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Re: Games Beaten 2020

Posted: Tue May 26, 2020 11:57 pm
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)
17. Iconoclasts (Switch)
18. Wonder Boy Returns Remix (Switch)
19. Resident Evil 3 (PS1)
20. The Messenger (Switch)
21. The Messenger: Picnic Panic (Switch)
22. Samsara Room (iOS)
23. Heroes of the Monkey Tavern (Switch)
24. Sayonara Wild Hearts (Switch)
25. Gris (Switch)
26. Donut County (iOS)
27. Donkey Kong Country 2 (SNES)


Donut County is a short, charming game in which you, a raccoon, use a donut hole to swallow objects. As objects are swallowed, the hole becomes larger and can, therefore, swallow larger objects. The level is over when the hole consumes everything. It’s a lot like Katamari Damacy, but there are no time limits or failure states. The “hole” experience lasts a little over two hours, and it saves its best gameplay ideas for the last level. (I’m looking forward to a sequel that picks up, from a gameplay perspective, where this game leaves off.) It is brimming with charm, however, and you can’t help but grin the entire time you’re playing it. Recommended.

Donkey Kong Country 2 is a solid platformer I played for the summer games challenge, and I wrote more about it in the summer games challenge thread. I also expect to write even more about it once I finish up its sequel.

Re: Games Beaten 2020

Posted: Wed May 27, 2020 3:06 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
20. Trials of Mana (2020) - Switch
21. Persona 5 Royal - PS4
22. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Campaign Remastered - PC
23. Sublevel Zero Redux - PC
24. Final Fantasy XII: Zodiac Age - PS4
25. Maneater - PC
26. XCOM: Chimera Squad - PC

Chimera Squad is an XCOM spinoff set after the events of XCOM 2 and unlike the other spinoffs of the series it's actually a good game. The secret is they keep it as a turn based strategy game, though they focus more on characters and worldbuilding and less on the strategic elements. They also made a pretty major change to the combat; now turns are interleaved. This ends up causing you to have to use new tactics, as managing the turn timeline becomes the new thing combat revolves around.

The basic premise is that in the aftermath of XCOM2 there are now a bunch of aliens and former Advent (not to mention people who had their psionic power teased out) still living on Earth, and integration needs to begin happening. The city on the forefront of this movement is City 31, though at the start of the game it is rocked by an assassination on the mayor. Chimera Squad is the nickname of XCOM Reclaimations; a unit designed to track down and contain dangerous alien tech. But with the mayor's assassination they also get called in to help with the city's unrest; the police are overwhelmed and the attack couldn't have happened without some of the tech that is Chimera Squad's mandate.

Unlike previous games you are given bespoke characters for your squad. You start with four, and will gain four others (out of a total of eleven characters) through the course of the campaign. They are a mixture of humans and aliens and each has a unique battlefield role. Claymore the human is a demolitions expert who tosses out grenades left and right, while Verge the Sectoid uses a variety of mental powers to manipulate enemies. And of course, who could forget Torque, the snake lady who can show enemies how it feels to be pulled from halfway across the map and bound. Like before your soldiers will level up over time, splitting between fixed abilities and levels where you get to choose one of two abilities. Unfortunately most of the time the choice is pretty obvious; it would have bee nice if they had more "well, both choices are good in different situations" abilities.

Using fixed characters allows them to engage in a lot of worldbuilding. In between missions there are a mix of audio from TV/radio broadcasts talking about the current events you are dealing with, advertisements for products in an integrated world (BIIIIG CRUNCH! The cereal that writhes!), or dialog between your squad members. The squad stuff is especially well written, humanzing them and going into all the interesting details of this new world. For example, a large amount of human food is poisonous to Sectoids, so Verge asks a squad member if he will eat a cheesesteak from a new restaurant and let him mind link so he can experience the sensation without harming himself. There's other little touches too; one of the maps is a snake strip club showing how the races are settling down, and some of the missions go into details about the other races (e.g. Archons live in a virtual world to escape the body horror they suffer).

