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PartridgeSenpai
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Re: Games Beaten 2022

by PartridgeSenpai Tue Jan 18, 2022 7:41 am

Partridge Senpai's 2021 Beaten Games:
Previously: 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021
* indicates a repeat

1. Dandy Dungeon: The Legend of Brave Yamada (Switch)
2. Dandy Dungeon 2: The Phantom Bride (Switch)

Dandy Dungeon is a mobile game released a few years later on Switch, and it's made by Onion Games, the fine folks who hold a lot of the most important alums from Love De Lic (who made games like moon RPG). Now, these are *technically* one game and then the massive free expansion billed as an in-game sequel. However, not only because we so often count here both originals and expansions/DLCs as separate entries on our beaten lists, but also because the expansion here is both SO massive and also has a lot of important differences compared to the original, I felt it was right to review them simultaneously but also differentiate between them. It took me some 15~20 hours to beat the original Dandy Dungeon in English, and another 25~30 hours to finish the sequel and the rest of the side content (most of it anyhow).

Dandy Dungeon is, as the title explains out, the story of Yamada, who is a hopelessly single and incredibly quirky games programmer in his mid-30's. He lives alone and slaves away for Empire Games every day at work, but he has dreams of making his own game. One day, the day the game you're playing starts, he beings designing his OWN game, the game within the game that you yourself will begin playing. However, he starts skipping work to do this, and he summarily gets fired as the chairman of the company comes down to berate him and beat him up. This all coincides with the arrival of Maria-chan in the adjacent apartment to Yamada, a beautiful girl who loves blue skies, the ocean, and eating sweet potatoes in autumn. Yamada tries to use his game to win Maria-chan's heart and save her as the princess in each of the dungeons in it, but Empire Games break into his house (he should really buy a lock for his door) and reprogram it to lock his source code and foul it up with their own machinations. It's up to Yamada (and by extension you) to beat his game within the game and win Maria-chan's heart!

Now all of that is kind of a lot, and it is on purpose. Like most of Onion Games's games, their works don't have nearly as much to say as something from their past like moon RPG, but they still have something to say nonetheless. Dandy Dungeon is a delightful pastiche of video games as well as of the people who make and play them. It continuously blurs the wall between the reality of Yamada's game-within-a-game and the world he actually lives in, and the dialogue writing is genuinely really funny. I was worried I'd fill up my Switch with all of the dialogue screenshots I was taking it was making me cackle so hard XD. Dandy Dungeon's main story is localized impeccably, and is a fantastic example of how to do localization incredibly right.

Dandy Dungeon 2 takes place immediately after the first game, once you've beaten Empire Games, rescued Maria-chan, and gotten her hand in marriage, she's whisked away (in a very obvious parody of the original Ghosts'n'Goblins intro) by a new foreign games company: Dark Solid. Yamada's friends(?) from his Empire Games days come to his aid to stop this new threat to Maria-chan and Japan itself, as Yamada must scour Tokyo's Yamanote Train Line to beat up the weirdos who have inhabited each station.

The sequel and other expansion content change things up in a few new ways. The goal is very much still to rescue Maria-chan, most certainly, but the messaging has gone from "pastiche" to "being the Ur Mobile Game", from having an in-game microtransaction store (which in the mobile version actually IS a microtransaction store, but here uses in-game currency) called mamazon.mom to goading you for how the game never has to end if you never rescue Maria-chan. Though it sadly dips its toes much more thoroughly into the weeds of casual racism and transphobia/homophobia than the original game (which never even touches it, really), the good, funny quality of the writing stays present. The other sad thing here is that the localization is notably *far* less polished, at times feeling more like a rough draft than a finished product. It for the most part is fine, and it's just far worse-looking in comparison to how good the original game's localization is, but it also impacts your ability to understand the game's instructions at points that actually make it kinda impossible to proceed without doing random trial and error (but I'll get into those specifics later). The sequel's story is a fine and fitting addition to the first game, but it's lower quality, particularly in the translation department, can't really be ignored.

Now, you're probably asking: What the heck is the game-within-a-game that we're Yamada-ing through these two games, anyhow? That's a great question! What Dandy Dungeon is is a rogue-lite played one floor at a time. Dandy Dungeon is a game composed of dozens of dungeons composed of (usually) a few floors each, and your goal is to get from the start to the end of each floor by drawing one continuous line over each and every tile in it. Yamada will then follow this line unchangingly, fighting whatever enemies he comes across as well as picking up treasure. You can equip a helmet, armor, a shield, and a weapon (all of which are upgradeable) before you go in (and these can give special passive bonuses). You also can take along five items which can be activated once their cooldowns wear off (and items can only be used so many times before they break, and the cooldown lengthens with every use until breaking).

