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elricorico
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by elricorico Sat Jun 06, 2020 10:37 pm

1. NBA Jam (GEN)
2. Astro Bot Rescue Mission (PSVR)
3. Bastion (PS4)
4. Octopath Traveler (NS)
5. Uncharted: Drake's Fortune (PS4)
6. Final Fantasy Adventure (NS)

7. LEGO: The Ninjago Movie Game (PS4)


Recently a freebie on Playstation Store, I downloaded this and played through the story with my youngest daughter. We finished the story this evening.

Like so many other LEGO games this is a pretty simple playthrough with lots of hand holding and little consequence for mistakes. It is bright and colourful, runs well as a couch co-op game and even gave us a couple of laughs in the course of the story.

You play as many different characters throughout, though for the most part they all feel very similar. Late in the game the main ninjas get some skills that set them apart slightly, but they are mostly meant to gate off certain areas and force you to follow one path until you have the right character/skill.

My biggest complaints would be long loading times, poor camera control(certain areas seem to harshly limit the bounds of camera movement) and the feeling that the story really felt incomplete or rushed. I dont expect much story from a LEGO game, but even piecing together some of the main characters' motivation wasnt there.

There are a large number of collectables, by the ending and a short exploration of post game content our save is only a little over 60% complete. We will likely pick away with a little more free play to gather up more characters and challenges, but I will be surprised if we go much further than about 80% before getting bored.

No big surprises here, fun enough and family friendly.
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prfsnl_gmr
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by prfsnl_gmr Sun Jun 07, 2020 2:52 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)
8. Squidlit (Switch)
9. Sydney Hunter & The Curse of the Mayan (Switch)
10. Mega Man Legends (PS1)
11. Revenge of the Bird King (Switch)
12. Blossom Tales: The Sleeping King (Switch)
13. Gato Roboto (Switch)
14. Kamiko (Switch)
15. Night Slashers (Arcade)
16. Subsurface Circular (Switch)
17. Iconoclasts (Switch)
18. Wonder Boy Returns Remix (Switch)
19. Resident Evil 3 (PS1)
20. The Messenger (Switch)
21. The Messenger: Picnic Panic (Switch)
22. Samsara Room (iOS)
23. Heroes of the Monkey Tavern (Switch)
24. Sayonara Wild Hearts (Switch)
25. Gris (Switch)
26. Donut County (iOS)
27. Donkey Kong Country 2 (SNES)
28. Donkey Kong Country 3 (SNES)

Donkey Kong Country 3 is an excellent platformer I played for the summer games challenge, and I wrote more about it in the summer games challenge thread.
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PartridgeSenpai
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by PartridgeSenpai Mon Jun 08, 2020 4:57 am

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)
15. Dynamite Headdy (Genesis) *
16. Shovel Knight: King of Cards (3DS)
17. Shovel Knight: Shovel of Hope (3DS) *
18. Shovel Knight: Plague of Shadows (Switch) *
19. Shovel Knight: Specter of Torment (Switch) *
20. Shovel Knight: Showdown (Switch)
21. Dragon Quest Builders 2 (PS4)
22. ActRaiser (SNES)
23. Castlevania: The Adventure ReBirth (WiiWare)
24. Mega Man X (SNES)
25. Breath of Fire II (SNES)
26. Ape Escape 2 (PS2) *
27. Doubutsu No Mori+ (GC)
28. Ape Escape (PS1)
29. Ape Escape 3 (PS2) *
30. Maken X (DC)

31. Cubivore (GC)

When I started streaming on Twitch, I never imagined that I'd be going back to any game enough to actually finish it on stream, but lo and behold, I finished Cubivore on stream! This is one of those games I never thought I'd actually ever play because the American version is SO hilariously expensive, but apparently the Japanese version is WAY less sought after and more common, because I picked up my copy for a little less than $10 USD at Book Off. It took me about 6.5 hours to beat the Japanese version with the good ending over the course of 3 streams (so 3 sessions over about a month).

​Cubivore is a game with a simple story but a very odd concept. The world of cube-shaped animals is peaceful and animals live with no worries until the day a group of mysterious, colorless animals come and begin eating everything in sight and taking all the color from the world. The world is on the brink of utter destruction until you, the player's animal, are mysteriously born from the sky one day. Outside of that, virtually all of the text in the game comes from the player avatar themself as they narrate from their perspective between stages. All the player avatar really cares about is eating, evolving, and mating, and the fate of the world is only sort of a tangential concern of theirs beyond their own quest for power XD. It's a very silly story that really doesn't take itself seriously at all, and the silly, almost childlike way the main character talks was thoroughly entertaining for me to translate for people watching the stream.