I touched on the combat changes. In this game missions play out as a sort of SWAT simulator. So instead of creeping through fog of war you will burst through various entry points which differ per map. Sometimes you can even make your own with the right gear. This is the breach mode segment; it ends up being not too dissimilar from setting up an ambush from stealth mode in XCOM 2, but is more dynamic. After choosing where you'll breach and in what order (which can have bonuses or penalties attached) you will get a chance to shoot once with every single squad member, in the order you picked. Enemies can be in one of three states at this point; unaware, cautious, or aggressive. After taking all your shots the cautious enemies will be able to use defensive abilities like hunkering down, while aggressive enemies will fire back. So target prioritization is important at this point. A good breach can drastically reduce the odds against you (or on the early missions with some good damage rolls completely take out the opposition). After the breach you go into regular combat.

Now this is where the interleaved turns come into play. After a breach the game will divide things up so that each side has their turns being taken at about the same rate. So if you have equal numbers it will go you, them, you, them. If they have twice as many it will go you, them, them, you, them them. And so on. But once this order is set it is fixed, even if people die. So by killing an enemy whose turn is set to come up next you'll be able to get two turns back to back. There are other ways to manipulate the timeline as well; one character has a skill that pushes an enemy down the timeline and you get a once-per-mission ability to move a character so that their turn is now always after the current character's turn. Planning your actions around this mechanic allows you to minimize the damage you take and sets you up for success.

At the strategic level the game is divided into three campaigns that can be tackled in any order. These are a series of missions against three different troublemaking factions that might have been involved in the mayor's death. Beating a faction gives you access to two research projects to get tech related to them; otherwise tech is based entirely on a simple tree that does not require you to scavenge anything from the field. You can also send agents on a special ops mission (they are unusable for a period of time, then come back with resources/some other benefit) or put them in training (which give them passive stat boosts). The general flow is that you are taking things one day at a time, and days alternate between a combat mission and a show the flag event; the latter is just you picking from two options and getting a reward (each option is a different reward). The city is divided into nine districts, and missions you don't do in a district (and there are always two, so you always miss one) will raise unrest; when unrest in a district maxes out the overall city anarchy rises. This is the doom meter that forces you to engage in missions, though you are given enough tools to manage it that it only becomes an issue if you just start skipping missions to move the timeline forward (and you have to do that A LOT for it to become a problem). After so many days have passed the story mission becomes unlocked, after a few story missions you unlock the final mission to wrap things up. Repeat twice and then do the end game scenario.

Since the game is so character based they have also changed how death works. When a character runs out of HP they always start bleeding out; at this point you can either finish the map or have someone run over and stabilize them. Once this happens, and assuming no explosions land on their body, they will be evac'd and replaced with an android (that you have to construct) to finish out the mission (missions are between one and three encounters). But if you don't stabilize them and the bleed counter finishes (or again, a grenade falls on them) then it's game over. So turning on hardcore difficulty (mission failure is game over and your save is erased) is a bit more harrowing than ironman was in the previous games; you could still recover from a botched ironman mission, but that isn't the case here.

The game plants a bunch of seeds for what can come next in the XCOM universe, and I hope to see an announcement of XCOM 3 in the near future. It's a solid title in its own right; definitely shorter, but with a price point to match. If you want more strategy action I recommend it.

Re: Games Beaten 2020

Posted: Wed May 27, 2020 10:35 pm
by Juan Aguacate
Maneater - PS4

Image

So this is basically Jaws the Video Game. Supposedly, there was a PS2 game similar to this called Jaws Unleashed that people keep incessantly bringing up whenever this game gets talked about. Don't know anything about it, but Maneater is an open world game with some minor RPG elements. The advertising for this game calls it a full blown RPG though. Seems like every game that comes out these days gets the RPG label slapped onto it.

So, this game has a lot of problems. One being that it's almost as buggy a game as Mad Max. It can delete your save data, happened to me 2 or 3 times. Supposedly some trophies aren't popping for some people, though I didn't encounter that. Keeping back up saves are a must (one of the reasons I hate the Nintendo Switch, where you can't do that). The controls are a bit awkward and take some getting use to. The game has an AWFUL targeting system, making much of the combat more annoying than it needs to be.

Speaking of combat, it's a bit shallow. You'll be mashing the right analog stick a lot as enemies are always darting past you forcing you to hit R3 in order to get your shark to turn around and face them, at which point you'll be mashing R2 and hoping that the flimsy targeting system will lock on so your shark hits them. Fighting bounty hunters is equally shallow. They are so overpowered you'll have to mash the evade button constantly to avoid their nonstop gun shots as well as the explosives they throw in the water. You never get a moment to breathe when fighting them. Fortunately, one of the game's upgrades lets you do damage while evading so you can get some damage in while mashing R1 and eventually whittle down the bounty hunter boats with damage until they sink.