It's probably not hard to tell from the description that this was originally a mobile game, but it's a damn good and addicting one. Navigating around the walls, monsters, and traps in each dungeon has a really fun puzzle-solving dopamine hit to it, and it scratched a very familiar itch to something like how Paper Mario: Origami King's puzzle-based combat did for me. The strategy of how to tackle each stage, from what weapons or armor sets it's best to bring, to if a perfect floor completion is even worth trying for (you're just not getting experience for monsters unkilled and you also take damage for every tile left uncovered) was engaging enough that it had me playing from dawn 'til dusk for a week straight over winter vacation XD. Dungeons are generally very quick and can be knocked out at your leisure, and you don't even get a countdown timer until you start drawing your line, so you can take as much time as you need (except in certain special stages) to draw them. There's even a mid-stage instant-revive mechanic for if you need it. Every stage is theoretically do-able even without those revives (although some seem pretty suspect in that regard), and grinding for them *does* take a while, but it's nice that at the end of the day, if you put in enough time, you can brute-force any problem with time if you're dedicated enough.

Now that's all fun (and I really mean it) and dandy (excuse the pun ;b), but not all is well in Dandy Land. The game suffers from a few unfortunate problems, and the sequel suffers from more of them. The principal problem that the main game suffers from (as well as the sequel) is that there is simply a best load out to use. Status effects such as sleep, poison, darkness, and confusion are very common in varying degrees from the mid-game forward, so using the high-level armor that nullifies this stuff is obviously the best choice. Weapons suffer a similar problem, as quite quickly you realize that your biggest priority isn't exploiting enemy racial bonuses (such as a weapon good against the undead), but simply a very high accuracy weapon to cancel out how damn much enemies dodge your moves. Actually being able to hit the target you're going for will make up for not getting that extra damage 99 times out of 100. It's not a game-breaker, and given that it's the biggest problem the original game faces, the original game walks out of this pretty damn unscathed, but it's regardless something that takes some of the fun out of getting new loot once you realize it's there.

The bigger problems are mostly present in the sequel. First of all is that the difficulty spike issue the main game uses is increased *significantly*. Some dungeons on the Yamanote Line are FAR harder than others, some farcically so, and its final bosses are an absolute joke in how unfair they are. This is hammered home by the whole "basically one best build" issue, so you feel like there isn't even much you can do to improve your chances. A lot of the difficulty comes from how the gimmick of the sequel is that each stop on the Yamanote Line (i.e. each dungeon) has its own ruleset you need to follow: Either a certain kind of equipment you need to enter it with, or a rule that needs to be followed mid-play or you get an instant game-over (such as being forbidden to heal outside of your free level-up heals). They're simultaneously a very clever way to get a lot more out of the game's limited design without changing things too drastically as well as a massive pain that are sometimes nearly unintelligible due to the poorer localization found in the sequel. You do get some cool new mechanics via mamazon.mom, such as the ability to take along an item that allows you to swap out your consumable items mid-dungeon, and that brings with it a whole new level of strategy. But as it is, the sequel is just a far less polished experience, and it really bums me out just how much of a slog the sequel is compared to the original.

The presentation of both games is absolutely excellent. Very charming 2D sprites which are super expressive and delightfully silly. Tons of little references to old Famicom games hidden here and there (or sometimes not even remotely hidden XD) and really fun and silly monster and NPC designs. The music is absolutely stellar, with tons of songs (particularly the special boss tracks in the sequel) being some of my favorite game music I've heard in while. The audio-visuals do a ton to boost up the already great work the writing is doing, and it's just as much of a draw as the writing is, as far as I'm concerned.

Verdict: Highly Recommended. Though I certainly have my problems with the sequel (it's more in the Recommended territory, tbh), Dandy Dungeon was an incredibly fun and addicting time I don't regret one second of. I genuinely got a little sad when it was over, not only because of the diegetic farewell they give you in-game, but with the knowledge there was simply no more Dandy Dungeon left to play! Onion Games's games tend to have an issue of being a bit too light on content for the money, but even at full price, Dandy Dungeon is an absolute steal that is super duper worth picking up.
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elricorico
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Re: Games Beaten 2022

by elricorico Tue Jan 18, 2022 2:31 pm

1. Pokémon Brilliant Diamond (NS)

2. Metal Slug 3 (XBO)


This morning I saw on another site that Metal Slug 3 was free to download if you shopped through this link: https://www.xbox.com/he-IL/games/store/ ... hs2xcvv5t3 Of course I grabbed it without hesitation. I played through on Free-Play, so purists might not count it, but I will.

I've only barely dabbled in any of the Metal Slug games, but they've been on my radar for a long time as something to grab onto if I found a deal. Free certainly counts as a deal. I am admittedly not a good run-and-gun player, so my first try with the default 5 credit limit didn't last very long at all. All told on the free play trip through the game is used 63 Credits :shock: During the playthrough I pictured spending enough in a real arcade that I might as well have just bought the machine.

Few on this site would be surprised at all, but this game has gorgeous spritework, frenetic gameplay and a mix of playstiles ranging from typical run and gun to 360 degree shmup and moments that border on bullet-hell. There's a near constant stream of enemies, branching paths, varied environments, several different weapons and vehicles to use and boss battles that can get a little bit bonkers. So much to experience that one play through definitely won't be all for me.

