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BoneSnapDeez
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Re: Games Beaten 2019

by BoneSnapDeez Thu Oct 10, 2019 4:39 pm

^ Too scared to read that, just in case there's a sliver of a spoiler dropped. But I will! I'll wait until I finish the game myself (in another week or two?).

1. Ys III: Wanderers from Ys (Famicom)
2. Dragon Scroll: Yomigaerishi Maryuu (Famicom)
3. Ninja-kun: Majou no Bouken (Famicom)
4. Hello Kitty World (Famicom)
5. Galaxian (Famicom)
6. Esper Dream 2: Aratanaru Tatakai (Famicom)
7. Ninja Jajamaru-kun (Famicom)
8. Jajamaru no Daibouken (Famicom)
9. Front Line (Famicom)
10. Field Combat (Famicom)
11. Portopia Renzoku Satsujin Jiken (Famicom)
12. Mississippi Satsujin Jiken: Murder on the Mississippi (Famicom)
13. Space Harrier (Famicom)
14. Geimos (Famicom)
15. Attack Animal Gakuen (Famicom)
16. Sky Destroyer (Famicom)
17. Ripple Island (Famicom)
18. Oishinbo: Kyukyoku no Menu 3bon Syoubu (Famicom)
19. Bird Week (Famicom)
20. Baltron (Famicom)
21. Yie Ar Kung-Fu (Famicom)
22. Challenger (Famicom)
23. Ikki (Famicom)
24. Dough Boy (Famicom)
25. Atlantis no Nazo (Famicom)
26. Bio Senshi Dan: Increaser tono Tatakai (Famicom)
27. Yume Penguin Monogatari (Famicom)
28. King Kong 2: Ikari no Megaton Punch (Famicom)
29. Congo Bongo (Atari 2600)
30. Coconuts (Atari 2600)
31. Arcade Archives: Donkey Kong (Switch eShop)
32. Dragon Quest V: Tenkuu no Hanayome (Super Famicom)
33. Johnny Turbo's Arcade: Super Burger Time (Switch eShop)
34. Fire Fly (Atari 2600)
35. Fire Fighter (Atari 2600)
36. Space Jockey (Atari 2600)
37. Airlock (Atari 2600)
38. Makai Hakkenden Shada (PC Engine)
39. Squeeze Box (Atari 2600)
40. Lagoon (SNES)
41. Atlantis (Atari 2600)
42. Xak III: The Eternal Recurrence (PC Engine CD)
43. Blue Blink (PC Engine)
44. Ys IV: The Dawn of Ys (PC Engine CD)
45. Cally's Caves 3 (Steam)
46. Planetarian: The Reverie of a Little Planet (Steam)
47. Contra (NES)
48. Arcade Archives: Vs. Super Mario Bros. (Switch eShop)
49. Arcade Archives: Moon Cresta (Switch eShop)
50. Johnny Turbo's Arcade: Joe and Mac Caveman Ninja (Switch eShop)
51. Ice Hockey (Atari 2600)
52. Indy 500 (Atari 2600)
53. Video Olympics (Atari 2600)
54. Fast Eddie (Atari 2600)
55. Muv-Luv (Steam)
56. Air-Sea Battle (Atari 2600)
57. Combat (Atari 2600)
58. Street Racer (Atari 2600)
59. Food Fight (Atari 7800)
60. Galaga (Atari 7800)
61. Donkey Kong (ColecoVision)
62. Cosmic Avenger (ColecoVision)
63. Mouse Trap (ColecoVision)
64. Zaxxon (ColecoVision)
65. Armor Battle (Intellivision)
66. Armor Ambush (Atari 2600)
67. Basic Math (Atari 2600)
68. Astrosmash (Intellivision)
69. Astroblast (Atari 2600)
70. Donkey Kong (Intellivision)
71. Beauty & the Beast (Intellivision)
72. Surround (Atari 2600)
73. Borderline (SG-1000)
74. Omega Race (VIC-20)
75. Star Battle (VIC-20)

76. Mahou Kishi Rayearth (Game Gear)
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Of all the Magic Knight Rayearth (Mahou Kishi Rayearth) games to arrive during the mid-90s, the eponymous Game Gear title was released first. In fact, it's the only one with a 1994 release date (barely, mid-December), while the other six(!) landed in 1995. There were high hopes for this one, apparently. In addition to a standard release, there was also a limited edition red cart, which came bundled with a matching red Game Gear system. This red Game Gear is now a pricey collector's item, exponentially cooler than the game itself. Now, with this huge cluster of licensed games being dumped at once, one would expect some rather low-quality titles. Indeed, in my review of the Game Boy Magic Knight Rayearth I called the game mediocre, recommending it only to diehard fans of the source material. But Nintendo's Rayearth games were developed by the obscure outfit Pandora Box; surely the brain geniuses at Sega managed to churn out a more quality product? 'Fraid not. Not only does this little gray (or red) cartridge house the worst game of the Rayearth series, it also contains one of the weakest JRPGs of the era.

The story of Magic Knight Rayearth (the game) doesn't follow the plot of the manga/anime from beginning to (unexpected) conclusion. Instead, it's presented as more of a brief sidequest or a piece of alternate history. Three Japanese school girls - Hikaru, Umi, and Fuu - are sucked into another dimension while on a field trip to Tokyo Tower. They land in the magical world of Cephiro, where plenty of hijinks ensue. The goal of this specific Game Gear exclusive quest is to rescue Makona, the adorable rabbit-esque mascot-y buddy, who's apparently been captured. There's a surprisingly large amount of dialogue and exposition contained within this bite-sized RPG (fan-translated in 2018), but most of it is needless filler. Even worse, the girls never really converse with each other. In the source material, all three were strong-willed (albeit in different ways), with their clashing personalities leading to some fascinating tensions and subsequent resolutions. But here in Sega-land they all just shout out generic "let's do it!" slogans in tandem. Constantly.
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As for the game itself, it's a Japanese RPG crafted in that tried-and-true Dragon Quest fashion. The girls aren't able to wander around any sort of "world map" -- instead locations are selected via a cursor, similar to Ys III. The game has a strange unfinished feel, as two of the environments offer up no exploration. Rather, a cutscene is displayed when they're selected. That leaves just four places to visit. Game Gear Rayearth is bookended by a bland forest and an even blander final dungeon. Both are constructed in near-identical fashion, a series of rectangular clusters cobbled together. Said "rectangles" span about two screens each, horizontally -- there's actually no vertical scrolling in the entire game! Additionally, there's a single town, far too large and full of useless NPCs. The most "interesting" locale is another(!) forest -- this time an endlessly looping and mildly infuriating "lost woods" sort of thing. Note that there's no reason to ever revisit an area after it's been cleared, this is a decidedly linear experience. There are your typical inns (for recovery and saving) and shops (for buying items). There are no weapons or armor, just recovery items with zero descriptions included. Most can be safely ignored. It's likely theoretically possible to complete the game without buying anything, though those HP-filling shortcakes provide a nice safety net.