Maneater definitely has balancing issues. Right at the beginning of the game you'll get mauled by alligators eight levels higher than you and the aforementioned bounty hunter fights can get pretty hairy and unfair until you get the evasion damage upgrade I mentioned. Eventually though, as you level up and upgrade the game does reach a point where it's pretty easy. So the difficulty issues go away eventually. The game is repetitive too with missions consisting of you doing the same 4 or 5 things over and over again.

Despite all these complaints, the game has things going for it. It really FEELS like you're Jaws sometimes. When your fin pierces the water, hearing the reaction of nearby humans is immensely satisfying. Then, once you go berserk, pandemonium ensues. Screams, blood, and a big giant shark flying out of the water high into the air with a human corpse flailing about inside its giant maw as people run in terror. And while the bounty hunter fights can be annoying, it's fun when things start to go in your favor. Your shark will pop in and out of the water, occasionally with a body in its mouth, blood everywhere, while you're hearing things like, "My arm!", "Oh my god, it's literally eating me!", "Where she'd go, is she right under us!". It's awesome when you take out a boat, and watch the bounty hunters all fall into the water where they become helpless snacks for you. Occasionally, if you're lucky, you can dive out of the water and snatch someone right off their boat, and into the water, which is awesome

Image

When you get to a point where you're high level with lots of upgrades and evolutions, you feel like the king of the underwater jungle. Certain types of underwater foes that once gave you trouble will now find themselves in your maw in seconds as you thrash their corpse about ripping it into pieces before swallowing it all with a satisfying gulp and a spray of blood. You actually get bigger as you level up which helps makes fighting certain tough enemies easier over the course of the game. Size matters in this game. The site of a great white shark helplessly caught between your teeth as you're chewing it to pieces feels reeeeeealllly awesome. There are things called apex predators in the game too and taking them on when you're strong enough feels good. They'll show up after you eat a ton of the local wildlife, as you are stealing their food sources. Then it's a fight to see who is as the top of the food chain. You also build up infamy when fighting bounty hunters. There are certain famous ones that will show up when you cause enough of a ruckus and build up enough infamy and taking them out feels good as your becoming known far and wide as an aquatic terror

The game is full of interesting easter eggs, references, collectibles (that help you upgrade and level up), and a pretty good sense of humor. A lot of the references and jokes revolve around finding collectibles known as landmarks, so it feels worth it seeking them out. Plus, you get XP and materials for upgrading. It's kind of fun exploring the game's environment too. Lots of interesting things to see above ground and underwater. In the early parts of the game exploring always has you on edge a bit as you never know when something will attack you. The game really portrays the waters as danger territory where it's eat or be eaten. The whole game plays out like some documentary with a narrator providing lots of funny commentary as you play the game. He's really good and his commentary typically reflects whatever you're actually doing in the game (kind of like Bastion) The first time you decide to go on a man eating spree he says, "Sharks are not known for attacking humans" as you finish swallowing one whole in front of a terrified group of swimmers LOL. Later in the game, after you've gone on a few human killing sprees, the narrator says, "When faced with a gigantic predator chasing after you, maybe it's easier to just surrender and accept the sweet embrace of death". LOL. The game is a good mix of humor and bloody, disturbing violence

Hard to say if the game is worth it at forty bucks. It has fun, memorable moments, but lots of issues too. It's definitely a buy if it's ever on sale though. Devs have announced DLC for it, for better or for worse. It's pretty clear they don't actually know yet what the DLC will be. So we'll have to wait and see if it's good or not. This is one of the many reasons I don't usually like DLC, you don't even know what you're going to get in some cases. And while it's easy to say, more content is always a good thing, sometimes it's not. See Final Fantasy XV

Re: Games Beaten 2020

Posted: Fri May 29, 2020 10:28 pm
by PartridgeSenpai
Partridge Senpai's 2020 Beaten Games:
Previously: 2016 2017 2018 2019
* indicates a repeat

