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pook99
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Re: Games Beaten 2021

by pook99 Fri Feb 05, 2021 6:25 pm

@markies: I was not in love with Mega Man 7 when I first played it either but it did grow on me over time, still not even close to my favorite in the series but I enjoyed it more on subsequent playthroughs than I did at first.

7) Chroma Squad (switch)

Chroma squad is a game that is heavily influenced by the power rangers, and by heavily influenced I mean the influence is so blatant that the company that produces power rangers sued the developers of Chroma Squad. The parties came to a settlement where sabin productions would get a royalty from sales and chroma squad would get an offical endorsement from the company, so I guess in a way this is an officially liscenced power rangers game.

Chroma Squad takes place in the real world, so you are not playing as the power rangers, rather you are playing as the stuntmen on the power rangers tv show. Tired of the bossy director constantly barking orders at them, the squad decides to quit their jobs and go off to start a show on their own, with the goal of making money and earning a huge audience and fan base. The premise here is definitely silly, and the game does a great job of mixing behind the scenes dialogue with scenes from the show. The story is tonue in cheek filled with all sorts of random references that I won't spoil here.

If I asked you to guess the genre based on what I just described you probably would not guess that Chroma Squad is an isometric strategy RPG. Each level plays out like a scene from the show, your heroes enter the scene, exchange some dialogue, and then a boss and tons of henchman leap onto the scene and the action begins. You control all 5 members of the squad and there is a ton of depth here. The game does not do a great job of explaining everything, which can be viewed as a positive or a negative depending on your perspective. The tutorial level only shows you the most basic of moves and then you are on your own. I enjoyed this personally and had fun discovering how things work, but if you like everything spelled out for you, this may be a tad frustrating.

Most levels have you starting out as the out of costume stuntman. In this form you cant do much other than basic attacks, team attacks, and team acrobatics (where one team member throws another team member to give them more range) Once you perform a few actions you can "chromatize", which heals your whole team, brings them all to the same space on the board, and puts them in their power ranger costumes. As the rangers alot more moves and strategies open up to you, each ranger is extremely unique and all are vital to success. Each turn every character can move then perform an action, which is either attack, move again, teamwork, or a special move, as well as a host of free actions. Characters are what you expect, you have a healer, a ranged character, a tank, a balanced supprt character, and I don't know how to describe the yellow ranger, but she has tremendous movement and lots of great specials.

Levels all have a main objective (usually killing the boss but there is some variety here), as well as secondary objectives (ex: dont let a hero die, attack the boss every turn, finish the level in 7 turns, etc) which reward bonus audience for completing. Every action you do gains you audience, the more audience you have at the end of the level, the more fans and money you get. In between each level you go back to the studio and spend money on various upgrades/items and spend fan power to boost support from various marketing agencies which have all sorts of different benefits.

The challenge here is just right, there are 4 difficulty levels( I played on the second hardest mode) and felt like I had to think and plan my moves carefully but it never felt punishing or cheap. If you go in with a bad strat you will probably have to replay the level which will cost you some fans or you chould choose cheese the game and close it before you die and just restart the game...not that I would ever do anything like that.

On top of all this many levels end in a giant mech battle. These play more like a traditional turn based RPG where you just select a command, the enemy moves, and repeat. These are also EXTREMELY easy once you understand how it all works.

Chroma squad is a very unique game with a lot of charm. I am personally not a power rangers fan but it was clearly made with lots of love for the series. I am a huge fan of SRPG's and this is a very fun and well made game. It has deep combat and a quirky story and is definitely worth a playthrough.
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Re: Games Beaten 2021

by pook99 Sun Feb 07, 2021 9:22 am

8. River City Girls

River City Ransom on the NES is one of my favorite games on the system. It offered fun beat em up action with lots of upgrades, a whole city to explore, and a quirky sense of humor. It really deviated from the standard beat em up gameplay and despite its success, this formula is rarely emulated. A few years back they annouced a sequel called river city underground and my hype meter was through the roof...until I played it. I couldn't tell you why but the game did not resonate with me at all, but given my love for the original I slogged through the entire game and hated it more and more with each moment I played. For that reason, I went into river city girls with excited hesitation, would this be the sequel I hoped underground would be?

In Japan this is a much larger franchise, called kuni something or other, and has a large number of games that were never officially released here( though they just did release a collection with many of them), in this game you play as the girlfriends of kuni and ricky, 2 of the main characters from that series and the protaganists in river city ransom. Kuni and Ricky have been kidnapped and you go on a mission to save them. Obviously, this is not a game you play for its deep narrarative but the story is told through comic book styled cutscenes, some animated clips, and dialogue between characters. Everything is voice acted extremely well and the dialogue had me laughing out loud on several occasions. This is a really well written game that had me looking forward to each new character I would meet, and given that this is the same company that makes double dragon, you have a variety of cameos and references to that series all of which made me smile as I had no idea they were coming.

Graphics have a nice pixel art style but the soundtrack leaves something to be desired. While the sound effects are filled with extremely satisfying punches/smashes/ and breaking sounds, some of the background soundtracks were atrocious J-pop which made me want to turn off the volume. I'm sure some gamers will enjoy them but they definitely were not for me.

The fighting here is excellent, you have 3 attack buttons, a weak attack that can be tapped repeatedly for a combo, and a strong and special button that can produce all sorts of different moves depending on the direction you press and all can be chained together with ease. You also have a jump and a block button, that doubles as a parry with good timing. When you start the game you only have a few attacks but through a combination of leveling up and buying new moves at the dojo, you unlock a huge arsenal of moves, almost all of which are useful in various situations. The amount of moves you get makes combat a lot of fun and the game does a good job of slowly giving you access to new moves. There is a decent amount of enemy types here and you can recruit them as allies. When you are down to the last enemy and start beating them up, they will start to beg for mercy, at this point you can either finish them or recruit them. Once you have an ally you can hit the R button and the ally will jump in for a quick assist attack, I found these to be nearly useless and almost never used them.

