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Re: Games Beaten 2020

Posted: Tue Jan 21, 2020 1:01 pm
by Note
noiseredux wrote:congrats, Flake. Diablo III rules. If you don't see why people get obsessed, you should try it in co-op. This is actually one of my wife's favorite games.


This is one of my girlfriend's favorite games too. We spent a lot of time playing it co-op on the XBox 360. Awesome couch co-op experience. Then she purchased the game for the Switch and went through it again on her own. Lol.

Re: Games Beaten 2020

Posted: Tue Jan 21, 2020 1:22 pm
by pierrot
Games Beaten List:
  1. Momodora: Reverie under the Moonlight (PC)
  2. Metro Exodus (PC)
  3. Tetris Effect (PC)
  4. Shantae: Risky's Revenge - Director's Cut (PC)
DLC - Shenmue III: Battle Rally (PC)


Momodora - I probably had more to say about this a couple weeks ago. The gameplay ended up a little bit better than I initially thought it would be, but it's ultimately not very fun. The story didn't make any sense to me for a while, and then about 50% of the way through the game, I realized that it wasn't made by a Japanese developer, and switched the language to English. It was still fucking incomprehensible, though. Part of that is just really poor writing; as in, non-standard language, and some vague fluff. It looks decent, but the objective isn't really satisfying, and the path through the map is just unnecessarily, and stupidly circuitous. Also, and it seems to be a trend with all the metroidvanias I played recently, I don't understand why the warp points seem to be placed in such a way as to be as inconvenient as possible--that is, once you even get the ability to warp, which isn't until practically the end of the game. You can't even see which save point, out of the multiple in a particular area, the warp is going to put you at. Honestly, this game has the worst warping system I've ever seen. As an aside, it upsets me greatly that the game seemed to force me to essentially allow an innocent thing to die when it was begging for my help. That's seriously fucked up, but Momodora don't care. Overall, it was a bit better than I would have guessed, but it's not particularly memorable aside from some dikish design choices, and I would struggle to call it, 'good.' I finished the game with 98% map completion in only about 3h30m, though, so at least it doesn't require much of a time investment. Still, I think that time would be better served elsewhere, like with Risky's Revenge, probably (spoilers).



Metro - This is another one of those ho-hum experiences. I don't really know what compelled me to finish this game. I installed it initially just to test out the computer I built, and was happy to see that I was getting pretty rock solid 60fps with all graphical settings maxed, while just rolling through a fair amount of the intro chapter. I guess I figured that it probably wasn't a very long game, and would be worth finishing. It turned out to be much longer than I had anticipated (not for any really good reason), and unfortunately, the framerate did dip into the low-mid 50s in the Caspian and Taiga areas, in particular. What I also found, over time, is that Metro Exodus kind of looks bad. The lighting work is absolutely terrible. Most of the time the game just wants to completely strip you of any visibility, even in daylight. From that perspective, I found it to be a pretty terrible experience. What's kind of funny is that when the game first gives you night-vision goggles, it's in an area where you have to then fight mutated spiders that are most susceptible to light in the form of your flashlight, and also get worked over real good by incendiary rounds. Neither of those are really conducive to using night vision. So I hardly remember actually having a use for them, and in the next fucking chapter they get taken away from you (because everything does) never to return! So what the fuck was the point! Aside from that, character models can look fairly decent, until they're in certain lighting where they just look like garish, zombie freaks. Oh, but then there are the mouths. Oh my god, those horrifying mouths, and the crooked smiles. Environments, also, are quite detailed, but just really, really bland. The Taiga was probably the most visually interesting area, and even that's just your standard forest area, really--and I pretty much only saw it at night, which means I barely saw anything.

The thing is, I loved Anna. I thought she was a great character. I hated what the story tried to do with her, but she was the standout element in an otherwise uninteresting game. The story is trite crap. It tries to string together some ideas about the thin divide between Man and Beast, but ultimately fumbles it with a canned ending, and an incongruous final objective. The gameplay loop is, well, boring for me, I guess. I don't play many FPS, in general, but the enemy AI seems kind of ridiculously stupid. I still died plenty, or was spotted when I didn't want to be, and needed to reload, but for fire-fights against human enemies, I was always able to just park myself behind cover, and take pot shots at mostly stationary enemies. Never once did one of them appear to think they might want to get around to my flank, or converge on my location, and flush me out of cover. The game also seems to demonstrate some weird perverted ideas of ethics and morals, that I don't really get. One thing that was kind of difficult for me was just the level of gore at times, particularly in the Yamantau area. It didn't really affect me in the moment, but after shutting the game off, the gratuity of it feels too unpleasant. Really, though, the bulk of the gameplay felt like pixel hunting for scraps of shit all over the place, in amounts that were barely a pittance, or ammo for weapons I wasn't carrying (in numbers that wouldn't be meaningful anyway). All the while just listening to the beeping of a shitty metal detector that's supposed to make this part of the game easier. Basically, if you missed the pixel hunting of old adventure games, and want that paired up with a really bare bones scavenging simulator, then oh boy is Metro Exodus the game for you.