1. Invisigun Reloaded (Switch)
2. Human: Fall Flat (Switch)
3. Shantae: The Pirate's Curse (3DS)
4. Darksiders: Warmastered Edition (PC)
5. Splatterhouse (PS3) *
6. 3D Dot Game Heroes (PS3)
7. Tokyo Jungle (PS3)
8. Pictobits (DSiWare)
9. Puzzle Quest: The Legend Reborn (Switch)
10. WarioWare Gold (3DS)
11. Disaster: Day of Crisis (Wii)
12. Sleeping Dogs: Definitive Edition (Xbone)
13. Sleeping Dogs: Nightmare in North Point (Xbone)
14. Sleeping Dogs: Year of the Snake (Xbone)
15. Dynamite Headdy (Genesis) *
16. Shovel Knight: King of Cards (3DS)
17. Shovel Knight: Shovel of Hope (3DS) *
18. Shovel Knight: Plague of Shadows (Switch) *
19. Shovel Knight: Specter of Torment (Switch) *
20. Shovel Knight: Showdown (Switch)
21. Dragon Quest Builders 2 (PS4)
22. ActRaiser (SNES)
23. Castlevania: The Adventure ReBirth (WiiWare)
24. Mega Man X (SNES)
25. Breath of Fire II (SNES)
26. Ape Escape 2 (PS2) *
27. Doubutsu No Mori+ (GC)
28. Ape Escape (PS1)
29. Ape Escape 3 (PS2) *

30. Maken X (DC)

This isn't the only Dreamcast game I've ever beaten, but it's one of the few I have. It's a game I owned back in the States and tried for a bit but never played too much of. I bought a Dreamcast really cheap for the TR this month, and this was a game I also found cheap a few months back. This isn't nearly as much of a second chance as a lot of games I've beaten over the past year, but it was still a long time coming. However, this was certainly a game where finishing it became more of a matter of principle after a point, because the 4-5 hours I spent with the Japanese version of it were notttt the best time of my life XD

Maken X is a first-person sword fighting game as well as one of the few straight-up action games Atlus has developed and published themselves. You play as the spirit of a magical weapon called the Maken (in Japanese the kanji mean literally "magical sword"). Maken has been acquired by a secret research lab who are studying its ability to merge souls with people, and the research director's daughter, Kei, is visiting with her friend on the day that they're attacked by a mysterious organization. The sword master who was going to use Maken is killed while defending Kei, and Kei grabs Maken and chases after the weird robot/gorilla/soviet thing that stole her father after merging with Maken. It only gets weirder from here in a way that is very definitively "Atlus" XD

The story and presentation themselves are interesting and honestly one of the game's stronger points. It shares a main character designer with Shin Megami Tensei 2, and it really shows (particularly with some of the later boss enemies). The story itself has several branching paths with it and you can get an assortment of different endings based on a series of moral questions Kei (to Maken inside her mindscape between stages) and other characters ask you, very much like an SMT game or an earlier Persona game. It's not really anything to write home about, but it's more than serviceable. The presentation and enemy design is also constantly really weird and quirky for no real reason (TONS of not at all secret Nazis in what is supposed to be modern day-ish setting, I think, and that's never narratively addressed at all), and this weird style is definitely one of the most charming parts of the game.

What makes that boss design even more excellent is the game's mechanic of "Bran Jacking", where you can gain experience as you kill enemies to level up Maken's ability to merge souls, and this allows you to hop into the bodies of defeated bosses and gain all new move sets. Granted, these move sets only really consist of different jump, speed, and power stats as well as new basic mash-A combos and charge abilities, but it really does change up the way the game plays in a way that keeps things really interesting. There is a very clear power-creep as the game goes on, and there's very little reason not to hop into the latest boss you've defeated (especially as some stages can only be completed while playing as a certain character) given how much stronger they tend to be than the character you just were, but it keeps the action for the game fresh at the very least.

That action though, and the overall playing of the game, is where the game really falls apart though. At the end of the day, Maken X's biggest problem is that it's a Dreamcast game, and an early Dreamcast game at that (released very close to launch). It's a first-person melee-based action game on a system with only one joystick. While there are other first-person games on the Dreamcast that play much better (a good FPS on DC isn't impossible or anything), the nature of the melee combat makes already less than perfect controls even worse to bear.

