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nullPointer
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Re: Games Beaten 2015

by nullPointer Thu Jan 22, 2015 7:19 pm

The list so far ...
4. Rygar (NES/Nestopia v1.40)

Rygar
Many of the hidden gems on the NES have gone on to gain notoriety in such a way as to call their 'hidden' status into question. Some of these games, like River City Ransom for instance, have transitioned from being hidden gems to well-known, bona-fide classics. For the most part Rygar has remained a hidden gem for the NES, although it hasn't exactly languished completely in obscurity either. It's one of those classics that sits just on the cusp of popular consciousness.

All that being said, Rygar really is quite a good game with some noteworthy flaws that hold it back from achieving legendary status. Rygar was slightly ahead of its time in many ways. It was one of the early platformers on the NES to combine overhead segments with standard side scrolling. Furthermore, being that it released within months of the first Metroid game, it was also one of the first games to employ a Metroidvania style gear-gating mechanic (and it managed to do it with only minimal backtracking which is a bonus).

The controls here are nice, sharp, and responsive, and I really like applying a bit of turbo to the diskarmor weapon which effectively turns it into a WOMD, although not to a game breaking degree. Part of this is due to the fact that the enemies here spawn suddenly and in droves, which can lead to some cheap hits at times. So long as you keep on your toes you can generally lay waste to the hordes put before you without too much trouble. So while Rygar has a lot of good things going for it in terms of combat, some of the gameplay design elements are extremely indicative of it age. Among other things, you cannot jump off of (or onto) ropes, meaning that you must climb up or down the full length before you're able to take any other action. The game will occasionally put you in situations that exploit this element in which enemies will swarm you while you're just trying to get your slow ass up (or down) a rope. The other element that stands out as being antiquated (and which the game is slightly notorious for) is the wind pulley. This is a tool that you use as a zip line pulley in the game to cross over chasms. In overhead segments this tool is absolutely maddening. I've played through Rygar a few different times at this point and I still have no idea where to stand or what direction to push to get the wind pulley to link up with ropes. It's basically witchcraft. You just kind of … wiggle around until you hear the characteristic 'clink' indicating that you've made a positive connection. But … that's if you haven't already walked off the chasm to your inevitable death (several times) before making that connection. So that part sucks.

Thankfully though that's where my Rygar rant ends. Everything else in the game is pretty much on point. The music in particular is a high point here. Although there are a couple of weak tracks to be found, most of the audio is absolute solid gold. If one were to apply properly tremolo picked guitars and a blast beat, the track that rolls in the final castle is basically an early progenitor of second-wave ambient black metal. The other aspect of Rygar that really shines is the setting of the game itself. Quite honestly I don't think I've seen anything quite like it in gaming, save for certain elements of God of War, and even that comparison is only valid by virtue of having a loose thematic connection to Greek mythology, and a protagonist who uses a unique chain-based weapon. I'd have loved to have seen the world of Rygar fleshed out, fully realized, and expanded upon. In short I feel like there's a lot of untapped potential in the mythology. I do plan on playing through Rygar: The Legendary Adventure on the PS2 later this year though, so maybe that wish will be fulfilled.

At any rate, if you've got an appetite for a lesser known action platformer on the NES you could do a lot worse that Rygar.
Last edited by nullPointer on Wed Apr 22, 2015 12:55 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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BoneSnapDeez
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Re: Games Beaten 2015

by BoneSnapDeez Thu Jan 22, 2015 7:24 pm

I still need to finish Rygar. Thankfully with a Retron 5 I don't have to do it all in one sitting.