Oh yeah, and for whatever reason, no one in this game knows how to shut the fuck up. They continue to just babble on and on, incessantly, for no good reason, and 90% of the time it's not even worth listening to. I shit you not, you could be standing there for ten minutes listening to a character just repeating things you already know about the circumstances of the crew, and every time it seems like they're going to finish, if you wait a few more seconds, they start talking again. It's insane. You don't actually engage them, though. They just start talking openly once you're nearby, so it actually feels rude when you want the conversation to just be over because you have to actually walk away from them while they just continue to flap their horrible, ghoulish gums behind you. Oh, and I forgot about the enemy dialogue. :lol: So, those assholes, when they spot you suddenly, and continuously, shout the same profane shit:
'Fucking bitch!'
'Where is that fucking bitch!'
'I found him! There's the bitch!'
'The bitch is over there!'
'Get that fucking bitch!'
'I'm going to find you, you cock sucking bitch!'
Over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over.... I get that it's Russian (although that aspect of the writing almost makes it feel like parody), but the thing that really bothers me is just how uncreative, and repetitive it is. Multiple enemies will just be shouting the same line in a chorus, as well. It really sucks.



So lets actually talk about some good games for once, eh?

Tetris Effect - Everyone knows Tetris. Not everyone knows the different styles of Tetris, though. Tetris Effect pulls from the Sega line of Tetris, with T-spins, holds, instant drops, etc. It's basically "modern" Tetris, since even Tetris DS had most of those things. Speaking of Tetris DS, that's the last time I really played Tetris before picking up Tetris Effect a week or so ago. I bought it because I love UGA, and Q Entertainment's games; they're often such great multimedia experiences, while also being really fun games. Tetris Effect is really the marriage between Tetris and Lumines. The result is probably something more than Tetris, but less than Lumines, if I'm honest. Frankly, between Tetris and Lumines, Lumines is the superior puzzle game. It's much more elegant, creative, and fun to play. The irony is that, apparently, Lumines exists because, at the time, Mizuguchi was unable to make what would have essentially been Tetris Effect. Rankings of falling block puzzle games aside--by the way, the list goes Lumines, SPFII Turbo, Meteos, then Tetris--Tetris Effect is still Tetris, and it's also an experience. The Journey mode is fairly short. I'm not that great at Tetris (and severely out of practice) and it only took me two short sittings to finish (probably three hours total, according to my total recorded time of 4 hours, and the time I spent poking around the online mode). The thing that I found didn't really work for me with Tetris Effect was how the tetromino drop speed fluctuates with the music, after clearing a certain number of lines. At times the fluctuations can be wild (like from 1, to 7, to 13, to 8, and so on). That can be exhilarating, but I didn't feel like it was always fitting with the audio changes (tempo, and so forth), and may have impeded my enjoyment to a certain extent.

So there are different difficulty settings (three in all) for the Journey mode, and a number of time attack challenges in the online mode, but that's not a lot of content, I feel, given the $40 MSRP price tag. For some, any Tetris is going to be worth that much, and I enjoy the shtick Tetris Effect brings with it, but even at the $20 dollars I payed for it, it feels a little light. I am interested in eventually playing it with VR, but if you don't like Tetris, and you don't like Mizuguchi's soundscape stuff, then there's probably no compelling reason to drop the money on Tetris Effect. I do enjoy it, and think it's very cool, though.



Risky's Revenge - This one caught me a little by surprise. I've had the director's cut on Steam for a number of years, and probably figured I would play the original Shantae on the GBC first, but I've always been curious about the series, and the TR topic gave me a reason to give it a whirl. A lot of the presentation in Risky's Revenge, like the character portraits during dialogue, and the writing, to an extent, feel a bit like Cartoon Network 'originals' from the past decade. For me, that's not exactly a compliment, other than to say it's sort of competent. The character artwork is fairly good, but there's really no sugar coating it, the writing kind of sucks at times. I don't totally hate it, but the story is completely throw-away, and the dialogue can be kind of interesting at times, but also sort of awkward at others. The writer--who I believe is also the creator of the series--often seems to confuse common turns of phrase into something of a jumbled mess. So the dialogue takes on some very curious aspects in a number of places. Although, there were other times where I thought, 'Well that might almost be witty in Cartoon Network show from 2010, actually,' but by and large, the writing is a means to an end. I find that part of Risky's Revenge to be easy to overlook, though, when the rest of the game is as good as it is. What's interesting is that I like the characters, which is kind of weird to say. They're charming, in an affable sort of way, despite being poorly written. Also, while the character portrait art may not be anything to necessarily write home about, the sprite work, and artistry in the level design, are simply divine. It also helps the overall package to have such a bangin' soundtrack laying down the aural backdrop to the lush, vibrant environments in Risky's Revenge. From an overall presentation perspective, Risky's Revenge is the best 'throwback' 2D platformer, when that potentially wasn't even its goal.

From a gameplay perspective, Risky's Revenge's roots lie heavily in the Monster World lineage, which is pretty much my jam, so--. I did not expect great things, initially, though. Part of that was because, at the start, Shantae's attack speed feels very uncomfortable. There are upgrades for Shantae's hair-whip, that can be purchased in the shop, but they only upgrade speed. What the game appears to do is essentially low-pass filter the attack button, and push the cut-off frequency out to higher frequencies with each new hair upgrade. In other words, if you mash too fast, the inputs will just be dropped. At the start, the timing is such that Shantae's hair almost has to fully whip around back behind her before she can whip again. That can be tricky to deal with at the beginning, but it gets more manageable with practice, and upgrades. The structure of the game is very much in the vein of Wonder Boy III: The Dragon's Trap, where Shantae gains animal transformations with unique abilities to assist in progressing through the trials on her adventure. It's sort of a limited adventure, though, with only two true dungeons, but the 'overworld' is quite akin to Dragon's Trap, as well, in that a lot of the game takes place on it. Speaking of the overworld: Man, I really wish they had just put the first warp pedestal right outside the hub town. It's not the worst layout of warp points I've seen, though (refer back to Momodora). Overall, the gameplay was just the most solid part. The levels are detailed, and varied. The animal transformations are all very unique, and add a lot of variety to the challenges. The handful of bosses, and most of the enemies as well, are quite varied, and rewarding (aside from those fucking mermaids). It's some serious quality, if you put blinders on for most of the dialogue segments--just pretend they're speaking simlish, I guess, because they practically are.

