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BogusMeatFactory
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Re: Games Beaten 2015

by BogusMeatFactory Thu Apr 09, 2015 12:34 pm

1. Jazzpunk (PC)
2. Grand Theft Auto: Vice City (PS2)
3. Grandia (PS1)
4. Hotline Miami (PC)
5. Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon (3DS)
6. Off-Peak (PC)
7. realMYST: Masterpiece Edition (PC)
8. Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords (DS)
9. Super Mario 3D Land (3DS)
10. Space Pirates (PC)
11. NiGHTS Into Dreams (PC)
12. Inherit the Earth (PC)


Inherit the Earth is a standard point-and-click adventure game developed by, The Dreamers Guild, who also worked on the Kyrandia series and a recently featured Together Retro title, I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream. The setting created by the developers paints a strange future, where mankind, in their advanced technological state, genetically altered numerous animals that gave them sentience and changed them. These animals worked with the humans in research, but at some point, something went wrong and humanity disappeared off of the planet, leaving the animals to roam and later form tribes and their own rudimentary civilizations that relied on their various skills and what little was salvaged from humanity.

In this title, you play as Riff the fox, who is accused of stealing a human relic they refer to as, The Orb of Storms, which could predict weather patterns and inform them when to plant and harvest crops. In order to prove your innocence, you must travel with your entourage of guards, Eeah of the Elk Tribe and Okk of the Boar Tribe to try and solve the mystery of who stole the orb and why.

What makes this game fun and interesting is that there is some genuinely good voice acting and character development throughout the game. Each character in your party have interesting story arcs that help bring about personal struggles in them. Okk the Boar was put on this assignment as punishment for his irresponsibility in protecting the Boar Chief by getting drunk and is constantly ridiculed by his peers. He is at first resentful of you and of Eeah until a certain point in the game where you help boast his confidence and regain some of his honor with his peers.

With Riff himself, you feel his frustration as he eventually is grasping at straws on where to go and what to do, addressing these moments where you are simply wandering and looking for points of interest in a larger map. Riff seems to be fed up with this reliance on these fragments of human technology and it is very clear that a lot of the animals know nothing of the humans anymore, but revere them as gods and cling to little human relics like a cheap trophy as if it is something truly spectacular. For him it is all about learning to rely on your neighbors and growing together as a team, which is an incredibly important theme near the end of the game itself.

Where the game falters is in the inconsistency of the game itself. You can tell right from the get-go that there was conflict between the developers and the publishers. In an interview back in 2000, David Joiner, one of the lead developers stated that a lot of things were cut or changed to help foster a kid-friendly image. In reality, they wanted to make a more grim title that had a broad range of emotions and would appeal to everyone, but the publisher would not have it.

Under harsh restrictions and horrible deadlines, the developers had to cut a lot of material out and pad the game with mazes… yes, mazes. There are three instances of mazes in the game and they are absolutely infuriating to navigate. One maze in particular, you have to navigate twice and take up a bulk of the games experience. The developers themselves regret putting them in the title and stated that there was pressure to add these activities to appeal to kids. I don’t know how mazes appeal to anyone in videogames, but sure! Why not?!

These mazes ruin a brilliant world that was full of life and character. They tarnish these moments where you are introduced to new tribes of animals and compare and contrast their way of life compared to yours. You see their customs and behaviors and their view on humans. Some revere them more, while others completely ignore their existence.

I would recommend playing the game still, as it is a very interesting game none the less. It can be purchased through GOG or through steam, but I used my personal copy from the SSI collection called Worlds of Sword and Steel, which includes the voiced version of the game. I also want to point out that the original creator of the series started a web comic to continue the story which can be found here.

There is also a patreon for their sequel Inherit the Earth: Sand and Shadows which is an episodic title they are trying to get funded and an upcoming kickstarter campaign. I highly recommend the game for people who are interested in a unique and interesting world with great voice acting and simplistic puzzles. Even though the mazes infuriate and annoy, the game is still worth playing and experiencing. Check it out!
Ack wrote:I don't know, chief, the haunting feeling of lust I feel whenever I look at your avatar makes me think it's real.

