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Re: Racketboy Summer Games Challenge 2020 - begin when ready

Posted: Sat May 30, 2020 1:30 pm
by prfsnl_gmr
OK...I finally grabbed all of the hidden items in DKC2, completed all the bonus levels, defeated the real final boss (much easier than the first final boss), and got the real ending. (The game is the reward, and I am a sucker for hidden content.) What a great game! It is easily one of the SNES’s best platformers, even if there are some questionable design decisions and infuriating levels (i.e., Animal Antics).

Now...on to DKC3!

Re: Racketboy Summer Games Challenge 2020 - begin when ready

Posted: Sat May 30, 2020 3:39 pm
Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow
Donkey Kong Country 3
Dragon Quest V
Final Fantasy VIII
Panzer Dragoon Saga
Persona 3 FES
*Bonus* Persona 3: The Answer
Shadow Hearts
Shin Megami Tensei 3: Nocturne
Xenosaga Episode 1

So, with a final time of 77 hours 45 minutes, I have finished Persona 3.

As I had guessed, the final floors of Tartarus weren't too much of a struggle. Two of the last battles were against the opposing persona users I mentioned some time ago. You get the rest of their story/motivation here at the 11th hour. Up to this point, the game spends time establishing them as a threat, particularly with the influence they begin to have over the public. The pay off isn't worth the buildup. This is the second time you fight these goofs, and it's even easier than the first. They were interesting characters, and the leader in particular had a strong voice actor, but considering the shit they get up to throughout the story the battles you have with them are pretty anticlimactic. I suppose it can't be too challenging, considering the final boss comes immediately after, but maybe the point is that they were weak because of their weak ideals. Or maybe I'm just filling in blanks.

The final boss ended up being kind of a bitch, for a couple of reasons. First of all, this sucker has a whopping 13 phases to fight through, each representing the different arcana. Granted, the first 12 are fairly easy to beat with low health, and are mostly there to burn up your resources, while the 13th is the real fight. But the fact remains that the entire fight takes a solid 30-40 minutes to finish. And I lost in the last moments of my first attempt. The boss has a move that does a large amount of damage to the entire party with a chance to inflict a host of random status effects. Being afflicted with a status effect increases the chances of suffering a critical hit. Critical hits allow a "one more" attack, and when you couple that with the fact this boss already gets two turns per round, it quickly became impossible to keep up.

My second attempt went much better. Faster on the first 12 phases, slower on the last, as I had every member on support while only my main character dealt primary damage. And yet still it ended up being a close thing because the damned AI decided to ignore their assigned tactics. Remember when I was talking about the tactics options and the stupid computer a while back? So, another thing this boss can do is put up a shield that reflects all attacks regardless of the type, which lasts for about 3 rounds. If you do attack, the damage is immediately reflected, and if you aren't resistant to that type as well (ice magic, for example) you'll get nailed for over 500 hp, which was enough to kill everyone except the main character. The point is you stop being aggressive for a damn minute and heal while applying buffs/debuffs. Fine. But at the last moments, when the boss was very nearly dead, two of my party members insisted on going in for a physical attack in an attempt to finish the fight, even though the shield was up, and promptly killed themselves. It dropped by the time by third member took their shot (and won the fight with a measly 57 damage) which was lucky. If they had died too, I would not have had time to revive anyone, and just hoped my own final attack landed. Point is, it was way too close and it didn't need to be. I very much got used to using the tactics menu over the course of the game and anticipating how my party members would behave in a given situation, but this moment was a level of stupidity that was outright broken.

Good thing then, that the ending was pretty spectacular. They almost veered into power of friendship territory, but the dialogue, and the feeling, was appropriate rather than cheesy and it was a pretty inspiring moment overall. You get a few days after this to wander around town and get closure with the friends you made throughout the game before a pretty heartfelt and bittersweet final scene. It was good.

The story was fine, though very heavily loaded in the back half of the game. The first two thirds are a whole lot of nothing happens, then suddenly you get whammied with news that the real big bad is an eldritch planet buster. Very typical rpg stuff where the scale of the threat quickly gets out of control, which isn't a bad thing on it's own. I just wish they had spread it out more. The characters are where the game shines though, both in the main story and the social links, and seeing their growth is the real reward.

