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Re: Games Beaten 2020

Posted: Wed Oct 14, 2020 11:55 pm
by prfsnl_gmr
First 70
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)
28. Donkey Kong Country 3 (SNES)
29. Contra (Arcade)
30. Super Contra (Arcade)
31. Minesweeper Genius (Switch)
32. Kuso (Switch)
33. 20XX (Switch)
34. Spooky Ghosts Dot Com (Switch)
35. Aggelos (Switch)
36. Quell+ (iOS)
37. The White Door (iOS)
38. Grizzland (Switch)
39. Momodora: Reverie Under the Moonlight (Switch)
40. Silent Hill (PS1)
41. Tcheco in the Castle of Lucio (Switch)
42. The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening (Switch)
43. Stories Untold (Switch)
44. Boxboy! + Boxgirl! (Switch)
45. R-Type Leo (Arcade)
46. Cybarian: The Time-Traveling Warrior (Switch)
47. Duck Souls+ (Switch)
48. Daggerhood (Switch)
49. Gravity Duck (Switch)
50. Biolab Wars (Switch)
51. Legends of Amberland (Switch)
52. Mega Man & Bass: Challenger from the Future (Wonderswan)
53. Double Dragon (Game Gear)
54. Hyrule Warriors (Wii U)
55. SNK vs. Capcom Card Fighters Clash (NGPC)
56. SUPERHOT (Switch)
57. Dogurai (Switch)
58. Ori & The Blind Forest Definitive Edition (Switch)
59. Alchemist’s Castle (Switch)
60. Dear Esther (iOS)
61. Framed 2 (iOS)
62. A Noble Circle (iOS)
63. Lit (iOS)
64. SPL-T (iOS)
65. Florence (iOS)
66. Wurroom (Switch)
67. Warlock’s Tower (iOS)
68. I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream (iOS)
69. Cally’s Caves 2 (iOS)
70. Paratopic (Switch)

71. Limbo (Switch)
72. INSIDE (Switch)

I’ve read INSIDE described as “Super Limbo,” which I think is an apt description. Also developed by Playdead, INSIDE is remarkably similar to Limbo from a gameplay perspective - you move, generally, from left to right in a 2D plane using relatively basic controls to overcome platforming challenges and solve puzzles - but it does everything better than Limbo (which is saying something because Limbo is a really great game). It has better graphics, better sound design, and more compelling puzzles. It’s longer and less linear, and it has more replay value. Most importantly, it has a better, more disturbing setting, and it’s much, much scarier. The introduction is absolutely breathtaking, and the game’s shocking ending has certainly tuck with me since I beat it a few days ago. I had no idea a 2D platformer could be so intense; I really can’t recommend this game highly enough; and it’s on the short list for the best game I’ve played this year.

Re: Games Beaten 2020

Posted: Thu Oct 15, 2020 12:07 am
by Note
1. Streets of Rage 2 (GEN)*
2. The Ninja Warriors (SNES) [3x]
3. TMNT IV: Turtles in Time (SNES)*
4. Golden Axe (GEN) [3x]*
5. Beyond Oasis (GEN)
6. Super Double Dragon (SNES)*
7. Shenmue II (DC)
8. Shining Force 2 (GEN)*
9. Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island (SNES)
10. ActRaiser (SNES)
11. OutRun (GEN)*
12. X-Men 2: Clone Wars (GEN)
13. Captain Commando (SNES)
14. The Pirates of Dark Water (SNES)
15. Final Fight (SNES)
16. Gradius III (SNES)
17. Super R-Type (SNES)
18. U.N. Squadron (SNES)
19. Super Castlevania IV (SNES)
20. Arrow Flash (GEN)
21. Forgotten Worlds (GEN)
22. Contra III: The Alien Wars (SNES)
23. Wonder Boy in Monster World (GEN)
24. Resident Evil 6 (360)
25. Skies of Arcadia (DC)
26. Streets of Rage 4 (Switch)
27. Star Fox 64 (N64)*
28. Super Street Fighter II: The New Challengers (SNES)*
29. Perfect Dark (N64)
30. Resident Evil 2 (PS1)

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31. Metal Slug X (PS1)*

After a few days filled with survival horror or other longer games, I felt like taking a break to play something arcade style. Metal Slug is my favorite run and gun series, and I was introduced to it in the arcades back in 1999. There was an arcade near my grandparents' home that had mostly Neo Geo candy cabs, and Metal Slug X was in the mix there, so that was the game I was first introduced to in the series and spent the most time with. About a year later, there ended up being a store that had the original Metal Slug arcade across the street from my high school, but I didn't get a chance to play it as much. At the time, I had no idea the game had been ported to PS1 but came across it one day and had to pick it up.

The graphics have aged very well, and I think it's one of the best looking 2D series, and it still looks great on the PS1 port. I just love the art style for the characters, backgrounds, vehicles, and enemies. In this particular title, the enemies start off as mostly soldiers but as the levels go on, you start to go up against zombies, strange aliens, and UFO looking crafts. It's a fun and bizarre touch. The art direction is fantastic IMO. There is also a good variety of weapons to be grabbed, including the rapid fire machine gun, the flame shot, the rocket launcher, the awful drop shot (to be avoided), the enemy chaser, and my favorite -- the shotgun which demolishes everything in sight. The soundtrack is good as well and has a few catchy tunes. The soundtrack to Mission 3 might be my favorite out of the bunch though. The soundtrack adds to the mood of the chaotic gameplay, but I think the graphics outshine the soundtrack here. Also, the illustrators did a great job with the cover art for the PS1 release.

Gameplay wise, I feel like the first three levels ease you in a bit, but the difficulty really ramps up in the fourth level and by this stage, there are enemies, projectiles, bombs, and vehicles coming at you from every which way. It's pretty difficult to make it through without dying a few times, but even with the pumped up challenge, the game's still a lot of fun. Also, the PS1 port gives you infinite continues, which is a nice bonus, so if you're having a tough time, you can still push forward and make it through to the end. The controls for this port feel fine IMO, and I didn't notice any slowdown, but there are some short loading screens between scenes in levels.

I don't have any gripes about the PS1 port and I think it plays better than the version on the Metal Slug Anthology disc for PS2, which seemed just a bit slower when I checked it out. For anyone that's played both ports, I'd like to hear your thoughts or comparisons.

This is a great game overall, I highly recommend it to anyone that hasn't checked it out yet. I think it's one of the best run and gun games and one of the best looking 2D games to be released on the PS1. Maybe later in the month I'll dig up the Metal Slug Anthology disc for PS2 and give some of the other titles a go, as I haven't put much time into the later games in the series. Heavy machine gun!

Re: Games Beaten 2020

Posted: Thu Oct 15, 2020 4:31 pm
by ElkinFencer10
Games Beaten in 2020 - 26
* denotes a replay

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


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


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


April (7 Games Beaten)
14. Wolfenstein 3D - Steam - April 1
15. Doom Eternal - Xbox One - April 3
16. Age of Empires (Definitive Edition) - Steam - April 4
17. Age of Empires: Rise of Rome (Definitive Edition) - Steam - April 5
18. Animal Crossing: New Horizons - Switch - April 9
19. Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War - SNES - April 18
20. Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX - Switch - April 20


Sometime in the Dark Ages of My Life Between May and October in No Particular Order (6 Games Beaten)
21. Battlefield 3 - Xbox 360 - July 27
22. Star Wars Squadrons - Xbox One - October 4
23. The Last of Waifus - Steam - October 11
24. Phantom Doctrine - Switch - ???
25. The Outer Worlds - PlayStation 4 - September 30
26. Resident Evil 3 - PlayStation 4 - October 14


26. Resident Evil 3 - PlayStation 4 - October 14

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Resident Evil 3: Nemesis is an iconic game not only for the Resident Evil franchise but for the survival horror genre as a whole. Even folks who haven't played it are usually familiar with the titular character's deep growl of "STARS!" With the smashing success of the previous remake of Resident Evil 2, it only makes sense that Capcom would have immediately begun work on remaking the third entry in the series especially considering that Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil 3 take place at the same time in the same city.

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I'm a huge fan of Resident Evil and the survival horror genre as a whole, so I'm a little biased, but this game really does feel like a nearly perfect package. The visuals are stunning, the voice acting it top notch, the motion capture is incredible, and the overall atmosphere of the game is nearly perfect. It's every bit Resident Evil 2's equal. At the game's beginning, you start in a first person perspective reminiscent of Resident Evil VII: Biohazard, and that's how they introduce Jill Valentine, badass supercop on the Raccoon City Police Department's Special Tactics and Rescue Service team and one of the few survivors of the Arklay mansion incident from the first game which took place two months earlier just outside of Raccoon City. In those two months, patients started showing up at the Raccoon City hospital with a mysterious illness that caused severe fever, rapid necrosis, and hyperphasia (or excessive hunger). At the same time, incidents of brutally violent murders were spiking. The city was facing an outbreak of the T-virus, a secret biological weapon developed by the multinational corporation, Umbrella. What's worse, though, is that a super bioweapon codenamed Nemesis has been dispatched by Umbrella to hunt down and permanently silence the few surviving members of S.T.A.R.S., the elite RCPD team that had investigated the Arklay mansion.

