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Ack
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Re: Games Beaten 2019

by Ack Mon Nov 11, 2019 11:05 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)

42. Might & Magic Book One (PC)(RPG)
43. Miasmata (PC)(Adventure)
44. Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood (PC)(FPS)
45. Legendary (PC)(FPS)
46. Hedon (PC)(FPS)
47. Last Rites (PC)(FPS)
48. Half-Dead 2 (PC)(Adventure)

It's tough to say exactly what genre this game is. It's first person, but it's not a shooter. I'm arguing that there are elements of adventure due to avoiding traps, but I could see arguments against that too.

What is Half-Dead 2? Well, imagine the movie Cube. Now make it a video game. You're a nameless prisoner in some kind of facility who must navigate rooms that may or may not have traps. As you progress through a grid of however many rooms (you have some sizing options when setting up the game), you eventually find an exit to the next floor. Get through all the floors to the end, and you survive. You may unlock random loot that lets you change how your character looks. Yeehaw.

Oh, but while there are some traps to avoid, like spike walls, falling anvils, drones with bombs, and so forth, there are also lethal rooms that seal you inside and kill anyone trapped. How do you avoid these lethal rooms and set off traps so you know what you're up against? You throw your shoe. Yep, shoes are a vital resource in Half-Dead 2, and having at least one can be a matter of life or death. You see, the traps are pressure sensitive, so throwing in a show triggers them. You can go in and get your shoe back if the room is safe or the traps easily navigated. Otherwise, you'll need to stumble across a corpse and take whatever shoe you can find. Odds are, you'll end up with a combat boot and a loafer, if you have any shoes at all by the end. More than once the game has ended in a mad, shoeless dash to the finish.

There is also a PvP mode which changes things up: instead of levels, you're racing to the center, grabbing gear and weapons, and prepping to duke it out with the other players until only one remains. While there are no lethal rooms in PvP, there are still traps, and the level has a time limit where rooms steadily become filled with spikes; stay in them, and you'll die. Keep moving, and you've got a better chance.

That's basically it. Half-Dead 2 isn't a complicated game. I've already beaten it several times with friends in co-op, and the PvP mode can be explored and "won" with a single player. This is not the kind of thing you should expect to sink a ton of dedicated hours into. Instead, it's a fun diversion that you should jump into with friends for an hour or so, go do something else, and then jump back in from time to time for fun. It's best played like that. But most importantly, definitely play it with friends.

Oh, and the title is a joke about Half-Life 2. I'd throw a shoe at whoever came up with that name if I could.
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MrPopo
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Re: Games Beaten 2019

by MrPopo Mon Nov 11, 2019 11:16 am

Ack wrote:
MrPopo wrote:57. MDK - PC


I have owned MDK for years and tried several times to play it, and it just never clicks for me. I just cannot get into it for some reason.

I can understand that. The gunplay isn't anything special; you basically spend the entire game holding down sprint and circle strafing while your generous hit detection whittles down enemies. The sniper mechanics just aren't there yet; I've started on MDK2 and they make the important change of letting you strafe while sniping, which turns it into a tool you can use more regularly and not just for puzzles. And outside the shooting the game is quite bare bones. I saw this bizarre thread on the GOG forums for the series where everyone is like "MDK1 was a masterpiece, MDK2 just doesn't GET it" and I have no idea what anyone is talking about. Compared to Earthworm Jim MDK has very little of that Shiny humor, mostly in the throwaway messages if you fail to save a city and the fact that there is an Earthworm Jim powerup that drops a cow on enemies (which mostly shows up in a couple of snowboarding sequences with turrets to take out the turrets. Reading the comments made me feel like I stumbled upon a bunch of people calling Ren & Stimpy high art.
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Games Beaten: 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
Blizzard Entertainment Software Developer - All comments and views are my own and not representative of the company.
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PartridgeSenpai
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Re: Games Beaten 2019

by PartridgeSenpai Tue Nov 12, 2019 3:46 am

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)
44. Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story & Bowser Jr's Journey (3DS)
45. Tomato Adventure (GBA)
46. Corpse Party (PSP)
47. Rave Master: Fighting Live (GC)
48. Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow (GBA) *
49. Castlevania: Circle of the Moon (GBA)
50. Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance (GBA) *
51. New Super Mario Bros. 2 (3DS)
52. The Outer Worlds (Xbone)
53. Momodora: Reverie Under the Moonlight (Xbone)
54. Guacamelee 2 (Xbone)

55. Steamworld Dig 2 (Xbone)

Maru has said for a while that this is a really good game, and since it was on Game Pass and I'm still on a Metroidvania kick, I decided to give it a go last weekend. That turned out to be a pretty dang good decision, as it's certainly the best Metroidvania I've played so far this year ^w^. It took me just over 9 hours to do everything in the game and collect all the things (as well as do the "sequence break" achievement) on normal difficulty.

