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MrPopo
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Re: Games Beaten 2021

by MrPopo Sun Mar 07, 2021 5:50 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
10. Bomberman '93 - TG-16
11. Cannon Fodder - PC
12. Panzer Dragoon II Zwei - Saturn
13. Dragonborne - Game Boy
14. Rock n' Roll Racing - PC
15. The Lost Vikings - PC
16. Blackthorne - PC
17. Contra III: The Alien Wars - SNES
18. Bravely Default II - Switch

Bravely Default II is a Final Fantasy-style sequel to the original; while there are no story connections there are a bunch of mechanical and thematic connections. Given that the series is a love letter to Final Fantasy V this seems quite appropriate. It will be immediately familiar to anyone who's played the previous games, but there are enough changes that you will be experiencing a fresh game.

The story is your standard "we must stop an all consuming evil with the power of four crystals" plot, and it even takes specific beats from Final Fantasy V (your party members each gain the power of a single crystal, and it even matches up the character types with each crystal). What makes the story engaging is all the small character details in both the main narrative and all the side content (quests and party chat). Each of your characters, as well as most named NPCs, are fully realized and multi-faceted. That's what will keep you going when you can probably call out the main plotline beats as they happen.

On the gameplay side it continues using the job system of the previous games, where you have a primary job which sets stats and weapon proficiencies and a secondary job that lets you dip into that job's moveset in addition to your primary's. And you once again have a series of unlockable passives that you can use to further customize your party. The jobs have been rebalanced, so while you have all the familiar types they have shifted around some specific abilities and rebalanced them so you have to work a little harder to break the game over your knee. But you can still break the game over your knee as you get further on and start getting into deeper synergies.

The main change comes in the combat. While the previous games were straight turn based with turns executing based on your speed, now we have an ATB system in wait mode. So your turn comes up based on your speed, at which point time stops until you decide on a command. This means that slower characters will get fewer turns over time than faster characters. The game speeds things up compared to traditional ATB by having the game fast forward the bar filling in between turns. You still have the trademark system of being able to store up turns and then unleash multiple moves at a time, and knowing when to push your luck is essential. Bosses now have an extensive system of counterattacks triggered off of various things you do (at a percentage chance). A boss might counter you healing by trying to silence the healer, while countering magic damage with a physical attack. At the start of a fight the boss might not have any counters enabled, but as things drag on they start to respond to more and more of what you're doing, requiring you to adjust your tactics on the fly and potentially use jobs you wouldn't have otherwise. For most of the game you can't just coast on a handful of jobs you like.

The game also includes a minigame which is essentially Othello as a card battler. The basic mechanic of flipping enemy squares if you sandwich a line between two of your pieces is there, so controlling corners and edges is vital. But the card battler comes in because the pieces you play aren't just the key piece, but also additional squares can either place or erase enemy squares. And on top of that many cards have secondary effects that further affect the game. It's initially used to get an optional job, and then if you complete your card collection you do get an accessory reward, though the reward is not super necessary by that point in the game. Still, it's quite fun.

Overall Bravely Default II is a strong sequel that gives you all the good points of the original while updating the systems for a bit more balance and to keep the player on their toes. I highly recommend it for all JRPG fans.
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Re: Games Beaten 2021

by ElkinFencer10 Sun Mar 07, 2021 10:37 pm

Games Beaten in 2021 - 19
* denotes a replay

January (12 Games Beaten)
1. God of War - PlayStation 3 - January 1
2. God of War II - PlayStation 3 - January 2
3. God of War: Chains of Olympus - PlayStation 3 - January 3
4. God of War: Ghost of Sparta - PlayStation 3 - January 4
5. God of War III - PlayStation 4 - January 6
6. God of War: Ascension - PlayStation 3 - January 9
7. God of War [2018] - PlayStation 4 - January 16
8. Epic Dumpster Bear 2: He Who Bears Wins - PlayStation 4 - January 16
9. God of War: Betrayal - Mobile - January 17
10. Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit - Switch - January 18
11. Muv-Luv photonflowers* - Steam - January 22
12. Muv-Luv photonmelodies♮ - Steam - January 27


February (5 Games Beaten)
13. Gun Gun Pixies - Switch - February 1
14. Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel - PS4 - February 8*
15. Pantsu Hunter: Back to the 90s - Vita - February 13
16. Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II - PS4 - February 17*
17. Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky - Steam - February 23


March (2 Games Beaten)
18. Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky SC - Steam - March 4
19. Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky 3rd - Steam - March 7


19. Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky 3rd - Steam - March 7

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If you read my reviews of Trails in the Sky and Trails in the Sky SC, then most of what I have to say about Trails in the Sky 3rd is going to sound pretty familiar. Those three games all look, sound, and play virtually identically, so the only real distinction between the three games is the story, the characters, a handful of extremely minor tweaks to gameplay mechanics.

