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BoneSnapDeez
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Re: Games Beaten 2021

by BoneSnapDeez Tue Jan 05, 2021 6:25 pm

Literally beating a GoW game per day lol.
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Re: Games Beaten 2021

by ElkinFencer10 Wed Jan 06, 2021 4:58 pm

BoneSnapDeez wrote:Literally beating a GoW game per day lol.

lol my streak broke yesterday thanks to work; I won't finish GoW3 until tonight.
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Re: Games Beaten 2021

by MrPopo Wed Jan 06, 2021 8:35 pm

Previous Years: 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020

1. EYE: Divine Cybermancy - PC
2. Legend of Grimrock - PC

Back in the day there was a game called Dungeon Master, which brought real time gameplay to the grid based RPG dungeon crawler genre. This created a short lived sub-genre; Eye of the Beholder and Lands of Lore are two notable series that followed in that model. But it was not to last; as free roaming games like Ultima Underworld and TES: Arena would become the future of real time RPGs. Legend of Grimrock is a throwback to the Dungeon Master style, and it is a worthy entry to the genre's ranks.

The story is threadbare; there is a mountain called Grimrock where prisoners on death row are sent; if they can escape then they are pardoned No one has ever escaped. As you go through you will start to hear a voice beckoning you downward to escape, as well as reading notes of a previous adventurer who gives clues to getting through. But for the most part it's just "beat the puzzles, beat the monsters, survive." But that's in keeping with the original Dungeon Master; the draw is in the gameplay.

Now, real time grid based games have a surprisingly frantic pace to them. Attacking with your party must be done one member at a time, and meanwhile enemies are coming at you. Magic has an additional complication of needing to ready the runes for a particular spell (so you gotta memorize the good ones). Magic does high damage to compensate for using a mana resource and taking longer to fire off (and you should keep spells readied to begin with). You're going to have to learn the combat dance; since you can strafe it generally behooves you to do a motion of strafing to an enemy's side, attacking, then moving again so they aren't facing you. You need to be constantly aware of your surroundings, as if you get boxed in by enemies (either due to terrain or just aggroing too many) you can quickly get taken down. This is a game of maneuver rather than tanking.

The game also features a lot of puzzles for getting through. Generally these are in the form of finding a way to open a door or close a trap door by manipulating floor plates and switches on walls. As you get deeper they get more interesting; you might have to time throwing a rock so a teleporter that appears and disappears doesn't interrupt its flight, or look at the position of objects in the room to flip the appropriate switches from a set on the wall. Only one puzzle felt unfair; it requires four objects which are hinted at by vague descriptions, but multiple of these objects aren't necessarily something you would think to keep on you, so you'll have to hunt back through the dungeon. Fortunately, for the most part enemies don't respawn, so you can clear out floors and it just becomes a time exercise.

The game ends with a boss fight that manages to not just be an HP sink or a total bullshit asshole. It requires fast reflexes and management of threats in the room, but you have various opportunities to back off and restore health, so it ends up being pretty fair. And the boss doesn't have a massive HP pool, so it doesn't just turn into a slog. It'll get you the first couple times until you get the right rhythm, but once you do it's rewarding.

Overall it's great to see this genre revived; I don't think it's the sort of thing that can support several studios making games for it, but getting one every few years is perfect.
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Re: Games Beaten 2021

by PartridgeSenpai Wed Jan 06, 2021 8:59 pm

Partridge Senpai's 2021 Beaten Games:
Previously: 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
* indicates a repeat

1. Atelier Rorona: The Alchemist of Arland (PS3)

2. Portal 2 (PC) *

Portal 2 was a favorite of one my best friends in high school, and it's something her and I played a lot together. My brother and I played through the co-op campaign (his first time, but a replay for me) a few years back, but it's been at least five years since I've played through the single player story. This month's "2011 Retro" theme gave a great excuse to go back down memory lane to being in high school again XD. It took me about 5.5 hours to play through the English version of the game in one sitting.