I had a blast with the game. I can see why some players may have a hard time with it. Tartarus can really begin to drag if you're not much for dungeon crawling. Still, I appreciated having the freedom to schedule my visits to the tower and the daily life elements at my own pace. As long as you prepared for the one event that happened every month, you could approach things however you liked, and I changed it up a lot throughout the game depending on my mood.

I've decided that I will definitely be playing through The Answer. Shocking though it might be, I'm not actually not ready to be done with the game yet. So I'll be playing The Answer here and there as I move on to other games on my list. We'll go ahead and call it a bonus.

Not sure yet which game is going to be next. Might ask my wife to decide for me.

Re: Racketboy Summer Games Challenge 2020 - begin when ready

Posted: Sat May 30, 2020 8:12 pm
by Key-Glyph
@lordb0rb4: Aww, thanks for the solidarity. I hope you and your family stay safe.

@prfsnl_gmr: I've only played DKC, but the way you got sucked into DKC2 is really intriguing. I hadn't realized it was much different! More research on my part is clearly needed.

@CFFJR: Sadly I get all the Personas confused and can't remember if this is the one that my best friend loved above the others, but she's a big fan in general. Have you played further into the series? And if not, do you think you will?

@pook99: I loved your story about playing Ultima III with your family. Did you have the NES version, or a computer version? I'm really curious, for reasons.

All right. I've put a few days into Ultima III on NES, and boy do I have thoughts. I'll be writing up some in-character journal entries of my heroes' journey later, but for now, here are some real-life reflections.

First of all, I am enjoying the game... but almost entirely due to a mix of nostalgia, sentimentality, and stubbornness. If I look at it objectively, I can't decide if Ultima III on NES is 1) a poorly-executed port, 2) purposely designed to be frustrating, or 3) just really unintuitive due to its age.

RPG video game mechanics that are now long-established and familiar are often absent here, so you can quickly find yourself in unexpected messes when your contemporary assumptions lead you astray. For example, not only does gaining experience points not auto-level you, but when you do level, the only base stat that increases is you HP. You, poor hero, get no stronger, no swifter, no wiser, no smarter. But someone else does. Do you want to know who? Enemies in the overworld. Yesss!

The obvious solution here is to not level. Take that, Ultima III! But, alas, the game anticipated your genius, and made the only way of increasing your base stats require having a party member at level five. You are thus forced to increase the difficulty and deadliness of random encounters before you're any more able to cope with them in any meaningful way. I add this "meaningful way" caveat because another detail I can't quite figure out is how armor works. You can try grinding for better gear, but I've seen an identical enemy hit an iron-clad Fighter of strength 25 for the same amount of damage as a Wizard of strength 5 in a swishy cloth robe. Does better armor just mean higher evasion, perhaps, and not higher defense? I'm not sure -- but I'm not the only one who's confused, because a quick internet search brings up an Ultima III gameFAQs forum post entitled, "Does armor actually DO anything?"

Oh, and tougher enemies don't drop more gold. Sooooooooooooooooooooo yeah. :lol:

My husband Nathaniel hit upon a plan to get around this, however, and it's brilliant. I basically have two separate parties now, the Gold-Gatherers and the Gonna-Be-Heroes, and their teamwork makes the game doable. More on them and their symbiotic relationship another time. The question remains as to whether this strategy is what was actually intended or is just a clever game-breaker.... but regardless, I am three or four days into the grind and am only just starting to feel like I can venture beyond the kiddie pool.

A lot of the wonkiness is definitely due to trying to crush an Ultima computer game down into a console port, though. The text parser element is obviously gone, stunting the investigation aspect and the game's general mysteriousness. Helpful elements like weapon and armor drops are regrettably also absent. The NES manual leaves out hugely important details too, leaving you wondering whether you're just really bad at the game or haven't been told an essential function. (For example, the manual describes the GIVE command only as being used for "the exchange of weapons, armour, and tools among the members of the party," which I have discovered is not true.)

But still, it's finally starting to feel like an Ultima to me. I can't wait to get to mapping some dungeons in earnest.

EDIT: I'm actually not sure now if the Ultima III computer versions had a text parser. Did that show up only in IV and beyond? Hmm.