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3rd takes place about six months or so after the events of SC and focuses around Father Kevin Graham and his squire, Sister Ries. While the focus may be on Kevin and Ries, all of the major characters from the previous two games return here; by the end of the game, you have a whopping sixteen playable characters. Your party is still limited to four characters, but you do have the option of setting a "support" character that can give passive buffs. What passive buffs you're given depends on the character you select as your support. As far as game mechanics go, that's really the only major change from SC other than a quick travel option. There are a couple minigames, but they're honestly super forgettable.

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Popo described Trails in the Sky 3rd as feeling like "post-game DLC for SC" before I started it; having finished 3rd, I can absolutely agree with that. It doesn't really expand on much of the overarching story from the two previous games so much as just add a little detail to a couple things here and there and flesh out the characters' backstories a bit. Some of these backstories are fantastic; the look at Estelle's and Joshua's lives right after Cassius adopted Joshua and the background for Kevin were super interesting. Seeing Renne's past filled out was a brilliant albeit sad and disturbing little side story. Some of them, though, were frankly kind of boring. Kloe had a pretty lengthy side story, and I was honestly so bored during it that I couldn't keep my focus. I ended up spending as much time scrolling through Facebook on my phone as I did actually doing the story. Most of them were at least moderately interesting, though.

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Without giving away story spoilers, I'm honestly not sure what more I could say about it. Because of how the story is set up, it felt a lot harder to get mira than in the two previous games, although part of that impression could be because of how many playable characters I ended up needing to upgrade armor and weapons for. The game takes place in a sort of "pocket dimension" of sorts away from the normal world, so it felt a lot more empty and isolated given the lack of NPCs to populate the world. That's not a negative per se, but I personally thought it felt a bit lonely. Between the lack of NPCs, the lack of grandiose feeling with the story that the two previous games had, and the fact that the game is around 10 to 15 hours shorter than the two previous games, it overall just felt like a step down in quality to me.

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Trails in the Sky 3rd is by no means a bad game. On the contrary, it's a very competent RPG with well written characters and an interesting scenario. The biggest problem the game has is honestly is pedigree; the game is good, but the two that came before it are just so much better. Judged own its own merits in a vacuum, it's a solid JRPG, but when played and considered in context to the first two parts of this trilogy, it comes out just feeling kind of okay. I absolutely recommend playing it if you've played the first two Trails in the Sky games, and if you're planning on playing Trails of Cold Steel, I definitely recommend playing through the whole Skies trilogy; having played the first two Cold Steel games, there are a lot of allusions and references made to the Skies games that I didn't notice during my playthroughs of Cold Steel 1 and 2 but really appreciate in hindsight. Just don't expect Skies 3rd to be as good as Skies or Skies SC. It's good, but it's definitely the bronze medalist of that trilogy.
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Re: Games Beaten 2021

by CFFJR Sun Mar 07, 2021 10:45 pm

Elkin, are you planning to play Zero and Azure?

I'm partway through Sky 3rd right now, after playing Sky FC & SC in January.
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Re: Games Beaten 2021

by Flake Mon Mar 08, 2021 10:35 am

January Thru February:
January
Thirteen Sentinels: Aegis Rim (PS4)
Dark Stalkers Chronicle: The Chaos Tower (PSTV)

February

Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo HD Remix (PS3)
Metroid Prime (Wii)
King of Fighters 14 (PS4)
King of Fighters 2002: Ultimate Match (PS4)
Splatoon 2 (Switch)
Super Mario 3D World (Switch)


March

Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker (Switch)
Bowser's Fury (Switch)

What even is Bowser's Fury? Nintendo could easily have gotten away with not adding anything special to 3D World's re-release. Or they could have just put in the 3D World centric Captain Toad levels as a bonus (those got removed from the Switch Release for some reason) but instead, they release this short Mario game that could easily have been developed into its own thing complete with unique power ups, updated enemy designs, cats, and a ton of fun gimmicks.