Most of the game is spent in combat. Battles are turn-based and enemies are randomly encountered. Everything about the combat here is absolute garbage. First and foremost, the encounter rate is insane. Just utterly outrageous. Due to some sloppy programming it's possible for the girls to get into battle after taking just a single step away from of a previous skirmish. The enemy designs are an absolute joke. Just a hodgepodge of random "things" -- plants, rocks with eyes, puffballs with eyes, weird indescribable blobs. Rather than the typical palette swaps, the game uses numbers to denote tougher enemies. So, for instance, in the game's opening forest the girls must battle plant varieties 1, 2, and 3, with the plants labeled with a "3" being the hardest. Boss fights are underwhelming; most are just slightly tougher versions of regular enemies. However, a couple of bosses are lifted right from the source material. One example being the warrior Ferio, who must be fought seven times in a row.
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Combat mechanics are admittedly kind of interesting. On paper, at least. The game attempts to employ a sort of active time battle system, like that of the great Final Fantasy IV. In other words, a character is ready to make a move once charged up, this "charge" being based on a speed statistic. How this is manifested graphically is utterly bizarre. There's a rapidly-scrolling nausea-inducing "film strip" looping around the screen's bottom, containing images of the three girls. While "waiting" the girls' entire bodies are displayed; a heroine is ready to strike when the image switches to a portrait of her face. It's then up to player to click on which knight executes a command, by pressing a button at the moment her face swings by. Battle commands are standard: attack, magic, items, run. Fuu provides healing magic, while the others focus on offense. In a bizarre attempt to "simplify" things, neither HP or MP are presented numerically. MP is represented by a blue bar, while HP is represented by a square "frame" around the image of each magic knight. There's also little feedback in regards to how much damage is being inflicted upon enemies. Occasionally, the kidnapped Makona is able to psychically "aid" the ladies by casting his own "card" spells. Said spells override whatever combat option was chosen by the player, and occur randomly. Occasionally, there are bad effects, like the loss of health or magic points. But even the "good" cards provide little relief. For instance, it's common to get a "refill MP" card when all knights have full MP, or a "revive" card when everyone has remained alive. Or an automatic "run away" when you're desperately trying to grind for experience. Ah yes, the grind. It's here, present, and necessary. Battles themselves proceed at a glacial pace and all foes are HP-tanks. Combine this with the constant need for (and initiation of) combat and it can take five minutes to walk across a single screen. It's a dreadfully tedium that makes The 7th Saga feel like Contra in comparison.

Joining the unpleasant gameplay is a serious heaping of subpar aesthetics. While the Game Gear boasted an impressive range of available colors, they're severely underutilized here. The game has a grainy undercooked appearance, and not a single background, foe, or venue is memorable. The sprites of the magic knights are kind of cute but rather strange. In the source material they were tall, pretty girls. Occasionally they were drawn in a chibi fashion, during those more outlandish and funny moments. Here they're super deformed throughout the entirety of the game, along with every other character. It just looks stupid, even the Game Boy managed to get the proportions correct. As for the soundtrack, it's just low-effort trash. There are no compelling original tunes, and Sega even managed to butcher the iconic opening theme. Only the first few bars are played before it clumsily loops.

This is a bad game. A lazy insipid cash-grab trying to ride the coattails of a popular anime franchise. It's astonishing that Sega's Saturn Magic Knight Rayearth turned out to be such a winner. An NPC in this game recommends that the player go out and try that (instead?). I concur.
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alienjesus
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Re: Games Beaten 2019

by alienjesus Sat Oct 12, 2019 12:13 pm

Games Beaten 2019:
1. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Switch
2. Alex Kidd in The Enchanted Castle Switch
3. Streets of Rage Switch
4. Vectorman Switch
5. Galaxy Force II Switch
6. Flicky Switch
7. Phantasy Star 2 Switch
8. Sonic the Hedgehog Switch
9. Altered Beast Switch
10. ESWAT: City Under Siege Switch
11. Columns Switch
12. Virtua Fighter 2 Switch
13. Kirby Star Allies Switch
14. Katamari Damacy Reroll Switch eShop
15. Pokémon: Let's Go, Eevee! Switch
16. Octodad: Dadliest Catch Switch eShop
17. Sword of Vermilion Switch
18. Decap Attack Switch
19. Golden Axe Switch
20. The Revenge of Shinobi Switch
21. Beyond Oasis Switch
22. WarioWare Gold 3DS
23. Shining in the Darkness Switch
24. Kid Chameleon Switch
25. Streets of Rage 2 Switch
26. Bio-Hazard Battle Switch
27. Super Thunder Blade Switch
28. Gain Ground Switch
29. Phantasy Star III: Generations of Doom Switch
30. Sonic the Hedgehog 2 Switch
31. Comix Zone Switch
32. Vectorman 2 Switch
33. Light Crusader Switch
34. Crack Down Switch
35. ToeJam and Earl Switch
36. Dynamite Headdy Switch *NEW*
37. Golden Axe II Switch *NEW*
38. Shadow Dancer: The Secret of Shinobi Switch *NEW*
39. Columns III: Revenge of Columns Switch *NEW*
40. Shining Force: The Legacy of Great Intention Switch *NEW*
41. Kirby No Kirakira Kizzu Game Boy *NEW*
42. Klonoa Wii *NEW*


Dynamite Headdy

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Dynamite Headdy is a secretly one of the best platformers on the Mega Drive, and I don’t think it gets the credit it deserves a lot of the time. The game features a huge selection of levels with lots of new and interesting mechanics from stage to stage. It has some amazing technical tricks for the system that impress but also manage to fit within the gameplay and not feel too much like out-of-place gimmicks. It has some nice visuals and an eclectic soundtrack, and it’s generally a really fun game.

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One of the reasons it probably didn’t gel with people as much is it’s difficulty. Dynamite Headdy was a tough game in its original Japanese release, but then it was made harder when localised to the west – you start with less continues and it’s harder to get more. Bosses take more hits and have harder to avoid attacks. Some fights are ruined by the changes in my opinion – Baby Face goes from a fun change of pace (the boss is part of a shmup level) to an insane marathon of bullet dodging that just isn’t much fun, the boss fight on the endless staircase becomes a 10 minute slog due to making his pattern random instead of fixed, and lots of other examples.