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One thing that Resident Evil 3 gets perfect is the atmosphere that conjures a sense of foreboding from mere sight and sound. A lot of folks say that what makes a horror game scary is limited ammo and difficulty. That can certainly put you on edge and make you anxious. Others say that it's the jump scares that give a game its horror. That can certainly be an important element if executed properly. Resident Evil 3 nails true horror, though, beyond the shallow definitions of "difficulty" or "jump scares." I could be walking down a hallway in an abandoned apartment building with 30 rounds of ammunition and not a zombie in sight, and I still felt the fear. No zombie jumped out at me; Nemesis never burst through a wall to turn my skull into tomato paste, yet I still felt a linger terror deep inside my lizard brain. The darkness of the city. The fires still burning in the distance. The disheveled storefronts. The destroyed vehicles. The few odd zombies, slowly shambling through the street. The knowledge that at any moment, that perilous tranquility become a blood bath, and it wasn't a foregone conclusion whose blood would be bathed in and who would be doing the bathing. That's the atmosphere that can instill true horror in a game, and that's what Resident Evil 3 knocked out of the park.

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True horror may be all about atmosphere and presentation, but it's absolutely true that other factors contribute or enhance that such as the aforementioned elements of ammo scarcity and jump scares. Resident Evil 3 has those, but what it also has going for it is incredible graphics. Playing Playstation 4 Pro, the game's presentation at 4K in HDR takes the realism of the presentation to a whole different level than its 32-bit original version; I can only imagine what the experience would be like on a high end gaming PC. I normally am the first person to dispute the game that good graphics equal a good game, but with how visceral Resident Evil's content is, the graphical fidelity is a massive enhancement. When you shoot a zombie, that damage is reflected on their body whether it's a chunk of meat blown out of the chest or a sheet of flesh ripped from the rotting face. The dismembered and disemboweled victims of the outbreak are on full display in the game's various locations, and unlike the original release, these are more than primitive polygons tinted red; these are detailed human beings, faces oftentimes visibly twisted in agony. That's not to say that the game's perfect - I vividly recall one instance of running through a donut shop to escape Nemesis and seeing him bug out and just walk through the wall of the shop as if he could phase shift - but it's damn near perfect, and Capcom's attention to detail with character models is truly impressive.

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What will always make-or-break my immersion in a game is the voice acting, and Resident Evil's earlier entries are notorious for some of the worst voice acting of big budget games from the late 1990s; I'm sure everyone remembers (and cringes at the memory of) Barry's "Jill sandwich" line from the first game. As has been the case with most of the series after Resident Evil 4, that craptastic voice acting is gone. In its place is an incredible performance from a stellar cast of voice talent, and Jill's voice actor's line delivery as well as the quality of the motion capture - a critical element of game design often overlooked by gamers - kept me firmly immersed from start to finish. Beyond the voice acting, the sound design in general was extraordinarily well done. Most of the game is silent as far as background music goes. That not only enhances the feeling of dread and isolation that the game evokes, but it also heightens the anxiety players feel when there is music in the background as that only happens in high stress situations like being chased by Nemesis.

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I spent a long time debating what score to give Resident Evil 3. On the one hand, it's one of the most effective games of the genre at making me feel terror, and the presentation is flawless. On the other hand, the game is really short - even with my backtracking, pausing to answer texts and walk the dogs, and being generally bad at video games, I finished in six hours - and there were a couple minor bugs I noticed. In the end, though, no game is ever going to be truly perfect, and this game definitely came close enough to perfection to earn a five out of five score. After all, as far as length goes, I prefer quality over quantity; the quantity of game here may be lacking for some folks, but the quality is undeniable. This is an S tier horror game. With the kind of name recognition and pedigree that an IP like Resident Evil has, I'm sure everyone reading this has either played the game already or firmly plans never to play it, but on the off chance that someone is still on the fence, don't be. Play the game. I can guarantee you won't be disappointed.

Re: Games Beaten 2020

Posted: Thu Oct 15, 2020 5:09 pm
by BoneSnapDeez
Oh man Elkin is back with the daily updates isn't he? 8)
1. ACA NeoGeo: Cyber-Lip (Switch eShop)
2. Pengo (Atari 2600)
3. Kirby's Epic Yarn (Wii)
4. Knights of Xentar (PC)
5. Hoshi o Sagashite... (Mark III)
6. Dead Zone (Famicom Disk System)
7. Samurai Sword (Famicom Disk System)
8. High School! Kimengumi (Mark III)
9. Princess Tomato in the Salad Kingdom (NES)
10. Sindbad Mystery (SG-1000)
11. Steins;Gate (Vita)
12. Champion Boxing (SG-1000)
13. Squidlit (Switch eShop)
14. Skyblazer (SNES)
15. Tokyo Dark: Remembrance (Switch eShop)
16. Bubble Bobble (Famicom Disk System)
17. Steins;Gate Elite (Switch)
18. Johnny Turbo's Arcade: Joe and Mac Returns (Switch eShop)
19. Johnny Turbo's Arcade: Express Raider (Switch eShop)
20. Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle (Genesis)
21. Sword of Vermilion (Genesis)
22. Steins;Gate: My Darling's Embrace (Switch eShop)
23. Oink! (Atari 2600)
24. Bio Miracle Bokutte Upa (Famicom Disk System)
25. Super Castlevania IV (SNES)
26. Phantasy Star Online (Dreamcast)
27. Chaos;Child (Vita)
28. Scar of the Doll (Steam)
29. Kirby's Adventure (NES)
30. Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure (PlayStation)
31. Hangman (Atari 2600)
32. Metal Slug (Neo Geo MVS)
33. Metal Slug 2 (Neo Geo MVS)
34. Masters of the Universe: The Power of He-Man (Intellivision)
35. Shark! Shark! (Intellivision)
36. Videocart 1: Tic-Tac-Toe / Shooting Gallery / Doodle / Quadra-Doodle (Channel F)
37. Haunted House (Atari 2600)
38. The Earth Dies Screaming (Atari 2600)
39. Vroom in the Night Sky (Switch eShop)
40. Sonic Mania Plus (Switch)
41. Arcade Archives: The Ninja Warriors (Switch eShop)
42. 8-Bit Adv Steins;Gate (Switch eShop)
43. Kid Niki: Radical Ninja (NES)
44. Dracula II: Noroi no Fuuin (Famicom Disk System)
45. Centipede (Atari 2600)
46. Infiltrate (Atari 2600)
47. Valis II (TurboGrafx CD)
48. The Song of Saya (Steam)
49. New Super Mario Bros. (DS)
50. Otocky (Famicom Disk System)
51. Raging Loop (Switch)
52. Arcade Archives: Contra (Switch eShop)
53. Steins;Gate: Linear Bounded Phenogram (Steam)

54. Steins;Gate 0 (Vita)
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Steins;Gate was one of the best and most critically acclaimed visual novels of all time. Several years after its release, and following a trio of spin-offs, a proper sequel finally emerged in the form of Steins;Gate 0. Originally released in Japan in 2015 on no less than three Sony systems (PS3, PS4, Vita) it was soon after localized and ported elsewhere. This review covers the Vita version, though all variants of the game are quite similar.

One must be delicate in discussing the plot, as to avoiding revealing too much about the first game (which absolutely must be experienced before 0). In terms of story, Steins;Gate 0 is actually an "interquel" of sorts. Meaning, the events that transpire in 0 aren't occurring after the first game, but during. It covers a good fifteen or so years of time traveling exploits that preceded the "slap" incident of Steins;Gate. This was a brilliant decision; Steins;Gate ended beautifully and tacking on a bunch of stuff to the tail end of the narrative would have cheapened things dramatically.

