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MrPopo
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Re: Games Beaten 2019

by MrPopo Fri Mar 15, 2019 12:25 pm

That's because Project Warlock modifies Windows registry data when you adjust things in the game. Yeah, no, that's a hard pass, and it's the only reason why I wouldn't recommend this title to others.

So he's using the registry for his config data? That's just being authentic to old PC games running on Windows.
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Re: Games Beaten 2019

by Ack Fri Mar 15, 2019 12:32 pm

MrPopo wrote:
That's because Project Warlock modifies Windows registry data when you adjust things in the game. Yeah, no, that's a hard pass, and it's the only reason why I wouldn't recommend this title to others.

So he's using the registry for his config data? That's just being authentic to old PC games running on Windows.

It is, but it's a no-fly zone for me nowadays. This is something that I am glad to not see much of, particularly as I don't know if I can trust a developer.
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Re: Games Beaten 2019

by MrPopo Sat Mar 16, 2019 1:11 pm

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
9. Project Warlock - PC
10. Magic: The Gathering - PC

So my journey through these digital card games was started when I thought "Man, I want to play something like the old Microprose Magic game." But even though they scratched the itch, I wanted the real thing. And when I was at the library at work with a coworker (who was picking up something he reserved) I saw there was a row of boxed PC games available, including the old Magic game. Naturally, I had to snag it and get it working. It ended up taking a Win 95 VM that's kind of janky (the support is not really prioritized by Oracle), but it was playable. And now I made it through.

Back in 97 Wizards of the Coast and Microprose made a digital version of their popular card game Magic the Gathering. The basic story is that on the plane of Shandalar there is a wall keeping out the baddies from the plane, and then one asshole corrupts the five wizards (one for each color) that maintains the barrier. They're now trying to take down the barrier and you must stop them. It gives a reason for why everything is trying to fight you, but there's not really anything deeper than that. The base game uses the cards from 4th edition plus a selection of cards that didn't make it to 4th that were in Beta (stuff like the Power Nine, Time Vault, Wheel of Fortune, but not the duals) and then the expansion adds in the Duals, Arabian Nights, and Antiquities. I started the game when Revised and Fallen Empires came out, so these were the cards I either played with or saw in the singles binder. So needless to say, it gave me all kinds of nostalgia.

In terms of gameplay there are two aspects to it. The main dueling part is actually quite similar to Magic Online in terms of interface (which is a pretty bad indictment of the Magic Online client). You can set stops in various phases, and there's a handful of shortcuts that automatically do stuff for you (double click a spell and it'll automatically tap lands for you, and there's a nice dialog for Fireball to let you figure out how much mana you need to do so much damage to so many targets). It gets the job done. The between dueling is you wandering the world. It's a randomly generated world dotted with towns and cities and dungeons and castles. Towns and cities are both sources of cards and quests; they have a shop where you can purchase cards and quests are a task you can do, such as "go to this city", "bring a type of card to this city", and "defeat a monster that will spawn around this locale". Completing quests has a few types of rewards; you might get a free card of a certain type (such as green card or an enchantment), you might get a colored amulet (which can be traded for cards or used on some abilities when you're on the world map), or you might get a mana link. The latter is something the cities give, and each mana link lets you start a duel with one more life. When you start the game your starting life is only 10 (and your opponents might range between 10 and 27 life). However, cities can also be attacked by the enemies; if an attack is not beaten off they will capture the city, which will remove any mana link you have with the city and if a given wizard captures enough cities you game over. Dungeons are randomly placed and are a source of the best cards; if you want a Time Walk or a Lotus you need to go into them. Finally, the Castles are the lairs of the five wizards; you must battle your way in and defeat the wizard inside.