Given that there's only one control stick, you can't turn and move at the same time. You can hold R to strafe, and you can press Y to lock on to enemies, but that's it. Bundle that in with how you need to hold backwards to block (like this is Street Fighter II or something) and how overall poor the lock-on system is and you have a recipe for a game that is constantly frustrating to play. You are also very mobile in first-person, not only being able to strafe-hop around targets, but even jump clear over their heads to face them from the back (and you keep "eyes" on them the whole time), so at times Maken X can be downright sickening to play with how bad the head-bob is. I never experienced any problems with that myself, but I've read enough reports online of people having trouble with that that I felt it needed to be mentioned here.

Verdict: Not Recommended. Even though there is such a good deal of "good enough" in Maken X, I believe it is not a game actually worth the time of the staunchest Dreamcast fan. It's a pretty cheap game in either America or Japan, so it's hardly gonna break the bank if you just wanna try it as a curiosity, but it's just such a bad time to play that I can't recommend it in earnest. I think most people would be far better served just watching a playthrough on Youtube instead of playing it themselves, because all of the good things in Maken X can be partaken in without actually playing it yourself (and the VA in the English version is way more campy and fun than the Japanese version's is).

Re: Games Beaten 2020

Posted: Sat May 30, 2020 8:49 pm
by pook99
@partridgesenpai: Maken X has always been a curiousity for me, I still own the original DC game and have always wanted to check it out but its doubtful I will ever get around to it. If you like the idea of a first person beat em up you should check out zeno clash (on steam) it is a solid first person brawler, pretty unique and lots of fun

79. 007: blood stone (xbox 360)

007: blood stone is a rare Bond game that is not based off a movie, it is set in the Daniel Craig Bond universe but is not related to any of the other movies, but it does feature his likeness and voice.

The plot seems right at home in a bond game and if there was a blood stone movie it probably would have been pretty good, there are lots of twist and turns, a new creepy bond villain, and all sorts of cool over the top set pieces.

The game is standard 3rd person cover based shooter, there is stealth, but it is never forced. Many sections you could go in guns blazing, but the stealth is done well and a lot of fun so I wound up trying to be stealthy as much as I can. Eventually shit goes down and levels turn into all out action sequences where stealth is not possible. The shooting here is very solid, and there are lots of things going in to keep you engaged, there are some mini games, some exploring, some chase scenes, some platforming and it is all done well.

There are also drving levels that typically involve bond chasing some baddy, I usually don't like driving stuff, but the controls here were solid, and the car chases were extremely frantic, I definitely died a lot more on these sections than in the shooting sections, but I also really enjoyed them.

The set pieces in this game really make you feel like bond, one minute your sneaking around a weapons facility in siberia trying to blow up the bioweapons, next minute your running through the factory while it is blowing up around you with enemies swarming in every direction, and the level ends with a high speed car chase through siberia with glaciers and ice breaking all around you. Every level features this kind of escalating action and they really make you feel like you are in an authentic bond movie.

This is a bond game that noone really talks about but it is really solid, the gameplay is nothing revolutionary, but the basics are done right and it really captures the essence of being bond.

Re: Games Beaten 2020

Posted: Sun May 31, 2020 1:02 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
20. Trials of Mana (2020) - Switch
21. Persona 5 Royal - PS4
22. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Campaign Remastered - PC
23. Sublevel Zero Redux - PC
24. Final Fantasy XII: Zodiac Age - PS4
25. Maneater - PC
26. XCOM: Chimera Squad - PC
27. Sakura Wars - PS4

Do you enjoy anime? Do you enjoy visual novels? Do you have no strong objections to the occasional bit of musou gameplay? If so, then Sakura Wars is the game for you. The sixth main game in the series and the second to be localized, Sakura Wars gives a slick presentation but I personally found the overall gameplay lacking (due to the changed combat)..

Sakura Wars as a series has always been about 80% VN and 20% other gameplay. Entries up until now had that be a strategy game for doing your once-a-chapter battles. This game instead makes it an action game that feels very musou. This unfortunately makes everything extremely easy outside of a handful of boss fights (it's about 50/50 on whether the boss fights take effort or not). So you're left with the VN stuff as the primary gameplay.

The premise is this is an alternate timeline, where instead of WW1 demons invaded. And we fight them off using steam powered mecha that also require spiritual power. For reasons never explained it's mostly women who can generate the necessary spiritual power, so you have the stage set for a harem; the PC is the rare male who can pilot and all his subordinates are ladies. And when they aren't battling demons they serve the community in other ways; the primary squad in the various games are a theater troupe, but this game shows other groups have their own way (one group runs a Chinese restaurant in Tokyo).