I'm sure with some time I would improve, but there were definitely portions of this playthrough where I just spawned, threw all the grenades I could get thrown and died only to repeat the process several times. I tried to figure out some patterns but only had a few moments of success in the whole playthrough. I would call this game brutally difficult for a newcomer.

Fun, mostly fast paced, difficult, and very impressive with respect to sprite art, Metal Slug 3 is pretty much exactly as advertised. Definitely worth a few plays in my opinion.
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Re: Games Beaten 2022

by ElkinFencer10 Tue Jan 18, 2022 5:54 pm

Games Beaten in 2021 - 5
* denotes a replay

January (5 Games Beaten)
1. Project MIKHAIL: A Muv-Luv War Story - Steam - January 1
2. Shin Megami Tensei V - Switch - January 9
3. Halo 2600 - Atari 2600 - January 10
4. Cruis'n Blast - Switch - January 13
5. Alan Wake - PlayStation 5 - January 15


5. Alan Wake - PlayStation 5 - January 15

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Alan Wake has been sitting on my 360 shelf for years, but for some reason, I've never gotten around to playing it. When the remaster came out on PS5, I figured that was the ideal way to get into the game. I always thought it looked like a cool sort of Twilight Zone horror game, and I honestly didn't realize how right about that I was.

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You play as the titular Alan Wake, a thriller writer who's hit a two year writer's block and has gone with his wife to take a relaxing vacation to Bright Falls, Washington. Alan is generally a pretty bright guy, for some reason, he doesn't think there's anything odd about a woman in a black dress with a black funeral veil standing in a dark corner by the bathrooms in a diner, so then spoopy things ensue. His wife vanishes, the feds try to kill him, and a geriatric Viking Metallica has to help him. It sounds dumb, and a lot of it is, but it's the best kind of dumb - out there enough to be funny but unobtrusive enough not to interfere with an otherwise serious and well-written story.

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Since I never played Alan Wake on 360, I can't compare the two from first hand experience, but having seen video of the original release, it's clear that this remaster has gotten a well-deserved fresh coat of paint with more detailed textures and a much higher resolution, and the frame rate has been improved and stabilized dramatically. That said, some of the mechanics still show that this is still, at its core, just a spruced up 360 game. The movement and dodging mechanic, especially, don't feel new or fluid at all. Alan Wake moves like a chunky tank with no speed or real agility at all - a little like Leon from Resident Evil 4 but without the sex appeal. The dodge is also frustrating by which I mean it sometimes just doesn't work. Maybe there's some secret to the mechanic that I missed, but I'd be moving around shooting at enemies, and I'd try to dodge an attack coming from the side, and half the time, he'd just stand there. Even when the dodge does sometimes work, the enemies routinely stun-lock you into a three to five hit combo that will take you from full health to 10% health before you can even move. As fun as the combat could be at times, it's also definitely the weakest part of the game.

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All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed Alan Wake, but it's far from perfect even with the remaster. The movement feels bumbling and clunky, the combat is fun at range but a pain up close, and the story, while a great blend of Stephen King, Twilight Zone, and Lovecraft, feels pretty mid-tier as far as horror game narratives go. Still, while it may not be a jaw-dropping masterpiece, it's a solid thriller-horror game, and I definitely recommend it. Heck, even if you've got a 360 copy lying around and don't want to buy the remaster, play that. It's not gonna look as nice or run as smoothly, but the game itself should be pretty much the same, and it's definitely worth experiencing for fans of all things spoopy.
Exhuminator wrote:Ecchi lords must unite for great justice.

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PartridgeSenpai
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Re: Games Beaten 2022

by PartridgeSenpai Wed Jan 19, 2022 3:52 am

Partridge Senpai's 2021 Beaten Games:
Previously: 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021
* indicates a repeat

1. Dandy Dungeon: The Legend of Brave Yamada (Switch)
2. Dandy Dungeon 2: The Phantom Bride (Switch)

3. Mon Amor (Switch)

Mon Amor is the most recent game released by Onion Games (the folks who made Dandy Dungeon), and it went on HUGE discount very shortly after release (down from like $10 to around $3), so I figured why not pick it up. Even if I don't enjoy playing them as much as I did Dandy Dungeon, the sheer power of the aesthetics alone generally justify an Onion Games purchase on sale for me. It took me around 3 hours to complete all of the game's content in the English version.

Mon Amor has very little text outside of its menus, and it's story is pretty light as well. A guy is getting married, but just as he's saying "I do", his bride to be as well as all the guests get spirited away by three witches. He then sets off to rescue all of the beautiful lady guests as well as his lady love so they can actually get married. In between game overs (as this game is designed around having many runs), you get more vignettes of him running into small buildings/vehicles/whathaveyou and getting swarmed by all the ladies (before shouting "Mon Amor!") with his lady love sometimes being shown his actions by the witches who kidnapped her. There seems to be a tilt towards the surreal in its presentation and a general theme of the protagonist of a game not being such a good guy just because he's the protagonist, but it's a very light theme and ultimately not all that important.