River city girls has a decent sized city to explore, the game is broken up into 6 zones and each zone has a few missions to complete and a boss to fight. There is a map here and your objective is always clearly marked so you will never get lost, which is something I always appreciate. Once you leave a zone you can travel back to it if you would like by visiting a bus terminal, which acts as a fast travel points. There are also a number of shops in each area. The way they work is kind of odd, every time you enter a shop you see their list of items(typically 4) but they do not tell you what the items do and the only way to find out is buying them and seeing for yourself. With food items this is not a big deal, the first time you eat any food item you get a permanent stat boost so you are going to want to buy every food item at least once, but I found myself not even buying the expensive equipment because I had no idea what it would do and often their effects were just not worth it. You can get any food item as take out as well, which will allow you to heal on the fly.

Every zone ends in a boss fight and I was really impressed by the bosses in this game. Thematically, each of them was well designed, unique, and had some kind of quirky back story, and the boss fights were not at all what you would expect from a beat em up. Most bosses in this genre are just tanks with a few moves and lots oof health, but here the bosses have phases and play more like what you would expect from an action platformer than a beat em up. Most of the bosses also kicked my ass at first, but all of them were manageable once you learned their patterns.

This is the sequel to river city ransom that I was always hoping for. It has all the charm, quirks, and gameplay you would expect, while also making the combat far more robust and engaging. I was very apprehensvie going into this game but it exceeded all of my expectations and is one of my favorite beat em ups on the switch, perhaps ever.
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Re: Games Beaten 2021

by MrPopo Sun Feb 07, 2021 10:56 pm

Previous Years: 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020

1. EYE: Divine Cybermancy - PC
2. Legend of Grimrock - PC
3. Legend of Grimrock 2 - PC
4. Shovel Knight - Wii U
5. Yakuza: Like a Dragon - PS4
6. Yoshi's Island - SNES
7. Vectorman 2 - Genesis
8. Super Mario Sunshine - GC
9. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time Master Quest - GC

Originally planned for the 64DD, Master Quest is a remix of the dungeons of the original. In a way it's a throwback to the second quest of the original Zelda, but here they are under more constraints and as such it isn't as ambitious. And because of those constraints it ends up being an uneven performance; some of the changes are neat, some are annoying, and the fire seal in Ganon's Castle can go fuck itself.

The base game is still Ocarina of Time, and all of the story beats are the same. All the dungeons are located in the same place as before, and you do them in the same order and get the same treasures. The basic layout of the dungeons is still the same. What has changed is any non-level geometry things inside the dungeons. So enemy placements, chest placements, what doors are locked and how, those are all up for grabs. In general the changes consist of either more or harder enemies (e.g. Deku Tree has ghoma larva jumping around, an Iron Knuckle shows up in fire temple) as a baseline, and then changes to the puzzles. For the most part these tend to be adding in a bunch more switches that are frequently sunk into level geometry with only a bit sticking out (or sometimes nothing; it relies on your swings clipping through the level). There are also a lot more Time Block puzzles that involve you needing to move around blocks (and sometimes move multiple blocks in specific ways. For the most part the puzzles aren't too bad, but they do require you to be thorough.

One thing you'll notice is that some of the dungeons end up not fitting well with the remix; you'll have rooms you never visited because the only thing in that direction would be a gold skulltulla or something and it's flow just didn't fight with the rest. Similarly, the dungeon flow frequently just isn't as smooth as before. The dungeons originally had been crafted such that you were always moving to the next room and didn't really have choices about where to go. Here that sometimes goes away; this is notable in the fire temple where you can end up not needing to save all the gorons to complete it. One interesting thing, though, is they do tend to have the first three chests you encounter be the map, compass, and dungeon item, and as a result the dungeon item is featured a bit more than previously.

Overall it's not a bad way to revisit the game if you've beaten the original. But I think the original ends up being a tighter experience overall.
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PartridgeSenpai
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Re: Games Beaten 2021

by PartridgeSenpai Mon Feb 08, 2021 6:32 am

Partridge Senpai's 2021 Beaten Games:
Previously: 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
* indicates a repeat

1. Atelier Rorona: The Alchemist of Arland (PS3)
2. Portal 2 (PC) *
3. Atelier Judie: The Alchemist of Gramnad (PS2)
4. Pipo Saru 2001 (PS2)
5. Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon (N64)
6. Atelier Viorate: The Alchemist of Gramnad 2 (PS2)
7. Kirby's Dream Land 3 (SFC)
8. The Legend of Mystical Ninja (SFC)
9. Atelier Marie: The Alchemist of Salburg (PS1)
10. Ganbare Goemon 2 (SFC)

11. Paper Mario: Origami King (Switch)

I've loved Paper Mario since I was a kid, and though the series has had its ups and downs, I really loved the Color Splash on the Wii U. When Origami King was announced, I was a big mix of emotions. Happy because there was more Paper Mario coming (as Color Splash being a late Wii U game meant that it didn't exactly sell well, especially being a direct successor to the very fairly unpopular Sticker Star on the 3DS), but also a little sad since it meant that Color Splash was almost certainly not getting a second chance at life on the Switch (and probably still won't). What I was pretty sure of was that I would enjoy it, even if I wasn't too sure what to make of the weird new battle system. I got some Christmas money from my family, so I thought that this was a fine a time as ever to finally pick up Origami King and see what all the fuss was about, and I'm really glad I did! It took me a week to 100% the game, and I'd reckon it took me about 40-ish hours in total to do that with the English version of the game.

Origami King opens with Mario & Luigi headed to Toad Town for the Origami Festival, but they arrive to find the place totally abandoned. Undaunted, they assume everything is actually totally fine and go into Peach's castle only to get kidnapped by a horrifyingly orgami-fied Peach. Mario finds a new friend, Olivia, a fairy folded by origami but who is friendly, and together they escape the castle along with a folded up Bowser, but not before being assaulted by the titular Origami King: Olivia's brother Olly. They narrowly escape the castle with the help of a Shy Guy swooping in with Bowser's clown car as five giant streamers wrap around the castle and take it to a far away mountain. With Olivia's help, Mario must embark on a quest to save the Princess and the Kingdom from the anger of the Origami King.

