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Re: Games Beaten 2019

by ElkinFencer10 Fri Sep 06, 2019 9:11 am

Fuck, I must play this yesterday. I don't care if I'm broke. This is a NEED.
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Re: Games Beaten 2019

by MrPopo Sat Sep 07, 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
12. Call of Duty 2 - PC
13. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice - PS4
14. Revelations: The Demon Slayer - GBC
15. Mechstermination Force - Switch
16. Shadow Warrior Classic Redux - PC
17. Lost Sphear - Switch
18. Warcraft II: Beyond the Dark Portal - PC
19. Dragon Quest III - NES
20. Rage 2 - PC
21. Blood - PC
22. Harvest Moon 64 - N64
23. Battlefield V - PC
24. Sigil - PC
25. Shining Force III: Scenario 2 - Saturn
26. Shining Force III: Scenario 3 - Saturn
27. Borderlands 2: Commander Lillith and the Fight for Sanctuary - PC
28. Gato Roboto - Switch
29. Timespinner - Switch
30. Amid Evil - PC
31. Pillars of Eternity II: Beast of Winter - PC
32. Pillars of Eternity II: Seeker, Slayer, Survivor - PC
33. Pillars of Eternity II: The Forgotten Sanctum - PC
34. Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night - Switch
35. Orphan - PC
36. Project Nimbus - PC
37. Hardcore Mecha - PC
38. Grey Goo - PC
39. Giants: Citizen Kabuto - PC
40. Wolfenstein: Youngblood - PC
41. Fire Emblem: Three Houses - Switch
42. Metal Wolf Chaos XD - PC
43. Ion Fury - PC
44. Final Fantasy Adventure - GB
45. Astral Chain - Switch

Astral Chain is the latest game from Platinum, which contains their trademark fast but not too nasty combat that puts a premium on looking good without the player needing to be a combo master. It cribs heavily from Evangelion in the story department and has some neat mechanics, but it also has a tendency to be just slightly too long in each mission. Not enough to ruin the experience, but you do notice it.

The basic premise is that something crazy happened and made most of the world uninhabitable, leaving just a small Ark of survivors. You're a cop trying to beat back the monsters, and the way you do so is by having a monster of your own attached to a chain. There are five monsters used by the PC in total, each giving their own out-of-combat benefits as well as a slightly different in-battle behavior (though usually not enough to make a big difference). There are some twists and turns and an actual violation of expectations regarding what seems to be an obvious plot twist. And in the end you save everybody because this is a happy video game, not a sad indie game.

The fact that you constantly fight with a creature chained to you is used in a couple of interesting ways. The first is that, while the creature is usually autonomous, you have the ability to control it to a pretty fine degree if you choose. This can be as simple as 'go rush at my locked target' or as complicated as manually moving it around the battlefield to tie up enemies by wrapping the chain around them. You can also use this to gain additional mobility; throw your guy at a flier and then pull yourself to your guy using the chain. Combat has a pretty nice flow to it and doesn't require a lot of combo memorization; instead you swap between a light, heavy, and ranged weapon as best suits the enemy (though heavy is usually the best) and remember to trigger the timed hits at the end of a combo. One interesting thing the game does is not actually give you the great combat until you're three chapters in. Chapter 1 is the intro and you don't get a monster until the end, then chapter 2 you haven't yet learned to sync with it properly, so it's pretty dumb. In the climax of chapter 2 (the point where the power up music kicks in) you gain the ability to do all the cool combo stuff, and from then on the combat feels good. So you do need to give the game time to get into gear.

The mission layout is pretty structured; you start by going into a non-hostile area and have to do information gathering by talking to NPCs. You can also do side quests; the bulk of them during the chapter are at this point, though there will be a few once the combat kicks in. Once you've finished your investigation it moves into a more combat-oriented run through the area, beat up dudes, and eventually fight a boss. Frequently you will have to go to an alternate dimension where all the bad guys come from, and this takes two forms. One is a straightforward combat arena, while the other is more of a puzzle exploration experience. The latter is one of the things that can drag at times, as the areas are large enough that combined with your move speed it feels like it drags a bit. And the general mission structure always feels like it takes an extra 10 minutes too long; the fatigue sets in right before the final boss frequently. Like I said, it's never bad enough that you wouldn't continue, but it does get you to do things like a chapter a day, instead of just marathoning.

Overall it's a fun action game that takes about 20-25 hours to go through. There's a grading system if you wan to go back and shoot for the high scores, though the scores seem to be based more around doing a bunch of different things in fights, rather than doing the fights efficiently. And there isn't a grand reward for doing so either, so it doesn't matter.
Games Beaten: 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
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Re: Games Beaten 2019

by elricorico Sat Sep 07, 2019 9:26 pm

1. Ni No Kuni 2 (PS4)
2. Mario Kart 64 (N64)
3. Spider-Man (PS4)
4. King of Dragons (PS2)
5. Super Mario Odyssey (NS)

6. Wipeout HD (PS4)
7. Knights of the Round (PS2)
8. The Last Guardian (PS4)
9. Ratchet and Clank (PS4)

I had fallen quite a way behind in keeping track of what I've finished, my last post was in May.

Wipeout HD was from the Omega Collection and I consider it finished as I medalled in every event. I really enjoyed the visual style of this game and the racing had an excellent learning curve where even if you fail you tend to get better every race.

Knights of the Round was from Capcom Classics Collection. I played through as player one while my daughters shared time as player two. We credit fed to finish the game. I liked this one, but it did feel like it lacked a little variety in enemies. Certainly worth playing through once.

The Last Guardian was one of the reasons I knew I'd eventually get a PS4 as deeply enjoyed the previous games (Ico and Shadow of the Colossus). This was a good game that failed to live up to the others in my opinion. The beast really did act like both a wild animal at some times and a pet at other times. That part was great. What held this game back to me was that almost every memorable moment was a scripted one, none of the gameplay had occasions that left a real emotional impression. Secondly, the camera might have been the most difficult challenge in the game. Sometimes it was so bad it felt like a game from the turn of the century. Worth trying if you enjoyed the others, but I would temper my expectations a bit.

Today I finished Ratchet and Clank (the 2016 version). This game was a lot of fun and I imagine it would be almost universally enjoyed by players that like 3D platformers. I had a very early moment of frustration before I recognized that the game is designed around almost constant use of the arsenal of weapons you built up - just using your standard attack makes many locations far more difficult. The final boss gave me a decent challenge, enough that it felt satisfying to win the battle. The visuals are top notch and control is very solid.