Bowser's Fury is based on 3D World's engine but has a gameplay style that is more like Mario Galaxy or Mario 64, complete with endless references to Mario Sunshine. It's an open world game kind of like a massive Mario Odyssey level but with fantastic sign-posting and more freedom of movement. The only complaint I really have is that this should have been more completely developed and made into its own full title. It'd have to be re-worked a bit to keep the Fury Bowser segments from being over-used and more playable characters would be needed. I don't know - Bowser's Fury is as great as it is bizarre. I'm not sure why it exists but I am glad it does.

Also - my prediction: Bowser's Fury will absolutely be released as a stand-alone eShop title before 2021 is up. I'll go even further: It will be announced at the same time Mario Galaxy 2 for eShop is announced.
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Re: Games Beaten 2021

by PartridgeSenpai Tue Mar 09, 2021 3:50 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) *
13. Super Paper Mario (Wii) *
14. Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door (GC) *
15. Demon's Crest (SNES)
16. Cathedral (Switch)
17. Super Mario 3D World (Switch) *
18. Bowser's Fury (Switch)
19. Rogue Heroes: Ruins of Tasos (Switch)

20. moon (Switch)

Released in 1997 on the PS1 only in Japan, moon: Remix RPG Adventure was one of the few cult classics released by the tiny company of ex-Square employees known as Love De Lic. Veterans of that company would go many directions, but some of the creative heads went on to form Skip Ltd. (makers of games like Chibi-Robo) or to make games like Rule of Rose and Chulip. A close friend of mine played through Chulip last year and loved it, and when I saw that this new, weird Switch game simply called "moon" had ties to it, I had to see what the fuss was about. This month's Together Retro theme offered the perfect opportunity to finally sit down and play it, and I'm really glad that I finally did. Many reviews describe moon as some "anti-RPG", which I get, in a sense, but it's really just an adventure game, and a damn good one. It took me around 15-ish hours to complete the game in English.

moon tells the story of a little boy up late at night playing his new video game, "moon". He's a valiant knight going through a Dragon Quest-style RPG, and you get a few perspectives from various "save points" of the Hero's journey through this land to slay the Dragon and rescue the moonlight. Then, just as you slay the Dragon, your mother tells you to turn the game off and go to bed, which you do. However, the TV suddenly turns back on, and when you go to inspect it, you're sucked into the television and dropped into a world that looks uncannily familiar. You're invisible at first, and can only hear conversations, but eventually an elderly woman who has recently lost her grandchild mistakes you for him and gives you his set of clothes to wear (hence the little invisible fellow on the front of the game's cover).

From the way the townspeople speak, it seems that you're at the start of the game, and the Hero hasn't even set out on his quest yet. However, once you set out around town, you realize that not everything was as it seemed when you were originally playing it. The wild, stray dog you fought at the start of the game is revealed to have been a totally ordinary dog the Hero just thought was some sort of monster to chase. This begins your introduction to the game's main premise, which is following along after the Hero to try and clean up the messes he makes and also to save the world in your own way through love.

Upon your first night sleeping, you're visited in your dream by the God of Love, who informs you that the only way to combat the Hero's misguided quest is to gather enough love. The gathering of love is the main core of the game, and it takes various forms. It takes place both in the form of helping people with their problems, and also bringing back to life all of the animals (monsters really, but the game quite purposefully calls them animals) that the Hero has slayed in his quest to level up and get stronger. There's the wider quest of saving the world, and then these smaller puzzles to save animals (hints to them are given when you inspect their corpses), and it all flows together to make a really solid adventure game with barely any (excuse the pun) moon logic.

Most importantly, however, collecting love upgrades your love level, and your love level extends the time you can stay awake. Several puzzles, particularly the penultimate one, weigh on your ability to stay awake for a very long time, so getting to love level 22 or so is effectively the end goal of your quest from a purely mechanical standpoint. Eating food extends the time you're awake a bit, but money is a resource you'll either need to grind for with fishing (which can't be done immediately, at least) or is quite limited with the rewards you get for saving animals. If you don't sleep before you run out your action limit, you're dead and you have to go back to the last time you slept.