Origami King is another game in the trend that has been established since Super Paper Mario, where it's Mario with a dedicated companion instead of the series of partners the first two games had. Olivia serves as your constant companion and is written delightfully. She's naïve but kind and silly, and I adored her just as much as I adored Huey in Color Splash (which is to say, a lot). Just like Color Splash, I found the humor and writing in this game as a whole to be very entertaining and funny, and it's easily one of the best localized games I've played. I really wanna play it in Japanese sometime to see just what the original was like, because it's definitely a game where I have a hard time imagining what the original is with just how well the translation is done. Origami King goes for a bit more heavier theming and plot beats than Color Splash did, but to mixed success. There's a pretty heavy plot beat in the middle of the game that I thought they pulled off pretty well, but the ending of the game leaves something to be desired. This isn't a spoiler-ing review, but I'll just say that it's an ending that I felt was a bit of a missed opportunity, since I don't think it would take THAT much to make it work much better. However, shaky ending or no, the writing is still very entertaining and is definitely one of the highlights of the game for me.

While Olivia IS your constant single companion, that isn't to say that side-partners are entirely absent. Throughout the game Mario & Olivia are accompanied by several characters particular to that area of the game, and they provide some narrative and mechanical function. They can even take part in battle (which we'll delve into more later), but you don't control them directly. It's an interesting middle ground to walk between the new style and the old style, but I think they pull it off pretty well. They serve as important and defining elements to the places they're a part of, and then part from you when their necessity to that part of Mario's quest ends. Given that they don't have much mechanical purpose outside of their respective areas, this really isn't much different from how the older games would have characters functionally drop out of the narrative after their respective areas were finished, and this is a clever take on that.

The exploration is more along the lines of Paper Mario & The Thousand Year Door than Color Splash, but Color Splash's influence is certainly there. It's one giant world like TTYD was, so the stages that you went between like Color Splash are gone, but there are still elements of completion that are kept track of for each larger area (which is very handy for if you're someone trying to do all the things like I did). I think the world is laid out well. Between usable items and collectibles, exploration always felt like I had something important I was looking for. Collectibles range from little statues of enemies and characters in the game to holes literally torn in the world that you can repair by throwing confetti at them (much like you would repaint the world in Color Splash). You get more confetti by bashing objects and killing enemies, and holes in the world are a good indicator for where you have and haven't been as well as to indicate important areas. Most importantly, though your supply of confetti at one time has a cap, it isn't used up if you aren't using it to repair holes, so you can fling confetti to your heart's content otherwise~. All of the areas feel very different and special in their own ways, from exploring the great sea in your boat to driving across the sand in your Kuribo's Shoe-like car, the game is really good at making each area feel different to play in as well as being memorable in their presentations.

Now for the main meat of how this game differs from its predecessors: the combat. The weird ring-spinning combat was the big question that everyone was talking about when t he first trailers for this dropped about a year ago, and with good reason. It's very unlike any other turn-based game I've played, but it ultimately IS connected to the lineage of the post-TTYD games in many significant ways.

Normal battles take the form of single-solution puzzles. Enemies are on four rings around Mario, and there are ten segments around him. Your goal is to use the 1 to 3 movements you have to arrange the enemies in either rows of 4 or blocks of 2x2 (adjacent to Mario) so you can attack them with either your jumps (for lines) or your hammer (for blocks), and if you manage to complete the puzzle, you get a 1.5 times attack power boost! An important thing to mention is that this is a successor to Sticker Star in that it is NOT an RPG. There are still no experience points here, and it is still that sort of "turn-based action/adventure game" genre that Paper Mario has dabbled in throughout the last decade, but I think this is definitely the best it's ever been. Though the puzzles in the early game are pretty dead easy, I was surprised at how difficult they got in the mid and late game. Thankfully, there's a training area in Toad Town that you can use if you want a smattering of ring puzzles to test your brain meats against, and there are even items you unlock around a third of the way through the game that just solves them for you or makes them much easier. It'd be really nice if that accessibility stuff was there from the start, but it's really nice to see it there at all.

Now these ring puzzles are also timed, and so your brain is being tested against the clock. If you don't solve the puzzle in time, it's likely gonna be impossible to kill all of the enemies before you get hit (as ideally you should be able to win battles without taking damage if you can solve the puzzles your first try), but if you're in an area where you have a story companion, that companion gets an attack to (that sometimes fails, but it can be the difference between taking damage or not). And when you get hit, you get hit HARD. This isn't a particularly hard game, as health items are plentiful, cheap, and strong, but if you're abstaining from using them you can get the crap beaten out of you really fast. However, if you want more time to think, you can also just hold down the + button to feed coins in to the timer so you have more thinking time.

You get LOTS of coins from battles (like hundreds to even thousands), and 100 coins is one second. You also have a collectible in the game in the form of folded or crumpled up Toads who need rescuing, and they'll sit in an audience around your fights. You can throw them money to have them give aid in the form of mostly solving puzzles for you, healing you, and even taking pot shots at enemies. Money is also used to buy items for combat, as this game has weapon degradation for your non-standard jumps and hammers. I found I rarely needed to buy more weapons with how often I found more just by exploring, but this is one more way that the big piles of cash you get from fighting enemies are your biggest incentive to fight them with the lack of EXP in this game. That money can even go towards accessories you can equip for passive bonuses in combat or even non-combat effects like changing what your confetti looks like or changing your sound effects. The money-combat reinforcement loop isn't perfect, and the weapon system doesn't suuuper justify its inclusion (it honestly feels like it's there just to give money a higher purpose other than buying the expensive accessories), but combat is largely a puzzle game in the first place, so this game's relation to combat is an odd one at best. I'm honestly not sure how they could've tweeked it to make it work any better, but I think what they have works in a fun way despite its flaws.