Akihabara-dweller Rintaro Okabe returns as protagonist. There's an oft-repeated joke about how the series oversees how a "mad scientist" transforms into a "sad scientist" which is admittedly quite accurate. Gutted by the loss of his lover Kurisu, and psychologically damaged by the effects of time travel, Okabe swears off any future experiments and attempts to rejoin "normal" society as a science-majoring college student. Of course, mystery and intrigue (and danger) seem to follow the man. After witnessing a presentation about artificial intelligence, he quickly finds himself volunteering as a test subject, one who interacts with the AI and monitors its growth and progression. Turns out the program possesses the memories of the departed Kurisu, who was working on such a project before losing her life. Such a development sparks an internal conflict within Okabe, who oscillates back and forth in regards to whether it's ethical to develop a relationship with an ephemeral facsimile of his lover, and whether it could, somehow, be possible to retrieve the real Kurisu from the depths of spacetime. Meanwhile, some form of worldline-shifting time travel is comprehended by Okabe, though on these occasions someone else is spearheading the operation. Soon, shadowy forces and mysterious organizations close in on Akihabara: some wishing to harness the powers of the new AI technology, some seeking the time travel technology. Our man just can't catch a break.
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Fundamentally, this is a captivating story artfully delivered. Like the original Steins;Gate, this serves as a cautionary tale. Not about the dangers of hubris and reckless experimentation, but about the pitfalls of fatalism and surrender. This is Okabe's redemption arc, with the narrative placing tremendous emphasis on the string of inevitable failures encountered before a modicum of success. Compared to the first game, the plot progression is much "looser" here. This is primarily due to the way the time travel mechanics are handled. In Steins;Gate, the developers apparently took obsessive note of every event that transpired to prevent any contradictions or inconsistencies. Steins;Gate 0, on the other hand, essentially uses the time travel motif as an excuse to explain away such problematic elements. Hardcore fans of the series will claim that there are technically no plot holes to be found here, though such statements are usually followed by massive clarifying pontifications. Point being, it's okay to feel "lost" here or there, as the narrative weaves all over the place without much consideration of what happened prior or what's happening next.

The returning cast is excellent. Okabe remains the best visual novel protagonist to date, an empathetic and charismatic individual who's easy to root for. His pals (Mayuri, Daru, Faris, Suzuha, etc.) all reprise their roles from the original. The Steins;Gate series -- here and elsewhere -- succeeds in creating a cohesive group of friends who share genuine (heartwarming, really) interactions, avoiding the typical visual novel conversational clichés (like constant sarcasm and perviness and so forth). Naturally, there's some fresh blood joining the crew. The new characters vary in quality, with some instrumental in driving the plot forward and others feeling like filler. Mayuri's cosplaying friends come across as if they're included as an attempt to add "normal people" (those who aren't scientists or time travelers) to the mix, and they're the least interesting additions to the story. One is ostensibly Daru's lover, and is the most engaging of the bunch, though she doesn't get enough screen time. Maho, a scientist and colleague of the departed Kurisu is an intriguing and rather humorous individual, whose backstory is fleshed out slowly via a series of flashbacks. Then there's Kagari, a mysterious "lost" girl whose character development hinges on the player seeking out all endings. Finally, there are some American researchers. Judy Reyes is the "hot, older" woman who doesn't receive enough character development before transforming into something of an antagonist. As for the professor Alexis Leskinen, his gregarious nature makes him unforgettable. He certainly has the best "stage presence" of the cast. The voice acting is exemplary; this applies to both the returning voice cast and newcomers alike. Okabe's actor especially shines, successfully transforming a formerly flamboyant hero into someone who's barely treading water. One bizarre (and hilarious) thing to note: the "bilingual" Western characters (Reyes and Leskinen) are supposed to speak decent English and questionable Japanese, but since their voice actors are in actuality Japanese individuals, the characters instead speak perfect Japanese and humorously accented English. There's one notable dual language scene about "Japanese shaman girls" which has since been memed, remixed, and parodied countless times.
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Perhaps harkening back to Linear Bounded Phenogram, Steins;Gate 0 contains scenes from perspectives other than Okabe's, where the viewpoint shifts to characters like Suzuha, Maho, and others. These scenes occur in instances where Okabe is absent, and provide two functions: showcasing secretive events that happen unbeknownst to protagonist, and assisting in further character development. Such scenes are successful on both counts and tremendously aid in establishing the narrative's depth. Interestingly, when the viewpoint shifts from Okabe the writing transforms into third-person rather than maintaining first. This is, after all, still his story on some fundamental level.

Steins;Gate 0 is a "route-based" visual novel with Okabe's phone being used once again in lieu of traditional pop-up menus. He's traded in his old flip phone for a smartphone; how disappointingly un-retro. In the original game, "emails" (they were so short and rapidly sent they came across like text messages) were used to communicate with Okabe's pals and to influence the storyline progression, with the option to highlight specific keywords in a received email to determine the general subject of a newly sent one. In contrast, Steins;Gate 0 allows Okabe to text, and to select fully formed messages to be sent. He can also send "stickers" which are essentially cutesy cartoon images in the likenesses of Steins;Gate characters and are used to express a singular emotion much like an emoji. Holistically, the phone system is less complicated this time around... sort of. The thing is: the texts really don't matter. What alters the story's progression is whether or not Okabe chooses to answer phone calls, most of which are from "Amadeus" (the AI Kurisu). There are multiple endings, though things are structured completely differently here in the world of 0. Steins;Gate had a long narrative, which if navigated perfectly the player hits the true ending, and "mistakes" lead to a fork and thus an alternate ending. 0, however, contains one big "fork" early on, which essentially creates two "main" routes, and then later subsequent forks, each one containing an ending. Reaching the true ending remains harder than it should be. Long story short: the true ending is tacked on to the end of Mayuri's ending, but is only available to players to first viewed Kurisu's ending. Anyone who receives Mayuri's ending first (oh hi there) will have to get the Kurisu ending and then go back to the Mayuri ending again. Yes, it's possible to fast-forward through previously-read text but still... get a walkthrough.
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One simple statement about the audiovisual presentation: it's absolutely fantastic... but can't quite measure up to standards set by the original. The developers and artists deserve a tremendous amount of credit: they could have reused a great many assets (as the spin-offs did) but instead chose to start fresh with new art and musical compositions. The characters art is lovely. It has a crisp clean look, with each individual granted a plethora of poses and facial expressions. That said, it's a bit more "standard" and lacks the ethereal look seen in other series installments. What's bizarre is that the flashback scenes utilize the original art, and sometimes new art is juxtaposed against the classic designs. It's rather jarring. And screenshot hoarders (there are others, right?) will be upset to see unattractive watermarks added to all snapshots. The soundtrack is solid; it's grittier and "darker" in tone to match that of the game. It may lack bangers like "Noisy Times" but manages to mesh well with the story and remains memorable after all is completed. The title screen theme is astonishing, like in the "so good I don't wanna click the Start button" sort of way. And Okabe's ringtone from the first game had been expanded and remixed into a full-fledged song here. Amazing.

Overall, this is a worthy sequel. Asking Steins;Gate 0 to measure up to its predecessor is a tall order, and while it doesn't quite reach those heights it's still a worthwhile experience in its own right. It's certainly better than the spin-off entries, making it the second-best installment of the series. With talks of a remake on the horizon this surely isn't the last we've seen of the Japanese shaman girls.

Re: Games Beaten 2020

Posted: Fri Oct 16, 2020 5:32 am
by PartridgeSenpai
Partridge Senpai's 2020 Beaten Games:
Previously: 2016 2017 2018 2019
* indicates a repeat

1-50
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)
31. Cubivore (GC)
32. Wario World (GC) *
33. Hatoful Boyfriend (PC)
34. Fire Emblem: Mystery of the Emblem (SFC)
35. Baku Bomberman 2 (N64)
36. Chameleon Twist (N64)
37. Gato Roboto (PC)
38. The Messenger (PC)
39. The Messenger: Picnic Panic (PC)
40. Baku Bomberman (N64)
41. Bomberman Hero (N64)
42. Blazing Lasers (TG16)
43. Neutopia (TG16)
44. Neutopia II (TG16)
45. Bomberman '94 (PCE)
46. Super Mario Sunshine (GC) *
47. Sonic Adventure 2 Battle (GC) *
48. Shenmue 3 (PS4)
49. Wandersong (Switch)
50. Ratchet & Clank (PS2)

51. Ratchet & Clank 2: Going Commando (PS2)
52. Ratchet & Clank 3: Up Your Arsenal (PS2)
53. Nier: Automata (PS4)
54. Ratchet: Deadlocked (PS2)
55. Itadaki Street Special (PS2)
56. Castlevania: Rondo of Blood (PCE)
57. Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction (PS3)
58. Crash Bandicoot (PS1)
59. Nazo Puyo: Aruru No Ruu~ (Game Gear)
60. Jumping Flash! (PS1)
61. Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back (PS1)
62. Crash Team Racing (PS1)
63. Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped (PS1)
64. Super Mario Galaxy (Switch)
65. Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time (PS3)
66. Battle Stadium D.O.N. (GC) *
67. Super Mario Galaxy 2 (Wii) *
68. Dracula Densetsu II (GB)
69. New Super Mario Bros. Wii (Wii) *
70. Super Mario's Picross (SFC)

Retro Castlevania Extravaganza
Aka: Castlevania Anniversary Collection

Over the past few days, I played through the other 7 games on the Castlevania Anniversary Collection as well as another Castlevania game I got on the Wii U Virtual Console. Rather than review them separately, one at a time in the order that I beat them, like I usually do, I thought it would be more fun and interesting to try something different. I'm going to write this singular massive post reviewing each in the order that they came out and in the context that they came out. I already was comparing the games to one another as I played them, so comparing them actively via writing to the past Castlevanias at the time sounded like an even more fun idea~. As a quick note before I properly begin, I will clarify that because Belmont's Revenge and Rondo of Blood already have proper reviews on the site, I'm not going to totally re-review them here. Additionally, Kid Dracula is a bit too different to really be worth comparing to other Castlevania games, so that'll get its own review at a later date. Lastly, all of these games are the Japanese versions unless specified otherwise.