Castles and Dungeons require a bit more explanation. They are isometric mazes which have enemies at fixed points. They all have some set of rules that apply to all duels. Usually this is that a particular card will start in play (such as a Mana Flare or an Elder Land Wurm); these cards always start on your opponent's side, so sometimes it's a symmetrical benefit (Mana Flare) and sometimes it's just an advantage they have (Elder Land Wurm). Additionally, dungeons have extra rules; maybe instants are banned, and every dungeon I saw also had a "your life carries over between duels" rule, so that prevents you from just Channel Fireballing everything. Each dungeon and castle has a theme around the creatures within, such as the enemies are running green decks. In dungeons all you need to do is grab the special cards (they are treasure squares) while in the castle all you need to do is defeat the wizard. So careful movement to minimize encounters is vital; if you lose a duel inside either you get kicked out and suffer a penalty. Dungeons will relocate and a castle loss will trigger an immediate attack on a city.

Now, the duels are super old school. It's pre-Sixth Edition rules (which has subtle but important differences) and you play for ante. This is one of the primary ways you get cards, as even though you both risk a single card in the duel (and thus won't ever draw that card), when you win you can either take it and a couple other randomly selected cards or you can get a dungeon clue. This is a series of information about a dungeon; its location, what cards you can get, and what rules are in place. If a dungeon moves you'll need to get a new clue to find it (though you can also stumble upon it). One thing you will notice is that there are some noticeable AI limitations. The AI doesn't really understand tempo, so it only attacks if it won't lose its creature given the information it knows (which includes that it has Giant Growth in hand, but not that you have a Mishra's Factory and the ability to activate it). It will happily trade on block, but only chump blocks when it would otherwise die. There's also some bugs where the AI's decision matrix doesn't look far enough ahead; a prominent example is two Mana Vaults tapped at the start of the computer's turn with less than eight mana available through lands and other sources; it will untap one, then activate it and another land to untap the other, and back and forth until it's down to one tapped and one untapped and all tapped lands (whereas a human would just untap the one and move on). These behaviors can and need to be exploited at times; I had a deck that was a bunch of small first strikers and some Serra Angels as my finisher. With just two 2 power first strikers I could hold off giant armies because even though two or three rounds of attacks with a sacrifice each time would kill me the computer would go "nope, not a good attack." Considering how hard it is to build a really tuned deck like we see in modern deck design (because of the randomness of card acquisition) being able to make do with what you have is important.

The game is overall a giant nostalgia trip. You get reminded of just how low the creature quality was back in those days and get to enjoy the old school art. I'd say this game is worth playing if you first started playing back when the cards in the game were current, because it'll bring back all those warm fuzzy feelings. The randomness in getting cards and slowly improving the deck also hearkens back to those days when you were cracking boosters, instead of just net decking and buying singles. If you're a more modern player then you would only want to play it if you want to experience a historical curiosity; you will likely be frustrated with the fewer lines of play than you are used to. There's no ETB effects, for example, as those weren't a thing until Mirage.
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Re: Games Beaten 2019

by MrPopo Sun Mar 17, 2019 1:25 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
9. Project Warlock - PC
10. Magic: The Gathering - PC
11. Ghost 1.0 - PC

Ghost 1.0 went on sale recently, and since it was on my Steam wishlist I used my recent finishing of Magic to pick it up. It's an indie metroidvania with a couple of interesting twists on the formula that keep things interesting. Structurally I'd say it's actually fairly close to Metroid Fusion; there isn't really any ability to sequence break and you are gatekeeped by accomplishing specific tasks in an area, which will eventually let you get a keycard that unlocks the next area. While accomplishing this the action regularly pauses in order for the story to be presented; what started off as a simple industrial espionage mission turns into something deeper. It's reasonably well told, and although the voice acting is amateur it's not bad.

Unlock most metroidvanias this game doesn't really have much in the way of unlockable movement abilities. There are a couple to be gained through the skill system, but they are completely optional; every route has a way to get through not requiring them (though they do let you go a bit quicker through a couple spots). Instead, the metroidvania structure is used to have areas that are large collections of interconnected rooms and the general structure of the platforming.

