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Ack
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by Ack Tue Apr 14, 2020 12:39 pm

In that case, I may just wishlist this and look into picking it up. It's been on my radar, but I wasn't sure whether I wanted to pull the trigger.
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Note
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by Note Thu Apr 16, 2020 1:01 am

1. Streets of Rage 2 (GEN)
2. The Ninja Warriors (SNES) [3x]
3. TMNT IV: Turtles in Time (SNES)
4. Golden Axe (GEN) [3x]
5. Beyond Oasis (GEN)
6. Super Double Dragon (SNES)
7. Shenmue II (DC)
8. Shining Force 2 (GEN)
9. Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island (SNES)
10. ActRaiser (SNES)
11. OutRun (GEN)
12. X-Men 2: Clone Wars (GEN)
13. Captain Commando (SNES)
14. The Pirates of Dark Water (SNES)
15. Final Fight (SNES)
16. Gradius III (SNES)

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17. Super R-Type (SNES)

After finishing Gradius III the other night, I was in the mood to sit down with another SNES shmup and thought I'd give this another try. I did briefly play this game when I was younger and revisited it and got through the first few levels earlier in the year. I'm familiar with the R-Type series and aware of the earlier port on the Master System and TurboGrafx-16, but this title was my first introduction to the series in the early 90's. To give myself a chance, I played it on the easy setting.

Regarding the graphics, I think this game looks good for it's time. The ship sprite is a bit larger but it looks fairly detailed, and it has a variety of enemies. Some of the enemies also resemble robots, and some look more like something from the movie Alien. Also, the boss sprites are pretty impressive in this game. I also found Stage 4 particularly good looking, as you are flying alongside a large enemy ship throughout the whole level and have to take down the ship's defenses. It's a cool concept for a level in a shmup.

The soundtrack to the game is awesome, some of the music reminds me of something you might hear in an 80's anime soundtrack. And some of the level's tracks have almost a jazz feel to them. I really enjoyed the music in this game, especially the soundtracks for the first level and third level.

Gameplay wise, the game is a bit slower paced and methodical in comparison to Gradius III. And just like that game, this is another title that suffers from tremendous slowdown depending on how many enemies are onscreen or your ship's current actions (firing, charging). I noticed in certain areas of the game, if I would be repeatedly using my normal shot then the game would be slowed down, but if I was charging my blast shot and not firing, the game would be running at full speed. I found this to be disorienting, and it felt like having to figure out two different patterns for that section, depending on what was going on. Another issue I have with the game is the choice to not include checkpoints throughout the level or at boss battles. This makes an already tough game pretty brutal. I suppose this choice was made because of how short the game is, but I find it to be unnecessary. On a positive note, I found the force bit to be a cool gameplay mechanic. It's nice to have an extra weapon that also doubles as protection, and can be tossed to other sections of the screen to wipeout specific enemies.

Overall, I also really enjoyed Super R-Type and recommend checking it out if you're looking to try out shmups on this console. I'd like to give it a few more playthroughs and maybe even try the game on a bumped up difficulty setting, even though I found the easy setting to still be really tough.
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by marurun Thu Apr 16, 2020 9:57 am

The reason Gradius III and Super R-Type slow down has to do with collision checks. In games you have to constantly check to see if sprites are touching so you can register hits and damage. Early SNES programmers did not use good collision detection routines, and when there are too many objects on screen to run collision checks on the games slow down. The CPU just can’t keep up with managing everything and continually checking that many sprites for collisions. That’s why charging your shot didn’t cause slowdown but shooting did. Your shots need to be checked for collisions every frame.
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alienjesus
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by alienjesus Thu Apr 16, 2020 4:20 pm

Games beaten 2020:

1. Ys: The Oath in Felghana PSN Vita *NEW*
2. Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age Switch *NEW*
3. Super Mario Party Switch *NEW*
4. Moss PSVR *NEW*
5. Paper Mario: Colour Splash Wii U *NEW*
6. The Firemen SNES *NEW*
7. Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon SFC *NEW*
8. Kuukiyomi: Consider It! Switch eShop *NEW*
9. Valkyria Chronicles Switch eShop *NEW*
10. Illusion of Time SNES *NEW*
11. Trials of Mana Switch *NEW*
12. Undertale Vita *NEW*
13. Rastan SMS *NEW*
14. Rainbow Islands SMS *NEW*



alienjesus wrote:Because this is quite a lot to write already, I'll post the remaining reviews tomorrow!