Once you're able to stay awake for days at a time, forgetting to sleep could end up meaning you've lost a lot of progress, so it's good to keep an eye on the clock in the upper left of the screen. You get used to this mechanic quite quickly, although compared to games like Chibi-Robo and other offshoots of this dev team, an outright game over is a pretty brutal punishment for staying out too late, and it's something to be aware of going in. There's no larger time limit to complete the game within (and your ending doesn't weigh on how much time you take either), but it takes a little getting used to.

moon's writing is definitely its highlight, as one would expect for an adventure game. It's setting is certainly unconventional, being a strange mix of Western fantasy and modern technology, but the relatively small game world is one you'll grow intimate with fairly quickly. The characters are all unique and quirky in their own ways, and have their own schedules they follow on each of the seven days of the week. The localization is honestly amazing, and I'm kinda glad it took 20 years to get this game localized because it probably would've been much worse had it come out in English back in the 90's.

moon's ultimate message can definitely come off as one that is a bit disparaging of video games and the time spent playing them, but I don't really see it that way. I see moon much more as a message not to the people who play games so much as to the people who make them. That games don't need to be all about violence and killing to be satisfying, and games can (and perhaps should, depending on how far you wanna take the conclusion) be about more than that. moon is an "anti-RPG" in how it decides to pose this question to the player through the lens of a typical RPG turned on its head, and it's a really cleverly put together bit of commentary.

The writing of the game is bolstered by its presentation. There isn't a ton of music in moon, but that's because the game actually has its own in-built music player for MD (mini-discs, I assume?) you can buy starting fairly early in the game. What music is there, however, is quite good. The graphical style is a mixture of detailed 2D models for the human characters (usually) and claymation-style digitized sprites for basically all of the "animals", walking around pre-rendered 2D locations. It makes for a very varied but still cohesive style that will likely be at least somewhat familiar to those familiar with something like Chibi-Robo (a game I use as an example so often since it's the product of Love De Lic's alumni that would be most familiar to Westerners ^^;).

Even the sound design is fascinatingly unique in how it uses clips of actual language cut together to make the voices of its NPCs, with different NPCs often speaking in different languages from any other character (me and my friends were able to pick out English, Japanese, Arabic, Polish, French, and German, but there were plenty we couldn't identify), and makes even talking to NPCs feel like a memorable experience in how uncanny it can feel to hear your own language distorted in such an odd fashion while trying to read the subs that contain their actual dialogue.

Verdict: Highly Recommended. This is an adventure game that is a must-play for any fans of the genre. I was surprised to see that this 2020 port is actually not available on anything but Switch, making it a pretty stellar cult classic of an exclusive for Nintendo. It's well worth the asking price of 20 bucks and is honestly one of my new favorite games. If you've played things like Chulip or Chibi-Robo and want more games with that sort of oddball style and unconventional approach to gameplay and storytelling, then you are likely going to adore moon, and should absolutely give it a look.
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PartridgeSenpai
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Re: Games Beaten 2021

by PartridgeSenpai Tue Mar 09, 2021 4:18 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) *
13. Super Paper Mario (Wii) *
14. Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door (GC) *
15. Demon's Crest (SNES)
16. Cathedral (Switch)
17. Super Mario 3D World (Switch) *
18. Bowser's Fury (Switch)
19. Rogue Heroes: Ruins of Tasos (Switch)
20. moon (Switch)

21. Casltevania 64 (N64)

After playing through Mystical Ninja on N64 a while back, I was intrigued to finally try to play the other big (and infamous) N64 Konami game I'd never beaten before. While I have beaten Castlevania: Legacy of Darkness on the N64, I'd never tried the game it's so largely based off of. I thought this would be a fun thing to stream, and I played the Japanese version over two different streams over the course of around 6 hours playing as Reinhardt on normal mode (and even got the good ending on my first try, not even realizing there was a good ending to shoot for ^^;)~. This game has a pretty negative reputation, and I'd say my time with it largely confirmed for me that it deserves that reputation XD. While I think that streaming it definitely made the more frustrating parts more tolerable, it's still not something I think I'll ever wanna play again XP

The game takes place in 1852, and Dracula has begun to awaken after nearly 100 years since he was last defeated. The two playable protagonists (whose quests don't overlap at all, so I take it to mean that only one of them actually defeats Dracula in the end), Reinhardt Schneider and Carrie Fernandez both travel to Wallachia to go to Dracula's castle and put him to rest. They meet a series of other characters along the way, including an older vampire hunter, a beautiful young vampiric maiden, and a strange little boy, but the story isn't terribly interesting. It's very of its time as far as trying to be cinematic in its presentation, but mostly comes off as campy and silly, which fits Castlevania just fine, so I don't see it as much of a problem. It does what it needs to to bind the stages together, and it's good enough for that.