Portal 2 starts sorrrta where the original leaves off, but much later. Chell's failed escape from Aperture Labs put her back into deep cryo sleep in the hibernation facilities, and it's been a LONG time since then. She's awoken by a strange AI robot called Wheatly who needs her help to try and escape the facility which is now totally falling apart ever since Chell decommissioned Glados who knows how long ago. Unfortunately for them, they end up accidentally waking Glados back up, causing a whole new wave of testing and life-threatening turmoil.

The story holds up a lot better than I thought it might. To a certain point I'm not sure if the humor is just that 2011 or if I just associate it so much with high school that this just IS humor from that era for me, but I still liked it XD. The back and forth between Glados and Wheatly (who is still charmingly as ever voiced by Stephen Merchant) and Cave Johnson's antics are still wonderfully entertaining. I'd also never really thought before about any kind of messaging in the story of Portal 2 before, and this gave me a really good chance to reassess that. Portal 2 is mostly a sort of silly comedy on top of a character study, and it doesn't shove any messaging in your face particularly hard, but it's a nice story about how monstrous people don't make themselves: monstrous systems push them into being that way.

The gameplay is still that Portal excellence with some new toys added in for more puzzle fun. A first person puzzle game in the Source Engine (and my god was it a nostalgia trip playing a Source Engine game again after so long XD) where left click shoots one end of a portal, and right click fires the other end. You still have blocks to weigh down buttons and turrets to try and kill you like in the first game, but this game also adds in things like pressure plates that fling you across the map, light-bridges that can also be redirected through portals, tube-like gravity fields to push you (and objects) around via portals, and also weird goo that can be used to make floors bouncy or make you run faster on them. Every new mechanic feels like it's used in a way that never outstays its welcome, and the puzzle design is top notch as ever. I can definitely see the argument that Portal 2's puzzles are ultimately a bit more lackluster than the original's (given how excellently the original nails the "short but sweet" aspect of its level/puzzle designs), but I'd also put forward that Portal 2's single-player puzzles are ultimately just a training ground for the co-op mode's puzzles. The co-op mode's puzzles are also excellent but much harder given how much more you have to work with when operating with two sets of portals rather than just one.

The presentation is as wonderful as ever as well. The white and greys of the fixed, modern Aperture Labs look cold and forboding as ever, and are foiled nicely by the decaying and aging facilities both in the newer and older parts of the lab. The music, while often subdued, is also excellent (and given how much my best friend in high school loved those tracks, they were also a hell of a nostalgia trip for me).

Verdict: Highly Recommended. Portal 2 is still an excellent time all these years later. The humor and puzzles have held up very well, and if you somehow haven't played it yet, it's still very much something worth checking out. Though we've had a few more first-person puzzle games come and go since Portal and its sequel, nothing is really quite like Portal 2 (particularly the co-op mode), and Portal 2's level of quality gives a good indication as to why that might be.
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Re: Games Beaten 2021

by BoneSnapDeez Thu Jan 07, 2021 1:26 pm

1. Richard Scarry's Huckle and Lowly's Busiest Day Ever (Pico)
2. Countermeasure (Atari 5200)
3. Alex Kidd: High-Tech World (Sega Master System)
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Sega tried hard to make Alex Kidd happen. They really did. Six games within a five year span; this little elvish dude was supposed to be a company mascot and Mario-killer. So, what happened? Games like this happened. Alex Kidd: High-Tech World was released in 1989, the same year as the equally bad Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle. But while Enchanted Castle graced the fledgling 16-bit Genesis, High-Tech World was relegated to the 8-bit Master System. The box art is garbage, once again depicting Alex as a fat, freckled goofball. He's punching a ninja; humorous considering that this particular entry strips him of his distinct "big fist" attack completely.

High-Tech World is an adventure game and a platformer game. No, not an adventure game slash platformer game -- Sega wasn't able to craft a successful fusion of genres here. What we're left with is a clumsy experience consisting of two adventure game stages and two traditional platforming stages. All four are deficient in many ways. Describing the gameplay itself really isn't possible without outlining a mini-walkthrough of sorts, so let's proceed...