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Stark
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Re: Games Beaten 2015

by Stark Thu Apr 09, 2015 12:42 pm

Holy crap they worked on Kyrandia?!? Ok, you had my attention at that. Thanks for the write-up BoMeFa, this is now on my list.
Let strength be granted, so the world might be mended...so the world might be mended.
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Exhuminator
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Re: Games Beaten 2015

by Exhuminator Thu Apr 09, 2015 1:49 pm

1. Devil's Attorney (Android | 2012 | strategy) (7/10)
2. Resident Evil 5 (360 | 2009 | action adventure) (8/10)
3. Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed (360 | 2010 | kart racer) (8/10)
4. Dragon Quest VIII (PS2 | 2005 | JRPG) (9/10)
5. Gears of War (360 | 2006 | cover shooter) (6/10)
6. Uncharted: Golden Abyss (Vita | 2012 | action adventure) (7/10)
7. Orcs & Elves (DS | 2007 | dungeon crawler) (7/10)
8. From The Abyss (DS | 2008 | action-RPG) (5/10)
9. Army of Two (360 | 2008 | cover shooter) (7/10)
10. Psychic World (Master System | 1991 | platformer) (4/10)
11. Endless Ocean: Blue World (Wii | 2010 | adventure / simulation) (9/10)
12. Journey to Silius (NES | 1990 | platformer) (6/10)
13. Sword Master (NES | 1992 | platformer) (3/10)
14. Project: Snowblind (PC | 2005 | FPS) (7/10)
15. Yakyuuken Part II - Gal's Dungeon (Famicom | 1989 | maze / puzzle) (5/10)
16. Bishoujo Sexy Derby (Famicom | 1988 | horse racing) (2/10)
17. SiN Episodes: Emergence (PC | 2006 | FPS) (5/10)
18. Seirei Gari (AKA Ghost Hunter) (NES | 1989 | puzzle / adventure) (4/10)
19. The Guardian Legend (NES | 1989 | action-RPG / shmup) (9/10)
20. Prey (PC | 2006 | FPS) (7/10)
21. Ys IV: Mask of the Sun (SFC | 1993 | action-RPG) (4/10)
22. Star Wars Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader (GameCube | 2001 | combat flight sim) (3/10)
23. Ys V: Lost Kefin, Kingdom of Sand (SFC | 1995 | action-RPG) (7/10)
24. Bonk's Adventure (TurboGrafx-16 | 1990 | platformer) (6/10)
25. Lost Kingdoms (GameCube | 2002 | CCG-action-RPG) (8/10)
26. Bonk's Revenge (TurboGrafx-16 | 1991 | platformer) (6/10)
27. Blazing Lazers (TurboGrafx-16 | 1989 | shmup) (7/10)
28. Heatseeker (PS2 | 2007 | arcade flight combat) (7/10)
29. Castlevania: The Adventure (Game Boy | 1989 | platformer) (3/10)
30. Castlevania II: Belmont's Revenge (Game Boy | 1991 | platformer) (7/10)
31. Castlevania Legends (Game Boy | 1998 | platformer) (5/10)
Image
Transylvania, 1450AD. Dracula has risen as an embodiment of all evil. Sonia Belmont vows to defeat him. As such she is the first Belmont to confront Dracula. But can she defeat the lord of darkness? Will Dracula's son Alucard help or hinder this situation? And most importantly of all, can Konami manage to make the experience actually entertaining? Seven years after the last Castlevania on Game Boy, Konami released Legends so we could find out. One might assume having that many years since iterations, Legends would have a lot to offer over Belmont's Revenge. I'm sad to say, that is not the case here.

The first noticeable issue is that Legend's graphics have taken a huge leap backwards from Belmont's Revenge. Sprite work is crude and sparsely animated, and the background artwork is absolutely primitive. Worse yet, the series' staple of having great music is entirely absent, as the OST on offer is paltry to put it nicely. Level progression has returned to being linear, and the levels on display are quite large. Unfortunately despite being large, the level design is bland and uninspired, with nary a clever or innovative concept to intrigue the player. Sonia herself is given some special abilities (one of which is duck walking, seriously). She has the power to go into a berserk mode which makes her invincible temporarily. Because of how this ability is triggered however, it's easy to accidentally trigger it and waste it. Outside that, secondary weapons are replaced with a magic system that uses hearts as magic points. A few magic abilities are useful, but overall you'll probably just wish you had the axe again. Legends is also a very easy game, far easier than earlier series entries on the Game Boy. You'll likely blow right through this game on your first play session. There are hidden collectable items to find to extend game time, but the benefit of finding these items isn't immediately clear to the player (or needed to defeat Dracula from my experience with the game).