Though on one final note, I did enjoy how this game has (intentionally or not) a very pro-self-description view on gender. Even girls you save who have conventionally masculine characteristics (such as facial hair) are still called "girls" in the points wrap-up screen, which I thought was neat (though upon reflection could be another element pointing towards how the protagonist just views everyone he saves as identical, no matter who they are on the inside).

The more important thing to Mon Amor is the gameplay, as it's *much* more of a "phone game" than Dandy Dungeon was in terms of the depth of its content. I had first heard Mon Amor described to me as a "Flappy Bird Clone", and that's really not too far from the truth. The little man flies from left to right, trying to rescue the girl on the right side of the screen, and you hold A to make him rise and let go of A to make him fall. If you take a hit from the walls, you die unless you have a girl in tow, in which case she'll drop off and you'll need to play the stage again to rescue her. The only way to see the credits is to properly rescue every girl, which means ferrying her from the stage you rescued her in all the way to the next factor of 10 stage in the line, and especially in the last 10 stages this can be pretty damn tough. Thankfully, you can pick a stage to start from on the main menu (even if you failed to save that girl, you can still start right from there, which is a very nice feature).

What sets this apart from normal Flappy Bird is that instead of dodging through gaps of oncoming pipes or whatever, you're effectively going across the same screen every time, but every time you complete a stage little buildings and blocks rise more and more from the top and bottom of the screen, and touching them means death. Your means of combating these encroaching walls are gotten by saving the girls, as once you save them, a burst of hearts spring forth in the direction you saved them from, and as hearts accumulate on screen, they collect into bigger hearts. Touching these big hearts (or the fruit which are also spawned by the stages or the girls) pushes back the walls, and bigger hearts also give bigger point totals, so there's a fair amount of skill involved in collecting the girl from the right location to try and get hearts in the right place so you can push those walls back. There are also boss stages (ones with actual non-wall obstacles) every 9th stage, and each of the five worlds takes from a respective pool of six possible stages for this one. This is a bit of a bugger, as trying to get a girl you haven't rescued yet from one of these stage-9 random stages can be a real pain if the RNG gods decide to show you spite. It's ultimately pretty light on the bones as far as content goes, but if you like a score attack game, this is a pretty darn solidly put together experience.

The presentation, as assumed, absolutely does not disappoint. The graphics are simple, but very charmingly presented 2D sprites, and the colors and stage effects are really eclectic and eccentric too, particularly in the boss stages. There aren't a ton of songs in the game, and in fact the same short song plays in just about every stage, but it's a good track, and it not only grows more and more layers depending on which world you're in, but the boss stages also get their own unique versions of it.

Verdict: Hesitantly Recommended. The hesitation on this recommendation doesn't really come from the quality of the game so much as from it's price tag. While Mon Amor is a really solid product for what it is, I think most Switch owners are gonna have a tough time paying $10 for what's here given just how light the content is. This is a game that's probably much more enjoyable to play on a phone, given the gameplay style, and only the most dedicated of score attack fans are going to get $10 out of this game, particularly on a console.

----

4. Terraria (PC)

Terraria is a game I put quite a lot of hours to back when I was a teenager. It's a game that's been around for forever, and has at least once been claimed by its developers to be at an end state and won't see anymore updates, but it seems a new huge content patch is always on the horizon whether the game is in "active development" or not, and it's changed a LOT since I last played it XD. I played it a bunch over the course of a few days with my significant other, and we got to the end credits (which I was quite surprised to see, honestly) after about 21 or so hours of play together.

Terraria doesn't really have a story. It got a lot of comparisons to Minecraft back when it came out over a decade ago, and not totally unreasonably so. It's a game about spawning in a world of wilderness whose primary component is made up of blocks you can manipulate to build new structures. There are NPCs to find and interact with, and they have a cute sense of humor, but it really isn't the main reason you're here, and virtually all of their dialogue is very easily ignored if you wanted to. Though there are named enemies and themes among them and such, there isn't really anything that could be called a narrative, but that's just fine. The primary thing that sets Terraria apart from Minecraft isn't just that the former is 2D while the latter is 3D, but Terraria also has a design centered much more around loot and combat rather than building pretty structures.

Most of the gameplay loop of Terraria revolves around exploring to get materials (usually mining, but sometimes dungeon delving) to then gear up and/or find the materials necessary to fight the next boss in the game's progression. These bosses generally have some key material they drop or change the world in some way upon their death that will allow you to embark upon the next tier of gear hunting and dungeon delving to fight the NEXT boss, and so on and so forth. The game takes place on a 2D plane, and you have all sorts of weapons you can fight them with. You can tech towards a melee (either swinging or stabbing or even yo-yos or maces if you want to) or ranged (whether it be bows or guns) character, or you can go for magic (and there are oodles of spells to find). Since I had last stopped playing, they've even put in items and sets around summoning familiars to fight for you as well, which is a playstyle I had a lot of fun using as a supplementary part of my other builds.