Stage one is the first adventure stage and consumes a good 60% of the game. The "story" is introduced here, and it's essentially just an advertisement for Sega. While relaxing in his eight-floor mansion, Alex is informed that a Sega arcade (the eponymous "High-Tech World") has opened in a nearby city. He thus becomes excited about the idea of playing Sega games that are better than Alex Kidd (which appropriately mirrors the reaction of the player), and wishes to flee the mansion immediately. One problem: the arcade is apparently well-hidden and Alex must first fashion a map out of eight pieces. And so, the "fun" begins. Mechanically speaking, exploring the mansion is a simple affair. Alex cannot attack or jump. He simply moves left, right, and up/down staircases and ladders. Most conversations are initiated automatically. Pressing up causes Alex to turn his face towards the wall and "examine" a given object. There's a surprisingly nice menu available that displays a diagram of the mansion with a glowing location icon, an image of the road-to-arcade map, and a list of additionally obtained items.
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Of course, finding these map pieces is a dreadful and obtuse affair. Two pieces are gained after passing some seriously inane quizzes. The first quiz posits questions like "What is the capitol of Japan?" (Tokyo, obviously) and "What is the name of the 15th scene in Space Harrier?" (Vicel, obviously). The second "quiz" has Alex guessing the names of various women (how???). There's a clock continually ticking and the appearance of certain NPCs, including one who hands over a map piece, is time sensitive. At another point, a map piece is granted after fixing a clock (by climbing up to it, which first requires the player find a hidden ladder). There are also cheap deaths that immediately boot Alex back to the title screen. For example, if Alex touches a burnt map piece he loses instantly (why?); it must first be sprayed with a "restorer" solution. To get the restorer Alex must converse with a man named Rockwell, who lives in one of the mansion's rooms. But first Alex must call him... from inside the mansion. It's safe to say that the average 1980s gamer never escaped the confines of the mansion's walls.

But once Alex does, it's time for stage two. And suddenly High-Tech World feels like a completely different game. This is a 2D platforming stage where Alex can jump and throw shurikens at ninjas. The controls are wretched, especially the jumping. Tap the jump button and Alex barely leaves the ground. Hold it and he initiates an obnoxiously floaty moon jump. At least the enemy AI is pretty dumb, and ninjas can often be dispatched before they even "notice" Alex. There's money scattered about, and Alex needs a bit to complete the game. Everything dies in one hit, including Alex himself. Lovely.

Stage three is back to "adventure mode" and is just as foul as the mansion stage. Now Alex finds himself in a town with a myriad of shops, most of which are decidedly worthless and can be safely skipped. There are cheap insta-deaths once again (don't take the pistol) and no direction whatsoever. To proceed Alex needs a travel pass to safely pass a gate. He doesn't find or buy this. He gets it through praying. At a local temple. One hundred times.

ONE HUNDRED TIMES.

The final stage is much like the second, but with ninjas and snakes, and no money to collect. It's just as aggravating due to the controls, though a persistent "high route" available via tree branches makes things a tad easier. Complete the game and the player is given the opportunity to view more Sega advertising, as Alex plops himself at an OutRun arcade cabinet.
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Graphics are actually pretty nice, and the game takes full of advantage of that delightful SMS color palette. So many of the NPC sprites look squashed and crappy, however. The music is also pleasant. In particular, the tune that plays in the mansion rooms (as opposed to the hallways) is gorgeous and probably one the best overall SMS songs. There is a weird lack of sound effects. In particular, when Alex collects an item there's no audio cue, which is more than a little off-putting. The game, to its credit, does offer continues as well as passwords. Passwords will vary as they record not just location but also elapsed time and item inventory.