71. Castlevania (Famicom)

The game that started it all: Simon Belmont's quest to go to Castlevania and destroy Dracula. This is where so many foundational aspects of the classic games get their start, but it also definitely shows its age and has many marks of being a first attempt. This is a game I attempted to beat quite a lot as a kid, but I never could. Even this time I used save states quite a fair bit (more than almost any other of the games I'll write about here). I generally tried to use them only either before a very hard boss, or once I'd completed a section without getting hit (that was proof enough to me that it wasn't worth my time replaying it over and over).

Simon Belmont has six stages of Castlevania to get through before Dracula, each of them with an increasingly difficult boss awaiting him at the end. He has his trusty whip which he can collect upgrades for (that reset when you lose a life) that make it longer and more damaging, and he can also pick up one subweapon at a time that can be used by holding up and pressing the attack button. It's a relatively simple formula, but it works pretty damn well. Other staples of the classic games get their start here too, such as your infamously very rigid jumps (no play control here) and the big knockback when you get hit. Simon has a very deliberate way to how he controls. From the jumping to the walking to the whipping, everything has a reliable animation that you need to really get used to if you're going to survive with it. Mistakes are not very often tolerated, and this is a game that really rewards knowing exactly what you're getting into so you can approach it in a way that you'll actually have a chance of surviving.

On that note, I would say that the first Castlevania's biggest problem is that it falls into a design trap of "too hard to be fun" very often for me. The knockback is very unforgiving and frequently lands you down pits, constantly spawning medusa heads and bats are a constant danger to falling into pits as well, bosses are often very mobile and powerful while you are absolutely not, difficult gauntlets proceed nearly every boss, and so on. What I think makes this somewhat worse is how GOOD the holy water is. Most if not all of the bosses and enemies in the game can be absolutely destroyed if you manage to get holy water and a subweapon multiplier (to let you throw more than one at once) before you get to them, because holy water stun-locks not just normal enemies but bosses too as long as the fire burns them. This means that most bosses are either super difficult and punishing, or you know how to beat them and they're pushovers. I didn't realize it until I'd already beaten it, but the Japanese version of the game actually has an easy mode that makes you deal more damage, take no knockback, take less damage, and generally make the game far more forgiving, and that's something I wish I'd realized before I'd started the whole adventure XP

One excellent trend that this game starts that continues through the whole series is nailing the presentation. It's a fairly early NES/FDS game (1986, but the Famicom version on the Anniversary Collection is the cart version of the FDS game released in 1993), but the music is excellent and the game looks really pretty. There's still sprite flicker and slowdown from time to time, but it's often not frequent enough to really impact gameplay all that much.

Verdict: Hesitantly Recommended. This is definitely one of the games in the series that I say most benefits from save states. The difficulty on particularly the Death and Dracula fights is just so brutal that even aside from how difficult their stages can be to get through, those save states will really come in as life savers for your patience. It may be an excellent action game for '86, but I don't think it's all that fun to play vanilla these days if completing the game is your end goal.

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72. Castlevania (MSX)

Released very shortly after the original Famicom Disk System release of the original Castlevania, "Vampire Killer", as it's also known, is an adaptation of the Famicom game made for the MSX home computer system. It's never been released outside of Japan, and this game also is the only one in this post not on the Anniversary Collection. This is one that I bought on the Japanese Wii U Virtual Console to play on Twitch, and I ended up beating it in a little over 2 hours in one sitting.

While this will be uncannily familiar in many respects to anyone who has played the NES game, the MSX version of Castlevania is a completely different game in just about every respect. Some of that is down to the differences in the programming realities of building a game for the Famicom vs building one or the MSX, but there is a broader design philosophy that makes the bridge between the two far far wider. While still a stage-based linear game, MSX Castlevania is much more of an adventure game than its predecessor. In many ways, it's a kind of missing link between the first two Famicom game, and playing this explains a lot of why Castlevania II was just apparently an adventure game for no reason when the first entry was a straight-up action platformer.

Some elements of this game are just like its Famicom counterpart. Your whip upgrades when you collect power ups and that power resets on death, there are six stages with generally the same bosses at the end of each, and you collect hearts as you go through the castle. However, there is a LOT here that is utterly alien to the original Castlevania experience. You have hearts to collect, sure, but they don't power your subweapons (not like the other games, at least). In fact, this game doesn't even have subweapons at all. You use these hearts at merchants in the castle to buy things like health refills, new weapons, maps of the areas you're in, or even a shield to block incoming projectiles. There are more weapons, yes, but they replace your old one. If you get the knives (which are REALLY good), they replace your whip, but you can throw those things infinitely and they take no ammo to fire. The only subweapons that are here are the holy water and stop watch, which are both very very finicky to use, and seemed to require jumping in the air and then holding up and then pressing B to actually use. I could never get them to work reliably.

Additionally, each of the six stages are separated into three areas, and in each area you need to find a silver key to open up the gate at the end to access the next area. There are also normal keys to collect to open chests that hide everything from passive items to maps to just bundles of hearts you can use to buy stuff. The keys you need to progress are often hidden very well, and some are eventually even outright fakes or red herrings that are only there to try and get you to kill yourself trying to get them.

That brings me to my ultimate gripe with this game. While the first Castlevania is difficult to the point of not being very fun, I wouldn't call it outright unfair more often than not. Its level design is unforgiving, absolutely, but it's never meanspirited. MSX Castlevania, on the other hand, is a VERY vindictive and unfair game. It is riddled with traps to kill you like the aforementioned false door keys, and that's not to mention the slimes that are hidden in ever so many candle sticks, the enemies that are so close to the edge of the screen that you cannot enter that screen without getting hit, or how if you miss the return on boomerang weapons like the axe or cross that weapon is just GONE and you have nothing but your weak default whip again. Even your map has limited uses for some inexplicable reason. And this is all on top of how this game has no continues, no passwords, and no extra lives. You have THREE whole lives to get through the entirety of a very labyrinthine Castlevania and kill Dracula with, and should you lose those lives, it's back to the start of the entire game for you. Thankfully, Simon is pretty beefy and he can take a lot of punishment, but even with save states it was pretty difficult at times to not die before getting to the bosses.

The bosses, paradoxically enough, are super duper easy, but this mostly revolves around how this is an MSX game and not a Famicom game. Like most MSX games, the screen doesn't scroll with you as you move. Like in Zelda 1, when Simon gets to the edge of the screen, the next screen forms ahead of him as he transitions to it. It doesn't move along with you as you move like the Famicom version of Castlevania does. Another interesting thing is that, while Simon himself has a knockback SO huge that it actually knocks you farther than you can physically jump forwards, enemies themselves don't freeze upon being hit and have no invincibility frames at all. Simon can also whip his whip REALLY fast, so if you just get close to a boss, you can let it hit you, tank the hit and just lay into them while your invincibility frames keep you protected. While this is otherwise a very difficult game, the bosses are easily one of the least difficult aspects of it. This also has one of the easiest Dracula fights by far (at least if you buy the very cheap knife weapon being sold right near his boss door), although it does drag on and gets a little boring after a while. All that said, the most unfortunate thing about this being an MSX game is that the slowdown affects the gameplay far more than in the NES games, meaning there were a lot of times where the game simply didn't recognize an input because it was stuttering so badly and I ended up getting hit or dying as a result.

