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MrPopo
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by MrPopo Sun Nov 01, 2020 9:05 pm

First 50:
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
33. Shadow Warrior 2 - PC
34. EVO: The Search for Eden - SNES
35. Blast Corps - N64
36. Command & Conquer: The Covert Operations - PC
37. Command & Conquer Red Alert: Counterstrike - PC
38. The Last of Us Part 2 - PS4
39. Exodemon - PC
40. Halo: Reach - PC
41. Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary - PC
42. Halo 2: Anniversary - PC
43. The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel - PS3
44. Halo 3 - PC
45. The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II - PS4
46. Command & Conquer Red Alert: Aftermath - PC
47. Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon 2 - Switch
48. Carrion - Switch
49. Ninja Gaiden - NES
50. Earthworm Jim - Genesis

51. The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel III - Switch
52. Star Control Origins: Earth Rising - PC
53. Gunvolt Chronicles: Luminous Avenger iX - Switch
54. Jedi Knight: Mysteries of the Sith - PC
55. Wizardry: Labyrinth of Lost Souls - PS3
56. Silicon Zeroes - PC
57. Warcraft - PC
58. Serious Sam 3: BFE - PC
59. Wasteland 3 - PC
60. Iron Harvest - PC
61. Serious Sam 3: Jewel of the Nile - PC
62, Homeworld Remastered - PC
63. Homeworld 2 Remastered - PC
64. Offworld Trading Company - PC
65. F-Zero - SNES
66. F-Zero X - N64
67. Gauntlet (2014) - PC
68. Gauntlet Legends - Arcade
69. Halo 3: ODST - PC
70. 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim - PS4
71. Star Wars Squadrons - PC
72. Serious Sam 4 - PC
73. The Bard's Tale - PC
74. The Bard's Tale II - PC
75. The Bard's Tale III - PC
76. The Bard's Tale IV - PC

After the success of the Wasteland 2 Kickstarter inXile decided to bring back another classic game, this time Bard's Tale. Which makes it the largest gap between video game sequels ever. Unlike Might & Magic X, which starts off with a base of M&M 4+5, BT4 is more of a spiritual sequel on the gameplay side (and a direct sequel story side). Personally, I think that's to its detriment, but my opinion is probably biased from having just played the first three games and expecting something hewing a bit closer.

Bard's Tale IV is set 150 years after the trilogy and the intro makes mention of their three villains having been seeing an ultimate power which will be the focus of the fourth game. In the time since an oppressive religion has rolled into Skara Brae and started oppressing spellcasters and the non-human races. This plot thread isn't really followed up on, it seems to mostly just be an excuse to force you to move in certain areas. You quickly have to abandon the main Skara Brae for the old town underneath it which happens to be the town from the trilogy; even the layout is similar and you visit some familiar locales. You learn of the big bad trying to get the evil power and you venture forth to stop them; first under Skara Brae and then out in the wilderness.

The game is still in a first person perspective, but now it is no longer a grid based dungeon crawler (though you can turn on grid movement it is clunky and not worth it). You still tend to be in fairly narrow areas, but they are a bit more naturalistic. Sometimes it's within buildings, sometimes its out in the open air. There are no random encounters; there are fixed enemies who are engaged when you run into them (and you can attack first to get the first attack) and they do not respawn, outside of certain story-mandated respawns. Exploration is heavily puzzle based; when you aren't fighting you're having to do some sort of puzzle. The game does a good job of teaching you; you will get easy versions of a type of puzzle first but over time they get harder and harder. So you've learned the rules by the time you need to get good at it. The puzzles also extend to the inventory; certain weapons can be made stronger by solving puzzles on them (though they end up generally not being as good as regular weapons in the long run).

The combat is dramatically changed from the original. You now have an eight square grid on each side which combatants can move around on. Each side gets a number of action points which are consumed to take actions. This can be attacking or moving around the grid. Attacks have specific ranges; generally these are "first enemy in a column up to a maximum range" (the latter of which means your back row can't hit their back row) but sometimes you can target specific enemies. Some attacks have a wide sweep and others can choose from either the column in front of you or the ones to the sides. Each character can equip up to four attacks and can freely swap them outside of combat. These slots will get taken up by special attacks on certain powerful weapons, so you have to account for that.

Unfortunately, the way combat ends up rolling out it ends up giving you many more clicks but doesn't really get more interesting. There is a dearth of multi-hitting stuff so combat comes down to rending armor (if applicable) and then dropping your biggest attacks on each enemy. Every combat is very samey, and unlike the old games it doesn't go fast. At least with the old games you could just mash confirm to attack everything or quickly nuke everyone with your magic. Here magic is much more limited because spell points must be built up fresh every combat, and the main damage spells are late game and take a lot.
The game also has a bit of a pacing problem; multiple areas are just too long for no good reason. You could easily chop off a quarter of each section and the game would not suffer for it. I think this is exacerbated by the combat feeling samey.

But let's finish with more positive. The game has a "here's what you were doing on this save file" thing, but instead of just a bit of text you instead get a short live action scene where they reenact the cover art of the first game and the bard gives a couple of sentences telling you about the quest you're on. They seem to have recorded a lot of them; even breaks after short gaming sessions would lead to new dialog. Also, the game has some awesome music. The majority is Gaelic songs with minimal/no accompaniment (though combat does have more instrumentation to go with it) that really sells the flavor of the world. And then they enshrined the events of the first three games in songs that will be sung by the NPC bard (and a recruitable bard if you leave her behind) when you visit home base (and the first game's song is the main menu music). They're some real earworms.

