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Key-Glyph
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Re: Racketboy Summer Games Challenge 2020 - begin when ready

by Key-Glyph Tue May 26, 2020 12:58 am

Hey folks. The Summer Games Challenge remains my favorite Rackeboy thing ever, and I'm trying to get out of the coronavirus dumps enough to participate.

I'm going to go back through and read all these posts to try to get fired up. Hope you're all having a blast so far.

EDIT: All right, I'm back. So much progress has already been made here! It was lovely to behold. PretentiousHipster's list is the stuff of dreams, and lordb0rb4's enthusiasm is breathing life into me. I've got a little spark of energy. And it's enough to draw up a list with!

I'm going to keep my plans very unambitious. I want to settle in and enjoy at least one of these games. If I do, I will consider the summer well-spent.

1. Ultima III: Exodus (NES)
2. Ultima V: Warriors of Destiny (ApplII)
3. Chrono Trigger (SNES)
4. Out of This World (GEN)
5. Journeyman Project: Turbo! (PC)

BONUS CO-OP ADVENTURE:
6. Base Wars (NES)

I'm going to set my sights on Ultima III right out of the gate. I have it associated with summer and a very happy time in my life. I've only ever dabbled in it, though, and it's the very last NES game I own that I've not finished. I have the map all queued up for printing later today and am feeling pretty delighted about getting back into it.
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Ack
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Re: Racketboy Summer Games Challenge 2020 - begin when ready

by Ack Tue May 26, 2020 12:39 pm

Ooh, the NES version of Ultima III? Yes, do tell.
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pook99
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Re: Racketboy Summer Games Challenge 2020 - begin when ready

by pook99 Tue May 26, 2020 3:55 pm

@Key Glyph: Ultima 3 on NES is the the first RPG I ever played in my life, my brother and I would play that game for hours on end, I would wander the dungeons while my brother mapped them out, we did finish it and I just have a ton of fond memories associated with that game. I have never replayed it and dont know that I ever will, but it is a game that holds a special place in my heart.

@sload: nice write up of FFV, that is a game that has been on my bucket list forever, but it sits behind chrono trigger which is also on my permanent bucket list. I definitely want to play it at some point, but I have to play chrono trigger first, at least thats what everyone tells me.

So I finished Muramasa the demon blade for the wii last night. Now I know that when you think of the "classics" that Muramasa is probably not on your typical list of classic games, but after playing through this gem there is no doubt in my mind that it is just as much a classic as the standard ones you would think about on the wii.

The graphics in this game are gorgeous. Muramasa features a beautiful 2d style, that almost feels like you are controlling a painting. The visual style in this game is just breathtaking and if you pause the screen as your character is attacking a boss you might actually think you are looking at a painting of japanese folklore. The animations are smooth and fast so the game looks even better in motion as it does paused.

The gameplay here is fabulous. When you start you are given 2 options, easy or hard, this always annoys me because I never know what to select but I decided to pick hard since I tend to be good at these types of games. I'm glad I did, the hard mode is tough but fair and I don't think the game would have been as fun without the challlenge.

The combat system is very dynamic, you have 3 blades at any given time. Each blade has the same basic combos and every blade has a different special move. Blades come in 2 categories, long blades which are slower but stronger and regualr blades which are faster but weaker. Personally I never used long blades as I felt the extra power did not make up for the speed you lost. As you block attacks and use specials your blade weakens(represented by an energy bar at the top of the screen) when the bar hits 0 your blade shatters, however inlike most games with breakable weapons, here a break is just a minor set back.

At any time you can seathe your weapons, when a weapon is seathed it heals itself, so if a blade breaks just seath it for a few seconds and it will be ready to use again. When a blade is fully healed and you unseathe it, you unleash a devastating full screen attack. Combat in this game has you contstantly switching blades, using special attacks, and flying all over the screen. In this game your character should constantly be in motion as a moment standing still will lead you to take some pretty big damage.

My only complaint about the game is there are some parts where you have to backtrack obscene distances with no enemies to fight. These sections are few and far between, but they do happen and are pretty boring, definitely out of place in a game that is filled with such high octane action.

Muramasa is just a great game, definitely one of the best on the system, and very unique. I'm very glad I finally got around to playing it.
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Re: Racketboy Summer Games Challenge 2020 - begin when ready

by prfsnl_gmr Tue May 26, 2020 5:30 pm

BoneSnapDeez wrote:Oh man I like the first one so much more. I think there's something to be said for its inherent simplicity. It plays like a good Mario game.