However, that's just normal battles. You also have boss battles which are significantly different. While it's possible to win normal battles by just solving the one puzzle correctly, boss battles place the boss in the middle of the ring circle and Mario on the outside. You need you use arrange the arrows on the board to lead Mario ChuChu Rocket-style to different icons on the board, from the simple one that just lets you attack in the first place, to ones that double your attack power for a turn or let you attack again, to the big Vellumental Attack spaces. The big reason Olivia is helpful in your quest is that she's your window into the power of origami, and Vellumental attacks are how those manifest. Bosses always have gimmicks in how they manipulate the board to give you obstacles on how you can attack them and how easily, and the boss battles are easily one of the best parts of the game. The bosses (my favorites being the 3rd and 4th streamer guarding bosses) have tons of personality and it's always super fun to see how the next one will need to be tackled. Whittling down their defenses, exploiting an elemental weakness via a Vellumental attack, and then using Mario's own 1000-Fold Arms to give them a pounding serves as a satisfying and fun puzzle game that is finally a well-designed version of what Intelligent Systems has been trying to do via the Things system in the past two games. They've finally nailed it here, and if the normal bosses aren't hard enough for you, there are even accessory-less challenge modes you can fight the bosses in for an extra challenge.

And on top of all that, there are even big Paper Macho 3D origami enemies wandering around the overworld that you fight in real-time, Super Paper Mario-style, to vary up the game's combat just that much more. There are even some bosses you fight this way, and while these parts of the game are definitely not a "Reason To Buy" in and of themselves, they're fun in their own right, and vary up the pacing of the game nicely in how they serve as unconventional mini-boss and proper boss fights.

Finally there's the presentation of the game, which is continuing on the trend that Color Splash started of being absolutely fantastic. This is especially in the music department, as Color Splash and now Origami King have absolutely fantastic music. The game also looks absolutely beautiful, with the paper craft looking more, well, papery than ever before. They've been leaning into the paper gimmick more and more, and this game realizes that not just mechanically but visually as well in a really beautiful way. The visual design of the game is even good down to the way enemies are designed, as anything 2D is always friendly, and anything 3D and origami-looking is always an enemy, so there's never any question.

Verdict: Highly Recommended. Though not perfect, Origami King has finally succeeded in making something truly great in the post-TTYD-style of Paper Mario games. Intelligent Systems has finally found a winning formula for their puzzle-focused turn-based action/adventure weirdness they've turned Paper Mario into, and I'm all here for it. Where I had some reservations about putting Color Splash higher than TTYD in my personal rankings (and I still do put Color Splash just barely above TTYD, personally), Origami King is easily the new top of the pile for the series for me. Once again, Nintendo succeeds in making a game on Switch that, despite being relatively quite different from the other games in its franchise, is regardless a "best in series" contender.
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Re: Games Beaten 2021

by marurun Mon Feb 08, 2021 5:52 pm

Marurun vs Games 2021 edition!

  1. Trials of Mana (Switch)

We're already in February and here I am posting my first review of the year. Trials of Mana I started last year and it just ran over into this year.

Trials of Mana - Switch

Trials of Mana is a 3D remake of Seiken Densetsu 3, a Japanese Super Famicom game which was itself not released in English until last year as part of the Collection of Mana. It is the sequel to Secret of Mana. What I read about Seiken Densetsu 3 had me certain I wouldn't enjoy the original, but hearing about the changes made to the remake made me think it would remedy some of my concerns. And it did!

For those whose primary experience with the Mana series is Secret of Mana, this game shares a little DNA but is more immediately action-oriented. In fact, in some ways it more closely resembles Seiken Densetsu the first, which came to the US on Gameboy as Final Fantasy Adventure. That said, Trials is really its own game. Trials of Mana is a 3rd person action RPG with 6 characters from whom you pick one main and 2 companions. There are 3 different big-bads, each shared by two of the characters, so the main you pick will affect which end boss you fight, a couple unique areas you'll battle through, and some of the story beats. Depending on your play style it may be important to make sure you pick characters whose abilities complement each other. As characters level up you put points into their various stats, and the points you invest unlock abilities and spells. Abilities are assigned to a limited number of slots and so you'll always have more to pick from than you can equip. You can also find abilities by talking to some characters in the world. At key points in the game you can switch your character's class, choosing a light or dark path. Each character has 8 class upgrade options in total and may switch classes up to 3 times throughout the game, though which classes are available to you depend on your light or dark class choices. Each new class is a major step up in power. The cumulative effect of these customization options, picking classes and abilities and upgrading your stats strategically to unlock spells and new abilities, allows the same character to have different play styles.

Combat is basically attacking with combos. You start with 2- and 3-attack chains and as you level up and unlock new classes you open up up to 5-attack chains. There are normal attacks which are the meat of the combos and strong attacks which you can swap in as the last hit. Charging your strong attack gives you a more powerful attack which can break enemy protective shells and spawn extra crystals used to build your special meter that you spend to use Class Strike special attacks. Class Strikes vary by class, and each new class grants additional ones. Spells and items are accessed from a ring menu. Items must be assigned to the ring menu to use, and regardless of how many items you have, in battle there's a cap of no more than 9 which can be used. So if you have 90-some cups of wishes in inventory you cannot revive during a battle ad-infinitum. This is what makes boss battles challenging. Some enemies and bosses have elemental weaknesses which you really need to exploit unless you want an extended slog and your preparedness will help determine whether you run out of available items in battle or not. Fortunately, most lower and mid-level spells have item equivalents. That said, with 8 different elements that's a large number of items to manage. This massive crush of items means you'll be constantly revisiting your ring menu to adjust what's available in combat (and outside of combat). The ring menu may once have been a UI experiment about getting away from traditional RPG menus, but here it is used instead as a way of limiting what's available to players in the moment. It's too bad that this limit applies outside of combat as well, necessitating adding and replacing items in the ring menu to use one-time or limited items when in town or otherwise not in battle.

