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ElkinFencer10
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Re: Games Beaten 2019

by ElkinFencer10 Wed Mar 06, 2019 1:35 pm

Games Beaten in 2019 So Far - 15
* denotes a replay

January (12 Games Beaten)
1. Army Men 3D - PlayStation - January 1*
2. Ys I: Ancient Ys Vanished - NES - January 4
3. Mega Man - NES - January 6
4. Mega Man 2 - NES - January 6
5. Mega Man 3 - NES - January 6
6. Mega Man 4 - NES - January 7
7. Dr. Discord's Conquest - NES - January 7
8. Mega Man 5 - NES - January 26
9. Just Cause 3 - PlayStation 4 - January 26
10. Mega Man 6 - NES - January 27
11. Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight - Vita - January 27
12. Mobile Suit Gundam: Encounters in Space - PlayStation 2 - January 27


February (2 Games Beaten)
13. Earth Defense Force 5 - PlayStation 4 - February 2
14. Fallout 76 - PlayStation 4 - February 3


March (1 Game Beaten)
15. Octopath Traveler - Switch - March 2


15. Octopath Traveler - Switch - March 2

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Square has been on a real roll of putting out some high quality retro-styled JRPGs lately. After playing I am Setsuna and Lost Sphear, I was hyped for Octopath Traveler. I resisted the urge to buy it at launch in my brutal struggle to make not-stupid decisions with my money, but I only held out for a couple months. Then I sank around 100 hours into the game. I ALMOST 100% completed the game. I did all four chapters for all eight characters. I got all of the best equipment. I unlocked every job and completed every side quest. ALMOST was I was at 100% on the game....almost....

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So before I go into the one single thing that stood between me and completionist glory, I'll explain the structure of the game. There are eight protagonists in the game, and when you start, you pick one as your "main" protag. Who you pick doesn't really affect anything other than whose Chapter 1 you start on, and you can't remove whomever you picked from your party until you finish all eight characters' stories. Other than that, it makes no impact on the story who you pick. You then go from town to town, starting new characters' Chapter 1 and then continuing their story. That's where the game's first shortcoming appears - the game is laid out to have eight separate stories that intersect, but those intersections are loose and sparse at best until you get to the very end. When you finished each character's Chapter 4, you start to see common strands linking them, but they don't really converge at all until you get to the post-game dungeon (after a solid 15 or 20 minutes of unskippable credits. Then you find out how they've all been connected all along, and that part is really cool, but they feel completely unrelated throughout the first 90% of the game. Why are these people randomly traveling together and helping each other? There's no interaction between the characters aside from unvoiced "travel banter" that pops up infrequently and never contains any meaningful or significant dialogue. It all feels like a gigantic missed opportunity.

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The one part of the game I didn't complete is the post-game dungeon. I finished almost all of it. There's a boss rush with eight boss rematches and then a two-phase fight with the true final boss. I got about the final boss's second phase down to about half health before I got rekt. After six tries and never making it past that point, I said screw it and gave up. It's post-game, the credit rolled. I count that as beat. What makes that post-game boss so damn frustrating is that he spawns souls that lock all of his weaknesses to keep you from breaking his defenses and stunning him in addition to making him completely invulnerable to any damage whatsoever. The only way to unlock his weaknesses and deal damage is to kill all of the minion souls. What makes it worse is that all but one of the souls' weaknesses are always locked, and the boss will respawn a soul within a turn or two, so you have one or two turns to kill all of the souls, stun the boss, and dish out as much damage as possible before the boss recovers and spawns more souls, starting the whole process over again. The boss rush isn't hard, but it's extremely time consuming. The boss's first phase, however, is tough, and the second phase is downright brutal, and the ridiculous invulnerability ends up making the difficulty spike from "stay on your toes, but you'll be alright" to "wtf balls to the wall" hard, and difficulty spikes like that are - in my opinion - a sign of a poorly made game and kill the fun for me. So screw it, I got close. As one of my college professors always said, good enough for government work.

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Octopath Traveler's biggest problem is that it just falls short of its potential. It's not a bad game; it's just a disappointing game. The characters are all pretty interesting. Olberic is a noble knight setting out to find the truth about a painful betrayal. Therion is a master thief on a quest to redeem himself from a shame brought on him by his own pride. Tressa is a young merchant traveling the world to see what their is to see and gain experience from her journey. Ophelia is a cleric on a religious pilgrimage across the continent. Alfyn is a wandering apothecary who just wants to help those in need. Cyrus is a brilliant scholar seeking out an ancient and taboo tome that vanished from his university's archives mysteriously 15 years prior. H'aanit is a huntress on a quest to find and rescue her master. Primrose - Octopath waifu #1 - is on a quest to kill the trio of assassins who murdered her father and brought to ruin her family's once powerful noble house. Had these stories been written to intersect before the very end of the game, it would have been a fascinating experience. Instead it ends up feeling like eight extremely short, separate RPGs haphazardly pasted together. It's still a fun experience with a beautiful world - seriously, the background's visuals here are top notch - but it could have been so much better with a little more TLC in the writing department.