Steamworld Dig 2 is the sequel to the far simpler Steamworld Dig, a game I played a year or two ago on my 3DS and also liked quite a bit. This sequel expands on the original as a sequel really should. It improves the good and builds on top of it. The core concept of the game is a Metroidvania mixed with resource farming, I guess. It's almost like if Spelunky was slower-paced and also a more linear Metroidvania XD

You have a main mine underneath the main town, and you dig down there as well as fight enemies to find minerals to sell back in town. You can spend this cash you get on upgrades to your base stats and equipment, and you also find new equipment periodically as you progress through the story (like a grappling hook or a bomb launcher). There's a main mine that you dig in more or less to earn money, and then there are side dungeons as well as main dungeons you navigate through for bonus collectibles, (which also are required for the best ending), upgrade cogs (you can use them to toggle on and off upgrade abilities), extra cash, and even optional new powers and equipment.

After a few hours the game becomes a lot less linear, and you can start exploring around everywhere and engage in quite a lot of sequence breaking to get to areas you technically aren't supposed to be in yet. I really enjoyed how much the game embraces just letting you go where you want at your own pace like that. There are even upgrades you can get that make seeing secret areas easier. This is the first Metroidvania I've played in quite a while where I got EVERYTHING without once needing to look online where something was, and I like a game with secrets that intuitive (or at least a game that lets you eventually see the secret spots a lot easier XP).

The exploration and platforming is really where it's at with this game, and the combat is largely secondary. The ranged weapon you eventually get has VERY limited ammo, your melee attack has a short range that never really gets any longer, and you're often fighting in very compact spaces where maneuvering is difficult. That said, combat is a very secondary feature of the game overall, and the overall design of the world and the challenges you face within it are designed around your limited ability to fight things.

The story and world building are interesting, but ultimately kinda have a crap payoff. The character that is there among all the townsfolk as well as for the main character and her sidekick are charming and fun, and I honestly kinda wish there was more of it. But the final resolution to the story is sorta defying expectations by defying the normal expectations, which leaves the end result with kind of a strange message of "no wait, that prejudice was entirely justified after all". The narrative is certainly not the main event here, though. I'd put it solidly below the exploration, resource gathering, and action mechanics.

While I did play the original on a 3DS and this one on an Xbone, the art design and presentation of this game is MUCH stronger. It's a very pretty game that is often quite atmospheric. The music isn't anything super stand-out (at least for me), and I listened to podcasts most of the time I played this, but I didn't always have a podcast on. Especially one area that has a much more tense atmosphere where they take away your mini-map: that area is VERY well done and genuinely creepy.

Verdict: Highly recommended. This is definitely one of the stand-out better Metroidvanias to come out in the past few years. It's fairly challenging (sometimes a bit too hard, tbh) on normal difficulty, but it has the difficulty options to mitigate that. It looks nice, plays well, and doesn't outstay its welcome. The twist it puts on the Metroidvania formula is a gimmick, sure, but it's a strong one and provides a good change of pace between resource gathering in the main mine and platforming challenges in the optional side areas. If you like 2D exploration games and/or Metroidvanias, this is definitely a game to not let pass you by~
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BoneSnapDeez
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Re: Games Beaten 2019

by BoneSnapDeez Tue Nov 12, 2019 12:07 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)
59. Food Fight (Atari 7800)
60. Galaga (Atari 7800)
61. Donkey Kong (ColecoVision)
62. Cosmic Avenger (ColecoVision)
63. Mouse Trap (ColecoVision)
64. Zaxxon (ColecoVision)
65. Armor Battle (Intellivision)
66. Armor Ambush (Atari 2600)
67. Basic Math (Atari 2600)
68. Astrosmash (Intellivision)
69. Astroblast (Atari 2600)
70. Donkey Kong (Intellivision)
71. Beauty & the Beast (Intellivision)
72. Surround (Atari 2600)
73. Borderline (SG-1000)
74. Omega Race (VIC-20)
75. Star Battle (VIC-20)
76. Mahou Kishi Rayearth (Game Gear)