Now, the first thing the game brings to the table is the Survival mode, which is the default mode of the game. This gives the game roguelike elements; when you die you lose all your powerups and secondary weapons, as well as your cash. Your corpse will have one of your secondary weapons and three powerups on it; the rest have poofed. To compensate for this, the game is flush with ways of getting powered up again. The first is a series of rooms that have either required or optional arena fights. It's modeled as you tripping a security system and needing to wait for the alarm to die down; once it does you will get cash and an item. These items might be passive abilities (extra health, a shield that reflects bullets, a drone that shoots enemies automatically) or secondary weapons. They're always random, so you need to be able to adapt to what the game throws at you. The second way of getting gear is through the shops; most enemies drop a currency and you can trade that in for passives, secondary weapons, and "items". Items are reminiscent of the Estus flasks of Dark Souls; they have a limited number of uses but are recharged on death. There's both healing items and utility items. The final way of powering up is through the souls. Every room has a trigger that when activated will spawn a bunch of floating motes. Collecting all those motes will generate either an item or a permanent upgrade. Some of these upgrades are the same as the powerups you lose on death (+max health) while others are unique (start with a fixed amount of currency on death, chance of extra cash on pickups). Also, you will get alternate primary weapons as you defeat bosses, and those are kept on death. So although you will reset a few times, you will grow more powerful over time. The final way you gain power is through the skill system; there's a fixed number of skill points in the game and they can be spent in a variety of ways.

The second interesting thing the game does is the possession system. Your character is a "ghost" that inhabits an android body. At any time you can exit your body and explore the level. But the interesting part comes with the fact that you can possess nearly every enemy in the game. Once you do you can move them around and fire any weapons they have. This has a few different uses. The most obvious one is to possess one enemy and kill others; you can severely reduce the threat to you when used at the right time. It also gets used for level progression; sometimes you need to use an enemy to open a door on the other side of a gate. However, you need to be careful, as if your body is destroyed while you are in your ghost form you will have to restart, as your body is your anchor.

One thing you should be aware of is this game is designed for keyboard and mouse. The control scheme is WASD to move, space to jump, and mouse to move your cursor around. It's like Shadow Complex in that way. If you use a controller then the right stick will do the aiming, but it's limited to 45 degree increments, and critically all shots will go to their max distance. This is a major downside, as many subweapons will normally fire to wherever the reticle is and then stop, and you want to be able to place them precisely (e.g. a weapon that when it stops creates an X shaped laser and spins). The first boss pretty much requires the precise aiming of the mouse reticle, as you can only damage him on the soles of his feet while he is in the air. This is incredibly hard to do on a controller; after about 10 tries with my controller I switched to KB+M and one shotted him easily. Fortunately, the platforming isn't too bad with a keyboard; there's nothing involving precise back and forth like other metroidvanias. The game emphasizes gunplay over platforming.

Definitely a worthwhile entry in the genre.
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Re: Games Beaten 2019

by Ack Sun Mar 17, 2019 10:09 am

You know, I don't think I have even thought about that Magic: The Gathering game since the 1990s. Thanks for that trip down memory lane!
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Re: Games Beaten 2019

by Flake Mon Mar 18, 2019 9:05 am

January Games:
Megaman (Switch)
Megaman 2 (Switch)
Megaman 3 (Switch)
Megaman 4 (Switch)
Megaman 5 (Switch)
Megaman 6 (Switch)
Megaman 7 (Switch)
Megaman 8 (Switch)
Megaman 9 (Switch)
Megaman 10 (Switch)
Kirby's Dreamland (Wii)
Time Spinner (PS4)


February Games:
Megaman Legends (PSTV)
The Misadventures of Tron Bonne (PSTV)
Donkey Kong Country Returns (Wii)

March Games:

Metroid: Samus Returns (3DS)
Mario Galaxy (Wii)


Haven't been updating a lot lately! 3 more games down in 2019: DKCR, Samus Returns, and Mario Galaxy.