As far as the presentation is concerned, it's still pretty decent. The music hardware of the MSX isn't exactly up to the standard the Famicom could produce, but they're still quite good renditions of the tracks from the Famicom game. The graphics are also good recreations of that, although I wouldn't say it's quite as pretty as the Famicom game. There are some quite odd aspects to the presentation though. Particularly, that not only is the epilogue to this Japan-exclusive game all in English, is also doesn't even call you Simon Belmont O_o

Verdict: Not Recommended. I can say very safely that this is the worst Castlevania game I've ever played and almost certainly the worst in the series. It honestly wouldn't be quite so bad if it weren't for the lack of continues or extra lives, but even then it'd just be a below average adventure game. Even with save states, this game is really only ever worth playing if you're just THAT curious about how it fits into the overall evolution of the series, and even then, I'd advise just watching a playthrough on YouTube before spending any money on it (let alone 800 yen like I did XP).


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73. Castlevania II: Simon's Quest (NES)

While the Castlevania Anniversary Collection DID add all the Japanese versions of the games on it in a post-launch patch (the Japanese versions for the English release, and vice versa), the one exception to that is Castlevania II. I even bought the Japanese version of the game on the Japanese Switch eShop, and even THAT version just has the American NES game instead of the Famicom Disk System version of Castlevania II. Given that this is even more of an adventure game than the MSX game is, and therefore has a lot of text, it's easily the worst game you could possibly do that with if the intention is for Japanese players to be able to understand what they're playing XP. The only explanation I can think of to why they did this is that Konami just didn't want to bother getting Famicom Disk System games to work on their Famicom emulator, so they just slapped the NES version on there since, unlike Castlevania 1, no cart version of Castlevania II exists in Japanese. Weird version nonsense aside, despite this game's dire reputation, I was actually very pleasantly surprised by what it had to offer.

In a weird turn (particularly for Westerners without access to the MSX game), Castlevania II is much more a successor to the MSX game than the Famicom game. Releasing the year after the first two games, Castlevania II is an action-adventure game through and through. Just like the MSX game, you have hearts not really to use subweapons, but to buy things from merchants. In an even more odd twist, those hearts also function as experience points that you will level up with to gain a larger max health bar. Unlike the MSX game, however, there's not a set of levels to go through, but a side-scrolling overworld connecting a series of towns and mansions to explore. This is the first time we start getting much any story in a Castlevania game as well. After Simon killed Dracula in the first game, he unwittingly was cursed by the vampire despite his victory. He now must go through five mansions around Transylvania to collect the remnants of Dracula and then bring those remains to Castle Dracula to destroy them to free himself from the curse once and for all. It's not much, but it's something, especially for a series that would eventually become much more narrative focused.

Simon goes from town to town hunting for items, and these items take all variety of forms. Like the MSX game, you can buy subweapons, and some of those subweapons consume hearts but some do not. There are also items you'll need to progress through dangerous areas, as well as passive items to unlock secrets. Even Dracula's remains function as passives when selected, like Dracula's Rib being the return of the invaluable projectile-blocking shield from the MSX game. Most interestingly to me is how your whip can be upgraded to simply do more damage forever. The temporary upgrades of the past are gone, and now you can even get a really awesome flame whip if you REALLY wanna heck fools up. You're gonna need those better whips too, because this game works on a day/night cycle, and enemies get twice as tough at night time. This game has three endings, and you need to beat it within a certain amount of time (which is a pretty damn tight time frame, all things considered) if you want Simon to live through his quest.

And that time limit comes down to the ultimate flaw with this game: signposting. Like so many other adventure games of the 8-bit era (even the Zeldas of the time aren't free from this design hurdle), the massive amount of time spent with the game will be wandering around utterly lost as you try and stumble into the next totally unexplained thing you need to do to progress. The combat and platforming in Simon's Quest aren't particularly hard, but what IS tough is just knowing where to go or how to progress in the first place. The times I did use save states were largely just to save time should I make a wrong turn or take a bad jump, and not usually for larger difficulty reasons. Simon's Quest in particular suffers from a pretty rough English translation that makes the information you ARE given that much more difficult to use in the first place. A guide is absolutely essential if you're going to make it through this game in any reasonable amount of time, let alone get anything other than the worst ending. Personally, I didn't use a guide for my first attempt, ended up totally hecked after accidentally skipping the first three mansions, and then started using a guide. I took a wrong turn near the end of the game and the time it took to recover from that still put me over the 8 day limit you need to beat in order to get the best ending, so all I got was the 2nd best ending XP

The presentation and base mechanics of the game are both good improvements to the first game. You'll sometimes get framerate slowdown, but it's not too brutal or game affecting thankfully. This game polishes up Simon's movement a fair bit too. He moves just a bit faster, jumps a bit quicker, and whips a bit faster. It makes the whole thing feel a bit better to play than the first game, although the kind of action and platforming you're doing isn't exactly the same most of the time. This game also has some of the best music in the classic series, with the main theme, Bloody Tears, being one of the most iconic songs of the entire franchise.

Verdict: Recommended. My recommendation here is largely on the condition that you'll use a guide. If you don't use a guide, then it's honestly largely on you for how frustrated you get being lost, because this game is a doozy of a game for how lost it makes you XP. As a relatively early Famicom adventure game, however, this is a really solid one. The difficulty almost never feels unreasonable, and it's a pretty good time to spend an evening trekking through if you know what you're doing. I was very pleasantly surprised by my time with Simon's Quest, and I'm looking forward to someday playing through the Japanese version so I can compare just how misleading the hints and information are in the original Japanese compared to the cryptic English text.


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74. Castlevania: The Adventure (GB)

1989 brought us Castlevania's first foray into the portable space with Castlevania: The Adventure. Developed by a different team than the NES games, this is the story of Christopher Belmont's first quest to take down big ol' Dracula. This game has something of a bad reputation among those who have played it, and in my time with it I grew to find that its reputation is absolutely deserved. The Japanese version is almost identical to the International releases, so there really isn't anything to comment there (Switch port or no Switch port), so this game's faults are entirely its own, no matter the region you're playing them in.

The story as its presented is pretty basic Castlevania fare of "Oh look there's Dracula, let's go kick his face in." Not a whole lot here other than an excuse to go out vampire-huntin', and who really needs more of an excuse than "he's here to destroy the world yet again"? The presentation as a whole is pretty sub-par, though. The music is fine and the graphics are alright, but the game runs VERY slowly when there's more than a few enemies on screen, and that's something that affects your ability to play the game significantly at times. Much like the MSX game, there were many times where Christopher just wouldn't do a quick turn or a whip I needed him to do simply because the game was slowing down so badly.

That slowdown just compounds onto the game's already fairly mediocre design. This is a Castlevania game that is once again an action game (no adventure game aspects to find here), but it's a far more simple action game than even the first Famicom game. You have your upgradable whip, but other than that, you don't got nothin'. This game has no subweapons of any kind, and not even a fireball to whip out when you have your whip at max power. Then add in that your whip gets downgraded EVERY time you get hit, and you have the realization that you're gonna need to memorize these levels quite well if you want to have anything other than your base whip.

The level design isn't MSX Castlevania-levels of vindictive, but a lot of it is just really uninspired. Like Belmont's Revenge (the second GameBoy game) would later do as well, this game eschews stairs for ropes to climb, but that's really the only "special" thing about it, if you can even call it that. The downgraded whip and a fair amount of really precise jumping sections really make this entry an unforgiving time in a way that has a lot of trouble finding a fun-factor, even with save states (and I only used save states in this one right before Dracula since stage 4 was so difficult I didn't wanna have to go through the whole thing again XP). The way the game slows down and speeds up can those jumping puzzles and dealing with enemies, particularly tougher ones, feel far more frustrating than it should be, and it makes the whole game feel like a slog. It's far from the toughest Castlevania game, with even the bosses not being terribly difficult (save for Dracula who's pretty tough but very learnable after a few tries), but that just never gets around the fact that this game just isn't terribly fun to play.

Verdict: Not Recommended. If you ABSOLUTELY MUST have more Castlevania in your life, I can certainly recommend this game more than I can the MSX game, but I still think your time is better spent playing or replaying one of the other classic Castlevanias instead. It's more frustrating than fun, and on the whole pretty unmemorable outside of those most frustrating sections. I didn't despise the few hours I spent with this, but I certainly feel no need to ever repeat them again, and "I didn't totally hate it" is a pretty difficult watermark to recommend a game at in any regard XP


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75. Castlevania III (Famicom)

In a fairly hard pivot for the main Castlevania team back from Castlevania II, Castlevania III not only changes the era and the protagonist but also the genre back to being an action platformer. Being an action platformer is also where the series would stay for quite some time, as the same goes for the rest of the games in this post as well. Castlevania III also is a quite famously different game between its NES and Famicom versions, so for this game, probably more than any other on this list, it's important to keep in mind that I'm talking about the easier Famicom game rather than the much harder NES game. It took me about 3 or 4 hours to get through the game with marginal save state usage (mostly just before very hard bosses, especially before the second to last level's boss).