The gameplay loop of Cubivore is going through stages eating to get more powerful so you can battle the head animals of each stage to gain their special ability and move to the next stage. As you eat, you assimilate the colors of the cube animals you're eating. There are a variety of colors of animal with different intensities (strengths) and which combo of which colors will give you new evolutions, and you need to have had 100 unique evolutions in order to fight the final boss of the game. Different evolutions and different color types play a bit differently, and some quite differently, as they add little panels of locamotive body parts to your Cube with each evolution. Most are fairly straight-forward as you lock on to attack, charge up, and lunge for the kill, but some prioritize evasion or blocking instead of pursuit and offense, and some even configure the head in different directions (like sideways or even backwards) or use wider turning circles to make you fight very differently. You also collect love points to mate and grow another "limb" (another panel that makes up your body) and be able to get way more powerful forms. Those are all at pre-determined points in the story though, so it's not like you even could choose not to mate if you wanted to (although the scenes for them are pretty funny).

The controls, as one would expect of a Nintendo game, play quite well. The only real thing to get used to is the camera, which can take a LOT of getting used to as it very much feels like a game from the mid-90s in that regard. You even need to tap the C-stick one tap at a time to reposition the camera in 60 degree increments, like you're pressing C-buttons on an N64 controller. But outside of that, the game has a lot of cool ideas and other things that make it feel older. The way the game isn't super hard, but also doesn't really hold your hand is cool, but won't be for everyone. There are some evolutions that it will be very hard to get used to, but the game DOES, in a way, give you an idea of how to use them by the animals you eat to become that evolution fighting that way in the first place. It's a neat idea that you have to analyze the way your enemies fight because soon you too will be that enemy and will need to fight like they do.

Verdict: Highly Recommended. You'd definitely have to emulate it, as the price tag for the English version is utterly unjustifiable, but I ended up loving Cubivore a lot more than I ever thought I would. It takes a while to get into the swing of how the combat works, but once you do, getting new forms to mess about in is really fun and creates a neat risk-reward of getting new forms but also still being able to fight well enough to get more forms after that. It is absolutely a hidden gem on the Gamecube well worth emulating :)

32. Wario World (GC) *

I've reviewed this game on the site before, but I learned that the Japanese version of this game has a little more content in it, so I spent the 8 bucks and picked up this game I like to play through again through the course of the afternoon-evening a week ago~. The Japanese version of Wario World is nearly exactly the same (save being in Japanese instead of English :b), but the final boss has a second form! It's nothing super special to write home about and certainly not a big reason to import the game to replay through it if you've already played it and aren't a big fan, but it's cool that it's there~.

I still really like this game. As far as Treasure's entire catalog goes, it's pretty far from a Gunstar Heroes or a Dynamite Headdy, but then not much is in my book :lol: . I think it's a good game and a fun 3D action/platformer, even if it is a little short.
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elricorico
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by elricorico Mon Jun 08, 2020 1:48 pm

1. NBA Jam (GEN)
2. Astro Bot Rescue Mission (PSVR)
3. Bastion (PS4)
4. Octopath Traveler (NS)
5. Uncharted: Drake's Fortune (PS4)
6. Final Fantasy Adventure (NS)
7. LEGO: The Ninjago Movie Game (PS4)

8. Captain Commando (PS2)


Played through Captain Commando from the Capcom Classics Collection Vol 2 on PS2 last night. Two player co-op with my daughter. This is a game I had never experienced in any form before, and I was pretty impressed.

Beat'em-ups have always been a favourite of mine in the arcades, going back to Golden Axe. This one seems to have an excellent balance of quick gameplay, nice large sprites, a difficulty that doesnt seem unfair, and good quality sound and visuals.

The game isn't very long and doesnt really bring anything new to the genre; it just provides a straightforward good time. I didnt keep track of how many credits I fed, but it certainly didnt feel like too much. The one exception was the last boss felt a little cheap, as I'm not convinced that there were ways to avoid some attacks.

I must say this game collection was a really worthwhile pickup, and I've only gone through most of the beat'em-ups so far. Still plenty to explore and enjoy.
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PartridgeSenpai
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by PartridgeSenpai Mon Jun 08, 2020 5:24 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)
15. Dynamite Headdy (Genesis) *
16. Shovel Knight: King of Cards (3DS)
17. Shovel Knight: Shovel of Hope (3DS) *
18. Shovel Knight: Plague of Shadows (Switch) *
19. Shovel Knight: Specter of Torment (Switch) *
20. Shovel Knight: Showdown (Switch)
21. Dragon Quest Builders 2 (PS4)
22. ActRaiser (SNES)
23. Castlevania: The Adventure ReBirth (WiiWare)
24. Mega Man X (SNES)
25. Breath of Fire II (SNES)
26. Ape Escape 2 (PS2) *
27. Doubutsu No Mori+ (GC)
28. Ape Escape (PS1)
29. Ape Escape 3 (PS2) *
30. Maken X (DC)
31. Cubivore (GC)
32. Wario World (GC) *

33. Hatoful Boyfriend (PC)

As my username might hint at, Hatoful Boyfriend is a game very near and dear to my heart, but believe it or not I'd never beaten it and honestly had barely played it until fairly recently. Up until now it was just a game whose style I really liked, but I'd never really put much time into it until a month or so ago. My girlfriend and I played through it together over Discord over the course of the past month or so, as she voiced the main characters and I gave voiced to all the other characters. A fun bonding activity that lets me indulge in making like I'm a voice actor X3. It took about 20 or so hours to get through all the routes.