Overall I wonder how I would feel about the game if I had played the originals way back in the day and picked it up with only faded memories of the first three. I was hoping for a more old school experience (like how Grimlock is a modern Dungeon Master/Eye of the Beholder) and didn't get that. I don't regret the time I spent with it and it's a decent enough game on its own. I think I was just tainted by doing a marathon.
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by MrPopo Mon Nov 02, 2020 2:30 am

First 50:
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
33. Shadow Warrior 2 - PC
34. EVO: The Search for Eden - SNES
35. Blast Corps - N64
36. Command & Conquer: The Covert Operations - PC
37. Command & Conquer Red Alert: Counterstrike - PC
38. The Last of Us Part 2 - PS4
39. Exodemon - PC
40. Halo: Reach - PC
41. Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary - PC
42. Halo 2: Anniversary - PC
43. The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel - PS3
44. Halo 3 - PC
45. The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II - PS4
46. Command & Conquer Red Alert: Aftermath - PC
47. Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon 2 - Switch
48. Carrion - Switch
49. Ninja Gaiden - NES
50. Earthworm Jim - Genesis

51. The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel III - Switch
52. Star Control Origins: Earth Rising - PC
53. Gunvolt Chronicles: Luminous Avenger iX - Switch
54. Jedi Knight: Mysteries of the Sith - PC
55. Wizardry: Labyrinth of Lost Souls - PS3
56. Silicon Zeroes - PC
57. Warcraft - PC
58. Serious Sam 3: BFE - PC
59. Wasteland 3 - PC
60. Iron Harvest - PC
61. Serious Sam 3: Jewel of the Nile - PC
62, Homeworld Remastered - PC
63. Homeworld 2 Remastered - PC
64. Offworld Trading Company - PC
65. F-Zero - SNES
66. F-Zero X - N64
67. Gauntlet (2014) - PC
68. Gauntlet Legends - Arcade
69. Halo 3: ODST - PC
70. 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim - PS4
71. Star Wars Squadrons - PC
72. Serious Sam 4 - PC
73. The Bard's Tale - PC
74. The Bard's Tale II - PC
75. The Bard's Tale III - PC
76. The Bard's Tale IV - PC
77. Outbuddies - Switch

Outbuddies is a Metroidvania that stands in homage to Metroid with a couple of new ideas and a majorly flawed execution which ended up being more of a masochistic trip than something I enjoyed. It was created by a single guy (with art and music outsourced) and apparently was a passion project of his, but the game really shows his inexperience. The game never felt great to play, though as I got enough abilities it went to "ok, I can kinda stream through these parts".

The story involves a guy going "They call me crazy, but I'll show them" (that's not a paraphrase) and going out to sea with a diving suit. Then something happens and he crashes in underwater ruins and now you have the game world. And he is woken up by a little flying orb guy who never gets anything explained about him. There's some old god stuff, you kill a big bad, the place explodes, and the little friendly dudes you've been rescuing along the way and you escape through a portal to somewhere and the credits roll.

So let's talk about the good parts first. The game has two pretty unique things. The first is the little helper dude. You can either switch control to him with right stick up or a second player can maneuver him with their own controller a la Mario Galaxy. The helper dude can scroll the map (so you can scout), pick up certain blocks, or "hack" certain enemies. Blocks are used as platforms and also bash enemies good. Hackable enemies are different from screen to screen and have a handful of effects. Some turn into blocks, some turn into moving platforms, some become friendly, some spit powerups instead of goo, and some just die. The second thing this game does that is unique is making swimming its own thing. While most Metroidvanias just have water be "like land, but you move slower and jump higher", this game actually has you swim. So now you fire in whatever direction you're moving (and you can lock direction with a button). This makes the water segments be a bit different from the land segments, and there's a fair amount of water. Finally, let's talk the map. The entire map in is revealed from the start, but only in the form of screen-sized blocks. Whenever you enter a room it fills in all the blocks of that room with the actual layout. This makes for a more aesthetically pleasing map, as well as giving you hints as to ways to go.

Now let's move on to my list of complaints. First, the enemy designs emphasize being assholes. The crawling guys who move along walls? They fall on top of you when they're above you. Bad enough on its own, but when you're scouting with your little dude they really like to come. You only EVER get five hits to die; no health expansions exist. Health drops are relatively common, but it's still pretty assholish (and stands out the most in boss fights). Many of the enemies take way too many shots to die and there isn't a great way to manage them at times. You get a walljump but it's a bit too sensitive; this is most noticeable with all the jumps that just barely get over the corner of a ledge and you automatically clip up; it's not like a proper mantle with animation, just a pop up, and if you jump at that point it turns into a walljump, which frequently sends you either into an enemy you're running from your just off the side you just tried to climb. But the real cardinal sin of this game is the instant death floors. Floors on fire or on acid are instant death if you touch them. You get a power that eventually lets you morph ball through them, but taking damage takes you out of that state. These serve as both roadblocks and as areas to make fighting enemies suck (standing on three pillars above a death sea).