This game follows Simon Belmont's ancestor Trevor (or as he's known in the Japanese version, Ralph) Belmont in his quest to travel through Transylvania to Dracula's castle to defeat him. Similar to Castlevania II, this is another game where the adventure doesn't start at Dracula's doorstep, but instead follows our hero from the Transylvanian hinterlands all the way to and through Dracula's domain. Trevor himself plays a lot like Simon does in Castlevania II. He has no inventory like that game (back to good old temporary whip upgrades and classic heart-ammo subweapons), but he still moves and whips a bit faster than Castlevania 1 Simon did. While this game may not be an adventure game like its predecessor, what it does have is a series of branching paths. The most important feature of these branching paths is not just to give you more ways than one to play the game, but also to lead you down optional roads to this game's other most important innovation on the previous games: extra playable characters.

Along his journey through Transylvania, Trevor can meet three people turned into monsters by Dracula as stage bosses. Upon beating them, they will offer to join Trevor, but he can only have one companion at a time. These companions can be switched to at any time with the select button, and they each have their own unique attacks as well as often having their own unique subweapon set as well. First you have Grant the acrobat, then there's Sypha the witch, and finally you have Dracula's own son Alucard who is half-vampire and half-human. Alucard has a projectile attack and can turn into a bat, but he's generally considered the worst of the companions since his transformation is limited by your number of hearts, and flying isn't actually that useful. Sypha's normal attack isn't that great, but she has a slew of subweapons that turn most bosses to tissue paper if used properly. Finally you have Grant, who can not only jump higher and even change direction mid-jump (something no other character in the game can do and is a rare ability in the series as a whole), but he can also throw infinite knives.

A very big change from the Japanese to the English releases of the games is that Grant was given a very short-range, weak melee knife in the English versions. This is in contrast to his normal weapon in the Japanese version which is an infinite supply of the knife subweapon which he can even throw if he's climbing walls or ceilings. This makes him an even more useful ally than he is in the English version, as he's not just nimble but dangerous too, and that's just one aspect of how the Japanese version is easier. Damage calculation itself differs between the two games, but on the whole you take less damage in this game. Many bosses and even normal enemies have significantly less health and more simple/abusable attack patterns. Heck, Grant is so good and Dracula is so much easier, I got to him with Grant without even full health and I managed to (albeit narrowly) beat him on my first try (which I was very proud of regardless :b). That's still not to say this game is easy, not by a long shot, but having played a fair bit of the American version as a kid, I can say that this version's lowered difficulty allows it to be a lot more fun than its English counterpart for me.

The presentation is once again absolutely excellent. The Famicom and NES's technical differences allowed Konami to use their own hardware in the cartridge for this game, meaning that the Japanese version of the game not just has gameplay differences but it also has several extra audio channels, meaning the music is on the whole often better (although some of the English tracks can certainly be argued to be superior). The environments are very pretty, the animations are nice for enemies and player characters alike, and the game on the whole really flexes what devs were able to do with the Famicom by 1989.

Verdict: Highly Recommended. While not my favorite game of the classic action platforming Castlevanias, this is still easily my favorite of the 8-bit games (followed by Belmont's Revenge on the GB). It's got stellar music and a fairer difficulty curve that makes it a compelling challenge even without save states, and the oodles of content provided by the branching paths and extra characters give it plenty of replay value as well. If you're a fan of action games and don't mind a bit of a challenge, this is definitely one you can't afford to pass up.


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76. Super Castlevania IV (SFC) *

​Despite the title, this is actually more of a remake of the original Castlevania than anything (which is why the title is the same as the original in Japanese). Coming out in the first year of the Super Famicom and SNES, it still manages to be a really impressive entry for both the series and the console. This is the only entry on this list that I've beaten before, so while it has been years since I did so, this was ultimately a re-experience of this game rather than my first completion, so it didn't take me that long or that many save states to do it (save states were once again more of an infrequently used convenience thing rather than used out of necessity).

While in spirit this is certainly a remake of the original Famicom game, the content of it is anything but. Along with the addition of a "trek through Transylvania" lead up to Dracula's castle, even Dracula's castle is completely different from the NES original. The only real relation to the original is that it's once again Simon Belmont's quest to kill Dracula, and from there on out proceeds to be an entirely different Castlevania game. That said, it's still a very good and very impressive Castlevania game.

Once again we have linear stages, temporary whip upgrades, subweapons (you know the drill by now), but there are a few very interesting mechanical changes to how you play this Castlevania. Most important to mention is how your whip works: You can whip in EIGHT whole directions! You can even hold the whip button down to let it go limp and then you can flick it in any direction with the D-pad for a weak bit of damage. Additionally, the subweapon button has been bound to the R button instead of up + attack, so you can finally stop worrying about accidentally trying to use your subweapon while trying to climb some stairs and attacking XD. Even Simon himself has a real fluidity to it, and a level of maneuverability and play control rarely seen among the classic Castlevania games. You can even jump onto staircases! It provides a sense of control that I find really engaging, and that's a bit part of why this is my favorite game on the Anniversary Collection.

Level design is varied and interesting, and there are even new platforming mechanics to take advantage of your new whip abilities by means of grapple points Simon can swing from. The game as a whole has a very fair level of challenge to it. I would say it's probably one of the most fair-feeling out of any of the games on the Anniversary Collection. Part of this is definitely down to just how versatile Simon's move set is, but part of it is also definitely down to how tight the level design is and how well balanced the bosses feel. This game has a bunch of bosses that all feel good to fight, and the difficulty curve of the game is also well done so you don't really have huge walls of difficulty in the middle of the game.

The presentation is once again excellent, with a rocking soundtrack of remixes of old tunes along with new tracks, and the graphics are excellent as well. I can't help but feel that, had this come out a year or two later and Konami had had more experience with the SFC sound chip, the music would be even better, but what's here is still really impressive for such a relatively early SFC game.

Verdict: Highly Recommended. This is right up there with Rondo of Blood for me as an impeccable classic Castlevania game. I know there are many who prefer the Mega Drive game, and I know that there are many who also find this game a bit too different to feel comfortable with it compared to the other Castlevanias, but those elements of difference are part of what makes this such a brilliant entry in the series. Despite the fact that I'd easily call Rondo of Blood the better overall game, this game is just so good for pick up and play action that I'd frankly recommend this first over that one.


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77. Castlevania: Bloodlines (MD)

​Coming out at the tail end of '93, we have our last classic Castlevania game on the Anniversary Collection as well as really the last proper classic-style Castlevania game made before Symphony of the Night revamped what the whole series was about (at least if you consider Dracula X on the SNES as a port of Rondo and not its own game, which is debatable). I don't like it quite as much as Castlevania IV or Rondo of Blood, but it's still an excellent entry in the series. This was one that took me only a few hours to get through the six stages of, with serious save state use only used in the last stage.

This is a bit of an odd Castlevania in how the story is both simple but also quite different from the simplicity of its predecessors. Sure, it's still basically "Oh look, let's go beat up Dracula again, he's a baddie", but this time you aren't even a Belmont (not by name, anyhow). This game takes place in 1917, and the vampire killer whip has passed to a distant relative of the Belmont clan known as John Morris (hilariously called "Johnny Morris" in Japanese). You can play as either him or as Eric Lecarde (who looks quite feminine in the Japanese version) who is out to avenge his vampirized girlfriend, as they trek across Europe to several famous spots to hunt down Dracula's allies before he can be taken on himself. While the story itself isn't really that interesting other than it calling into question how you can go from Romania to Germany to Britain during the height of World War 1, or the really funny way that one level is a German munitions factory (which also has a castle because of course it does) that is populated by skeletons wearing military helmets, it DOES give you the ability to play as one of the two characters. While Morris has his whip, Lecarde has a spear.

The two characters aren't nearly as different as Richter and Maria are in Rondo of Blood, but they play meaningfully different enough that a playthrough with each is definitely still worthwhile. I played through as Johnny, and he can whip in front of himself, but also diagonally upwards to swing on ceilings and even down (although your jump is so low that the downwards whip isn't all that useful). Lecarde's spear, on the other hand, can stab directly upwards and has a slightly longer range than Morris does, and he can also do a high jump. Morris' grapple whip and Lecarde's high jump give them access to slightly different paths through the levels, making even the levels themselves slightly different depending on whom you're playing as.