I feel like I've been neglecting my retro games, but there seems to be a flood of current gen games that have my attention, and it doesn't seem to be likely to dry up soon.
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Re: Games Beaten 2019

by Xeogred Sun Sep 08, 2019 10:25 am

1. Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia* (DS)
2. Shadow of the Colossus (PS4)
3. Onimusha: Warlords* (PS4)
4. Resident Evil 2* (PSX)[Leon A]
5. Resident Evil 2 Remake (PS4)[Platinum]
6. Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze* (Switch)
7. Devil May Cry 5 (PS4)
8. Mass Effect* (PS3)
9. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice (PS4)
10. Mass Effect 2* (PS3)
11. Streets of Rage 2 (SMS)
12. Mortal Kombat (Genesis)
13. Mass Effect 3* (PS3)
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice (PS4)[Platinum]
14. Front Mission (DS)
15. Doom: Sigil (PC)
Front Mission (DS)[UCS Scenario]
16. Doom 2: TNT Revilution (PC)[8h32m55][UV]
17. R-Type Leo (Arcade)
18. Super R-Type* (SNES)
19. Doom 2: TNT Evilution* (PC)[5h55m56][UV/Complex]
20. R-Type III (SNES)[SaveStates]
21. Life Force (NES)
22. Metal Storm (NES)
23. Near Death (PC)
24. Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night (PC)
25. Adventures of Lolo (NES)
26. Dying Light (PC)
27. Star Wars: Dark Forces* (PC)
28. Shadow Hearts: Covenant (PS2)
29. Blazing Chrome (PC)
30. Contra Rebirth (Wii)
31. Thunder Force IV* (Genesis)
32. Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja Master* (Genesis)
33. Resident Evil 4* (Wii)
34. Gradius V (PS2)
35. Dragon Quest IV (DS)
36. Dragon Quest I (SNES)
37. Dragon Quest II (SNES)
38. Ion Fury (PC)
39. Blood: Fresy Supply (PC)[GDX]
40. Control (PS4)


Overall loved it and I don't have any issues with the ending, some thought it was too ambiguous apparently. It was conclusive and leaves the door open for more but with Remedy now owning the rights to Alan Wake I assume they want to get back to that, which was much more inconclusive with obvious plans for a sequel.

By the mid game when you have all the abilities unlocked, Control almost feels better compared to character action games and New Doom. There is no regenerating health, no usable health items, no cover system, these boring tropes thankfully have no place here in Control. Instead you are encouraged to play aggressively and constantly be on the move. Defeating enemies drops health so that's how you remedy that, regardless you still die insanely fast if you casually walk in between a few enemies. Later on you probably won't even bother with your guns much, while they're all cool and visually look super dope, your telekinesis and lobbing debris does like 10x damage at least. Levitate and the ground stomp feels fantastic as well. There were two parts in particular that really made me rage where I died a lot but it's totally doable.

No clue what to compare the structure of the game to. Again, kind of like New Doom or Deus Ex in a way, a few big maps that have numerous branching paths. It's not full on Metroidvania, nor is it completely linear either. I love the structure myself and look forward to jumping back in to wrap up the remaining side quests and some stuff. Which, some of the side quests have been a big deal with the best boss battles in the game. The level design is one a few departments that makes me put this above Alan Wake, which was just really linear with some open foresty areas at times, but a bit overly drawn out. I actually wanted another area or two in Control, but it's still a huge game and satisfying.

A new discovery for me, Control's lore and weird fake fiction pulls a lot of influence from SCP. The perk to Control compared to SCP, is that Control has it's own set of writers, so all the lore is consistently tied together in terms of quality and all that. There are 200 some documents spread throughout Control that detail the lore of the game, things you are directly interacting with in the story and things outside of it. I found everything to be fascinating and interesting to read. This on top of the in universe kids cartoon show about the paranormal and Remedy's usual live action noir skits, leads for a rich and fun world to explore.

Technically, the game sounds pretty bad on base consoles. I got a PS4 Pro last year and am glad I did for several games I've played this year, Control being one of them. There were still some dramatic frame dips during some of the insane combat in large rooms, but the game never locked up on me or anything. I hear the PC version is the best, not surprising. But you'll need a very high end card to run this. Console wise sounds like the Xbox One X version runs best, but I wouldn't fret much if you have a Pro.

I would wager it's about 20 hours long if you take your time and do some side stuff.

Not the biggest list ever but I think this is my ranking of current gen TPS's so far that are all quite good:

REmake 2
The Evil Within 2
The Evil Within
Rise of the Tomb Raider
Resident Evil Revelations 2
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Re: Games Beaten 2019

by prfsnl_gmr Sun Sep 08, 2019 9:59 pm

First 50
1. The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Anniversary (NDS)
2. Reigns (iOS)
3. Castlevania: The Adventure (GB)
4. Castlevania II: Belmont’s Revenge (GB)
5. Castlevania Legends (GB)
6. Yankai’s Triangle (iOS)
7. Mega Man III (GB)
8. Mega Man IV (GB)
9. Mega Man V (GB)
10. Sin & Punishment (N64)
11. Love You to Bits (iOS)
12. Mega Man Powered Up - Old Style (PSP)
13. Mega Man Powered Up - New Style (PSP)
14. Mario vs. Donkey Kong (GBA)
15. Mario vs. Donkey Kong 2: March of the Minis (NDS)
16. Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Minis March Again! (NDS)
17. Detective Pikachu (3DS)
18. Super Fantasy Zone (Genesis)
19. Fantasy Zone Gear (GG)
20. Fantasy Zone - The Maze (SMS)
21. Fantasy Zone (Famicom)
22. Fantasy Zone (NES)
23. Kung Fu Master (2600)
24. Kid Dracula (Famicom)
25. Kid Dracula (GB)
26. Fantasy Zone (TG16)
27. Double Dragon V (SNES)
28. Fantasy Zone II (Famicom)
29. Street Fighter: The Movie (PS1)
30. Fire Fly (2600)
31. Pac Man (2600)
32. Extreme Sports with the Berenstain Bears (GBC)
33. Fantasy Zone (PS2)
34. Space Fantasy Zone (TG16)
35. Arnold Palmer Tournament Golf Fantasy Zone (Genesis)
36. Mega Man (GG)
37. Konami Pixel Puzzle (iOS)
38. Qix (Arcade/NES)
39. Congo Bongo (Arcade)
40. Phantasy Star Gaiden (GG)
41. Phantasy Star Adventure (GG)
42. Panzer Dragoon Mini (GG)
43. Spartan X-2 (Famicom)
44. BS The Legend of Zelda: The Ancient Stone Tablets (Super Famicom)
45. BS The Legend of Zelda (Super Famicom)
46. Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Mini-Land Mayhem! (NDS)
47. Double Dribble (NES)
48. Super Pro Football (INTV)
49. Indy 500 (2600)
50. Tecmo Bowl (NES)

51. Ninja Gaiden (GG)
52. SonSon (Arcade)
53. Wonder Girl: The Dragon’s Trap (iOS)
54. Minit (iOS)
55. Ninja Gaiden (SMS)
56. Surround (2600)
57. Pocket Bomberman (GBC)

Launch games! If you haven’t already, come join us in this month’s TR thread.
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Re: Games Beaten 2019

by ElkinFencer10 Mon Sep 09, 2019 11:19 am

Games Beaten in 2019 So Far - 53
* 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 (4 Games Beaten)
15. Octopath Traveler - Switch - March 2
16. Resident Evil 0 - PlayStation 4 - March 9
17. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered - PlayStation 4 - March 10
18. Fire Emblem: The Binding Blade - Game Boy Advance - March 30