Re: Racketboy Summer Games Challenge 2020 - begin when ready

Posted: Sat May 30, 2020 8:15 pm
by alienjesus
1. Castlevania III (NES)
2. Probotector (NES)
3. Gate of Thunder (TGCD)
4. Final Fantasy VI (SNES)
5. Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War (SFC)
6. Pilotwings (SNES)
7. Super Tennis (SNES)
8. Command & Conquer: Red Alert (PS1)
9. Turok: Dinosaur Hunter (N64)
10. Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots (PS3)

Been making progress on both of the Summer Games I'm working on.

I finally pushed through chapter 5 of Fire Emblem, and Events have happened, with a capital E. Anyhow, chapter 6 starts up with new characters in the party, and because they're releatively low level and my team is so much smaller (I have 11 characters instead of 20), it's been nice and breezy - so I also cleared out most of that before bed too. I'm hoping the second half of the game moves faster, at least for a while, especially as my characters seem really strong now.

Anyhow, for people who have played, here's the pairings I went with for generation 1, and how they have affected my gen 2 characters:

Ayra + Dew - I've got 2 kids from this pairing so far, and they're both pretty good. They have insane ability combinations with Astra, Sol, Pursuit, Bargain and Nihil.
Tailtiu + Lex - Only one kid has shown up so far, being Arthur. His Magic ain't great but he has Wrath + Vantage together, so he should be able to soak up loads of attacks. He also gets Paragon for double exp which should help his growths a bit, at least until he hits level cap. I passed down a pursuit ring and magic ring to ease his flaws a bit too.
Silvia + Claude- No kids here yet, but I imagine they'll be just OK. Claude has good growths but no abilities to pass down.
Erin + Levyn - One child has shown up, being Fee. She seems fine, pretty much just Erin again, which is good enough.
Lachesis + Azel - One kid so far. Dermud is not fantastic - he doesn't have good defence or avoid. The defence flaw makes sense considering the mage father, but I expect better dodge when he's using swords vs axes. I passed down a magic sword though, and he does decent damage with it at this point in the game.
Bridget + Holyn - No kids so far, but I'm hoping for good ones when they show. Holyn and Bridget were both really strong, and they had good abilities too.
Aidean + Finn - I've found both kids for this pairing, and to be honest it's not really the best. One is a healer, which means Finn's physical growths don't benefit her at all. The second is a mounted archer, and he seems very underwhelming. Both of them have pursuit and miracle, which is nice, but their stats are pretty meh. I wish I'd paired her with Jamke instead!

I've also been playing some Turok during the week. I jumped in to world 2, and confirmed my biggest fear by running out of lives (on purpose, I threw myself off a cliff by the save point). You get a game over and thrown back out to the title screen. That means if you save the game on your last life, you have to make do with that one until you earn more. I'd best be careful, espcially in platforming sections. I've lost a few lives during the game so far, all but one of them to to falling off a cliff whilst platforming. I hope platforming is dialled back a bit as we progress.

Anyway, I'm still enjoying this OK. I find the platforming segments are perhaps a little too finnicky sometimes and I think they perhaps should have closed a few of the gaps a bit and made some of the platforms bigger to give you some leeways for jumping about in first person. The shooting is basic bit fun though. I played through world 2 and acquired a few new guns in my last play through - the automatic shotgun which is basically the standard shotgun but better because it requires less reloading, the assault rifle which is essentially a pistol upgrade - it shoots a burst shot with each press of the trigger, essentially being equivalent to 3 pistol shots, and finally the minigun, which I've yet to use because I know it's an ammo guzzler and I've spent enough of the game searching for clips after the pistol ran out already.

After a bit of a slow week, I'm really enjoying both of my games on the go right now - hopefully I can carry some of the momentum through to June and the other half of my summer games.

Re: Racketboy Summer Games Challenge 2020 - begin when ready

Posted: Sat May 30, 2020 8:26 pm
by pook99
I am giving up on shining force 2, I was initially really enjoying it, but there are some things that were not present in the first one that really ended up annoying me and making it not worth my time.

I am a fan of SRPG's, but I like a simple, linear, game play loop. Fight a battle, maybe visit a town to upgrade, get some story, progress to the next battle. Most of my favorite SRPG's follow that basic loop with my all time favorite (warsong/lagrisser on the genesis) foregoing that entirely and just going from battle to battle with the story playing out in battles.