Not quite 'tomorrow' but here's part 2:

Valkyria Chronicles

Valkyria Chronicles is a game with a bit of a learning curve, if - like me - you come from a background of playing games like Advance Wars or Fire Emblem. It's a turn based strategy RPG, but it has some unique play mechanics which change how you approach things. First of all, moving units plays like a third person shooter of sorts, with you running units around the environment, aiming and shooting. Secondly, instead of each unit being able to move once per turn, you get a certain number of movements each turn - and they can be used to move one unit multiple times, although they're less effective each time.

The game suffers from some balance issues - Scouts are broken compared to other classes due to decent stats overall and far superior movement (the best stat), and the Tank is situationally either incredibly useful or almost worthless depending on the map due to it using 2 movement turns to move it rather than one. The game also feels a bit lopsided in difficulty like many games of the genre - earlier missions require more care due to a smaller squad of weaker units who are very vulnerable to enemy fire, whereas late game missions often have you running 1 scout around right up to enemies faces to shoot them point blank over and over. Despite the balance issues though, I had fun with this one - the story is cliche but still felt fresh enough with it's psuedo-WW2 setting. Recommended.


Illusion of Time
Illusion of Time is better known by it's US name, Illusion of Gaia. You play as Will, a psychic kid who sets out on an adventure to save the world and his parents or something like that. The game is quite fast paced, with you being whisked from each area to the next with your cavalcade of friends, but the story feels like it's lost a lot in translation, with some unclear plot points and rushed pacing not allowing the themes to come across clearly. Gameplay is action based, with lots of fighting (clearing a room of enemies is actually how you level up here) and some puzzle solving and exploration. You can switch into different forms throughout the game, but they don't feel too different, and most exploration abilities require you to stay in your base form anyway - so often you'll swap to something stronger for fighting and back to Will when needed to progress. Overall, despite the pacing, I enjoyed playing through this game. I'd be keen to try Terranigma and Soul Blazer at some point, even if they're only related tangentally.


Trials of Mana
Following up from my last SNES action RPG, I picked up another with Trials of Mana. I have mixed feelings on Secret of Mana - I enjoyed it well enough but it's a very flawed experience overall. Trials of Mana is a big improvement in many ways - the new English translation is much easier to follow than Secret's original storyline, hit detection is much improved (although still not perfect), and the battle system is improved with less spell grinding nonsense. I played through the game with a party of Hawkeye, Reisz and Charlotte and it was a good team - Hawkeye used stat down magic, Riesz used stat up magic and Charlotte provided elemental weapon buffs and healing, so I dominated late game bosses with my super buffed team. Early game is this games biggest flaw though, with it taking a good 50% of the game before you have any real battle options other than pressing A to attack with most characters. Still, I liked the game well enough, and I think it's worth a play through. I still think the Game Boy original is the best in the series though!


Undertale
I've played through Undertale before and had a blast with it, and this playthrough again on Vita was no different. The game has a lot of charm and the characters are very fun and likeable - I can see why this was such a hit. I also find the battle system to be fun, regardless of whether you're going pacifist or not, with the bullet hell style defence mechanics. The game isn't a looker but it has style, and the music is really quite great. I also enjoy getting to play through an RPG where the length is so brisk, but it doesn't feel like the story was cut short. I know some people avoided this due to the hype, but I think it really is worth a play if you've never played it before. It's great fun.


Rastan:

This was a game I played for March's Together Retro (arcade games on 8 and 16 bit consoles), and I think it's a pretty good experience for the Master System. You walk and climb through multiple stages hitting things with your sword, and along the way you can grab several power ups, including weapon upgrades to increase damage and range. There's platforming to be done, and this can be quite tricky with your stiff jumping you have to commit to, but luckily there's no instant death - you just take damage and have to jump out again. Whilst jumping is restrictive, there's some interesting stuff here in platforming as you can wall jump too, which was surprising to me. The game is very challenging, and I admit I played it using an infinite continues cheat which allowed me to restart from the beginning of a level if I game overed. I had fun though. The game is not the best looking game for Master System, but the soundtrack is decent if repetitive. It has FM sound option too though, which is a nice touch. Worth playing.