It's a little confusing as to why Konami released Legends in 1998 at all. Perhaps the Pokemon craze that brought the Game Boy back to the forefront of gaming in 1998, was the impetus for this soulless obviously rushed Castlevania cash-in. Legends just comes across as amateurish in its presentation and design, a far cry from what the studio offered in 1991 with Belmont's Revenge. The one saving grace I can say about Legends, is that it has a strong female protagonist. At least her game is perfectly playable, albeit absolutely uninspired potboiler. It's too bad Sonia had to suffer through such a legendarily boring game.
PLAY KING'S FIELD.
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BoneSnapDeez
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Re: Games Beaten 2015

by BoneSnapDeez Thu Apr 09, 2015 3:03 pm

1. Grandia (PlayStation)
2. Jungle Hunt (Xbox - Taito Legends)
3. Jungle Hunt (Atari 2600)
4. Jungle Hunt (Plug & Play - ColecoVision Flashback)
5. Donkey Kong (Atari 2600)
6. Donkey Kong (Intellivision)
7. Donkey Kong (ColecoVision)
8. Bubble Bobble (NES)
9. Side Arms: Hyper Dyne (PSP - Capcom Classics Collection Remixed)
10. 1941: Counter Attack (PSP - Capcom Classics Collection Remixed)
11. Ys: The Ark of Napishtim (PSP)
12. The Ninja Kids (Xbox - Taito Legends)
13. Neutopia (TurboGrafx-16)
14. Golden Axe Warrior (Xbox 360 - Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection)
15. Phantasy Star Online Ver. 2 (Dreamcast)
16. Growl (PlayStation 2 - Taito Legends 2)
17. Arabian Magic (PlayStation 2 - Taito Legends 2)
18. Dungeon Magic (PlayStation 2 - Taito Legends 2)
19. Gekirindan (PlayStation 2 - Taito Legends 2)
20. Ys II (Saturn - Falcom Classics II)
21. Darius Gaiden (PlayStation 2 - Taito Legends 2)
22. G Darius (PlayStation 2 - Taito Legends 2)
23. Giana Sisters DS (DS)
24. RayStorm (PlayStation 2 - Taito Legends 2)
25. Mr. Do! (ColecoVision)
26. Beauty & the Beast (Intellivision)
27. Boxing (PlayStation 2 - Activision Anthology)
28. Crystalis (NES)
29. Dragon Warrior (NES)
30. Faxanadu (NES)
31. Tombs & Treasure (NES)
32. Kirby's Dream Land (Game Boy)
33. Kirby's Adventure (NES)
34. Kirby Super Star (SNES)
35. Hoshi no Kirby 64 (Nintendo 64)
36. Kirby: Triple Deluxe (3DS)
37. Dig Dug (Wii - Namco Museum Megamix)
38. Phoenix (Xbox - Taito Legends)
39. Phoenix (Atari 2600)
40. Pleiads (Xbox - Tecmo Classic Arcade)
41. Kangaroo (Atari 2600)
42. Final Fantasy Adventure (Game Boy)
43. Gorf (Atari 2600)
44. Richard Scarry's Huckle and Lowly's Busiest Day Ever (Pico)
45. Mickey's Blast Into the Past (Pico)
46. Secret of Mana (SNES)

Secret of Mana (Seiken Densetsu 2) is our current Together RPG game. Check it out!

Mana is a childhood favorite of mine and I was pleased to have a reason/excuse to revisit it. It's an incredibly striking game, and one of my personal SNES favorites, but it comes bundled with a helping of shortcomings that may be too severe for some to overlook.