The game gives you a roll with invincibility, and it really wants you to use it. Which is fine about half the time; the other half the time you either don't have room for it or it sends you off a ledge. You eventually get a screw attack, but it only takes effect when you're spinning. Unlike Metroid where a spinjump lasts until you land or shoot out of it here it only covers a short animation at the time you press jump. So you can't hit everything with it due to timing problems. The game has a lot of control problems; your charge shot is reset if you spin in any way, and coming out of a spin you have to press down a couple times to get into a firing mode (which is a problem for one boss). Everything has a bit of stiffness to it, so while the game wants you to do a lot of fancy maneuvering the animations don't really allow for it. The main thing that saves you in boss fights is if you explored pretty well then the little dudes you've been rescuing will toss you health throughout the fight (though only a finite amount).

Oh, one final gripe. The signposting sucks, and the overall map design has far too much backtracking without shortcuts. There are a handful of long tunnels for connecting far portions that feel extremely tacked on (and a couple are useless but still need to be traversed (very out of the way) to get your map percentage and get all the collectables. Similarly, the game records when you get items but doesn't let you know if an item exists in a room.

Overall this is a game where the good heavily outweighs the bad. I get the sense that the developer ended up spending so much time on it that he lost objectivity on the mechanics. He got too used to how things felt without getting enough outside opinions on how things could be made better. There's a seed of a good game in here, but it's buried under a lot of inexperience. I can't recommend it.
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by Ack Tue Nov 03, 2020 10:13 am

So...worst Metroidvania on the Switch? There are a lot of them on that console, so I'm curious where Outbuddies falls.
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by MrPopo Tue Nov 03, 2020 12:01 pm

Of the ones I've played on the Switch it is my least favorite. I can't call it a bad game; the Steam reviews are positive enough that people clearly had fun with it, but there was just so much that rubbed me the wrong way.
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by prfsnl_gmr Tue Nov 03, 2020 4:57 pm

Ack wrote:So...worst Metroidvania on the Switch?


Alchemist‘s Castle
Spooky Ghosts Dot Com

They’re a little over $2 each, though, and you get only way you pay for with each of them. Accordingly, I can’t hate either of them, even if neither of them are good.
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by PartridgeSenpai Wed Nov 04, 2020 6:59 am

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

1-50
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)
34. Fire Emblem: Mystery of the Emblem (SFC)
35. Baku Bomberman 2 (N64)
36. Chameleon Twist (N64)
37. Gato Roboto (PC)
38. The Messenger (PC)
39. The Messenger: Picnic Panic (PC)
40. Baku Bomberman (N64)
41. Bomberman Hero (N64)
42. Blazing Lasers (TG16)
43. Neutopia (TG16)
44. Neutopia II (TG16)
45. Bomberman '94 (PCE)
46. Super Mario Sunshine (GC) *
47. Sonic Adventure 2 Battle (GC) *
48. Shenmue 3 (PS4)
49. Wandersong (Switch)
50. Ratchet & Clank (PS2)

51. Ratchet & Clank 2: Going Commando (PS2)
52. Ratchet & Clank 3: Up Your Arsenal (PS2)
53. Nier: Automata (PS4)
54. Ratchet: Deadlocked (PS2)
55. Itadaki Street Special (PS2)
56. Castlevania: Rondo of Blood (PCE)
57. Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction (PS3)
58. Crash Bandicoot (PS1)
59. Nazo Puyo: Aruru No Ruu~ (Game Gear)
60. Jumping Flash! (PS1)
61. Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back (PS1)
62. Crash Team Racing (PS1)
63. Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped (PS1)
64. Super Mario Galaxy (Switch)
65. Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time (PS3)
66. Battle Stadium D.O.N. (GC) *
67. Super Mario Galaxy 2 (Wii) *
68. Dracula Densetsu II (GB)
69. New Super Mario Bros. Wii (Wii) *
70. Super Mario's Picross (SFC)
71. Castlevania (Famicom)
72. Castlevania (MSX)
73. Castlevania II: Simon's Quest (NES)
74. Castlevania: The Adventure (GB)
75. Castlevania III (Famicom)
76. Super Castlevania IV (SFC) *
77. Castlevania: Bloodlines (MD)
78. Kid Dracula (Famicom)
79. Sonic Adventure (DC)
80. Drakengard (PS2)
81. Pole's Big Adventure (WiiWare)
82. Day of the Tentacle Remastered (PC)

83. Mario's Picross (GB)

This is a game I got for free via the My Nintendo service aaaages ago (like, 8 years, according to my 3DS' time log XD) back when they still did gold points for games from time to time. I've had it sitting half-finished in my 3DS for ages, and after doing Super Mario's Picross a few weeks back, I figured why not go through and finally finish this off as well. It took me a total of 38 hours, according to my activity log, to beat all(?) 256 puzzles in the game.

Mario's Picross is one of Nintendo's first attempts to get Picross popular outside of Japan, and it didn't really catch on. That said, it's still a fine Picross game. It has 264 puzzles of 5x5, 10x10, and 15x15 sizes. 64 are beginner "Easy" Picross, then there's the larger and more difficult Mushroom and Star rank puzzles of which there are 64 each. These are standard puzzles where you have a 30 minute time limit and errors are corrected and subtract from your time. Then, when you beat all of those three sets, you unlock Time Trial mode.

Time Trial mode has you playing without error corrections and no time limit (like Wario's puzzles in the Super Famicom game), but with a bit of a twist. There is no level select for Time Trial mode. You just get another selected puzzle from the set of 64. I actually wasn't counting, and there's no way to know if you've actually done them all, but I played a LOT of time trial mode and eventually the puzzles started repeating, so I assume I've beaten them all? XD . At any rate, they very confusingly rank your best times against one another and you can enter your initials, which is pretty weird given some of those puzzles are much easier than others, so ranking the times against each other has no real point, but the random assortment (picked from the list of 64 of ones you haven't done yet) does give this a good deal of replayability if it's all you've got for a long car ride.