What I feel like I'm gleening from Tetris Effect, Risky's Revenge (and actually Shenmue III upon checking it out again in a post Metro Exodus existence) is that what appears to be missing from a lot of more recent games (i.e. Momodora, et al.) is artistry. You can map pixels, or push polygons and particle effects 'til the cows come home, but it doesn't do squat without cohesive artistry behind it.

I guess one other possible knock on Risky's Revenge would be that it's pretty easy, actually. On my first playthrough, I got the achievement for completing the game without getting any health upgrades. It really never was any issue, and I didn't even start using healing potions until the final stretch of the game. You can hold nine potions that heal to full health, so there's rarely much serious danger in the game. I actually played through the Magic Mode, that gets unlocked after beating it, where enemies do double damage, but magic spells use less magic. It was actually really fun to play through that mode. I ended up getting the Ending 3 Achievement, by beating it in 3h22m with all items collected ("speedy and greedy," as it's called). I also went back to beat the final boss without using any potions for that achievement. I got all the achievement other than the second 'speedrun' ending for basically an any% time of under two hours. I may do it at some point, though. Getting the 100% speedrun achievement actually reminded me that I did something similar for another 2010 game: Limbo.

Anyway, Risky's Revenge is a good Time, and I look forward to playing the other games in the series. I have Pirate's Curse, too, but I'm just not sure if I'll jump right into it or not.



Shenmue III: Battle Rally - I put most of my impressions for this DLC in the Shenmue III thread. Suffice it to say it's about the best thing I've played all year. :P It's basically seven courses through a village, running to the goal, and beating everyone who dares stand in your way into a pulp. Also there's a healthy level of Outrun 2 panache, with checkpoints, a start/goal circle with all your adoring fans, and a timer font that looks like it might be directly from Outrun 2. It is, quite simply, fantastic.

As if that weren't enough, there's a second mode that's essentially an Easter-egg hunt for little figures of a white dear mascot character, which represents the namesake of the village ('Hakkason,' or 'white dear village'). There are 120 in all; six sections of the village, with 20 in each.

I kind of feel like they should adapt the Battle Rally DLC as a mobile game to promote the series. I feel like it could do really well in that space, but maybe not well enough for the effort. I will be kind of disappointed if any future Shenmue releases don't have Battle Rally in them. So basically, I'm already about ready to declare this DLC my GOTY. If you ever thought you might want a 3D hybrid of Streets of Rage, and Outrun, you owe it to yourself to get Shenmue III for this DLC alone (the first of a handful that are planned).

Re: Games Beaten 2020

Posted: Tue Jan 21, 2020 3:27 pm
by noiseredux
Flake wrote:
noiseredux wrote:congrats, Flake. Diablo III rules. If you don't see why people get obsessed, you should try it in co-op. This is actually one of my wife's favorite games.


I've heard that. This might be one of those instances where a game can be great but maybe not great for me. I'm more of a couch co-op or solo player.


If you didn't know, Diablo III is a couch co-op game.

Re: Games Beaten 2020

Posted: Thu Jan 23, 2020 3:18 pm
by PretentiousHipster
Finished Outer Wilds. This is exactly what I want in any artistic medium: a strong emotional reaction. This easily had the strongest emotional reaction I've had playing a game, even during my hardcore gamer days as a teen. I thought Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth had its frightening moments, but Dark Bramble is honestly more terrifying. Giant's Deep also had a moment where I had to stop playing because it got too intense. The Ash Twin and Interloper had gorgeous moments, and the latter made me had to stop and process what happened. Of course, the ending is where it hits the most.

It is a modernized point and click adventure game, and is more accessible for the genre, but it still has its obtuse moments. I feel like that's the standard of the genre, and this world is so immersive and just plain awesome that I never got tired of exploring it, even when repeating some places.

This is easily one of the greatest games of all time, and I'm not even done processing the experience yet. I will have a lot more to write about it soon, but will save it for a video review. I was gonna do Euro Truck Simulator 2 first, but I think this is a higher priority. An easy 10/10.

Re: Games Beaten 2020

Posted: Thu Jan 23, 2020 4:11 pm
by BoneSnapDeez
1. ACA NeoGeo: Cyber-Lip (Switch eShop)
2. Pengo (Atari 2600)
3. Kirby's Epic Yarn (Wii)
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I'm not sure if "epic" would be my first choice of word used to describe this sort of game. It is, however, whimsical, charming, relaxing, and very very fun.

