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PartridgeSenpai
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Re: Games Beaten 2021

by PartridgeSenpai Tue Jan 12, 2021 6:20 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) *
3. Atelier Judie: The Alchemist of Gramnad (PS2)

4. Pipo Saru 2001 (PS2)

This is the last Japan-exclusive (non-Eye Toy) Ape Escape game I'd yet to play, so I was pretty excited to get to it. Being a game that came out on the PS2 in 2001, I probably shouldn't've been quite so surprised that one of those pretty blue discs that indicated it was shipped on a CD instead of a DVD. Given that it also came out a scant year before Ape Escape 2, I maybe also shouldn't've been quite so surprised that the game reuses a LOT of assets from the first Ape Escape game. I ended up being quite surprised by a lot this game had to offer, but they were mostly not good surprises ^^;. It took me about 5 hours to 100% normal mode.

The story is fairly unimportant and awkwardly presented, so I had a pretty hard time following it or caring about it enough to try harder to follow it XD. After the events of the first game, Kakeru and the gang are renewing the Monkey Park and in the meanwhile have sent all the monkeys into a virtual play park while the physical one is being repaired. Unfortunately, part of the renewal is cleaning all the monkeys' pants, which they forgot to do, and Specter has the monkeys running amok in the virtual park! Now Kakeru (aka Spike) needs to get in there with his special vacuum cleaner to suck all of the pants off of the monkeys so they can be washed. It's a very light and forgettable story (even for one of these games) that's really just a delivery device for the gameplay. A lot of how forgettable it is comes down to just how thread bare the presentation is compared to the other games, as this game has virtually no cutscenes (only intro and outro with no subtitles) or voice acting (and the font is very annoyingly hard to read).

The gameplay is sorta part Ape Escape and part Luigi's Mansion (which came out a little later that same year). You run around levels with your vacuum cleaner sucking the pants off of all the monkeys before time runs out. You also get some weapons to use against them, but largely it's just you and your vacuum against the world. You get a letter grade ranking for how fast you complete the mission, and you also get marks for delivering all the pants to the goal (washing machine) at once as well as another for completing the mission within the allotted time limit. You get an extra life for both of the latter marks, but the actual target time you're aiming for for an S-rank letter grade (which are recorded and unlock silly extras) is never specified so far as I could tell.

The games mechanics and general premise are sorta solid, but ultimately it's all super rough. Not just assets, but mechanically, this game plays a LOT like Ape Escape 1 (but thankfully with a better framerate). Kakeru feels fairly slow (and you don't have any dash ring to go faster) and his double jump feels a bit stiff, but that's only the start of the issues. With how fast the monkeys move (and they move FAST), it can be really hard to get them with the vacuum, which makes it a real pain that the vacuum's range and limited auto aim are so ambiguous in how they operate. You can suck at the monkeys until you can fire them in front of you like a rocket, but those are really hard to aim and therefore aren't much use in a game about time trials.

There are also monkeys and boss battles that require fighting with the extra weapons you get, but those weapons are just a bomb, an attraction device, and some mind control thing (with the last one's operation being confusing and largely useless in my experience). You aim these by flicking the right stick back and then letting go in the direction you wanna throw it, and if that sounds like an awful way to aim and fight to you, then you have excellently guessed one of the biggest problems present in the later half of the game (and the entirety of the Expert Mode levels you unlock after beating the normal ones).

That also means that this game suffers from the same problem the normal Ape Escape games suffer from: camera control is bound only to focusing it behind you, as the right stick has a different use. This is extra weird when you consider that the face buttons aren't used for switching weapons and area actually used for jumping and activating your vacuum. Aiming these weapons is terribly awkward and is rarely accurate as a result. The camera is usually fine, but one or two stages in particular (particularly the penultimate stage's boss fight) are DREADFUL because of how the camera works. In boss fights especially, Specter moves around so fast that they change how the camera focusing works to focus on him (sorta) instead of refocusing it behind where you're standing. The boss battles are by and large pretty bad both because of how repetitive they are (it's the same boss just in different stages for all but the final boss) and due to these camera woes.