The gameplay itself is where the bad (and deserved) reputation starts coming into play. The game takes place across 10 or so stages with certain stages or versions of stages being unique to each of the two playable characters. You go around 3D environments solving puzzles, doing platforming challenges, fighting enemies, and collecting items to get to the end of the stage where a boss often awaits. This is a game with some pretty dang clunky platforming and combat that is wall-to-wall platforming and combat. It can be conquered, but it's overall a challenge that will frustrate more than it will feel like a fun level of challenge.

The combat is a combination of an upgradable main weapon (of which Carrie has the better between the two heroes), a much weaker secondary weapon, and then the ammo-dependent sub-weapons like the cross and axe that Castlevania knows so well. The weaker secondary weapon is so weak you'd basically never want to use it for anything except breaking a torch to try and get an item from it, and the sub-weapons are good for the range but often annoyingly weak for what they are. The main weapon isn't much good unless its upgraded, but those aren't the big problem.

The biggest problems with the combat are the lack of any Ocarina of Time lock-on feature (and OoT was out by now, so Konami has no excuse XD) as well as the awful camera that comes along with it. The C-buttons are used for things like your secondary weapons, looking around, and picking up items, so they don't control your camera. Only pressing R realigns the camera behind you OR, if you have an enemy nearby, focuses on the enemy, and you have no choice but to focus on that enemy even if you'd much rather look somewhere else by pressing R. The lock-on that is there is entirely automatic, leading to a lot of cases fighting several enemies where it can be difficult just to hit what's in front of you. The boss design is overall alright and often fun, but the combat controls never feel like anything you aren't fighting against just as much as the monsters and demons.

The stage design is overall not awful, but what DOES make the platforming awful isn't just the awkward camera, but it's also the fact that your edge grab is awful and your jumps feel quite floaty. The jumps are something you can get accustomed to, but the fact that your edge grab, an edge grab that much of the platforming in the game relies on, can at times simply decide not to work and drop you to your death. And some stages have little or no save points in them (*shakes angry fist at Duel Tower*), so dying from something that wasn't your fault at all to then redo a bunch of frustrating combat and platforming is a pretty common experience.

The stage design itself ranges from annoying to feeling alright, but the one stage whose design is MOST awful is the most infamous one: the alchemy tower where you need to safely deliver magical nitro through a bunch of danger without either getting hit or jumping, lest you eat immediate death. I managed to do that in one try, somehow, (which felt AWESOME, especially on stream X3), but I didn't so much feel satisfied having done it, so much as I was only relieved that the segment I thought would be a playthrough ender was finally over and done with XP

The presentation is alright for the time in terms of graphics. The humanoid models look VERY N64, but in a sort of charming, low-polygon retro aesthetic and not a particularly uncanny valley-type of 3D human modeling. Common for Konami of the 90's, however, even their not so good games have good music, and this is no exception. This game has a pretty good soundtrack composed of remixed of classic tracks as well as a few of its own, and although I'm not gonna rush to slap any of it on an MP3 player, there were several moments during the game I thought "gosh, this game has some pretty good music". As far as changes between the English and Japanese releases go, there are almost none save for the Japanese version having on-cart saves rather than requiring a controller pack to save with. Additionally, a curious thing that is identical between versions is the voice acting, which is in English in both versions.

Verdict: Not Recommended. For an N64 game, this is on the boarder of being hesitantly recommended, and it would be if Legacy of Darkness weren't just this game but good. This game's main problems stem from it being so unpolished because it was rushed out for a holiday release. Legacy of Darkness takes what are for the most part the same stages and polishes up the level design (no more alchemy tower~), platforming controls, and combat all to a degree where that game is actually fun and recommendable. If you're gonna play any N64 Casltevania at all, it should be Legacy of Darkness or nothing, because after having already played that game, this game just feels like an unfinished beta, and that's because it basically is.
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Re: Games Beaten 2021

by MrPopo Wed Mar 10, 2021 1:23 am

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
10. Bomberman '93 - TG-16
11. Cannon Fodder - PC
12. Panzer Dragoon II Zwei - Saturn
13. Dragonborne - Game Boy
14. Rock n' Roll Racing - PC
15. The Lost Vikings - PC
16. Blackthorne - PC
17. Contra III: The Alien Wars - SNES
18. Bravely Default II - Switch
19. Axelay - SNES

Axelay is a shmup developed by a crew at Konami who would later form Treasure. The most notable thing about it is how much it uses Mode 7; fully half the game is in that faux 3D effect. This makes it pretty unique among shmups, and it's a pretty solid one overall. It's just long enough and has just the right difficulty that you need to learn the game to win but don't need to memorize like with R-Type.