​Hatoful Boyfriend is a dating sim that began as an April fools joke around a decade ago that the authors were compelled to make into a full game by the incredibly positive feedback to the little snippet of the joke they'd made up until that point. The joke, of course, being that it's a dating sim where you're a human girl who dates birds. Not birds who turn into humans, just straight up talking birds. There are little splash-screens when you first meet them that show them what they might look like if they WERE human, but they're in actuality birds and definitely not humans XD

Silly premise aside, Hatoful Boyfriend is actually quite a well written game. The translation can be a bit odd at times (with numerous obvious spelling mistakes, including one character's NAME being misspelled everywhere but his splash screen), but that mostly adds to the quirky fun of it all. And just as it is humorous, it's also fairly adept at being serious when it's trying to be, with particularly the BBL ending having some very good plotting and buildup. Around the silly premise of dating birds is the question of exactly why and how birds and talk, use tools, and go to school, and the tidbits of smaller mysteries surrounding that intermixed with the personal journey of the main character finding love is quite well done.

There are 8 characters to romance in the game, with the HD version on Steam on PS4 adding another two endings during summer vacation (which are honestly one of the more weak parts of the game). In addition, once you've gotten an ending with every character in the game, you gain the option at the game's start to "fulfill the promise", which activates the BBL ending (Bad Boy's Love). The BBL ending is much more of a larger mystery primarily concerning the other side characters and not the main character you spend the rest of the game as, and you mostly play as the birds in this much much longer (it's like 6-7 hours long) route. In the original PC release it was more like an adventure game visual novel with choices that could kill you, but those have been streamlined into an un-failable straight VN. While this does remove the frustration of dying, it does make this part feel a bit odd as places where choices or even kind of stricter save system have textual remnants but no mechanical ones. That said, my girlfriend and I both agreed that the BBL route was by far the best part of the game, even if it stumbles at the ending a little.

Verdict: Highly Recommended. Hatoful Boyfriend is my no means a perfect story or a perfect game, but it's one I enjoyed a ton. It does a good job of balancing seriousness with silliness, and is far more than JUST a gratuitous joke about romancing birds (although let's not kid ourselves that that isn't a decent part of what it is XD). Granted I imagine very people will play the game like I did, I still recommend it if you're a fan of VNs~
I identify everyone via avatar, so if you change your avatar, I genuinely might completely forget who you are. -- Me
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MrPopo
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by MrPopo Mon Jun 08, 2020 11:51 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
10. Inbento - Switch
11. Ori and the Will of the Wisps - XB1
12. Doom Eternal - PC
13. Serious Sam 2 - PC
14. Black Mesa - PC
15. Descent 3 - PC
16. Darksiders II - PC
17. Resident Evil 3 (2020) - PC
18. Overload - PC
19. Final Fantasy VII Remake - PS4
20. Trials of Mana (2020) - Switch
21. Persona 5 Royal - PS4
22. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Campaign Remastered - PC
23. Sublevel Zero Redux - PC
24. Final Fantasy XII: Zodiac Age - PS4
25. Maneater - PC
26. XCOM: Chimera Squad - PC
27. Sakura Wars - PS4
28. Stela - Switch
29. Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2 - DC
30. Darksiders III - PC
31. Shadow Warrior (2013) - PC
32. Robotrek - SNES

From the makers of ActRaiser and Illusion of Gaia comes an RPG where a young boy protagonist must go out into a modern world, battle creatures and a goofy team of evildoers by sending out his minions one at a time which are stored in white and red balls. Then Nintendo ripped it off for Pokemon. Robotrek was originally called Slapstick in Japan, and the title was apt; the game is definitely designed for younger audiences and doesn't really take itself too seriously. It's also incredibly breakable mechanically, which makes up for what might have been an otherwise tedious experience (though there are some level design issues that it won't overcome).

The game's story is nothing to write home about; the bad guys cause trouble, you stop trouble, they kidnap your dad, you rescue him, then some unexplained time travel happens which reveals what could actually be an interesting plot point if it wasn't completely glossed over. You then go into space, making the box art not a lie (unlike Phalanx). You save the day, and then there's a festival in the end credits.

The real draw of the game is the crafting and robot customization. You start off with a single robot and can build two more; the second two robots have stronger melee and ranged attacks respectively (though it isn't huge, just enough to hit certain breakpoints if you're optimizing). The robots have a fixed stat pool that is based on your level, but you are completely free to spend those points however you want (and reallocate them any time you have the crafting interface open). So if you want to crank your HP down to 1 and your damage and evasion up to max because you're essentially unhittable the game will let you. Speaking of, this is the easiest way to get through the game.