Aesthetically speaking, Mana knocks it out of the park. It boasts what it perhaps the most incredible opening to any video game ever. And that just sets the tone for what is to come. I've heard people describe Muramasa (Wii/Vita) as a "painting you can play through" but Mana has that game beat by 20+ years. Everything about SoM's world is lush and organic. The color palette is extremely rich and the amount of detail contained within every corner of the world is incredible. Tall grass sways among the shorter stalks, knee-deep water glistens and sparkles as your characters trudge though, the penultimate "dungeon" (the "Pure Land") is shrouded in shade in mist. Each setting is meticulously crafted resulting in one of the best-looking SNES console games to date. Of course such beauty would go to waste without some competent accompanying music. Thankfully the OST is incredibly memorable. It was composed by Hiroki Kikuta, who was never a giant in the industry but is best remembered for the tracks he laid down for this game and its direct sequel. SoM's soundtrack is reminiscent of the redbook audio found in game's like Ys Book I & II - it's clearly and undoubtedly "video game music" but it also flirts with the sounds of "real instruments." Percussion, strings, and woodwinds are used heavily to create a rich series of tunes. Some of the most memorable tracks are downright chilling - such as the Ceremony theme of the ruins and the ridiculous industrial beat-down heard during one of the final boss battles.

The game itself is an action-RPG featuring three playable characters - a boy, a girl, and a sprite whose gender is somewhat ambiguous. A single player can cycle between each of the three characters, leaving the other two controlled by the (adjustable) AI. The game also supports multiplayer (looks intriguing, but I have no friends). The story begins when the boy is banished from his village after cursing it by removing an ancient sacred sword from its resting place. Then, uh, a bunch of other stuff happens. Honestly, the story is quite incoherent. The game's development was tumultuous (it began as a "SNES CD" title) and it was rushed to release. The dialogue feels lacking and incomplete, as Ted Woolsey apparently translated the entire thing during one 15-minute bathroom break. The villains lack any real motivation and new ones are frequently introduced with no context. Even the final boss feels lazily tossed into the mix. There's something of "love story" between the girl and a NPC that's completely underutilized. Add to that a sidestory involving a rebellion (against "the empire" naturally) that makes little sense. Many of the characters themselves are endearing though. The girl and sprite are adorable and there's some occasional sprite-on-girl flirting. The characters look great - the sprites are large with plenty of facial details and expressions. I just wished Luka's sprite had been rendered a bit better. She's supposed to be a beautiful woman but ends up looking like Mario with a bushier mustache.

SoM's actual gameplay - more specifically, its combat system - is the game's biggest point of contention. It's downright bizarre and resembles nothing else but (some) other games in the series. First off, combat with melee weapons isn't done by quickly tapping the attack (B) button. Instead the button must be held - the weapons are "charged" - and then released to achieve maximum damage potential. Weapons also level up separately from the standard experience leveling, and they can be "charged" up more with each consecutive level.The charging takes time, several seconds at high levels, which leaves one vulnerable to enemy attacks. Eventually one realizes that a level 8 attack just takes too damn long to be effective - you're all but guaranteed to be knocked down by a blow or spell in the time it takes to charge - and that two consecutive level 4 attacks will get the job done. Mana also features a wide assortment of weapons, but most of them are superfluous as enemies lack the specific weapon immunity seen in Final Fantasy Adventure. Don't waste too much time leveling more than one weapon per character - it is essential to have them upgraded by the blacksmith, however.

The magic system is even stranger. Most action-RPGs - let's use Link to the Past, Ys II, and Final Fantasy Adventure as examples - utilize magic like so: the player equips the magic spell (or wand or whatever) and then must aim and shoot fire/ice/etc projectiles at enemies. Secret of Mana, despite being an action-RPG, uses magic like a turn-based one. The player selects a spell from a menu, then selects an onscreen enemy (for an offensive spell) or party member (for a healing or defensive spell) and then confirms. That's it. An astute reader may be wondering: "does than mean I can simply stand in one spot and spam bosses?" Yes. Yes you can. And it makes certain areas of the game far too easy than they have any right to be. And while it's true that enemies could (theoretically) do the same to the protagonists they aren't nearly as fast or cheap as the average player.

Some other thoughts: the game's AI is quite good! The two computer-controlled characters can have their settings altered - I prefer to keep them aggressive. I never found them to be too "smart" or "dumb" and they were generally helpful throughout. There's been a lot of fuss made about the AI characters getting caught up in the scenery (the screen won't scroll if this occurs) but this is ultimately a rare occurrence. Secret of Mana's menus are quite fascinating. They consists of a series of rings each dedicated to one specific submenu (weapons, magic, items, stats). It's a great visual, as it doesn't block or consume the entire screen. Equipping armor is a tad cumbersome however.