April (3 Games Beaten)
19. Moemon - Game Boy Advance - April 5
20. Yoshi's Crafted World - Switch - April 10
21. Wargroove - Switch - April 26

May (8 Games Beaten)
22. Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen - Switch - May 5
23. Battlefield V - PlayStation 4 - May 9
24. Timespinner - PlayStation 4 - May 12
25. Earth Defense Force: Iron Rain - PlayStation 4 - May 17
26. Shenmue - PlayStation 4 - May 19
27. Xenosaga Episode I: Der Wille zur Macht - PlayStation 2 - May 26
28. Team Sonic Racing - Switch - May 29
29. Xenosaga Episode II: Jenseits von Gut und Böse - PlayStation 2 - May 30

June (5 Games Beaten)
30. Xenosaga Episode III: Also Sprache Zarathustra - PlayStation 2 - June 2
31. Gato Roboto - Switch - June 3
32. Katana Zero - Switch - June 4
33. The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct - Wii U - June 8
34. Dark Savior - Saturn - June 12

July (12 Games Beaten)
35. The Elder Scrolls V: Skryim - Switch - June 7
36. The Elder Scrolls V: Skryim: Dragonborn - Switch - June 7
37. The Elder Scrolls V: Skryim: Dawnguard - Switch - June 7
38. Tiny Troopers - Switch - July 8
39. Tiny Troopers 2: Special Ops - Switch - July 8
40. Persona Q2: New Cinema Labyrinth - 3DS - July 10
41. Super Robot Wars T - Switch - July 13
42. Super Mario Maker 2 - Switch - July 13
43. Command and Conquer - Saturn - July 16
44. Command and Conquer: Covert Operations - PC - July 16
45. Super Neptunia RPG - PlayStation 4 - July 18
46. My Girlfriend is a Mermaid!? - Switch - July 19

August (5 Games Beaten)
47. Fire Emblem: Three Houses - Switch - August 10
48. Wolfenstein Youngblood - Xbox One - August 24
49. Fire Emblem: New Mystery of the Emblem - DS - August 27
50. Metal Wolf Chaos XD - PlayStation 4 - August 31
51. Fire Emblem: Archanean War Chronicles - SNES - August 31

September (2 Games Beaten)
52. Golf Story - Switch - September 2
53. Red Dead Redemption - PlayStation 3 - September 7

53. Red Dead Redemption - PlayStation 3 - September 7


With all the hype that Red Dead Redemption 2 got at launch, I started to feel a little bad that I hadn't played the previous games in the series yet. After playing through Red Dead Revolver, I took a brief break before diving into Rockstar's not-Grand-Theft-Auto heavy hitter, Red Dead Redemption. I wasn't really sure what to expect as all I'd really heard was that it was extremely different from Red Dead Revolver (which is absolutely true), it was really good, and it was kind of Grand Theft Auto in the Old West.


Red Dead Redemption follows the character of John Marston, a Wild West gangbanger-turned-vigilante on a less-than-voluntary mission to hunt down and kill his former gang companions. This quest takes him through the fictional state of New Austin and parts of northern Mexico and into contact with a jaded town sheriff, a sweet rancher lady and her grumpy libertarian father, a snake oil salesman who would make Joel Osteen look sincere, an actual necrophiliac, an alcoholic Irishman (I guess that's a bit redundant), and a Pancho Villa stand-in among others. Throughout his journey to hunt down his former companions, he has the opportunity to help - or hurt - the people he encounters. There are many opportunities to do good. If you pass a wrecked lawman with escaped fugitives, will you help him catch the criminals, or will you shoot him and skin his horses? If you see a prostitute being beaten to death in the street, will you pretend you see nothing, or will you shoot him and save her? If you see someone stranded on the road, will you stop to help? I always did cause I'm a Good Guy(TM), but they always ended up being horse thieves, so then I murdered them. For the good of the people, of course.


Visually, the game looks pretty good for the time although there were a few noticeable frame rate drops every now and then that got a bit annoying. The voice acting, however, for the main characters was very well done. Rob Wiethoff's performance as John Marston especially was spectacular, and the quality of his performance really helps to immerse you in the world and story being told. Voice acting is extremely important to my immersion, and the quality of the motion capture and voice acting are usually the determining factor in how emotionally invested I get in the game. This game made me tear up. That's as glowing an endorsement as I could ever write.


As a history teacher, one of the things I loved about Red Dead Redemption's setting was the relative accuracy with which it was portrayed. Obviously some creative liberties were taken, and there were parts that were made less accurate for the sake of making a fun game, but for the most part, Rockstar did a fantastic job of showing the death of the "Wild West" and the awkward and often unwilling transition to modernity. Those two systems had a lot of incompatibilities with the spread of federal law enforcement and vigilantes' increasingly finding themselves as being the outlaws, the horse's increasing obsolescence as a mode of transportation with the rise of the automobile, and the assimilation of native American tribes with the lingering myth of the "savage red man." Those issues were rarely put explicitly front and center, but they were issues that were addressed with subtle finesse throughout the game, and that made the historian in me as giddy as a kid in a candy store.


Red Dead Redemption is a fantastic work of historical fiction in its own right and a stellar open world video game. The world can feel a bit empty at times, but the accuracy with which that world is portrayed especially with respect to when the game is set is exemplary. It tells an immersive story with a massive world and an impressive degree of historical accuracy. The who, what, and where are all fictional, but they're believable, and the when of the setting is done justice. It's not perfect, and there were more a few technical hiccups and bugs that I encountered, but man, what a wild ride. I suspect most folks have played this one by now, but if somehow you haven't, do yourself and favor and remedy that. Whether you play on PS3 or 360, play this game. It's fantastic.
Exhuminator wrote:Ecchi lords must unite for great justice.

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Re: Games Beaten 2019

by Ack Tue Sep 10, 2019 10:49 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)
14. This Strange Realm of Mine (PC)(FPS)
15. BioShock Remastered (PC)(FPS)
16. BioShock 2 (PC)(FPS)
17. BioShock 2: Minerva's Den (PC)(FPS)

18. Blood (PC)(FPS)
19. Blood: Cryptic Passage (PC)(FPS)
20. Blood: Post Mortem (PC)(FPS)

21. Shadow Warrior (PC)(FPS)
22. Shadow Warrior: Twin Dragon (PC)(FPS)
23. Shadow Warrior: Wanton Destruction (PC)(FPS)

24. F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin (PC)(FPS)
25. F.E.A.R. 2: Reborn (PC)(FPS)

26. Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines (PC)(RPG)
27. Men of Valor (PC)(FPS)
28. Ultima III: Exodus (PC)(RPG)
29. Albedo: Eyes from Outer Space (PC)(Point and Click)

30. Midnight Ultra (PC)(FPS)
31. Amid Evil (PC)(FPS)
32. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (PC)(RPG)
33. Betrayer (PC)(Horror)

34. Borderlands 2: Commander Lilith & the Fight for Sanctuary (PC)(FPS/RPG)
35. Far Cry 2 (PC)(FPS)
36. Apocryph (PC)(FPS)
37. Eye of the Beholder III: Assault on Myth Drannor (PC)(RPG)

38. Menzoberranzan (PC)(RPG)
39. TimeShift (PC)(FPS)
40. Heretic Kingdoms: The Inquisition (PC)(RPG)
41. Shadowgate (PC)(Point and Click)


Comfort food games are always good. With my upcoming wedding, I wanted to sit down with something a little on the mindless side and easy to enjoy, and that is how I ended up looking into Heretic Kingdoms: The Inquisition, which is the US release name for the action RPG Kult: Heretic Kingdoms. The game plays as an early 2000s Diablo clone, combining 3D polygonal characters on an isometric background as you maneuver your character around the world. While it isn't nearly as polished as the likes of Diablo II, it was a labor of love between a Slovak company called 3D People and some consultants from International Hobo in London to help with the story. The resulting love of product and lack of budget but definite spirit led to something that is problematic at times but still enthusiastically creative.