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Octopath Traveler is a bit of a mixed bag for me. On the one hand, the gameplay is a lot of fun, and it feels a bit like Bravely Default. The multiple protagonists give it a fairly unique feel, but the writing connecting those characters' stories just doesn't feel cohesive enough to live up to its potential. The difficulty level also spikes from time to time especially if you're going for the "true" ending. You've got eight characters in a party with a maximum of four characters, and the inactive characters don't gain any experience. That necessitates a certain degree of grinding which is definitely NOT a welcome feature to a JRPG in 2018 or 2019 for me. Octopath Traveler is definitely a game worth owning and playing for Switch enthusiasts, but as a JRPG, it's kind of run-of-the-mill and not particularly outstanding in any area aside from "missed potential." It's good, but it's definitely not great.
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noiseredux
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Re: Games Beaten 2019

by noiseredux Wed Mar 06, 2019 2:07 pm

ElkinFencer10 wrote: Octopath Traveler is definitely a game worth owning and playing for Switch enthusiasts, but as a JRPG, it's kind of run-of-the-mill and not particularly outstanding in any area aside from "missed potential." It's good, but it's definitely not great.


It's interesting, because even though I agree with your specific complaints, I still consider it a great game.
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ElkinFencer10
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Re: Games Beaten 2019

by ElkinFencer10 Wed Mar 06, 2019 2:29 pm

noiseredux wrote:
ElkinFencer10 wrote: Octopath Traveler is definitely a game worth owning and playing for Switch enthusiasts, but as a JRPG, it's kind of run-of-the-mill and not particularly outstanding in any area aside from "missed potential." It's good, but it's definitely not great.


It's interesting, because even though I agree with your specific complaints, I still consider it a great game.

I mean, that makes sense when you consider that a single problem is going to bother some people way more than others. I've played RPGs that I've seen people slam for being super generic with the storyline, but I loved it because it was a well delivered generic story. Likewise, a sharp difficulty spike or tedious and boring tutorial will straight up kill my interest in a game whereas other folks can look past that.
Exhuminator wrote:Ecchi lords must unite for great justice.

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Re: Games Beaten 2019

by noiseredux Wed Mar 06, 2019 2:38 pm

I think the other thing is this - I don't feel the need to beat some games. So like in Octopath, I got to a point where I knew I needed to grind before I could continue on toward the end. So in my mind, okay next time I'm in the mood for Octopath I'll pick it up where I left off; but I still had a great time playing the 30 or whatever hours that I did.
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Arenegeth
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Re: Games Beaten 2019

by Arenegeth Wed Mar 06, 2019 2:40 pm

You don't mention what level you were when you attempted the superboss, you are generally expected to be about 60 with all 8 characters (and apply proper tactics beyond that).

But this game, is one of those rare JRPG's that hide their superboss behind the story, if you saw the fight as the same as fighting Ruby Weapon in FFVII or even the suped up version of Indalecio in Star Ocean 2, which is one of the best direct comparisons since he can also cock-block you from the game's 'true' ending, you wouldn't consider it a difficulty spike.

As a true 'final boss' however, I can definitely see that argument.

I have my own issues with the game some of which you covered, but my biggest one would be how formulaic it is.
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Re: Games Beaten 2019

by Ack Wed Mar 06, 2019 3:33 pm

Hey Bone, did Challenger give you any StarTropics vibes? I don't know why, but the changing viewpoints and styles make me think of a mix between StarTropics and Adventures in the Magic Kingdom.
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Re: Games Beaten 2019

by BoneSnapDeez Wed Mar 06, 2019 6:20 pm

prfsnl_gmr wrote:Challenger is one of the games in my small Famicom collection


Anyone who has a Famicom seems to own this game. I bet you have Gyrodine too. Games like that just appear in people's collections, I swear.

Ack wrote:Hey Bone, did Challenger give you any StarTropics vibes?


There are some small superficial similarities. The big difference is that StarTropics is good while Challenger is not.
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Re: Games Beaten 2019

by MrPopo Wed Mar 06, 2019 6:49 pm

I am the Famicom owner who does not have Challenger. But my Famicom collection consists of one game: Lagrange Point that I had the ROM swapped out for a translated one.
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Re: Games Beaten 2019

by Markies Thu Mar 07, 2019 12:39 am

Markies' Games Beat List Of 2019!
*Denotes Replay For Completion*

1. Power Stone 2 (SDC)
2. Radiata Stories (PS2)
3. Dusty Diamond's All-Star Softball (NES)
***4. Saiyuki: Journey West (PS1)***
5. Shining In The Darkness (GEN)

***6. Metropolis Street Racer (SDC)***

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I completed Metropolis Street Race on the Sega Dream Cast this evening!

