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Sarge
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Re: Games Beaten 2015

by Sarge Mon Jul 27, 2015 11:14 pm

Finished Child of Light. It's easily one of my favorite games I've played this year. The exploration is really fun (unlimited flight is cool!), and there's pretty much no padding to be found. Graphically and aurally, it's absolutely beautiful as well. In many ways, it's what, as a kid, I envisioned video games would be in this far-flung future. Highly, highly recommended.

Only a single gripe, and that's that it was a bit easy. Mainly because I was really good at keeping tanked up with sources of healing both in and out of battle. There's a higher difficulty mode, so if I ever get the hankering to play it again, I'll probably do that.

If you poke around and fight most of the enemies and explore, you'll probably end up anywhere between 12-15 hours. I was closer to the latter. I'm still missing a few Stardust and Coffers, but not much.
Hardcore Retro Gaming - Talk about games ten years old or older!
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Re: Games Beaten 2015

by prfsnl_gmr Tue Jul 28, 2015 3:40 pm

1. Cut the Rope (3DS)
2. Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction (PS3)
3. Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth (XBOX)
4. Jewel Link Chronicles: Mountains of Madness (NDS)
5. Super Mario 3D World (WIIU)
6. Mario Kart 7 (3DS)
7. Kirby Triple Deluxe (3DS)
8. Gunman Clive (3DS)
9. Child of Light (WIIU)
10. Gunman Clive 2 (3DS)
11. Mighty Switch Force! Hyper Drive Edition (WIIU)
12. Shifting World (3DS)
13. VVVVVV (3DS)
14. Mega Man 9 (PS3)
15. Mighty Switch Force 2 (WIIU)
16. Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse (PS3)
17. Castle Crashers (PS3)
18. Pushmo (3DS)
19. Steamworld Dig (3DS)
20. The Unfinished Swan (PS3)
21. Blaster Master (NES)
22. Samurai Shodown II (NEOGEO/PS2)
23. E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (2600)
24. Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons
25. Shining Force II (GEN)
26. Rayman Legends (WIIU)
27. Gorf (ARCADE)
28. Fairune (3DS)
29. Mighty Gunvolt (3DS)
30. Ikachan (3DS)
31. Block Boy! (3DS)
32. Legend of the Dark Witch (3DS)


Block Boy! is a fun - but not very challenging - puzzle/platformer developed by HAL Labs. It is the second monochrome puzzle/platformer I have completed on the 3DS this year, and it is vastly superior to Shifting World. (Shifting World, for a variety of reasons, is much, much more challenging, however.) In Box Boy!, you play as Qbby, who can replicate himself a limited number of times to create the platforms necessary to navigate the game's many, many levels. If you reach certain points in the game using only a very limited number of boxes - and if you can figure out how to reach them - you can collect one or two crowns in each stage. Collecting the crowns provides you with some additional bonus points that you can use to purchase challenge levels, costumes, hint books, music, and time-attack levels in the game's shop. I used the "rapper" costume through out the game so that Qbby looked like this icon of early 1990s gaming:

Image


The game is crammed with features and levels, and it provides a tremendous amount of content that more than justifies its $5 price tag. Moreover, the game has the level of polish you expect from HAL Labs, and it is nice to see the company making something other than Kirby and Smash Bros. games. (I, for one, would love to see another sequel to the Adventures of Lolo.) That said, the game is very easy, and I was able to obtain a "perfect" score on most of the games levels during my first attempt. Moreover, the first 17 of the games 18 levels introduce new mechanics, and they ended up feeling like a very long tutorial for a very short game. (Thankfully, the game's five "bonus" levels provide a bit more challenge.)

In sum, I enjoyed the game quite a bit; it was full of content; and I thought it was very fun. I only wish it had been a bit more challenging.

.....