In the world of Heretic Kingdoms, God is dead, killed by a legendary hero with a sword whose essence was then fused to create the mythical Godslayer, a weapon which can only be wielded by members of the hero's bloodline. You play a woman named Anita who happens to be from that bloodline; however, she's also part of an atheist Inquisition, intentionally created to stamp out all religion after the last time a member of this sacred bloodline got their hands on the sword and declared himself the Theocrat, subjugating the people into worshiping him as a god. But the Inquisition is just the forward face of a cabal of conspirators originally formed to kill the Theocrat and who now quietly try to guard the world from the rise of another. Unfortunately, it all goes to pot when someone steals the Godslayer, and your master sends you to track down who stole the sword, eventually leading you on a quest to help a troubled army fighting a guerrilla war, track down a cult leader, and even possibly become the next messiah...

If you're feeling that this story has weight to it, yes, it does. In fact, the lore of Heretic Kingdoms is surprisingly deep, and there are some fascinating twists and several choices that can be made to influence events, particularly at the very end of the game where a few last minute decisions will impact who you face as the final boss. Don't worry about fighting them though, because the game has a pretty simple system of handling combat: you either run up and hit things, shoot at things with bows or magic staves, or cast spells which must be learned like skills. I know, that sounds a little on the bland side. Also, the stats you gain over time only effect your damage chances with those three categories of weapons and your attack speed. Melee weapons are further broken down into Light, Normal, and Heavy, which impacts specific abilities as well as speed vs. damage, and you can imbue elemental traits from one of the four elements or use them without an element for certain benefits. Its those benefits where the character building gets interesting.

In Heretic Kingdoms, all gear can teach you some kind of attunement. These abilities are permanently learned and can be equipped, but they have certain criteria to meet, such as holding a fire-element melee weapon or using a specific element weapon while using a specific other attunement and no armor. While spells are included, other abilities do things like cause double damage against demons, increase your damage with certain elements by 50%, allow you to move faster, or even negate enemy critical hits. Once enough are learned, you'll start seeing combos form, some of which are nasty. How nasty? I walked into the final battle with a two-handed weapon that had a 96% chance to critical for x9 damage, and if I got that critical, every hit was an automatic critical until I ran out of enemies on the screen. Each hit, I did 10k damage. The enemies I was fighting had 1k health. Now that is satisfying. It's also completely insane, but hey, pay attention to how you construct your character and you will reap great things.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of technical flaws with the game. More than once, I had the game suffer some kind of overlay issue which prevented me from being able to open menus. Also, there is no autosave unless you finish a quest, and saving creates a new save every time unless you go back and "delete" an old one. I say "delete" because you don't really delete it, you just make it listed as Null, so the game knows it can save over it. Truth is, you can actually load from a Null save. Also, at least once I had the game lock up on me after an event occurred because I had entered some kind of uncontrollable cut scene while moving from the regular world to the Dreamworld, which is an alternate magical realm you can enter with additional enemies. The Dreamworld is a neat idea, but the implementation just feels...unnecessary. Eh, it can't all be roses.

At this point, I've played a fair number of these kinds of action RPGs, and despite its problems, I still had more fun with Heretic Kingdoms than I did with many others. It impressed me despite its problems, and I don't look at it as a tragic mistake the way I do something like Lionheart or a frustrating nightmare the way something like Revenant plays. I picked it up on GOG while on sale some years ago, and I'm glad I did. It was worth it when I finally got around to experiencing it.


I know that sometimes classics can be divisive, and Shadowgate has its share of detractors. Their opinions are not without merit either; the game is at times cruel and illogical, to the point that you might well argue it's cheap. It imposes a time limit, it can enter an unwinnable state, and it can at times kill you for doing something that normally makes total sense. However, it was also an early point at which my experiences gaming touched into horror, and despite the difficulty, I returned on and off again over the years. I first beat the game in the 1990s but even then found myself enthralled by it and not forgetting the first time I bested the behemoth, knowing full well there were more puzzles to complete, more areas to explore, and more things to do. When the remade version came out in 2014, I jumped at the chance to grab it. I'm so glad I did. It's a stunningly beautiful take on the original game, with some standout art more reminiscent of paintings then the older 8-bit art of the NES port or the GBC version (not to mention the original release). As I started up the game, I found myself stunned by such a beautiful representation of childhood memories.

The Shadowgate remake provides four paths to play with a growing level of difficulty. The first is Normal, which offers a shortened version of the game, removes the time limit imposed by torches, and works best as a teaching tool for how to handle the basics of the game. After that comes Classic mode, which is split between Apprentice, Journeyman, and Master. Each of these adds in changes, new areas, and in some cases even implements old quests that were never able to make it into the original release despite the devs' best wishes. I'm posting here after having done runs through Normal and Classic Apprentice, as well as an Ironman run through Classic Apprentice, where saving is banned. Next up, I'll move into Journeyman, where torches are more limited but more puzzles can be experienced. In Master, whole other rooms become available and unique deaths that can only be found on that difficulty but that I remember from my earlier playthroughs.

The remake also bolsters a few new features, such as a revamped interaction menu, though the classic menu can be reimplemented if desired. In fact, if you want to earn certain in-game achievements, you have to use the classic menu at times to perform certain actions. No, the in-game achievements don't have any impact, they're just there for bragging rights. I'll probably still go for them over time.