On a final semi-insulting note... it turns out this isn't a "real" Alex Kidd game at all! High-Tech World was initially released in Japan in '87 where it was titled Anmitsu Hime and is based on the manga & anime of the same name (the anime aired in 86/87 and stars a castle-dwelling princess, which explains the High-Tech World "mansion"). The Alex Kidd elements were all swapped in for Western audiences. It's a bit like the Doki Doki Panic / Super Mario Bros. 2 situation, but while Nintendo took an excellent game and made it even better Sega opted to take an awful game and leave it awful. Humorously, the final Alex Kidd game places the man in "Shinobi World" so that makes two installments with "outside" influence. Maybe Sega didn't have much faith in this series after all.
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Re: Games Beaten 2021

by ElkinFencer10 Thu Jan 07, 2021 5:38 pm

Games Beaten in 2021 - 5
* denotes a replay

January (5 Games Beaten)
1. God of War - PlayStation 3 - January 1
2. God of War II - PlayStation 3 - January 2
3. God of War: Chains of Olympus - PlayStation 3 - January 3
4. God of War: Ghost of Sparta - PlayStation 3 - January 4
5. God of War III - PlayStation 4 - January 6


5. God of War III - PlayStation 4 - January 6

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God of War III is the peak of the series so far. Obviously playing the PS4 remaster makes the game prettier and smoother than its original PS3 iteration. Even with that, though, this game is pretty. More than that, though, it's smooth as silk. I don't know if it's the fact that it's on PS4 or just the progression of the series's mechanics, but everything about this game just felt better and more polished than any entry before it.

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God of War III takes place right after God of War II. Kratos's war with the Olympian gods is in full swing with the Titans fighting alongside him as an ally. Then, out of nowhere, it turns out that the Titans were just using him to get their shot at a rematch with the Olympians. What, Greek gods were using Kratos as a pawn for their own purposes? Who could have EVER seen that coming? So Kratos basically says, "Screw it, every god dies." And he then proceeds to kill almost every god in the Greek pantheon. I gotta say, though, the story feels way more central to the experience this time. Part of that is definitely the better character animations although some of the faces definitely fall into the uncanny valley, but there seemed to be more emphasis on intercharacter dialogue and exposition than in previous games, and that's something I absolutely appreciated.

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The game's visuals are fantastic. Like the HD remasters of the original games, you can tell from some of the character models that the base game wasn't designed for PS4, but the remaster work done here is impressive especially with lighting effects, frame rate, and overall clarity. Frame rate is SUPER important to me, and that's the main reason I played on PS4 rather than PS3, but I have to admit that I was impressed by just how much improvement there was to the game's visuals considering that this remaster was done relatively early in the PS4's life. It's definitely not going to be mistaken for a remake, but it's a nice polish, for sure. The sound design is also the best of the series so far. The soundtrack, while a little out of place feeling at times with the specific music choices, was really good, and the audio balance between background music, sound effects, and dialogue was finally adjustable.

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The level design took it to the next level, too, but what especially stuck out to me about that was the puzzle design. There were a couple of puzzles that frustrated me as I'm exceptionally oblivious with puzzles, but a few of those puzzles were ridiculously fun to work out and solve, far more so than any puzzle in any of the previous games. This game came the closest to giving me (admittedly only very slight) Zelda vibes with its puzzle designs. The side weapon selection was my only major source of disappointment; three of your four weapon choices control extremely similarly, so it ends up feeling like you've only got two real choices. That's a relatively minor gripe, though, all things considered.

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God of War III definitely took the series to a new peak, and while I played on PS4, even on PS3, this is a game well worth playing. I was a little more reserved in my praise for the previous games, and while Ghost of Sparta certainly impressed me, God of War III was an outright treat to play. It's certainly not a masterpiece, and there was room for improvement in many aspects of the game, but it's a rock solid game nonetheless and a key piece of any PS3 collection.
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Markies
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Re: Games Beaten 2021

by Markies Thu Jan 07, 2021 9:26 pm

Markies' Games Beat List Of 2021!
*Denotes Replay For Completion*

1. Midtown Madness 3 (XBOX)

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I beat Midtown Madness 3 on the Microsoft XBOX this evening!

Before, I used to go to a Pinball Arcade with a friend every other Saturday night. I would play Pinball, but I would also play on the Arcade Machines and emulators they had. I discovered many arcade games and console games I had never played before. One of the emulators was built out of an old Cruis'N style Racing Machine and would play several different racing games. The controls weren't the greatest, but I was able to try out many games I had never played before. One of them was Midtown Madness 3. It seemed like an interesting game. So, while at a convention, I found the game for incredibly cheap and so the Fortune Cookie decided I needed to play it this year.