DKCR is a particularly satisfying game to put on this list. I've made numerous attempts to clear this game in the past, both on Wii and 3DS. I've always gotten stuck around the same point. I'm not sure what was different this time but I didn't hit 'the wall' like I have in the past. Instead everything seemed to come together. The timing problems I've had with bouncing off enemies when Diddy Kong is active went away, the controls felt natural, and the absolutely expert execution of the game in general carried me through. I am super glad I never gave up on this one.

Samus Returns was almost in the same camp as DKCR. I'd started it up a few times but it didn't really 'click'. Samus Returns is a very competent Metroid game but it is just too lacking in the 'atmosphere' category - which can be a damning drawback depending on how you approach appreciating the Metroid series as a whole. SR388 doesn't feel like an organic environment to explore. There's no flow to the world - random fire chambers in areas that are not generally super heated, too few varieties of enemies, the terrain all looks the same, etc. Compared to Zebes, Tallon IV, or even Metroid Fusion's 'recreation' of SR388 on a space colony, Samus Return's depiction of SR388 feels very much like what it is: A map created to run through with some items and abilities scattered around.

Samus Returns IS a fun game and it does add some neat gameplay elements borrowed from Zero Mission, Prime, and Other M but I wish that more liberties were taken with recreating Metroid II.

Mario Galaxy! I don't have much to say here. Great game! Beat it before. Wanted to beat it again. Captain Toad's first appearance!
The PSTV is amazing.
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Re: Games Beaten 2019

by Ack Mon Mar 18, 2019 10:23 am

1. Dusk (PC)(FPS)
2. Project: Snowblind (PC)(FPS)
3. Soldier of Fortune: Platinum Edition (PC)(FPS)
4. Ziggurat (PC)(FPS)
5. Wolfenstein 3D: Ultimate Challenge (PC)(FPS)
6. Destiny 2 (PC)(FPS/RPG)
7. Destiny 2: Curse of Osiris (PC)(FPS/RPG)
8. Destiny 2: Warmind (PC)(FPS/RPG)

9. Destiny 2: Forsaken (PC)(FPS/RPG)
10. Star Wars: Rebel Assault (PC)(Rail Shooter)

11. Castle Werewolf (PC)(FPS)
12. Project Warlock (PC)(FPS)
13. Castle Crashers (PC)(Hack and Slash)

It's hard for me to believe that Castle Crashers is over a decade old at this point, but it's true. I've dabbled with it a few times, but this weekend is the first time I actually sat down and blazed through it. It's got a quirky art style that works for the gameplay, but above all else, it gives me a lot of options for how I choose to play the game. Now many of these have to be unlocked, but since the game has a sense of humor about itself, looks entertaining, and doesn't hinder you when you suck at a particular level, the ride is pretty fun.

The game starts simply enough by going with the well worn "rescue the princess" trope. The castle gets attacked, four princesses get kidnapped, and an evil wizard steals a giant crystal thing. It's not a complex story, and it's often played for laughs. The one thing that I really appreciate is that it's all done without dialogue, so while unskippable cutscenes are annoying, there isn't any terrible voice acting; everything is told by showing rather than telling. Levels can also be revisited...so expect to see some unskippable cutscenes over and over again. That's probably my biggest complaint, which is relatively minor considering all the positives of the game.

To play, you pick a character, starting with one of the four knights. However, you'll probably unlock a bunch of characters as you go, and there are two DLCs with additional characters as well as one that gets awarded if you own a copy of Battleblock Theater on Steam. Beating the game with different characters unlocks more, as does fighting in arenas. Everybody is a little different, be it in how they perform combos or use magic. You also can acquire new weapons, which will adjust your stats a little, and you can find animal companions that provide different benefits. I was a big fan of the monkey because it made enemies drop more health pickups, though you should tailor your loadout based on your playstyle.

As you progress through the game, your character will also acquire experience and level up. At the return to the world map, either by dying or beating a boss, you'll be presented with the chance to boost one of the four stats: Strength, Magic, Defense, and Agility. Again, you can tailor a character to your liking, and levels and progress are saved to your character. When you die, you also keep your experience and any levels gained in the previous area, so you're still making progress. I struggled with a level called Full Moon at one point but still managed to go up a couple of levels and fight my way through. The game appears to cap out at 99, though you'll probably beat it long before that. I was 33 on my first attempt, and I chose a character generally considered harder to use, the Green Knight.