Instead of going through Transylvania, you're treking all around Europe to all sorts of different locales. Even Dracula himself isn't even in continental Europe at all, but in a castle in England. The different countries make for some very interesting level designs (like the swaying in the Tower of Pisa), and despite this game having fewer levels than the other 16-bit Castlevanias, they're quite long compared to those levels and each level feels very different to the others. My main complaint about the game is how stingy it can be with whip/spear upgrades. There are many bosses, particularly in Dracula's castle, for whom range is paramount to how easy a time you'll have with them. If you die once, you won't be given two whip upgrades to fight the boss again, you'll only be given one, and that aspect to the boss design really left a sour taste in my mouth. It's certainly far from how tilted the difficulty can feel in Castlevania 1 depending on the loadout you brought, but it's analogous enough to that frustration that it keeps me from holding this game in quite a high a regard as the other 16-bit Castlevania games.

The presentation is also no exception to the series general rule of excellence. The music and graphics that really show the kind of speed and color you could get from the Mega Drive come 1993, and it's probably one of the prettiest looking of the older Castlevanias in general as a result. Most of the differences between the Japanese and Western releases are cosmetic (such as making Lecarde look more masculine, Morris' first name), but one important difference is that the Japanese normal mode is the English easy mode, so even though I played through the game on "normal", what I played through compared to the rest of the world was easy mode.

Verdict: Highly Recommended. Though this may be my least favorite of the 16-bit Castlevanias, it is by no means not a great game. It still sets a high water mark just as most of the other games do, and is very well worth playing.


-----

Upon buying the Anniversary Collection, I really didn't imagine myself playing through anything more than just Belmont's Revenge and maybe toying with the other games only a little. I'm really glad that I caught the Castlevania bug and ended up giving the others a chance, because it was a weekend I really enjoyed my time with. Especially if you can get it on a 40% off sale like I did, I highly recommend the Anniversary Collection to any fan of retro action games. The save state function lets you make all the games as hard or as easy as you'd like them to be, and that's honestly the best way to play old action games like this: at whatever difficulty and pace is right for you ^w^

And because it would be criminal to write such a long (and ostensibly comparative) piece about so many similar games and NOT rank how I feel about the games, here is my ranking of the classic (pre-SotN) Castlevania games that I've played:
Rondo of Blood > Castlevania IV > Castlevania III (JPN) > Belmont's Revenge > Bloodlines > Castlevania II > Castlevania I > Adventure > MSX

Re: Games Beaten 2020

Posted: Fri Oct 16, 2020 9:11 am
by prfsnl_gmr
Awesome reviews, Pidge. I love the CV series, although I have yet to beat Vampire Killer. My ranking would be like yours, except I’d move CVI up three spaces (largely due to nostalgia). Now, if you get through CV: Legends and Haunted Castle, you’ll have every classic CV game under your belt! Be warned, though, CV: Legends is very mediocre and a Haunted Castle is very bad!

EDIT: play CV: Chronicles too. It’s solid.

Re: Games Beaten 2020

Posted: Fri Oct 16, 2020 4:56 pm
by BoneSnapDeez
1. ACA NeoGeo: Cyber-Lip (Switch eShop)
2. Pengo (Atari 2600)
3. Kirby's Epic Yarn (Wii)
4. Knights of Xentar (PC)
5. Hoshi o Sagashite... (Mark III)
6. Dead Zone (Famicom Disk System)
7. Samurai Sword (Famicom Disk System)
8. High School! Kimengumi (Mark III)
9. Princess Tomato in the Salad Kingdom (NES)
10. Sindbad Mystery (SG-1000)
11. Steins;Gate (Vita)
12. Champion Boxing (SG-1000)
13. Squidlit (Switch eShop)
14. Skyblazer (SNES)
15. Tokyo Dark: Remembrance (Switch eShop)
16. Bubble Bobble (Famicom Disk System)
17. Steins;Gate Elite (Switch)
18. Johnny Turbo's Arcade: Joe and Mac Returns (Switch eShop)
19. Johnny Turbo's Arcade: Express Raider (Switch eShop)
20. Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle (Genesis)
21. Sword of Vermilion (Genesis)
22. Steins;Gate: My Darling's Embrace (Switch eShop)
23. Oink! (Atari 2600)
24. Bio Miracle Bokutte Upa (Famicom Disk System)
25. Super Castlevania IV (SNES)
26. Phantasy Star Online (Dreamcast)
27. Chaos;Child (Vita)
28. Scar of the Doll (Steam)
29. Kirby's Adventure (NES)
30. Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure (PlayStation)
31. Hangman (Atari 2600)
32. Metal Slug (Neo Geo MVS)
33. Metal Slug 2 (Neo Geo MVS)
34. Masters of the Universe: The Power of He-Man (Intellivision)
35. Shark! Shark! (Intellivision)
36. Videocart 1: Tic-Tac-Toe / Shooting Gallery / Doodle / Quadra-Doodle (Channel F)
37. Haunted House (Atari 2600)
38. The Earth Dies Screaming (Atari 2600)
39. Vroom in the Night Sky (Switch eShop)
40. Sonic Mania Plus (Switch)
41. Arcade Archives: The Ninja Warriors (Switch eShop)
42. 8-Bit Adv Steins;Gate (Switch eShop)
43. Kid Niki: Radical Ninja (NES)
44. Dracula II: Noroi no Fuuin (Famicom Disk System)
45. Centipede (Atari 2600)
46. Infiltrate (Atari 2600)
47. Valis II (TurboGrafx CD)
48. The Song of Saya (Steam)
49. New Super Mario Bros. (DS)
50. Otocky (Famicom Disk System)
51. Raging Loop (Switch)
52. Arcade Archives: Contra (Switch eShop)
53. Steins;Gate: Linear Bounded Phenogram (Steam)
54. Steins;Gate 0 (Vita)

55. Steins;Gate 8-bit (PC)
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Steins;Gate: Hen'i Kuukan no Octet (also known as Steins;Gate: Variant Space Octet and simply Steins;Gate 8-bit) is a visual novel and the second of three Steins;Gate spin-offs released between the original game and the sequel Steins;Gate 0, sandwiched between My Darling's Embrace and Linear Bounded Phenogram. 8-bit remains the most obscure of all the Steins;Gate titles. It was released as a PC CD-ROM in 2011, with no subsequent ports or digital distribution. It also went unlocalized, though there is an English fan translation. The game is packaged in a large, gorgeous clamshell case, complete with a retro-styled floppy disk sleeve for the CD-ROM, a soundtrack disc, an instruction manual, a map of Akihabara, and one of the most bizarre Dr. Pepper advertisements ever seen.

It should be noted that getting this game to run on a modern computer is an absolute nightmare. Following a string of failures, I resigned myself to dragging an old Windows XP computer out of storage. After changing the region and language settings to Japan and Japanese, respectively, the game then installed cleanly. Then it crashed when the English patch was applied. That is until I realized -- thanks to a post on a forum dedicated to "erotic video games" (this isn't one, amusingly enough) -- that the patch breaks the game unless a specific plugin is removed from its folder. Obviously. Anyway, after about three hours of fiddling the game was up and running. After about two hours of actual play the game was completed. You love to see it folks. Astute observers may have noticed that there are indeed two "8-bit" Steins;Gate installments. The recent release on Switch was done in the Famicom style (it's actually a literal Famicom ROM). Meanwhile, Octet was crafted in the style of a retro Japanese computer game. By default it resembles an old grainy NEC PC-88 adventure, though the "filter" can be changed to instead emulate the Fujitsu FM-7, Sharp X1, and more.
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Rintaro Okabe, mad scientist and time traveler extraordinaire, reprises his role as protagonist. The plot is senseless. After comprehending a "shift in worldlines" Okabe receives a text message informing him that some hacker/esper fellow named Neidhardt has obtained Akihabara's only "IBN 5100" computer and is utilizing its capabilities to usher in a sort of "moe" apocalypse, resulting in a world ruled by cuteness. Okabe is determined to stop the fellow -- by first trekking all over Akihabara, collecting key items, obtaining clues from his friends, and then (hopefully) confronting Neidhardt himself. The text itself is a joke, or a string of jokes, actually. The humor doesn't always land, but there are some laugh out loud funny moments and ridiculous non sequiturs. There's also a heaping of "channer" slang -- though one has to question how much was in the original script vs. how much was added by the translator(s). Fans still debate whether or not the absurd Octet story is canon at all, as it doesn't fit cleanly into the Steins;Gate saga, though any and all inconsistencies can conceivably be washed away by the conveniences of time travel.