The graphics are rather attractive on Switch. The environments and models are detailed and colorful and use good textures. The framerate is locked at 30 fps and sometimes dips, but it's usually not a problem and doesn't happen too frequently. I don't know that this level of visuals couldn't be done on the WiiU/360/PS3, but it definitely looks a small step above that standard fare. That said, this is clearly not a AAA Square title. The character models are particularly attractive, though some of the character designs may not appeal to all players. The sexualization of the two teenage female characters is... How to explain... I don't have a problem with characters rocking their sexy (and will often choose to have my female characters go that route when given the choice), but when sexy is the primary unifying characteristic of almost every female character in the game, well, that's a problem in my book, to say the least. You are apparently not allowed to be a magician or a valkyrie without wearing a swimsuit and a hat or headress. If you desire more clothing than a swimsuit, this universe is not for you, ladies, unless you want to be a random townie. Main character animations are excellent, though NPC animations can be ridiculous or annoying. Most shopkeepers do this weird dance that seems out of place in a modern 3D game ('m sure it's a throwback to the animated sprite on the SNES, but still...) and some little cat merchants you encounter later in the game twitch so rapidly that when you interact with them it looks like they are having a seizure.

The sound effects are pretty good, and some of them are throwbacks to the SNES original. The music is likely to be polarizing, however. You can choose the original music (I did not) or you can choose remixed tracks. Of the remixed tracks, a few are orchestral, but most are not. And the remixes are quite variable in quality. Some sounds like SNES tracks with cleaner samples. Some sound like SNES by way of the Amiga. And others sound more like late 80s, early 90s CD-ROM synth music (bad fake guitar included). I have no nostalgia for the music and so for me the tunes don't really stand out. It all seems pretty generic, and the short loops can render it quite repetitive, too. If you're familiar with the game already this may be great for you because it doesn't stray too far from the original SNES tunes.

Another thing to be aware of: I played the game with Japanese voices and English text. One character in particular has a really annoying voice and word alterations. She is supposed to be a very young character, and the English translation really infantilizes her. The text translation reflects this and additionally introduces an r/w speech impediment which they MAKE SURE to include in all her written dialogue. It makes it almost impossible to read her dialogue. It's painful and a horrible decision. I'm not saying someone should be fired over that decision, but it would be a real big black mark on a localization portfolio. She's a super useful character, but if you put her in your party you'll be pulling your hair out every time she talks, regardless of which language you've chosen, because you'll either have to hear it, or read it, or both.

On the whole this is a recommended title. It's a decently long action RPG with combo-based combat which can be as simple or complex as you want to make it, with the exception of a couple bosses where you really have to pull out all the stops. There's even some expanded content over the original in the form of a challenge dungeon and a couple new final classes.
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Re: Games Beaten 2021

by marurun Mon Feb 08, 2021 6:53 pm

Marurun vs Games 2021 edition!

  1. Trials of Mana (Switch)
  2. Outer Worlds (Switch)

Another game review so soon? Why'd you sit on the last one so long, Maru? Why hit us with two wall-of-text reviews in a row?
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Outer Worlds - Switch

Outer Worlds is Obsidion taking the linear branching game structure of the Mass Effect titles and marrying it to Fallout: New Vegas. In space. No, this is not an open world game, not really, and large areas of the game are walled off until certain quest markers are hit. That said, there's a lot of skippable side content and different ways to resolve many of the quests. But I'm getting ahead of myself...

You are a random colonist from a massive colony ship called Hope that was lost for decades before finally arriving at its destination. Everyone in suspended animation has outlived the safe window for being "thawed", but Phineas Welles, a former member of the Halcyon Colony corporate board and scientist of questionable sanity, has figured out how to restore you without your body turning into a protein puddle. Halcyon Colony corporate board? Oh right, a bunch of Earth corporations formed a board to take ownership of a remote system for colonization. While Halcyon is technically a colony of Earth, it is basically a corporate dystopia, which is why even after arriving at Halcyon, the Hope continued to be left adrift with no real attempts to recover the colonists or reveal the Hope's fate to the public. But now you have been restored, and Welles wants to restore the other colonists, too, but he ran out of the key supplies in the testing that lead to successfully restoring you. He wants you to sally forth and find the resources he needs, all the while dodging the board that denied his official attempts to restore the lost colonists and drove him to defect and go into hiding. As you will soon discover, there is some necessary urgency to restoring the Hope colonists.

When you start playing the game it feels a WHOLE lot like Fallout: New Vegas In Space, and it's pretty clear that was the goal. Two of the creators of the original Fallout are involved (Tim Cain and Leonard Boyarsky), and the mood and writing capture the same mix of silliness, black humor, and seriousness that the original Fallout did, while the mechanical feel of the game is more of a hybrid of the feel of modern Bethesda games and Mass Effect.

This game is a first-person action RPG, much like Mass Effect or Bethesda fare. You have a character who levels up and can spend points on skills and, occasionally, perks (your companions have perks, too!) There are both guns and melee weapons to suit your play style. Combat is real-time except that, as a quirk of your defrosting, you have a limited form of bullet-time. In addition to the main quest, which can play out in a number of different ways, there are many faction quests and side quests, and you can generate positive and negative influence with the various factions in the game. Gun play feels pretty good, for the most part: more Fallout 4 or midway between Mass Effect 1 and 2 than, say, Fallout 3 or New Vegas. There's still a junk-collector's inventory economy but with better sorting tools (mostly). There is also the problem of half a dozen or more consumable items that have the same effect, just with slightly different durations (if even that). So when you want a particular bonus or effect, you have to play "dig around in the inventory screen" for a few minutes unless you've been pretty meticulous about staying on top of it.

Thankfully, the moment-to-moment combat and exploration feels pretty good. I went all guns all the time and left melee to my companions, and despite using console thumbsticks things went decently well. No way I'd play in survivalist mode on console, though, that's for sure. The power curve feels pretty good and on the default difficulty the game is only really hard if you aren't prepared or do something dumb. If you want to make the game more challenging the difficulty options are there, but if you're playing on console with a pad you'll probably want to take it easier.

The worlds of the Halcyon Colony are retro-futurist and in decline or decay. The colonies are littered with vending machines that sell packaged goods and weapons and armor, all company branded of course. Each different company has a jingle sung by the same people in similar styles, and the weapons and products can be very similar, clearly hinting that even though there are different companies, they operate largely as a monolithic entity as governed by the board. Later bits of the game cement this. The general setting is good and the writing is fantastic, especially the character writing and dialogue. You will interact with a variety of characters, all voiced, some uniquely despite not having any meaningful story role, and even take on up to 6 companions, 2 of whom may travel with you at any time. Just like New Vegas, each character has a quest that is pivotal to them, and they have lots of dialogue with you, with each other, and even interjecting into interactions with major NPCs. All the major characters feel quite interesting and distinct.

