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marurun
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Re: Games Beaten 2021

by marurun Mon May 03, 2021 10:14 am

Honestly, I think you'd do better to pick up MM & Bass on SFC. The GBA version has some issues the GBA version doesn't, aside from the whole not-that-great-a-game issue.
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Re: Games Beaten 2021

by MrPopo Mon May 03, 2021 2:46 pm

Yeah, in general I'd say any platformer available on console with a handheld port, play the console version. The handheld ports suffer from different screen resolutions and aspect ratios plus whatever else gets compromised.
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Re: Games Beaten 2021

by marurun Mon May 03, 2021 3:16 pm

MrPopo wrote:Yeah, in general I'd say any platformer available on console with a handheld port, play the console version. The handheld ports suffer from different screen resolutions and aspect ratios plus whatever else gets compromised.


Not all handheld ports are all that compromised. I'd argue LttP on GBA is actually pretty darn good and perfectly playable (annoying Link voices aside). But MM & Bass has that issue where they just shrank the viewable area and it makes some jumps and dealing with off-screen enemies a lot more frustrating.
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Re: Games Beaten 2021

by MrPopo Mon May 03, 2021 4:34 pm

That's why I specifically called out platformers; they're the ones most sensitive to the visible area.
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Re: Games Beaten 2021

by REPO Man Mon May 03, 2021 9:56 pm

Only GBA platformer I ever got into that was ported from a console that I really got into was the Super Mario World port which I actually beat in its entirety, complete with getting all the Dragon Coins. I had a FUCKTON of lives, mostly by virtue of literally resetting the game every time I died in a level. :lol: :lol: :lol:

I also played Yoshi's Island: SMW2, and I didn't beat it but I didn't hate it.
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Re: Games Beaten 2021

by Note Mon May 03, 2021 11:54 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)
13. Raiden Fighters Jet (360)
14. Raiden Fighters 2: Operation Hell Dive (360)*
15. Streets of Rage 3 (GEN)
16. Street Fighter III: Third Strike (Xbox)*
17. Mushihimesama Futari (360)

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18. Guwange (360)

Guwange's a game I was curious about for a long time, but when I was ready to finally purchase it digitally, I was having issues downloading games from the Xbox Live Arcade service. After months of trying to figure out what the problem was, a great tip from Nemoide helped me get through the issue, and I was able to finally grab it. Guwange is a bullet hell shooter from Cave originally released in 1999 in arcades, but made its way to the XBLA in 2010. It's a ground based game and has a feudal Japan theme, which gives the title a pretty unique twist for the genre.

There are three selectable characters to choose from, with each character equipped with a regular shot, a limited barrage shot, and a shikigami deity, which you can aim around the screen for heavy damage. The shikigami can also slow down enemy fire to help you weave through complex bullet patterns. Controlling the shikigami can take some time to get used to, as you are not able to move your character well while controlling it. Since the game is ground based, it scrolls in a variety of directions, as opposed to just vertical or horizontal. This adds a unique element, as you'll have to dodge not only enemies, but also obstacles on the ground.

Graphics wise, the game isn't enhanced from its original arcade release, however the pixel art in this game still looks great IMO. While I was first playing the game, it was fun to see what was coming next in regards to stage design and paths through the level, which isn't always the case when it comes to shooters. The soundtrack however, I didn't find nearly as strong as Futari, which is inching up there as one of my favorite game OSTs. The controls also feel great in this title, and I didn't have any complaints with the accuracy of the controls while dodging through the bullet patterns coming my way.