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Which is why, if you’re going to play Dynamite Headdy, I’ll always recommend you play through the Japanese version. Luckily, if you play it through the Sega Mega Drive Collection on Switch like I did, you can switch the games region to enjoy it as it was meant to be played. And enjoy it you should, because Dynamite Headdy is pretty great.

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Golden Axe II

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Golden Axe is a game I have lots of nostalgia for, and when I replayed it as part of the Sega collection earlier this year, I thought it still held up pretty well. It’s far from perfect, but it features just enough interesting setpieces, environmental hazards and enemy variety to be enjoyable.

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Golden Axe II on the other hand, is a game I’ve never really played before now. I didn’t own it as a kid, and so this was my first time through the game. And unlike Golden Axe 1, I didn’t really enjoy myself much. It’s hard to pin down why really – mechanically it’s very similar. You have the same 3 characters, the same attacks its built on the same engine, most of the enemies are the same. For all intents and purposes, it may as well be a bonus map pack for the first game.

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And yet, it just doesn’t feel quite right. The levels feel more flat and less interesting – more stone buildings and less harbour towns and stone paths on the back of an eagle here. The music is decent, but just doesn’t feel as memorable as the first game. And the game just feels completely devoid of any original ideas, and with it, kind of loses the heart of the first title.

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Golden Axe 2 is by no means a bad game. In fact, I could understand people liking it more than the first, especially if they played this game before that one. But as a sequel, it feels underwhelming, lacking the charm and character of the first game whilst offering up nothing new of its own. It’s worth a play, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to buy it. Play the cheaper and better first game instead.




Shadow Dancer: The Secret of Shinobi

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I’ve previously played 2 out of the 3 Shinobi titles on the Mega Drive, having finished both Revenge of Shinobi and Shinobi 3 in the past. However, I’d never given Shadow Dancer a go – not out of any kind of lack of willingness, but because the opportunity just never arose. The game always looked interesting, but it being closer to the original arcade Shinobi was offputting, as that was a game I didn’t enjoy, with its 1 hit kills and stiff gameplay.

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But I needn’t have worried, because Shadow Dancer on the Mega Drive is a blast. It’s fast paced and action packed, but with just enough of that tactical gameplay that I associate with Shinobi – one hit death forces you to be careful with how you approach enemies with better ground that you – jumping up or dropping down into a bullet has big consequences. You can be helped out though, by your ninja dog sidekick, who can be set onto enemies, stunning them for a bit and letting you move in for the kill. The dog can’t die, but can be hit, which causes it to shrink down into a puppy form temporarily, unable to attack in the meantime.

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Shadow Dancer’s mechanics weakest point comes with boss fights, which can be brutally challenging with the single hit deaths. The one boss fight on top of the Statue of Liberty (the game has some fun stage designs too!) caused me a lot of headaches in particular.

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Still though, Shadow Dancer is a good game and I feel it compliments the other Shinobi games on the system really nicely. Revenge of Shinobi is really deliberate and careful, Shadow Dancer is fast paced but simple, and Shinobi 3 is about utilising a well rounded moveset. All three are great, and worth your time.

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Columns III: Revenge of Columns

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Columns 3 is a game that never originally released in Europe, and so this was my first time playing it. The first Columns game on Mega Drive is another game I have some nostalgia for, and I was curious how a sequel would even build upon it – after all, Columns was a very simple game with simple mechanics, a distinct art style and music.

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Well, it turns out that Columns 3 reinvents the game quite a bit – rather than a thoughtful historical aesthetic and slow, calm music meant for longer 1 player sessions, it draws a lot more from the likes of Puyo Puyo and becomes a cartoony, competitive, multiplayer puzzle game. The main story mode has you progressing through a pyramid playing Columns against various monsters in a way that is entirely consistent with Puyo Puyo, and the cartoony art style and music reminds me of it too. And whilst I enjoy the original Columns, I also love me some Puyo, so I’m fine with the change.

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Mechanically, being a head-to-head puzzler means that you need a way to ‘attack’ the opponent. This is done in a few ways – the first is the ‘crush’ mechanic – by building up 10, 20 or 30 jewels matched, you can press a button to ‘crush’ your opponent – removing his currently falling jewels from play and raising the floor of his well up higher, pushing his gems towards the top of the screen. The amount raised depends on how many jewels you’d matched, and then resets the count. It also lowers the floor of your well if it’s already raised. Creating combos of gems will make a flashing gem appears. Matching this gem does a random attack effect on your opponent, such as turning his screen black-and-white, making itharder to match gems, flipping it upside down or more. Finally, after a certain number of matches, a magic gem block appears containing an upwards pointing triangle, a downwards pointing one and a square. Landing it with the downwards triangle at the bottom lowers your well, the upwards one will raise your opponents well, and the square will remove all gems of the colour it lands on from your side.

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These mechanics actually make for a pretty fun and tactical game. For example, saving your crush for when their magic gem appears lets you remove it from play but in the meantime you lose some of your defensive and offensive options to lower your well and raise theres. The random effects from combo jewels can be super detrimental but are harder to trigger and more unreliable. It’s a fun game and I highly recommend it. I just wish it had come out here so I could go and buy an original copy more easily!

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Shining Force: The Legacy of Great Intention

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Shining Force is a game I’d on tried once, briefly, on the Xbox 360 Mega Drive collection. I played a map or so, thought it was interesting enough, and then kinda stopped. I think being a long time Fire Emblem fan, I was somewhat put off by how the game was so similar to Fire Emblem but different enough to where things threw me off – such as the use of MP for spells and lack of counterattacks from enemies.

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So this was my first real attempt at the game, and I honestly quite enjoyed it. I still think it’s a bit of a poor man’s Fire Emblem in some ways – it’s certainly easier and a good deal goofier than that series – but it’s still a lot of fun and really charming. I suppose I should have expected as much from Camelot. I’ve had lots of people tell me how Phantasy Star is the definitive Sega Mega Drive RPG series, but to be honest they always felt kinda B tier after the original. The Shining games, have a real feel of quality which can stand head to head with some of the better SNES games.

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I didn’t think Shining Force was perfect – the levelling mechanics are kind of broken sometimes – I would have characters dealing 3 damage on one map, then getting a level up or two and getting enough attack that they now dealt 15 damage. It through the difficulty balance out of whack – I had a section of the mid game where all my characters were screwed in attack and killing stuff was very difficult, but end game my guys were hitting like trucks and that issue no longer existed. I also hated the item management in the game – every character has 4 item slots, items were automatically given to the next available one, and trying to buy new weapons for guys meant lots of tedious menu navigation to make space.