To me, Shadowgate is comfort food. As frustrating and bizarre as it can be, the nostalgia for this title runs deep, and getting to play an updated version that builds on my childhood memories in the best of ways while providing me new tools to sate my curiosity is a dream come true. I recommend it to point and click aficionados who understand the challenge they're getting into...or even laymen who are curious, because the game can now ease you in through the difficulty levels. Please, don't pass up a chance to revisit a wonderful classic.
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Re: Games Beaten 2019

by BoneSnapDeez Tue Sep 10, 2019 1:23 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)
27. Yume Penguin Monogatari (Famicom)
28. King Kong 2: Ikari no Megaton Punch (Famicom)
29. Congo Bongo (Atari 2600)
30. Coconuts (Atari 2600)
31. Arcade Archives: Donkey Kong (Switch eShop)
32. Dragon Quest V: Tenkuu no Hanayome (Super Famicom)
33. Johnny Turbo's Arcade: Super Burger Time (Switch eShop)
34. Fire Fly (Atari 2600)
35. Fire Fighter (Atari 2600)
36. Space Jockey (Atari 2600)
37. Airlock (Atari 2600)
38. Makai Hakkenden Shada (PC Engine)
39. Squeeze Box (Atari 2600)
40. Lagoon (SNES)
41. Atlantis (Atari 2600)
42. Xak III: The Eternal Recurrence (PC Engine CD)
43. Blue Blink (PC Engine)
44. Ys IV: The Dawn of Ys (PC Engine CD)
45. Cally's Caves 3 (Steam)
46. Planetarian: The Reverie of a Little Planet (Steam)
47. Contra (NES)
48. Arcade Archives: Vs. Super Mario Bros. (Switch eShop)
49. Arcade Archives: Moon Cresta (Switch eShop)
50. Johnny Turbo's Arcade: Joe and Mac Caveman Ninja (Switch eShop)
51. Ice Hockey (Atari 2600)
52. Indy 500 (Atari 2600)
53. Video Olympics (Atari 2600)
54. Fast Eddie (Atari 2600)
55. Muv-Luv (Steam)

56. Air-Sea Battle (Atari 2600)
57. Combat (Atari 2600)
58. Street Racer (Atari 2600)

Air-Sea Battle
Air-Sea Battle (also known as Target Fun to those Sears shoppers) is an Atari 2600 launch title. Like many early Atari cartridges, it's a very loose adaptation of an ancient arcade game (Anti-Aircraft). Air-Sea Battle is all about shooting stuff and blowing stuff up. In air and at sea. Want some land battles? Get a copy of Combat.

This is one of three 2600 launch games to feature 27 one- or two-player gameplay modes (was 27 Atari's magic number?). First up are a cluster of six anti-aircraft missions, the goal being to shoot down a greater number of scrolling airplanes than the other player. Controlling the "gun" is a little wonky. It's a stationary object that can be tilted at 30, 60, and 90 degree angles with the joystick, but the controls feel flipped as pressing up on the stick presses the gun down and vice versa. All rounds of Air-Sea Battle are timed, tapping out at 2 minutes 16 seconds (inevitable) or whenever a player scores 99 points (good luck). The later modes here are best, as the player can "guide" fired missiles (continue to steer them once they're in the air) and there are an array of pesky non-point obstacles to content with.

Next up is a series of torpedo missions. Now we're underwater! Controls are a bit different here, as the players' submarines can move left or right, and can only fire vertically. Yes, there are modes featuring guided and non-guided shots, and once again obstacles appear, in the form of mines. These modes are marginally more fun than the anti-aircraft missions, as the controls feel more fluent. Then comes the "shooting gallery" (where you shoot down the poor little duckies and bunnies) where each gun's position and angle can be manipulated. It's rather ungainly, especially when playing with an authentic old Atari stick.
For the remainder of the cartridge's modes, players control vessels that continually scroll and loop across the screen. Here the joystick can manipulate scrolling speed (up for fast, down for slow), but it's impossible to stop. First are some Polaris missions (submarine shooting upwards at aircraft), bomber missions (the exact opposite), and finally the "versus" missions where one player takes control of a Polaris sub and the other a combat aircraft. While these final missions may sound the most promising on paper, they ultimately fizzle. Not only is it tough to hit the opponent, it's also incredibly easy to avoid all incoming attacks. Expect some riveting 1-0 scored matches, or outright stalemates.

Graphics are pure "early Atari" with the classic rainbow bands used to differentiate altitude of sea and sky. The sprites look decent enough and are mostly recognizable, though the "mines" appear to be medieval maces for some reason. Even the most casual Atari player will recognize the iconic sound effects, as they've been recycled for countless other games. I do appreciate how each cluster of modes has its own sounds, the initial one dropping when the "game select" switch is flipped.

Now, as mentioned there are some single-player modes. Nine, to be exact. Atari clearly had the Pong AI down at this point, and I was curious to see what else they had cooking. Turns out, not much. The computerized opponent is a joke. It makes no attempt to move or position. In fact, it's essentially stuck on auto-fire. It may get lucky here and there and connect a shot, but there's no authentic challenge presented by the computer whatsoever. This is essentially a two-player game exclusively. Air-Sea Battle was ambitious for its time, but ends up feeling bloated and only marginally fun in short spurts. I'll take it over some of the other VCS launch games, but it's certainly no Combat.

Combat isn't just any old Atari 2600 game. For many, this tank battle extravaganza was and is the Atari 2600 game. A 1977 launch title, Combat also served as the console's pack-in game until 1982. As such, Combat is one of the most common and "worthless" games of all time. My local record store has an entire stack of cartridges, perpetually covered in dust, and I happen to own two label variants myself. In addition to all the Atari label variants, the game also exists as Tank-Plus (Sears) and as the Zellers "clone" title Frontline (not to be confused with Front Line where you only occasionally operate a tank but generally play as a soldier who waddles around like he has a load in his pants).

Let's get one thing out of the way right now. Combat is exclusively a two-player game. Yes, you need to play with a friend, sitting beside you on the same couch. I can hear the groans from modern gamers, but that's just how things be back then. Video games were a social event, and opponent "AI" was underdeveloped to the point of being laughable. Just take note of those Atari launch titles that attempted single-player modes: Indy 500 has the player circle a track alone in some sort of racing purgatory, Air-Sea Battle and Street Racer feature computerized opponents that simply charge ahead blindly with no regard to tactics, and while Video Olympics does feature some solid Pong AI it's still 96% multiplayer.
Boot up Combat and one is greeted with a deceptively simple objective. Two tanks, one controlled by each player, face each other inside of a large arena, which has borders along the screen's edges. The goal of each player is, of course, to shoot the other one, racking up the highest score within an allotted time frame. There are a couple of wrinkles to the, uh, combat that add depth to the overall experience. First, shooting the opponent's tank doesn't just damage it, it blows it away! All the way to another area of the screen, even through the otherwise impassible outer barriers. It's hard to predict where a recently damaged tank will end up, and it's up to each player to quickly readjust. Which can be tough, given the controls. Combat uses "tank controls" as opposed to a more traditional scheme. For the uninitiated, it works like this: pressing up on the joystick drives the tank forward, regardless of whatever direction it's facing. Meanwhile, pressing right or left on the stick will cause the tank to rotate clockwise or counterclockwise. It's somewhat daunting, initially, but I rather enjoy this style of maneuvering. Perhaps because I'm controlling an actual tank, not a cop shooting at zombies.

Combat is quite entertaining in its virgin state, but let's get into the modes. Yeah, the modes. This is an Atari launch title so there are a bunch of 'em: 27 to be exact, toggled by flipping the "game select" switch on the console. Players can add obstacles to the play field, creating an "easy maze" or a "complex maze." Bullets won't pass through these newfound barriers, which slows down matches considerably and adds a great element of strategy and positioning. Bullet trajectory can be changed, and like Air-Sea Battle it's possible to play with "guided" bullets that can be steered after being fired.