The downsides of this really come down to its age and its platform. For starters, the most obvious problem is that this is still in the age before the numbers you'd filled in were filled out automatically. What's even worse is that unlike the Super Famicom game, you can't even cross out those numbers yourself, so it's all counting in your head. Given that the biggest puzzles are 15x15, that isn't SUCH a huge problem, but it's still a pain. Then beyond that the limitation of the GameBoy's resolution meaning 15x15 is as big as the puzzles get is a little disappointing, but it's not a really big deal, and it helps the games go faster too.

The presentation is fine. There are a good assortment of puzzles of Mario things as well as all sorts of other objects (from the Grim Reaper to a Mario Mushroom to even a sake jug with the kanji for "sake" written on the side XD). There are no animations on the finished puzzles like the Super Famicom game, but that's really to be expected. The music is also not amazing and really forgettable, but it's Picross, so you could really always put on your own music or a podcast these days.

Verdict: Hesitantly Recommended. The lack of QoL features compared to more modern Picross games makes this more of a difficult game to recommend than the SFC game. It's a good puzzle game for the GameBoy, but you're probably better off just going with a more modern Picross game given how cheap they are on the Switch (or even on your phone) compared to what you'll have to pay for this game. It's not a bad game, but age and the popularity of Picross haven't been very kind to this otherwise quite solid entry in digital puzzledom.
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by Ack Wed Nov 04, 2020 12:00 pm

The First 50:
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)

36. Ravenloft: Strahd's Possession (PC)(RPG)
37. Singularity (PC)(FPS)
38. The Witcher 2 (PC)(RPG)
39. Still Life 2 (PC)(Point and Click Adventure)
40. Myst IV: Revelation (PC)(Point and Click Adventure)
41. Gato Roboto (Switch)(Action Adventure)
42. Painkiller: Overdose (PC)(FPS)

43. Battle Realms (PC)(RTS)
44. Battle Realms: Winter of the Wolf (PC)(RTS)
45. Terminator: Resistance (PC)(FPS)
46. Picross S (Switch)(Puzzle)
47. The Witcher 3 (PC)(RPG)
48. Dragon Quest (Switch)(RPG)

49. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Switch)(Adventure)
50. Castlevania: The Adventure (Switch)(Platformer)

51. Kid Dracula (Switch)(Platformer)
52. Castlevania (Switch)(Platformer)
53. Akumajō Dracula (Switch)(Platformer)

54. Akumajō Dracula [Castlevania IV](Switch)(Platformer)
55. The Witcher 3: Hearts of Stone (PC)(RPG)
56. Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse (Switch)(Platformer)

57. Castlevania II: Belmont's Revenge (Switch)(Platformer)
58. The Witcher 3: Blood and Wine (PC)(RPG)

59. The Darkness II (PC)(FPS)
60. MOTHERGUNSHIP (PC)(FPS)
61. SNK vs. Capcom: Card Fighter's Clash - SNK Version (NGPC)(Card Game)

62. The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind (PC)(RPG)
63. STRAFE (PC)(FPS)
64. Shadow Warrior [2013] (PC)(FPS)
65. Shanghai Mini (NGPC)(Puzzle)

66. Shadowrun: Hong Kong (PC)(RPG)
67. Shadowrun: Hong Kong - Shadows of Hong Kong (PC)(RPG)

68. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II - The Sith Lords (PC)(RPG)
69. Call of Cthulhu: Shadow of the Comet - The Lovecraft Museum (PC)(Point and Click Adventure)
70. The Mummy Demastered (Switch)(Action Adventure)

71. Just Cause 2 (PC)(Action Adventure)
72. Prey (PC)(FPS)
73. Prey: Mooncrash (PC)(FPS)
74. The Signal From Tölva (PC)(FPS)

75. Death Rally (PC)(Racing)
76. Bastion (PC)(RPG)

77. Cosmic Star Heroine (PC)(RPG)
78. Ultimate DOOM (PC)(FPS)



Cosmic Star Heroine

From the makers of Cthulhu Saves the World comes a science fiction RPG partially funded via Kickstarter and definitely heavily inspired by Chrono Trigger. It's short, it's generally balanced, and it features an involved combat system that is far deeper than simply hitting 'Fight' over and over again. In short, it's a pretty awesome little game.

You play Alyssa L'Salle, a government agent who works for a shady alphabet soup organization that is most definitely a secret front for evil. Since you're actually a good person, you rebel against said organization once confronted with its reality, and this leads you on a planet hopping excursion to stop extraterrestrial technology from being used to force humanity into a hivemind. You even get help from a (surprisingly individualistic) hivemind, because they understand how terrible this would be. To help you on this quest, you also get an array of folks joining the party: a hacker, a gunmancer who uses magic to summon guns, a dancing robot, an alien ghost PI, a cyborg insect, a bounty hunter that looks like Zieram, and more. Almost all of them feel unique both in personality and playstyle, and you will uncover some amazing synergies along the way.