Have you played the original arcade Rygar? It's a completely different game!
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Re: Games Beaten 2015

by J T Thu Jan 22, 2015 7:25 pm

A Wolf Among Us (01/03/15)
Pac-Man Championship Edition DX+ (All courses S ranked on 01/08/15)
Distance (beta 3315, 01/11/15)
Shantae: Risky's Revenge- Director's Cut (01/16/15)
Sega Bass Fishing (01/17/15)
Fairy Bloom Freesia (01/17/15)
BasketBelle (01/18/15)
Tiny & Big: in Grandpa's Leftovers (01/20/15)
Sideway: New York (01/22/15)

This almost made it into the "games not beaten" thread for numerous glitches and crashes to desktop. I started this game a few years back, shelved it, then only recently got back into it. When it's working, it is a fun game. You are a graffiti artist who has magically been transported onto the walls of buildings with your graffiti. This allows the levels to twist and turn around the building walls that you play on. It's a cool effect and there are a lot of well designed levels that involve Donky Kong Country-esque cannonball shots, grappling hooks, and disappearing platforms. Unfortunately, the play controls lose their flow as they get stuck a lot in excessive animations and you have to anticipate that stickiness for the gameplay. You have to know which moves will require you to wait a few ticks before you can move again. Also, if you double jump too soon or too late, you don't get quite the same extra height, or if you float and stop, you can't begin a float again. It all just makes the game feel like it's killing your smooth groove. There was also some glitch that made it so my character would just get stuck in a ducking position for 2-3 seconds for no apparent reason. These glitchy controls could screw up what was otherwise good gameplay with excellent level design. The final boss had so many glitchy control malfunctions that I almost rage quit the game. I was actually lucky to even get to the final boss because there is a glitch that many people have reported in the Steam forums that is on the final level where the game simply crashes near the end. Your saves only save at the start of the level, not at the checkpoints, so this means playing a substantial chunk of the game over and over until the glitch doesn't happen. Third time was a charm for me, which is how I stayed so persistent on the final boss. I didn't want to have to do that again.

The graphics are pretty good with the graffiti aesthetic, though there certainly could have been more done with this topic. Every graffiti tag looked like it was done by the same artist. There is also lots of repetition of artwork assets, so the game all kind of looks the same throughout every level and it starts to feel a little monotonous. The music is fantastic and produced by hip hop artist Mr. Lif, which gives the game a real sense of authenticity. Unfortunately, the soundtrack is also pretty short, so you get kind of tired of hearing the same songs on repeat before you finish the game. I think with a bigger budget this title could have been a lot better because they would have been able to have more art assets and music.

Final Verdict: The game is about a 6 out of 10. There's not enough variety in artwork or music, and it's ultimately limited by glitchy gameplay and unfixed game crashing bugs. Nevertheless, some brilliant level design and a unique concept make it worth a play.
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Re: Games Beaten 2015

by J T Thu Jan 22, 2015 7:31 pm

Oh man, I love NES Rygar. I haven't played it in decades, but I was thinking I might make a return soon. I love bouncing on those rolly-polly bad guys.
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nullPointer
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Re: Games Beaten 2015

by nullPointer Thu Jan 22, 2015 7:58 pm

BoneSnapDeez wrote:I still need to finish Rygar. Thankfully with a Retron 5 I don't have to do it all in one sitting.
Ha, yes I neglected to mention that part. I think almost anyone that's beaten this game on the original NES had to leave it running on pause at some point. It's quite a lot to bite off in one game session. That's actually part of the reason I emulate more than I play on my physical system(s) at this point. The ability to set my own savestate based 'check points' means that my gaming can still jive with my time constraints.
BoneSnapDeez wrote:Have you played the original arcade Rygar? It's a completely different game!
Totally! We ran Rygar (arcade) as a high score game of the month a while back on the GameEx forums. It's also great fun, but a very different game, and probably even more intense than the NES version. In this capacity it's a bit like the difference between the NES and arcade versions of Strider.
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Re: Games Beaten 2015

by Hobie-wan Thu Jan 22, 2015 8:14 pm

nullPointer wrote:At any rate, if you've got an appetite for a lesser known action platformer on the NES you could do a lot worse that Rygar.