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Overall though, Shining Force was a good time. I enjoyed my weird ragtag squad (favourites from my team included Kokichi the jetpack riding, lance wielding old codger and Domingo, the floating squid monster mage) and I enjoyed the games overall tone and atmosphere. Translation was OK for the era – nothing fantastic but certainly not the worst, and the visuals were top notch for the system.

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I’m very much looking forward to playing through the rest of Shining Force 2, which I’m working through currently. It’s just such a shame I’m getting into the series now though, considering the price Shining Force CD and Shining Force 3 seem to go for these days. Still, the fact that I’m still somewhat contemplating shelling out for them should tell you how much I liked what I played here!

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Kirby No KiraKira Kizzu

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AKA Kirby’s Star Stacker. Here’s a c-c-c-c-combo breaker for my run of Switch (and Mega Drive) games this year. Back in May I got married, and then my wife and I went to Japan for our honeymoon. I picked up this game whilst I was there, and played it on the train ride home. And speaking of combos, that’s what this game is all about.

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Kirby Star Stacker is a puzzle title where you’re tasked with clearing a certain amount of stars on each level to clear it. Blocks drop down in pairs of 2, with 4 types being available – Kirby’s friends Rick the Hamster, Coo the Owl and Kine the Fish from DreamLand 2, and a generic star. If 2 of kirby’s friends are matched, they will disappear, but this also works if they are joinedtogether in a line by a line of stars – the characters disappear and so do all the stars between them. This is the only way to remove star pieces from play, which is required to beat the stage.

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If you make a combo, Kirby will throw some extra stars into play. These dropin a way where they will form a new line if possible. If this happens, Kirby will throw more stars into play – potentially making more lines and so on. Each time Kirby throws stars into play he throws more, and Kirby’s stars disappear instantly if they don’t make a match, reducing the star counter. Big combos result in Kirby throwing 12 stars at a time, which can make a big reduction to the number needed for clearing the level.

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Kirby Star Stacker is a fun game for the first 4 of its 5 difficulty levels (lovingly titled Normal, Hard, Very Hard, Super Hard and Insane). Normal through Super Hard difficulty don’t particularly live up the their name – they’re short and pretty easy overall, with some challenge by the time you reach Super Hard. But Insane absolutely lives up to it’s name, and to be honest, somewhat ruins the game. It has 50 stages (compared to 16 or so in other difficulties) and requires hundreds of stars cleared per level, making levels drag on WAAAAAYYYY longer too. But the main issue is that the block layouts are such that it’s entirely RNG dependent if you can even make a start – I’ve had levels where there’s only room for 4 tiles to drop in at the start and none of the ones given to me could make a match. Stage 43 in particular took me hundreds of attempts just to clear the first 20 moves or so. It really ruins an otherwise super fun game.

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I still think Star Stacker is worth playing. It was somewhat addictive for much of the time I played. However, those levels in Insane are just that, and not at all fun, so don’t force yourself through them.




Klonoa

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Klonoa is a game I first played a few years back on my PSP. That was an emulated version of the PS1 game, and I thought it was fantastic. So fantastic, that I wanted to own a copy of it for original hardware. Then I saw the price tag that comes with and was sad – I’d begrudge paying that much for a cartridge, but I might fork out on something like that now and again. But for a PS1 era disc? I didn’t think it was worth the risk.

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And so I looked into picking up the remake on Wii. It wasn’t exactly cheap either, but it was a bargain compared to the price of the PS1 copy. And it’s a pretty good remake, very faithful to original hardware. I played through it in a weekend (Klonoa is a fairly short game for the era) and I had a great time. However, despite what some people might say, I do think that this is the lesser version of the game.

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The visuals on the Wii are pretty nice. Colourful and bright, with lots of charm. But they do look like a lot of games from the Gamecube and Wii era, whereas Klonoa on PS1 had a really distinct look that stood out from other games when it released, and even today it feels unique. The PS1 game also had a bit more challenge – Klonoa’s health has increased from 3 to 5 bars in this remake, which makes the game much easier. Klonoa on PS1 isn’t super challenging or anything, but it had a little bite to it before and it’s quite breezy now. The Wii difficulty feels like people imagine Klonoa to be, whereas the PS1 difficulty fit better with Klonoa’s actual dark undercurrent – it’s cute and cuddly, but the story isn’t always! Lastly, some of the techniques used in the PS1 game feel like technical showcases or cool tricks on that system, but on the Wii they’re just, y’know, standard stuff. Games which utilise technical tricks for level design can often lose some of the magic when the technical trick is no longer that tricky in a remake.

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Still, if you want to play the game and own it physically, there’s certainly nothing with this Wii port. Klonoa is a great game either way, and I highly recommend it. Absolutely a must play in my book.

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BoneSnapDeez
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Re: Games Beaten 2019

by BoneSnapDeez Sat Oct 12, 2019 1:13 pm

High IQ post. You make me wanna play my Genesis. And perfect timing, as I just got Kirby's Star Stacker this morning.

Excited about the Switch release of Columns II??
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prfsnl_gmr
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Re: Games Beaten 2019

by prfsnl_gmr Sat Oct 12, 2019 9:35 pm

Yeah...great post, AJ. That was a really great read, I really appreciated your perspective on Klonoa (Wii). I loved the PS1 original, and I really liked the PS2 sequel, but I haven’t played the remake yet.
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MrPopo
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Re: Games Beaten 2019

