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PartridgeSenpai
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by PartridgeSenpai Tue Feb 25, 2020 5:21 pm

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

1. Invisigun Reloaded (Switch)
2. Human: Fall Flat (Switch)
3. Shantae: The Pirate's Curse (3DS)
4. Darksiders: Warmastered Edition (PC)
5. Splatterhouse (PS3) *
6. 3D Dot Game Heroes (PS3)
7. Tokyo Jungle (PS3)
8. Pictobits (DSiWare)
9. Puzzle Quest: The Legend Reborn (Switch)
10. WarioWare Gold (3DS)
11. Disaster: Day of Crisis (Wii)

12. Sleeping Dogs: Definitive Edition (Xbone)

I heard Jim Sterling praising this game a few months back, and I stuck it on my list of games to look out for to try and get cheap during my stay in the States. Luckily for me I was able to find it, and I finally got around to playing it now~. I knew it was a bit like GTA, but other than that I really didn't know much more about it. I was very pleasantly surprised with what I found. It took me around 40 hours to get all the collectibles and do all the missions/jobs/tasks in the main game as well as the two smaller DLCs part of the main story.

Sleeping Dogs is the story of Wei Shen: A cop who was raised in Hong Kong, moved to San Francisco as a young boy, and has now returned to go undercover in the triads just like he did back in San Francisco. The cast is pretty huge, so there sadly isn't a ton of character development into anyone other than Wei and a couple of his friends, but it never felt like it was outright wasting my time with its story. It even has a fair number of good, plot-involved (or as involved as any of the side characters are, anyhow) female characters, which is a nice change of pace for mafia-centric video game stories. One of my personal favorite smaller quests is when you're following one of the girls you're dating for cheating on you, and when you confront her she calls you out on your double standards for sleeping around, storms off, and then that's the end of the mission XD. Another cool thing is that a fair bit of the dialogue is in Cantonese (with some characters speaking entirely in Cantonese), although that does mean that you'll need to read some subtitles (although, also quite cool, you can turn subs off completely if you want).

The story is just as much about Wei's decent into making his infiltration personal rather than professional, but it's not a story that has a ton to say, ultimately. It deals with some very interesting themes, especially about how difficult it can be to have grown up between two places (feeling like an ex-pat in your own country), but it sadly never does much with them. There's certainly an aspect of what feels like missed potential with its narrative, but it still succeeds well in being an entertaining gangster drama that is very often funny but also occasionally horrifically brutal and violent with its portrayal of the dangers that a life of crime can lead to (this is not a game for those with weak stomachs).

Mechanically, Sleeping Dogs does a good job of fitting into a role between Yakuza and GTA, albeit not a perfect one. It's got driving I found tons of fun, and the missions and side missions that these sorts of games tend to have. It's got a good variety of mission styles that never got boring for me. You can also buy clothes to get certain passive perks (more XP, better damage, higher health), and also some very silly Squenix-themed super outfits if you want to do the game dressed as Adam Jenson X3. The different kinds of XP are interesting, as they reward you for doing different but not mutually exclusive things. You have Face XP (which is gotten for doing non-story missions, generally), but then you have Triad XP and Police XP, and each kind of XP allows for upgrades in entirely different upgrade paths. Triad XP is gotten for getting kills or doing combat in interesting and varied ways, while Police XP actually starts out maxed and you lose from your total when you do non-cop-ish things (like property damage or harming innocents). It incentivizes playing in a safe but brutal kind of way that I found very enjoyable and fits the games themes well.

It has a fair bit of gunplay, but the main focus is on an Arkham-style melee combat system. There aren't a ton of enemy types, but the challenge in combat generally comes from just keeping on top of the numbers around you. For people who've played a ton of games with that style of combat, they might find it a bit easy, but it was always just challenging enough for me. The gunplay is a bit more meh. There's a lot more in the later game than the early game as the narrative heats up, but a lot of the guns aren't that interesting to use, and I often found myself just looking for a pistol instead of a shotgun or a rifle because the pistols were so much more accurate and one headshot kills every enemy. Now, this is Hong Kong, so guns themselves are pretty rare to find outside of missions, so you have no inventory with which to hold a gun (you can stow a pistol in your belt, but even something like fast travling via a taxi will take that from you). They tried to balanced their melee-focused combat with their gunplay that a gangster story usually has and didn't quite hit the mark. The gunplay isn't bad, per se, but it's unremarkable to the point that I kinda wish they'd just leaned harder into making the (already reasonably move-rich) melee system more involved.

The presentation is quite nice, but you can tell it's a remaster. Hong Kong is pretty big, but pretty obviously not as large as the actual city. The environments are pretty and the remaster has treated them very well. Hong Kong is a colorful, beautiful city that comes alive in a way that looks fantastic for what's effectively an up-res'd last-gen game. What the remaster hasn't treated so well are the character models, whose lip movements especially can look, ironically enough, like a bad English dub at times with how they don't quite seem to sync up with what's being said. The music selection is good for missions, but the car radio stuff is less than stellar (at least from how I can remember enjoying other, similar game's radio selections). What I did LOVE about the music is not only the karaoke minigame (where the voice actor for Wei is actually singing songs like Girls Just Wanna Have Fun and Take On Me), but they actually made original songs for the game's in-universe pop idol. I love when games go that little extra step to make their worlds feel more alive ^w^

Regarding the two DLCs in the main story, that's Wheels of Fury and The Zodiac Tournament. Wheels of Fury is a fun diversion to get yourself a super car among super cars. It's a really fun set of missions to get through (especially the first one) to get a nearly indestructible, super fast EMP-enabled car with retractable mounted gun turrets XD. The game's aesthetic and presentation already lean into a sort of Hong Kong action movie-style, but The Zodiac Tournament cranks that up to 11. Complete with its own opening credits crawl (totally separate from the main game's) and film-grain effect, it's meant to be a campy, old action movie about a bunch of martial arts experts from around the world all brought to one island to fight for tons of cash by a crazed drunken master! It's mostly just some fairly difficult melee fights, but it rocks its theme so hard that it's a good time despite the relatively unremarkable mission design.