So while the mechanics and setting are good and the writing is great, this game does have its share of problems. I already hinted at the potential for item clutter, but there are other issues as well. There is the aesthetic: I don't completely understand the role of the retro-futuristic aesthetic here. It doesn't do much for the game. This could just as easily have been a more mundane representation of the future. Yes, the aesthetic does stand out from other sci-fi future games (Star Wars, Mass Effect, etc.), but it doesn't stand out much from Fallout, and I think that's the major comparison point. Another problem is the small size of the colonial areas. The very first area of the game, Edgewater, is a small, circular, hemmed-in space. It feels very cramped. Even when you open up other areas of the game you travel to them in your ship instead of trudging on foot. They feel smaller, much smaller at times, than Bethesda Fallout's locations. And even though there were some small Mass Effect locations, Mass Effect had a lot more of them. There's not a lot of wilderness to wander and not a ton of places to visit. Even the content is packed into the real estate that's there. It's not uncommon to find a band of marauders just a few steps outside the town walls and within spitting distance of some monsters that should have found them by now and be tearing them to shreds. Everything just feels cramped and stacked on top of each other. This is a game with a rather small world, despite the interplanetary scale. Another issue is that there isn't a lot of subtlety in the conflict between the corporate board and other agents in the game. Not that Obsidian is necessarily known for subtlety, but the cackling incompetent brand of evil that is the corporations means that the core conflict of the game can feel a little trite at times, despite the quality of the dialogue and writing. There are also some places where it feels like maybe they left room or hooks in the story for more content and just didn't manage to fully flesh it out in time, so maybe a particular quest might feel a tad abrupt or won't have the same amount of options associated with it as would be expected. Finally, there's the lack of variety in monster to fight. There are effectively only 5 different kinds of monsters, with a few variants among them. They start to feel overused. Then there's a couple variants of automechanicals and human opponents of various stripes. Also, where are all these marauders coming from? Once you learn about the REAL threat to the colonies it starts to make no sense there would be so many of them.

Finally, since I played this on Switch, there are some Switch-specific problems. This game, at release, had massive performance issues. A patch in October cleaned a lot of it up, but the game does still sometimes drop in frame rate quite a bit. There haven't been any areas where I found things simply unplayable, however, so that's an improvement over reports of the initial release. The initial release also had issues with really slow texture loading and pop-in. This patch has retooled a lot of the assets and turned down the special effects, flattening effects into lower-quality textures. Getting up close to things isn't always pretty, but it works and is playable. And many things still look rather nice, especially at a distance. Loading between saves and transition points can be a long wait on Switch. Especially in the late game where in order to complete the last few minor quests you have to do a lot of location hopping to perform final tasks, you'll find yourself spending as much time in loading screens as actually playing. Thankfully the game is fairly stable: there's very little accidental geometry clipping and I only experienced 1 crash, which for this kind of game, especially by Oblivion, feels akin to a miracle. On the whole the game is eminently playable, despite the Switch version being the clearly inferior version.

Spoilered because hold crap I wrote a lot.

This game is highly recommended, despite some drawbacks. It is doubly recommended for fans of Fallout and Mass Effect. If you have a different platform, play it there. But if Switch is your only practical option, don't be afraid to bite. It won't hurt a bit (except maybe the loading times).
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Note
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Re: Games Beaten 2021

by Note Tue Feb 09, 2021 12:11 am

1. Golden Axe II (GEN)
2. Time Crisis [Special Mode] (PS1)
3. Streets of Rage (GEN)
4. Time Crisis: Project Titan (PS1)
5. Rayman Origins (360)

Image

6. Borderlands (360)

After putting a ton of hours into Diablo III and the Left 4 Dead games the past two years, my partner and I were looking for another extensive co-op game to sink our teeth into. I heard good things about the Borderlands games and figured we should give it a try, especially at the current asking prices on the 360. I totally missed out on it upon release, but after seeing the graphical style and finding out it was a loot based game, I thought it's something we would both be really into. I chose the hunter class and my partner went with the siren class. We were totally hooked on the game after the first play session.

Graphic wise, I really like the art style for this game. It's very smooth and looks almost cel-shaded. It's aged extremely well and still holds up. The user interface is clear and easy to use, and the developers did a good job transitioning it to couch co-op. It's also awesome to see the amount of details in the visuals for the weapons in this game. There are so many different weapons and a lot of them have a unique look. The music is mostly ambient, but when enemies are on the horizon the tunes transition to something more dramatic, which gives you the heads up to prepare for a battle.

The gameplay is where this title shines. The first-person based combat combined with the loot aspect got us totally hooked. I found the combat to be more fun than some of the other titles we've played through together on the console. With my character being a hunter, it was awesome to use the level tree towards building up my bird and sniper abilities. I was always on the lookout for sniper rifles and revolvers, and ended up using an elemental sniper rifle with incendiary abilities towards the end of the game. My partner enjoyed every gun type there was except for sniper rifles, so she was always changing her character's equipped weaponry up. Lol. The side missions to save the claptraps to upgrade your inventory slot numbers is also an aspect we enjoyed. We always had our ears open for a whining claptrap and put our current mission on hold whenever we found one.

My only complaint is that I wish I could have mapped a hotkey for using a healing kit. With my class being hunter, my character did not have any healing abilities until later in the game. It was a pain to navigate through the inventory screen to use a healing kit, and potentially continue to take damage or even get killed during combat. My partner didn't have this issue as her class had a healing ability from the get-go. This issue began to plague me again towards the end of the game, when we were up against some more difficult bosses, and we had even larger inventories after the numerous backpack upgrades.