by MrPopo Sun Oct 13, 2019 2:00 am

First 50:
1. Octopath Traveler - Switch
2. Dusk - PC
3. Forsaken Remastered - PC
4. Tales of Eternia - PS1
5. Resident Evil 2 (2019) - PC
6. Pokémon Trading Card Game - GBC
7. Metro Exodus - PC
8. Thronebreaker: The Witcher Tales - PC
9. Project Warlock - PC
10. Magic: The Gathering - PC
11. Ghost 1.0 - PC
12. Call of Duty 2 - PC
13. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice - PS4
14. Revelations: The Demon Slayer - GBC
15. Mechstermination Force - Switch
16. Shadow Warrior Classic Redux - PC
17. Lost Sphear - Switch
18. Warcraft II: Beyond the Dark Portal - PC
19. Dragon Quest III - NES
20. Rage 2 - PC
21. Blood - PC
22. Harvest Moon 64 - N64
23. Battlefield V - PC
24. Sigil - PC
25. Shining Force III: Scenario 2 - Saturn
26. Shining Force III: Scenario 3 - Saturn
27. Borderlands 2: Commander Lillith and the Fight for Sanctuary - PC
28. Gato Roboto - Switch
29. Timespinner - Switch
30. Amid Evil - PC
31. Pillars of Eternity II: Beast of Winter - PC
32. Pillars of Eternity II: Seeker, Slayer, Survivor - PC
33. Pillars of Eternity II: The Forgotten Sanctum - PC
34. Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night - Switch
35. Orphan - PC
36. Project Nimbus - PC
37. Hardcore Mecha - PC
38. Grey Goo - PC
39. Giants: Citizen Kabuto - PC
40. Wolfenstein: Youngblood - PC
41. Fire Emblem: Three Houses - Switch
42. Metal Wolf Chaos XD - PC
43. Ion Fury - PC
44. Final Fantasy Adventure - GB
45. Astral Chain - Switch
46. Rebel Galaxy Outlaw - PC
47. Blasphemous - Switch
48. Daemon x Machina - Switch
49. The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening - Switch
50. Borderlands 3 - PC

51. Valfaris - Switch

A couple years ago at PAX's indie section I stumbled upon a game called Valfaris. It had gorgeous pixel art, a kickass heavy metal soundtrack, and was clearly influenced by Contra 3. And it played really good, so I put it on my radar for when it eventually came out. Well, that day has arrived, and the game lives up to the promises that demo made.

Valfaris is a run and gun action platformer that will be immediately familiar to Contra fans. It eschews the one hit KOs of the main Contras in favor of a health bar and infinite respawns from the checkpoint system. The checkpoints are pretty plentiful, but they play into a risk reward system. Each checkpoint (aside from the one at the start of the level) requires you to spend a collectable item to unlock it. Now, the game puts one of these items in front of each checkpoint, so no biggie, right? Well, these items have additional uses. For each one you carry your maximum health and energy increases, and at the end of the level you can trade in a fixed number for the currency required for upgrades. So there is a bit of tension on when to activate checkpoints. Now, the game does have extras of the checkpoint currency in hidden areas, so you don't have to skip them all, but it does encourage the player to decide "was that section annoying/hard enough to be worth activating this checkpoint?"

Movement comes straight from Contra 3; you can duck, shoot in eight directions (though you have to jump to shoot down), climb walls, and hang from stuff. The weapon system is based around a primary pistol, a secondary melee, and a tertiary heavy weapon. This heavy weapon requires energy to fire, and energy can be gained from pickups (uncommon) or from meleeing enemies. The melee weapon is also rather powerful and has a good sweep to it, so I found myself using it as much as I used the primary weapon. In each of these slots you will find alternate weapons as you progress through the game; finding the one that feels best is an important part of things. Each of the weapons can also be upgraded; this will increase the damage as well as potentially other parameters (the starting pistol becomes a 3 way spread, the melee weapons get longer reach). This upgrade currency is limited and you don't have nearly enough to upgrade everything; if you are good at finding the secret areas (which are side rooms on the main path) you will have enough to upgrade about four weapons to the maximum capacity. The first upgrade is cheap, so don't stress about that one, but I wouldn't do the second and third upgrades until you're sure you like that weapon. In addition to all of that, you also have a directional shield. This is used to block and reflect projectiles as well as countering melee attacks (which are on uncommon large enemies that have to be meleed down due to them blocking your projectiles). The shield also uses energy when it blocks stuff, so in some fights you have to make careful decisions between using your heavy weapon to kill things faster and using your shield to do things safely.

The game's environments are all gorgeous. There is a good variety to the aesthetics as well as the various gimmicks in the level that make it more interesting than "run to the right while shooting all the dudes". There are light puzzle elements (shoot switches to open doors), but the primary skill asked of the player is to be accurate with shooting while dodging enemy fire. The game is easier than Blazing Chrome and is quite well balanced; it's rare that you feel like a challenge is harder than appropriate for the area, and as mentioned the checkpoints are plentiful.

All in all, this is a fantastic new run and gun and I hope to see more from this developer.
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Re: Games Beaten 2019

by alienjesus Sun Oct 13, 2019 6:58 am

BoneSnapDeez wrote:High IQ post. You make me wanna play my Genesis. And perfect timing, as I just got Kirby's Star Stacker this morning.

Excited about the Switch release of Columns II??


If you like the Sega love-in this year, you'll be happy to know there's still another 17 games to review from the collection. I'm actually currently playing through the final game - I'm massively behind on writing reviews as people on Slack probably know. These games were actually beaten back in May :lol: That said, I took a break from Mega Drive for a few months over the summer for the summer games challenge, so it might be a while before I post the next round of Sega reviews!

Kirby Star Stacker is great fun until the end.

I'm not especially excited for Columns II, but I'd be curious to know what it offers over Columns 1. Maybe you can update me if you pick it up!

prfsnl_gmr wrote:Yeah...great post, AJ. That was a really great read, I really appreciated your perspective on Klonoa (Wii). I loved the PS1 original, and I really liked the PS2 sequel, but I haven’t played the remake yet.


I know there are some typos and stuff in the reviews, but time for writing them is limited so I hope they still read OK! I've actually only played the original Klonoa and it's remakes, so I'm looking forward to trying other games in the series sometime. I hear the GBA games are decent too.
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Re: Games Beaten 2019

by alienjesus Sun Oct 13, 2019 8:45 am

Games Beaten 2019:
1. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Switch
2. Alex Kidd in The Enchanted Castle Switch
3. Streets of Rage Switch
4. Vectorman Switch
5. Galaxy Force II Switch
6. Flicky Switch
7. Phantasy Star 2 Switch
8. Sonic the Hedgehog Switch
9. Altered Beast Switch
10. ESWAT: City Under Siege Switch
11. Columns Switch
12. Virtua Fighter 2 Switch
13. Kirby Star Allies Switch
14. Katamari Damacy Reroll Switch eShop
15. Pokémon: Let's Go, Eevee! Switch
16. Octodad: Dadliest Catch Switch eShop
17. Sword of Vermilion Switch
18. Decap Attack Switch
19. Golden Axe Switch
20. The Revenge of Shinobi Switch
21. Beyond Oasis Switch
22. WarioWare Gold 3DS
23. Shining in the Darkness Switch
24. Kid Chameleon Switch
25. Streets of Rage 2 Switch
26. Bio-Hazard Battle Switch
27. Super Thunder Blade Switch
28. Gain Ground Switch
29. Phantasy Star III: Generations of Doom Switch
30. Sonic the Hedgehog 2 Switch
31. Comix Zone Switch
32. Vectorman 2 Switch
33. Light Crusader Switch
34. Crack Down Switch
35. ToeJam and Earl Switch
36. Dynamite Headdy Switch
37. Golden Axe II Switch
38. Shadow Dancer: The Secret of Shinobi Switch
39. Columns III: Revenge of Columns Switch
40. Shining Force: The Legacy of Great Intention Switch
41. Kirby No Kirakira Kizzu Game Boy
42. Klonoa Wii
43. Looney Tunes Collector: Martian Alert! GBC *NEW*
44. Mario Tennis N64 *NEW*
45. Fire Emblem Warriors Switch *NEW*



Looney Tunes Collector: Martian Alert!