The combat system is also a high point. Instead of a few traditional choices, you unlock abilities as you level up or reach certain points in the game. These abilities might do things like apply status effects, do heavy damage to status effected enemies, attack using various elements, buff damage, and so forth. Also, as you pull off moves, you'll receive style points, which cause you to hit harder and can be spent for certain Burst abilities. Also, every few turns, you end up with a more powerful turn, so planning which moves to use in certain orders can lead to massive damage output. For example, by the time I beat the game, I was coordinating attacks that normally did 1k damage to make them do around 25k, which would rip chunks out of bosses if not outright kill them by the time I got it all put together.

For an RPG that is under 20 hours, there is also a lot of side content. Many main characters have optional side quests, and there are additional support crew to find that can be assigned for a passive benefit. While many of them are situational uses, some are incredibly useful if used properly. And then there are the hidden bosses from the developer's previous games, as well as the secret dungeon if you just want a challenge for challenge's sake.

If I have any complaints, it's that the art style sometimes feels generic amateur anime-ish, but that's a personal preference on my part. I also ran into a few weird bugs, like getting stuck on a chair at one point, though these were thankfully rare.


Ultimate DOOM

For fun, I ran through the three main episodes of DOOM on Ultra-Violent, along with the 4th additional episode Thy Flesh Consumed. It's been a long time since I last did this, but I'm happy to say I still have my skills. The original DOOM has some fascinating ideas and memorable levels, though it's not always a consistent affair. Episode 2 feels clunky compared to 1, and while this is the awkward part where the government facilities are starting to look like Hell levels, there are some serious problems with bland textures and uninspired designs. That said, episode 1 is a classic of FPS design, and episode 3 starts by throwing enemies at you which will make you work for your survival while trying to conserve limited supplies, so persevere through the rough spots and you're rewarded with more brilliance.

And then you reach episode 4, which at times feels aimless and experimental but also showcases just what could be done with the DOOM level construction kit. There are a lot of ideas that don't always work and have strange flow, but I don't regret that they were tried. In fact, it reminds me of the challenges of developing new Earth-style spaces which would come in DOOM II.

My time spent away from the original DOOM hasn't changed many of my opinions on things like the firearms, but I have considerably more respect for stunlocking with the chainsaw and berserker packs than I did when I was younger. This is especially true for the start of episode 3, where being able to choose when to swap to my bare hands to conserve ammo kept me going through some tight spots.

Also, going through the four episodes of Ultimate DOOM have led me to a greater appreciation for the evolution of level design in DOOM II, where the ability to cause in fighting and the ammo scrounge become major concerns throughout the game. It's also making me look back fondly on the DOOM 64 rerelease earlier this year. Truly, 2020 is a great year to get DOOMed.
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PartridgeSenpai
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by PartridgeSenpai Thu Nov 05, 2020 3:49 am

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

1-50
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)
34. Fire Emblem: Mystery of the Emblem (SFC)
35. Baku Bomberman 2 (N64)
36. Chameleon Twist (N64)
37. Gato Roboto (PC)
38. The Messenger (PC)
39. The Messenger: Picnic Panic (PC)
40. Baku Bomberman (N64)
41. Bomberman Hero (N64)
42. Blazing Lasers (TG16)
43. Neutopia (TG16)
44. Neutopia II (TG16)
45. Bomberman '94 (PCE)
46. Super Mario Sunshine (GC) *
47. Sonic Adventure 2 Battle (GC) *
48. Shenmue 3 (PS4)
49. Wandersong (Switch)
50. Ratchet & Clank (PS2)

51. Ratchet & Clank 2: Going Commando (PS2)
52. Ratchet & Clank 3: Up Your Arsenal (PS2)
53. Nier: Automata (PS4)
54. Ratchet: Deadlocked (PS2)
55. Itadaki Street Special (PS2)
56. Castlevania: Rondo of Blood (PCE)
57. Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction (PS3)
58. Crash Bandicoot (PS1)
59. Nazo Puyo: Aruru No Ruu~ (Game Gear)
60. Jumping Flash! (PS1)
61. Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back (PS1)
62. Crash Team Racing (PS1)
63. Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped (PS1)
64. Super Mario Galaxy (Switch)
65. Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time (PS3)
66. Battle Stadium D.O.N. (GC) *
67. Super Mario Galaxy 2 (Wii) *
68. Dracula Densetsu II (GB)
69. New Super Mario Bros. Wii (Wii) *
70. Super Mario's Picross (SFC)
71. Castlevania (Famicom)
72. Castlevania (MSX)
73. Castlevania II: Simon's Quest (NES)
74. Castlevania: The Adventure (GB)
75. Castlevania III (Famicom)
76. Super Castlevania IV (SFC) *
77. Castlevania: Bloodlines (MD)
78. Kid Dracula (Famicom)
79. Sonic Adventure (DC)
80. Drakengard (PS2)
81. Pole's Big Adventure (WiiWare)
82. Day of the Tentacle Remastered (PC)
83. Mario's Picross (GB)

84. Sonic Heroes (GC)

This was a game I rented as a kid but never ended up beating all the way. I beat a couple of the campaigns, but could never finish the other two (let alone get all the Chaos Emeralds. Heck I don't know if I realized those existed in the first place XP). This and my trend lately of playing old 3D Sonic games made it seem like a perfect fit to save for this month's TR of Games Not Beaten. I was only going to try and go for the true ending if getting the Chaos Emeralds seemed doable, and the answer to that turned out to be yes! It took me around 12.5 hours to beat all four campaigns and collect all the Chaos Emeralds to beat the true ending of the Japanese version of the game.