Though it is only 2D, you get more and more ability to gain more mobility and terrain manipulation as you go through the game. At first you're either just fighting the bosses on their own terms or building little arenas of floating platforms to better fight them in, but eventually you can get wings to fly, pegasus boots, anti-gravity potions, and much much more, and that's not counting the bosses that have special arenas you need to fight them in on their own terms. The game can be pretty damn difficult, but the bosses are really tightly designed and you need a lot of strategy to take them down alone. Honestly, my main complaint with the game (aside from that some difficulty spikes are a bit too steep) is that it's mostly designed around a single-player experience in most respects, as just having one other person between the two of us made many bosses MUCH easier as they had to split their attention between two targets instead of one.

The presentation of Terraria is quite simple in most respects, but it's also very charming. You can build pretty buildings full of furniture if you want (and you'll have to at least build simple houses for all the NPC merchants you'll want in your town), and you can also not just wear cool armor, but even dress yourself up in all sorts of silly vanity costumes if you like (ranging from a simple wizard costume to a downright copyright infringing Toad from Super Mario costume you can find XD). The music is often quite understated, but it does its job well, especially for the boss fights.

Verdict: Highly Recommended. Terraria hasn't stuck around for only a decade on pure luck alone. It's a really solidly designed game with a very satisfying gameplay loop that's tons of fun whether you're alone or with friends. It's a very easy pick-up to recommend if you're looking for a fun time on either a PC or a console, and it's very likely that even the current version I've played won't be the actually full experience if I revisit it again in another few years x3
I identify everyone via avatar, so if you change your avatar, I genuinely might completely forget who you are. -- Me
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ElkinFencer10
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Re: Games Beaten 2022

by ElkinFencer10 Wed Jan 19, 2022 6:10 pm

Games Beaten in 2021 - 6
* denotes a replay

January (6 Games Beaten)
1. Project MIKHAIL: A Muv-Luv War Story - Steam - January 1
2. Shin Megami Tensei V - Switch - January 9
3. Halo 2600 - Atari 2600 - January 10
4. Cruis'n Blast - Switch - January 13
5. Alan Wake - PlayStation 5 - January 15
6. Alan Wake's American Nightmare - Xbox 360 - January 15


6. Alan Wake's American Nightmare - Xbox 360 - January 15

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When the Alan Wake remaster came out late last year, we finally saw the game leave Xbox exclusivity and make its way to Playstation. Unfortunately for Playstation fans, developer Remedy has said that they have no plans to remaster the follow-up, so Alan Wake’s American Nightmare will remain an Xbox 360 exclusive. Thankfully, it’s included in Xbox’s backwards compatibility program, and it gets a nice frame rate boost when playing on the more powerful Xbox models.

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American Nightmare picks up where Alan Wake left off. I’ll stay intentionally vague about that for folks who haven’t played Alan Wake but want to play the remaster in the future, but it flows pretty well into American Nightmare. That said, the storytelling kind of falls off a cliff past the initial setup, and that’s being generous. The story itself doesn’t make a ton of sense since it adds in a time loop mechanic - it’s basically “What if Groundhog Day were a horror movie?” - and they don’t do a great job of explaining why that happens. They give an explanation, but it’s not a great one. You finish the game asking, “Okay, but why?” and that’s not a good thing.

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That said, the game is a lot of fun to play. The story may be quite lackluster, but the gameplay is rock solid. It gets repetitive, but the combat is fun, and you can unlock more weapons than the original game included by finding manuscript pages, although unlike the first game, this one doesn’t really explain why there are manuscript pages lying around Arizona. Still, it’s kind of awesome to run around with a nail gun and an assault rifle. As for the visuals and performance, I obviously benefited from playing on Series X with all the horsepower of the Golden Horde, so I can’t really speak to the experience of playing on 360 hardware especially with frame rate or resolution, but the models themselves looked good and speaks to how impressive the game’s development was if it just needed a resolution and FPS bump to make it feel almost like a last-gen game.

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All in all, Alan Wake’s American Nightmare is a competent follow-up, but it definitely falls short of feeling like a true sequel. It’s definitely more of a gaiden-esque side story, and that’s pretty much how it was billed back when it first released. The story falls far short of the original game, but the combat is solid even if the game gets super repetitive. It’s not a stellar experience, but if you enjoyed Alan Wake’s combat, it’s definitely worth a play.
Exhuminator wrote:Ecchi lords must unite for great justice.

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Re: Games Beaten 2022

by ElkinFencer10 Thu Jan 20, 2022 6:32 pm

Games Beaten in 2021 - 7
* denotes a replay

January (7 Games Beaten)
1. Project MIKHAIL: A Muv-Luv War Story - Steam - January 1
2. Shin Megami Tensei V - Switch - January 9
3. Halo 2600 - Atari 2600 - January 10
4. Cruis'n Blast - Switch - January 13
5. Alan Wake - PlayStation 5 - January 15
6. Alan Wake's American Nightmare - Xbox 360 - January 15
7. Apsulov: End of Gods - Playstation 5 - January 16


7. Apsulov: End of Gods - Playstation 5 - January 16

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Three of my favorite things are scifi settings, mythology-based stories, and the horror genre. Apsulov: End of Gods brings all three together in one fairly well made gaming experience. It was on sale on Amazon recently, and when I saw the cover art and read a synopsis of the game, I knew I had to jump on it.