Legend of the Dark Witch is a 3DS-exclusive 2D action platformer developed by Flyhigh Works, the team behind Fairune. It is very Japanese, and the "plot" is pretty much non-sensical. (You play as some kind of little girl goddess/witch who is trying to recover missing "syega" crystals or some other such nonsense...) The game plays similarly to Mega Man, and like a classic Mega Man game, it is difficult on the default difficulty setting.

When you start the game, you can choose which of the game's six levels you want to play first, and you acquire the boss's weapon when you complete the stage. Moreover, each boss is weak to another boss's weapon; so, the game is much easier once you determine the correct "order" for tacking the game's stages. The game also has a very unique power-up system that combines RPG grinding and leveling with Gradius's level-based power-up system. Specifically, your character acquires "tres" (i.e., experience points) as she defeats enemies in each stage. Stronger enemies provide more "tres" and they respawn off screen after a few seconds. You "spend" your "tres" at the stage select screen to acquire permanent upgrades to your character's abilities, but a meter also builds at the bottom of the screen as you acquire "tres" in each level. Once the meter builds to a certain point, you can obtain a temporary "power up" to your characer's speed, power, defense, etc., and these temporary power ups are critical to completing the game. (Like Gradius, all of the game's bosses can be defeated without these temporary power ups, but having them helps a lot.) Finally, the "tres" meter also depletes every time your character is hit, and every time you use one of the weapons you acquired from a boss. Accordingly, both evasion and skilful management of the "tres" meter are critical to success.

Moreover, there are two crystals hidden in each stage that permanently increase the number of times you can temporarily increase your character's statistics using the "tres" meter. Accordingly - and while the game could be beaten without powering up your character at all - players who find the game incredibly difficult (like me) can "grind" their character up to the point necessary to defeat the (incredibly difficult) final boss. (Like a Mega Man game, there are two "boss" stages after the first six.)

Finally, completing the game - and accomplishing certain in game feats - provides you with crystals that you can use to unlock additional features. (The impatient can also bet these crystals in the game's really neat five-card draw mini-game to unlock the bonus features.) Beating the game also unlocks "lunatic" difficuly and allows you to play as another character (who plays a lot liek Zero to the main character's Mega Man).

The game's primary drawback however, is its incredibly bland level design. Unlike a Mega Man game, Legend of the Dark Witch's levels are unvaried, uninteresting, and generally unchallenging. (The boss fights, in contrast, are intense and difficult.) This fact holds the game back considerably, and until the very end, I was not sure I cared much for the game. After beating it (and unlocking all of the cool extra features), however, I appreciated it a bit more, and I hope that the developer plans a sequel. (It also helps that the game concludes with an insane boss rush that highlights all of its best features. Despite dozens of attempts, I never got bored with it.) The sprite work in the game is also gorgeous, and I really think that if the developer had paid more attention to level design Legend of the Dark Witch could have been one of the 3DS's best eshop titles.

As it is, the game certainly justifies its $3 price tag. (It took me nearly 5 hours to beat the game, and I could easily spend 5-10 hours more "completing" the game.) I therefore recommend it to anyone looking for an inexpensive and unique (if a bit derivative) offering on Nintendo's handheld.

Sarge wrote:Child of Light

I played through this game with my daughter earlier this year, and I loved it. You experience mirrors my own, and I also recommend this game very highly. (The WiiU version is also on sale for $3.75 on the Nintendo eShop right now; so, there really is no excuse for missing it.)
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KayJay
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Re: Games Beaten 2015

by KayJay Tue Jul 28, 2015 8:28 pm

Guys.....I did it....I beat Mega Man X.....

I've been trying to beat this game since i was 12, and i finally did it. I swear, i am still shaking a little. I am so overwhelmed with a feeling of accomplishment...


This game is spectacular.
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Exhuminator
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Re: Games Beaten 2015

by Exhuminator Tue Jul 28, 2015 9:27 pm

KayJay wrote:This game is spectacular.