The story this time around is way more simple than the previous two games, but it follows four teams of heroes all going along their own journeys (sort of). Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles of Team Sonic get a letter from Eggman saying he's gonna conquer the world in three days so they need to stop him. Amy, Cream, and Big of Team Rose are trying to find Chocola the Chao and Froggy. Shadow, Rouge, and a new character Omega the robot of Team Dark are trying to stop Eggman as well. Finally, Vector, Charmy, and Espio of Team Chaotix are following instructions from their mysterious employer towards a goal that also happens to be on the Egg Carrier. There are a few cutscenes and voice lines throughout the game, but it's ultimately very fluffy and light on any content at all. They were aiming for something closer to the Genesis games in tone, and they achieved it.

That said, I would argue it is all around worse because of that pursuit. The first two Sonic Adventure games aren't high art by any means, but their stories do lead up well to their final epic conclusions, and certain characters even have reasonable or somewhat thought provoking arcs. It's not a high bar of storytelling, sure, but it suits each game's purpose well enough. Sonic Heroes uses Metal Sonic as a secret antagonist who has kidnapped Eggman and has orchestrated the whole game, but he's barely in the story at all before the final ending other than a few brief, looming appearances. The absence of any meaningful interaction between the four teams on top of Metal Sonic's sudden introduction at the end of the story make the big team up to his fight in the final route hit really flat and make for a very unengaging final confrontation.

Mechanically, the game has some interesting design choices but they don't really go all that far with them. The four teams each have three characters whom you can switch between at any time. A speed character, a flying character, and a power character. They try to diversify how the teams play a little bit (Knuckles and Omega follow one archetype while Big and Vector follow another, Espio and Amy can't ring dash but Sonic and Shadow can), but it doesn't really make that much of a difference. The bigger difference is in how each of their campaigns are designed, with Team Rose being easy mode, Team Sonic being normal mode, Team Dark being hard mode, and Team Chaotix having levels more structured around missions rather than simply getting to the end of the stage. The team aspect feels not terribly well developed, and a lot of that is due to the stages themselves rather than the mechanics of any one team in particular.

The level design is one of the spots where the game suffers greatest mechanically. Unlike Sonic Adventure 1 where characters had different enough objectives and play styles that going through the same stages that the repeated levels didn't feel THAT similar, or Sonic Adventure 2 where everything was outright individual levels with extra missions afterwards, Sonic Heroes has four teams playing through 14 very similar levels. There are some minor changes for difficulty, like how Team Rose's levels are roughly half the length of the others, and Team Sonic and Dark have respectively progressing difficulty of enemy placement, platform placement, and number of checkpoints, but on the whole it reallly does feel like playing through the same game four times. While each level only has one extra mission as opposed to SA2's four extra missions, given how similar the four campaigns are to one another, it feels a lot more like Sonic Heroes has 14 total stages with each having like 7 extra mission to be done in it.

As if the game didn't feel padded or unpolished enough, a lot of the fundamentals of the level design feel really sloppy. While the characters themselves play just fine, and the first couple levels show off the different routes available to the speed, flying, and power playstyles pretty well, after that the slightly different routes through levels rapidly start disappearing and you're left with levels focused around gimmicks that range from decent (like the jungle stages) to annoying and awful (like the canyon stages). There are even tons of telegraphed auto-running segments that lead you into hits or even instant death pits you couldn't've seen coming. Then take into account that you're playing through all of that annoying frustration at least four times and you have for a game whose padding is downright exhausting. Even the final battle takes place in a floating environment with no textures on the invisible walls or floor to help get your bearings, so even if you give a dang about fighting Metal Sonic, you're gonna have a fairly vexing time doing so.

The presentation is a bit of a mixed bag. The CGI cutscenes look a bit weird in how they're animated, but that's likely due to them making what was effectively the first multi-platform Sonic game (at least the first multi-plat from conception, Sonic game). The character models look a lot sharper and crisper than previous games, likely due to them being developed to work on a GameCube or Xbox rather than the Dreamcast, but they also feel a lot more flat and boring. How much of that is down to the almost total lack of a narrative and how much of that is due to the actual artistry present is up for debate, but at any rate I certainly prefer the style of the older games over this one. Even the music is pretty darn subpar, with only the main theme and final-final boss theme really being notable at all, and the rest of the instrumental and even vocal tracks being pretty forgettable.

Verdict: Not Recommended. I had remembered this game being not as good as SA2, but not THAT bad, but I had my memory proven very wrong. This game isn't nearly as embarrassingly unfinished-feeling as something like Sonic '06, but it's not that far away and was very much a sign of things to come for the series. What was also a sign of things to come was the very idea that was the conception of this game: They weren't making a sequel to Sonic Adventure 1 and 2, they were making a 3D throwback to the Genesis games. Sonic had never been all that comfortable in 3D, and Sega so quickly deciding to look back rather than forward for ideas on how to make Sonic work makes it pretty clear why his 3D games have the poor reputation they frankly largely deserve. Sega's unwillingness to iterate began all the way back in 2003 and it haunts them all the way to today, really. Even if you like 3D Sonic games, you're way better off just looking up the Sonic Heroes theme and What I'm Made Of on Youtube and giving the game itself a pass, because there is very little fun to be found here.
I identify everyone via avatar, so if you change your avatar, I genuinely might completely forget who you are. -- Me
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by Flake Thu Nov 05, 2020 11:23 am