The presentation is acceptable, but nothing special. It very much looks like a last-gen game with basically every character model being recycled from Ape Escape 1 (so at the time it didn't look that bad, but Ape Escape 2, which came out the following year, blows this out of the water). The environments look quite nice and pretty, though, as they were all developed especially for this, and that makes an even harsher visual clash as you have higher polygon count environments contrasted with far lower polygon count models. The music is also really nothing special and I already can't remember any of it. The only fun thing about the presentation is that after beating each world you unlock a monkey sauna to peer into (creepy) depending on how many S-ranks you got, and you can look at the monkeys doing silly antics and read their thoughts for some silly jokes.

Verdict: Not Recommended. I was really disappointed with this game. Given the series its part of and how much I enjoyed the last spinoff of the series I played, I certain expected better, but this game is a really rough time. In the grand scheme of PS2 platformers it isn't THAT bad, but it's a frustrating enough time that I can't possibly recommend it over anything else (especially with how cheap the proper Ape Escapes are in Japan). This game feels like something the B-team made while Ape Escape 2 was entering its last stages of development, and they had to do SOMETHING with Ape Escape 1's engine to have something ready for the launch window of the PS2. They did indeed get something, sure, but I'm not sure it was worth it given the quality of the final product.
Last edited by PartridgeSenpai on Mon Jan 18, 2021 5:04 am, edited 1 time in total.
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MrPopo
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Re: Games Beaten 2021

by MrPopo Tue Jan 12, 2021 8:28 pm

Previous Years: 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020

1. EYE: Divine Cybermancy - PC
2. Legend of Grimrock - PC
3. Legend of Grimrock 2 - PC
4. Shovel Knight - Wii U

I snagged Shovel Knight way back when it came out, played two levels, then got distracted and never came back to it. I had time to kill today and decided to pick it back up and I'm glad I did. Shovel Knight is a well crafted platformer with a handful of sections that are nastier than I'd like but not insurmountable and overall provides an experience of how we remembered 8-bit games (but not necessarily how they actually were).

The story is pretty threadbare; you have a shovel, you have a pal, you are going to use that shovel to save your pal. There's eight stages with eight Robot Mast- err... knights. While there is a new power in every stage, you don't get it from the boss. Instead you have to find a hidden merchant and buy it (or buy it in town after beating the stage). The abilities are more for mobility and for giving you some ranged options; there isn't a weakness circle.

The game has an interesting checkpoint system; you have fixed checkpoints in the stages where you respawn on death, but you can attack and break them to get extra cash. This, obviously, makes them non-functional, so there's a bit of risk/reward involved. Additionally, on death you drop a chunk of your gold which can be retrieved by picking the bags back up. Unfortunately, the bulk of your deaths are spikes/pits, so it's usually not an option to retrieve them all. But money pretty much rains from the sky, so it's not an issue.

All the sprite work is top notch, sticking with that NES style of bold design elements for instant recognizability while working under constraints, and the level tilesets are just as pretty. Each level has its own set of gimmicks to keep the platforming fresh, though one or two of them got a little tighter in the timing than I'd like before getting instant death'd. The boss fights are on the level of Mega Man X boss fights; multiple kinds of patterns rather than the single attacks of original Mega Man games. Pretty much all of them are pretty fair; I was able to get through them first try except for the two final bosses.

Overall it's a fun experience and I look forward to trying out the DLC campaigns, but probably won't get to them for a bit.
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Markies
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Re: Games Beaten 2021

by Markies Tue Jan 12, 2021 11:11 pm

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

1. Midtown Madness 3 (XBOX)
2. X-Men 2: Clone Wars (GEN)

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I completed X-Men 2: Clone Wars on the Sega Genesis this evening!