The first time I played NES Rygar, I had borrowed it from someone and I was grounded. I think my father was on a business trip and my mother was out running errands all Saturday. I spent many hours working my way through it, pausing to jump up every time I heard a car go by to check if my mother had returned home and I needed to shut things down. I did manage to finish it, and it was a lot of fun despite the many delays and terror of car noises. Been a while since I went through it again on other plays, but yeah, fun game and that setting sun.

nullPointer wrote: I do plan on playing through Rygar: The Legendary Adventure on the PS2 later this year though, so maybe that wish will be fulfilled.


I was excited for the PS2 game, but I was disappointed by it. Maybe I just suck at 3D arena fighter style games, but it got pretty difficult pretty fast. Trying to figure out where one could and couldn't go or reach ledges was pretty annoying as well. Like the original, you could carry one heal item once earned. Eventually there was a very difficult boss fight that I spent a week cursing at, dying and reloading over and over. Finally on Friday evening I was playing while friends were showing up for a movie gathering and I beat the damn boss with the smallest sliver of health left, having of course used the recover item. The game proceeded to throw you right into another boss fight where the boss filled the screen. There was no intervening game. No chance to get your life or the recovery item refilled. I died, shut the game off, and never played it again. :|
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Re: Games Beaten 2015

by nullPointer Thu Jan 22, 2015 8:28 pm

Hobie-wan wrote:
I was excited for the PS2 game, but I was disappointed by it. Maybe I just suck at 3D arena fighter style games, but it got pretty difficult pretty fast. Trying to figure out where one could and couldn't go or reach ledges was pretty annoying as well. Like the original, you could carry one heal item once earned. Eventually there was a very difficult boss fight that I spent a week cursing at, dying and reloading over and over. Finally on Friday evening I was playing while friends were showing up for a movie gathering and I beat the damn boss with the smallest sliver of health left, having of course used the recover item. The game proceeded to throw you right into another boss fight where the boss filled the screen. There was no intervening game. No chance to get your life or the recovery item refilled. I died, shut the game off, and never played it again. :|

Ugh. Yeah, that doesn't sound promising. This could very well wind up being one of my early contenders for Games Not Beaten in 2015. I'll see how it goes, but I'm definitely approaching with some degree of trepidation now. :|
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Re: Games Beaten 2015

by Hobie-wan Thu Jan 22, 2015 8:45 pm

nullPointer wrote:Ugh. Yeah, that doesn't sound promising. This could very well wind up being one of my early contenders for Games Not Beaten in 2015. I'll see how it goes, but I'm definitely approaching with some degree of trepidation now. :|


As I said, it might just be me sucking at arena fighters, but I just got totally frustrated. The game is cheap to get though, I got pretty much nothing when I sold my copy. Hopefully you have more luck when you get to it. :)
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Re: Games Beaten 2015

by BoneSnapDeez Thu Jan 22, 2015 10:36 pm

1. Grandia (PlayStation)

Grandia is grand.

Originally released in 1997 for the Sega Saturn (in Japan only *sniffles*) it was later ported to the PlayStation and localized by Sony themselves. Grandia was developed by Game Arts, also known for the classic Lunar RPGs. I played the remake of the first Lunar game on PlayStation last month, and it was interesting to see how the design of Game Arts' JRPGs matured and developed over such a short time frame.

In Grandia you play as a bunch of kids. Not the bratty melodramatic teens of the Final Fantasy universe, but bright-eyed freckle-faced still-kiss-mommy-at-bedtime kiddos. The lead character is Justin, a wannabe adventurer looking to leave his small town. He's joined at the hip with Sue, a spunky blue-haired 8-year-old, who I believe is supposed to be Justin's adoptive sister (I was relieved to see that this game lacks any adoptive sister romance - I'm looking at you, Lunar). The duo is later joined by Feena, an accomplished adventurer, and several others I won't spoil the identities of. The characters are instantly likable. They're cheery and naïve even in the face of great danger, though individually they have fleeting moments of doubt which causes the others to offer consolation in the cutest ways possible.