January through September:
January
Shovel Knight: King of Cards (Switch)
Diablo III: Reaper of Souls (Switch)
Super Metroid (Switch)

February
Megaman X (Switch)
Nekketsu Highschool Dodgeball Club (Switch)
Super Dodgeball (Switch)

March

Garou: Mark of the Wolves (SNK Pro Stick)
Fire Emblem: Awakening (3DS)
Xenoblade Chronicles 2 (Switch)

April

Batman The Telltale Series (Switch)
Street Fighter Alpha 2 (Switch)
SNK Gals' Fighter (Switch)

May

King of Fighters 97: Global Match (PS4)
Animal Crossing: New Horizons (Switch)

June
Megaman X3 (Switch)
Megaman X4 (Switch)
King of Fighters 98: Ultimate Match (PS4)
King of Fighters 99 (Switch)
Injustice 2 (PS4)

July

Donkey Kong Country (WiiU)
Cadence of Hyrule (Switch)
Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon (Switch)

August

Shovel Knight Showdown (Switch)
Street Fighter Alpha 3 (PS4)

September

Ultra Street Fighter II: The Final Challengers (Switch)
Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest (WiiU)
Street Fighter Alpha 2 (Switch)
Super Mario Odyssey (Switch)


October

Super Mario 35 (Switch)
Muramasa: The Demon Blade (PSTV)
Pilotwings (Switch)
Punch-Out!! (WiiU)
The PSTV is amazing.
---------------
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PartridgeSenpai
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by PartridgeSenpai Sat Nov 07, 2020 5:17 am

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

1-50
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)
34. Fire Emblem: Mystery of the Emblem (SFC)
35. Baku Bomberman 2 (N64)
36. Chameleon Twist (N64)
37. Gato Roboto (PC)
38. The Messenger (PC)
39. The Messenger: Picnic Panic (PC)
40. Baku Bomberman (N64)
41. Bomberman Hero (N64)
42. Blazing Lasers (TG16)
43. Neutopia (TG16)
44. Neutopia II (TG16)
45. Bomberman '94 (PCE)
46. Super Mario Sunshine (GC) *
47. Sonic Adventure 2 Battle (GC) *
48. Shenmue 3 (PS4)
49. Wandersong (Switch)
50. Ratchet & Clank (PS2)

51. Ratchet & Clank 2: Going Commando (PS2)
52. Ratchet & Clank 3: Up Your Arsenal (PS2)
53. Nier: Automata (PS4)
54. Ratchet: Deadlocked (PS2)
55. Itadaki Street Special (PS2)
56. Castlevania: Rondo of Blood (PCE)
57. Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction (PS3)
58. Crash Bandicoot (PS1)
59. Nazo Puyo: Aruru No Ruu~ (Game Gear)
60. Jumping Flash! (PS1)
61. Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back (PS1)
62. Crash Team Racing (PS1)
63. Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped (PS1)
64. Super Mario Galaxy (Switch)
65. Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time (PS3)
66. Battle Stadium D.O.N. (GC) *
67. Super Mario Galaxy 2 (Wii) *
68. Dracula Densetsu II (GB)
69. New Super Mario Bros. Wii (Wii) *
70. Super Mario's Picross (SFC)
71. Castlevania (Famicom)
72. Castlevania (MSX)
73. Castlevania II: Simon's Quest (NES)
74. Castlevania: The Adventure (GB)
75. Castlevania III (Famicom)
76. Super Castlevania IV (SFC) *
77. Castlevania: Bloodlines (MD)
78. Kid Dracula (Famicom)
79. Sonic Adventure (DC)
80. Drakengard (PS2)
81. Pole's Big Adventure (WiiWare)
82. Day of the Tentacle Remastered (PC)
83. Mario's Picross (GB)
84. Sonic Heroes (GC)

85. Drakengard 2 (PS2)

After quite enjoying the first Drakengard last month, I rushed out to pick up the second one. I took a little while getting through it, but here I am 23.5 playtime hours later at the end and all I can really say is that I understand why this game is all around ranked lower on numbered scores than the first game is XP. I played through the Japanese version of the game on normal mode. I only got one ending, but I will still be getting fairly into plot spoilers for this review as they don't matter all that much.

Drakengard 2 takes place (kinda) after ending A of Drakengard 1, the ending where you arguably saved the world and put a new seal in place to replace the old one that was lost. 18 years have passed since then, and a new Knights of the Seal have been established to protect the various magical seals placed around the world that prevent the final seal from being awakened in the first place. You play as Nowe, a young man newly admitted to the ranks of the Knights of the Seal, but he's special: He was raised by a dragon. Very specifically, he was raised by the black dragon Inuart had in the last game, and this story follows him on his quest to save the world.

The production of Drakengard 2 virtually didn't involve the original game's director Yoko Taro at all. As a result, the game we get here has a narrative far more mainstream and typical of a Japanese-developed fantasy game in the early-mid 2000's. This MAY be the story of Nowe, but it's really more like the story of Mana, the bewitched antagonistic little girl from the first game who is now all grown up. The game doesn't have all that many returning characters (not that there were all that many to return in the first place), but most characters act fairly to very illogically compared to how you'd expect them to act given their characterizations in the first game. Even Yoko Taro acknowledges this, as the story was later retconned canonically to fit along the Ending A to alternate events of Drakengard 1, as it so poorly reflects the world that game set up (even if you were going to set the canon ending as Ending A).