The sequels have so many slow gimmicky levels. Not to mention the collectathon elements.

Speaking of Mario, I don't think any of these games utilized "bonus stages" (or hidden content generally speaking) effectively. Would have loved to see them go the Mario World route, where hidden exits lead to whole new levels. Instead the first game just has a bunch of 1-up rooms, while the others have stashes have the aforementioned collectables.


I’ve almost beaten DKC2, and while I still think it’s the superior game, I think that this is a very, very fair criticism.

The platforming fundamentals here are really, really solid. Way better than DKC. There’s better panning and scrolling, fewer blind jumps, fewer enemies attacking from off-screen, etc. Moreover, the two characters play more distinctively, and the ability to throw a character also adds a lot to the gameplay and search for hidden items. In classic Rare fashion, though, the game doesn’t do enough of what it does best. (It’s like Battletoads that way.) It has way too many levels where you have to play as some kind of animal, ride roller coasters, get blown around by wind, etc. (Does anyone like the levels where you have to play as a parrot or spider? They’re horrible.). A few of these would have been fine, but they make up well over half of the game.

Otherwise, the game’s pretty solid. The boss fights are all pretty awesome (with the exception of the one where you have to play as a parrot). The game looks great, and the soundtrack rocks. The collectibles are well-hidden, but they aren’t too bad. (I’ll check out the bonus levels after I beat the game, and I agree that a SMW approach to them would have been better.)

Hopefully, I’ll wrap this up tonight. K. Room’s a tough one, though, and I’m still figuring out his patterns!
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Re: Racketboy Summer Games Challenge 2020 - begin when ready

by lordb0rb4 Tue May 26, 2020 8:35 pm

Key-Glyph, i'm glad you could join us this year man, this pandemic is a real nightmare indeed, being a dentist and my wife a nurse here in Brazil is a grim situation right now but i hope we all do get through ASAP.
In other more positive news...
Turns out setting a private/offline server in Phantasy Star Online Blue Burst is easier than i though and now i'm playing the absolute B E S T version of the game, it plays and looks like a dream:
Image
Already started a new character and beat the first boss:
Image

It ins't an overstatement to consider PSO one of my favorite games of all times.
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Re: Racketboy Summer Games Challenge 2020 - begin when ready

by CFFJR Thu May 28, 2020 3:16 am

I'm now 65 hours in on Persona 3, and in the second week of January. This is the endgame, as the final battle takes place on 1/31.

I've explored up to floor 214 in Tartarus, and 40 floors remain, but there are no longer any barriers other than some boss battles on the way up. The previous 30 some odd floors went very quickly (I initially breezed through them in a single in-game night) and I feel like I shouldn't have much trouble from this point. There have been quite a few fun encounters, but overall the game has only become easier.

Story wise, without spoiling anything, things really got moving around October-November, and alongside a few disastrous events and twists in these character's lives, the real threat announced itself and naturally it is apocalyptic. Now in January the mood of the game has completely shifted. It's somber and eerie (complete with some beautiful new music), people in town are beginning to go a bit crazy, and the party is just watching things turn to shit while they have no plan other than to get stronger and die fighting.

It's engaging is what I'm saying.

As I near the end I keep debating about whether or not I should play The Answer after I finish the original game. The Answer is a sequel/epilogue released with the "FES" edition of the game. It is known to be difficult and extremely heavy on combat and light on story, and it does not have a good reputation among fans.

For the sake of the challenge I will call Persona 3 complete with the original game, but maybe I'll do The Answer as a bonus game, supposing I manage to get through the rest of my list (Nocture, which I plan to save for last, will be punishing enough). Despite the complaints I've read, it really looks like it'll be interesting to play. Even if it's not in the cards for the summer, I have to at least check it out someday.

Anyway, the game will almost certainly be finished over the weekend.
GameSack wrote:That's right, only Sega had the skill to make a proper Nintendo game.
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Re: Racketboy Summer Games Challenge 2020 - begin when ready

by prfsnl_gmr Fri May 29, 2020 12:13 am

God help me...Before starting DKC3, I thought, “Maybe I’ll try to get a few more of the Krem-Coins and Hero Coins in DKC2...” I’m now almost six hours into the game at 82% completion. I think I’ve decided that I love this game, despite its flaws, and I’ll probably see it to completion pretty soon. THEN I’ll play DKC3. Promise.
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Re: Racketboy Summer Games Challenge 2020 - begin when ready

by pook99 Fri May 29, 2020 10:40 am

@prsnl_gamer: I completely agree with your analysis of DKC2, its funny because when dk country returns came out there were complaints that there were not enough animal segments, but to me that was one of the best parts of it, that they focused on great platforming and not gimmicky sections where you play as a spider.
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Re: Racketboy Summer Games Challenge 2020 - begin when ready

by Sload Soap Sat May 30, 2020 6:03 am

I've made a lot of progress into Final Fantasy XII over the past week. When I first played the game I made it to the fight with Judge Bergen before giving up (about 16-20 hours in depending on side quests) but I am now at around 35 hours in and headed for what I believe is the games penultimate dungeon. Or not.