We ended up finishing the game with our characters at around level 35, and were relieved to take out the final boss but also kinda sad to see the credits roll. We had a total blast playing Borderlands, and think that anyone who is a fan of loot-based action RPGs will really enjoy this one. We have the sequel on hand but will most likely wait until later in the year to give it a go, as we have some different co-op titles on both the 360 and Switch we'd like to get through first before delving into the sequel. For anyone that hasn't tried this title out yet, it's highly recommended!
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Gunstar Green
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Re: Games Beaten 2021

by Gunstar Green Tue Feb 09, 2021 6:31 pm

SUPERHOT

I decided to look through all the free games I've acquired over time on the Epic Store, looking for something short and sweet and SUPERHOT stood out as something I'd really been meaning to play but just never felt like it.

SUPERHOT as most people probably already know is a first person shooter where time only moves when you move in a highly stylized world of white textureless polygons, fighting against crystalline red guys. It's a novel take on the genre that takes some getting used to especially for someone like me who prefers my FPS games fast and furious so forcing myself to slow down and take my time took a bit of doing. It does become more fluid as you go along. The action almost has a bit of a puzzle-solving element to it, though I wouldn't go as far to call it a puzzle game. Once you beat a level you get to see everything you did in real time and it usually looks very badass. This makes beating the levels extremely satisfying.

The story is very meta and it tries to mess with you in a bit of a commentary on free will and the lack of agency that you truly have within the world of video games. You're at the mercy of the developer which in the case of the story is something quite ominous and ultimately extremely nefarious. It's not done poorly by any means and I'm sure the right person will really dig the story but for me it just got in the way of the action and slowed things down. Thankfully once you beat the story you unlock an endless mode which is really what I wanted out of SUPERHOT the most. Like I said the narrative is interesting in what it tries to do and how it executes it in a way that only a video game can, but I "got the joke" in a manner of speaking early on and just wanted it out of my way so I could get to the next level.

I do highly recommend this one though. It's a unique and satisfying gameplay experience. The story is only an hour or two long and I can see myself coming back for the endless mode frequently in the future.

Untitled Geese Game

Not a whole lot to say here. I beat the memed-to-death Goose Game when it first came out and got my significant other to play through this co-op update. It's still the same fun and infinitely charming time going through the game as a mischievous goose, only this time with another mischievous goose by your side which makes it twice as good. Since it's the same game exact game as the single player one this does sort of trivialize most of its challenges, but that only serves to make the co-op experience more laid back and entertaining. We went through the main game and all the extras and had a great time doing it.

Mega Turrican (Turrican Flashback on Nintendo Switch)

Now that the Switch version of Turrican Flashback has been patched and the two console entries actually work without crashing, I blitzed through Mega Turrican. It's a game I've beaten before on original hardware and as far as I can tell the conversion here is flawless and it's perhaps even better than the Genesis original since actions that once took multi-button presses are now mapped to their own buttons. It's not a significant change but it is a welcome one.

Mega Turrican, also known as the slightly inferior Turrican 3: Payment Day on the Amiga, seems to be either people's least favorite or most favorite game in the series. I always lacked the context of the first two games and just knew it as a very solid run 'n gun on the Genesis, perhaps even one of the best of its genre for the console. Even if it didn't quite reach the heights of say, Contra Hard Corps. or Gunstar Heroes it had its own specific feel to it.

The first most obvious change is the graphical fidelity. Levels are replete with more detailed sprite art, several layers of parallax scrolling at times, and all-around more impressive backgrounds and level tilesets. Chris Huelsbeck is back yet again and he rocks the Genesis sound chip as expertly as he did on the Amiga.

The next biggest change is the level structure itself as most levels are far smaller and simpler in design than the original two games. That's not to say that exploring has been eliminated completely. While there are a few levels that are straight left-to-right affairs (let's be fair the original games had some linear and forced scrolling levels, it wasn't ALL large labyrinths) most levels still have detours and secret areas for you to seek out gems and extra lives just like the old games. The levels just don't reach the level of vastness or complexity except for... well we'll get there.

The gameplay itself has been modified to be more in-line with what's expected for games on an early 90's Japanese console. You now have invincibility frames and knockback when you get hit and your arsenal, which was already simplified in Turrican 2, is even further simplified here. The "power lines" series staple is replaced here with a more generic smart bomb attack and perhaps even more importantly the iconic 360 degree lightning gun/laser whip has been replaced with a grappling hook and despite the level and boss design never really requiring you have such an attack you really do feel it missing especially in the later levels with loads of dangerous enemies positioned above you. They do try to mitigate this a bit with a homing missile power up that combines with your normal shot but it's not very powerful. Your wheel mode works the same as Turrican 2 except you can now only use it for a limited time per level to counter how broken it was in Turrican 2. The main problem with this is unless I missed it there's no indicator on the screen that shows you how much wheel time you have left. The rest of your arsenal remains unchanged from Turrican 2 except that the bounce shot is less chaotic and shoots large bullets that climb walls and follow along the ceiling and floor instead. It has its uses but overall I feel like it's an inferior weapon.

It might sound like you've been heavily nerfed from the prior games, but because of invincibility frames and tighter level design the game is easier overall and a lot more approachable for console gamers. There is some tricky platforming, but the grappling hook helps to trivialize the worst bits. Some people seem to have issues with the grapple but I thought it worked really well once you understand its quirks.

And then you get to the goddamned xenomorph ripoff levels which at this point is as much a tradition in Turrican as the stupid teleporter hatches in Mega Man and it's honsetly just as annoying. Here Mega Turrican finally gives you large levels to explore but you don't actually want to explore them because of how frustrating the enemies and the platforming are here. Thankfully there are helpful arrows in the tricky parts to guide you through if you just want to run through the level and not find yourself lost and eaten alive by face huggers, but it's still a difficulty spike. There's also a forced scrolling part here that will almost certainly kill you the first time due to the questionable timing of an obstacle and the franchise's newly discovered love of knock-back.