Verdict: Highly Recommended. If you are a fan of GTA-style open world games, this is absolutely one not to pass up. It was really cool seeing a game in that style that takes place in such a different setting, despite the narrative shortcomings. It's not mechanically perfect, but it's really solid in all the ways that matter. It's a damn shame that we'll almost certainly never get another one, because with some more polishing, Sleeping Dogs could've been an all-time great in the genre instead of just another fantastic entry.
I identify everyone via avatar, so if you change your avatar, I genuinely might completely forget who you are. -- Me
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prfsnl_gmr
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by prfsnl_gmr Tue Feb 25, 2020 11:43 pm

1. Her Story (iOS)
2. Elminage Original (3DS)
3. Legend of Grimrock (iOS)
4. Silent Bomber (PS1)
5. Crash Bandicoot (PS1)
6. Bust-a-Move 2 Arcade Edition (PS1)

Bust-a-Move 2 Is pretty much the quintessential Bust-a-Move experience (which is why I played through it). It has a puzzle mode, where you must eliminate all the bubbles in a frame before they descend to the floor, and it has a vs. mode, where you must eliminate bubbles until the bubbles reach the floor on either your side of the screen or your opponent’s side of the screen. Being an arcade game, it has a parabolic difficulty curve. The first few levels are fun and easily beaten, but the difficulty shoots through the roof about halfway through each mode. The game can be beaten, though, with a little practice, and I was pretty OK at Bust-a-Move back in the ‘90s...Finally, the game stars Bub and Bob from Bubble Bobble, and the character animations are as darling as the soundtrack is ridiculous. Recommended.
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Markies
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by Markies Wed Feb 26, 2020 12:39 am

Markies' Games Beat List Of 2020!
*Denotes Replay For Completion*

1. Pikmin 2 (GCN)
2. Banjo-Tooie (N64)
3. Contra: Hard Corps (GEN)
4. Super Baseball Simulator 1,000 (SNES)
5. Chip 'N Dale Rescue Rangers 2 (NES)

6. Pinball Hall of Fame: The Gottlieb Collection (PS2)

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I beat Pinball Hall of Fame: The Gottlieb Collection on the Sony Playstation 2 this evening!

Every two weeks, my friend and I go up to a Pinball Arcade about an hour away. We have been going there for several years as he loves Pinball. He owns several machines and loves to work on them. I don't think I will ever own one, but I love to play on them along with the different arcade machines. We really started getting back into them when we discovered the Pinball Hall of Fame video game series. He owns every single one of them and that used to be a go to staple for us. That used to be our game that we would play as the final game of the night. Well, I wanted the game for myself and they are incredibly cheap, so I bought the first one many, many years ago. Finally, thanks to the Random Fortune Cookie, I was finally able to play through it.

The game has been released on multiple platforms with the Gottlieb Collection and the Williams Collection. Unfortunately, I would say the re-release on the Wii is probably the best version of the Gottlieb Collection. It was incredibly hard to go back to the original after the Wii version being our norm for so many years. The Wii version has more tables and the flippers have more power to them. It's incredibly hard to unlock anything in the PS2 version when your shots can't even reach the entire table.

With that in mind, it was still fun to be able to play the games for myself. Every one is incredibly playable and the flipper issue wasn't too bad once you got used to it. The game is rather short with only 7 tables, so the excitement wears off rather quickly. However, I was able to do surprisingly well on some of the tables. The two that I did everything were the two tables I hated the most in the collection, so it just shows that anything can happen when you come up to a Pinball table.

Overall, I would say the Wii versions of Gottlieb and Williams Collection are the ones to get. They both play fantastic as the Wii-mote and Nunchuck are perfect for mimicking flippers. However, if you have to go back and play the original release, prepare for a slower and more methodical game of Pinball. Though, to be honest, these are probably the best Pinball games ever released and to be able to play actual tables that feel like the real thing, it is nothing sort of impressive. If you have any love for Pinball whatsoever, these Hall of Fame collections are a must own!
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isiolia
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by isiolia Wed Feb 26, 2020 2:52 pm

Managed to finish something not FFXI-related, as I do occasionally. Maybe I'll manage more this year. :lol:

Anyway, started this last year, and wanted to finish it before starting a different game on the Xbox.



Code Vein

Code Vein is easily billed as “Anime Souls”, and certainly lives up to that, for better or worse. While certainly not just a skinned version of Dark Souls, it felt to me like the team was free to copy or use assets from those other Bandai Namco published titles. Rather than use Fromsoft’s engine though, Code Vein is Unreal 4 based, so it has different quirks. Still, the feel of it all skews closer to the Dark Souls games than other Souls-likes out there. With Fromsoft moving on from that template, it’s hard not to feel like Bandai Namco might be hoping for this game (maybe series?) to pick up where they left off, given how well it sold.