Quick positives: the Zodiac Age remaster is very good. FFXII was always a looker on PS2 and the full HD treatment has served it well. The newly reorchestrated soundtrack is really, really good as well if heavily in John Williams' debt. I had forgotten how much this particular game leaned on Star Wars for inspiration.

There is an option to speed up the game by either 2x or 4x. More on this later but this is generally a net gain.

The new jobs and the ability to give a character two license boards works well. In the original the game gave the player too much choice and it was easy to spunk a load of points on useless stuff and make characters who weren't good at anything. It also sort of lied to you in seeming to offer the ability to make any character into whatever you wanted but also giving them stats that favoured certain roles despite what their starting gear was (Balthier for might, Ashe for magic). Here you can slim down the choices and focus on what counts so that's good.

The story is actually pretty good when you actually come across some and it isn't the usual teeny bopper love story/fight against the badmens cos we're fwends shit seen from FFVIII onwards. There's political intrigue, the main villain doesn't seem totally unreasonable, someone on the opposite side is actually a good ally and even a friend. It's almost, not quite mind, but almost nuanced. Yes there is the same problem FFX has in that the main character in the story is not actually the guy you play as but otherwise there's some great stuff here especially anything to do with Balthier, Larsa the Judges or Vayne. And in an astonishing turn of events for a FF game, not only is it quite well written it's also generally pretty well voiced as well. It's actually done well enough that the faux-Shakespearian dialogue doesn't cringe me into a coma. FFX and XIII couldn't manage that with normal speech.

Ivalice is an interesting and varied world to explore. There is a real sense of place and despite its obvious fantasy leanings it's world the makes sense.

That's the good stuff, I'll spoiler my longer thoughts for those interested as it's quite a rant. This isn't as good as FFV let's put it that way.
Although there seems to be a lot more changes but most of them are a bit more granular while playing. From osmosis I know that some enemies have been altered, some weapons are easier to get and so on. The game seems easier than it did before but it can still be a real arse especially when it comes to hunts.

So, I didn't mention the gameplay as a positive above. This is because I'm still unsure what the "gameplay" in FFXII is supposed to be, or rather, what I the player am supposed to get out of it. For me this relates to two major flaws that I see with the game: the gambit system and the open world.

Firstly, the gambit system. I am really split on this. I can definitely see the benefits of being able to pre-program battle macros so you don't have to worry that your squad will just blindly attack or keep casting buffs instead of healing. It is also good that you can still interrupt these at any time should things start to go awry. I can even see the appeal of creating a set of gambits so clinically effective you don't actually have to do anything other than point your team at an enemy and wait for the loot.

However, I personally like to play my games and unfortunately I find with FFXII that the gambit system still means I have to micromanage, it's just it's done outside of battle now not within. I eventually got so annoyed with the system I just changed everyone to "Foe: Leader Target" and "Ally HP <30% Cura" and made by very well. Which in itself illuminated an issue with the system: it's more complicated than the game deserves. There are an absolute ton of different gambits but honestly for the overwhelming majority of mobs in the game and their bosses, they aren't necessary. For the hunts and horrible ten million hit point-ed super bosses, yes, the gambits are your friend. But for just going from point A to B in the story, eh, whatever. Just hit attack and cure after it's over. I can see how this can be seen as a positive as well but for me, as someone who was lead to believe that FFXII had some of the series best combat, it's a bit underwhelming to say the least. Also, you have to buy a lot of the gambits themselves as well as use precious license points to unlock the ability for your teammates to actually use more than two at a time so it could be seen as both a waste of money and LP, both of which are not exactly thrown at the player.