If you're a fan of shmups, Guwange is recommended as it has some unique features not found often throughout the genre. It's a difficult game but with practice and repetition can be overcome. I suggest trying it out if you haven't yet!
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Re: Games Beaten 2021

by MrPopo Tue May 04, 2021 11:10 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
19. Axelay - SNES
20. Ryse: Son of Rome - XBOne
21. Killer Instinct (2013) - XBOne
22. Heretic Kingdoms: The Inquisition - PC
23. Thief: The Dark Project - PC
24. Killer Instinct - XBOne
25. Killer instinct 2 - XBOne
26. Record of Lodoss War: Deedlit in Wonder Labyrinth - PC
27. Thief 2: The Metal Age - PC
28. Wing Commander II - PC
29. Wing Commander III - PC
30. The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel IV - Switch
31. Shadow Man Remastered - PC
32. Wing Commander: Privateer - PC
33. Salt and Sanctuary - Switch
34. The Elder Scrolls: Arena - PC

Arena is the very first of the Elder Scrolls games; originally it was set to be a gladiator game with you doing side exploration to build your stable but they realized that part was much more fun. Since they'd already printed marketing materials they decided that the lore would be "the continent is always at war and so is nicknamed 'The Arena'". But outside of that intro text you don't actually see any evidence of that. But that's not why you're here. You're here to see what things were like at the beginning. In a word, rough.

It's kind of fascinating to see all the things they did in Arena that carry forward and what got dropped as the series evolved. From the start you have the continent and the races of each province, though Argonians are just dark humans and Khajit are humans with face tattoos (and the latter are still canon, it's complicated). There is no Imperial race yet; that won't come around until Redguard. You still have the same set of attributes, and naturally settlements and their locations and various dungeons get carried forward into future games. You also see the various artifacts for the first time, though no connection to the daedra (or daedra at all) exist yet.

On the difference side, let's first talk characters. There is no class creation; you pick from a class and this will determine the equipment you can use, any spellcasting ability, your health per level, and any special bonuses (only a handful of classes have these). Levels are straight experience based like D&D; upon leveling up you get between 3 and 6 attribute points to assign. The attributes give you bonuses; some of these are continuous, like extra fatigue for every point of strength, while others have breakpoints, like a plus one to magic resistance for every five points of wisdom. There's no skills; we won't see those until Daggerfall. This is the only game in which only spellcasters can cast spells; no one else can even acquire magika. If you aren't a caster then you have to use enchanted items for your spellcasting needs. There are four slots that provide on use magic spells. There are four additional ones that provide passives (armor or stats) and then plate armor can be enchanted with passives. This makes non-plate non-casters fairly gimped and you should avoid them.

The game's quest is fairly simple; you need to visit the eight provinces to get the eight pieces of the Staff of Chaos so you can go to the capitol and free the Emperor. This is extremely formulaic; you get a clue as to which province, ask around until you confirm the province, ask around in the province to confirm the city, ask around in the city to confirm the guy who can help you. Talking to the guy, you first have to go to a dungeon to get a key item and return it to get the location of the actual dungeon with the staff piece. Rinse and repeat. Getting artifacts is similar; you ask around until you hear about someone selling location to a dungeon, buy the info, go to that dungeon and get an item that reveals the actual artifact dungeon. Artifacts are limited to you only having one at a time (barring an exploit) so you're likely to only do two; one to get the +50 stat points consumable and then one for an artifact you want. And at about that point you consider doing the exploit and then realize the dungeon diving sucks for the marginal utility of the artifacts (most are outdone by a good enchanted regular item).

This formula is stretched out way too far. Each dungeon is fairly large and very mazelike. Which wouldn't be too bad if you could clear them, but the game will constantly spawn monsters literally on top of you; I've seen them spawn in from thin air. So in the later dungeons you WILL run out of resources if you try to map the whole thing. Then add in stuff like needing to find keys and you start to regret not getting those Bracers of Passwall that would let you nuke three dungeon walls per cast. Most of the dungeons also feature a riddle door; this will be some sort of Hobbit-esque riddle in order to pass. Usually failure releases monsters on you.

But the biggest thing that will drive you nuts is how the game handles elevation. See, this was still very early 3D, so it's around the level of Doom in terms of how it handles things. You spend most of your time on a base level, but sometimes you might have a ledge you can climb or a pit/water you can jump into. Ledges are not an issue, but the pits and water are a major source of pain. Climbing out is a long process, and being hit will knock you back. Enemies can body block you, and floating enemies can sit above you and completely block you from doing anything. While there are potions of levitation that reset you to base level they aren't always feasible if you and to go under walls. And if you're in water you can't do anything but move. So enemies guarding an edge become immovable walls if you don't have a way to snipe them from afar. Oh, and the final bit of shit sandwich is that if you are paralyzed in water you instantly drown. Did I mention spiders are relatively common and can paralyze?