77. Muv-Luv Alternative (Vita)
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There are seemingly countless "multiverse" and "parallel universe" theories to be found within the realms of science and theology alike. The basic idea is that a web of alternate universes are running along in tandem with this one; some nearly identical with the exception of a tiny anecdotal modification, some vastly different. Proponents of these theories claim that individuals will "shift" between universes with little to no awareness, oftentimes following a traumatic event. But what if someone had the power to willingly and knowingly cross these boundaries? Would they attempt to influence the events of the world to unfold in accordance with moral and ethical principles? And does an attempt to avoid the mistakes of the past simply lead to a host of new ones?

Muv-Luv Alternative is a visual novel developed by âge, a direct sequel to the original Muv-Luv. Somewhat confusingly, Muv-Luv was split into a duo of disparate arcs (Extra and Unlimited), giving it a type of "two games in one" feel, and thus rendering Alternative the final installment of a trilogy. Alternative has a release history similar to that of the original Muv-Luv: there was that initial physical PC game in Japan (2006), followed by an English fan patch, and then an official localization thanks to a Kickstarter campaign which culminated in releases on both Steam and the PlayStation Vita. Both Muv-Luv and Muv-Luv Alternative alike have received heaps of praise, in Japan (then) and the West (now). However, while Muv-Luv is typically viewed as a "very good" visual novel, Alternative is frequently heralded as the best the genre has ever had to offer. Indeed, it earns top marks on websites like the Visual Novel Database (VNDB), where it's currently the only VN to retain an average score of 9+ (out of ten), based on thousands of ratings. And I'm not one to argue with the popular consensus here. The original Muv-Luv is fantastic, funny, wholly entertaining. Alternative is on an entirely different tier: stunning, gorgeous, transcendentally powerful. All cards on the table: this is one of the best video games I've ever played by a wide margin. "Played"... or read? Sure, visual novels aren't "standard" video games, rendering cross-genre comparisons somewhat useless. Nevertheless, this is the absolute pinnacle of the VN style, and of Japanese interactive fiction. The emotional commitment it demands of the player is absolutely staggering, as is the resulting impact.

Muv-Luv Alternative picks up right after the original Muv-Luv, albeit somewhat indirectly. Note that it's absolutely essential to play Muv-Luv before tackling this one, or else nothing will make any sense. It'd be like picking up a copy of Final Fantasy III and playing through an old save file that begins at the "World of Ruin" while totally ignoring the first half of the saga -- don't do that!! I'd recommend playing Alternative immediately after finishing the previous game, as everything flows together as one lengthy epic (then again, Japanese gamers who purchased these VNs at launch had to endure a three-year waiting period). Muv-Luv Unlimited did an excellent job priming the player for a sequel, without having to resort to a clichéd cliffhanger. Alternative manages to do something opposite: it contextualizes and clarifies so many events of Extra and Unlimited that Muv-Luv retroactively ends up feeling like a "better game" once Alternative is completed. All the weird random ideas presented in the first Muv-Luv -- why the protagonist is a ladies man, how multiple endings can coexist, the purpose of the cat that pops up from the bushes, and much much more -- it's all explained here in a compelling unified fashion. No stone is left unturned, and there are additionally some great cameos of forgotten incidental characters slyly inserted into Alternative (look for the limo driver). In fact, in a strange kind of meta moment, as soon as I completed Muv-Luv Alternative I immediately desired to "loop" to experience that first title once more, now with a newfound understanding of the games' lore.
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Taking center stage of Alternative is one Shirogane Takeru: Japanese teenager, schoolboy turned warrior, zero turned hero, reluctant time-traveler, savior of all humanity. In Extra Takeru was navigating late adolescence, surrounded by a harem of gorgeous women (we can all relate, right?). In Unlimited, Takeru awakens one day to find himself in an alternate timeline: most of his friends and acquaintances are present, except humanity is now utilizing mechas to battle a hostile alien race known as the BETA. Unlimited wraps up on a late December day, with the fate of mankind looking grim. Alternative thrusts Takeru back into the world of Unlimited, except he's back in October, and armed with all the knowledge he's gained from previous time loops. His mission: to use his accumulated wisdom and skills to slay the alien menace and steer the world into its former prosperity. It won't be easy. Takeru was a somewhat annoying and questionable protagonist in Extra, largely redeemed in Unlimited, and fully realized within the world of Alternative. The game deftly avoids the most common pitfalls associated with visual novel heroes. Takeru isn't a quasi-first-person stand-in for the player, nor is he an invincible superman. He's his own person, with moods that oscillate heavily as the Alternative tale unfolds. He can be funny, despondent, anxious, terrified, infuriating. Above all else he feels real: a person whose experiences are irreparably altered by surrounding calamities, finding solace within those fleeting vignettes that make things slightly more bearable.