I got to the point where I got the raft and just got completely lost, to make matters worse there are respawning battles, so as I go back and forth through areas, I have to refight the same battle. I tried to look at a walkthrough and I was still lost and as I read through it, it just seemed to me the game got more and more obtuse as it went on. If I really wanted to I am sure I could spend time exploring more, but that is just boring and annoying to me, the reason I play SRPG's is because of the battles, the more stuff in between (other than story) the less likely I am to enjoy it.

I'm glad I finally tried it, even if it was not my cup of tea, it was a game on my list for a long time, so it was good to at least give it a shot, I just can't see myself putting time into it, especially given the fact that I just bought langrisser 1 and 2 on switch and havent played that

@cffjr: Gotta say, a 40 minute fight that sends you back to the start of it when you die would likely lead me to destroy my gaming device and possibly some other stuff in my house, that fight alone makes me never want to play persona 3

@lordborb: I played the NES version and completely agree with your assessment which is also probably why I havent replayed it, my brother and I used to have a trick to walk around and completely avoid battles, I can't remember exactly how it worked but I vaguely remember walking around pausing/going to the menu, when you do that it puts all of your characters into one and makes it so enemies have a harder time triggering battles, I remember avoiding battles at all costs because of the issues you brought up.

I know in my older age I would never have the patience for it, but as a kid, Ultima 3 was definitely a magical experience

Re: Racketboy Summer Games Challenge 2020 - begin when ready

Posted: Sat May 30, 2020 10:23 pm
Key-Glyph wrote:@CFFJR: Sadly I get all the Personas confused and can't remember if this is the one that my best friend loved above the others, but she's a big fan in general. Have you played further into the series? And if not, do you think you will?

Hey Key, I have a bit. I completed Persona 5 earlier this year. Also put a couple of hours in to both Persona 1 and 4, but for whatever reason never got back to either of them. I definitely plan to knock them all out at some point though. 2 down, 4 (5?) to go. Safe to say I'm a fan now.

Good luck with your Ultima odyssey! Given your experience so far, I think I would have lost my patience already were I playing it, but I'm looking forward to reading more about your adventure.

pook99 wrote:@cffjr: Gotta say, a 40 minute fight that sends you back to the start of it when you die would likely lead me to destroy my gaming device and possibly some other stuff in my house, that fight alone makes me never want to play persona 3


Fair enough man! If it's any consolation, the loss was entirely my fault, but given how long it takes, I can see how that might not change anything.

It's funny you say this though. I was playing the game late last night, and after that loss I took a short break and jumped back in. But I wasn't happy. This morning my wife asked me if I finished the game, and I related this story to her. She apparently had a restless night and happened to be awake at the time, because she laughed and told me she heard a lot of cussing at one point. You know which point it was!

Also, sorry to hear Shining Force 2 didn't land for you. Hopefully your next game works out better.

Re: Racketboy Summer Games Challenge 2020 - begin when ready

Posted: Sun May 31, 2020 11:53 am
by prfsnl_gmr
prfsnl_gmr wrote:Here’s my list:

Donkey Kong Country*
Donkey Kong Country 2

Donkey Kong Country 3
King’s Field
Metal Gear (NES)
Silent Hill
Streets of Rage*
Streets of Rage 2*
Streets of Rage 3
Super Baseball 2020

Three down! I completed DKC2 yesterday, and I re-played SOR with my son this morning. We played it on easy because he’s only 8, and I was sooooooooo close to a 1CC. (The two women right before the last boss took me down.) I let him get the last hit on the final boss so he feels like he’s beaten the game. It’s so cute. I suspect we’ll fire up SOR2 tonight or tomorrow.

I also started up DKC3 yesterday. So far, I really like it. It plays really well, and it’s a lot of fun. It also alleviates some of DKC2’s baffling design choices. They’ve re-rendered the Kremlings, however, and the game features neither Donkey Kong nor Diddy Kong. They’ve also changed up some of the other enemies and animal companions; so, while I like it so far, the game feels just a little off-brand...