But the fun really starts at mode 6. We've entered the Pong zone, where the tanks' bullets now ping-pong bounce off walls, either coming into contact with the enemy tank or eventually dissolving. In a brilliant twist, the programmers included some "billiard hit" variations, where a tank cannot be damaged unless hit by a bullet that's previously come into contact with a wall or barrier. Mode 10 brings us to the "invisible tank" games, where the tanks appear only when firing, receiving a hit, or bumping into a stationary object. Novice players will button-mash to keep their tank on-screen, only to be demolished by a clever opponent who's been stealthily tracking their unseen vehicle. You love to see it. As one may have guessed, all these mode variants can be combined, so, for instance, it's possible to play invisible tank Pong within the confines of a maze.
Work up to mode 15 and everything changes. Player now control bi-planes, with a completely new set of controls. The planes conduct combat within a completely wide open arena (no edge of screen barriers) and loop from one side to the other. While it's impossible to stop a plane, pressing left or right controls the speed, while up and down cause the aircraft to rotate. Damaged opponents don't "spin out" in the same way the tanks do, but do remained stunned for a brief moment. The mazes and Pong controls are sadly absent, but players have the option to manipulate shot trajectory and can toggle the "clouds" foreground on and off. There's a "2 on 2" bi-plane game, where each player controls two planes that fly side by side and both shoot simultaneously, and a very bizarre "3 on 1" where one player controls three planes and one controls a single massive aircraft. Following the bi-plane games are a series of jet games. These essentially feel identical, except the jets move in a smoother fashion. The controls here arguably feel the most "normal" and would be emulated in future air combat games, like Konami's Time Pilot.

As expected, Combat adheres to a very utilitarian graphical style. Less is more here, there's nothing onscreen except the players' vehicles, bullets, background, and barriers. Atari didn't attempt to "contour" any backgrounds with their trademark "rainbow" effects. Instead, the game looks very flat, but in a good way. Objects and environments are instantly recognizable with zero ambiguity whatsoever. Audio is quite indistinct, punctuated by the constant hum of running engines.

All told, Combat is likely the best 2600 launch title (though competition wasn't exactly stiff), and a wise choice for a pack-in selection. Though the aircraft games are arguably extraneous, the tank battles hold up incredibly well, even forty-something years after their debut. Anyone who has an Atari 2600 needs this, though I'd wager a guess that anyone with an Atari system already has it.

Street Racer
Two racing games were available at the launch of the Atari 2600: Indy 500 and Street Racer. Both are quite different: while Indy 500 features a zoomed-out view of entire racetracks, Street Racer showcases a zoomed-in view with larger sprites, and many modes see the player's race car locked on a horizontal axis, where accelerating causes objects to "move down" faster towards the bottom of the screen. This is similar to how Atari's own Night Driver plays, not to mention countless racing games to follow. Street Racer utilizes the paddle controllers (not the oddball driving controllers) and was also released by Sears with the most nonsensical name possible: Speedway II. Though it shares a genre with Indy 500, Street Racer is most similar to another launch game: Air-Sea Battle. Both were developed by Larry Kaplan, have 27 modes of play, and feature some of the worst computerized opponent AI in history. Stick to multiplayer with this one.

The first cluster of modes (1-6) are your basic street races, and the most unimpressive selections found within the cartridge. When racing against a single opponent, the cars don't even share the same track, instead the screen is split by a big horizontal line. The visuals here (and throughout Street Racer holistically) are downright heinous. Yeah, picking on Atari graphics is pretty cruel, but the color choices found throughout this cartridge are rather nonsensical and the cars each look like a capital letter I. Points are scored by dodging car sprites that are dumped from the top of the screen. Like Air-Sea Battle, the player with the highest score at the end of 2 minutes and 16 seconds is declared the victor, or whoever manages to score 99 points first. The paddle controls work quite well, despite the small range of available movement, with the lone fire button used to accelerate. There are some additional three- and four-player modes (owing to the tethering of paddle controllers) but these clutter the screen and aren't particularly compelling.
Things get a bit better come mode 7, where the cars transform to skiers (or, the letter H). These are slalom races, where quick reflexes are necessary to expertly squeeze through a series of gates. Games 13-16 are "dodge 'em" events, where the cars look different (and slightly more realistic) and must avoid a flurry of weaving obstacles. Here the cars operate in a new fashion, as accelerating causes them to reach the screen's top, whereupon a point is earned, prompting the car to reappear at the bottom. This is also where we find the game's best array of sound effects, replete with plenty of horn-honking.

The "jet shooter" modes aren't races at all. Instead, each player takes control of a fighter pilot and is tasked with shooting down hostile jets. The default two-player mode is amusing to me for a couple of reasons. First, it's so easy that each game will inevitably end in a draw. Second, it's impossible for anyone to hit that 99 mark, as only 94 jets come zoomin' in within that 2 minutes and 16 seconds. After the jets we're back to cars (again!) except this time the goal is to run over a series of numbers(?!). Fatigue has already set in at this point, and I just don't get it. Street Racer ends on a rather bizarre note: three "scoop ball" games where you collect a ball (it's actually a plus sign) and then deposit it into a scooper (which looks like a Space Invaders alien) while avoiding falling obstacles (that look like upside down football players from Atari's Football).

Street Racer just feels kind of unnecessary overall. As mentioned, it shares quite a bit of DNA with Air-Sea Battle, but is decidedly worse (not that Air-Sea Battle was a charmer in the first place). The average retro gamer can safely skip this one.
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Re: Games Beaten 2019

by MrPopo Wed Sep 11, 2019 5:32 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
11. Ghost 1.0 - PC
12. Call of Duty 2 - PC
13. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice - PS4
14. Revelations: The Demon Slayer - GBC
15. Mechstermination Force - Switch
16. Shadow Warrior Classic Redux - PC
17. Lost Sphear - Switch
18. Warcraft II: Beyond the Dark Portal - PC
19. Dragon Quest III - NES
20. Rage 2 - PC
21. Blood - PC
22. Harvest Moon 64 - N64
23. Battlefield V - PC
24. Sigil - PC
25. Shining Force III: Scenario 2 - Saturn
26. Shining Force III: Scenario 3 - Saturn
27. Borderlands 2: Commander Lillith and the Fight for Sanctuary - PC
28. Gato Roboto - Switch
29. Timespinner - Switch
30. Amid Evil - PC
31. Pillars of Eternity II: Beast of Winter - PC
32. Pillars of Eternity II: Seeker, Slayer, Survivor - PC
33. Pillars of Eternity II: The Forgotten Sanctum - PC
34. Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night - Switch
35. Orphan - PC
36. Project Nimbus - PC
37. Hardcore Mecha - PC
38. Grey Goo - PC
39. Giants: Citizen Kabuto - PC
40. Wolfenstein: Youngblood - PC
41. Fire Emblem: Three Houses - Switch
42. Metal Wolf Chaos XD - PC
43. Ion Fury - PC
44. Final Fantasy Adventure - GB
45. Astral Chain - Switch
46. Rebel Galaxy Outlaw - PC

The original Rebel Galaxy was a game created by a very small indie studio. They originally wanted to make their own version of Privateer, but with the recent crowdfunding successes of Elite Dangerous and Star Citizen they were worried they would be lost in the shuffle. So to differentiate themselves they had you pilot capitol ships instead of small fighters and freighters; your smallest ship is a corvette. This ended up playing like an Age of Sail game IN SPACE, and it was awesome. There's not enough games that let you pilot the big boys, and it made for a refreshing change from the standard space sim. The game did well enough that they were able to make another one in the same universe, and this time it would be more Privateer like. And so we have Outlaw.