As a side note, FFXII is perhaps the stingiest game in the series in terms of how little you get from an average battle. Most enemies net a single license point and you need on average around 60 to unlock a single ability on the board. You get little exp as well and no money. You're expected to sell loot dropped by enemies to fund your adventures but even this is fraught with peril as some items (obviously always the most lucrative) are used to craft high end gear or complete side quests. Does the game explain this? No. Did I have to look it up in a guide? You betcha. (Additional side note: for a game that starts with a patronising tutorial on how to walk and look around using the analogue sticks, FFXII really does not explain a lot of its crucial systems to the player).

Unlike other Final Fantasy's you don't even get cool new moves to use in combat as you progress. Well, you do get new moves but rarely have I found them cool. You can buy teckniks but aside from Libra, which reveals traps on the overworld, I haven't got much use out of them. They either cost too much (reduce Vaan's HP to zero to resurrect Penelo! Or just, I dunno, use a phoenix down?) or they are too random to be effective (cast a random black magic spell, more often than not, one that heals the opponent! Fun!).

There is a lot of magic in the game as well with mainstays white, black and time being joined by green and arcane magic(k)s but again, outside of the cure and esuna families, I have found little use for it when ordinary weapons do similar if not more damage and much faster. And don't get me started on Quickenings. I assume they are limit break stand in but they are almost pointless. (Futher side note: Square got the limit break mechanic right once in FFVII and then never again). These Quickenings go on for ages, look like they were imported from another game and more often than not do little damage or, as many have elemental properties, heal an opponent. What the flip.

Generally I find the combat to be very bland because of this and despite the abundance of choice from the magic and gambit systems I have ended up reverting into a simple attack-attack-cure-attack formula that works well for me. You can either micro manage on the gambit screen and let the game play itself or you can do it in battle and probably end up getting ganked. The way I found is less a balance of those two and more a brutal calculus of minimizing my effort in to maximizing my reward out. This is a regression as well from the likes of FFV where you are challenged by enemies to tap into the job system from the start up until the very last dungeon. The hunts provide more room for strategy but the actual process of doing a hunt leads me to my next issue.

FFXII is a weird mix of two RPG design philosophies that don't really work together well, that being the traditional story driven JRPG and the more open world, open ended approach taken by western developers. (FFXV also had this issue where they tried to copy GTA but with random encounters but they forgot to add anything in their world).

FFXII also has a similar issue I found with Xenoblade Chronicles in that it presents itself as this vast open world from early on and the scale of the environments can make it feel that way too but ultimately you are railroaded into following the story to see the rest of the world. Ivalice is a vast interconnected map but it is not strictly open as in a western RPG nor does it function as a world map as in a JRPG. It doesn't even really function as it would in a looter like Diablo or an MMO as the starting city of Rabanastre is neither central enough nor populated with high end merchants to make it a worthy base of operations.

At its core FFXII hates the idea of you backtracking for most of its run time. I have just got the ability to finally use the airship Balthier has had since we first met him but as I said I'm 35 hours into the game and quite close to the end and even then it can't take you everywhere. Up until now the game has offered three main means of crossing the vast interconnected world of Ivalice that don't involve just booking it. All of these options have unnecessary drawbacks. So, you can choose between warping from certain save crystals (although the game is too stingy to let this be unlimited so it uses a teleport stone up each time, gems that are not sold freely until, of course, when you get the Strahl), airship between the five cities big enough to support an aerodome (costs 200 gil a go, unlocked by story events, often closed off by them as well) or by chocobo (have to be rented, prices vary and can be quite steep, walking speed not much better than on foot, can run in bursts but only three times, have to dismounted on reaching camps, towns or dungeons, not available at all towns, run away once dismounted).

I want to compare this to contemporary of FFXII's with Morrowind. Now Morrowind has from the VERY FIRST TOWN a series of overlapping travel systems that allow the vast world map to be navigated in relative comfort. It will never go so far as to plonk you directly at the door of any given dungeon but considered use of the stilt strider network, ferrymen, mages guild teleporters as well as an assortment of spells and enchanted items all help you move around at your own pace.

FFXII is never comfortable with the idea of you getting ahead of the story so you can't travel freely until most of that story is used up. And when you can travel more freely all those systems that were there to get you about start to clash against each other terribly. Why is a teleport crystal in the same location as a aerodome or a Strahl anchor? Why does it take so long for the aerodomes to become useful only for them to then be made redundant by the airship? Why even have chocobos at all when they are only necessary for perhaps accessing two locations and only a slight improvement on walking?