Kirby's Epic Yarn was the first Kirby platformer to appear on a home console after a 10-year hiatus (since Kirby 64). Make no mistake, though -- this is not a "traditional" Kirby game (the Wii did get one of those later on, in the form of Kirby's Return to Dream Land). Yarn plays by its own set of rules. It begins with a pleasant cutscene. Kirby is strolling through Dream Land when he spots a lonely tomato chillin' on a bush. A chronic binge-eater, Kirby instinctively inhales the food. Turns out the tomato was possessed by a sorcerer, Yin-Yarn, who stuffs Kirby in a sock and whisks him away to the magical Patch Land. Patch Land is comprised entirely of yarn, buttons, zippers, and the like, with Kirby himself turning into a translucent yarn-Kirby. Now virtually weightless, Kirby loses his ability to suck, blow, and fly. Kirby soon meets Prince Fluff (who looks like a more masculine version of Kirby) and discovers that Patch Land has been fractured into pieces by Yin-Yarn, and must be stitched back together. And so begins the quest, with Prince Fluff joining as the (optional co-op) second player. There's a lot more to the story as it progresses, but most of it is (pardon the pun) fluff. The cutscenes feature a narrator who outlines the current events. He speaks awfully slowly, and the scenes are just tedious to view. It makes me long for the Kirby 64 cutscenes: pantomiming, facial expressions, and squeaks are all that are needed to drive a Kirby story forward.

The game is played (mostly) with a sideways Wiimote, NES style, without much emphasis on motion controls. Kirby can jump and whip in five directions (there's no downward whipping). He can glide for a moment if the jump button is pressed twice in quick succession. Likewise, Kirby can dash left or right if a directional button is pushed two times. Kirby can duck, and pressing down while in the air initiates a ground pound to eliminate blocks and stomp out enemies. There are actually two styles of attack, dependent on how long the attack button is held. While Kirby can "unravel" enemies and vanquish them from the playing field altogether, he can also "roll up" baddies into yarn balls, and then proceed to toss them at additional foes and barriers alike. Adorable animations accompany Kirby's actions: he becomes a honking car while dashing, a parachute while floating, and a heavy weight when pounding the ground.
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The core controls are extremely fluid, as per most every Nintendo platformer. There are some additional "transformations" Kirby will occasionally undergo. There are the anticipated spaceship shmup sections, high-speed sleigh races, and even some water areas where Kirby becomes an agile dolphin. Some other transformations will switch up the control scheme a bit and utilize the Wii's motion-sensing capabilities. For instance, as a tank Kirby aims via a tilt of the Wii remote. Then there's Train Kirby, where the player is suddenly placed in charge of laying out track for the train's automatic movement. These train sections are kind of a downer; they slow the pace of gameplay down tremendously and the Wiimote aiming just doesn't feel precise enough. Trains aside, the transformations are tremendously fun, and are tied to specific level segments (as opposed to a timer).

For the most part, the stage designs are absolutely brilliant. It's the typical "point A to B" type of thing, but in some of the most dynamic environments seen in a platformer. My favorites are perhaps the Christmas tree stages, where Kirby actually scales several trees stopping to collect beaded "ornaments." It's just sickeningly cute. And the graphics are stunning. The game literally looks like yarn. As in, water is composed of blue yarn. Fire is red yarn. Platforms are stitched cubes. And each stage is manipulated is accordance with the yarn theme. Walls and barriers can be unraveled, doorways unzipped, and so forth. Enemies take on the fabric-y likenesses as well. They're translucent like Kirby himself, stitched and buttoned together. Bosses follow suit; in fact the "weak point" of each boss is a dangling button that must be yanked periodically. And the boss battles themselves are enormously entertaining. They start simply enough, but then the game throws Squashini as the player: a pumpkin-headed creature whose attacks are determined by a slot machine, battling Kirby in an arena packed with cheering Waddle Dees. Kirby's old frenemies make cameos as well: Meta Knight and King Dedede are back with their traditional attack patterns (modified slightly to fit the yarn motif).

In terms of soundtrack, Yarn perhaps contains the most relaxing tunes in the entire Kirby series. There are lots of laid-back piano pieces, gently providing a backdrop to the leisurely gameplay. But the game knows when it needs to get intense: the stage full of rising lava contains a very memorable and bombastic piece, for instance. Some remixed variants of old tunes snuck in here as well. No Kirby game is complete without the "Gourmet Race" track or King Dedede's signature theme.
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But perhaps the most notable thing about Kirby's Epic Yarn isn't from the audiovisual or mechanical departments. Rather, it's the (lack of) challenge. There are no lives, and no continues. This is because Kirby is immortal. That's right, this is a game where one cannot "die." If Kirby drops into a hole, he's rescued by an angel. If Kirby makes contact with an enemy he loses some of the beads he's collected within a given stage. They fly all over the place like the rings in Sonic the Hedgehog, the big difference is that Kirby receives no penalty for taking damage while his bead meter is at zero. The game is only over when one makes a decision to quit. This was a risky design decision on the part of the developers (and some have indeed derided the game for not putting up a fight). But the payoff is immense -- if there's one game that shouldn't have Game Overs, it's this one. With no fear of looming death, Kirby's Epic Yarn just "flows" beautifully. Each stage begins, progresses, and ends -- with no clumsy transitions, no ticking life meter, no respawns, no load times, no interruptions. There's seemingly an extra element of immersion here: the player is placed in the role of Kirby, a scrappy dude who wins at any cost with (quite literally) nothing that can stop him.