To start off with, things I wasn’t as keen on -

While I could contrast how Code Vein approaches its narrative versus how Fromsoft’s games did, to be fair, it’s just a different approach. Having a more straightforward narrative can be great! Code Vein’s is just...not. It’d be one thing if it were just tropey schlock. It’s an anime style game, so that’ll be the case more often than not. Where Code Vein really started to grate on me though, is how much it tries to just keep shoveling that at the player and slowing things down. Quite a lot of story is told via “recovered” memories that are presented as static scenes that you walk between. Walk to this point, listen to voiceover, path to the next point opens up, walk that way, etc. Areas are all using the same monochromatic textures and sad music, revealing yet another tragic backstory/etc.
But you have to do it. Not just to get the better endings or whatever, but to open up new traits/abilities to learn. Skippable? Sort of. You can skip the cutscene once you’re in it, but that won’t save you from the loading screens, which get annoying if you have a bunch of memory shards to convert or something.

Lessons like “show, don’t tell”, or “less is more” were likely taught on days that the writers skipped school. Presumably to draw boobs.

Mechanically, I felt like the game tended to lean towards being cheap. Bosses having absolutely brutal moves with little in the way of wind-up or tells is common, and it felt to me like the game was a lot less forgiving about iframing through stuff than other games in the genre. Could just be me ultimately not needing to learn the fights as well, but it just didn’t seem to be as tuned as Fromesoft’s efforts here.

I also didn’t feel like the actual levels tended to be very interesting. They did do the standard looping back around interconnected stuff decently well, but just aren’t memorable. While part of the plot, basically everything is ruined cityscape, just possibly covered in ice/fire/desert/etc. Unless it’s a massive cathedral lookin’ thing.
Makes for some expansive-yet-forgettable labyrinths to work through.

Where Code Vein excels is in customization. It starts out with a robust character creator, where you can craft both the physical look for your character, and the majority of their clothes - the only “armor” that you swap out is basically a coat. This also remains available to you for the entirety of the game, so you can continue to craft your look or incorporate new clothes as they appear (it seemed like seasonal or tie-in clothes would be added from time to time).

This level of customization extends to combat mechanics and builds as well. One of the ways the player character is “special” is that they can learn more than one job class (Blood Code), which are found/rewarded as you progress through the game (around 40). Each of those has traits and abilities to unlock and master (well over 150 in all). There are pros and cons of them, and some limits to what can be set up, but they’re things you can just swap around at will.

It’s probably one of, if not the, most flexible job systems in a game like this. A build in a Dark Souls game is more of an investment, and respeccing is somewhat limited in a playthrough. Code Vein lets you change it all up on a whim, even on the fly. I think it’s a general improvement on the Souls games, since you don’t end up “stuck” with an unsuitable build.


Code Vein is also designed around having an NPC follower for basically the entire game. One that, on top of actually helping do real damage/support/tank, can revive you with one of their healing items. You can opt to not bring one and make things harder, but personally I think the designers allow themselves to get away with cheapness by having it.
Additionally, the game is very much designed around using those various abilities tied to Blood Codes. Similar in a way to the magic systems in previous games, only, Code Vein has you refill the charges needed for them via combat, with “backstabs” refilling the gauge entirely. Heavily utilizing them seemed to be another thing that helped balance things out.

There are still points that the game can be pretty tough, but being able to retool your build for a fight, and then have help/free revivals/technically infinite buffs/etc does serve to make a lot of it a bit easier going.

Ultimately, it’s a solid B-tier Soulslike that’s easy to recommend for folks looking for more Dark Souls...and just as readily ignored if that’s not your thing. The aesthetics are decently done, but the story itself isn't worth enduring mechanics you don't like.
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prfsnl_gmr
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by prfsnl_gmr Thu Feb 27, 2020 12:02 pm

1. Her Story (iOS)
2. Elminage Original (3DS)
3. Legend of Grimrock (iOS)
4. Silent Bomber (PS1)
5. Crash Bandicoot (PS1)
6. Bust-a-Move 2 Arcade Edition (PS1)
7. Transformers Cybertron Adventures (Wii)

Transformers Cybertron Adventures Is a rail shooter for the Wii based on the Transformers franchise (that my eight-year-old son currently adores). You play as both Autobots and Decepticons, allowing you to experience the game’s story from two perspectives, and the gameplay alternates between short driving segments (which play like Chase HQ), short flying segments (which play like Star Fox), and short cover shooting segments (which play like Time Crisis). The game got terrible reviews on release, receiving harsh criticism for its bland graphics, short length, and repetitive, uninspired gameplay. All of those criticisms are valid. (All of the robots play exactly the same. You’d think Megatron would have a more powerful cannon than, say, Bumblebee, but you’d be wrong...) That said, the game has a very child-friendly co-op mode, and my son and I had a really good time playing through it. Accordingly, while I can’t really recommend the game to most people, I can say that it’s a good, short, child-friendly rail-shooting experience that will appeal to people looking for something to play with a less experienced gamer.
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BoneSnapDeez
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by BoneSnapDeez Thu Feb 27, 2020 3:24 pm