Rainbow Islands:

I also played through this one for March's Together Retro. I was a big fan of Bubble Bobble on the Master System, so it only felt right to play through the sequel there too. Rainbow Islands is quite a departure from Bubble Bobble, with you climbing up a vertical stage using rainbows as platforms. You can also defeat enemies by shooting rainbows at them, or by dropping them on enemies from above - this is key for getting power ups including the 7 rainbow gems in each world required for unlocking world 8 (which I did). The game isn't too difficult overall, even going for world 8. It did crash on me during the final cutscene though, meaning I sadly took to Youtube to watch it instead. Not sure if this was the cart or my Retron 5 though! The game's music is ok - relatively catchy but quite repetitive. Visually, it looks nice, but doesn't really make use of the Master System colour palette like it should for a game focused around Rainbows. It seems this is because it's based on an NES port, which is a shame. Still, this is a solid game for the platform - just pick up Bubble Bobble first.
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by Note Thu Apr 16, 2020 9:20 pm

marurun wrote:The reason Gradius III and Super R-Type slow down has to do with collision checks. In games you have to constantly check to see if sprites are touching so you can register hits and damage. Early SNES programmers did not use good collision detection routines, and when there are too many objects on screen to run collision checks on the games slow down. The CPU just can’t keep up with managing everything and continually checking that many sprites for collisions. That’s why charging your shot didn’t cause slowdown but shooting did. Your shots need to be checked for collisions every frame.


Appreciate the background info on why the slow downs occur in these games, especially with the particular situation I described. Interesting stuff, I'm glad that programmers eventually figured it out and took care of the issue in later SNES games.
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by pook99 Sat Apr 18, 2020 2:17 pm

57. Star Wars: jedi fallen order

I started playing this game around December, probably around the same time episode 9 hit theaters. I have always been a star wars fan but after the huge disappointment that 7 and 8 were I didn't even bother seeing episode 9 in the theaters, and to this day I still have not. In lieu of spending 30 dollars on the theater, I decided to buy fallen order, which I had heard good things about and instantly fell in love with it. My life got pretty busy when I was about 6 hours or so into the game so I stopped playing but have been meaning to get back to it for months and I finally did.

Fallen order is one of, if not the best, star wars game I have ever played, which is pretty high praise given how excellent many entries in the series are. It is the type of game that just gets everything right, the story is very enjoyable, with extremely likeable characters, strong relationships, and nice character arcs all that fit nicely within the star wars universe. The game absolutely nails the controls, I didn't realize how much platforming there would be in this game but it is handled so well and it so much fun to navigate the environments. Exploration is easy, rewarding, and fun thanks to a very nice map system, and the combat just feels perfect.

I had heard that this game was inpsired by the souls games so I was extremely wary of getting into it because, IMO, souls games are the most unfun genre of games ever created, but while I can see some nods to the souls franchise here, the combat is fast paced, fun, fluid, and extremly dynamic thanks to varied enemy types and lots of cool force powers and other tricks. Fallen order makes you feel like a Jedi, you are not invincible by any stretch, but when you have a rythm going you feel like a total badass and watching the action unfold is extremely satisfying.

I can't think of a single criticism of this game, if you are a fan of star wars it is an absolute must play, but even if you dont like the source material and just enjoy a good action adventure game it still is a game you definitely need to check out. While I still have not seen episode 9, this game made me wonder how the movies can get introducing new characters and a new story so wrong while games like this can just absolutely nail it.
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by Note Sun Apr 19, 2020 6:59 pm

1. Streets of Rage 2 (GEN)
2. The Ninja Warriors (SNES) [3x]
3. TMNT IV: Turtles in Time (SNES)
4. Golden Axe (GEN) [3x]
5. Beyond Oasis (GEN)
6. Super Double Dragon (SNES)
7. Shenmue II (DC)
8. Shining Force 2 (GEN)
9. Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island (SNES)
10. ActRaiser (SNES)
11. OutRun (GEN)
12. X-Men 2: Clone Wars (GEN)
13. Captain Commando (SNES)
14. The Pirates of Dark Water (SNES)
15. Final Fight (SNES)
16. Gradius III (SNES)
17. Super R-Type (SNES)

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18. U.N. Squadron (SNES)

I heard a lot of good things about U.N. Squadron over the years but never sat down to put some serious time into it until now. This is a licensed game that first appeared in arcades, and is based on the manga Area 88, however the name was changed for the US market. I have to admit, I never saw this game in arcades back in the day. This game lives up to the praise, and is one of Capcom's best games on the console IMO.