That said, to say the game has zero challenge would be wholly inaccurate. Thing is, all challenge is optional, and self-imposed by the player. "Ranks" are assigned upon the completion of each stage, based on the number of beads one has when Kirby reaches the exit. Certain rankings can unlock hidden stages, most of which are extremely worthwhile and tend to make good use of Kirby's transformation abilities. There are somewhat-hidden objects to find, three in each stage. A house can be decorated with said objects, and there are some mini-games to try as well. Some of this veers into the extraneous "collectathon" realm, but again, it's optional.

As someone with two young children I feel compelled to touch on my favorite aspect of Yarn overall. This is an utterly fantastic game to play with an inexperienced second player. The most obvious reason is due to the aforementioned immortality of Kirby (and Fluff). But there's something else as well. During co-op gameplay, a straggling player will automatically teleport to the whoever's in the lead. Thus, there are no scrolling issues and it's downright impossible to get "stuck" on stage scenery. This is genius. This means that an adult can complete the game alongside a three-year-old who mostly pushes buttons randomly, with both Kirby and Fluff alive and well at the game's end. You love to see it.

I adore this. It's one of the most inventive platformers of the seventh generation, or any time, really. It takes the age-old question of "hey, what if someone made a game that was, like, really easy??" and manages to craft something (hehe) incredibly compelling and touching. Play it without hesitation.

Re: Games Beaten 2020

Posted: Fri Jan 24, 2020 12:32 pm
by Ack
1. The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening (Switch)(Adventure)
2. Final Fight [Japanese Version] (Switch)(Beat 'Em Up)
3. Ziggurat (PC)(FPS)
4. Magrunner: Dark Pulse (PC)(FPS)
5. The King of Dragons [Japanese](Arcade)(Beat 'Em Up)


Since we had a three day weekend, I decided it best to knock out a few games.

Ziggurat

I've beaten this game multiple times; it's a roguelike FPS that takes inspiration from such fantasy FPS games as Heretic and Hexen, and it's relatively short, coming in at only five or six levels, depending on the difficulty. I decided to put it down on this list not because I had simply beaten it, but because I finally completely finished it by earning all achievements. That means I unlocked everything available in the game, beat it on every difficulty setting, beat it with every character, and even beat it under unusual circumstances, such as under a heavy time crunch or without accepting level ups that grant randomized boons.

The idea is that you play an apprenticing wizard looking to join a group, but all apprentices have to prove themselves in a magical dungeon known as the Ziggurat, where few return alive to become successful members. You select characters with varying skills and magic wands, and then you take on randomized monsters, find randomized weapons of three types, and unlock randomized perks in randomized dungeons...to an extent. The game still keeps a sense of pacing, so you won't find the toughest monsters (or bosses) on the first levels, and each level is steadily larger than others.

There is a limit to things, and you'll eventually realize that you're really not seeing new content in terms of room arrangements or enemies. Once you know how to take on a critter and handle a certain kind of room layout, it all comes down to personal skill and how you've learned to handle the various weapons you've come across. The weapons include your base wand as well as magic spells, staves, and alchemical weapons, though again, by the time you unlock everything, you'll be pretty used to what you come across. This makes going for harder difficulties easier because you know your style and preferences, though it also progresses beyond the sweet spot of the game and becomes rote.

Ziggurat took me around 40 hours to unlock all of the content, which is a lot of time to sink into a game like this but also feels stretched out longer than it needs to be. Still, for the price I paid, and considering I came back to this off and on again over the course of a year, I'm pretty happy with the experience. This proved to be a worthy purchase.

Magrunner: Dark Pulse

Magrunner is a puzzle FPS, where instead of guns, you manipulate physics objects to get across treacherous terrain and defeat the few enemies you encounter. There are just under 40 levels, which fit into three themes: Act 1 is a clean facility, Act 2 is wreckage and the gross underbelly, and Act 3 is...well, reality is on the fritz in Act 3. Why?

Cthulhu.

Yeah, it's a cyberpunk game about manipulating faux-magnetic fields in which you end up taking on an Elder God. Oh, and the physics aren't accurate, so don't think of them as legit magnets, think of them as simply color based puzzles that rely on some level of game physics and the concept of like colors attracting, opposing colors driving apart. Because of the ways the game finds to manipulate these forces, however, you end up with some surprisingly complex puzzles. In fact, I'd argue this is tougher than Portal, so if you're new to this kind of experience, go play that first. Then do Magrunner.

Basically, you've been taken in as a finalist to participate in a corporate astronaut-training program being broadcast across social media that is really a front for a cultist trying to open the portal to summon Cthulhu. You go in, solve puzzles, kill a few monsters by launching explosive boxes at them, and eventually close the apparatus the cultist is using by "magnetizing" the gates so meteors hit them. All this while Cthulu watches from a hole in the stars and repeatedly groans his name, which is both cool and weird. The first time I saw his massive eyes off in distant space leering at me, I started. After a while, I would just wave to the big guy and then go kick his puzzle's ass.

This isn't a bad game at all, even if the story is ridiculous, and the physics are not remotely real. Again, go play Portal first. Hell, play Portal 2 before this. Then you can come and play this. From there, you have options: if you like the platforming aspect, play A Story About My Uncle. If you like the combat element, check out The Ball. And if you like feeling like your brain is being wrapped around a screw and then squeezed of its precious life fluids, play Antichamber.

The King of Dragons [Japanese]

I have added that little differentiation to point out that what I played was in fact the Japanese arcade release, not the one found in North America. Why? Well, having previously played through the North American arcade release as well as the SNES console port, I wanted to check out how Capcom had envisioned this game at home. What did I find?