Similarly, the crafting system in the game is reasonably open. Now, a lot of it is gated by the availability of materials, and several key pieces are either limited quantities or aren't available in shops until later, but if you know what you are doing you can have the best weapon (statistically second best, but due to resistances is better overall) before the third boss. You can combine this with the game's "programming" system for special moves. For every robot you can assign up to eight button combinations mixing up using your right hand, left hand, and backpack weapon (up to three presses); these are then available in battle. One combination will have you attack all enemies on screen with a physical attack; this is sufficient to kill 90% of the game's enemies on the first turn (and you always get the first turn if you aren't blindsided). Unfortunately, in the late game there are a lot of enemies with high defense and health that resist the programmed attacks, which is about the point you want to craft a bunch of Vanish items and just skip combat for the rest of the game.

My biggest complaint was one of the dungeons in the middle had a LOT of story triggers that you need to engage in, not all of which are intuitive (and most require multiple conversations with an NPC). You end up running all over creation if you don't realize exactly what you need to do, and causes things to drag (not to mention needing to continuously equip and unequip a key item). But the game overall doesn't overstay its welcome, and there is something cathartic about slaughtering everything in your path and then watching bosses flail helplessly at you as they miss.
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dust_hound
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by dust_hound Tue Jun 09, 2020 11:53 am

Beaten 9th June 2020 - Klonoa: Door to Phantomile (PSX, played on PS VITA)

This game was a solid 5/10 for me - it didn't excel in any area, but wasn't hugely lacking either. It just exists. You play as Klonoa, a cat-rabbit kind of thing living in a little village with his buddy Huepow. The latter is a weird green orb that inhabits what looks like a giant wedding ring which one day in the past had crashed down from the sky, leading to the two forming a friendship. Through the game, you're introduced to a diverse cast of strange characters, and the plot gradually unfolds into an eventual fight for the existence of the world.

Presentation-wise, Klonoa has some really nice prerendered cutscenes and the overall look is bright and cheerful, with consistent art style and realtime 3D parts as solid as could be achieved on the original Playstation. Klonoa and other characters and enemies are pre-rendered sprites similar to Donkey Kong Country et al., whilst the backgrounds are polygonal. The prerendered sprites frequently zoom in and out, but never seem to actually reach a point where they look like they're properly in focus. Klonoa himself only really looks good when zoomed in during in-engine cutscenes, and during most of the game just looks like a rather vague mess of pixels. That said, I quite liked the visual style, even though it got a little messy at times.

Sadly, Klonoa's 2.5D platformer gameplay didn't really live up to the promise held by the nice visuals and concept. Klonoa controls fairly simply - there are two buttons in addition to the d-pad: shoot and jump. Shooting fires out a "wind bullet" which maybe extends one character length in front of Klonoa. This is used to activate switches or pick up bonuses, or inflate enemies. The 2.5D perspective occasionally made it difficult to use the wind bullet well, as often I'd either be short, or would get too close resulting in collision damage. Anyway, small enemies get inflated and picked up so they can be carried around and thrown at stuff. Big enemies get inflated but can then act as makeshift platforms. Throwing an inflated enemy into another enemy destroys both. If an enemy jumps into you and hits your carried enemy, they will both be destroyed, so fuck you if you were going to use that carried enemy for a puzzle. Of course, the enemies needed for puzzles will always re-spawn, but man that was annoying at many points. Jumping is fixed-height, but the air time can be extended a little by pressing and holding the jump button again mid-jump. Annoyingly, this also greatly slows Klonoa's horizontal movement, so I had a lot of stupid deaths due to mis-timing based on how far I thought he would travel. Pressing the jump button mid-air whilst carrying an inflated enemy will throw them downwards allowing Klonoa to do an extra mid-air jump. Sometimes you would need to use an enemy to double-jump, then grab another enemy mid-air to double jump again.

Klonoa seemed to be a game a which couldn't decide if it wanted to have great environmental puzzles or great skill-based action, and mashed those two things together without giving either of them sufficient developer consideration. What we ended up with is a mix of two things:

1) Tricky platforming sections that are beatable with skill, but are made more difficult than they should be due to the imprecision of the 2.5D perspective. Think Schrodinger's moving platforms which are maybe in the foreground and maybe in the background etc. Throw in sections that seem like they're almost deliberately designed to be as annoying as possible without much payoff, and you can sort of see why the game didn't become a big franchise - it has none of the elegant design and balance of the triple-A franchises like Mario, and gameplay ends up being more of a chore than an enjoyable adventure. For example, there are frequently times when enemies spawn almost on top of your location - if you know where to look out for them it's fine, but they often leap in from the foreground or background, and it's hard to avoid bumping into them as they arrive on your part of the z-axis. Things are made worse by the fact that any damage blasts Klonoa backwards, so if you're on a tiny platform suspended above a bottomless pit or lava, for example, it's just frustrating.