The game is set prior to the events of the original Rebel Galaxy, but frankly, you don't need to know anything about the first. There's not really any plot connections between them; the only thing shared is the space western setting. The systems you visit are almost all named after various rural states, and most people have some twang to their voice. One of the strongest points of the first game, the soundtrack, has been greatly expanded. The first game has 120 MB of music; this game has 2.5 GB, divided into several themed radio stations you can flip between (and they also have commercials and DJs). It's basically riffing off of GTA's radio system, and it's just as effective. There's a lot of great tracks in here.

Gameplay-wise, you now have full 3D freedom (the first game was restricted to a 2D plane of movement). You start in a terrible garbage scow, but after saving up some cash you can go into either a fighter or a freighter; the freighter is slower but tougher with a bigger hold and auto-tracking turrets. The stations have a variety of missions available that suit both types of ship, and you can also haul cargo yourself. The game is actually balanced well enough that you can go full cargo hauler and make quite a lot of money; if anything it's easier than trying to do combat missions. See, there's some balance problems with the combat missions because it suffers from X-Wing syndrome; you vs. many ships with nothing keeping them off your ass. Combat ranges are just long enough that you will miss A LOT, so it can take a lot of time to wear down your enemies. At least with X-Wing the TIEs were unshielded, so even a glance here and there made progress. Rebel Galaxy Outlaw requires you to do more missile spam and sometimes get lucky with the AI. After the first third of the game I abandoned combat entirely and just did cargo runs (ambushes can be escaped easily with a good afterburner), only fighting when required for story missions. It wasn't until the end of the game that I switched back to a heavy fighter, and even then the story missions involved several friendlies to distract the AI.

The biggest strike against the game is it blows its load too quickly. You can save up and buy the most expensive ship in the game in the first system (it's quite attainable), and from there the progression drops off a lot. The component upgrades only have four tiers, and the improvements, while noticeable, aren't earth shattering. They become "well, when I happen to have enough money" rather than things you work towards. The weapons have the greatest variety, but in practice you'll skip several middle tiers because the price differential after the first couple just isn't large enough to force you to get the middle ones (and again, they're all available from the get go). The missions suffer from a lack of variety; cargo runs may or may not have enemies at the destination you have to kill before docking (and there are a ton of friendlies helping so it's never a problem), and combat missions are some flavor of "kill all the enemies in a fixed area", with the occasional "and protect the friendlies", which is a fool's errand to begin with. There are a handful of story missions that are more interesting, but compared to the mission variety in X-Wing there's a lot of sameyness. And that's the real problem the game runs into compared to the first. The first game was always satisfying to use your big ship and eviscerate an enemy fleet. Here your Nth dogfight becomes tedious. I ended up stopping doing sidequests (the rewards aren't actually anything interesting, just cash) and progressed the plot as fast as possible. And speaking of the plot... there's a decent narrative but the way it's told could have used an extra couple passes. The best thing I can say is it doesn't involve you saving the galaxy; it's a much more grounded plot.

If you're a fan of space games then I recommend giving it a try. All the activities are well done and trading is never at the point of you needing to have a second monitor with Excel to profit, which is a nice change from many space games. But it's not the sort of game you'll play for months on end like some other examples of the genre.
Games Beaten: 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
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Re: Games Beaten 2019

by PartridgeSenpai Thu Sep 12, 2019 6:04 pm

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

1. Night Slashers (Switch)
2. Bye-Bye BOXBOY! (3DS)
3. GTA4: The Ballad of Gay Tony (Xbox 360)
4. Katamari Forever (PS3)
5. Detention (PS4)
6. Donkey Kong 64 (N64) *
7. OctoDad: Dadliest Catch (PS4) *
8. FlintHook (Switch)
9. God of War (PS4)
10. God of War HD (PS3)
11. Tiny Barbarian DX (Switch)
12. God of War 2 HD (PS3)
13. Starlink (Switch)
14. Shin Gundam Musou (PS3)
15. Battle & Get! Pokemon Typing DS (DS)
16. Banjo-Kazooie (N64) *
17. Super Mario 64: Rumble Edition (N64)
18. Mario Party 3 (N64) *
19. Paper Mario (N64) *
20. The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (SNES) *
21. The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening DX (GBC) *
22. The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages (GBC) *
23. The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons (GBC) *
24. Yoshi's Island (SNES) *
25. Super Mario World (SNES) *
26. Super Mario RPG (SFC) *
27. Kaeru No Tame Ni Kane Wa Naru (GB)
28. Final Fantasy VI (SFC) *
29. Final Fantasy IV (SFC) *
30. Final Fantasy V (SFC)
31. Final Fantasy III (Famicom)
32. Mother 2 (SFC) *
33. Mother 3 (GBA) *
34. Hebereke (Famicom)
35. Donkey Kong Country 2 (SFC)
36. Donkey Kong Country 3 (SFC)
37. Donkey Kong Country (SFC) *
38. Wario's Woods (Famicom)
39. Paper Mario: Color Splash (Wii U)
40. Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam (3DS)
41. Luigi's Mansion (3DS) *
42. Paper Mario: Sticker Star (3DS)

43. Mario & Luigi Superstar Saga & Bowser's Minions (3DS)

I've long held that the original GBA Superstar Saga is the undesputed champ and best game among the Mario & Luigi series. Bros moves were always better than Bros items, the dungeon design was good, boss fights were tough but not super duper spongy, and the power creep of your abilities was never too overwhelming. The approach of the 3DS remake is that if it ain't broke, fix everything that was. The addition of a ton of quality of life and accessibility features as well as the Bower's Minions mode makes this a definitive upgrade over the GBA original and easily the new best Mario & Luigi game. It took me around 30 hours to complete both the main game and the Minions mode, and I played the Japanese version.

The first most obvious change is the presentation, as what was a GBA game on a single screen is now a 3DS game across two screens, and it really shows. While it's clear this is modeled off of the engine that Paper Jam used, it's definitely been modified, because Paper Jam was nowhere near as damn beautiful as this game. The game has a really rock solid framerate and all of the art is beautiful. Not all of the remixed music tracks are total winners, but they're otherwise nearly all fine conversions if not outright upgrades. The extra buttons and screen of the 3DS allow for those excellent QoL features as well.