Well, in truth, not much changed. Some of the text is in Japanese, but even the ending of the game was in English. After sitting down and looking at gameplay side by side, there are no real changed from what I could tell. I've read that the Cleric may be stronger in the Japanese version, but it did not feel that there was significant difference between the two.

Yes, I did play as the Cleric for this complete playthrough. He's the slowest and biggest character but levels fastest and has the best recovery time from blocking...which may well be why some people think he was stronger in certain versions. He's not though, and according to strategies I've found online, a lot of players who start as him soon opt for the Fighter because he has a similar play style but offers more agility and a slightly smaller target.

While doing this playthrough, I realized that The King of Dragons may be one of my absolute favorite beat 'em ups. It controls well, it's fairly well balanced (outside of a couple of areas with cheap boss designs), levels are briskly paced, and while there is some rehashing of enemies, they're sometimes offered up with new challenges peppered in to keep things fresh. It isn't perfect, but considering it was meant to eat my quarters, it's really not as bad as one would imagine, and I'll probably return to this game for comfort food or to attract people who are interested in dipping a toe into the genre without going into the likes of Final Fight or the much later (and much harder to go back from) titles such as Battle Circuit.

Re: Games Beaten 2020

Posted: Fri Jan 24, 2020 7:23 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)

The last game I'll be doing for the 2010 Retro theme, it's yet another game I owned at one point, didn't really gel with, and then put down. Unlike the previous couple games I've done that with, however, I ended up really being thankful I went back to this one. I finished the Japanese version of the game after doing like 80% of the stuff (I'd guess) after like 20+ hours (I couldn't find an in-game clock to tell me how long I'd played it XP).

3D Dot Game Heroes, awkward title aside, is a really loving homage to the original Dragon Quest and Zelda games made by Silicon Software, FROM Software, and IREM. The conceit of the story is that long ago, an evil demon king tried to take over the world, but he was foiled and sealed away by a legendary hero. But that was when things were 2D. Here in Dotonia, the king gets bored of living in 2D, and he brings the world into 3D for the heck of it. This has the unintended side effect of allowing an evil wizard to get the evil dark orb the demon king was sealed in and try to resurrect him, and the king calls upon you to collect the six colored orbs throughout the land to try and stop the darkness from returning. Aesthetically, it's a really pretty mix of 8-bit Dragon Quest and 8-bit Zelda 1 from the visual to the music (which is good, but some of which is like, there is no way this isn't breaking copyright infringement it sounds SO much like what it's paying homage to XD).

Mechanically, however, it's much more Link to the Past or Link's Awakening than Zelda 1. You collect magic meter upgrades, pieces of "life" (not pieces of heart, oh no, these are apples, not hearts UwU), you go into dungeons where you get a new tool that helps immensely with traveling the world, your main weapon is a sword. Heck it even has bottles you can fill with health potions just like LTTP. The dungeon layouts are conceptually and aesthetically, but the way they're designed with multiple floors makes them feel more like the Gameboy Zelda games than anything. There are also a lot of NPCs to talk to (often with their own irreverent, at least somewhat game-referencing sidequests to do), and a lot of sidequests to do for them (some of which give you items that do literally nothing, but you need all of to get the hidden final sword).

The things the game does most uniquely to anything else are how it handles the swords. You start with a cruddy wooden sword, but quickly move up to more powerful swords. The thing is, you can upgrade them with money, and at full health it gets screen-fillingly MASSIVE and actually has the upgrades you pay for money for (which is a neat incentive to not get hit). Your sword also doesn't slash like Zelda. Hero just sticks it out directly in front of them. Many swords can up given a turning upgrade, but that means you need to manually turn when you slash if you want to slash in another direction. The manual turning takes a bit to get used to, but it really comes into its own after a while and makes the overall experience feel more than just a good Zelda clone.

The other great thing I loved about the mechanics was the monster encyclopedia. Like many RPGs out of Japan, this game has a bestiary. The thing about this one is that it's an item. Not just an item, a WEAPON. You need to physically hit every monster you want to register in this thing, and that goes the same for bosses up to and including the final boss himself! Finding ways to register the bosses in the monster book was one of my favorite parts of the game, and it makes for a neat sort of self-imposed hard mode that you can do to unlock the ability view their 3D models in the book and also silly blurbs about the enemy/boss in question.

Finally, the game also has a character creator where you can make your own hero. The game comes with 6 presets, but you can use colored blocks to make your own character however you want. You can make a Ryu from Street Fighter or you can make just a solid cube of blocks. Whatever fancies you~. Interestingly, male characters have a +1 to power, while female characters use 1 less magic (not below a minimum of 1 though) to cast spells. It's a neat addition made extra neat (if likely unintentionally progressive) that gender is just a label put on your character. It's just a setting you pick when you make your character, and how they look is entirely down to how you design them.

I don't really have much in the way of complaints other than things it perhaps does a little too much in favor of being a retro-style game rather than a 2010 (technically 2009 in Japan, but who's counting) game. The minor complaint I have is that the world map is a lot like Link to the Past's, where it's a giant view of the overworld. The only issue is that, because it's 3D, it's like looking down at a diorama and not a 2D projection, and this makes actually seeing detail on the map very difficult (and often totally pointless). The game also has a bit of a performance issue in areas with lots of NPCs and/or water effects, and has a bit of a problem with soft-crashes. Especially in the throne room in the main castle, like 50% of the times I went in there, it locked on a loading screen and I had to reset the console to start playing again. It's basically only a problem in that one room of the game, but it's still really annoying.