Overall the game is mostly an exercise in "wow, I can see where things started" but is in no way a compelling experience. After you do the first few staff pieces you've seen all the fun the game has to offer and all you have left is drudgework.
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Re: Games Beaten 2021

by PartridgeSenpai Wed May 05, 2021 3:08 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)
23. Doraemon: Nobita To Mittsu No Seireiseki (N64)
24. Blast Corps (N64)
25. Doraemon 2: Nobita To Hikari No Shinden (N64)
26. Custom Robo (N64)
27. Doraemon 3: Nobita No Machi SOS! (N64)
28. 64 Trump Collection: Alice No Wakuwaku Trump World (N64)
29. The Sunken City (PS4)
30. Lair of the Clockwork God (Switch)
31. Star Fox Adventures (GC)
32. Atelier Elie: The Alchemist of Salburg 2 (PS1)
33. Billy Hatcher & The Giant Egg (GC)
34. Mole Mania (GB)
35. Gargoyle's Quest (GB)
36. Rock Man 4 (Famicom) *
37. Wai Wai World (Famicom)
38. Mega Man: Dr. Wily's Revenge (GB)
39. Mega Man (Switch) *
40. Mega Man 2 (Switch) *
41. Mega Man 3 (Switch) *
42. Rock Man 5 (Famicom) *
43. Mega Man 6 (Switch)
44. Mega Man 7 (Switch) *
45. Mega Man 8 (Switch) *
46. Mega Man 9 (Switch) *
47. Mega Man 10 (Switch)

Mega Man GameBoy Marathon

My desire to keep playing 8-bit Mega Man extended onto the handheld entries, and well beyond me playing through the first one a few weeks ago. I only ever had the second one in the series as a kid, but the "Rock Man World" games (as they're known over here) are pretty easy to pick up for 1000 yen or less over here, so I decided to pick them up and give them a whirl. I've already played and reviewed the first one, but here are my thoughts on the other four in the series. Similarly to my last Mega Man Marathon review wall, I didn't actually beat them in this order, but writing about them here in release order just makes more sense.

48. Rock Man World 2 (GB) *

This was the only one in the series that was a replay for me. These games (as I'm sure many reading this are aware) are quite a bit harder to find in the States, and they go for quite a heftier price tag over there as well, so this was all I had for GB-based Mega Man when I was younger. I remembered it being fairly easy, which is why the difficulty of the first entry in the series had caught me a bit off guard in how difficult it was, but after all that other Mega Man, it was quite jarring to go back to something quite so easy as this. It took me around an hour and a half to beat the Japanese version of the game.

Most of these GameBoy Mega Man games don't really have much of a story beyond "Wily is back, go beat him", and despite the fact that it wasn't made by the same company as the first GB Mega Man game, this one is no exception. Like in the first Rock Man World game, Wily is back and he's brought four robot masters from the NES game that this shares a number with, and four from the next one. In this case, that means four robot masters from Mega Man 2 (the four who weren't in the last game), and four from Mega Man 3. However, unlike the first GB game, the second group of four robot masters actually have their own stages instead of just filling the void of the boss rush. That makes for eight robot masters stages, one big Wily stage, and a special boss unique to this game: Quint.

This game isn't just easy, it's way too easy. And not in the way that NES Mega Man 2's normal mode is quite easy compared to a lot of the other NES games, but it's so easy it's often downright boring. It has the same "Mega Man is just too big" stage design as the first GB game, but things just mostly feel a bit too empty and slow as a result. The gameplay isn't terribly snappy because there just isn't much to fear for your death other than falling into the pits littered about the place. But those slow stages give way to very simple boss fights that are for the most part pretty easy with the mega buster and comically simple with the boss's weakness. Even Quint is a pretty underwhelming boss fight. Add in that you also have the slide dash from Mega Man 3 and E-tanks from Mega Man 2 and you have a game that is super duper forgiving to the point that it really fails to make much of an impression at all.