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Looney Tunes Collector: Martian Alert! is a game I received as a birthday present from by good buddy MegaJ, who has posted here a handful of times. He gave it to me with a small selection of other Game Boy and NES games, with the statement that he believed it was a total ‘hidden gem’. Curious, I booted it up and gave it a go.

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The game is a top down exploration type of game, in the vein of something like Zelda, only with some platforming elements and less combat focus. You initially play as Bugs Bunny, and you’re on a quest to stop Marvin the Martian from destroying the planet. Along the way you encounter many other Looney Tunes and Merry Melodies characters, some of whom you recruit as playable characters, and some of whom you collect in a journal. Yes, this is a GBC era game, and that means every title needs at least some weird element of Pokémon applied, even here when it doesn’t really work.

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Bugs abilities are to jump and enter rabbit holes in the ground, but other recruitable characters come with other skills. Daffy Duck can swim, Witch Hazel can fly on her broom for a limited time, Elmer Fudd can shoot his gun and more. Often the characters are recruited via boss fights. There’s actually quite a few nods to lesser known Looney Tunes characters which I liked – Buggsy and Mugsy appears as a boss for example, and there’s actually a whole playable section as the martian baby Mot too.

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Which brings me to the games biggest flaw. The main gameplay is pretty strong, and theres some fun progression from setpiece to setpiece. However, towards the end of the game there are some weird cutaways to other characters or dream sequences or whatever, where the gameplay changes. It feels like these sections were made earlier in development and then they ran out of time to properly incorporate them. They are fun changes of pace – the section as Foghorn Leghorn has you avoiding the dog whilst escaping the farm for example, and the Baby Mot section is entirely a stealth game – but they don’t connect to anything else, just appearing as ways to introduce the characters and add them to your collection.

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But it’s still a decent time. I don’t know if I’d go quite as far as to call it a hidden gem, but it’s certainly an above average licensed game for the system, and considering the usual standard on GBC, that’s commendable. I also received the sequel alongside this one, which has you playing as Marvin the Martian getting revenge for this game, and I think it should be enjoyable enough. Worth a play!


Mario Tennis

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Mario Tennis was the first game I beat for the Summer Games Challenge this year. I played through the main tournament mode as Boo in singles. Mario Tennis for the N64 is a pretty simple game all told – you can play Tennis on a variety of courts as a selection of Mario characters. Each character falls into a broad play style bracket – with characters like Baby Mario being speed characters who move fast but don’t hit very hard, Waluigi being a defencecharacter with good reach and the ability to stop hard hits reliably, Peach being a technique character who can aim precisely, Bowser a Power character who moves slowly but hits like a truck, and Boo being a Tricky character who hits curvy balls and can move around a bit whilst charging his hits. I actually think Boo might have been a bad starting choice, because this mechanic caused me some headaches when I missed the ball by moving when trying to aim my shot.

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Speaking of charging shots, you do this by running into the balls general path and hitting A or B to prepare your hit – this starts the charge, and then another tap will swing for a stronger hit. I found this mechanic a bit offputting as I’m used to mashing the button fast to hit, and it threw me off regularly.

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Tournaments are made up of 3 rounds or so, and you only have to win 2 sets to finish most matches. These sets in turn are won with only 2 games most of the time, so games are speedy. There’s also only 3 tournaments to beat the game, so it’s not very long overall. However, it’s ridiculously hard – some characters in later tournaments enraged me to no end as I just could not beat them – speed characters in particular were a problem as they just received every ball perfectly. It was difficult to the point where it didn’t feel fair or fun – computers would get aces on every serve whilst my serves never accomplished anything much. Every won game normally involved a hard fought set of back and forth deuces and advantages. Honestly, I wasn’t enjoying myself by the end.

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The side modes are fun enough – there’s a ring rally mode where you keep up a rally whilst scoring points by hitting the ball through rings, and a ‘Bowser’ court where you can grab and use items Mario Kart style. But overall, Mario Tennis just feels rather content light compared to something like Mario Golf. I think it’s a good game worth playing, especially in multiplayer, but it’s not a must have game on the system. It’s up to you if you think you’ll enjoy it.


Fire Emblem Warriors

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I’m a pretty big Fire Emblem fan, and I also rather enjoyed Hyrule Warriors, so I was quite looking forward to giving Fire Emblem Warriors a go. I was curious how Fire Emblem mechanics would work being added to a musou title, because I feel like the characters and worlds of Fire Emblem have a less distinct feel than Zelda with less to work with to make the game stand out. But I think they did an OK job overall – this is certainly no Hyrule Warriors, but I had fun nonetheless.

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There’s a story here, but it’s not worth all that much. It centres around a few original characters but they are quickly joined by characters from actual Fire Emblem games throughout. The way these characters are tied into the plot and interact is pretty limited and fanfictiony – the idea that the armies of Nohr and Hoshido would team up so readily feels a bit silly for example, and so many of the chosen characters were the noble and dutiful type that I felt they missed out on chances for characters to bounce off of each other. I also wish we’d got more representation from a wider variety of games too – it was very focused on Awakening and Fates characters as the popular dish of the day, but personally I have loved to see some characters from the SNES or GBA games make an appearance too.

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I’d also have liked to see a few more combat styles – unlike Hyrule Warriors where every fighting is very distinct, here they’re split into like for like classes – so both of your Pegasus Knights fight the same way, as do your archers. This is made worse by the limitations on these classes – Pegasus knights are your only lance using options for most of the game, whereas there are several type of sword wielding battle styles and an absolute ton of sword wielding units. This is made problematic by the game making use of the weapon triangle – meaning in a match against many sword wielding enemies, you’re pretty much railroaded into the peg knight battle style. Some classes sit outside the weapon triangle, but these classes feel a little underpowered in many battles due to being average against everyone, and being a hard pick over someone with bonus power based on their weapon.

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Graphically, I also feel the game underwhelms, with some laughable textures on the ground. It plays fairly smoothly overall, but it’s not holding up to Hyrule Warriors by any means in presentation.