1. ACA NeoGeo: Cyber-Lip (Switch eShop)
2. Pengo (Atari 2600)
3. Kirby's Epic Yarn (Wii)
4. Knights of Xentar (PC)
5. Hoshi o Sagashite... (Mark III)
6. Dead Zone (Famicom Disk System)
7. Samurai Sword (Famicom Disk System)
8. High School! Kimengumi (Mark III)
9. Princess Tomato in the Salad Kingdom (NES)
10. Sindbad Mystery (SG-1000)
11. Steins;Gate (Vita)
12. Champion Boxing (SG-1000)
13. Squidlit (Switch eShop)


Steins;Gate
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Games like this are why I must concede that visual novels are now one of the highest IQ gaming genres out there. I played Steins;Gate by way of the 2015 Vita release, but it's also available in English on the PlayStation 3 and PC. The history of the game dates back several more years, as it was originally released on the Xbox 360 in Japan, strangely enough. In its native land it was also ported to the PSP. Steins;Gate was developed by 5pb. and Nitroplus, with this particular port published by PQube. Ya know, household names. Though appropriately given an "M" rating, Steins;Gate originated on consoles and thus lacks any "erotic" elements. Thank the heavens.

Steins;Gate is a science fiction tale about time travel -- intentional, incidental, and accidental. Much like Muv-Luv Alternative... And YU-NO... And, yeah, I'm sensing a pattern here. The protagonist is one Rintaro Okabe, a university student living in the Akihabara district of Tokyo. He also goes by Kyouma Hououin, a self-imposed "mad scientist" alter ego. Okabe is seemingly paranoid and delusional, frequently ranting about being on the run from the "Organization" that tracks such brilliant researchers. He's also prone to engaging in phone conversations with absolutely no one, and bursting into fits of maniacal laughter. Okabe's mad scientist obsession has resulted in him renting a space above a CRT shop, where he tinkers on gadgets with his pals Daru, an otoku hacker, and Mayuri, the adorable and caring childhood friend. One day Okabe and his pals decide to attend a "time travel conference" -- which Okabe soon ditches after deriding the presenter as a fraud. He quickly runs into a girl named Kurisu Makise, who he recognizes as a brilliant young scientist who typically resides in America and has published some critically important work. On his way out of the building, Okabe stumbles onto Kurisu once again, murdered at the end of a desolate hallway. When attempting to inform Daru via text, Okabe notices a sudden shift in his surroundings, as hundreds of pedestrians simply vanish. Even stranger, Kurisu turns up again soon enough -- alive. The members of the "Future Gadget Laboratory" (now featuring Kurisu) pinpoint the cause: a modified microwave they've created, one that was designed to heat food remotely via cellphone, has the power to send text messages into the past. Said messages can influence the behavior of "past" individuals, thus causing immediate modifications to the current worldline. Naturally, the ragtag team begins to experiment liberally, with Kurisu making use of her technical acumen to modify the device further. Such actions, of course, result in some seriously unforeseen consequences, and bring the group into contact with some unsavory folks looking to monopolize time traveling technology.
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A visual novel is only as good as its writing. And the writing here is phenomenal. To start: the protagonist. Okabe, despite (and because of) all quirks, is probably the best male hero of any visual novel. He's kind, empathetic, and a dear friend to all close to him -- a far cry from the weirdo pervert trope seen in so many other VNs. The supporting cast is also extraordinarily memorable. The laboratory membership grows as the game progresses, each time graced with another distinctive personality. There's the hyperactive maid café employee extraordinaire Faris; the shy ever-texting Moeka; the androgynous shrine "maiden" Luka; the cyclist and CRT shop part-timer Suzuha. Finally, there are those that aren't affiliated with the lab: the crotchety rent-hiking CRT shop owner "Mr. Braun" and his young timid daughter. There's great cohesion among the "lab mems" and the constant banter is a sight to behold. The lab itself just feels so cozy and inviting. This is a strikingly funny game (at times) replete with plenty of corny net/hacker slang and tons of nerdy otoku jokes.

The time travel mechanics are explained thoroughly, and remain consistent throughout the game's duration. The science, real and imagined, is rather fascinating, and the game tries its best to leave few questions unanswered. There's a "tips" menu that can lead the player into more in-depth explanations about various scientific concepts -- it's also used to clarify the seemingly endless manga, anime, and video game references as well. Some critiques of Steins;Gate state that it starts off too slowly. I disagree -- it establishes a firm foundation of "ground rules" and then the story rolls along unencumbered. The game deftly avoids the "deus ex machina" pitfalls seen in many time travel stories; and though there are no obvious plot holes some of the "big reveals" seen towards the game's end feel a touch contrived. Steins;Gate is one of those games that refuses to let background characters remain background characters. As any visual novel veteran could predict, the game's tone darkens as it progresses. There are many unsettling scenes, and, like the great Muv-Luv Alternative, Steins;Gate knows how to impose a tremendous feeling of anxiety onto the player.
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One unexpected and delightful aspect of the Steins;Gate storyline is its willingness to blend fiction with not only science and technology, but also real-life mysteries and conspiracies. For instance: Okabe is ticked off at the game's opening lecturer, as he believes the man is plagiarising the works of John Titor. As in, the "real" John Titor, the man who made a splash on various message boards decades ago, claiming to be a time traveler from 2036. John Titor (both the "real" one and the in-game one) was searching for an IBM 5100 (renamed "IBN 5100" for Steins;Gate though its likeness is identical), as it was said to contain crucial code necessary to avoid a technological calamity. And the villains of Steins;Gate? CERN ("SERN") -- yes, the CERN, the French research institute and particle physics laboratory, is explicitly labelled as corrupt and evil. They're in the midst of mastering their own time traveling methods to order to rule the past, present, and future. There are also some more obscure references for the gaming/web nerds thrown into the mix as well. For instance, for his "super hacking" Daru utilizes the power of the Sharp X68000, the 1987 twin-towered 16-bit gaming titan. As for the Future Gadget Laboratory website that Okabe occasionally updates: it actually exists, complete with Engrish descriptions of various inventions and a classic Geocities style layout.