Now that I've beaten the game, there is still a bunch more to do. There are more weapons, characters, and achievements to unlock. I'm missing one animal companion at this point too, though I know where to go to get it. And then there are additional modes to play which are there for fun. I look forward to spending more time with Castle Crashers.
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Re: Games Beaten 2019

by prfsnl_gmr Mon Mar 18, 2019 10:48 am

That game is so much fun. My wife and I co-oped it a few years ago, and we had a blast with it.
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Re: Games Beaten 2019

by Ack Mon Mar 18, 2019 10:49 am

It's worth revisiting if you haven't lately. They may be about to announce the Enhanced Edition for PS4. That's the hint, anyway.
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Re: Games Beaten 2019

by BoneSnapDeez Mon Mar 18, 2019 3:53 pm

1. Ys III: Wanderers from Ys (Famicom)
2. Dragon Scroll: Yomigaerishi Maryuu (Famicom)
3. Ninja-kun: Majou no Bouken (Famicom)
4. Hello Kitty World (Famicom)
5. Galaxian (Famicom)
6. Esper Dream 2: Aratanaru Tatakai (Famicom)
7. Ninja Jajamaru-kun (Famicom)
8. Jajamaru no Daibouken (Famicom)
9. Front Line (Famicom)
10. Field Combat (Famicom)
11. Portopia Renzoku Satsujin Jiken (Famicom)
12. Mississippi Satsujin Jiken: Murder on the Mississippi (Famicom)
13. Space Harrier (Famicom)
14. Geimos (Famicom)
15. Attack Animal Gakuen (Famicom)
16. Sky Destroyer (Famicom)
17. Ripple Island (Famicom)
18. Oishinbo: Kyukyoku no Menu 3bon Syoubu (Famicom)
19. Bird Week (Famicom)
20. Baltron (Famicom)
21. Yie Ar Kung-Fu (Famicom)
22. Challenger (Famicom)
23. Ikki (Famicom)
24. Dough Boy (Famicom)
25. Atlantis no Nazo (Famicom)
26. Bio Senshi Dan: Increaser tono Tatakai (Famicom)
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Bio Senshi Dan is a 1987 Jaleco-published Famicom release, their 14th installment on Nintendo's hardware. No mere TOSE-developed arcade port, Bio Senshi Dan is a wholly exclusive original title, crafted by the then-obscure Atlus. Containing a copious amount of text, the game was fan-translated in 2003. Shortly thereafter, a North American NES prototype from the early days was unearthed, bearing the utterly horrific title Bashi Bazook: Morphoid Masher. For those seeking an English language playthrough, I'd suggest the fan translation over the prototype, as the latter contains the type of unflattering "Westernization" that was so common in the NES era.

Bio Senshi Dan is a meaty action-adventure, emerging during an explosion of such games. It takes clear inspiration from Metroid, in terms of both storyline and gameplay style. This is a tale of a lone space warrior battling an alien enemy menace. The futuristic galactic hero's name... Dan. Yes, Dan. Presumably friends with Jim of Hydlide and Kieth of Ys. As his own era has been irrevocably ravaged by the fiends (known as the Increasers, or Inkrizers), Dan is sent to the distant past year of 1999 to halt the approaching onslaught.
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The environments Dan is tasked with exploring are incredibly memorable. Fleshy and organic, they're comprised of bubbles, tendrils, and haunting alien detritus. Comparisons to Metroid are yet again inevitable, though the deep red, purple, and black hues also evoke the same kind oppressive demonic atmosphere seen in Atlus' other notable 1987 affair: Megami Tensei. Eventually Dan finds himself outside, amid some Romanesque ruins, before delving into the "heart of the alien" (what up Contra). What a gorgeous game. Accompanying the visuals is an expertly-composed soundtrack. Courtesy of Tsukasa Masuko (of Megami Tensei fame), the tunes here contain all his trademarks: creepy synth lines accompanied by some undeniably catchy bass and drum work.