Yes it is. Congratulations! Now go play the Zero series for a breezy good time.
PLAY KING'S FIELD.
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Sarge
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Re: Games Beaten 2015

by Sarge Tue Jul 28, 2015 9:34 pm

Sweet! Good job beating it. I remember coming so close to finishing it when I spent the night with a friend, but ran out of time right when I'd made it to Sigma. Ah well.

It is the best SNES one, for sure.

I "beat" King of Fighters XIII in arcade mode, and by that, I mean I ended up resorting to the service menu on the last two fights. I almost had the penultimate boss down on the second go, and got fumble fingers and couldn't pull my supers. Ugh.

Of course, I thought that was the last boss. Then I get another one. Said "screw it" at that point and just got it over with. I like the artwork in the KoF games, but there's still something a little off when I play them. I think SNK's best work was probably Mark of the Wolves, at least in terms of traditional fighters.
Hardcore Retro Gaming - Talk about games ten years old or older!
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KayJay
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Re: Games Beaten 2015

by KayJay Tue Jul 28, 2015 9:36 pm

Exhuminator wrote:
KayJay wrote:This game is spectacular.

Yes it is. Congratulations! Now go play the Zero series for a breezy good time.



Yeah, I own the Zero collection.

It's....pretty tough, to say the least. Honestly, I'm not a big fan of it, although it's still pretty good.

@Sarge, thanks dude! :D Yeah, i do like it more than the other snes ones. I own the MMX collection, so I've got to try all of the games. My favorites are X1, & X4.
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Sarge
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Re: Games Beaten 2015

by Sarge Tue Jul 28, 2015 9:54 pm

KayJay wrote:My favorites are X1, & X4.

You have good taste. Those are easily my favorites as well. :)

I've got Collection, which I'm glad I picked up. MMX2 and MMX3 are really expensive. :(
Hardcore Retro Gaming - Talk about games ten years old or older!
“History isn't just the story of bad people doing bad things. It's quite as much a story of people trying to do good things. But somehow, something goes wrong.” -- C.S. Lewis
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Re: Games Beaten 2015

by KayJay Wed Jul 29, 2015 1:01 am

Sarge wrote:
KayJay wrote:My favorites are X1, & X4.

You have good taste. Those are easily my favorites as well. :)

I've got Collection, which I'm glad I picked up. MMX2 and MMX3 are really expensive. :(



Thanks, man. :D

Yeah, X3 especially. Last i checked, it was in the $80-$100 budget. :/


I just bought the PS2 version of Mega Man Anniversary Collection off Amazon (had the GC version, but i couldn't stand the layout), So I'm eager to start that up. :D
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Sarge
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Re: Games Beaten 2015

by Sarge Wed Jul 29, 2015 10:00 am

Oh, yeah, I've got the GC version as well and the control layout just makes it almost unplayable. At least for me it does. I've got my muscle memory trained by this point, and it would take some serious work to unlearn all my Mega Man habits.
Hardcore Retro Gaming - Talk about games ten years old or older!
“History isn't just the story of bad people doing bad things. It's quite as much a story of people trying to do good things. But somehow, something goes wrong.” -- C.S. Lewis
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Re: Games Beaten 2015

by nullPointer Wed Jul 29, 2015 4:20 pm

The list so far ...
13. LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga [PC/Steam]
14. Sonic the Hedgehog [Genesis]
15. Contra [NES]

I'm backlogged on my entries into the Games Beaten thread! Here are the first few entries for games I've beaten in the last couple of months

LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga
As the title indicates, LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga is an amalgamation of two earlier games, LEGO Star Wars: The Video Game and Lego Star Wars II: The Original Saga. I'm calling this an amalgamation as opposed to a compilation due to the fact that the gameplay is presented as a single uninterrupted experience, rather than as two that are separate and distinct. Traveler's Tales has also added some additional content that was not present in either of the earlier stand-alone games.