It's a bit of a cliché but Secret of Mana has all the markings if a "flawed masterpiece." It's undeniably rushed and rough around the edges, but the gorgeous game universe makes up for this in spades. Highly recommended.
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retrosportsgamer
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Re: Games Beaten 2015

by retrosportsgamer Thu Apr 09, 2015 9:07 pm

BogusMeatFactory wrote:12. Inherit the Earth (PC)

Inherit the Earth is a standard point-and-click adventure game developed by, The Dreamers Guild, who also worked on the Kyrandia series and a recently featured Together Retro title, I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream. The setting created by the developers paints a strange future, where mankind, in their advanced technological state, genetically altered numerous animals that gave them sentience and changed them. These animals worked with the humans in research, but at some point, something went wrong and humanity disappeared off of the planet, leaving the animals to roam and later form tribes and their own rudimentary civilizations that relied on their various skills and what little was salvaged from humanity.

In this title, you play as Riff the fox, who is accused of stealing a human relic they refer to as, The Orb of Storms, which could predict weather patterns and inform them when to plant and harvest crops. In order to prove your innocence, you must travel with your entourage of guards, Eeah of the Elk Tribe and Okk of the Boar Tribe to try and solve the mystery of who stole the orb and why.

What makes this game fun and interesting is that there is some genuinely good voice acting and character development throughout the game. Each character in your party have interesting story arcs that help bring about personal struggles in them. Okk the Boar was put on this assignment as punishment for his irresponsibility in protecting the Boar Chief by getting drunk and is constantly ridiculed by his peers. He is at first resentful of you and of Eeah until a certain point in the game where you help boast his confidence and regain some of his honor with his peers.

With Riff himself, you feel his frustration as he eventually is grasping at straws on where to go and what to do, addressing these moments where you are simply wandering and looking for points of interest in a larger map. Riff seems to be fed up with this reliance on these fragments of human technology and it is very clear that a lot of the animals know nothing of the humans anymore, but revere them as gods and cling to little human relics like a cheap trophy as if it is something truly spectacular. For him it is all about learning to rely on your neighbors and growing together as a team, which is an incredibly important theme near the end of the game itself.

Where the game falters is in the inconsistency of the game itself. You can tell right from the get-go that there was conflict between the developers and the publishers. In an interview back in 2000, David Joiner, one of the lead developers stated that a lot of things were cut or changed to help foster a kid-friendly image. In reality, they wanted to make a more grim title that had a broad range of emotions and would appeal to everyone, but the publisher would not have it.

Under harsh restrictions and horrible deadlines, the developers had to cut a lot of material out and pad the game with mazes… yes, mazes. There are three instances of mazes in the game and they are absolutely infuriating to navigate. One maze in particular, you have to navigate twice and take up a bulk of the games experience. The developers themselves regret putting them in the title and stated that there was pressure to add these activities to appeal to kids. I don’t know how mazes appeal to anyone in videogames, but sure! Why not?!

These mazes ruin a brilliant world that was full of life and character. They tarnish these moments where you are introduced to new tribes of animals and compare and contrast their way of life compared to yours. You see their customs and behaviors and their view on humans. Some revere them more, while others completely ignore their existence.

I would recommend playing the game still, as it is a very interesting game none the less. It can be purchased through GOG or through steam, but I used my personal copy from the SSI collection called Worlds of Sword and Steel, which includes the voiced version of the game. I also want to point out that the original creator of the series started a web comic to continue the story which can be found here.

There is also a patreon for their sequel Inherit the Earth: Sand and Shadows which is an episodic title they are trying to get funded and an upcoming kickstarter campaign. I highly recommend the game for people who are interested in a unique and interesting world with great voice acting and simplistic puzzles. Even though the mazes infuriate and annoy, the game is still worth playing and experiencing. Check it out!


I remember beating this back in high school. Really enjoyed it and was real disappointed they never made the follow-up. Never knew it was on GOG.
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BoneSnapDeez
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Re: Games Beaten 2015

by BoneSnapDeez Thu Apr 09, 2015 9:38 pm

Never knew you guys were furries.
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BogusMeatFactory
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Re: Games Beaten 2015

by BogusMeatFactory Thu Apr 09, 2015 10:43 pm

BoneSnapDeez wrote:Never knew you guys were furries.