Graphics wise, this game definitely looks better than a lot of the other shmups on the system, especially for it's release in 1991. It looks very similar to the arcade graphics, with some changes being made for the home port, such as certain pilots controlling certain ships in the arcade. However, the art style seems to follows the manga pretty close. Also, I enjoyed the variety of levels in this game. With some levels being battles against submarines and ship carriers, others being dog fights against other planes, and others taking place in a forest or cavern. Another cool detail is the pilot being pictured at the top of the screen. The pilot's icon flashes and the pilot's face changes to indicate when damage has been taken, which is a nice and unique touch.

Regarding the gameplay, the setup here is a bit different as you can select which pilot to play as, and each has a different strength. Also, as you progress through the game you can choose which order to play the missions, and you can even choose to do bonus rounds to gain money. You will need to gain as much money as possible, as you will have to purchase new ships and extra weapons before each level. Later in the game, you will need more powerful weapons to handle the waves of enemies and more difficult bosses. Another difference here is that you have a health bar, and can recover after taking damage. I have to give credit to Capcom, because they managed to release a great shooter on the SNES without much slowdown present. Even on the easy setting, I found the game to be very difficult. With the addition of having to choose and buy weapons before each mission, it took a lot of trial and error to figure out which weapons work best in which missions.

Overall, this is an awesome game, and I recommend it to fans of the genre. It may be the best shmup I've played on the system so far. However, it's a bit intimidating for a newcomer as the upgrading of ships and purchasing of weapons for certain levels can be tough to figure out at first. Also, the difficulty can be frustrating, but it's manageable with repeated playthroughs, and it felt like a real accomplishment when I finished the last mission. Give it a go!
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by ElkinFencer10 Mon Apr 20, 2020 3:29 pm

Games Beaten in 2020 - 19
* denotes a replay

January (1 Game Beaten)
1. Pokemon Sun - 3DS - January 14*


February (2 Games Beaten)
2. Star Wars: Jedi - Fallen Order - Xbox One - February 15
3. Pokemon: Let's Go, Eevee! - Switch - February 29*


March (10 Games Beaten)
4. Pokemon Shield - Switch - March 1*
5. Doom [1993] - Switch - March 6*
6. SD Gundam G Generation Cross Rays - PS4 - March 6
7. Lego DC Super Villains - Switch - March 19
8. Doom II: Hell on Earth - Switch - March 19
9. Doom 3 - Switch - March 20
10. Doom 3: Resurrection of Evil - Switch - March 22
11. Doom 3: The Lost Mission - Switch - March 23
12. Doom 64 - Switch - March 26
13. Star Soldier: Vanishing Earth - Nintendo 64 - March 28


April (6 Games Beaten)
14. Wolfenstein 3D - Steam - April 1
15. Doom Eternal - Xbox One - April 3
16. Age of Empires (Definitive Edition) - Steam - April 4
17. Age of Empires: Rise of Rome (Definitive Edition) - Steam - April 5
18. Animal Crossing: New Horizons - Switch - April 9
19. Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War - SNES - April 18


19. Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War - SNES - April 18

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Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War (sometimes referred to as Fire Emblem 4 as it was the fourth retail release) is one of the seven Fire Emblem games that never saw a release outside of Japan (eight if you count BS Fire Emblem), and that's a real shame because this game is incredible. With this game's completion, Thracia 776 is now the only game in the series that I haven't played as of the time of writing, and setting that one aside as I obviously can't judge it, Genealogy of the Holy War has solidly taken the #3 spot on my ranking of Fire Emblem games after Awakening and Three Houses, respectively.