The pacing of the game is all over the place with how it builds up to things, and the game is FLUSH with padding (as we'll get to more later), but it really feels like the game has like 3 or 4 climaxes one after another rather than one logical build towards a conclusion. Additionally, the way the game deals with its messaging in both Mana's psychological trauma as well as Nowe's relation to the dragon that raised him are both really hamfisted and clumsily done. They carry some ultimately really toxic notions about what mental illness is as well as the ideal relationship of a parent to their child. Drakengard 2's narrative isn't just nowhere near as daring in how it approaches the nature of storytelling in games, but it also isn't even very well told for an early/mid-2000's fantasy game.

The gameplay of Drakengard 2 can be most easily described as an effort to take the "Musou + Ace Combat + Fantasy RPG" ideas that were presented in the first game and make them work better in a more typical action game's format. They fix the camera in the ground sections (thank heck) to work like a normal 3D camera instead of the aerial and ground sections sharing their flight sim-esque "looking to each side of you temporarily" nonsense the first game has. They also make the acquisition of weapons less difficult and also make them far more immediately useful with a genuine gear curve this time around. They also make use of magic more intuitive, add more characters (different characters use different weapons instead of the main character being able to use all of them), add consumable items, a shop system, and even passive items you can equip.

Unfortunately, many of the other additions and changes since the first Drakengard do not actually enhance the experience of the game, and in many cases the attempts to make the game more complex cause far more harm than good. The biggest issues the game has can be summed up by saying that the game frequently think the systems it has are far better than they actually are, so you almost always feel woefully unequipped for the task at hand. You're more maneuverable in the air, so they made flying enemies nimble and burly enough to the point where most air combats are a grueling fight for your life just hoping that you aren't suddenly taken out by something you couldn't've seen coming. They made ground combat a bit more technical so you're constantly being overwhelmed by hordes of enemies who are constantly staggering you and shaving off HUGE chunks of your HP. Even once I realized the game had a mid-air recovery mechanic by pressing block in mid-air when you're being juggled, just how quickly enemies can take a swing at your (especially when they enter an unstaggerable stance) caused me more pain than I could've reasonably mitigated. Then take into account that the aerial lock-on camera control is worse than useless, and you somehow still have no lock-on method for ground combat, and you have a game where simply keeping your enemy in view so you can even try to hit it is one of the most difficult combat challenges you face.

The game's new characters are somewhat meant to mitigate that difficulty because of their extra health bars and natural strengths and weaknesses to certain enemy types, but the narrative so often takes these characters away from you that it is quite uncommonly any help at all. The characters and their weapons also all have different stats and levels, and they only get experience points when they fight, so you're both encouraged to use them all but also dissuaded from branching off too much because otherwise your overall power might be too weak to combat whatever you're gonna go up against next. The characters DO have different stat lines, like being better in magic or physical strength, but it's not like they can share weapons or anything, and it's also not really like enemies have obvious weaknesses to physical or magical attacks, so the differences between the playable characters doesn't really amount to much more than cosmetics at the end of the day.

The game's difficulty curve is all over the place, with several really mean enemy types (such as the gorgons in the air and the skeletons on the ground) appearing throughout the game but feeling like they have the difficulty of late-game enemies. This is all made even worse by the fact that your characters may not share health but they also have relatively small health bars, and these levels regularly take 15 to 20 minutes to complete. Especially if you're trying to get the weapons hidden in these levels (and you will, because you'll need that extra power more often than not), you'll wanna stick your neck out in more dangerous situations, but that just leads to a LOT of time being taken up replaying long levels that have no checkpoints. You also can't replay story missions until you beat the game once, so if you want those weapons, you either gotta get 'em NOW, leave them to rot, or go grind on the (weirdly quite difficult) free play missions until you're strong enough to get them.

This game also not only has narrative padding but tons of mechanical padding too, taking you back to the same stages over and over for some new contrived narrative reason, and having to slog through those same stages (even with sometimes different enemies) gets old fast. At the very least the game keeps the XP you've gained for your characters (who don't share levels) and weapons (which now level on XP rather than number of kills), but it's a small consolation with how small those stat increases often are compared to the peril you're up against. Honestly, the addition of the consumable items you can use mid-stage feel more like an admission that the game is far too often unfairly difficult rather than an option for you to utilize mid-fight.

The presentation is generally a step up graphically, but not artistically. The enemy and character design is graphically prettier than the first game, sure, but their designs are far more standard and boring. The new characters especially look by and large like they were pulled from some scrapped Final Fantasy project, with Nowe in particular looking like a dead ringer for Tidus. The music also may be more listenable than the first game's, but it's more often than not just boring and forgettable, with only one track (the one that plays in the first mission of chapter 11) really catching my ear at all.

Verdict: Not Recommended. Drakengard 2 is very much an exercise in completely failing to appreciate what made the things in Drakengard 1 work the way they did. From the combat misunderstanding that sometimes complex is not actually better to the narrative both being more typical and worse told, it's a significant step down from the first game in just about every way. While there are certainly aspects of it that have promise, it just can't deliver on its best ideas and winds up being bad or simply mediocre at everything its trying to improve on from the first game. Even if you're a fan of Yoko Taro's work and wanna see this as a curiosity, I think your time (not to mention money, looking at the price of an English copy of this) is likely better spent watching a synopsis video rather than putting yourself through the frustration of playing it yourself.
I identify everyone via avatar, so if you change your avatar, I genuinely might completely forget who you are. -- Me
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