The voice acting is mostly solid. Justin sounds a bit like "generic excited adventure boy" but the ladies all sound great. They game is quite dialogue-heavy and is interspersed with mealtime and campfire conversation vignettes. Each character has several portraits that appear while speaking, adding to the charm and depth of conversations. Here's Sue:
Image

Plot-wise, Grandia is nothing to write home about. An ancient evil, a corrupt empire - we've seen it all before. It's best to simply focus on the interactions between the ever-charming characters. Localization is decent. This isn't Working Designs so don't expect any Home Improvement references, but Sony has managed to squeeze in more than enough humorous chatter into the script.

The battle system: this is why people are still playing Grandia 18 years after its release date. This is one of the best battle systems, if not the best, I've seen in a "traditional" turn-based JRPG. While most similar RPGs are heavily focused on resource management (ie: attack all normal enemies and save spells and special moves for the bosses) Grandia throws out that notion and encourages the player to give every battle their all and to pummel enemies with a variety of melee attacks, special moves, and spells.

The genius of the battle system is how it's entwined with the leveling system. It's not just the characters who level up, but the weapons and magic skills as well. This encourages the player to experiment with a wide variety of skill sets to create efficient and well-rounded characters. For example, one might have Justin attack with a sword for awhile until it become stronger and then switch him to an ax. Sue may be a designated healer with water spells until those become sufficiently competent and she instead becomes an offensive participant wielding fire magic. Maybe you'll have Feena level up fire and wind spells until she becomes a beast with lightning combos, before switching her to Earth-based buffs. The player is forced to consistently monitor character stats, which - rather than being a chore - creates a real sense of development and progression.

There's a sense of strategy involved in these battles too. Speed statistics determine who acts first in combat, and the leveling of skills can increase their respective speeds. Depending on the action, there's a bit of lag between menu input and execution, during which moves can be "cancelled" by well-placed blows of friend and foe alike. Traversing across the battlefield can be advantageous in avoiding enemy attacks that target entire groups. Point is: there's a lot to do during Grandia's battles and they never felt stale throughout the game's duration.

When looking at Grandia's visuals it becomes painfully apparent that this is early 5th gen 3D. Everything is pixelated to hell. Navigation can be clumsy and awkward. Frequent camera rotation is required not just to find your way around, but also to see all the items the developers fiendishly chose to place snug up against the walls. Thankfully most dungeons aren't especially complicated, and since enemies don't respawn you can use their presence to gauge your progress.

The original soundtrack is a bit of a paradox: it's composed well but "sounds" bad. There's a great deal of audio "compression" here and oftentimes the music is drowned out by sound effects and voice acting. Investing in a companion soundtrack CD, or just looking up the OST on YouTube, would be a wise choice. There are some great tracks here, with the victory theme being among my favorites.

Grandia is arguably too easy and most certainly too long. After a short time enemies have no defenses against Justin and company's massive arsenal. In lieu of any overworld, Grandia features an assortment of "connector dungeons" between the various towns and other locales. Many of these are quite dull and seem to serve only as padding. This adventure took me 55 hours - 40 would have been just fine.

One final warning: Grandia does not play nice with the PlayStation 2. I dug out the old gray beast for this one.

The minor flaws highlighted are of no great detriment to the overall experience. This is an excellent game and the beginning of an equally excellent series. It stands head and shoulders above most comparable JRPGs of the era and, yes, it's loads better than Final Fantasy VII. Anyone with even the smallest interest in retro Japanese role-playing games needs to experience this.
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Re: Games Beaten 2015

by Omerta Fri Jan 23, 2015 5:39 am

1. The Last of Us - PS3 - January 16
2. Lollipop Chainsaw - PS3 - January 19

3. Dragon's Crown - PS3 - January 23

This one surprised me. I figured I'd walk through it in one night since it's a brawler.

Quickly found out how deep it actually is and enjoyed a bunch. I haven't heard many praises for this one, but I'd highly recommend it.
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