The (primarily female) supporting cast is back, of course. Mitsurugi Meiya reprises her role as the mysterious, brilliant, and occasionally aloof female warrior, with a history and backstory deep enough to rival Takeru's own. Plus there's those other pals of Takeru: Tamase Miki, Ayamine Kei, Sakaki Chizuru, and Yoroi Mikoto (and the mysterious bunny-eared Yashiro Kasumi); each character comes with her own backstory, baggage, hopes, fears, fighting styles, cafeteria food preferences. Some critics have commented on an apparent lack of "character development" contained within the story, which is missing the mark by some margin. Muv-Luv Alternative is an excellent case study in character consistency. All told, while a lengthy game, all events take place within a scant two month period, showcasing a tight-knit group under extreme and constant duress. The game juggles an absolutely massive amount of dialogue, and does so brilliantly. Every line spoken by a particular character feels appropriate coming from him or her (okay, usually her). Every young lady is granted a small side story or two, and some private moments with Takeru. By the end of the entire rigmarole that is Muv-Luv, it's nigh impossible to not feel deep affection for all parties involved. The writers even had the nerve to dump a second "waifu brigade" of (mostly) new ladies halfway through the game. At first this feels a touch overwhelming, but eventually the fresh personalities elevate the experience to unforeseen levels.

Muv-Luv Alternative also marks the return of Kagami "Best Girl" Sumika, Takeru's main love interest from Extra who was conspicuously absent from Unlimited. This is of no real surprise to the player, as she graces both the game's box art and title screen. Overall, she's a great addition to the story. Her very existence is shrouded in mystery, with details of her life slowly trickling in, to full in the gaps of the Muv-Luv mystery. That said, the weakest writing of Alternative is also that which pertains to Sumika. She's given a tragic backstory, designed to motivate both Takeru and the player. But the writers went way overboard, and I do mean way overboard, even in the toned-down Vita port. One (in)famous part of the story, encountered later on, is really just disgusting, exploitative, and ultimately unneeded. It's a crass moment of shock value that doesn't necessarily detract from the main plotline, but it most certainly adds very little of value.
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A final character that deserves mention is the teacher-turned-scientist Kouzuki Yuuko. Attractive and seemingly skilled at everything imaginable, she'd be considered a "Mary Sue" if this were indeed her tale to tell. If anything, she's a sort of "deus ex machina" character, with her sudden resolutions occasionally feeling a little too convenient. Most importantly, Yuuko drives the story forward. As the most knowledgeable member of the bunch, she's the primary source of the Muv-Luv Alternative "info dumping." Alternative is a show and tell experience. Once the game concludes, not much has been left to the player's imagination. The inner workings of the mecha, the fundamentals of time travel and interdimensional jumping, varying species of the BETA, all of it is explained in intense detail. There's even some "real life" science worked into the mix. At one point Yuuko drops everything to discuss double-slit experiments!

And you know what? This isn't a problem. Muv-Luv Alternative is over 50 hours(!) long, and unwaveringly fascinating. It eschews melodrama in favor of a massive series of taut scenarios. There's so much going on -- time travel, mecha battles, conspiracies, politicking, scandals, interpersonal relationships -- and all of it is weaved together brilliantly. The game's self-referential with no loose ends: a seemingly innocuous conversion at hour 5 swings back into relevance come hour 40. But most important is the overarching tone of the game itself. Gone is the good-natured parody humor of Extra, and the slow-burn mysterious feel of Unlimited. Alternative is a tragic tale, and one told with a voracious intensity. It demands attention, and calculatingly projects feelings of extreme anxiety and sorrow from Takeru (and others) to the player directly. For example, at one pivotal point in the tale Takeru tries to "run away" from the horrors of the battered world, only to be confronted by a series of newly-formed issues as a result. It's a gradual descent into abject madness, and one of the most terrifying scenarios seen in a video game. Not in an edge-of-your-seat jump-scare type of way, but in a way that makes the player feel uncomfortable and ill at ease. For hours on end. Muv-Luv Alternative is punctuated by happy-cry highs and the lowest of gut-punch lows. It's a binge-worthy title, with long play sessions required just to get from one "emotion" to the next. It's unrelenting, uncompromising, and impossible to walk away from.