The game is divided into eight chapters which are each basically an anime episode; you have a progression of getting to know a particular teammate, discovering they have a personal problem, solving that personal problem, and then wrap it up with a mecha battle. They even have two intermissions and a "coming up next" segment after each chapter. And when I say anime, I mean this is the most troperiffic thing on the planet. Get out your bingo card before playing.

You also have lots of opportunities to interact with people outside the main plot thread. These are mostly for character building and giving you a chance to build up your relationship values with everyone. This will raise your combat effectiveness (global stat boost that isn't really noticeable) and eventually builds to you being able to make one of the party members your girlfriend (though it really isn't properly cemented until the post credits scene). You also get a ton of chances to perv on them; you basically get to decide if you're a chivalrous harem protagonist or a pervy harem protagonist.

The story is fairly well told, with one unexpected twist and multiple expected twists (I guarantee you'll guess one of them four chapters before it actually executes). But there's nothing groundbreaking about it; it's your standard defeat evil with the power of friendship and working together story. Overcome adversity, learn to believe in yourself, learn who your true friends are, etc.

And then there's the combat. It's pretty button mashy; you have a dodge that you almost never need to use because most enemies get stunlocked easily. You really only use it on certain bosses, and even then you can just bust out a super and drop their HP by half in the blink of an eye. Multiple times I'd finish a battle halfway through the dialog because of it. More frustrating is the light platforming elements; they aren't hard, but they tend to slow things down when they show up (either because you didn't notice and dashed off a cliff or because you're waiting on moving platforms). Given how fast the mecha scenes move otherwise it should have been cut. It's obvious they didn't expect anyone to go "I play Sakura Wars for the mecha combat", though the weird thing is the combat simulator has a TON of battles in it, for no real reward (doing enough of them gets you in game pictures of characters, weee). And the weirdest thing about the combat is the controls; X is jump, triangle is heavy attack. Sounds familiar, right? Guess which button is light attack? If you said square then you are a normal person and are also dead wrong. It's circle, with square being deploy super move. The really egregious thing is that circle also skips dialog, so if you're attacking enemies and then there's a dramatic entrance you immediately cut it off.

While I don't think I would pick up another game in the series it's entirely because what it is isn't what I'm interested in. It executes well what it is, and if you're a fan of VNs then I highly recommend it; the combat is just a minor break in things and isn't hard enough to be any sort of roadblock.

Re: Games Beaten 2020

Posted: Sun May 31, 2020 10:14 am
by BoneSnapDeez
MrPopo wrote:Sakura Wars as a series has always been about 80% VN and 20% other gameplay.


Ah, the golden ratio.

You play the original Saturn game Popz??

Re: Games Beaten 2020

Posted: Sun May 31, 2020 1:27 pm
by MrPopo
BoneSnapDeez wrote:
MrPopo wrote:Sakura Wars as a series has always been about 80% VN and 20% other gameplay.


Ah, the golden ratio.

You play the original Saturn game Popz??

No; I've only played the US releases.

Re: Games Beaten 2020

Posted: Sun May 31, 2020 1:44 pm
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
20. Trials of Mana (2020) - Switch
21. Persona 5 Royal - PS4
22. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Campaign Remastered - PC
23. Sublevel Zero Redux - PC
24. Final Fantasy XII: Zodiac Age - PS4
25. Maneater - PC
26. XCOM: Chimera Squad - PC
27. Sakura Wars - PS4
28. Stela - Switch

Stela is an indie atmospheric platformer in the same vein as Limbo; no dialog, various death traps, very ambiguous story. Stela is a very uneven game; while the music and sound are used extremely well to provoke appropriate feelings in the player the mechanics and level design are hit and miss. It's definitely a "get on sale" game, as I don't think it warrants its base price tag.

Mechanically you don't have much; you can move, jump, climb ladders, ledge grab (with very forgiving stickiness), and climb into objects/scenery in the background. This last point is the main mechanical innovation; if there's a box you're running in front of you can push up to climb onto it. One thing you will notice is that your jump has about a half second delay to it. I suspect this is due to them using the animation itself to cause the ascension; I ran into a similar sort of behavior when I used a free Unity asset in a game jam that included a jump animation. The animation shows that you can't just get a good jump without some sort of windup, but it ends up making things very unresponsive. The problem comes in that sometimes the game demands you to jump at precise moments (either right at the end of a ledge or in response to a sudden collapse) and you will almost undoubtedly miss the first time, usually leading to a death.