LEGO Star Wars: The Video Game was the very first LEGO game developed by Traveler's Tales (henceforth referred to as TT), whereas the Original Saga was the second title they developed under the LEGO banner. These titles form the foundation of what are now familiar gameplay features found in nearly all subsequently developed LEGO games. The hallmark sense of humor is here (although like all of the earlier TT LEGO games, there is no spoken dialog), as are the simple LEGO building puzzle elements. We find a familiar hub based level structure with each level branching from that central hub, and of course the LEGO collect-a-thon aspects make their debut here including the requisite stud collection, mini-kits, red bricks, golden bricks, etc. So while a majority of the gameplay elements will be familiar to those who have previously dabbled in LEGO games, it's interesting nonetheless see the ways in which TT was still experimenting with their formula, solidifying what would become their trademark style. This last bit is particularly interesting in the context of The Complete Saga, because you can see Traveler's Tales incorporating lessons learned and improving their games between the separate bookends of the Prequel Levels (featured in LEGO Star Wars: The Video Game), and the original trilogy levels (as featured in The Original Saga). From a historical standpoint it's striking to see how quickly Traveler's Tales was able to deftly incorporate lessons learned from the first game and use them to improve the second game. From a gameplay standpoint though, this creates a bit of dissonance. Stylistically, the Original Saga is a much more robust game. The levels are longer and more complex, the puzzles are generally more interesting, the graphical elements are improved upon, etc. So while the levels in Complete Saga are presented seamlessly, in practice you will notice a very definitive division between the older (prequel) levels and the newer (original saga) levels. Speaking as a bit of a Star Wars nerd I'm happy that the Original Saga levels are the ones with better gameplay.

As I mentioned before, the gameplay elements here will be very familiar to anyone who has played TT LEGO games before. Given the ubiquitous nature of these games, you probably already know whether this game is for you. If you love the LEGO formula you'll find a lot to love here. If the 'break everything in sight collect-a-thon' turns you off, well … these aren't the droids you're looking for. <groan> As I mentioned earlier, TT was still developing their trademark style in these games, so even those who have enjoyed more recent LEGO titles might find some of the elements featured here to be a bit rudimentary. The controls are (naturally) very familiar, but at the same time feel slightly 'looser' than later LEGO titles. Switching between characters can be a bit tedious since TT had yet to develop the character wheel system seen in more recent titles. This means that you need to stand directly next to the character you wish to switch to, and since you often have several characters crowding in on you this can lead to several instances of switching to the wrong character. This can be slightly rage inducing when you're under attack. Speaking of computer controlled characters, they are basically useless while not under your direct control, and even worse you may find many circumstances in which they will actively become a hindrance. There were several circumstances in which I would need to destroy one of my computer controlled allies simply to create a clear line of fire. Get the heck out of the way Chewie! And while I'm on this topic, I won't lie, sometimes I would randomly just lay a beat down on Jar-Jar, because … Jar-Jar.

I need to make special mention of the collectible elements in this game, because that aspect has really been dialed to eleven. If you're like me and you like to unlock everything these games have to offer, well … you're going to be here a while. You'll need to play through every level no less than four times. You'll play a level once in story mode which will unlock free play mode. Then you'll need to play through free play mode to clean up any of the standard remaining goals in that level. Once you've completely finished the episode you'll unlock Challenge and Super Story modes. So you'll play each level again in Challenge mode to retrieve the blue mini-kits, and lastly you'll play through them yet again in Super Story mode which is a time-based score attack and simply adds to your completion percentage. Four times for every level. Once you couple this with the fact that this game features unskippable cut scenes, it can all start to become a bit … tedious. As I mentioned, this part really only applies to completionists, so your mileage may vary significantly in this regard. I think this is another area in which TT was still figuring out the formula, which in this case meant finding an acceptable line between "collect a bunch of unlockables" and "OMFG, will it ever end!?"