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What really sets Genealogy apart from the three games that came before it is that the story is split into two distinct parts with a distinct line-up of characters for each part that only has a couple instances of overlap. In the first half of the game, your protagonist is Sigurd, the young heir next in line to become lord of the Grannvale territory of Chalphy. The bulk of Grannvale's army - including Sigurd's lord father - is away fighting a war against the Kingdom of Issach in the northeastern corner of the continent of Jugdral. During this moment of vulnerability at home, the neighboring kingdom of Verdane in Jugdral's southwest corner launches an unprovoked invasion of Grannvale. Sigurd must take what few knights were left in Chalphy and protect the kingdom from these invaders. This leads into what ends up being a much longer military campaign than Sigurd expected, and along the way, he picks up new friends and allies. For the first six of the game's twelve chapters, you play as Sigurd and his army. Then, after some plot points I won't spoil, the game jumps forward fifteen years.

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The last six chapters have Sigurd's son, Seliph, as the protagonist. In the time between the two generations, Grannvale has moved from being a relatively peaceful kingdom to being an autocratic empire ruling all of Jugdral with an iron fist. Seliph is thrust into the position of revolutionary as fate places him in command of an army of liberation that, starting in Isaach, begins a march throughout eastern Jugdral with the goal of freeing the continent from the Empire's grasp and restoring justice and freedom to Grannvale. With the exception of Finn, a knight from Leonster in Jugdral's southeastern Thracian peninsula, none of your combat troops from the first generation make a return in part two. One non-combat unit from part one becomes a combat unit in part two, and one combat unit from part one becomes a non-combat character in part two, but Finn is the only one who takes part in combat in both generations.

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The "generation" mechanic, which wouldn't come back until my beloved Fire Emblem Awakening, it really what sets Genealogy of the Holy War apart. To put it briefly, each female in your army will, if my count was right, have two children if they're paired with a male lover by the end of Chapter 5. The son will inherit the items and skills of whomever the father was, and the daughter will inherit the items and skills of whomever the mother was. If there's a female unit who isn't paired up, some boring and much less powerful substitute unit will take the children's places. Protip - Ayra's children could single handedly win the second half of the game for you. I mean, not literally, but they're broken in the most glorious ways possible.

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The character art is really good and, with the exception of some enemy units, makes each of your units feel unique and special. The enemies leave a little to be desired in that regard, though, as even named enemies tend to look the same. Almost all of the female mages look exactly the same with just different eye and hair colors, most of the male generals look the same, and most of the dark priests pretty much look the same. At least the player characters - the ones you see most of the time - each look solid and unique. The sprites, too, look really nice. The game's soundtrack, something that always stands out as special to me in Fire Emblem games, doesn't disappoint here, either, as all of the game's music is extremely well composed and fits the mood and tone of whatever's going on perfectly.

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he game's general objective is pretty much the same as most Fire Emblem games - evil cult tries to resurrect evil dragon to take over the world, so good guys descended from legendary good guys have to team up, awaken some super good dragon, and beat the evil dragon to save the world. Most of the series follows the same basic script. It's the details and smaller story elements that make each game unique, and they really knock those out of the park with this game. As I said in the beginning, this game rocketed into my top three, and it's definitely my favorite pre-3DS Fire Emblem game. It gets everything right. There were one or two little translation quirks I noticed where the wording was just a little awkward - "I crave your forgiveness" being a line that stood out to me and probably could more accurately have been translated as "I beg your pardon" or simply "Please forgive me" - but I've seen officially licensed translations that people were paid to do that had more errors than this free fan translation, so you know what? A+ on this one, dude. If you had taken me in cold and told me that this was an official commercial localization, I'd have totally believed it without hesitation.
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by BoneSnapDeez Tue Apr 21, 2020 5:08 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)
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)
20. Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle (Genesis)
21. Sword of Vermilion (Genesis)
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Along with Phantasy Star II, Sword of Vermilion is one of the earliest Genesis RPGs. Arriving at the tail end of '89 in Japan, the game saw a Western release a little more than a full year later. While PSII boasts a wild and memorable science fantasy setting, Vermilion is yet another "medieval" RPG with an 8-bit tier storyline. Apparently Yu Suzuki and his AM2 team were involved in the game's development, which is a touch amusing. Yu Suzuki is of course known for his radical in-your-face fast-paced arcade titles. And Sword of Vermilion is... slow. So slow.