Unlike most modern visual novels, commands are not issued by a simple selection via pop-up menu. Rather, keeping with the "retro" motif, the player must type in commands. There's the typical stuff like "look" and "talk." Directional commands are used to traverse the streets of Akihabara. Okabe can attempt to hug and kiss the ladies (or men) only to be immediately rebuffed. He can whip out his cell phone to call his pals for information or just casual chit-chat. A dedicated "assistant" command will summon the lovely Kurisu, who unfailingly hurries to Okabe's present location (because she liiiiiiikes him uwu). The graphics are amazing, with the default PC-88 style faring best. The character sprites are massive and gorgeous, and backgrounds are extraordinarily well-detailed. Backgrounds are "drawn" each time a new environment is visited. It's fun to watch initially, but gets tedious -- thankfully a press of the Enter button will speed things up. The soundtrack is literally a bunch of tunes from the original game, as heard through an emulated FM chip. The compositions are fundamentally fantastic, but they don't always sound so hot in this neutered form.

So, is the game fun? Sometimes. During certain parts. Much of the game is spent trying various commands, exhausting all until the required outcome is achieved. The navigation is baffling -- for some reason VN developers (old and new) were and are averse to straightforward N/S/E/W commands. Instead, enjoy going left, right, front, back, up, and down! There are some wacky cheap deaths, like something straight out of Shadowgate (for example, Okabe can walk into the path of an oncoming train). But these are few and far between and making use of frequent saves is both possible and advisable. Only one proper ending is available, and then a "jukebox" of tunes becomes unlocked.
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One specific complaint. The game commits an egregious cardinal sin right before its conclusion. Eventually, Okabe reaches a point where a password must be entered to proceed. A password obtained earlier, and used earlier, fails to work a second time. No other hints are given in-game, nor in the instruction manual. Steins;Gate "catchphrases" also fail. No, see, the correct password is in fact an obscure reference to the events of Chaos;Head, another visual novel by the same developer. Seriously. It's an utterly bizarre, incomprehensible, and downright trollish design choice. Imagine reaching the end point of, say, Secret of Mana. The Mana Beast is slain, victory is in sight, but a password must be typed before those credits start rolling. And the password, unbeknownst to all who doesn't possess a walkthrough, is "SPOONYBARD." That's what this feels like.

In conclusion, Variant Space Octet (or whatever you wish to call it) is hard to find, hard to install, hard to love. It isn't awful, and I'm somewhat partial to all the corny dialogue, but it isn't nearly as captivating as literally every other Steins;Gate game out there. As it stands now, this is essentially a collector's item for the most hardcore fans of the series. Or for those who are really curious about what a Sharp MZ 2000 "green screen" display looked like.

Re: Games Beaten 2020

Posted: Fri Oct 16, 2020 5:08 pm
by MrPopo
You realize your next task is to write your own spinoff: Win Ben Steins;Gate.

Re: Games Beaten 2020

Posted: Fri Oct 16, 2020 7:23 pm
by BoneSnapDeez
I don't even wanna tell you how long it took me to get that joke.

Re: Games Beaten 2020

Posted: Sat Oct 17, 2020 11:39 pm
by MrPopo
First 50:
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
30. Darksiders III - PC
31. Shadow Warrior (2013) - PC
32. Robotrek - SNES
33. Shadow Warrior 2 - PC
34. EVO: The Search for Eden - SNES
35. Blast Corps - N64
36. Command & Conquer: The Covert Operations - PC
37. Command & Conquer Red Alert: Counterstrike - PC
38. The Last of Us Part 2 - PS4
39. Exodemon - PC
40. Halo: Reach - PC
41. Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary - PC
42. Halo 2: Anniversary - PC
43. The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel - PS3
44. Halo 3 - PC
45. The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II - PS4
46. Command & Conquer Red Alert: Aftermath - PC
47. Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon 2 - Switch
48. Carrion - Switch
49. Ninja Gaiden - NES
50. Earthworm Jim - Genesis

51. The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel III - Switch
52. Star Control Origins: Earth Rising - PC
53. Gunvolt Chronicles: Luminous Avenger iX - Switch
54. Jedi Knight: Mysteries of the Sith - PC
55. Wizardry: Labyrinth of Lost Souls - PS3
56. Silicon Zeroes - PC
57. Warcraft - PC
58. Serious Sam 3: BFE - PC
59. Wasteland 3 - PC
60. Iron Harvest - PC
61. Serious Sam 3: Jewel of the Nile - PC
62, Homeworld Remastered - PC
63. Homeworld 2 Remastered - PC
64. Offworld Trading Company - PC
65. F-Zero - SNES
66. F-Zero X - N64
67. Gauntlet (2014) - PC
68. Gauntlet Legends - Arcade
69. Halo 3: ODST - PC
70. 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim - PS4
71. Star Wars Squadrons - PC
72. Serious Sam 4 - PC
73. The Bard's Tale - PC
74. The Bard's Tale II - PC

Continuing my old RPG roll we come to Bard's Tale II, which lets you import your original party before they go "fuck... where do we go from here?" Which has been a constant battle in games that allow imports; giving progression while still making you feel good for getting the old bonus. How does it work out here? Poorly. The game is a balance mess and the dungeon design is a special kind of evil. It's a real shame, because the first game's dungeon design was quite solid.

So let's start with the good. The game now involves six cities, each with a dungeon, and a wilderness area connecting them that has two dungeons of its own. Seven of these are mandatory to get your plot items to fight the final boss; the first city has a dungeon designed for people starting with this game. The monsters here have a difficulty curve designed to get you up to speed. It also introduces you to some of the fuckery that this game will engage in. Let's talk other additions. There is now a fifth magic class, the archmage, which has all the best spells and requires you to have been in all four of the other classes first. At level three the archmage has a "cast all the buffs" spell, which is a godsend, and ends up with the best heal and the best nuke (which also hits all opponents). You'll want a few of these guys. And the combat has been extended with the idea of ranges. Whereas the first game just had "first two are melee, rest are ranged so only spells and backstabbing rogues can hit", this game has every group be at some range; melee is 10', then it goes 20', 30', etc up to 90'. The rogue's backstab can only go 20', spells have ranges (and some have a full/half damage split), and there are ranged weapons available. If no one is in melee you can spend your turn approaching by 10'; the monsters can just move into melee on their turn. The intent for this to be more interesting, but it mostly serves to make enemies more powerful (as they always have 90' ranges if they have a ranged attack/spell at all) and really makes enemies that can summon annoying (as summons will usually be in melee, keeping you from hitting the backline).

The other place where the game is more advanced than the original is in the myriad of dungeon triggers. It is no longer a matter of maneuvering through the maze to the next set of stairs; this game is full of puzzles involving obtuse riddles and needing to trigger one event to open a door or stairs. It all culminates with the Death Snare areas; the goal of each dungeon. You need to complete this puzzle area to get your plot coupon (which lets you cast specific spells without being counted as a spell for the purposes of anti-magic zones). These areas have obtuse riddles that make sense after the fact, but in the moment are incredibly frustrating. This is compounded on the early ones by the lack of tools you have; they are always anti-magic areas and sometimes have spinners to make navigation a nightmare. Oh, and they're timed. If you run out of time your party instant wipes, and since they're anti-magic areas you can't get out, so hope you got all the clues and can decipher them.

And this leads to the main problem with the game; the developers substituted interesting design for obtuseness and dickish dungeon layouts. Several dungeon floors have a very short proper path and then a ton of side paths that, if you're lucky, have clues for the Death Snare but frequently just have a ton of anti-magic, health drain, and huge areas of darkness. They definitely came in with "how can we challenge people who beat the first game", which ends up going far overboard and makes dungeon crawling painful rather than fun. This is compounded by your non-casters getting essentially empty levels; they gain some HP and that's it because their combat stats capped before you even started, and there's only a handful of new weapons that don't really change anything. Midway through the game you reach a point where the only melee folks killing enemies are your monks (because their damage is still stupid high) and characters who can critical hit through their class or special weapons. I am given to understand that Bard's Tale III sink's the Monk's usefulness and you just need to go caster. Meanwhile your archmages require a total of 4 million experience to get all their spells; if you don't realize that you're better off keeping everyone else at the guild and using summons to get a lot of experience you will essentially spend the game very underpowered due to the best stuff coming on the back end where the required experience is highest.

Oh, and I almost forgot to mention the thing that irritated me the most. A handful of the Death Snares require you to have open party slots. The starter dungeon and two of the snares require a single slot and one of the snares requires three slots. And only the one that requires three has an explicit clue ahead of time that tells you as such. The other two are vague clues that only make sense once you see the situation, the one where you can't teleport out and have to sit there and let your party die (or load a save). I would much rather have seen the game keep the first game's "special slot" for that sort of thing.

Bard's Tale II ends up pissing away a lot of the good will the first game built up. We'll see how the third game does.