The story is … well, if you don't know it by now, you should schedule yourself for a Star Wars movie marathon, stat. Having said that, you don't need to be a Star Wars scholar to appreciate the game for what it is. In point of fact it can be a great introduction to the Star Wars universe for young padawan Star Wars fans looking to get a toehold on the series. It keeps everything fairly light and deftly negotiates some of the darker aspects of the story. It's also a great game to play co-op with young ones. The game treats its subject matter with great reverence and humor. As a Star Wars fan I enjoyed the game from beginning to end, and this game easily fits within the upper echelons of the greatest Start Wars games ever released. There are six levels devoted to each movie within the Star Wars saga, and among them you will find all the standard Star Wars set pieces you might expect in a game of this nature along with some surprising gems. The levels feature a mix of on-foot and piloted air/space craft missions. All the missions are paced very well, and keep things moving along at a nice clip. Furthermore the plethora of unlockable characters available keeps things fresh enough so that repeated playthroughs seldom feel stale.

Overall the games presented here are highly enjoyable and well done. Even in their first forays into LEGO games, TT was already onto a winning formula that would continue to be refined in later games. This game gets my recommendation for fans of simple puzzle-based adventure games appropriate for gamers both young and old, and especially for being a great co-op game.
Sonic the Hedgehog
True confessions time. This is the first game I've ever beaten for a Sega console. Shocking I know. While I certainly wouldn't ascribe to being a Nintendo fanboy, I exclusively played Nintendo consoles growing up until such time that I moved on to Sony based hardware. So Sega consoles always had a certain sense of 'otherness' to me, and not always in a good way. Whereas first party Nintendo titles exuded polish and pedigree, Sega titles felt scrappy and irreverent. In the 16 bit era when Nintendo was really starting to refine the console gaming experience as something completely separate and distinct from both arcade and computer gaming, many Sega titles still maintained strong ties to the roots of arcade gaming. Whereas Nintendo was the reigning heavy weight champ, Sega was the up and coming bruiser.

Is it a misstatement to say that the Sonic series was the crown jewel of the Sega lineup at this time? For the sake of this mini review, I'm going to say that it was. Here's what I found interesting about finally playing this game to completion. Whereas history tells us that Sonic was designed and marketed in direct competition with Mario, I find very few actual gameplay similarities between these titles. Sonic was all about the use of big, bold, and beautiful sprite work. Mario at the time was still using smaller sprites. From a control standpoint Sonic relied on a perceived sense of speed and (sometimes barely) controlled momentum. Mario relied on razor sharp platforming, with only small tiny margins for drift. Sonic bosses (although technically all the same villain) were distinctly different from level to level and forced the player to constantly adjust strategies. Mario bosses were relatively staid and utilized a small set of similar (and often repeating strategies). If we're talking about apples to apples competition it's actually a bit odd to compare Sonic and Mario, and in point of fact I found a lot more similarities between Sonic the Hedgehog and Donkey Kong Country. That may be a conversation for a different post, but I thought it was an interesting corollary.

Another aspect that I found interesting was that there's a bit of a disparity between the way that the game was marketed as being a "balls to the wall thrilling speed-fest" (paraphrased), and the way that the game actually plays. In point of fact I would contend that while there are certain sections of the game that encourage putting the pedal to the metal, much of the game requires a more careful and considered approach to the platforming at hand. If you go too fast you might miss some great shortcuts along the way. Even more than that, the game can be a bit malicious with enemy and trap placement in sections that would seem to encourage a speedy approach. In this sense the game often punishes speed in a way that would seem to counter the marketing (and public opinion in general).

The graphics here are absolutely beautiful in a timeless sort of way. This game is one of the finest examples of an all too fleeting era in which 2D sprite based graphics were operating on a level of fine art. It really is a beautiful game to look at, and IMO one of the most visually striking of its era. Sonic the Hedgehog confidently and unerringly set the groundwork for the iconic look and feel of the Sonic series right here at the series inception. It's really sort of amazing how well conceived this series was straight from the start.