As a pre-teen, I used to love the X-Men. I would wake up every Saturday morning to watch the cartoon with my friends. We used to bike down to the Comic Book shop and buy X-Men Comics. We also used to play the two X-Men games on the Genesis as well. Eventually, I got my own copies as well. Even though my friendship with the two friends and my love of X-Men ended, I still had the two the Genesis games sitting on my Backlog. I thought they were much too hard until I played the first one several years ago. After many hours of annoyance, I was surprisingly able to beat the game. Still, I had the second game still left to play. In my mind, it was quite intimidating, but the Fortune Cookie decided that this was the year for me to slay this game.

The game starts with a literal cold open. For one, it takes place in Siberia. Also, you just plop down and start playing. No title screen or anything. I don't think I've ever seen that in a video game, which is kind of neat. After a few levels, you get your team for the rest of the game: Beast, Cyclops, Gambit, Nightcrawler, Psylocke, Wolverine and Magneto. Each has their strengths and weaknesses with Wolverine being overpowered because of course. You choose which character to play and then play through the action stages, sometimes ending in a boss fight. Each character controls differently and its one of the first games where that actually felt true. The stages are interesting and the controls are great. After all these years, it is still fun to play.

Also, after all these years, the game is still hard as hell. You are constantly fighting swarms of enemies that take too many hits. It is a constant onslaught as Wolverine's healing ability is the only saving grace in the game. Besides difficulty, the game's music is also another low point. Most of it does not even sound like music as it does that Genesis industrial sound throughout many of the stages. It also is a bit much.

Overall, I still enjoyed X-Men 2: Clone Wars. I have a large soft spot for this game as I used to play the first few levels with different characters all of the time. But, once you dig into the game, it can be a bit unfair and grating to listen to. But, the core game play and feel of each character make it rise above the initial expectations. If you like the X-Men or challenging Genesis Action games, this is worth a shot.
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Re: Games Beaten 2021

by PretentiousHipster Wed Jan 13, 2021 11:35 am

Won't post my thoughts too much on this I'd rather make a video on it, but I've just beaten Byzantine: The Betrayal. A point and click adventure game similar to Gabriel Knight 2, but published by The Discovery Channel. Instead of a horror angle with german lore, this deals with a smuggling ring with Turkish lore. There is a bit too much education stuff in this that can be dry when taking a lot in at once, but it's still entertaining (of course it has some bad cheesy FMV acting), and accessible as it provides straightforward hints when you are stuck. If you need a fix of stuff like Gabriel Knight 2 definitely check this out. Will do a video with more in-depth thoughts hopefully next week
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Re: Games Beaten 2021

by ElkinFencer10 Wed Jan 13, 2021 12:47 pm

MrPopo wrote:4. Shovel Knight - Wii U

I'm so proud. :')
Exhuminator wrote:Ecchi lords must unite for great justice.

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Re: Games Beaten 2021

by prfsnl_gmr Wed Jan 13, 2021 12:54 pm

ElkinFencer10 wrote:
MrPopo wrote:4. Shovel Knight - Wii U

I'm so proud. :')


Is that game even available on other systems?
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Re: Games Beaten 2021

by MrPopo Wed Jan 13, 2021 2:28 pm

3DS, PS4, and PC according to Wikipedia. But when it came out the options were 3DS and Wii U, so obviously I was going to get it on Wii U. I don't really need "I am travelling" portability.
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Re: Games Beaten 2021

by alienjesus Wed Jan 13, 2021 3:31 pm

MrPopo wrote:3DS, PS4, and PC according to Wikipedia. But when it came out the options were 3DS and Wii U, so obviously I was going to get it on Wii U. I don't really need "I am travelling" portability.


It's on Switch and XBox One as well. The XBox One version has the Battletoads in it.
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Re: Games Beaten 2021

by alienjesus Wed Jan 13, 2021 6:31 pm

AJ's Games Beaten 2021:
1. Machinarium Switch eShop *NEW*
2. Pikuniku Switch eShop *NEW*
3. Sonic Generations XBox 360 *NEW*
4. Neutopia Wii VC *NEW*