The best way to describe Midtown Madness 3 is if you took all of the Racing Missions in the Grand Theft Auto games and made them into a video game. You chose between Washington D.C. or Paris and you take on the role of several odd jobs. You are delivering pizzas or packages, or are a Cop, Limo Driver, Taxi Driver or are crashing cars or doing races. Eventually, you beat one city and move onto the next one. My favorite aspect in the game is the variety of cars you get to drive. You drive a Viper, a limo, a 1950's Cadillac, a Hummer, a 1960's Mustang, an armored truck and so many other cars that it adds a nice variety to the game. The mission variety isn't all that extensive, especially if you play the game for a long period of time, but the cars add a nice mixture to the game. Also, the game controls and feels like a GTA game. You are plowing through cars, destroying property and driving at break neck speeds as the arcade feel to the game is perfect.

The worst part of the game is the Map. You are driving in ACTUAL Washington D.C. and Paris, so the roads are horrendous. The only map you have is the mini-map in the corner. You can never pause the game to consult a giant map. You have to split second decisions or just do the missions over and over again until you get it right.

Overall, I enjoyed my time with Midtown Madness 3. It never really reaches the height of a great game, but it is a perfectly suitable good game. The car variety and being able to drive reckless in a downtown city is always enjoyable. It adds enough flavor and uniqueness to separate it from the other racing games. If you like the Grand Theft Auto driving missions, then this is a perfect game for you.
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Re: Games Beaten 2021

by REPO Man Thu Jan 07, 2021 9:30 pm

That was one of the first games I owned for the original Xbox. I took total advantage of its custom soundtrack option, but other than that I didn't really care for it.
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Re: Games Beaten 2021

by prfsnl_gmr Fri Jan 08, 2021 10:51 am

Great reviews! All of you are starting 2021 strong.

@Bone
Your Alex Kidd review was had me in stitches. Too funny. That game sounds like an absolute disaster.

@Elkin
Are you planning on playing GoW: Betrayal? If so, would you let me know how you get it running?

@Markies
I love that you’re always playing the most random games, and your reviews are great. I mean, who was expecting a new Midtown Madness 3 review today?

@Pidge
I’m planning on starting Portal 2 this weekend. Your review has me hyped.

@Popo
I’m glad you enjoyed LoG. Let us know your thoughts on the sequel.
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Re: Games Beaten 2021

by Flake Fri Jan 08, 2021 11:35 am

January
Thirteen Sentinels: Aegis Rim (PS4)

Got the year started with some Vanillaware! I had hoped to get this title finished in 2020 but even a heroic, marathon session on NYE wasn't enough. Credits rolled at 2:30AM on New Year's Day.

Thirteen Sentinels is a game experience that is extremely tied into its narrative so I'm going to be even more terse than usual in describing this title. The gameplay is a blending of a visual novel, Front Mission 3, and My Life as a Dark Lord with a story that is equal parts Sliders, Gundam, Evangelion, Star Trek, and the good seasons of Beverly Hills 90210. It sounds like a mess, but it absolutely works. Despite blending in all the of those story-telling traits, spread across 13 separate points of view, across 5 or 6 distinct time periods, Thirteen Sentinels manages to tell its tale with no plot-holes, no continuity errors, no forgotten story threads, and with everyone's motivations completely intact.

Beyond all of this, Thirteen Sentinels is an artistic achievement for Vanillaware. In their more action based games, the hand drawn watercolor characters end up feeling a little stiff with limited actions - a necessary evil for the time consuming medium. All of the 'action' takes place in a stylized tactical HUD with an overhead view meaning the company's trade mark characters are freed up to just serve as the player's avatar for the story based portions of the game. With no need to animate combat, the characters now have a variety of physical animations and movements that let them blend into a richer world. The backgrounds for the different areas are now drawn on multiple fields of depth and a dynamic lighting system is used to great effect: for example, a beautifully drawn train will pull into a station during the afternoon and individual beams of sunlight will come through the windows of the cars.

This has been a strong way to start my year in gaming and I hope that it is a sign of things to come.
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