That doesn't necessarily mean that it's a perfect game though. The use of larger Sprites means that the platforming can feel less precise, and as you progress further into the game it relies more and more on precise platforming. Compounding the issue of imprecise platforming is that controlling Sonic can feel pretty drifty at times. I suspect part of this issue can be chalked up to the fact that the jumping mid-air 'turn into a ball' animation for Sonic is very different from the takeoff and landing animations, although I also don't think that sums up the entirety of the issue. It's just a bit of a drifty game. Having said all of that, I doubt that it would much feel like a Sonic game if that drifty feel were tightened up or altered. It's actually not so bad, once you get used to it, but conversely I think that's the main driving factor that prevented me from seeing this game through for all these years.

The stages in this game are well executed and rather brilliant. For my money the game hits its high points around the mid-point with the lineup of Spring Yard, Labyrinth, and Star Light Zones. I also need to make special mention of the Special Chaos Emerald Zones in Sonic the Hedgehog. These levels show off the parallax scrolling capabilities of the Genesis in splendid fashion, and while they are (sometimes frustratingly) brief, they are a joy to play. These levels even caught the attention of my wife who is not a gamer, and who rarely pays any attention whatsoever to what I'm playing. "Cool! That looks psychedelic!" she exclaimed. And that in a nutshell encapsulates the universal appeal of Sonic. If a 23 year old game manages to capture my wife's attention however briefly, it's doing something (or several things) right.

Usually I end these things with some sort of recommendation summary, but really what is there to say? If you fancy yourself a retro gamer this is required reading playing. I'm a bit chagrined that it took me this long to get around to it.
Contra
After finishing Sonic, I started up Contra on a whim, as I hadn't played it for a while. I had forgotten how short this game is (even by the standards of its time)! Any time spent with Contra is time well spent though.

One of the things I love about this game is just how tight it feels. The controls are precise and responsive in the best possible way. And that's good because this is a game that requires, nay demands, precision from the player. To an extent, this sort of precision further requires pattern and placement memorization of the part of the player, but to this extent it never feels tedious or grinding. Perhaps that is due in part to its short duration, but I would say that to an even greater extent it's because it rewards the requisite precision and memorization with spectacle and wonder. Especially at the time of its release this was a game of spectacle. The bosses are larger than life and tough as nails. The levels are constantly changing not only in their scenery but in their rudimentary compositional mechanics. You have horizontal side-scrolling one minute, followed by rudimentary pseudo-3D, followed by vertical scrolling. From a gameplay perspective this constant shake-up keeps you on your toes, as you never quite settle into a groove before the game turns the tables again. It keeps the player slightly off balance, but continually eager to see what it will throw at you next. Contra is a game that inherently understands its tonal makeup and absolutely knocks it out of the park without fail. It represents so much of what was awesome about the outrageous 80's and reflects it across the span of time through an 8-bit lens.

I really need to make special mention of the music and sound effects here as they're quite remarkable. The sound of the gunfire combined with the intensity of the soundtrack propels this game forward with an unstoppable drive. It's the type of game that feels like you're doing it wrong if you try to take it slow, or take your finger off the trigger. Even the dying sound is badass, although I suppose that's a good thing as it's something you'll likely be hearing often.

Although this game isn't the progenitor of the Konami code, I think it's the game that popularized and imprinted its muscle memory as an unforgettable sequence for many of us in the U.S. This was some of the first "arcane video game lore" that I was ever aware of, passed down from Nintendo Power and onwards from kid to kid in the form of secret oral history.

All told this is a game that's exceedingly satisfying when you find your groove as a one-man army, and equally punishing should you slip out of that groove for a moment. If you've not played this game, you really owe it to yourself to check it out. It truly is one of the very best action oriented titles on the NES.
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