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The basic premise of the game is that in the late 2020s, a company exploring the various realms mentioned in Norse mythology by exploiting the roots of Yggdrasil meets with sudden disaster. You wake up confused and unable to speak as a robotic surgical suite performs a bizarre “enhancement” surgery on you to give you “Sight,” an ability to see what can’t normally be seen. This isn’t quite as cool as it sounds as it’s really just runes on the wall and VERY slightly improved vision in the dark. And there is a LOT of dark. That’s my biggest complaint with the game; it’s too damn dark. You can’t see anything for most of the game. I get that darkness is part of the horror aesthetic and vibe, and that seeing everything is going to make a game much less spooktastic, but when you legitimately can’t see where you’re going for a solid 80% of the game, it gets to be a bit much and more frustrating than scary.

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Visually, the game looks great. There’s an awesome blend of scifi and mystic aesthetics that brilliantly accents the nature of the game. As for the horror gameplay, most of the game feels very similar to Outlast, but it’s not a perfect analogy as you’re not totally defenseless. You get a means to defend yourself, but the energy for it gives opportunity to replenish very sparingly, and you also need that energy to unlock some doors, so the “to fight or to run” choice becomes critically important. As you progress through the game, you’re eventually faced with enemies that you really need to fight, so you’ll want to use that energy sparingly.

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The story itself is overall good, but it does assume some basic knowledge of Norse mythology. Not a lot, mind you, but you’ll need a rudimentary baseline to fully appreciate and understand the story. Apsulov is a worthwhile game for Norse mythology junkies or big fans of the horror genre, but if you’re not one of those two, it’s a harder sell. The extreme darkness in most of the game is definitely excessive and to the game’s detriment, but it doesn’t outright ruin it as long as you’re patient. It’s definitely not as shallow a horror experience as Five Nights at Freddy’s, but just don’t go into it expecting something as solid as Outlast, SOMA, or Resident Evil.
Exhuminator wrote:Ecchi lords must unite for great justice.

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Re: Games Beaten 2022

by ElkinFencer10 Fri Jan 21, 2022 10:26 am

Games Beaten in 2021 - 8
* denotes a replay

January (8 Games Beaten)
1. Project MIKHAIL: A Muv-Luv War Story - Steam - January 1
2. Shin Megami Tensei V - Switch - January 9
3. Halo 2600 - Atari 2600 - January 10
4. Cruis'n Blast - Switch - January 13
5. Alan Wake - PlayStation 5 - January 15
6. Alan Wake's American Nightmare - Xbox 360 - January 15
7. Apsulov: End of Gods - Playstation 5 - January 16
8. Captain U - Wii U - January 16


8. Captain U - Wii U - January 16

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No one expected the Wii U’s last game to be a glorious swan song as, to most of the gaming industry, nothing about the Wii U was particularly glorious (an opinion with which I will disagree until my dying breath), but Captain U, while a fun and competent game to be the Wii U’s last, definitely isn’t the “bang” of a final game I wish the system had gotten.

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Captain U by Ultra Dolphin Revolution is basically a massive love letter not only to the glory days of the NES (the name is an obvious homage to Captain N) but also to UDR’s other games with cameos by their previous game’s villains and obstacles thrown throughout. The game is a platformer that would be right at home on the NES if the colors and on-screen sprites weren’t a bit more than the NES could probably handle. It’s only nine levels long, but those levels are increasingly difficult, and when I say increasingly, I mean steeply. You get a handful of lives and no continues. If you know what you’re doing and don’t die, you can probably clear the game in 45 minutes or so, but it took me a solid four hours to be able to get through it, and that successful last run was 100% my getting lucky.

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What makes Captain U more than just another generic pixel art platformer is the use of the Wii U Gamepad. Captain U himself has a “Power Pad” that he can use with the press of the A button. This leaves you defenseless but allows you to interact with some parts of the environment via the Gamepad’s touch screen. Some enemies can be stunned or harmed by tapping them, some platforms can be moved by dragging them on the touch screen, and some platforms move in response to tilting the Gamepad. You can also destroy destructible blocks by tapping them and place very short-lived temporary blocks to serve as platforms by tapping the touch screen. It’s certainly not the most brilliant use of the Gamepad screen that we’ve seen on the Wii U, but it’s a great one nonetheless, and beyond that, it’s awesome to see a new Wii U release in the last days of 2021.

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Most people don’t play their Wii U anymore (you know, of the twelve people in the world who bought one in the first place), but Captain U is definitely a reason to dust it off. It’s short, it’s not at all complex, and it’s yet another 8-bit style game the likes of which have grossly oversaturated the market, but it oozes “love letter” and was developed specifically as a send-off for the Wii U. If you’re a fan of the console as I am, you definitely need to check out Captain U. It’s cheap, and even if you never finish it, it’s fun to pick up and play a little bit here and there.
Exhuminator wrote:Ecchi lords must unite for great justice.