The story is clunky and mostly abandoned after the first few hours, in favor of a seemingly never-ending series of fetch quests. Essentially, in the olde days two kings, Erik and Tsarkon, were keepers of a cluster of magical rings. Like the fabled Triforce, these rings could corrupt those who were weak in composure and restraint. Tsarkon, fallen under the rings' spell, invades the kingdom of Erik, razing it to the ground. Erik entrusts his infant son to a warrior, who raises the child as if it was his own. Once the baby is grown he becomes... well, whatever name the player assigns him, the destined hero of Sword of Vermilion, eternally vowing revenge on Tsarkon. It's interesting how the Japanese and North American game boxes both made a point to display the hero alongside a valiant steed. Aside from the game's opening cutscene, not a single horse makes an in-game appearance.

Reviewing this one is a challenge. Though Sword of Vermilion is ostensibly an "action-RPG" it's actually a bizarre amalgamation of several disparate gameplay styles. First, we have "town mode." The hero visits many such towns along his journey, which are presented in the standard top-down console RPG format. I'm rather fond of these towns. Though all are admittedly similar, they're detailed and exude a gloomy melancholic atmosphere. Such locales are rife with NPCs, all ready to spew forth some semi-helpful hastily-translated late 80s gaming soundbites. The "people sprites" are simplistic, but also large and properly proportioned, similar to what would be seen in Phantasy Star III. The town music is also excellent: the best in the game, really. There's a fine attention to detail, and separate themes are allotted for the shops, inns, churches, and castles that litter each village.
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One step out of town and suddenly Vermilion feels like a totally different game. Both the overworld and dungeons are presented in a first-person view with tank controls: that is, the up button moves the hero forward, down causes him to walk backgrounds, and left and right initiate a 90 degree turn in said direction. It's such a jarring transition: oftentimes I found myself accidentally walking backwards right back into the town that was just exited, as I didn't immediately acclimate myself to the newfound control scheme! Alongside the main first-person display is a very large top-down "map" -- it's quite similar to the interface seen in The Bard's Tale (NES). Overworld maps are received piecemeal, usually from accommodating townsfolk. Those who lack confidence in their first-person navigation skills (oh hi there) can thus opt to simply look at the maps instead whilst moving. "Caves" (the only type of dungeon in the game) are numerous, and adhere to the same rules, except here maps are found in treasure chests: typically one per floor.

The big problem, which becomes readily apparent a few hours into the game, is how repetitive the whole affair is. The overworld never changes: nothing but a massive sea of green grass comprised of narrow "corridors" flanked by (slightly darker) green trees and brown pillars. Every single dungeon is plain brick and gray walls. "Surely the whole game can't be like this!" I hear the protests, "Even Dragon Warrior ended with a grand final castle!" Oh how I'm afraid to report that the final dungeon of Vermilion looks exactly like the first one; it's just longer and exponentially more annoying.

Of course, redundancy in RPGs is as old as time, and not inherently bad. After all, wasn't Wizardry nothing but a single massive dungeon? Indeed, but while the likes of Wizardry break from repetition via a series of highly strategic battles, Vermilion promises no such reprieve. Instead, prepare for mindless button-mashing. The skirmishes here are, at least on paper, somewhat interesting at first glance. Vermilion eschews turn-based combat in favor of real-time top-down arena style battles, similar to those seen in Esper Dream, Minelvaton Saga, Kalin no Tsurugi, and other 8-bit RPGs no one in their right mind would ever play. Basically, the hero is dropped dead-center surrounded by a random number (up to eight) of identical enemies. The combat controls are unacceptable. Pressing C allows the hero to swing his sword, but the animation is stiff and nigh identical to that of a simple walking animation. Frantically tapping C is the most effective strategy, but expect to lose some HP in the process. Oddly, should one feel overwhelmed it is possible to run from every single battle by simply walking off the edge of the screen.
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Enemy attacks are mostly brainless (they simply move closer to the hero via the shortest route possible) and while some monster sprites are admittedly striking, the effect wears off once the same fiends have been revisited a trillion times. And yes, the game is fond of palette swaps. Battles are initiated randomly, and at an extraordinary frequency. The overworld, dungeon, and battle musical themes are all pleasant enough, though don't expect to ever hear one of these tunes play for more than ten seconds at a time. Combat is so persistent that the game rarely feels aggressively "grindy" and the experience level cap is a nice clean level 31. Magic (eventually) ameliorates some of the battle tedium, simply by allowing the player to vanquish foes faster. There's homing types of magic obtained about halfway through the journey, which transforms battles into mash-C affairs to mash-A affairs. As such, it's easy enough to power-level early on and then bail on all fights for the remainder of the game. I must have fled from the final 200+ skirmishes.