More importantly, for the TONS of side quests in the game, there are no quest markers of any kind. Your key item list also only gains items. It doesn't lose them when you give something to someone to complete a quest. This means quite often if you come back after, say, a day of not playing, you can have totally forgotten if you even did a certain quest (or what the details were, who the people involved in it were). It's sweet that they were really going for quirks that made old games what they were, but especially in this game that has some fun, interesting side content (that locks some neat weapons and upgrades behind them), it is far more frustrating than fun to need to either rely totally on my memory or a guide to have a chance of seeing that stuff.

Verdict: Highly Recommended. I haven't played a ton of Zelda clones, but this is far and away the best I've played. It succeeds in standing tall among Nintendo's own greats, and feels like a lost Legend of Zelda games from the SNES days in many ways. If you have any kind of nostalgia or appreciation for this style of game, this game is very well put together and whimsically references that nostalgia itself a lot over the course of your 3D Dot adventure. An absolute must-play for any fan of 2D Zelda games.

Re: Games Beaten 2020

Posted: Sun Jan 26, 2020 11:06 am
by PretentiousHipster
I've just beaten Obsidian. I have some rough notes which will obviously be expanded and improved upon into what I assume will be a very short video review, but here are my initial thoughts.

Obsidian dumps you in the middle of nowhere, out of nowhere. You are in a forest, and the title card doesn't even come on until you do some actions. You then slowly find the world out piece by piece when you find a tent. I found this to be quite an original way to get you into the in-game world. You have many questions right at the beginning and have to find our everything yourself. All they give you in the beginning is some sort of strange rock formation in the distance, and a journal about a CERES project. The closest to a plot point was Max's dream. It all becomes so intriguing.

This does have elements of an FMV game, and you know what... it's actually quite well done. The acting in like 95% of them are absolutely terrible, but in here they act in a very natural way. Eventually, the game takes a strange turn, including the acting. It turns into all out surrealism, and the acting is either deadpan, or incredibly overacted, making it even more surreal.

With many point and click adventure games, I find that if you reach the point where a guide, it means that you either grew impatient, or you are not immersed at all. What this game does best is its immersion. Because it gives you so little information in the beginning, you will search everywhere and do everything you can to seek answers to your questions.

Apparently the strategy guide has essays on Jungian psychology, artificial intelligence, and nanotechnology. I thought that this game would be impossible then. The puzzles honestly aren't that bad. Most of the puzzles just come down to logical deduction or trial and error. Some of them practically just tell you what to do next. I actually found the second act to be a lot easier puzzle-wise as well. The first act features quite a few mazes, and having to mess around in every aspect. The second act contains group of puzzles for you to complete in order to move on. It can be quite hard to figure out the objective and mechanics of a puzzle, but once you do the puzzle themselves are actually quite easy.

Some complaints are the fact that some objectives are based rather on timing than puzzles, and I found them to be slightly annoying. I also had the same problem with the terrible game burn:cycle where I had trouble navigating myself. Not where to go exactly, but where to position my mouse to move to the area that I wanna go to.

This shows how heavy these CGI effects were. It was a whopping 5 CDs, but the game length is actually very short. It only took me around 4 hours to finish. This is another complaint. There's not a lot of meat to this, and because of how awesome this was it left me begging for me. Of course, if this needed 5 discs then this is technically the limitations of pc games at the time.

Still, this is a masterpiece. This was described as a more surreal Myst. I guess I REALLY have to play Myst soon.

Re: Games Beaten 2020

Posted: Sun Jan 26, 2020 6:53 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)

Playing so much PS3 recently, I started to think of other games I've had on my PS3 for AGES that I never finished, and Tokyo Jungle was one of the first that came to mind. I've owned this game for over 8 years, and got a bit bored with it last time and never ended up finishing it. Granted, I would argue that "finishing" Tokyo Jungle in just seeing the credits really isn't the overall goal of the game, I finally saw the credits. I beat the story mode and got every trophy, and it took me about 15+ hours over the course of a weekend.

Tokyo Jungle's premise is that all humans have vanished. Ten years have passed, and escaped pets and zoo animals have reclaimed the streets of Tokyo as have the local flora. You play as all sorts of animals, from a pomeranian to an ostritch to a raptor to a mammoth, surviving as long as you can and racking up a high score. This game is ultimately a score attack survival game. I would describe it as kind of a micro-Dead Rising with a bit of a rogue-lite twist in how things change from run to run.

One in-game year is about a minute, and the game effectively ends after 100 years (a new apex predator is introduced that can't be eaten and is EVERYWHERE, so a meat eater will definitely starve, and a plant eater (aka grazer) has a very hard time finding opportunities to eat and mate). Your animal needs to eat to keep living, and after about 10 years your max hunger starts ticking down until you effectively cannot eat. The remedy to this is to mark territory to "take over" an area and make potential mates appear. The more you eat, you'll level up from rookie to veteran to boss, and the higher your rank, the higher ranked female (you have to play male animals) you can attract and mate with. The better your mate, the more siblings (and therefore effectively attacking partners/decoys and extra lives) your next generation will start with as well as likely better stat boosts. Then the next generation continues the whole thing and the map status gets a little bit of a refresh. Progressing through generations is also what gives the game it's rogue-lite-y elements, as the tiny stat boosts you get continue though not just to your next character, but to your next playthrough as well, so play an animal enough times, and it'll slowly get more and more beefy and strong.