The presentation is fine, but really not that memorable in any particular way. It's a good recreation of the sprites they're going for, but it still feels very simplified and "NES Lite" in its presentation. That extends to the music as well, which delivers a few less than inspired new tracks as well as just adequate iterations of the included robot masters' themes.


Verdict: Hesitantly Recommended. If you're in the mood for an easier Mega Man game, this will certainly fit the bill. I don't really have much all to say about this game other than that it's too easy for its own good. That isn't inherently a flaw, but for a series like Mega Man, it means that a lot of veterans will likely come away from this game not feeling terribly satisfied. Rock Man World 2 succeeds in being a competent action platformer, but it fails in delivering what most fans would probably want from their 8-bit Mega Man.

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49. Rock Man World 3 (GB)

This was the first Mega Man GameBoy game I played after the first game, and I was expecting something more like Mega Man 2 had been when I was a kid. I figured that since the first GameBoy game was so difficult, the second game must set the trend for a generally easier experience than their NES counterparts. Hooooo boy was I in for a very rude awakening with just what a tough bastard this game is ^^;. Capcom returned to the company that made the first GameBoy Mega Man game for this one, and after criticisms (like I'd had) that Rock Man World 2 was too easy, they cranked the lever HARD in the other direction for easily one of the toughest Mega Man games out of all the 8-bit entries. It took me about 2.5 hours to get through this trial of a handheld Mega Man game.

Once again, the conceit here is that Dr. Wily is back again with two sets of four robot masters plucked from two different NES games. In this case, it's four from Mega Man 3 (the four who weren't in Rock Man World 2) and four from Mega Man 4. For the first four, they flow pretty well and do a good job of recreating the feel of their NES stages without outright copying them. They're like a remix made for the smaller resolution that the GameBoy offered. However, it's once you get past those first four stages that Rock Man World 3 really starts to show its true colors.

The second set of stages are filled with instant death spikes, very painful enemies that rush you out of nowhere, and bottomless pits that require absolute precision to get past safely. You also don't get Rush Jet until you've beaten the most demanding of these stages, so there won't be much help for you in that regard either. These stages are consistently frustrating in how demanding their difficulty is, and they are rarely actually fun. Wily's final stage is also similarly designed and mercilessly long, and gods help you if you need a continue during that level.

There are a couple of mini-Wily stages in between the two sets of robot masters as well as Wily's stage himself, and they hide the unique bosses of Giant Suzy (a giant version of the normal enemy) and the new Mega Man Killer: Punk. Giant Suzy shakes the ground in an annoying way that bounces you around slightly and makes it difficult for you to jump, but Punk is the cherry on the pie of bad boss design in this game. He has a lot of health, he can kill you in three hits, and his attacks are so fast they're nearly impossible to dodge without a lot of luck. The rebalanced versions of the old bosses are generally a bit too hard and tough for their own good in this game, but it's the unique bosses that really take the cake for just how miserable they are to fight.

While you do have E-tanks, the slide dash, and even Mega Man 4's chargeable mega buster to help you out, they'll never do much good to help you against the game's biggest enemy: the slowdown. Rock Man World 3 is a very ambitious game in how it tries to recreate the backgrounds and highly animated platforms of the NES games, but they work to the severe detriment of the actual product. All of those luxurious animations go a long way towards making the framerate jump around a ton as you kill enemies and transition from screen to screen, and it makes getting past all of those instant-kill traps that much more frustrating (especially in sections with platforms that disappear the moment you step on them). The slowdown issues compound all the other mean design decisions found in this game, and make it just that much harder to actually learn your way through the levels.

The presentation is actually pretty good, but it comes at the cost of that slowdown mentioned earlier. While there are some pretty darn good GameBoy renditions of classic themes like Dive Man and Snake Man, and their stages as well as their gimmicks are quite well portrayed here, those pretty graphics just make the game feel so much less nice to play that it would've been much preferred if they'd just been toned down for the good of the experience.