2) Puzzles that are often timing-based - e.g. grab an enemy, use them to double-jump up so you can hit one switch, land and hit another switch, then race across to the other side of the screen to hit the final switch - but you often feel that you somehow glitched past it, rather than solving it in the undisputably correct way. This is especially strange, since the puzzles mostly have only one real solution. I was pretty confused by feeling this way, but I think it's just another reflection of the lack of competence with which the game's systems were designed. It's less of "aha, that's how to do it", and more of "thank god I stumbled through that part".

The last stage in particular is an especially egregious example of this unpleasant melange of ideas - hard platforming sections with instant death, where the puzzle is how to utilise the enemies to help you get across big gaps, except there's added pressure of other enemies coming towards you. Bosses are generally quite good, with imaginative patterns, but the final boss really does outstay its welcome as it has three phases where you can die instantly if you fall off the edge. To be fair, it has set patterns that are exploitable, but again the 2.5D perspective troubles, plus Klonoa's weird movement inertia, just created more headaches than enjoyment.

Thankfully with enough practice, it's all beatable of course and it wouldn't take a huge amount of time investment to become good enough at the game to go through without taking any damage at all. I know that others love Klonoa, but for me it's a one-and-done game. I'm glad to have played through it so that I can know what people are talking about when they discuss it, but the negative feeling I got during my ~8hr play time far outweighs the positive. Thankfully I only paid 5EUR for it on the EU Playstation Network. I'd have felt pretty ripped off if I'd paid full-price at release back in 1998, and even more so if I were an ebay whale paying the current ridiculous prices for a disc. A quick glance on the UK ebay sold listings revealed £50 for a disc-only copy, and £150 for boxed.

Despite my quite negative review, I do think that the world of Phantomile and its inhabitants are extremely charming. I'd definitely recommend Klonoa for a playthrough if you can find it for a low price, but for me it's certainly a buyer-beware situation where the prices for physical copies are not really a marker for quality.
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by pook99 Tue Jun 09, 2020 9:37 pm

82. Soldier of fortune: payback (xbox 360)

Completely generic FPS, generic story about terrorists, generic tough guy protagonist, generic weapons, muddy graphics, and a cliff hanger ending. The game is mostly really easy but you get some random difficulty spikes which, when combined with long loading times between deaths, can get frustrating really quickly.

This game is the very definition of average, I bought it at gamestop for $2.50 so at that price I feel good about it, but if I paid more I would feel ripped off. Not worth it, if your in the mood for a FPS there are dozens of better things you could be playing
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Ack
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by Ack Wed Jun 10, 2020 11:44 am

1. The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening (Switch)(Adventure)
2. Final Fight [Japanese Version] (Switch)(Beat 'Em Up)
3. Ziggurat (PC)(FPS)
4. Magrunner: Dark Pulse (PC)(FPS)
5. The King of Dragons [Japanese](Arcade)(Beat 'Em Up)

6. Captain Commando [Japanese](Arcade)(Beat 'Em Up)
7. Knights of the Round [Japanese](Arcade)(Beat 'Em Up)
8. The Witcher (PC)(RPG)

9. Tenchi wo Kurau II (Arcade)(Beat 'Em Up)
10. Dark Sun: Shattered Lands (PC)(RPG)

11. Lichdom: Battlemage (PC)(FPS/RPG Hybrid)
12. Star Wars: Republic Commando (PC)(FPS)

13. DOOM 64 (PC)(FPS)
14. Half Dead 2 (PC)(Adventure)

15. Powered Gear - Strategic Variant Armor Equipment (Arcade)(Beat 'Em Up)
16. Torchlight II (PC)(RPG)

17. Battle Circuit [Japanese](Arcade)(Beat 'Em Up)
18. Hard Reset Redux (PC)(FPS)

19. The Stanley Parable (PC)(Walking Sim)
20. Waking Mars (PC)(Adventure)
21. Requiem: Avenging Angel (PC)(FPS)

22. Night Slashers (Arcade)(Beat 'Em Up)
23. Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath HD (PC)(Action Adventure)

24. Strikers 1945 (Arcade)(SHMUP)
25. SiN Episodes: Emergence (PC)(FPS)
26. Crysis Warhead (PC)(FPS)

27. Metro 2033 (PC)(FPS)
28. Good Job! (Switch)(Puzzle)
29. Blasphemous (Switch)(Action Adventure)

30. Two Worlds: Epic Edition (PC)(RPG)
31. Chex Quest HD (PC)(FPS)

32. NecroVision: Lost Company (PC)(FPS)
33. Icewind Dale (PC)(RPG)

34. Icewind Dale: Heart of Winter (PC)(RPG)
35. Icewind Dale: Trials of the Luremaster (PC)(RPG)


Since I had completed the main game of Icewind Dale, I decided I should continue directly through the expansion and then the downloadable bonus dungeon that was developed for it. I have mixed feelings here, partly because of design decisions, partly because this is getting into high level Dungeons & Dragons, and some things break down at this point.