There are two types of animals to play as: predators (carnivores) and grazers (herbivores), and the game does a good job at making them feel different and one not distinctly worse than the other. Predators tend to have runs focused more around combat and trying to take out enemies as they go (at least ones they can take out). You have a normal attack, a command to sorta make your litter mates attack with you (although I'm still not sure how exactly that works), and can use the right stick to directionally dodge. You also have a super attack button bound to R1 that you can use to do a stealth attack or a counter once an enemy super attack is dodged. My most successful run was with a jackal, and the key to surviving against the lions and larger predators that come to eventually populate the map is to not only know when to pick your battles, but also that you can sometimes take down a larger predator instantly with a stealth kill while your normal attacks might barely damage it.

Grazers, on the other hand, are more about being agile and avoiding combat whenever possible. They generally have very low attack, but they also have a double jump that predators lack, so a quick way to escape is often to double-jump onto an above awning, should you be lucky enough to be near one. Grazers are hunting down plants to eat, rather than animals to kill and eat, so while big predators are still a danger, you're a little more at the mercy of how the map spawns. Eating animals, eating plants, and exploring the map can also net you little present boxes that have consumable items in them. You can hold up to ten at a time, and they range from flea-removal shampoo that gets rid of fleas, to a water bottle to remove toxicity and fill your belly, to a magazine, which, for whatever reason, is a full heal to all your stats when used XD

The great equalizer between grazers and predators is the factor of map pollution. Over time, especially as the years go on, pollution will strike and leave different areas of the map, and different areas will also suffer droughts of food of all kinds as well. Predators have small stomachs and are generally slower, so although you need to worry about attackers less, the silent killers of disease and starvation are far more present for predators than they are for grazers, and a big part of playing the game is learning how best to not only deal with the other animals, but pollution as well.

The map is always the same, and you also have semi-randomized time limited challenges to complete each run for more bonus points, stat boosts for your current generation, and even extra clothes. Clothes are equippable items you can find from defeated foes or for completing challenges. You can hold as many as you want, and once one is found one time, unless it's a special super rare one, you can buy it on the main menu's shop with the points you earn each run acting as currency. You also unlock new animals to play as by completing certain challenges, and they are also unlocked with these points. The different kinds of animals are pretty well balanced too. Sure, bigger predators are tougher and can win fights easier, but their stomachs are suuuuper tiny, so you need to CONSTANTLY be eating or you're gonna starve really quick.

This is where I'd say Tokyo Jungle has its biggest flaw. Other than the game getting a little samey after a while (it is a score attack game after all, so that's a given), you only start with two animals, a Shika Deer and a Pomeranian. There are like 30+ animals in the game (with a few being $1 DLC each, one of which is a salaryman in a suit X3), but you unlock them one at a time through challenges which are sometimes super easy and other times brutally hard. You'll hit a few that are no problem at all, and then you'll die loads of times just trying to do the next one. And retrying those challenges isn't fast, because the requirements to start them become being more about time passed in your current run, like needing to be in your 3rd generation and having completed 4 other challenges before the map event to unlock that animal will start. Top that off with some animals playing very similar or literally identical to each other (the Jackal and Lyceon literally have the same stats and move animations, and one unlocks the other), and it makes the whole unlocking process really grueling, albeit super satisfying when you finally pull it off. I unlocked about a third of them by the end of my time with the game, mostly predators (that cheetah challenge was just too hard XP).

The other big issue I wish the game had fixed is the map, particularly around pollution. Though areas will get polluted, the only way to tell that is to catch the little bullitains that come up about it in the upper right of the screen while you play (while your attention is quite logically probably focused on other things). While you can check how much food is currently in a map area, you can't look at any other aspects of the map's current conditions, and that can be really irritating when you suddenly wander into a super polluted area you were hoping was full of food, only to find it's full of super toxic food from all the pollution (which give calories if eaten, but also TONS of pollution).

The game's story mode is a series of structured missions taking place in the game map. You unlock them by collecting data files as you play the survival mode, and once you collect all present on the map, you'll unlock a new mission (for a total of 15, including the tutorial). They're sorta serious, but they acknowledge how silly the premise is fairly often. They're often about taking down a series of enemies around the map, or sometimes are HORRID stealth stages that the game's stealth mechanics just are not good enough to make fun (and whose checkpoints are not nearly generous enough). It's a neat little diversion that explains why the world is the way it is, but it's certainly not what I'd call the main draw of the game by any respect. There are a couple animals locked behind completing story mode though, so it's worth going through if you really really wanna unlock everything (although no trophies are tied to animal unlocks).

Verdict: Highly Recommended. Tokyo Jungle, by its sheer premise, won't be for everyone. That said, it's really good at what it does, and if this sounds like something you'd enjoy, I'd say it's definitely worth checking out. The only hesitation I'd have at recommending it is that the nature of its gameplay does make its appeal a bit niche. It does have local co-op play, which can be very fun, although the game is also pretty hard, so that can be an obstacle to enjoying it with someone unless you're just going out for silly fun. Especially if you can find this on that PSN physical bundle along with Journey and that other game, this is definitely a game worth picking up and trying out for the sheer silliness and the good challenge of being a Pomeranian forced to take on a raptor XD

Re: Games Beaten 2020

Posted: Mon Jan 27, 2020 1:48 am
by REPO Man
The Birdcage 2 for Android. Literally more of the same.