As if the plot wasn't enough to sell Steins;Gate, the gameplay is incredibly innovative. Steins;Gate dumps the traditional "branching paths" choice system found in most visual novels in favor of something much more dynamic. The "phone trigger" system instead has the player steer the storyline by way of Okabe's cell phone. When calls come in, the player can direct Okabe to take or ignore them. Likewise, at specific moments a call can be made, or not made. Text messaging is even more interactive. Most text messages will have several underlined phrases. Choosing a phrase selects what topic Okabe's reply will focus on. Though, once again, texts can also be ignored completely. The cell phone can be summoned at (most) any time, to reread old messages and view saved attachments. It's quite immersive, and a great way to store a "log" of past (and, uh, future) events, as opposed to the standard script backlog. All this decision-making results in varying routes, and multiple endings: six to be exact. What's unique about the ending system is that all endings (save the "true" one) occur prematurely. The first one can even be seen when only about 50% of the game is completed. There are (debatably) no "bad" endings, though several are rather unsettling, especially when one considers the future implications of the laboratory's time-meddling. Surprisingly, specific endings will lead to various romances, though these are typically on the subdued side. Make no mistake, the game's decidedly not a dating sim. It must be stated that achieving the true ending requires the player make a series of incredibly specific steps, and to do things that are unlikely to occur "naturally" or even after repeated trial and error. I recommend starting with a "blind playthrough" and then consulting a walkthrough to see all remaining content. The game's fast forward function makes this quite doable. Get tissues out for the true ending.
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As far as aesthetics go, Steins;Gate hits a home run. I mean one of those cartoony home runs where you see the baseball fly out of planet Earth and into deep space. The character art is stellar. There's this deliberate (and subtle) "patina" to the artwork that reads like a PC-98 tribute. I just love how everyone looks too: Okabe's disheveled lankiness, Daru's "neckbeard" uniform, Mayuri's perpetual smirk and upturned eyebrows, the tribute to cathode ray tubes Mr. Braun has scrawled across his apron. Characters sport these deep multi-ringed ethereal irises: it's like they're staring into your soul. Backgrounds are richly detailed, from the small and ever-cleanly apartments to the thriving streets of Akihabara. The soundtrack is just exceptional. There are plenty of moody tracks with extraordinary synth work, hammering industrial pieces during those "chase" scenes, and some delightfully homey tunes that play during the laboratory and maid café segments. There are even multiple ringtones to be chosen by the player (though I prefer the default one best). The game's fully voiced, in Japanese. The voice acting is superb. Moreover, the localization is excellent; the translators totally nailed all the weird internet tech jargon.

It takes about thirty hours to see Steins;Gate through to all endings. That said, this is a hard one to put down and the experience seems to fly right by (hey, time dilation!). All told, this is the second-most impressive visual novel I've ever experienced, after Muv-Luv Alternative. But while MLA is unabashedly grandiose and overindulgent and insane, Steins;Gate is taut and grounded. It's perfect for genre veterans as well as those who were on the fence about this whole "visual novel" thing. Worth experiencing on any platform, at any time.


Champion Boxing
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Champion Boxing is a 1984 boxing game (no kidding) released for Sega's SG-1000. It was also ported to the MSX and arcades (yes, the arcade version came after the console release). Some pretty notable folks worked on this one. It was apparently the first game to feature the designing talents of Yu Suzuki, with Rieko Kodama providing the artwork. No, you can't play as Alis Landale.

This feels like a ColecoVision title, both in look and design, which is no big surprise given the hardware similarities. Five difficulty levels are offered should one elect to face the computerized opponent, and there's a two-player option as well. After a single three-round fight, the game kicks back to the title screen. Punch-Out!! this is not. The game presents with a 2D side view. Pressing left or right will move the player's boxer in said direction. There are three types of attack: jab, straight, and upper. Since the SG-1000 only features two action buttons, one button is used to execute an attack while the other shuffles between the three.
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Though ostensibly a sports title, Champion Boxing performs much like those earliest Japanese fighting games: Urban Champion, Karate Champ, the oft-forgotten Street Fighter part one. Which is to say Champion Boxing really isn't much fun to play at all. The biggest issue here is shared with the aforementioned fighters: there's supposedly some "nuance" to the controls, but it's impossible to decipher. Punches tend to sail right through the AI opponent, as if there's a ghost in the ring. There's no strategy to the game, no rhythm, no weaving and dodging, just mash mash mash those buttons. Alternating between the "punch" and "switch" buttons seems to help, though on the lowest difficulties it is possible to eventually trap the opposing pugilist against the ropes and do him in with a series of quick jabs. On the highest difficulty the AI becomes relentlessly "cheap" -- seemingly immune to all attacks and able to quickly push the player to the screen's left edge.

Graphically, this isn't too bad technically, though the character designs are a touch questionable. The main boxer is packing a bit of chub, while the other dude seems to be severely sunburned. The bouncing crowd is pretty hilarious to look at, as is the grumpy referee. Pengo the penguin actually makes rare appearances, but this is tough to trigger. Expect no music, just the occasional "bloop" sound effect and the sweet whiff of unconnected blows. There's little more to say about this one. It feels like one of those low-effort "mandatory" sports games every old console seemed to have. For fans of Shenmue.