As mentioned, the odd levels are Mode 7 while the even numbers are standard horizontal scrolling. The Mode 7 levels take a bit of time to get used to at first; enemies and shots do curve to match the horizon falloff, and it isn't always obvious what is terrain you fly over and what is terrain you need to job, as they are both on the background that is transformed by Mode 7. Both stages can extend beyond the visible portion of the screen; sometimes this is implemented as a screen wrap and sometimes it's just the ability to move further to dodge or take alternate paths.

Aside from the graphics the game is notable for its weapon system. There are no power-ups; instead you select a weapon for each of three categories at the start of a stage and can freely switch between them. Your base ship has a weak peashooter and a weak missile, each fired independently. Each of the selectable weapons will upgrade one or the other. At the start of the game you have a single choice for each bay, and as you progress through the stages you get more options available. One of the most interesting ones is available from the start; it's two automatic guns that start off firing behind you and sweeping across each side until firing offset from the front in each direction as long as you hold down the fire button. And when you release they will transition back to the rear. This gives you amazing amounts of coverage as you manipulate holding down and releasing the button, and is an all star.

The game has score extends and is balanced in such a way that you'll get approximately one life per boss kill, with another life or two in the final stage. When you die you also respawn in place and your death animation can take out enemies, so overall it's pretty forgiving. There's also a final mechanic to mention; if hit by an enemy bullet you lose your current weapon but keep playing. Only if you are hit while a "no weapon" is selected do you die, which effectively gives you four health. However, collisions are instant death, which makes enemy missiles deadly.

Overall Axelay is a solid shmup on the SNES that provides a unique experience and is definitely worth giving a go.
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Re: Games Beaten 2021

by PartridgeSenpai Wed Mar 10, 2021 3:55 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) *
13. Super Paper Mario (Wii) *
14. Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door (GC) *
15. Demon's Crest (SNES)
16. Cathedral (Switch)
17. Super Mario 3D World (Switch) *
18. Bowser's Fury (Switch)
19. Rogue Heroes: Ruins of Tasos (Switch)
20. moon (Switch)
21. Casltevania 64 (N64)

22. Captain Rainbow (Wii)

This is a game I've owned since my first trip to Japan eight years ago, but this month's TR theme finally pushed me to play it (I had always considered my Japanese not quite good enough to try it previously). A Japan-exclusive game I mostly knew for being one of Nintendo's worst selling first-party titles ever, it was only recently after playing moon that I learned that Captain Rainbow was the same dev team of Love De Lic alumni who made Giftpia and Chibi-Robo. With the combination of those two factors, I set to work at last playing through this oddball adventure game that I'd had on my shelf for so long. After 13 or so hours, I found my way to the good ending of the game.

Captain Rainbow is the story of the titular Captain Rainbow, or more accurately, Nick, whom Captain Rainbow is the alter ego to. He used to be a big shot TV superhero, hero to children everywhere, but as soon as a new big hero came onto the scene, Captain Rainbow found himself unloved and looking for answers. In his quest to regain his glory days, Nick builds a raft and sails off to find the legendary Mimin Island, where it's said wishes can be granted. Through some more shenanigans, Nick finds himself not just on the island, but also as the arbiter of wishes to the many other people who've come to the island. Those other people just also happen to be washed up Nintendo mascots from older games (a motley crew of characters from the nameless protagonist of Nintendo's "Golf" to even someone as recognizable as Birdo).

Captain Rainbow is an adventure game with some light action elements, and going around Mimin Island is how you'll experience his quest for renewed glory. Nick can transform into Captain Rainbow to use his yo-yo powers to destroy obstacles, but you have a timer on this and you'll need to eat fruit you find all around the island to refill your meter. If Nick chooses to help out the islanders with their problems and gain their trust, he can then take them up to the top of the island and have their wish granted (or he can just grant his own wish and get a bad ending). The only real action parts of the game come in this wish granting sequence, where you need to get to the shooting star that's landed (once you collect 20 little stars hidden around the island) and avoid evil ink-like darkness creatures who wanna steal the wish for themselves. Faking out these guys isn't too hard, especially if you're being Captain Rainbow to bop them in the face with your yo-yo. It's not super engaging, but like Chibi-Robo, Captain Rainbow's action segments are an element of the that doesn't exactly harm the game but definitely does feel out of place.