This is like the JK Rowling transport progression system: magic train-->flying car-->point to point teleportation via chimney breast-->point to point teleportation via inanimate object e.g, goblets--> flying invisible horse or broomstick (not invisible)-->point to point teleportation from anywhere to anywhere else with seemingly little to no consequence, or necessity for any chimneys or enchanted boots. Also you can bring someone with you if you want. One of those makes the rest pretty pointless, no? But the plot demanded by book six that Dumbledore go somewhere a 150 year old man probably shouldn't be able to get to so now he can just teleport like an X-Man. And in FFXII the plot now demands you fly Ashe to the final dungeon which is off the map so I guess you can just go wherever now as well.

Even when areas look interconnected or you think you spot a shortcut the game has a nasty habit of placing lots of bosses along these routes. I almost gave up on the game as after a particularly long dungeon full of enemies I spied a route that ought to take me back closer to the quest giver than where I had entered. Things were coming up Milhouse...until a dark esper jumped out of the shadows and ganked everyone. This meant I had to walk all the way back through the dungeon the way I had come and back through the waves of dickhead enemies. Blech.

I'm not saying FFXII need be open world or be more like Morrowind or the like. I'm saying that the game is trying to be two things at once and doesn't really stick its feet in either camp. If you want to have a story driven RPG that has some open ended exploration but isn't open world you can use Knights of the Old Republic as a guide. If you want to be more open to allow guild quests and story lines that take place over multiple locations but also have a main story throughout you can use Morrowind. Both came out before FFXII.

The hunts themselves are a pretty sore spot for me. Usually just souped up normal enemies the process for entering into and executing a hunt is more of a chore than it should be. Firstly you need to find a hunt board. These are found in pubs in the main towns. There will be a selection of hunts but perplexingly all the boards share the same hunts. I don't like this as it means you can't just focus on hunts around say Rabanastre to get a hang of things.

But the board isn't the hunt, oh no, the board is just letting you know who the quest giver is. This quest giver could live four towns over or in the middle of nowhere. You need to go to them to officially start the hunt and you need to travel back to them to close it off. This is a lot of travel involved and in FFXII that means no good. To add further insult the rewards for the hunts, which really should be pretty good given the investment in time, preparation and travel, are pretty crappy. Maybe a rare item and a few hundred gil at best for what was likely about 30-45 mins of walking, tracking and fighting. The output from a hunt just doesn't work out in the player's favour most of the time and so I decided to jack them in which is a shame as I feel they are supposed to constitute a fairly large portion of this game's appeal and longevity. I wasn't interested in facing the infamous Yiamat superboss anyway but after wasting my effort trekking up and down Ivalice to earn roughly 10,000 gil and a bag of potatoes I can't be arsed with any of them.

Finally, I mentioned it in the good section but the fast forward button is kind of what set me down this line of thinking with FFXII. Functionally I think it is there to help grinding which is fine. However as the game went on I found myself hitting it more and more just to get from one area to the next. Then I've found myself bumping it from 2x to 4x speed with great frequency even in some dungeons. It does make me wonder how good this game is when I essentially play it on fast forward.

So yeah, FFXII is complex but I think ultimately I fall on the side of not being that into it. Too much of it is a chore and I personally think it's quite shallow under its beauty. I will probably end up finishing it and I won't go as far as saying I outright hate or even dislike it. It is not an awful game like FFXIII just a flawed one. Now that it has opened up I might even try some more hunts or visit some areas I walked past before. We'll see. But up until now the game has tested me more than I would like and despite the new gloss the original game was perhaps too structurally flawed to touch up and likely why I stopped playing the first time through.
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Re: Racketboy Summer Games Challenge 2020 - begin when ready

by SpaceBooger Sat May 30, 2020 12:23 pm

lordb0rb4 wrote:Key-Glyph, i'm glad you could join us this year man, this pandemic is a real nightmare indeed, being a dentist and my wife a nurse here in Brazil is a grim situation right now but i hope we all do get through ASAP.
In other more positive news...
Turns out setting a private/offline server in Phantasy Star Online Blue Burst is easier than i though and now i'm playing the absolute B E S T version of the game, it plays and looks like a dream:
Image
Already started a new character and beat the first boss:
Image

It ins't an overstatement to consider PSO one of my favorite games of all times.
Image

The last time I tried playing Blue Burst (last summer I think?) I keep getting virus warnings and everything keeps getting sent to quarantine by Malwarebyets, Avira (I no longer use), and Windows Defender.
Did you get that issue?
The last time I played was on my Dreamcast (3 years ago) using a now-defunct free dialup from Michigan. I am really jonesing to play through again.
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