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prfsnl_gmr
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Re: Games Beaten 2022

by prfsnl_gmr Sat Jan 22, 2022 12:29 am

I am so privileged to post immediately after a review of Captain U, the Wii U’s swan song. Thank you, Elkin. :lol:

…..

1. Space Warrior (Switch)
2. Itta (Switch)
3. Shaq Fu: A Legend Reborn (Switch)
4. Mask of Mists (Switch)
5. Metagal (Switch)
6. Foxyland 2 (Switch)
7. Submerged (Switch)
8. Back to Bed (Switch)
9. Thoth (Switch)
10. 140 (Switch)
11. Infinite: Beyond the Mind (Switch)


Submerged has been described as a relax-ploration game, which I think is a fitting description. In it, you play as a young woman exploring an overgrown, submerged city looking for the medical supplies required to heal your wounded brother. Gameplay consists of sailing around the city, scouting new locations, and climbing the sides of buildings to locate medical supplies and secrets. The climbing mechanics are a lot like the climbing mechanics in Ico, in that you have to find handhelds, but you don’t have to worry about your stamina. There is no combat, and there is no failure state. (Still, I managed to glitch the game out and find a way to drown the precocious protagonist. :twisted: ). Accordingly, you’re free to just explore the pretty great setting, which is quite relaxing. Hesitantly Recommended.

Back to Bed is a puzzle game in which you guide a dreaming somnambulist back to bed. He walks in a straight line, but if he hits an obstacle, he rotates clockwise 90 degrees. The art direction, inspired by Salvador Dali’s surrealist paintings, and the sound design, inspired by Twin Peaks, are both top notch. The puzzles are too easy in the game’s “normal” mode and just annoying in the game’s “nightmare” mode. Not Recommended.

Thoth is a sublime, minimalist twin-stick shooter designed by Jeppe Carlson (best known for his work as lead gameplay designer for Playdead’s Limbo and Inside). In it, you control a dot that shoots triangles. You shoot the triangles at other shapes that, as you shoot them, lose color. Once you have drained the color from all of the shapes, you progress to the next level. If you stop shooting a shape before it loses all of its color, it will regain its color, but if you drain its color completely, it will remain colorless. It will not stop pursuing you, however, and if anything shapes pursue you even more relentlessly once you’ve drained their color. There are several other mechanics at play (i.e., you live faster when you’re not shooting, you can shoot through colorless shapes, etc.), and you must master them all to overcome the game’s steep challenge. The abstract, minimalist art direction combines with relentless gameplay and an oppressive ambient soundtrack to create a uniquely uncanny experience. Highly recommended.

140 is a rhythm-based platformer also designed by Jeppe Carlson. Like Thoth, it also has abstract, minimalist graphics, and a stupendous, if more upbeat, soundtrack. It is incredibly fun, even if the very last section of the game is a bit too hard. It is also, very short, but since it was such a memorable experience, I still really liked it. Highly recommended.

Infinite: Beyond the Mind is a straightforward action-platformer that very pleasantly surprised me with its quality. Despite its “chibi” graphics, Infinite: Beyond the Mind plays a lot like Strider or Ninja Gaiden (or Zero in a Mega Man X game). Your little cyborg ninja girl has a very short attack range, but stupendous mobility, starting the game with the ability to dodge roll, double jump, wall jump, air dash, etc. (You even acquire a few more abilities as the game progresses.) For the most part, the game contains sprawling levels that scroll both vertically and horizontally - think Sonic the Hedgehog levels - with a few choke points requiring you to dispatch an onslaught of enemies. There isn’t much platforming until the very end of the game, and there isn’t much incentive to dispatch enemies unless you’re at a choke point. Accordingly, you spend a lot of the game just dodging and running past enemies (or dispatching them if doing so is necessary to progress faster). This is actually very satisfying, and makes the gameplay feel more “ninja-ish” for lack of a better term. Better yet, each of the game’s 16 levels ends with a pretty spectacular boss fight reminiscent of something you’d see in a Treasure game. Still, the game isn’t perfect. The difficulty is uneven, and the difficulty curve goes completely vertical in the last level. The intermittent shmup sections are poor, and the challenging, but satisfying platforming at the end of the game made me wish there’d been more challenging platforming throughout the game. For an indie effort by a very small team, however, it’s very impressive, especially when you consider that the game has two unique playable characters, three difficulty levels, a host of secrets, and (apparently) four different endings. Highly Recommended.
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Markies
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Re: Games Beaten 2022

by Markies Sat Jan 22, 2022 2:04 am

Markies' Games Beat List Of 2022!
*Denotes Replay For Completion*

1. Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster (PS3)
2. Max Payne 2: The Fall Of Max Payne (XBOX)

3. Streets of Rage 4 (NS)

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I beat Streets of Rage 4 on the Nintendo Switch this evening!

Streets of Rage is a series of games that I love to death. Streets of Rage 2 is one of my favorite games of all time and I still play that one along with its prequel almost once a month. Once I played the Japanese version of Streets of Rage 3, I began to enjoy it much more, but it is the least played by far. When Streets of Rage 4 was announced, I followed every update as much as possible and I brought it to my friend's attention who I play through the game with all the time. He bought it right when it came out and we both loved the hell out of the game. Eventually, I was gifted a Switch and I instantly knew what game I had to buy for the console. I have begun introducing the series to another friend and in honor of my Birthday, we played through Streets of Rage 4.