There are 12 islanders in total, and the length of just how much you'll have to help them with their problems varies from character to character. You actually never really see their wishes, and all you really see is Nick helping them improve their lives and qualities about themselves. Even as you go through the game, you end up playing as Captain Rainbow less and less as Nick is better equipped to solve their problems. The game's message is largely one around this, about how you don't need to be a super hero to help people out, and how you don't need some magic wish to make your life visibly better. All it takes to make things better and help people around you is to have the willingness to do it. It's not a story or message done quite as well as something like in moon or Chibi-Robo, but it's still a sweet story that I enjoyed most of.

That said, while the quality of the writing itself is often quite good, or at least charming, it often wanders into the realm of crass and even downright perverse. The game's treatment of Birdo may not be the most transphobic thing I've seen in a game (it's a disgusting caricature as opposed to being outright hateful/demonizing), and it honestly didn't ruin the game for me entirely (as it's out of the way fairly quick), but like how I feel with Mother 3, it's a black mark on the game's quality and is a HUGE caveat to anyone interested in playing it.

The game's presentation is very much in line with how Giftpia and Chibi-Robo look, but more towards how the former does things. The island is a super colorful but small location that you'll get to know pretty quickly, and the super deformed representations of other Nintendo characters is a mix of charming and uncanny. The music is also pretty good, and it suits the environments well. The themes of each of the islanders are also fun renditions either remixed from or inspired from (I think) the game's they're actually from, which is another nice touch.

Verdict: Hesitantly Recommended. This is a pretty solid adventure game (no real moon logic to be found), and I enjoyed my time with it for the most part, but with the language barrier as well as the spotty writing, I don't think it's one super worth going for. If what I described sounds like something you'd be up for, I wouldn't call you a weirdo for wanting to experience the game yourself. But if the choice of your time is between this or most else of the Love De Lic alumni's library, I'd say this is definitely one you don't really need to give your time to. It's pretty good, but it's not THAT good, and it's no huge deal that English speakers never got this game.
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Re: Games Beaten 2021

by Ack Thu Mar 11, 2021 1:24 pm

1. Frog Detective 2: The Case of the Invisible Wizard (PC)(Adventure)
2. Revulsion (PC)(FPS)
3. Nonogram - Master's Legacy (PC)(Puzzle)
4. Sekiro (PC)(Action-Adventure)
5. Grim Dawn (PC)(Action RPG)
6. Grim Dawn: Ashes of Malmouth (PC)(Action RPG)
7. Grim Dawn: Forgotten Gods (PC)(Action RPG)


Grim Dawn is a Diablo-clone, though that's not an entirely fair description of it. More like it's a Diablo-esque game, in that it has the same general controls and design ideas, and it sticks to the dark fantasy thematic elements without veering into the quasi-religious Christian mythology that Diablo pulled its lore from. Instead, GD took its inspirations from the likes of Lovecraft, Dungeons & Dragons, various global mythologies, and Lord of the Rings, but made sure to twist and reshape it into something that feels at least different enough to not quite compare directly. And then there is the approach to game design; while GD does feature a few roguelike elements, it's a far more static experience from the changing level layouts of the Diablo titles, so I'll stop with the general comparisons here. Instead, it's probably better to compare to the previous game that many of GD's employees had worked on: Titan Quest.

The reason for this is because Grim Dawn was developed by Crate Entertainment, which is made up of former employees of Iron Lore Entertainment, TQ's developer. TQ focused directly on mythologies from across Europe, North Africa, and Asia, and allowed players to combine two player classes to create unique playstyles best suited to them. It also built on the relic system that Diablo II had put in place, enabling further enhancement of gear to create some fantastic and nasty combinations, as well as asked the player to go through three increasingly tougher levels of difficulty. And while the lore stays much darker than TQ, I will say this: humanity in GD is royally screwed.