Nah, I just like adventure games with interesting stories.
Ack wrote:I don't know, chief, the haunting feeling of lust I feel whenever I look at your avatar makes me think it's real.

-I am the idiot that likes to have fun and be happy.
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Key-Glyph
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Re: Games Beaten 2015

by Key-Glyph Fri Apr 10, 2015 1:50 am

1. Pokémon SoulSilver (DS)
2. Sushi Academy (DS)
3. Alcahest (SFC)
4. Comix Zone (GEN)
5. Lost Vikings (GEN)
6. Beautiful Katamari (360)
7. Toejam & Earl (GEN)*
8. Final Fantasy Legend III (GB)
9. Toejam & Earl [2-player] (GEN)*

10. Mass Effect 1 (360)*
I've played the living daylights out of the Mass Effect games and yet I'm still as drawn in as ever. Since the first day I gave them a serious attempt in 2012 I've been in a more-or-less constant state of playing them. Every runthrough is unique and interesting, and by the time I finally see one of my Shepards all the way through to the end of the trilogy, it's guaranteed I've gotten the itch to pick up the first installment again. ME1 is above and beyond my absolute favorite, so it's always like a triumphant return home to start over again. #teammako #enemyiseverywhere #spectresagainstthermalclips #gogogo

I purposely mix things up with every Shepard. In the past I've played a Paragon Sentinel on Veteran, a Renegade Infiltrator on Hardcore, and an "uncharismatic" Vanguard on Insanity ("uncharismatic" = almost all middle dialog options, hardly any charm/intimidate options, hardly any interrupts in later games). This fourth time I went with Engineer -- reportedly the least popular class by far -- and deliberately saw through some major plot points I'd thus far avoided, which basically amounted to my being a cold-blooded space racist.

I'm always floored by how different each run feels based on my decisions, class, and squadmates (I haven't yet repeated a squad combination). The story somehow feels fresh through every new commander's eyes. I'll hate certain characters as a particular Shepard, then love them as the next. Missions will take on a new importance or triviality based on my chosen backgrounds. I'll even be suddenly moved to tears during moments that merely seemed "a shame" on previous playthroughs. I mean, I have a frickin' spreadsheet outlining each of my Shepards' choices. My best friend and I have exchanged tens of thousands of words on our Sheps' personalities, motivations, and inferred life experiences. If I could only play one game for the rest of my life, it would be this one. Seriously. And that surprises me just as much as it surprises you.

So, this was not an objective review, nor did it really have a point. My apologies. This game just rules, and it begs multiple playthroughs, and I'm still going to be discovering new stuff as I import this Shep into the later games -- and that's despite the fact that I don't even want to disclose how many hours I've sunk into this trilogy.
* = replay
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Ack
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Re: Games Beaten 2015

by Ack Fri Apr 10, 2015 10:17 am

1. Renegade Ops (PC)(Multidirectional Shooter)
2. Borderlands 2 (PC)(FPS/RPG)
3. Gunpoint (PC)(Puzzle Platformer)
4. Robotrek (SNES)(RPG)
5. The Tick (SNES)(Beat 'Em Up)
6. Alien vs Predator (SNES)(Beat 'Em Up)
7. X-Kaliber 2097 (SNES)(Action Platformer)
8. Metal Slug (MVS)(Run and Gun)
9. Shadowrun (SNES)(RPG)
10. Quake II (PC)(FPS)
11. The Twisted Tales of Spike McFang (SNES)(RPG)
12. Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number (PC)(Action)
13. A Story About My Uncle (PC)(Platformer)
14. Star Wars Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II (PC)(FPS)
15. Star Wars Jedi Knight: Mysteries of the Sith (PC)(FPS)
16. Catacomb (PC)(Top-Down Shooter)
17. Catacomb Abyss (PC)(FPS)


I've had a hankering to play through some of the Catacomb series lately. If any of you guys take an interest in the series, I recommend the Catacombs Pack on GOG. It contains the first PC top-down shooter Catacomb and the sequel The Catacomb, the four FPS Catacomb games, as well as the original Dangerous Dave game by John Romero.

As I just said, the first Catacomb is a top-down shooter. It was developed by John Carmack for the Apple II and later ported to DOS in a shorter 10 level form for release on the Gamer's Edge game subscription service along with John Romero's Dangerous Dave. As I had access to the Gamer's Edge version, this is what I played.