Boss fights are downright bizarre. They make for the most impressive screenshots and were thus used in the "What Nintendon't" advertisements. Sorry Sega, but after slogging through these confrontations I'd rather "don't" than "do." Here we have the fourth and final game mode. Bosses are absolutely gigantic and fought in a sideways manner. The hero now dons a suit of armor, which is fitting as he's stripped of all other faculties. Magic is disallowed during boss battles, as is jumping or even turning around! The only options remaining are to thus walk forward, walk backwards, duck, or swing a sword. It's vaguely reminiscent of one of those early fighting games -- one of those found on European computers that played like absolute crap. In any event, the bosses look incredible. Vermilion perfected the "ugly dragon" look years before Bahamut Lagoon. There are additionally demons, necromancers, the occasional cyclops, and a truly heinous final villain. Unfortunately, big sprites mean slow clunky movement. Some bosses, like the dragons, are mostly stationary, offering up little resistance whatsoever. Those that move do so as if they're attached to puppet strings, being "dragged" from one area of the screen to the next. Most annoyingly, other rely on projectiles which are nigh impossible to avoid. It all leads to some serious uneven difficulty, with some bosses toppled easily with the mash-C method, while others require the player be at a high enough level to weather the impending unavoidable beating.

I'd be remiss to not mention the massive amounts of "trolling" found within the world of Vermilion. There are NPCs that outright steal from the player (and being victimized and then revisiting a certain thief is the only way to obtain the game's strongest weapon). There's a specific inn that decides to charge an exorbitant price should one choose to stay at it before liberating the town. Other towns have no inns whatsoever. Inventory space is severely limited. This boils over towards the end of the game, where several very specific keys are required to navigate the final dungeon. Most famously, the game contains several pieces of cursed equipment which permanently lower stats, even if equipped just once. However, anyone who's familiar with the way "numbers" work in older video games will know that equipping such items repeatedly will cause stats to fall below zero and then "roll back" to the max of 9999. Use and abuse this trick at your leisure; it makes the game significantly more bearable.

Sword of Vermilion has a smattering of intriguing ideas, but makes for a questionable final product. And with a twenty hour runtime the game does way more than overstay its welcome (though the back of the box famously and hilariously claims "hundreds of hours"). Phantasy Star II is, admittedly, probably just as tedious, but that game had much cooler aesthetics. Vermilion is a "chip away at it" RPG for those with a patience of a monk and a copious number of vacation hours. And yes, to reiterate, the best part of the game is the towns, which is probably the most insulting thing I could write in an RPG review.
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prfsnl_gmr
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by prfsnl_gmr Tue Apr 21, 2020 11:17 pm

Amazing review, Bone. I’ve been tempted to play that game a few times, but I think you just put me off it forever. :lol:

.....

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)
17. Iconoclasts (Switch)

Iconoclasts is an exceptional open-world platformer that draws obvious influence from Gunstar Heroes and Monster World IV. The pixel artwork and animation is astounding; the combat is fast and satisfying; and the boss battles, of which there are many, are absolutely fantastic. (The last boss is a bit of a pushover, unfortunately, but the two hidden bosses are no joke.) The game is loaded with secrets, and it throws a steady stream of new experiences at you. At times, you’re sneaking through air ducts; at others, you’re teaming up with a new, suddenly playable character to launch a rocket. You never really know what to expect as you proceed through the game’s vast world, and the game constantly surprised me. It isn’t perfect - the narrative is a bit heavy at times and never makes a lot of sense; some of the secrets are a bit too well hidden, etc. - but it is really, really good. I can’t recommend the game highly enough, and anyone who is a fan of 2D platformers really should play it.
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