First, Heart of Winter, the official expansion, is meant for a party of level 9 characters at minimum. I went in a few levels higher and still had a learning curve with some of the new enemies. I appreciated this, because it not only gave me a challenge in the game, it also helped expand my knowledge of 2nd Ed D&D monsters. The Wailing Virgin ghost is new to me, and it turns out is also not evil unlike most other undead, so my combat tactics had to change! There are also high level spells to find, even up to the truly powerful 9th level. And the end encounter gives us the one thing that had been missing from the game, a final boss battle with an ancient dragon.

The downside to this is that, by the time I was done, my party was sitting roughly between levels 18-14, and the few times I had gotten gear better than what I carried over from the base game, it had only further beefed up an experienced party. Now I had access to so many spells, buffs, and items, I was successfully able to clear whole maps without taking a single rest. By the end, the game was throwing hordes of foes in waves, and I still managed to wade through with simple ease.

To add to this, due to my high level and the enemy's lack of one major magic counter, the final battle proved to actually be easier than the base game. What was missing? Dispel Magic! Icewind Dale's final encounter starts with this, so you have to buff during the fight. No so for Heart of Winter, so you can walk in with a fully pumped team and get started on killing immediately. No, instead the game decided to offer up a single casting of Power Word: Kill, which, while able to completely knock out a party member, kill them, and remove them from the party so that they can never be resurrected, still wasn't enough to stop a group of way too powerful player characters simply walking up and slaughtering a dragon and her effective phylactery (though she's not considered a Dracolich...huh). Yeah, it was a little odd. Oh, and the game also exports your party right before the final fight, so there's little benefit to actually beating the boss if you're looking to come back.

That's ok, because I then restarted the expansion with my new and improved party that was exported from right before that battle so I could go check out the new dungeon, Trials of the Luremaster. If Heart of Winter had issues with player power, TotL is just ridiculous, relying instead on cheapness to try and counteract the effect of having characters who are reaching epic levels.

What do I mean by this? Epic levels are when characters reach level 20 and beyond, where you have gotten so powerful that you can take on the most powerful monsters, and gods are basically paying attention to you. Shoot, you can probably kill a god at this point; they have stats, after all. During TotL, my party thief hit epic levels, and everyone else was getting damn close, so the game needed a counter. This counter was to make the game be frustrating.

Trials of the Luremaster is near constant combat, which isn't the issue because Icewind Dale relies heavily on combat. No, the issue is that the game likes to throw constant groups, enemies with heavy resistances to near everything, insta-kill enemies, and nuisance enemies. For instance, in one crypt area, there are casters who will simply teleport one of your party members away, possibly to the far side of an as yet unexplored level. They do this the instant you see them too, and they don't need line of sight to finish the spell, so you're either having to make a beeline to kill them before they get the spell off or hoping they send you somewhere close enough you can walk back without encountering a group large enough to kill a singled out character. Other times, you face back-to-back battles with dreaded Beholders, who have the Death Ray ability similar to the Power Word: Kill spell. Yep, fail the save, and that party member is killed and knocked out of the party, never to be revived.

Hell, the final battle of the game mainly consists of taking down waves of enemies and then going after the Luremaster, who teleports when you so much as look in his direction while constantly casting offensive spells. By the end of it, I figured out his teleport points and parked my guys around the room as close as possible, hoping I could get in a free hit before he vanished. The fight took nearly half an hour as a result.

Heart of Winter I enjoyed; it gave me my dragon encounter as well as some interesting fights, and it let me see how truly powerful my party had become. Trials of the Luremaster was more a nuisance than anything else, and I'd recommend it only to those who really love Icewind Dale. Even if I were to ever go back to this, I'd skip the Luremaster content. It's just not fun.
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by BoneSnapDeez Thu Jun 11, 2020 6:06 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)
14. Skyblazer (SNES)
15. Tokyo Dark: Remembrance (Switch eShop)
16. Bubble Bobble (Famicom Disk System)
17. Steins;Gate Elite (Switch)
18. Johnny Turbo's Arcade: Joe and Mac Returns (Switch eShop)
19. Johnny Turbo's Arcade: Express Raider (Switch eShop)
20. Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle (Genesis)
21. Sword of Vermilion (Genesis)
22. Steins;Gate: My Darling's Embrace (Switch eShop)
23. Oink! (Atari 2600)
24. Bio Miracle Bokutte Upa (Famicom Disk System)
25. Super Castlevania IV (SNES)
26. Phantasy Star Online (Dreamcast)
27. Chaos;Child (Vita)
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Let's get one thing out of the way. Chaos;Child is not Steins;Gate. It may share the same developer. It may (loosely) be a member of the same series. It may even share the same stupid semicolon. But while Steins;Gate was a taut thriller, an absolute nail-biter of an adventure, Chaos;Child is an abject mess: confusing, seemingly contradictory, comically overlong, and utterly bizarre in terms of both plot and designs. It's also quite good, in spite of itself.