Rather than showcase a gigantic sprawling world, Dan's quest takes place within five very large non-linear self-contained stages. Freakish extraterrestrials await at every turn. The sprite work is excellent, and the enemy attacks are about what one would anticipate. Some scuttle about, while others are airborne and/or projectile-launching. The boss of each stage is a "queen" -- a bigger, badder, and uglier iteration of the main foes. Slain creatures deposit "energy." This is actually used as a currency within the various shops. There are friendly hint-droppers, men who sell (of just give away) weapons and upgrades, a sexy lady innkeeper, and a comical alien who challenges Dan to an A-button-mashing wrestling match. The character portraits are all visually striking, though one noteworthy shopkeeper is a deeply unsettling Chinese caricature.
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When the game opens, Dan finds himself wielding a simple short-range sword. Eventually he gathers an additional cache of weapons: arching bombs, a sort of laser boomerang, circling fireballs, and more. There are also supplementary items for enhanced speed, defense, and navigation. The Metroid conventions are flipped here. Dan builds up an arsenal of weapons, and can switch between them on the fly. In contrast, any supplemental item gathered will overwrite whatever is held previously. So, for example, it may be wise to skip the speed-boots, as the armor Dan likely has equipped at that point in his journey is vastly superior.

One unique aspect of the game is a "MV" ("Mother Vitality") meter. It superficially resembles a traditional video game timer, but it slowly ticks upwards. What it represents is the gathering HP of the queen alien that inhabits each stage. The longer is takes Dan to reach the queen, the stronger she becomes. Thus, the player is presented with options: make a beeline towards a weak boss or explore thoroughly to collect all helpful items and upgrades. It's a bit of a false choice, however: skipping the gear will not only render the boss (even with lower HP) nigh impossible, but Dan also won't be fully prepared for the following stage.

Though aesthetically competent and boasting some creative design choices, Bio Senshi Dan is weighed down by a series of gameplay flaws. Dan himself moves in a slow unwieldy manner, not unlike that of Simon Belmont. He leaps in a fixed arc, and midair attacks are wholly inaccurate and clumsy. There's no ducking; Dan instead performs an awkward crawl like the protagonist of Sega's Zillion. In contrast, enemy motions are straight out of Ninja Gaiden. Aliens are savagely quick, twitchy, and infinitely respawning. Dan is greatly outmatched while wielding his sword. As for those special weapons: each use of one drains precious "energy" (currency), the same stuff that needs to be hoarded for additional weapons, upgrades, and recovery. Moreover, health refills are incredibly scarce. The aforementioned inns can only be used once per stage, and they don't "reset" if Dan loses a life. Enemies do not drop health refills (syringes), ever; instead they are to be found hidden within breakable bits of scenery. They're incredibly rare finds, and only replenish a small segment of lost HP.
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But the worst sin committed by Bio Senshi Dan is that it doesn't respect the player's time. This is a long game, likely to take a first-time (or even semi-experienced) player an entire afternoon. There's no save system, and no passwords. There's no in-game map. Much like Tecmo's NES Rygar, anyone planning to finish this one on original hardware should be prepared to give up a Sunday. To add insult to injury, lives and continues are limited. Having a true Game Over in a massive complex Metroidvania is downright infuriating.

This is a fair game, overall. Though it can't hold a candle to many of the other Metroidvanias and ARPGs that dropped around '87, Dan is compelling enough to please diehard fans of the genre. If anything, no one should skip over an old Atlus cartridge, as their brand of supernatural 8-bit horror is unparalleled. Ultimately, it seems like Bio Senshi Dan suffers not by being too derivative, but by not being quite derivative enough. Samus would have no problem rolling through this hostile alien landscape, and had Atlus attempted to recreate those sleek Metroid physics we'd have a real winner on our hands.
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