Metropolis Street Racer is one of the more in-depth and surprising racing games I have ever played. It plays like a lighter version of Gran Turismo as it mixes perfect reality with arcade driving. The amount of tracks are staggering along with the different amount of cars. It also has unique venues and radio stations as well. However, the game is very long and nothing really changes after a while along with a large rubber band effect. But, it is an enjoyable and complete racing game.
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Re: Games Beaten 2019

by MrPopo Thu Mar 07, 2019 2:40 am

1. Octopath Traveler - Switch
2. Dusk - PC
3. Forsaken Remastered - PC
4. Tales of Eternia - PS1
5. Resident Evil 2 (2019) - PC
6. Pokémon Trading Card Game - GBC
7. Metro Exodus - PC
8. Thronebreaker: The Witcher Tales - PC

I was in the mood for more card games and it was on sale, so I picked up Thronebreaker. It's based around the Gwent card game from Witcher 3 that was spun off into its own thing (a la Hearthstone). It serves as a 25-30 hour single player game where conflict is resolved through the card game. And it does a pretty good job at it; they put a lot of time into making it not get routine.

The game follows Meve, queen of Rivia and Lyria during the second Nilfgaard invasion. This is a period set before the games, and falls in the middle of the book series (the fourth chapter ends with intersecting with the end of the third novel). Meve finds herself deposed and must raise an army to regain her kingdoms and help beat back Nilfgaard. These battles are carried out through the Gwent card game, which was designed to simulate army-style battles, so the fights feel like a good proxy for what might be an RTS of you moving around medieval units.

Now, if you've played Witcher 3 you'll notice some changes. Gwent was first ported pretty faithfully, but they discovered there were some fundamental issues that made it a less than compelling PVP game. So they gave it a revamp right before Thronebreaker came out, and that's the form we get now. Gone is the siege row, and gone is the requirement that a given unit can only go in one row. Rather than a game of trying to out bluff your opponent into overcommitting into one of your action cards (such as fog, rain, or scorch) now your units have a large number of abilities. Some of these trigger on entering, some on dying, some are on demand, and some trigger when you use your leader's ability (which has a cooldown). There's a lot of potential synergy between your units, and there's a few high level strategies (going for destroying enemy units, going for buffing your units) that have numerous variations. That said, there isn't always the best balance between versions of various strategies; there's some pretty degenerate stuff you can do and several things that feel quite underpowered.

The game is structured with you moving around a map and having various things to interact with. This might be resources (used for crafting cards or upgrading your camp to buff your cards), story encounters, and battles. Story encounters might be simple (choose from a few options which might give you benefits or penalties) or a bit more complicated (mediate between humans and elves in a town), but generally don't have a fight associated with them. Battles come in a few varieties. Sometimes it's a standard Gwent game of best of three, sometimes it's a shorted game where only one side needs to win the round to take it all. In these latter ones there are frequently some special conditions, like one side starting out with units on the field, or being able to take victory by eliminating a key unit. And then there's the puzzle battles, which are the most interesting of the bunch. These are one-round battles with a preset deck for each side and a bunch of custom cards and rules. You have a specific victory condition that usually requires some lateral thinking to achieve, and they are quite satisfying to complete.

This use of puzzle battles and the short battles with conditions tends to keep things fresh. Your army is restricted to a general set of units, and you'll be facing a variety of opposing deck types. Over the course of the campaign you'll be able to get additional card types depending on your choices through the story. You can't just stick with one deck, as some deck types can hard counter particular strategies. And as you unlock more specific cards you can evolve your strategies over time, which again, keeps things fresh.

My biggest complaint is the final battle (not counting the two gimme battles that wrap up afterwards). While the game overall has a pretty good difficulty curve that requires you to play smarter and treat battles as more of a puzzle (how do I deal with this general card sequence I'm going to face without being overwhelmed by card advantage) the final battle is a difficulty cliff. The opponent has two extremely powerful abilities that will bury you in advantage unless you do something stupid and degenerate to either outrace them or keep them contained. Keeping them contained pretty much requires a bunch of unique cards you may or may not have, depending on story choices, so you probably have to outrace. And if you don't know you need to do this ahead of time you get booted back to your last checkpoint, which is before a puzzle and a bunch of story that occurs before the final battle. It's unfortunate that it ends on such a misstep.

But aside from that issue the game is great fun. You get lots of choices to make that have a variety of hidden consequences that won't manifest for quite a while; sometimes the consequences will span chapters. And they aren't just moral consequences; you can gain or lose cards based on those choices. There's no real way to game it without a walkthrough, so make the choices you feel are right and then get taught that even the best intentions can end poorly at times. It's a really good example of an interesting moral choice system, because it keeps the world as complex as it actually is, not just "omg I do all the good things and I get all the rewards."
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