There are two ways to play through the Catacomb Gamer's Edge release: you either rush it, or you play for score. All of this will change how you approach the first level, because you are given a single key and two locked doors to level ending magic mirrors, one of which takes you to level 2, while the second takes you to a set of mirrors which will transport the player to levels 3, 5, 7, or 9. The door to the multiple mirrors is hidden behind a secret wall, of course, but there are many, many secrets in the walls of Catacomb, and you must uncover many of them to continue on your journey. The game even has a trick on level 5 to fool the unwary player who doesn't properly search for secrets. In the meantime, you must gather potions and scrolls to aid you while finding keys to unlock doors and shooting the various fantasy-inspired monsters that roam the levels.

The game is fast and intentionally designed to be, and the controls feel a little sluggish, making things that much harder for the player. The counter to this is a strafe button to let you lock a position to fire in, potions that instantly heal you to full, a chargeable base attack for a larger blast, and two different types of magic scrolls which unleash devastating magic attacks when triggered. You'll need these to get past the monsters, which steadily ramp up in power, size, and capability, until you finally find yourself up against the dreaded dragon outside the final mirror on level 10. Your total potions and scrolls remains constant between levels, and though there is a visual limit imposed on how many you can carry, the game actually tracks well beyond that, so you will likely end up with more than you realize.

Here lies the difficulty of the choice in that first level then: go to level 9, but have only a few opportunities to gather up needed supplies to take down the biggest horde of baddies in the final level and gain a pitifully small score, or go to level 2 and work your way through the catacomb level by level, with more gear and score but many more chances to fail? After all, a few of the floors also have puzzles or require you to use keys in specific ways. And since you cannot save during the game, if you screw up or die, it's back to level 1. Your call...

===============================================

Catacomb Abyss is a different animal, though one which still acknowledges its series' roots. The Catacomb games made a huge transition in the third game, from top-down to first person perspective. Catacomb 3-D is one of the first id Software FPS games, predating Wolfenstein 3D by half a year, though using the same perspective, the same perspective tricks, and even some of the same sprites as id's earlier vehicular combat game Hovertank 3D. After Catacomb 3-D, Softdisk took the series over and released the "Catacomb Adventure Series," Catacomb Abyss, Catacomb Armageddon, and Catacomb Apocalypse. All of the Adventure titles build on Catacomb 3-D but incorporate new ideas similar to Wolfenstein 3D.

So how does Catacomb Abyss compare? Well, actually, it's rather impressive. Instead of using Catacomb 3-D's cryptic head turning into a skeleton to represent health, the game features a 100% counter with a headshot that gets more beat up the more damage you take. The potions, scrolls, and keys are all back, as is the basic magic missile, but you can not charge it up like in the original game. While you play as the same character throughout the series, Catacomb 3-D also introduces the series' villain, Nemesis, and the Adventure series continues this story. In Abyss, you have to enter Nemesis' mausoleum because townsfolk feel something evil is coming from within. Once you do, you discover Nemesis has revived, and he has legions of monsters to attack you with!

What is really impressive about the game is the variety of textures it provides, giving every level a unique feel, as well as some nice effects with monsters, particularly the trolls that swim in the aqueduct and the skeletons that actually climb out of the walls in several levels of the game. I was amazed the first time I noticed a skeleton in the wall had shifted its position, only to start backpedaling and firing wildly when he suddenly popped out right in front of me and went on the offensive. And you do not want to fire wildly in this game, because your blasts can actually destroy many of the items you want to pick up! The healing potions, powered up spells, and treasure chests available can all be destroyed by your own magic, and often times the game will make sure to use them as a barrier blocking a monster to force you to either get in close or lose the opportunity to grab whatever the item is.

The later Catacomb games also feature a difficulty setting, either Novice or Warrior. On Warrior, enemies have considerably more health, do more damage, and I believe move slightly faster than their Novice counterparts, though I think the amount of enemies and items remains constant. There is a radar in the game, but I noticed that it struggles to track enemies that you have not fought before, and your own attacks appear on it, making it less reliable than I had initially hoped. Then again, there is an item that stops time for all enemies as well as your spells, and you then get to run around and set up massive waves of magic attacks before stepping back and watching it crash over the enemies on the radar once the item expires. That was a lot of fun to do.