First off, an obvious addition taken from the other games is the introduction of a mini-map on the bottom screen just like all the other games have. You can even pin places of interest on the map (not unlike a Metroidvania game sometimes lets you do), and it makes getting around a lot easier. The other use of the touch screen is a selection screen for all your exploratory Bros moves like the high jump, spin jump, hammer moves, and hand moves. The old system where R and L switch between which Bro's power is active depending on their position is totally gone. In its place, you can either pick what you want from the touch screen, or cycle through the list with R and L, and the Bros will switch positions and powers accordingly, meaning you can explore far faster and don't need to remember which combos are which. The icing on the cake of that is that X is a dedicated simultaneous jump button for both Bros no matter what Bros moves they have selected. Now you can have a hand or hammer power selected for A or B AND still be able to walk around and explore normally. It's such a game changer and makes just getting around so much easier and convenient. And then for accessibility, the game also takes ideas whole-cloth from Paper Jam in the form of skippable tutorials, an R button hold speeding up cutscenes, an easy mode that makes you stronger and enemies weaker, the ability to hold X for a simple guard instead of an outright dodge during battles, the ability to practice Bros moves for free even mid-battle for no cost, and an in-game guidebook to reference any aspect of playing you don't remember at the time. The game plays so much more smoothly and swiftly that it's kinda incredible, and almost entirely removes any reservations I could've possibly had about recommending the original to anyone.

I can't comment on if or how any dialogue was changed from the original, as I'm familiar with the American GBA release, and this is the Japanese 3DS release (although I can confirm that Fawful's speech style is far more boring and nowhere near as unique in Japanese as it is in English). What I can comment on is the combat balancing, which has been drastically shifted to be more like Paper Jam and to a lesser extent Dream Team. The bosses in the original weren't nearly as spongy as Partners In Time's bosses were, but this cranks down their health a LOT. However, it also cranks down the Bros ability to tank hits as well, meaning there is a much higher emphasis on maximizing the damage you deal as well as successfully dodging enemy attacks. If you mess up dodges on normal mode too many times, you're gonna be looking at a world of hurt before long (it made the final boss way way harder than I remember it, that's for sure). This, combined with a change in exactly how Bros moves timings and visuals work, makes for an experience that is both familiar as well as challenging in a new way that makes this an easy recommendation for even people who really know the original well.

Finally, an addition that was added for the Japanese release of the original (which came out a fair bit after the American release, oddly enough) makes the game a bit easier as well in the form of Paper Mario-style healing blocks. There were only 3 or 4 in the Japanese original as a way to top up before particularly hard fights, but they're basically put before every major fight now. Just one more thing that makes the game flow easier and a bit more fun. You can also even save just about anywhere now via a menu option, and svae blocks in-game are largely a formality. Other than that, the game is largely the same save for some minor changes on item drop rarities (green beans are a lot rarer than they used to be, for example).

I'll finish this review off by talking about the Bowser's Minions mode, which I expected to be kinda throw-away, but ended up being one of my favorite parts of the game. Now, compared to later Mario-focused RPGs, Mario & Luigi 1 isn't nearly as focused on being funny. It's' certainly quirky, there's no doubt about that, but it definitely isn't as concerned with being outright silly or funny in the way a game like Paper Mario Color Splash is. The main Bros adventure retains that, but the Minions mode is dripping with that new sillier writing and I adored it. It's Goomba's adventure to gather together an army of Bowser's displaced minions to save their beloved king, and it kinda turns into a somewhat irreverent shonen anime in how it's written (at least in Japanese). Goomba has two main counterparts in the form of Shy Guy and Boo, and the dynamic they have between each other will likely be immediately familiar to anyone who has watched mainstream anime for any length of time. I really adored the story of the Minions mode, as it balances being silly for the sake of it with being genuinely sweet. It's a not at all unique story about growing up and needing to take on more responsibility when duty calls, but presented through Super Mario villains, it's done in a very charming style that nonetheless really clicked with me.

The mechanics of the Minions mode I also enjoyed, but they're something totally different from the main game. The Minions mode gameplay is almost like something out of a mobile game, as it don't even really use the two-screen that much. You put together a series of troops before going into a battle, and they automatically fight it out based on a priority of whomever is next in line that doesn't have someone targeting them yet. There's a rock-paper-scissors dynamic between three types of troops (ground, throwers, and flyers) and you build an army to fight how you think best for the types present in the army you're about to fight. The only interactions you do are timed A-button presses for when special moves are activated, and presses on the D-pad to activate captain abilities that can also be swapped out as you unlock them as your captains level up.

Units will level up as they're present for battles you win, but there isn't even a positioning element: grounds are first, then fliers, then throwers, then your captain. All you really need to do is take out the enemy captain to win, but it can be hard to focus on that outside of a couple captain abilities because the control is so limited. It can also definitely get frustrating at times, as you only know the units the enemy is using (usually), and not in what numbers or what roles, so they may have 4 throw types and 1 flier, but the ground army you made to wipe the floor with those throwers will be crap against a whole unit of flyers, or a particularly tough flyer captain will be able to take out 3 or 4 grounds because evasion against type advantage is so high. It's a very casual strategy experience and the difficulty curve can at times be annoying, but it was right up my alley and I enjoyed it a lot. The length is no paltry offering either. It took me probably 7 or 8 hours just in this mode between just how many levels there are and the occasional grinding I had to do for harder stages. Just know that it's nothing to really really sink your teeth into for deeper strategy game fans.

Finally, the game's amiibo support is largely found in the Minions mode (which makes sense, as the Koopa and Goomba amiibo were released specifically for this game). Anapan graciously donated to me a Goomba amiibo so I could test this out, so credit for my first-hand experience of this stuff goes to him ^w^. In the Bros mode, all amiibos get you (you can scan any Mario-series one) is first a fairly nice badge that can otherwise still be found elsewhere in the game, and after that just 3 beans of a random type. They also unlock your stamp album, which you only need one amiibo to unlock, but has most of its features after that tied to just playing the Minions mode. One amiibo type will get you that character's stamp, but there are 20 more stamps that are only tied to units you happen to have in your army. Have 3 Goombas over level 10? There's a stamp for that. Have all kinds of Magikoopa? There's a stamp for that. Each of those stamps will unlock a simple Minions mode mission, with no story attached, involving those characters. Additionally, having the Goomba, Koopa Troopa, or Boo amiibo scanned will get you a more powerful golden version of that character to use as a captain. It's all suuuuuper minor stuff, and not really worth the price of entry (not like some games lock away massive amounts of content via amiibos, for sure), but it's something fun to do if you have the amiibos to use with it already.

Verdict: Highly Recommended. I've played not that many games this year that haven't been repeats, but this has been a damn great one. Up there with Color Splash as a game I thought I'd enjoy but ended up absolutely loving. A definitive upgrade to the original in such a fashion that it feels more like Mario & Luigi 6 that just happens to have the dressings of a remake of Superstar Saga. In any case, easily the new best entry in the series, and a must-own for RPG fans on the 3DS.
I identify everyone via avatar, so if you change your avatar, I genuinely might completely forget who you are. -- Me
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