The game's not all a bunch of chit-chat. The mecha vs. alien battles are pretty incredible, each being the length of a feature film. The attention to detail put into these skirmishes is just astonishing: from the pre-battle briefings, to the in-battle tactics, mecha and BETA designs, Japanese geography analysis, and so on. Most battles are presented in a weird sort of fashion that seems to straddle the line between visual novel and full animation: think of cardboard cut-out combatants moved around a chess board. It produces a disorienting effect, punctuating the ensuing chaos. The intensity of said battles ramps up as Alternative progresses: the game's ultimate showdown would make a wholly compelling self-contained visual novel in and of itself.

Muv-Luv Alternative showcases some of the highest production values of a visual novel of its era (or to date, really). The character artwork is just superb, with fluidly animated lip movements accompanying every voiced line. The voice-acting is absolutely top-notch; each actor nails their respective character just perfectly. I'm quite partial to Kei's slacker mumbles, Sumika's adorable hyperactive ramblings, and Yuuko's authoritative explanations. Note that Takeru is only voiced in the most "serious" of situations, a wise move by the developers. The soundtrack is one of the best around. It contains all the hits from the original Muv-Luv, plus a bunch of new driving militaristic tunes for those dire situations. Besides the standard "video game music" there are some great songs with vocals. These are saved for the game's unskippable anime cutscenes, which bookend the game and are also initiated at specific pivotal moments.
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In contrast to its predecessors, Muv-Luv Alternative contains but one ending. This is a good thing. Given the tumultuous events of the game, things should (and do) conclude in one very specific way. And yes, the ending is an absolute tearjerker. That said, there are "choices" to be made throughout the journey. These are few and far between. In fact, the final selection is made something like ten hours before the game ends! Choices not only alter some game dialogue, but do impact a couple of key scenes (including the penultimate one). After completing the game, one can go back, armed with both a chapter select and fast-forward function, to influence events differently. Whether this is "worth it" is debatable. Even a sped-up playthrough of the game is a serious time sink, and no serious modifications to the story can truly be made.

The Vita port of Muv-Luv Alternative varies from all other (PC) versions in a few key ways. The handheld format is great, and lends itself to lengthy play sessions, though the smaller screen image almost makes the text a bit too tiny. While the localization is fantastic, some spelling errors can be found, though this is easily remedied with an available update. The "h-scenes" are missing, naturally (no complaints here). That said, another scene deemed objectionable is one of a particularly violent nature that occurs midway through. It's still here, and absolutely needs to be, though it's obviously censored in a somewhat clumsy fashion (anyone playing this is going to immediately head to the internet to view "the real deal"). It's clear the publisher was trying to avoid any ESRB issues, and it's a shame that this particular crucial moment had its impact dulled. Upon completion of the game, a lovely "gallery" is made available to view numerous artwork stills. Unfortunately, there's no comparable "jukebox" for the tunes.

Muv-Luv Alternative is absolutely essential. For lovers of video games, anime, and for those who simply desire an incredibly gripping story. I really can't overstate how compelling this entire trilogy is; there's really nothing else like it. It's probably the most "manipulative" piece of media I've ever experienced. It transformed this "I'll play an hour of video games a night to relax" guy into a five-hour-session binge-gamer. I "platinumed" the game, despite being unaware of what a platinum trophy was. There are scenes here that I'll be able to recall verbatim a decade from now, which is probably the highest praise I can give to any video game (or story, generally speaking). An absolute masterpiece that deserves every single ounce of praise thrust upon it. Ryoukai!
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ElkinFencer10
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Re: Games Beaten 2019

by ElkinFencer10 Tue Nov 12, 2019 12:20 pm

That's the write up Muv-Luv deserved.
Exhuminator wrote:Ecchi lords must unite for great justice.