Verdict: Not Recommended. This is the only game out of any of the 8-bit Mega Man games I'd actually call an actively bad time you should avoid. If you play the other four GameBoy Mega Man games, you'll likely be tempted to try this one out, but it is a game better forgotten. The mean design piled onto the terrible slowdown make this a slog from beginning to end that will do nothing but make you wish you were actually playing the much better NES games this one is based on.

----

50. Rock Man World 4 (GB)

I had heard from a few people on the Slack chat that this was the best of the GameBoy games, so I went into this one with high hopes. Granted, after my experience with just how rough the third Rock Man World game was, I was a little wary, but I went in hoping for something better at the very least. While I wasn't 100% overjoyed with what I found, I definitely understand why this game is held up above the other Mega Man games on the handheld. It took me around 2.5 hours to clear the Japanese version of the game.

As with the previous three GameBoy Mega Man games, this one's story is ultimately pretty simple and just boils down to stopping Dr. Wily as he tries to take over the world with four robot masters from Mega Man 4 (the four who weren't in the previous game) and four robot masters from Mega Man 5. There's even letters of Beat's name to collect to get him as a special weapon, just like in Mega Man 5~. You also have your E-tanks, slide dash, and chargeable mega buster, but with a few new twists this time. You can also collect mini-E-tanks, and four of them combine to make one normal (actually useable) E-tank, and there's even a shop you can collect money to buy powerups in, just like in Mega Man 7.

However, the most important basic mechanical change is how your charge shots work for your mega buster. Unlike in all of the other 8-bit Mega Man games, when you fire a fully charged shot, you get bounced into the air slightly with a bit of recoil. This is something kinda neat that makes the game unique, but also probably the thing I like about it the least, as it makes certain bosses not feel too great to fight, since you can't jump immediately after shooting a charged shot. It isn't so much an outright bad thing, so much as it forces you to learn a new way to play Mega Man in a way I didn't really wanna engage with.

That said, the bosses and stage design in this game are all really damn solid. The GameBoy rebalanced versions of a boss or two are just a bit too hard, such as Ring Man, and the end Wily Machine is also a bit too hard for its own good with how quick your reaction time needs to be, but the boss fights are overall really well done and fun. The stage design too is much more of the quality you'd expect from the NES entries to the series. They have the "Big Mega Man" sprite problem, but the stages are designed around that in much better ways than the past couple entries, and it feels more like "Mega Man" rather than just "Mega Man BUT on the GameBoy".

The presentation manages to be pretty darn good as well. It's still quite a pretty game, and while it doesn't manage to be totally free of slowdown, it's much better optimized than the third Rock Man World game was, and the gameplay is never made significantly more difficult due to the slowdown like what is so common in the third game. The music is also generally quite good, with fine new tracks as well as good GameBoy renditions of the NES tracks you know.


Verdict: Highly Recommended. This is definitely my favorite of the GameBoy Mega Man games. While I'm not super in love with the change to how the charged mega buster works, everything else about it is much more along the caliber of design you'd expect from the series, and it's a very welcome jump in quality after how rough the third game in the series was.

----

51. Rock Man World 5 (GB)

This was the last of the GameBoy games I played, and I was ready for a pretty good time. I'd heard for many years from other sources that this was the best of the GameBoy Mega Man games, largely due to how much genuinely new stuff it had, and I was ready to see which between this and the fourth entry was actually the superior game. It took me about 2.5 hours to reach the end of Mega Man's space adventure~.

In a change from the other GameBoy Mega Man games, this one actually has a more involved story than the others outside of breaking the trend of having robot masters from the NES games. In addition to canonizing the other four GameBoy entries as their own series, rather than as mid-adventures of the NES games, this game sees you fighting not robot masters, per se, but invading alien robots known as the Space Rulers, who hail from and are named after the 8 planets in the solar system, along with their mysterious leader simply named: Earth. Earth actually hecks Mega Man up pretty bad in the opening scene, so Dr. Light repairs him and gives him a new weapon to fight these new foes with. It's not quite the mega buster, but it's more like a mix between the mega buster and the melee-focused Rush transformation from Mega Man 6. The shop from Rock Man World 4 even returns, and Mega Man also gets a new companion for this adventure: a weaponized robot kitty named Tango~.