Chaos;Child was originally released in 2014 on the Xbox One, of all places, as part of the Science Adventure series. It was subsequently (heavily) ported, with some releases hitting the West (this particular Vita version arrived in 2017). While the game contains some cutesy passing references to Steins;Gate, Chaos;Child is more importantly a continuation of the story told by Chaos;Head, the first Science Adventure title. This presents a small conundrum because, as of this writing, Chaos;Head has not been officially localized or released outside of Japan. That said, Chaos;Child contains an entirely new cast of characters. And while the writing does acknowledge the events of Chaos;Head, Chaos;Child manages to work as a standalone experience.

This visual novel blends two genres that all VN fanatics have become accustomed to: mystery and horror. Set in 2015 in Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan, a series of inexplicable murders are occurring, the bodies all staged in disturbingly elaborate fashions. The murders appear to be emulating, and even share dates with, another string of killings committed six years prior, which occurred around the same time an earthquake leveled Shibuya and left a generation of young people destitute and alienated. The "new" murders -- soon dubbed the "Return of the New Generation Madness" -- are accompanied by groups of grotesque two-faced "Sumo Stickers" left on-scene. Detectives are on the case, naturally, though the game's protagonist is one Takuru Miyashiro, head of his school's newspaper club and one of many "Chaos Children" whose lives were upended by the aforementioned 2009 earthquake.
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The characters are an interesting bunch. Takuru, perhaps the first and only VN protagonist to live in an RV, is a compelling hero. He's the prototypical "channer" type: an internet fiend who's extremely confident in his own breadth of knowledge (literally referring to himself as a "right-sider") but also perpetually unsure of how to speak and act when confronted by any number of real-life social situations. Hellbent on getting to the bottom of the recent killing spree, Takuru's joined by his club pals: his wisecracking buddy Shinji Itou, and an assortment of, you know, "the ladies." This cluster of female characters is reminiscent of those gals from Muv-Luv, with ludicrous unnatural hair colors/styles and somewhat "trope-y" personalities: the "big sister" girl, the gaming/otaku girl, the spacey airhead girl, the hyperactive girl with the little fang tooth. All are adorable and uniquely charming (Arimura Hinae is "best girl" by the way). The additional side characters are, for the most part, rather intriguing. One of the detectives is actually a middle-aged woman, which is a refreshing change of pace.

Production values are extraordinarily high. The backgrounds are gorgeous, with the artists delivering one grimy blood-soaked scenario after another. Character art is colorful and well-composed, if not a little generic when stacked up against the likes of Steins;Gate. There's an abundance of unique "stills" to uncover, as well as some very brief animated sequences. Voice acting is additionally exemplary. This is especially true of the protagonist, whose perpetual fear and hesitation is palpable. As for the soundtrack, it ventures into dark ambient territory quite often. There are plenty of slow moody pieces to accentuate the game's gradual unraveling, in terms of both story progression and the withering sanity of the protagonist. The OST is also, however, perhaps a touch overindulgent at around fifty or so tracks -- some are only heard once or twice throughout the journey.

As for the story itself, it seems to function best when it's not trying too hard. The overall presentation of Takuru is rather peculiar. He's explicitly said to be "delusional." The game presents him as a bit of an unreliable narrator and, perhaps taking a cue from the likes of Higurashi, occasionally tosses him out the driver's seat in favor of third-person narration or the viewpoint of a compatriot. The core murder mystery is incredibly engrossing. Clues are pieced together slowly, some kept while others discarded in favor of new information. Deaths are gruesome and (fortunately?) shown and described in explicit detail. Some specific scenarios are unbelievably tense, especially those initial "trespassing" incidents where Takuru and his crew take it upon themselves to sneak into a hotel murder scene and sealed hospital ward.

Gameplay is mostly made up of clicking through text, though Takuru's delusions are integrated into the plot as well. At pivotal moments, the player is given the option to activate a "positive" or "negative" delusion for Takuru, or bypass both options to chug along in the realm of reality. "Positive" and "negative" are relative terms here, as all delusions are quite strange. Most positive options involve fan service among the female characters, where they'll spontaneously choose to embrace, kiss, or grab their respective bosoms. The rare positive delusions that don't involve the girls are arguably even more out-there. In one, Takuru proceeds to give a male rival a hoedown ("pantsing" if you're not from my part of the country/world). Negative delusions are comically varied: some are predicated on simple rejection by a female, while others involve alien invasions and homicidal frogs. There's some additional player agency in the form of a map hung in the newspaper club's meeting room. Various photographs and notes must be tacked up and rearranged as the investigation progresses. It's an intriguing way to summarize the case details at various moments, though the whole thing also can manifest as a vaguely annoying "how well were you paying attention?" quiz.
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Chaos;Child is fond is twists, which is quite the double-edged sword. The route that leads to the killer is undeniably a winding one. Expect to revise those hypotheses several times throughout. The murderer's "big reveal" is one of the most captivating moments of the whole experience. The very nature of this individual is terrifying on an existential level, and sets the tone for the many hours that follow. It effectively splits the game in two: the mystery and the fallout. There are some peripheral accomplice villains to be unearthed as well, though these are integrated rather poorly, with motives that seem either totally capricious or "nihilistic" in that stereotypical "JRPG final boss" fashion. Many of the game's twists fall flat because (unlike Steins;Gate) they aren't foreshadowed appropriately and don't manage to be integrated into the narrative cleanly. Rather, they often manifest as "gotcha" moments -- what you thought was X was actually Y, mwuahahaha! There's also an emphasis on betrayal: good characters that are really quite bad. These sudden about-faces also rest on a shaky foundation and are often more vexing than convincing.