If you like old school FPS of the Wolfenstein 3D, Blake Stone, or Ken's Labyrinth variety, the later Catacomb games are rudimentary but still a blast to play. The controls are unfortunately jammed together but aren't too hard to pick up, and it is possible using DOSBox to modify them towards a more modern scheme. I'm looking forward to playing through Catacomb Armageddon soon.
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BoneSnapDeez
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Re: Games Beaten 2015

by BoneSnapDeez Fri Apr 10, 2015 1:44 pm

1. Grandia (PlayStation)
2. Jungle Hunt (Xbox - Taito Legends)
3. Jungle Hunt (Atari 2600)
4. Jungle Hunt (Plug & Play - ColecoVision Flashback)
5. Donkey Kong (Atari 2600)
6. Donkey Kong (Intellivision)
7. Donkey Kong (ColecoVision)
8. Bubble Bobble (NES)
9. Side Arms: Hyper Dyne (PSP - Capcom Classics Collection Remixed)
10. 1941: Counter Attack (PSP - Capcom Classics Collection Remixed)
11. Ys: The Ark of Napishtim (PSP)
12. The Ninja Kids (Xbox - Taito Legends)
13. Neutopia (TurboGrafx-16)
14. Golden Axe Warrior (Xbox 360 - Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection)
15. Phantasy Star Online Ver. 2 (Dreamcast)
16. Growl (PlayStation 2 - Taito Legends 2)
17. Arabian Magic (PlayStation 2 - Taito Legends 2)
18. Dungeon Magic (PlayStation 2 - Taito Legends 2)
19. Gekirindan (PlayStation 2 - Taito Legends 2)
20. Ys II (Saturn - Falcom Classics II)
21. Darius Gaiden (PlayStation 2 - Taito Legends 2)
22. G Darius (PlayStation 2 - Taito Legends 2)
23. Giana Sisters DS (DS)
24. RayStorm (PlayStation 2 - Taito Legends 2)
25. Mr. Do! (ColecoVision)
26. Beauty & the Beast (Intellivision)
27. Boxing (PlayStation 2 - Activision Anthology)
28. Crystalis (NES)
29. Dragon Warrior (NES)
30. Faxanadu (NES)
31. Tombs & Treasure (NES)
32. Kirby's Dream Land (Game Boy)
33. Kirby's Adventure (NES)
34. Kirby Super Star (SNES)
35. Hoshi no Kirby 64 (Nintendo 64)
36. Kirby: Triple Deluxe (3DS)
37. Dig Dug (Wii - Namco Museum Megamix)
38. Phoenix (Xbox - Taito Legends)
39. Phoenix (Atari 2600)
40. Pleiads (Xbox - Tecmo Classic Arcade)
41. Kangaroo (Atari 2600)
42. Final Fantasy Adventure (Game Boy)
43. Gorf (Atari 2600)
44. Richard Scarry's Huckle and Lowly's Busiest Day Ever (Pico)
45. Mickey's Blast Into the Past (Pico)
46. Secret of Mana (SNES)
47. Psycho Soldier (PSP - SNK Arcade Classics 0)

Psycho Soldier is the sequel to Athena. I've actually never finished Athena due to the fact that it's, ya know, pretty damn horrendous.

Psycho Soldier fares a bit better. You play as the same girl - Athena of the game Athena - and SNK has classed her up a bit. She's now wearing a Japanese schoolgirl uniform instead of a bikini. Gameplay is extremely similar to Capcom's SonSon. It's a scrolling platformer with several levels to hop up and down between. Athena has a standard weapon as well as a small arsenal of bombs. The game isn't particularly difficult. The enemy AI isn't bright and Athena can usually move/shoot her way out of anything. Bosses get a little trickier, mainly because the layered platforms disappear and the up button now causes Athena to do an awkward jump.

Athena herself may be a cutie but the levels get more demented as you progress. The final stage is a oozing pulsating alien lair - I was tempted to say it looks like something out of Contra but Psycho Soldier was released first! The soundtrack is interesting as it actually features a J-pop song complete with vocals (the American version is amazingly bad).

Shockingly Psycho Soldier had zero console ports back in the day (though it was available on C64, ZX Spectrum, and Amstrad CPC - yippee!). The game is worth at least one run-through so pick up a copy of SNK Arcade Classics 0 and go to town. Just avoid the original Athena.
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