I will not hide the fact that I absolutely love almost everything about Streets of Rage 4. My one minor complaint is that I think the original music is rather awful. However, that is easily fixed by adding a Retro Game Soundtrack so that I can listen to classic tunes all throughout the game. Besides that, Streets of Rage 4 offers everything that you would want in a Streets of Rage game. The gameplay is based upon a combo system with different types of attack, so there is such a fluidity and momentum to the game. There is nothing as great as doing a giant combo to the boss and doing massive amounts of damage that they cannot stop. While you are doing these combos, you are collecting points which the game adds up to unlock all of the previous Streets of Rage characters. There are so many characters in the game that it just makes me want to play through the game more and more with each new character that I unlock. With fantastic visuals, references throughout the entire game and new modes to play through, Streets of Rage 4 is just the whole package for me.

Overall, Streets of Rage 4 is the best "new" game I have ever played. It is the best modern game I have ever played and just one of the best games to be released recently. If you have any enjoyment of the series, this is a must play. Even if you are passing fan of Beat'em Ups, this is one of the best games to play. It is fantastic game to play with a friend and a great time to spend just a few short hours. I am glad that I own a Switch just to play this game and is a perfect love letter to the entire Streets of Rage series.
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Re: Games Beaten 2022

by ElkinFencer10 Sat Jan 22, 2022 11:03 am

Glad to have been of service, prfsnl_gmr! 8)

Games Beaten in 2021 - 9
* denotes a replay

January (9 Games Beaten)
1. Project MIKHAIL: A Muv-Luv War Story - Steam - January 1
2. Shin Megami Tensei V - Switch - January 9
3. Halo 2600 - Atari 2600 - January 10
4. Cruis'n Blast - Switch - January 13
5. Alan Wake - PlayStation 5 - January 15
6. Alan Wake's American Nightmare - Xbox 360 - January 15
7. Apsulov: End of Gods - Playstation 5 - January 16
8. Captain U - Wii U - January 16
9. Raji: An Ancient Epic - Xbox One - January 17


9. Raji: An Ancient Epic - Xbox One - January 17

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A lot of games these days incorporate mythology into their stories and worlds, but it’s almost always Greek, Norse, Egyptian, or Abrahamic. Despite being the world’s third largest religion and the world’s oldest religion, Hindu mythology usually seems to get overlooked. Not only does this neglect a huge source of narrative inspiration, but it also limits the representation for people from the world’s second most populous nation. Raji, on the other hand, is a game that looks gorgeous, plays wonderfully, and has some fantastic storytelling, but it takes place in India and is steeped in Hindu mythology.

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The titular character in Raji sees demons massacre her village and kidnap the village children including her little brother, Golu, on the day of Raksha Bandhan. She then sets out on a quest to save her brother from the demons, but unbeknownst to her, is being supported by the goddess Durga and the god Vishnu. While they cannot directly interact with her, they help her by granting her divine abilities as well as holy weapons to use in her crusade against the demons that plague her home.

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Visually, the game is an absolute treat to the eyes. It varies between a limited overhead 3D perspective and a 2.5D perspective, but the characters, environments, and backdrops are absolutely stunning. This is one of those games that by itself disproves the notion that video games aren’t art. The combat feels a little imprecise and takes some getting used to, but the platforming is simply sublime. Very few indie games in my experience have nailed 2.5D platforming this perfectly. There were a few frame rate stutters during my playthrough, but these were exclusively in the cinematics and had absolutely no impact whatsoever on gameplay.

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The music, as well, is superb. I’m generally a fan of traditional Indian music, and while the music is varied depending on the environment and what’s going on in the game, the music does a great job of capturing the setting. The benefit of having an actual Indian developer make this game rather than Americans or Japanese trying to make an Indian game is on full display in every aspect here. While some parts of the game do assume a basic knowledge of Hinduism - what Raksha Bandhan is, who Vishnu is, etc - so Westerners will want to keep Google handy to fill in the cultural caps, the game does encourage players to listen to the optional segments of Hindu lore. In each level, you’ll find a series of interactable places where Vishnu tells the player about a Hindu myth via voiceover, and listening to each of these in a level awards the player with a high-point achievement. It’s totally optional and has nothing to do with the game’s story, but it provides an incentive to take the time to immerse yourself in a little bit of Hindu mythology.

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Raji: An Ancient Epic definitely feels like an indie game, but it’s one of the best that the indie scene has to offer as far as artistic design and cultural representation goes. I hope that this is a sign of things to come from the Indian game development scene as there’s a distinct lack of Hindu and Buddhist inspired games. Raji has everything you need in a solid game - tight platforming, gorgeous artwork, good character designs, a well-told story, and excellent music. It’s available on every major platform, and it’s only seven or eight hours long on average, so give it a play.
Exhuminator wrote:Ecchi lords must unite for great justice.

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