Machinarium

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Machinarium is a point & click adventure game which I played on Switch. It’s also a game I’ve been meaning to play for years and years, since it first came out on PC. Mainly what interested me was it’s art style, which is stunning even years later – a charming steampunk robotic world, and a story told entirely without text. You play as a robot who tries to get into a city of robots to rescue his robot friend, and along the way has to foil a plot to blow the city up too. The game is about 4 to 5 hours long and the puzzles begin focused within small environments, but after each area is cleared the next is generally bigger and more complicated with more steps to solve. The puzzle quality is solid but it’s not always clear what to do – there is a nice hint function though which helps to some extent. One gripe I had with the game is that to interact with an object you have to move next to it first – you cant just click on something the other end of the screen and have your character move to it automatically, which slows down the pace a lot, especially with the slow movement speed of the game. Overall though, this is a charming and satisfying point & click, and worth playing.


Pikuniku

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Pikuniku is a slightly hard game to explain, but you play as a red ball thing with long legs and go outside and walk around a bit. You then start to unravel and overturn a capitalist plot to end the world by joining a rebel group of sentient plant dudes. It’s a bit weird, is what I’m saying. The game mostly involves walking and jumping, with some boss battles on occasion which involve kicking stuff and running away. You can also roll to move faster but you can’t jump or kick whilst rolling as your legs are tucked away. A variety of hats can be found and a few of these offer additional abilities such as watering sprouts to make flowers grow which can be used as platforms. Mostly though, the game offers variety in tasks to do, with you doodling a new scary face for a scarecrow directly on the touchscreen, doing daring escapes and playing hide and seek with a rock whose house you invaded. The game is a fun way to spend a few hours – it’s far from refined and has a kind of loose feeling to movement which can be annoying, but it fits the game. This is decent if you buy it on sale like I did.


Sonic Generations

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Sonic Generations is the game I played for this months 2011 Together Retro. I spoke about it more in that thread, but I quite enjoyed it’s retelling of the history of mainline sonic games via memorable levels from the games. Each stage features a 2D first act as classic sonic and a 3D second act as modern sonic, and although I like classic sonic games more, the modern half of the game is the superior one here – the 2D gameplay is still fun but the movement feels too floaty and Sonic moves too quick in the sidescrolling segments – after a spindash it’s almost impossible to see whats going on due to the speed you take off at. The choice of levels is decent although it is perhaps a little too weighted towards first stages (which for obvious reasons tend to be memorable) leading to perhaps a few too many Green Hill or City Escape type levels. I also feel a little sad to see no Sonic CD and Sonic 3 & Knuckles being combined, in favour of a stage from Sonic 2006 – which is the worst stage in the game at that. I guess Sonic Mania fixed that issue years later though! My favourite levels were Chemical Plant Zone from Sonic 2, City Escape from Sonic Adventure 2 and Rooftop Run from Sonic Unleashed. Overall, this is a fun old time and well worth a play, and I’d highly recommend it to Sonic fans. Don’t worry if you’re not as into the modern games too much – neither am I and I enjoyed this thoroughly.


Neutopia

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Neutopia is a Zelda clone for the Turbografx, and I don’t feel I’m being unfair by describing this that way – it’s very blatant. It cribs the overworld and dungeon structure from Zelda 1, right down to even including many of the same types of items – bombs to blow up walls, a lantern to light dark rooms, even an item which allows you to cross single tile spaces of water! Luckily, despite being a clone it’s a fairly solid one which also fixes some of the issues the first Zelda had with being too obtuse – there’s lots of hints of where to go and where to find stuff, and you’ll always have a good idea where to explore next. The game is a bit stiff and the fire rod, which you acquire early on, will probably be your preferred method of attack for most of the game – it has longer range than the sword and can be used in all 8 directions, unlike the swords 4. Difficulty wise the game isn’t too bad, although there are a few cheap moments with too many enemies shooting projectiles which are very frustrating. Overall, this game is very ok, and whilst it’s totally worth a play, I wouldn’t go out of my way to recommend it or pick it up. If you’re curious or you somehow end up with a copy via some unlikely sequence of events, totally play it.
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Re: Games Beaten 2021

by BoneSnapDeez Wed Jan 13, 2021 8:55 pm

Man I love the Neutopia OST.
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