Squidlit
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Squidlit is an indie game that arrived on the Switch eShop in early 2020, though the original PC release goes back a couple of years prior. Yes, it's another "8-bit" pixel art 2D platformer, but there's something special about this one. All the annoyances I associate with "typical" indie platformers are nowhere to be seen. This isn't a Metroidvania. It isn't a roguelike. Checkpoints aren't available every ten seconds, nor is there a glut of instant-death traps. Moreover, pains have been taken to make Squidlit look, feel, and play like a genuine Game Boy title. The main gaming window is presented in 4:3 resolution, flanked by an additional set of "hardware" borders that can be toggled on and off. There's even a contrast nob, though fiddling with this guarantees an invariably worse picture. Images are crafted with only four shades of green-yellow, with no more than forty sprites available onscreen at one time. Lastly, the sound is authentic, apparently crafted on actual Game Boy hardware.

The game begins in a small village, where the titular squid protagonist discovers he must save the land from the mothlike "God Emperor" Skwit Skwot. Squidlit houses a surprising number of loquacious NPCs, both in the initial village and scattered throughout the following stages. The dialogue is pretty amusing, though it's also the thing most likely to break the "retro" immersion, as it relies on lots of modern slang and meme-speak. There are about one dozen stages in all, and each one seamlessly blends into the next making the game feel like one large "world." The control scheme is fairly innovative. Jump and attack are mapped to the same button (choose either A or B). Pressing the button once will cause Squidlit to jump, while a second press causes him to gain a bit of extra air and squirt a drop of ink straight downwards. It's a neat little rhythmic system.
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Most stages follow the typical "left-to-right" format, though some occasional "challenges" pop up that require Squidlit defeat a specific cluster of enemies before proceeding. Standard enemies are rather lame, unfortunately, typically just bumbling along and easily defeated with a single ink blot. Boss battles are where the game's innovation truly shines. All are quite memorable. One's a shmup conflict, which feels like a nod to Super Mario Land. Another features a possessed book that Squidlit must enter and subsequently coat its pages with ink.

The artwork is nice, but the camera feels a bit odd and disorienting as Squidlit is always locked in the center with the scenery rotating around him. The soundtrack really does come across like it's ripped straight from an actual Game Boy title, though none of the compositions are particularly riveting. Squidlit is also very, very easy. Health refills (muffins) exist in great amount, and stages themselves present no challenge whatsoever. There's no tricky platforming to speak of, in fact I don't believe the game contains any "holes" at all! This is a short experience, thirty minutes or so. True to the era of inspiration, there's no save feature and the game's designed to be beaten within a single sitting. All told, with its charming aesthetic and low difficulty Squidlit feels like a love letter to Kirby's Dream Land. It isn't as good, but it's good enough, and the passion of the developers is palpable. And with a list price of two whole dollars, you really can't go wrong.
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PartridgeSenpai
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by PartridgeSenpai Fri Feb 28, 2020 3:50 pm

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

1. Invisigun Reloaded (Switch)
2. Human: Fall Flat (Switch)
3. Shantae: The Pirate's Curse (3DS)
4. Darksiders: Warmastered Edition (PC)
5. Splatterhouse (PS3) *
6. 3D Dot Game Heroes (PS3)
7. Tokyo Jungle (PS3)
8. Pictobits (DSiWare)
9. Puzzle Quest: The Legend Reborn (Switch)
10. WarioWare Gold (3DS)
11. Disaster: Day of Crisis (Wii)
12. Sleeping Dogs: Definitive Edition (Xbone)

13. Sleeping Dogs: Nightmare in North Point (Xbone)

Technically a part of the Definitive Edition, but it was originally sold as an additional bit of DLC, so I'm reviewing it as such (as we usually do here). It's fairly short, but it's a fun, campy bit of spooky fun that took me about 4-ish hours to do all the content in.

Nightmare in North Point is a side story that seems to sorta take place either near the end or after the end of the main game's story, but that has little to no bearing on the actual plot of either. Wei Shen is on a date with Not Ping on the night of the Festival of Hungry Ghosts (basically the dead who were never buried, so who are doomed to wander hell forever with a never-ending hunger). Not Ping is captured by a mysterious ghostly assailant who Wei is totally incapable of hurting, and it's slowly revealed that not only have all of the citizen of North Point been replaced with ghastly possessed corpses, but Jiang Shi (hopping vampire/zombies) and Yaoguai (demonseses) have also come to wreak havoc! With the help of Old Salty Crab and your until-recently-dead friend Vincent, Wei sets out to save his girl and his city from a vengeful ghost!

The story is, much like the Zodiac Tournament small DLC in the main game, a very campy fare that is somewhat of an homage to Hong Kong movies of old, just this time horror films instead of action films. The paper talismans you stick on the Jiang Shi to kill them read "巧克力煙肉", which means "chocolate bacon", and the ending to it all is a Thriller reference. Not Ping and especially Old Salty Crab were already some of the most fun side characters in the main game, and the dead enemies of Wei who get revived for it are also a fun little throwback. It doesn't take itself seriously at all, which fits its fairly short run time quite well.