Re: Racketboy Summer Games Challenge 2020 - begin when ready

Posted: Mon Jun 01, 2020 6:42 am
Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow
Donkey Kong Country 3
Dragon Quest V
Final Fantasy VIII
Panzer Dragoon Saga
Persona 3 FES
*Bonus* Persona 3: The Answer
Shadow Hearts
Shin Megami Tensei 3: Nocturne
Xenosaga Episode 1

Well I knocked out Donkey Kong Country 3 over the weekend.

First off, Prfsnl's description of "a little off-brand" is apt. It isn't a good or bad thing. Just notable in that it feels a bit different from the first two games in some ways.

It is fun though, overall, and I liked the new level themes and designs. I also particularly like the new world map. There's not a lot to exploring it beyond finding the banana bird caves and the extra world, but it's still neat to be able to travel around and then enter smaller maps that are laid out similarly to the previous games.

Unfortunately, there are a handful of annoying levels in the game, and a couple in the last two worlds that are truly obnoxious. By the time I got to that point last night, I was pushing through some of these out of stubborn frustration rather than fun. Prfsnl, assuming you haven't gotten there already, have fun with Lightning Lookout. There is a trick to it, but it's still a big pain in the ass...

My completion percentage at the end was a mere 51%. I went back after the credits rolled and picked up a couple more things, as well as doing one level in the extra world (the only one I could afford to open) but really I'm not too interested in getting 100% completion on this game. As much as I played the hell out of DKC 1 & 2 years back, I never bothered to do so for those games either (nor in Returns or Tropical Freeze, for the record). I typically like doing 100%, depending on the game, but I guess I just don't find it compelling in this series, even though I enjoy playing them otherwise. If I change my mind and do it I'll update.

My favorite of the trilogy remains the first game though, for several of the reasons Bone and Prfsnl discussed a couple of pages back, as well as the vital point that it's somehow the only one that actually allows you to play as Donkey Kong. I like Diddy and Dixie, but give me DK damn it.

Moving on, I also booted up The Answer. It's certainly more difficult right off the bat and quickly dumps you in to the dungeon crawling after a much shorter story intro than the main game. The new big bad dungeon is called The Abyss of Time, and while I don't know how many floors there are to explore, it looks like there are seven sections altogether. I've beaten the first boss and I'm enjoying it so far. A couple of very nice new songs too, with a soothing but mysterious vibe that suits the new area.

I'll be jumping back and forth between The Answer and another game, most likely Grandia.

Re: Racketboy Summer Games Challenge 2020 - begin when ready

Posted: Mon Jun 01, 2020 6:03 pm
by pook99
Agreed on the end game of DKC3 being a pain in the ass, I don't remember exactly how but I remember being marginally annoyed near the end, I still liked the game but it definitely hits a low note during a few of those last few levels

Re: Racketboy Summer Games Challenge 2020 - begin when ready

Posted: Mon Jun 01, 2020 6:31 pm
by alienjesus
I always thought the difficulty of Lightning Lookout was overrated personally. Koindozer Klash on the other hand, that is hell, especially when you lose Dixie and have to do it without the ability to slow your fall.

DKC3 is by far my favourite though. I've pointed it out before, but people tend to call DKC3 gimmicky and Super Mario 3D World innovative and creative - but they generally both work on the same principle - one and done level ideas that mix up the gameplay in an interesting way.

DKC3 is my probably my favourite traditional 2D platformer and a contender for my favourite game on the system.

Anyway, I played more Fire Emblem tonight. Tonight's adventures was to finish off chapter 6, where my new party managed to secure a nice few levels (especially Seliph, who has the paragon band equipped netting him double exp), and starting up chapter 7 whilst I was there. I just did the arena grind so far, but due to having a smaller team available so far, and them being proportionally stronger on average than my previous characters, it wasn't as bad to get through this time. Of my 11 available characters, 7 cleared the arena outright without too much issue, 2 got through 6 of the 7 battles, 1 got stuck on battle 4, and the other is a healer who can't fight. Not too shabby.

I've been enjoying the faster pace of a smaller team and it's highlighting some of the things I'm not enjoying as much in Fire Emblem 4. The scale of using your whole army on giant maps feels epic, but the moment to moment gameplay is definitely more tiresome, and I definitely think I prefer the others. Still, as a one time affair, it's a nice change of pace. Unlike most of the fanbase though, I'm glad it didn't really stick around.