The punch weapon doesn't knock you back like the weapon from Rock Man World 4 did, but it does mean you can't fire while the fist is traveling out and returning, and it makes for a game that seems to want to be different simply because it can. It's not just a different way to play, but it feels like an actively negative change. The bosses themselves range from pretty good to sort of messy, and the stages range from pretty fun romps of action to longer, repetitious journeys that feel more like a slogs. Overall, I do like the new robot masters a fair bit, but this game's boss and stage design feel like it's often closer to Rock Man World 3 than 4, and that's not a good feeling. While it is nowhere near as messy as Rock Man World 3's downright vindictive stages and bosses, bosses like Mercury who have weapons that steal your money, weapon power, and even E-tanks leave a very rotten first impression that gets reinforced from time to time with other bosses who feel more cheap than they have any right to.

The presentation is arguably the best in the series. The new boss designs look great, and the music is also most certainly the strongest out of all of the GameBoy games. Unfortunately, another feature this game shares with Rock Man World 3 is that you do occasionally get slowdown that affects gameplay to the point of making things needlessly difficult, but it's not nearly as constant a problem as it is in the third game.


Verdict: Recommended. This game did annoy me quite a few times with how mean it is sometimes, but it's still a very solid game. It tries a lot of bold things, and while I don't like it as much as the fourth GameBoy game, it's still a good time that's well worth giving a go (if you can find a way to play it that doesn't break the bank too badly).

I quite enjoyed playing through all these GameBoy Mega Man games. I'm not sure I like many of them better than the NES games, but I don't think the best of them are outright worse than those games. At the end of the day, I just prefer the larger resolution of the NES and the stage design it allows for compared to the more cramped experiences offered on the GameBoy entries. My ranking of the GameBoy Mega Man games is: IV > V > I > II > III
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Re: Games Beaten 2021

by Ack Wed May 05, 2021 1:14 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)

8. Viscera Cleanup Detail: Santa's Rampage (PC)(FPS)
9. Viscera Cleanup Detail: Shadow Warrior (PC)(FPS)
10. Shrine (PC)(FPS)
11. Record of Lodoss War - Deedlit in Wonder Labyrinth (PC)(Adventure)
12. Forgotten Realms: Demon Stone (PC)(Action)
13. Red Alliance (PC)(FPS)
14. The Forest (PC)(Horror)
15. Pixel Puzzles: Japan (PC)(Puzzle)

I have explained before that sometimes I enjoy simple, meditative games that I can zone out on and enjoy. Pixel Puzzles: Japan is such a game; you put together jigsaw puzzles of increasing complexity as your in-game avatar works his way towards harder puzzles and enlightenment in what I am guessing is some kind of representation of Zen Buddhism. Hey, it was $5, and I found a game my wife might also like, so I feel like a winner here.

In Pixel Puzzles: Japan, you are putting together jigsaw puzzles of images set around beautiful historical sights, natural imagery, or cultural iconography, so your typical castles, bridges, traditional crafts, sculpture, and so on. The puzzles start with relatively few pieces and max out around 330, which may not seem like much until you see how they handle piece distribution.

You see, the pieces aren't just laid out, they're floating in a koi pond and constantly in motion; you may try to snag one only to often grab the wrong piece. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, as you can drop a piece on other pieces, and they'll warp to a different section of the pond, thus potentially clearing the way. But you might also hit the piece you're going for, thus sending it off to an area full of puzzle pieces you just moved. You can also set down puzzle pieces on the puzzle to rest, but with a few hundred, that gets both tedious and blocks your view. Sometimes you will get lucky and accidentally set a piece in the right place, thus locking it down, but don't rely on that too much if you're spreading pieces on the board because you may lose track of what's not supposed to be there.

Occasionally, you may also grab the koi out of the pond. This is a bit of levity for entertainment purposes, and you can toss the koi back, drop it on the puzzle and watch it flop back to the pond, or shove it in the bamboo water pipe that slowly fills up and drains over time. You can't actually harm the koi, but at moments of frustration over grabbing the wrong piece a few dozen times, it can be a nice break.