Mechanically, the main differences are fairly slim. The DLC only takes place in North Point, the starting area of the game (which is also the best designed, so no problem there, personally), it's always night time, there are no civilians or police, and you can't even earn money, really. The possessed civilians will randomly attack you as you walk/drive around, and Jiang Shi are very tough compared to normal baddies, and given that the main game only has like 3 (technically more like 4) enemy types, it's pretty cool this DLC has two completely new ones. Jiang Shi can grab you for a really horrible melee attack that'll drain your health like no one's business, so you need to quickly press the counter button once they get you if you don't wanna say goodbye to a quarter or even half of your health. Yaoguai start out a lot scarier than they end up being, as they can teleport around you to get out of the way of your attacks. The missions themselves aren't that different from anything in the main game, and the most significant new bit of content are the new enemy types, if I were to really boil it down.

Verdict: Recommended. If you have the Definitive Edition of Sleeping Dogs like I do, then this is a no-brainer to check out if you enjoyed the main game. It's more Sleeping Dogs, as fun as it always was, with that same silly sense of humor to it. If you were picking up the DLC by itself, the base price of $7 is pretty fair, I'd say, at least compared to the base game's normal $60 price. I was thinking it'd be like $15 or at least $10, but it's nice to see a DLC pack that has no delusions about how much content it actually has and is priced accordingly.
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PartridgeSenpai
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by PartridgeSenpai Fri Feb 28, 2020 10:51 pm

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

1. Invisigun Reloaded (Switch)
2. Human: Fall Flat (Switch)
3. Shantae: The Pirate's Curse (3DS)
4. Darksiders: Warmastered Edition (PC)
5. Splatterhouse (PS3) *
6. 3D Dot Game Heroes (PS3)
7. Tokyo Jungle (PS3)
8. Pictobits (DSiWare)
9. Puzzle Quest: The Legend Reborn (Switch)
10. WarioWare Gold (3DS)
11. Disaster: Day of Crisis (Wii)
12. Sleeping Dogs: Definitive Edition (Xbone)
13. Sleeping Dogs: Nightmare in North Point (Xbone)

14. Sleeping Dogs: Year of the Snake (Xbone)

The final bit of expansion DLC for Sleeping Dogs that I also accessed via the Definitive Edition extras. Similar to Nightmare in North Point, it's a little extra content that isn't really connected to the overall plot super importantly. It's just a little more Sleeping Dogs for you if you hadn't quite had your fill yet~. It took me around 4 or 5 hours to do everything in it.

Year of the Snake actually does canonically take place after the main story. Wei Shen is on thin ice with his superiors after the giant fiasco that took place in the main game, and now he's a beat cop patrolling the streets. That is, until he accidentally uncovers a cult's plans to blow up Hong Kong in an effort to usher in a doomsday prophecy. Officer Wei is once again called into action to help save Hong Kong~. The story is once again nothing special, and it's a little more tame than even Nightmare in North Point was, and that was pretty tame and bare bones.

In both mechanics and story, it feels like the Cop Job side-content from the main game but spread out into 4-5 hours. The missions themselves are actually more numerous and varied than the ones in Nightmare, but they don't feel like anything you haven't done before, for the most part. The most interesting thing about it is that you're always a cop now, no undercover stuff. That being the case, you now have special cop stuff like the ability to arrest people or tazer them (basically special melee combat options). It gives the way you play the game a neat new framing, but nothing as interesting or silly as Nightmare was. I know that the canceled sequel for Sleeping Dogs was going to have Wei as a cop working with a criminal, so perhaps this was originally intended as a setup for that idea of a more cop-stuff-focused mission structure.

Verdict: Recommended. For another $7, this also is a pretty good value proposition. It feels the least movie-like out of the 3 stories, but it also has a reasonably more large amount of content to do compared to Nightmare, so it's hard for me to recommend one over the other if only could pick one. It's a fine addition to the Definitive Edition's content, and a well-priced bit of add-on content if you only have the base game.
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by MrPopo Sun Mar 01, 2020 3:03 am

1. Elite Dangerous - PC
2. Soldier of Fortune - PC
3. Star Wars: TIE Fighter: Defender of the Empire - PC
4. Star Wars: TIE Fighter: Enemies of the Empire - PC
5. Star Wars: X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter: Balance of Power - PC
6. Star Wars: X-Wing Alliance - PC
7. Phoenix Point - PC
8. Serious Sam HD: The Second Encounter - PC

The Second Encounter is an expansion for Serious Sam that adds another twelve levels of mayhem (which makes it 3/4 the size of the original). Unfortunately, it suffers from FPS expansion syndrome; the story is the standard "hero was waylaid at the end of the previous game to excuse this game existing" and the difficulty is cranked up in a bad way. But on balance, the environmental design is more varied compared to the original. So if you're looking for more Serious Sam it's not a bad way to go.

The plot is that the spaceship Sam was taking at the end of The First Encounter gets hit by the Croteam Truck, or something. Like, they aren't even pretending there's a real reason for it. You crash land back on Earth and need to hop through time portals until you reach the right time when another spaceship can be found. So you run through Mesoamerica, Mesopotamia, and Medieval Europe. This means you get to see more interesting things than just fifteen levels of Egypt like the first game. You still have a mixture of huge outside spaces and cramped inside spaces. The level designers ended up tossing in more gimmicks and traps; many of the combat areas will have something to break up the standard "keep circle strafing while hordes spawn".