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BoneSnapDeez
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Re: Games Beaten 2019

by BoneSnapDeez Tue Nov 12, 2019 8:31 pm

You paved the way for me, Elkin.

I've been slow as shit getting these reviews out. I'll try to post about photonflowers* in a week or so.
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Re: Games Beaten 2019

by pierrot Tue Nov 12, 2019 10:58 pm

I don't know, Bone. How could it be better than that other hyphenated VN, Yu-No? I mean, Yu-No has almost ten whole years on Muv-Luv, and it was originally on the PC-98. I think it's pretty clear who has to win here.
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Re: Games Beaten 2019

by Markies Wed Nov 13, 2019 12:44 am

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

1. Power Stone 2 (SDC)
2. Radiata Stories (PS2)
3. Dusty Diamond's All-Star Softball (NES)
***4. Saiyuki: Journey West (PS1)***
5. Shining In The Darkness (GEN)
***6. Metropolis Street Racer (SDC)***
7. Half-Life 2 (XBOX)
8. Soul Blazer (SNES)
9. Mario Party (N64)
10. Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance (GCN)
11. Street Fighter Collection (PS1)
12. Pokemon Stadium 2 (N64)
13. Burnout (PS2)
14. Phantasy Star III (GEN)
15. Batman: The Video Game (NES)
16. X-Men Legends (XBOX)
***17. Final Fantasy VII (PS1)***
18. Maximum Pool (SDC)
19. Puzzle Quest (PS2)
20. Jet Moto (PS1)
21. The Legend of Zelda: Collector's Edition (GCN)
22. Dead Or Alive 3 (XBOX)
23. Growlanser III: The Dual Darkness

24. Luigi's Mansion (GCN)

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I beat Luigi's Mansion on the Nintendo GameCube this evening!

My city has recently started its own Retro Gaming Convention every August. It started in 2016 as just a place for Vendors to sell games with some tournaments on the side. In the past few years, it has grown to much more with celebrities and panels along with vendors selling games. It is the best time of year to go game shopping as you can look at up to 80 vendors in the span of a few hours. Before I attend each convention, I always create a list of what game I am looking for each console. Without the list, I'd either be too amazed and not buy anything or be too amazed and buy everything. The list helps me narrow down my search to what games I really want. In 2018, I chose Luigi's Mansion for my GameCube game and I luckily found it at the convention. I wanted to play it during Halloween, but I missed it by a week or so.

The best part about Luigi's Mansion is the Luigi himself along with all the subtle Nintendo nods to previous games. Luigi has so much expression and is so funny, even though he barely says any words that it makes the game so enjoyable to play. I love watching him get spooked or the happiness of him finding a new key to a room. The game plays out like one large puzzle. You go into a room, 'solve it' and then are given a key to the next room. Some bosses are thrown in there along with some fighting. It moves along nicely and I like how everything is self contained. You get a real sense of progression as you move throughout the game.

The game was a launch game for the GameCube and it basically teaches players the 'foreign' concept of dual analog sticks. Because of that, it is unique, but the combat can become difficult. To catch ghosts, you almost need split second timing. Also, you can't invert the sticks, which I prefer, so moving your flashlight and vacuum takes some getting used to. In fact, I never grew accustomed to it and the final two bosses can be such a pain as they ramp up the difficulty.

Overall, I like the presentation and the enjoyment of the game. I just wish it played a little better. I wish the combat was more intuitive and a bit more smoother. It's a cute little spooky game and well worth it to see Luigi's reactions. It's an interesting concept and I like Nintendo taking chances with the Mario Universe. It's a really good game, but I think the combat holds it back from really being great.
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Re: Games Beaten 2019

by ElkinFencer10 Wed Nov 13, 2019 9:51 am

pierrot wrote:I don't know, Bone. How could it be better than that other hyphenated VN, Yu-No? I mean, Yu-No has almost ten whole years on Muv-Luv, and it was originally on the PC-98. I think it's pretty clear who has to win here.

Spoken like a true Never-Played-Muv-Luv-er.
Exhuminator wrote:Ecchi lords must unite for great justice.

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BoneSnapDeez
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Re: Games Beaten 2019

by BoneSnapDeez Wed Nov 13, 2019 11:21 am

Yu-No is god-tier, but Muv-Luv Alternative is exponentially better.

Next we can discuss the best VN with an asterisk in its title.
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