You also only see the picture when selecting the puzzle, and then in only a small frame, so much of the time you are operating relatively blind. As you put together the puzzle, you fill a meter that can then be used to reveal the full picture and where your pieces are in relation to the finished image, but this lasts for only a few seconds before vanishing again. Depending on the puzzle, I didn't always need this image, but for the more complex puzzles, I would prep by pulling a few pieces I thought were related and try to get them in place in the few seconds I had. It did help, especially with the final puzzle, though that was not the most difficult puzzle by far.

The most difficult puzzle is a picture of cherry blossoms over water. Do you know how tough it can be to discern different images of cherry blossoms over blue? It's a pain in the ass. This was the sole instance where the game went from soothing to frustrating on a grand scale; most other instances, the frustration was temporary from grabbing the wrong piece over and over again from the pool.

To help mitigate some of this issues, you don't have to worry about things like piece orientation, as they are always right side up. Also, they vary the connecting points, so while you may start with more traditional puzzle piece shapes, you soon see arrows, straight lines, swooping curves, and some kind of Lovecraftian tentacle shape that makes me think the stars are right for puzzle games. Hey, it's a computer game, it doesn't have to be realistic.

I liked Pixel Puzzles: Japan. I think beyond some frustrations, my wife would like it too, as she enjoys a nice jigsaw puzzle. If you're down for playing a video game based around jigsaw puzzles, you might also enjoy it.
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prfsnl_gmr
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Re: Games Beaten 2021

by prfsnl_gmr Sat May 08, 2021 1:19 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)
11. Portal 2 [co-op] (PS3)
12. Operencia: The Stolen Sun (Switch)
13. The Knight of Queen (Switch)
14. Q.U.B.E. - Director’s Cut (PS3)
15. What the Golf?! (Switch)
16. Prune (iOS)
17. Kenshō (iOS)
18. For the Frog the Bell Tolls (GameBoy)
19. Holedown (iOS)
20. King’s Field (PS1)
21. My Friend Pedro (Switch)
22. MO: Astray (Switch)
23. EQI (Switch)
24. Foxyland (Switch)
25. Carrion (Switch)

Carrion has been described as a reverse horror game, which I think is an apt description. In it, you play as a seething mass of meat, teeth, and tentacles escaping from a lab. Put another way, you’re the monster, and the antagonists are the hapless humans either cowering in fear or trying to kill you.

The game plays like a very linear metroidvania, with good puzzles, satisfying combat, but very little incentive for backtracking or exploration. Movement is fast and very satisfying, with your monster ably to crawl through pipes nimbly or clutch to ceilings with ease. Your encounters with aggressive humans (and their machines) are also a lot of fun. The game throws new challenges at you consistently, and overcoming them frequently requires you to think strategically. (Sure...you COULD jump into a room tentacles akimbo, but what if you possessed a human and had him disarm all he turrets and stealthily murder all of his comrades before any of them even realize you’re there?) Most importantly, this very gory game really conveys the experience of being a horrible abomination, and in accomplishing your goals efficiently, you end up behaving much like something from a horror film. (I now have a lot more empathy for The Thing.)

One particularly interesting aspect of the gameplay is how the game gives you different abilities at different strength levels. For example, when you are small, you move much more quickly, can turn invisible temporarily, and can shoot webs. In your strongest state, you are much more cumbersome, but you can smash through walls, and raise a shield. The game frequently forces you to switch between these different forms to progress, end it doesn’t hesitate to throw difficult combat at you after you are forced into a smaller, weaker state.

I am, perhaps, not quite as enthusiastic about Carrion as others, and I think it has a few glaring flaws. Specifically , I think that its map is not designed in a way that fits together particularly well, reminding me a bit of the map from Goonies II. Moreover, the difficulty is wildly uneven, and the game is full of very annoying one-way passages, which, while great for puzzles, really punish attempts at exploration. Nonetheless, I still liked the game, and I think it’s developer had some great ideas (some of which are executed extremely well). I recommend Carrion to anyone looking for something a bit different, I am anxious to see what this developer does in the future.
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