What's additionally disappointing is the localization. It its core, it's "okay" -- all the character dialogue appears to be translated properly and the game is readable overall. But there are serious drawbacks that can't be ignored. Spelling and spacing errors are too numerous to count. Then there are the specific oddities. For instance, characters are often labeled as "unknown" when first encountered, until their true nature (and name) is deciphered. However, this name acquisition was overlooked in regards to one notable female character, one who has her own character routes and endings, who's simply labeled "unknown" throughout the entire game! Poor kid. The map in the newspaper club room remains untranslated, which is fine until one reaches a specific scene (on one of the peripheral ending routes) where the objective is to identify given neighborhoods properly lest they be stuck with a "bad ending." Most egregious of all: some of the briefest of (voiced) cutscenes have no subtitles, including the one that concludes the game!

While I'm piling on the negativity, it needs to be mentioned that the game often has issues with conversations among the lead characters. They're excessively long, predicated on descriptions of things that could have been shown. In fact, due to the "static" nature of VN graphics, said descriptions often contradict what is displayed onscreen. Like, a girl who's ostensibly sleeping staring at the player with their giant wide open baby blue anime eyes. And, this is very specific, but the characters are rendered breathless and speechless far too often. They sigh, they grunt, they stare at each other blankly, they have entire back-and-forth conversations consisting of nothing but "..." exhalations. Seriously, there needs to be a "..." count taken, there must be hundreds of these.
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As with most non-linear visual novels, Chaos;Child offers up a plethora of endings. However, the "ending structure" is downright baffling. A brief pivot to Steins;Gate, as that game did things properly. Steins;Gate features a "true ending" that's the most difficult to achieve. On the way to the true ending, via trial and error, the player is likely to see the additional side endings first. Thus the true ending functions as a final reward that wraps up everything nicely. Standard procedure. Chaos;Child takes a more controversial approach. First, there's the common route. The player is locked into this on their first run. The killer's identity is solved here and there's a grandiose (and rather lovely) "final boss" battle similar to that of Muv-Luv Alternative. Only after this common route is completed can players chase after the heroine routes. These vary in terms of quality, though all help flesh out the motivations of the leading ladies. But it's a jarring experience -- with the common route done and the mystery (mostly) solved, it's like the player is supposed to "forget" about key events as they play through the heroine routes, which naturally start back at square one. The denouement comes in the form of a long-awaited true ending, blessedly isolated as its own standalone chapter. It's quite good, and a bold attempt at metafiction. But the point still stands: the common route ending, seen at hour 25 of 50, is the game's apex -- everything that follows oozes strong "in case you were wondering..." vibes. For the record, the events of the true ending (cryptically) reveal why the writing follows this path, though the plot could have been tweaked ever so slightly for the sake of coherence. As for achieving various endings, this is dependent on which delusions are chosen once the player begins an additional playthrough. There's no way to parse out which delusion choices will lead to which pathways so the advice I dispense is simple: use a walkthrough. Best to avoid those extraneous "bad endings" as well, which are corny and don't contribute to the player's overall progress.

Oddly enough, I've read multiple reviews of Chaos;Child where the reviewer complains about the game at length and then paradoxically rates it highly. Which is exactly what I'm going to do here. The 8/10 is meant to be taken literally. 80% of the game is impressive, while the remaining 20% (an admittedly sizable chunk) could have been excised altogether, or at the very least heavily modified. As a pure "detective" story it succeeds in weaving a hypnotic yarn, replete with an oddly lovable cast of teenage misfits. Whenever the narrative stumbles it, somehow, manages to redeem itself in subsequent scenarios. Anyway, I can't help but shake the feeling that this is all supposed to be an allegory anyway. Much in the same way that Evangelion and Muv-Luv are about "aliens" but are actually about alienation and insecurity, Chaos;Child is actually about isolation, dependence, maladaptive daydreaming, and the hidden chaos that lurks in all of us. And van dwelling. That RV looks awfully cozy.
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