Grim Dawn takes this and runs with it, now offering multiple ways of improving gear, improving stats, and building a stronger character. Once again, there is a dual class system which enables players to further develop how they want, though while there were plenty of points to spread around in TQ to make a strong build, GD requires forethought into just what you want to make. Tanks, ranged combatants, pet hordes, devastating casters, melee DPS...all of these are possible, and sometimes the same class combo can be rebuilt to accommodate radically different approaches if you so wish. But you have to be thinking long term about what you want, and you have to gear up accordingly and go for the kinds of upgrades you need to make this happen.

To further add to player development, there is a constellation system in the game that can be overwhelming to new players. As you fight, you discover and restore shrines which give devotion points. These points are used across the constellation grid to access better stats and offensive powers which can tweak your current abilities. However, there are a lot of constellations to explore, and certain ones require you have completed earlier combinations of constellations to access them, so you need to have an idea of where you want to focus early on.

If you think this is complicated, there are also numerous resistances and damage types, and many are separated into spike and drain types. For example, hitting an enemy with fire damage is a one-time spike; burning damage is that same type's damage-over-time version, and you can actually build for them separately. Even your basic physical attack has an internal trauma DOT. These are all different from your retaliation stats too, which are damage effects that go off when an enemy hits you and can also be built up. Retaliation tanks are viable builds in GD. And then there are the status durations that lock you in place: stun, freeze, petrify, all of which have their own resistance...yeah, it gets overwhelming fast.

This is probably the biggest problem with GD; it's a lot of information right out the gate, not always well explained, and when you're first getting going, it can be a dull experience. As someone who plays tank builds often, this means my first levels are often spent simply doing back and forth melee attacks while I grind up some levels for survival abilities.

Of course, while they added more to the madness, the two major content expansions also provided more character growth opportunities. There are more dungeons, more enemy types, rebalancing of certain enemies and factions to make them easier to build up, a lot of quality of life improvements with storage and the like, and more ways to improve characters. A couple of new classes also popped up, including my much loved Necromancer class, which makes for a viable tank or offensive caster and can also be used for creating the most ridiculous pet build in the game; you can control a small army with this guy if you do it right.

And when you beat the game, you then get to move up to the next difficulty as you work your way up towards Ultimate difficulty and a max level character. Yeah, no wonder I've sunk so much time in to this, and I still have plenty to do. And I'm looking forward to it, too.
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Re: Games Beaten 2021

by Note Thu Mar 11, 2021 8:42 pm

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)
6. Borderlands (360)
7. Streets of Rage 4 (Switch)*
8. King of Dragons (SNES)
9. Wild Guns (SNES)
10. Star Fox (SNES)
11. Guardian Heroes (SS) [2x]*
12. World of Illusion (GEN)

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13. Raiden Fighters Jet (360)

I'm a big fan of the Raiden series, as it was one of the first shoot 'em up games I played a lot in the arcades, in particular the first Raiden Fighters game was a common sighting at a few different arcades I'd visit from time to time. There was a cabinet located in the entrance of a clothing store across the street from my high school, my friends and I would go over after school once in a while, which is probably where I spent the most time playing the game. Once I saw the Raiden Fighters Aces compilation was being released for the 360 in 2009, I had to get it. All these years later I checked my achievements and realized I never finished the third game in the series, Raiden Fighters Jet.

I like how the series stuck to 2D pixels at the time, as over the years I think the graphics in the Raiden Fighters series aged well. The developers did a nice job designing a bunch of different ships to choose from, each with their own attributes and special weapons. I usually like to play as the MK-II ship, even though it's a bit slower than the rest, I enjoy the laser weapon. I've given some of the other ships a shot, but I usually find myself going back to the MK-II. The soundtrack is great IMO, with some fast paced tunes that always gets me into the action and mood of the game.

One major difference in Raiden Fighters Jet from the other entries in the series is the stage progression. In this title, your pathway depends on the player's performance in the previous level and the amount of medals collected, number of lives lost, and overall score are all taken into consideration. I was only able to beat the game on the easier pathway, as I didn't play well enough to progress into the more difficult levels. Hopefully with more hours of practice, I'll be able to see the other sections of the game I've missed out on. I feel like the game is pretty tough even on easier difficulty settings, but I've still enjoyed it. Raiden Fighters Jet also features co-op play, which I haven't been able to take advantage of in a while, but have had a great time playing with a friend in the past.

I definitely recommend this game (and compilation) to anyone that enjoys shoot 'em ups. If you're able to get the Raiden Fighters Aces compilation on the 360, you get three games in the series on one disc, which is a lotta hours of playing time. Check this one out if you haven't already!
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