With all that said though, it might sound like I didn’t like the game, but I honestly had a good time. The core gameplay holds up well, and it feels unique enough to stand apart from Hyrule Warriors if you want something new to play. But if you’re going to buy one Nintendo musou game, the choice is obvious – Hyrule Warriors is superior in every way, and FE warriors feels like the lower budget alternative.
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Re: Games Beaten 2019

by ElkinFencer10 Mon Oct 14, 2019 7:36 am

Your wrong opinions are why we had to have a revolution. The mere inclusion of the Fire Emblem IP makes Fire Emblem Warriors the supreme musou game.
Exhuminator wrote:Ecchi lords must unite for great justice.

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Re: Games Beaten 2019

by PartridgeSenpai Mon Oct 14, 2019 8:42 am

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

1. Night Slashers (Switch)
2. Bye-Bye BOXBOY! (3DS)
3. GTA4: The Ballad of Gay Tony (Xbox 360)
4. Katamari Forever (PS3)
5. Detention (PS4)
6. Donkey Kong 64 (N64) *
7. OctoDad: Dadliest Catch (PS4) *
8. FlintHook (Switch)
9. God of War (PS4)
10. God of War HD (PS3)
11. Tiny Barbarian DX (Switch)
12. God of War 2 HD (PS3)
13. Starlink (Switch)
14. Shin Gundam Musou (PS3)
15. Battle & Get! Pokemon Typing DS (DS)
16. Banjo-Kazooie (N64) *
17. Super Mario 64: Rumble Edition (N64)
18. Mario Party 3 (N64) *
19. Paper Mario (N64) *
20. The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (SNES) *
21. The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening DX (GBC) *
22. The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages (GBC) *
23. The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons (GBC) *
24. Yoshi's Island (SNES) *
25. Super Mario World (SNES) *
26. Super Mario RPG (SFC) *
27. Kaeru No Tame Ni Kane Wa Naru (GB)
28. Final Fantasy VI (SFC) *
29. Final Fantasy IV (SFC) *
30. Final Fantasy V (SFC)
31. Final Fantasy III (Famicom)
32. Mother 2 (SFC) *
33. Mother 3 (GBA) *
34. Hebereke (Famicom)
35. Donkey Kong Country 2 (SFC)
36. Donkey Kong Country 3 (SFC)
37. Donkey Kong Country (SFC) *
38. Wario's Woods (Famicom)
39. Paper Mario: Color Splash (Wii U)
40. Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam (3DS)
41. Luigi's Mansion (3DS) *
42. Paper Mario: Sticker Star (3DS)
43. Mario & Luigi Superstar Saga & Bowser's Minions (3DS)
44. Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story & Bowser Jr's Journey (3DS)
45. Tomato Adventure (GBA)

46. Corpse Party (PSP)

I've owned this game for a good few years now. I wanna say I bought it on PSN back on my actual PSP before I even had a Vita, which would put it at QUITE a few years ago at this point. At any rate, it's a game I already had that I could play on my Vita that fit very snugly into the qualifications for this month's Together Retro (portable horror games), so I decided to finally give it a go after all these years. To call my feelings mixed would be an understatement, but I played through all 5 main chapters and one extra chapter, and it took me around 18 or 20 hours over the course of a week or so.

I'm going to start this off with a warning that I get into some spoilers in this review because I really can't state my opinions without getting into some of the nitty gritty on the plot elements. If you want no spoilers, skip to the "Verdict" final paragraph for some spoiler-free final summations of the rest of this review.

The narrative of Corpse Party is about a group of 8 students and their teacher. While conducting an occult ritual at school after classes have ended, they get sucked into a kind of pocket dimension run by vengeful ghosts and they need to find some way to escape. They've been split up into several different versions of the pocket dimension, meaning that characters can come and go at different times, and it also means that time and space are a bit fast and loose. From a mechanical perspective, it means they can effectively reuse the same areas for different chapters but with slightly different stuff, allowing for foreshadowing or building tension.

It plays very much like something out of RPG Maker but with no actual combat, with the characters moving around a tile-based grid in what is effectively a horror-themed adventure game with some very light action elements around avoiding interacting with hostile NPCs. It has multiple endings (effectively collectible game overs) spread throughout 5 chapters of the main story, and certain endings unlock bonus chapters. As you walk around the school, interacting with corpses or certain objects allows you to find name tags of the students that died there, and the bonus chapters you play give little windows into who some of those collectible corpses were before they died.

However, the story of Corpse Party, at least how I'll discuss it here, actually starts far before the American PSP release in 2010, and even before the Japanese PC release in 2006, and in fact starts in 1996. The original game to carry the title Corpse Party (the game we know by that title in the West has the subtitle "Blood Covered" in Japan) was made in an old version of RPG Maker for the PC-98, and is a substantially different game. It has no chapter system, it has a chibi art style, it has no students from other schools, and it has a cast of only 5 students as well as a much shorter total play time. The 2006 reboot/remake for Windows (that we eventually got on PSP) is a substantial remake to say the least, and adds the chapter system itself (as well as the extra ones), 4 more characters to the main cast as well as students from other schools, illustrated stills that appear for certain cutscenes as well as character portraits (Tales of's vignette-style), and finally also updating the art style to be far more mature and to fit in far better with the anime aesthetic landscape of 2006. I spell all of this out because Corpse Party 2010's biggest flaws, both mechanically and narratively, are almost entirely (although not universally) borne out of this legacy of being a reboot of an old RPG Maker game.

First, let's address the new aesthetic and presentation changes, as they're where some of my most fundamental praises and criticisms of the game lie.

For praise, the sound design in this game is really good. It has some excellent Japanese VA and music that really helps set a good, heavy atmosphere. Even playing it on a handheld screen, I sometimes was getting so worked up that I had to play with the light on to help calm me down (granted I'm a bit of a horror game lightweight) XD. Playing with headphones also helps a lot, as the game does a lot with its stereo sound (like voices/noises coming from L and R speakers or travelling from one to the other) that is almost impossible to appreciate with the built-in speakers on the PSP or Vita.

For criticism, the game has an obsession with sexualization and torture porn that I found really soured the experience. The sexualization is largely found in the first two chapters, but the most subtle stuff is always there. The way the girls' breasts are drawn in really unnatural ways to accentuate them, the panty shots, the really crude language around sexuality from one character in particular (about whom I'll address later). It's all around minors who are stated to not be 18, and maybe it's just because I teach, but I found that aspect of the game absolutely revolting.

