the bottom of your screen. When you get a power-up from killing an enemy, it highlights that power-up at the bottom, and you have to select that ability by the press of a button. Or you could wait, and acquire another and select the next. I thought this was a unique way to power-up your ship, as you can strategize based on what you may need for a particular level. The downside to this style is, if you miss the selection you want, you have to get a few more power-ups to scroll through the choices and get back to the one you want.

Graphics wise, I think this game looks pretty good for the genre and as a launch title for the SNES. Your ship and the enemies are both decently detailed for being smaller sprites, and the backgrounds look good as well. I also think the enemies and their bullets coming at you are highly visible, so it's always easy to tell what you need to dodge. There did seem to be some flickering in the graphics, but it wasn't too bad. The music in this title is good, I found the soundtrack to be catchy. There are a few songs that are quite atmospheric too. Another nice feature of the game is that it's two players. That might add to the difficulty of an already tough game, but it's nice to have a co-op option.

Gameplay wise, my main issue is the slowdown. Whenever there are a good amount of enemies on the screen, or a lot of bullets, the game slows down tremendously. You have to be prepared for which sections of the game you're able to play at a regular speed, and which sections you're gonna have to play during slowdown. My other issue, is that I think that your ship is harder to control with more levels of the speed power-up you've acquired. In the later stages when the speed power-ups were necessary to get through, I found myself accidentally crashing into objects. It felt like my ship was being flung further than expected with each press of the d-pad. Perhaps this is just an issue with my inexperience. I'm aware that there is a level missing from this port, and even a pseudo 3D level from the arcade that was cut.

Overall, I do recommend Gradius III for the Super Nintendo, even though I found sections to be frustrating and challenging. I think it's fairly impressive for a SNES launch title. However, be prepared for the slowdown when things get hectic. This is a fun pick up and play title and I would definitely revisit it. Hopefully I can finish a few more shmups throughout the year. Speed up!

Re: Games Beaten 2020

Posted: Tue Apr 14, 2020 8:57 am
by prfsnl_gmr
1. Her Story (iOS)
2. Elminage Original (3DS)
3. Legend of Grimrock (iOS)
4. Silent Bomber (PS1)
5. Crash Bandicoot (PS1)
6. Bust-a-Move 2 Arcade Edition (PS1)
7. Transformers Cybertron Adventures (Wii)
8. Squidlit (Switch)
9. Sydney Hunter & The Curse of the Mayan (Switch)
10. Mega Man Legends (PS1)
11. Revenge of the Bird King (Switch)
12. Blossom Tales: The Sleeping King (Switch)
13. Gato Roboto (Switch)
14. Kamiko (Switch)
15. Night Slashers (Arcade)
16. Subsurface Circular (Switch)

Night Slashers is an extremely corny Data East beat ‘em up in which you beat various monsters, mutants, and zombies until they explode in a shower of blood and guts. I played through it with my eight-year-old sone, and we had a blast. The game is both intentionally and unintentionally hilarious, and the gameplay is remarkably deep with multiple players. (That is, two players can perform moves, such as two-person throws, combinations, etc., and I suspect two or three skilled players could absolutely rock this game.) We’re still chuckling about it, and I suspect we’ll play through it again relatively soon.

Subsurface Circular is a text-based adventure game by Mike Bithell in which you play an android detective investigating the disappearances of another androids. It looks great, and it features some solid puzzles, writing, and world building. You can also beat it in about an hour and a half; so, it doesn’t wear out its welcome. It didn’t blow my mind or anything, but it’s a fun little narrative experience I don’t hesitate to recommend.

Re: Games Beaten 2020

Posted: Tue Apr 14, 2020 9:46 am
by BoneSnapDeez
I'm surprised by how much I liked Night Slashers. The aesthetics really sell the game; it's so corny and amusing.

Re: Games Beaten 2020

Posted: Tue Apr 14, 2020 9:58 am
by prfsnl_gmr
BoneSnapDeez wrote:I'm surprised by how much I liked Night Slashers. The aesthetics really sell the game; it's so corny and amusing.

It is! I love how they drive the sketchiest brown striped conversion van in the world through a horde of zombies at the very beginning of the game, crashing it into a hospital and throwing off their coats before starting to beat zombies to a literal bloody pulp with their bare hands. (That first level, by the way, has so many great set pieces. It may be one of the best first levels in any beat ‘em up.)

The garbled voice samples are also glorious. The guy with the robot arms and blond perm - seriously - yells, “Time to clean it up!” at the beginning of the level before making a HUGE mess by spraying zombie and mutant viscera everywhere. (Our best guess, based on the ending, where he alludes to making money by killing monsters, is that he is, in fact, a cyborg janitor who gets paid to clean up all the blood and guts on the back end. He apparently needs the money to feed his crippling gambling addiction.) For the last two days, my children and I have been giving it our best impression before embarking on tasks like cleaning up from dinner or folding laundry. (I also yelled, “I destroyed the AAAALLLLLL!” while shaking my arms in the air after finishing a basket of laundry the other day. My children laughed uproariously. My wife rolled her eyes.)

Re: Games Beaten 2020

Posted: Tue Apr 14, 2020 11:02 am
by Ack
Prfsnl, were you playing the emulated Night Slashers on the Switch or some other way? I've heard the Switch version that was out up has swapped controls.

Re: Games Beaten 2020

Posted: Tue Apr 14, 2020 12:08 pm
by prfsnl_gmr
I played it on the Switch. The controls were just fine, and I didn’t notice them being off in any way.

Re: Games Beaten 2020

Posted: Tue Apr 14, 2020 12:13 pm
by BoneSnapDeez
I think "swapped controls" is a Data East staple. Dunno if I'd even notice that in a beat 'em up, as compared to a B-jump/A-attack platformer.