The game is split into eight levels, each with their own core mechanic. This is where the other bit of unevenness in the game comes out; the first level throws you in the deep end by being a series of essentially quick time events without prompts. You spend it being chased by a lethal swarm and at various points you have to quickly do something to stop the swarm temporarily. But since you have just started the game you won't even recognize the possible options for doing so. After the first level things settle down and have a much better curve to them; introduce things, then tighten up requirements or add a wrinkle. You'll still have deaths due to not being sure what is expected of you, but it should click after one or two tries. So running through the rest, the second level is hide and seek, the third level is regularly hide from a lethal screen wipe, the fourth level is dealing with traps (with lots of interacting with the background layer), the fifth level is a slow chase where you frequently need to wait for the environment to be manipulated in a favorable way. The sixth level is "staying on the ground too long is death", the seventh level is using switches to manipulate the environment in your favor to get around hazards. The eighth level is moving around key items to open doors and get through hazards, and the last level (not including a playable epilogue) is about low gravity. It keeps the gameplay relatively fresh by mixing things up.

The ending is quite vague, as is the nature of these games. It's certainly not a "and people lived happily forever," but the specifics are left to your interpretation. I'm not sure it serves as a good payoff to the game, either. It really serves more as an art project.

Re: Games Beaten 2020

Posted: Sun May 31, 2020 5:55 pm
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
20. Trials of Mana (2020) - Switch
21. Persona 5 Royal - PS4
22. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Campaign Remastered - PC
23. Sublevel Zero Redux - PC
24. Final Fantasy XII: Zodiac Age - PS4
25. Maneater - PC
26. XCOM: Chimera Squad - PC
27. Sakura Wars - PS4
28. Stela - Switch
29. Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2 - DC

With a break in my games to play list I decided to pick back up my save of THPS2 that I had been working on I think last year. I had reached the point where just mashing wasn't getting me enough score to get the Sick score in levels and never came back to it. Picking it back up forced me to think a bit more about the mechanics and I was able to fairly quickly knock out the last three stages.

THPS2 takes what THPS1 does and then amps it up. The main mechanical addition is that you get the ability to do a manual to continue a chain of street tricks; this serves as either one more trick to up your multiplier, a way to link together grinds, or a way to finish off with a vert trick (if conditions are right). THPS3 will then add in the revert as a way to link a vert into street tricks (revert into manual) and give you the ability to just do a two minute long trick if you can execute properly. This puts THPS2 in a middle ground between the relatively grounded THPS1 and the "fuck it, let's just have fun" of THPS3.

Level design in THPS2 is larger than the first game and completely ditches the downhill levels; now every level is a form of skate park. This is important for hitting the score goals, as there is usually one or two good spots to just do verts over and over again and a few lines that are good for doing a long series of street tricks. The amount of goals has doubled; in addition to the two score goals, collect SKATE, secret tape, and a level specific "do X things", there is now a third score goal, the do X things is split into do X tricks in specific spots and collect Y things, there is a "do a specific trick on a specific gap", a goal that sometimes is just getting a specific gap and sometimes is interacting with the environment in specific ways, and full clear the stage (all goals and cash). The game still has the three competitions, and you will need to collect all cash in the competitions to full clear the game.

Unlike THPS1 you now get to control your character's stat development through spending cash. Each increase in your overall stats costs an increasing amount of money (e.g. $100, $150, $200, etc). It doesn't matter which stat you're pumping, so you're free to go all in on a handful first, rather than going well rounded. The way you spend your cash can affect your ability to full clear a stage; some goals may be neigh impossible without high enough stats. But if you're full clearing you should always have two levels open to yourself (levels unlock based on career cash or medal requirements), so you can always do another level and come back later.

The game also ends up being just a little crazier than the first game in terms of what you're able to pull off. This is fun, but you should be prepared for high flying and long uphill grinds being expected of you. Overall it's the perfect sort of sequel; it takes what the original did, does it better, and drops the parts that weren't so good from the first.