One of the things that does stand out is how Turrican 1 and 2 felt like a contiguous journey throughout a single planet (especially Turrican 1) while Mega Turrican feels more like a video-gamey collection of themed levels. It's not bad necessarily, but it is different. The standout level for me, despite its relative linearity, is the junk yard which starts with a cool platforming segment in the sky above and then makes you fight several bosses from the previous games, a little worse for ware since you'd already trashed them and they're now residing among the rest of the junk. It's cute fanservice especially for a game that wraps up a trilogy. The bosses are about the same quality as Turrican 2, not standout in any way but relatively memorable and decently designed. The final boss, a confrontation with "The Machine" from the previous game's opening, was pretty challenging but I'd acquired so many lives from secret hunting at this point that it's simple to just brute force a victory.

Mega Turrican is an excellent game that at its core still feels like a Turrican game. But as the first game without Manfred Trenz's involvement and the absence of some series staples I can see why some series fans really don't feel this one and why Turrican 2 is held up as the series' champion and definitive "Turrican" experience. From a design standpoint I think Mega Turrican is a superior game overall but it doesn't quite bring the unique flavor to the table that its predecessors do. It's definitely far more palatable to console gamer sensibilities and as that was likely their goal I think they did an outstanding job of bringing the franchise to the Sega Genesis. For me there are some things I liked more about Turrican 2 and some things I like more about this game.
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PartridgeSenpai
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Re: Games Beaten 2021

by PartridgeSenpai Thu Feb 11, 2021 12:48 am

Partridge Senpai's 2021 Beaten Games:
Previously: 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
* indicates a repeat

1. Atelier Rorona: The Alchemist of Arland (PS3)
2. Portal 2 (PC) *
3. Atelier Judie: The Alchemist of Gramnad (PS2)
4. Pipo Saru 2001 (PS2)
5. Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon (N64)
6. Atelier Viorate: The Alchemist of Gramnad 2 (PS2)
7. Kirby's Dream Land 3 (SFC)
8. The Legend of Mystical Ninja (SFC)
9. Atelier Marie: The Alchemist of Salburg (PS1)
10. Ganbare Goemon 2 (SFC)
11. Paper Mario: Origami King (Switch)

12. Star Fox 64 (N64) *

This is a game I've owned since I was little but sold before I moved to Japan. While I have beaten it before, it's got a lot of nostalgic value for me, so I picked up this Japanese copy before too long, but only just got around to playing through it. I played through it twice by myself and then twice on stream on Twitch, and it was twice through the normal ending and twice through the harder ending. I wasn't sure if I wanted to write a review for it, but since I not only haven't written one before but also wanted to comment on changes between the English and Japanese versions, I felt one was warranted. I actually managed to get onto the high score table of my own second-hand cartridge, so I call that beating it enough for me (got a very respectable 1138 points~).

Star Fox 64, like the SNES original, is a rail shooter where you play as the titular Fox McCloud. Years ago, the evil Dr. Andross (or "Andolf", as he's hilariously called in Japanese XD), threatened the Lylat system with destruction, but he was thwarted by the actions of Fox's father. However, Fox's father was betrayed by Pigma, one of his companions, and didn't make it out alive. Now that Andross once again threatens the safety of the system, Fox has taken up his father's mantel with his mercenary group Star Fox to take down this threat. It's a fine story that sets up the stakes in a good way and the way the characters banter back and forth during missions (between both friend and foe) is really entertaining and memorable.

The Japanese script is more or less pretty similar content-wise to the English version, but the tone is quite different in the slight deviations and especially the delivery. Where the English version is very silly and campy from start to end, the Japanese version is played much more straight and has moments of silliness in it. It can even get quite dark, with at one point Pigma taunting "Your daddy's waiting for you in hell!" (with the much deeper voice he has in Japanese). I don't really think it works as well as the English version does, but it does go a long way to explain the darker tones in later Star Fox games like Command and Assault. One last weird note is that the audio quality on the VA seems significantly less good in Japanese than it is in English, which is a shame, as this VA IS good, but it's just overall not quite as good a package as what the localization would become.

The game itself is a series of 7 missions where you always start on Corneria and end on one of two possible versions of Venom (the normal one or the harder, true ending one), and there are 25 possible paths to take between the stages. Most of the stages have two possible ways to complete them, with one normal route and one secret route, with the secret routes generally leading to levels that give more points but are more difficult (and lead to the true ending fight).

As a rail shooter it's super solid and well-remembered for a reason. Damn near everyone reading this likely knows just what Star Fox 64 already is and is like, so I'll be light on the details of the actual combat. You fly around collecting rings for health (or even health extensions), powerups to increase the power of your main fire, bombs to fire in emergencies, and even repair tokens to repair your wings if they get slammed off. You've gotta shoot all the enemies you can for a high score (and you know, not to die), and you can even use charged normal shots to kill several enemies at once for extra points~. Just be careful not to shoot down your companions! The bosses are super fun and challenging, and while most are in the 3rd person rail shooter sort of style most of the rest of the game is in, a handful of bosses (and even levels) are in an "all range mode" where you fly around a set map and dog fight with enemy fighters. Some levels don't have you in your spaceship at all, and you're in the land-bound Landmaster or the underwater submarine. Not all levels are made equal, but damn if they aren't super solid as a rule, and trying to get higher scores and different routes means that the fun you can have extends far beyond just getting the best ending.

Verdict: Highly recommended. This verdict likely comes as no surprise. Y'all already know this is a great game, and I'm not here to contest that. It's a game I definitely prefer in English, but its quirks in Japanese are still very interesting and I'm glad I saw what the game has to offer in the differences present in the original.
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prfsnl_gmr
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Re: Games Beaten 2021

by prfsnl_gmr Thu Feb 11, 2021 1:26 am

1. Horace (Switch)
2. Ghostrunner (Switch)
3. Mickey’s Adventure in Numberland (NES)
4. Mickey’s Safari in Letterland (NES)
5. Castle of Illusion starring Mickey Mouse (Genesis)
6. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess Picross (3DS)
7. World of Illusion starring Mickey & Donald (Genesis)
8. Castle of Illusion starring Mickey Mouse (Game Gear)
9. Land of Illusion starring Mickey Mouse (Game Gear)
10. Legend of Illusion starring Mickey Mouse (Game Gear)


More Mickey Mouse games for this month’s TR! I’m having a lot of fun with these, and I hope more of you will consider participating.
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