The game adds in a handful of new weapons, that fill out alternates for every other slot of the original game, plus one new slot. You get a chainsaw as a new melee weapon (which is great for the frog swarms), a chargeable grenade launcher (which is basically rocket launcher number two in terms of the damage profile), a flamethrower (which does immediate damage and damage over time, good for Kleer Skeletons and weak enemies to perma stun them), a sniper rifle (which does a bit more than a rocket launcher, one shotting bulls, and great on the big areas), and a special weapon called the Serious Bomb; you don't get many of these, and they don't have ammo drop in backpacks, but they wipe out every non-boss enemy on the map that's spawned. You'll need these, because some of the arenas are just nasty; too many enemies, not enough ammo, and stretched out too far.

In fact, that was my biggest complaint; most of the arenas have enemy spawns spaced out such that your explosive weapons are only good on the tough enemies that need a lot of damage right away; their aoe is useless and only gets you killed if one gets too close. It's the biggest thing that cuts into the fun; you get healed up right before, then come out nearly dead because there wasn't an option to not take damage through skillful play. You're just going to take a ton of damage because shit is coming at you from every direction with no good way to manage it. And while that's fine now and then, when it becomes the way you do it every time it doesn't feel super great.

Still, the core gameplay is still solid. And it's nice to see more varied environments, both in terms of color palette and architecture. The game also resets your weapons every time you switch time zones, so it can have a more accelerated weapon curve. This keeps you from spending too long at the basic weapon level. It just has those standard FPS expansion pitfalls. If you're used to them then you can push past it.
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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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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by MrPopo Sun Mar 01, 2020 11:35 pm

1. Elite Dangerous - PC
2. Soldier of Fortune - PC
3. Star Wars: TIE Fighter: Defender of the Empire - PC
4. Star Wars: TIE Fighter: Enemies of the Empire - PC
5. Star Wars: X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter: Balance of Power - PC
6. Star Wars: X-Wing Alliance - PC
7. Phoenix Point - PC
8. Serious Sam HD: The Second Encounter - PC
9. Descent II - PC

After Descent did well a sequel was inevitable and Descent II delivers. It's the perfect sort of sequel; it iterates on what came before, improves on things that weren't the greatest, and puts in a couple of boss fights that are awful to distract you from the four good boss fights. Wait, maybe that last one wasn't perfect for a sequel.

The story is that the PTMC that hired you in Descent activates a retainer clause to force you to go do more mine 'sploding in their outer colonies outside the solar system, and they equip you with a warp core so you can make the journey. This then sets up the new layout; six groups of four missions each, with a boss fight at the end and each group on a different planet (though the last planet is only three missions, then the fourth mission is on a new body for reasons that make sense in the end cutscene). You can definitely tell that the game was not built with shareware in mind like the first game was (which had a boss at the end of the shareware levels, then a final boss with nothing in between).

Being set on different planets gave the level designers more freedom to do interesting terrain. You have things like waterfalls (both water and lava) which can be flown through if there's an opening behind them as well as general different biomes; a green one with water, an ice one, a deserty one, a lava one, a basic mine like you saw before, and a final more abstract one. The level designers also showed how well they've honed their craft, as each of the levels, while maze like, are still fairly easy to navigate. Flying around is a joy.

The game completely swaps out all the enemies, though a handful are obvious analogs of ones from the first game. The big thing is that enemies have much more advanced AI; many of them will do things like try to keep distance, or fast harass, or run away and go find a bigger guy to help. This culminates in the Thief Bot, which is the worst thing ever created for a video game; fast as hell, runs around the level, steals your shit when your back is turned. The AI around it is a triumph, but that triumph leads to utter frustration, and three levels in I turned it off in my source port (and I recommend you do to; the thing is majorly toned down in the sequel as I understand it). The game also balances the enemies a lot better; no Class 1 Driller shenanigans here. The enemy danger curve is well plotted, and the final enemies that CAN wipe you out when you take a bad corner feel like they earn that status, and taking a death here or there isn't too bad.

The weapons have been expanded such that every primary now has an alternate primary that's basically a better version. So the lasers have super lasers, gatling has gauss (which fires slower but explosive projectiles), spread has helix (more spread), plasma has phoenix (bouncing plasma), and fusion has omega (omg close range death). On the missile side you again see a pattern of upgrades to existing. Concussion is mated with flash (concussion that flashbangs and does work on the AI), homing with guided (you can manually steer, great for scouting, and can be set to regular homing afterwards), smart with mercury (ultra fast and high damage), and titan with earthshaker (even MORE damage and shakes the screen). Unfortunately, the nature of the upgrades means that you really only about two primary weapons; the gauss and whatever your favorite energy one is (helix is probably best, though a case can be made for quad supers).

The boss fights are fleshed out a bit better compared to the original game. The first couple bosses are fairly straightforward, but the next two are only vulnerable to missiles and projectile weapons. The fifth is only vulnerable to energy, and the last boss can only be harmed on a glowing spot on his rear. They still have the cloak and teleport maneuver, which is just as obnoxious as before (as they have perfect reactions). For the most part the bosses are fine, but the fourth boss spams homing flash missiles, which utterly sucks, and the last boss spams earthshaker missiles (which home on you). And since he's only vulnerable on the rear it's a complete pain to deal with. I ended up having to death spam on him; grab a cloak, close range a big missile on the rear to kill myself, cloak drops, regrab the cloak so I reset the timer on cloak. It felt pretty dirty, but there really isn't a better way given his turn speed and teleport shittery.

Aside from a few hiccups Descent II is everything Descent was and more. I highly recommend it for fans of the original.
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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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