It's far from the most gratuitous sexualized content out there for anime or horror, but it's something I have zero tolerance for. The torture-porn and gore stuff is also largely centered on the female characters, as the male characters in the story have a small fraction of the illustrated stills meant to show off particularly interesting scenes. The way the game really emphasizes both the girls' sexuality and the gruesome ways they die is something I can really only describe as perverse, and it's something I was never not uncomfortable with as I played the game. It also extends beyond just the moments its definitely in, as the game is so front-loaded with the worst offenders of the sexual content that it colors the rest of the game's scenes with well-deserved cynicism. It makes anything the game does that could be considered sexual very difficult to give the benefit of the doubt, as it all starts falling easily under that larger umbrella of sexualized fan service, and the better aspects of the game's writing suffer for it. The sexualized content is just a part of the overall experience, but it's one that definitely brings down the quality of the whole work in a noticeable way.

Next, let's look at the expanded cast.

The expanded main cast consists of the teacher character, Ms. Yui, as well as Mayu, Morishige (Mayu's friend), and Seiko (the closeted gay best friend of one of the 2 original main female characters, Naomi). Also new here are a series of students from other schools who were sucked in to the pocket dimension(s) recently as well. Ms. Yui, Mayu, and Morishige are incredibly shallow characters and almost entirely pointless additions to the story, and the overall plot and themes would barely change if they weren't present. They only really serve to bloat out the story, slow down the pacing even more, and have a horrible death that is just one more thing for the original cast of 5 to care about dramatically for a little while until the main plot starts properly again.

Seiko is one of the most egregious additions in this fashion, as she is one of the main recipients of the game's earlier moments of sexualized and torture-y content. She speaks very crassly in the English localization, and while that does include sexual topics, it especially includes sexual language and flirting with her crush. The game allllmost comes close to analyzing the dynamic between her suppressed feelings for her crush and how to reconcile that with her suicide, but it never comes nearly close enough to make anything meaningful of it. At the end of the day, Seiko feels far more like a tool to try and give Naomi some pathos who the writers decided to make gay to get some extra exploitation out of the game's more graphic moments, and it's one of the aspects of the game's writing I have the most trouble giving any kind of pass to.

By contrast, the addition of the students from other schools actually adds some of the best horror scenes in the game. These students fall into two main groups: the paranormal investigators, and the sadist. The paranormal investigators serve to add some mystery to the story, but they just as often make the story seem illogical and confused, so I give them more of a neutral addition. The sadist is brilliant bit of horror with the way they're introduced and how they slowly reveal their true nature. While they don't actually contribute that much to the overall plot of the story aside from kinda helping the main character they do meet grow and be braver, the dynamic posed by their incredible strength vs. the vulnerability of the main cast member they interact with makes for some really tense good scenes that are by far the best action sequences in the game. While I do think on the whole the new additions to the cast are a net-negative for the game, it would be a lie to say that I don't believe any of the new cast is of any value at all.

Third, let's look at the last sorta element of the reboot's changes via the localization (as the original never had one).

As someone who knows a fair bit of Japanese, I was able to pick up on a lot of the original Japanese script of the game via the VA. Although as someone who has taken classes on translation, I do have to admit that a decent amount of my criticism of the localization of the game comes down to stylistic differences. A lot of the English script is dedicated to explaining details that don't need to be explained, and it's a compounding issue. It's the equivalent of changing "be careful" to "don't touch that", but it's a compounding issue. These kinds of elaborations can at times make change how the tone of conversations is maintained (or not maintained, as is so often the case), and can at times make characters' actions seem contradictory to their actions because something that was supposed to be ambiguous was made explicit.

What isn't so much of a stylistic choice relates back once again to the sexual content of the game, particularly Seiko (the gay character). The vulgarity and wackiness in how she says it is REALLY pumped up for the English localization. I said earlier that the game comes almost close to dealing with meaningful issues between her and Naomi because the Japanese version specifically handles their relationship with more subtlety and like they're actually having conversations where one is holding back some element of their emotions. Seiko's dialogue, especially later in the game, is so strange and silly compared to Naomi's reactions that it makes Naomi's whole character stop making sense and it really draws you out of the experience. It makes Seiko's already fairly exploitation-laden presence in the story that much more egregious in how she's used as a prop for fan service to the point where it's something I'd be ashamed to attach my name to if I'd been a part of that localization team.

Aside from that more subjective stuff on the part of disagreeing with how embellishments and characterization changes of the original text are handled, some of the translations are down right just wrong. Really amateur-hour mistakes happen a shocking amount of times in how a common phrase is given a literal translation when the actual meaning is different and also makes a lot more sense (the most common example being "I miss you" 「会いたい」being translated literally as "I want to meet you"). This game comes off as if it was translated by someone who watched a ton of fan-subbed anime and then learned Japanese through textbooks while barely having knowledge of how Japanese is actually spoken, because some of these mistakes are things so simple that it's genuinely shocking to see them in an officially released product with otherwise such high production values. It's particularly surprising coming from XSEED, who usually put in a really solid effort when it comes to localization. The game's localization even adds a fairly heavy aspect of incest to a certain part of the game that is far less present (if at all) in the Japanese script in a way that totally changes certain aspects of the story for the English version of the game (again, in a way hard to give the game benefit of the doubt about because of just how much is aggressively sexualized. I can only guess that that was intentional on the part of the localization team, disgusting as it may be).

Carrying on, the horror and storytelling

This is another mixed bag largely brought about by the expanded cast. The first two chapters of the game. The pacing of the game is at times glacial because of how wordy characters can be as well as talking from characters who are super flat and don't ultimately matter. The first three chapters all set up, one after another, how a different section of the separated main cast is dealing with the realization that they're trapped in this hell dimension, and it feels so unnecessary and just drags the plot down. The later chapters get into a much more compelling mystery about how everything actually works and how our heroes can actually possibly make it out of this alive, but the heavy repetition of reintroductions to the setting and antagonist ghosts confuse the large amounts of exposition the game has. This doesn't help with how several of the characters look very similar and some others have quite similar names as there are so many characters but their names (especially first and last) aren't used often enough in their presence to get a good grasp on who they actually are (though the latter is more a localization issue than anything).

The game does a fantastic job of introducing the story and characters in a way to make the game look totally incompetently written, when the back-half of the game shows that that isn't nearly as much the case. This game's script really needed another turn or two in the editing room, because it's a hot mess that takes some dedicated effort to figure out, even if you're playing it all in one sitting (I did the first 3 chapters in one day). The game has two endings that'll let you see the credits, and they're both fairly satisfying in their own way. You have one that's more of a "the curse continues" in an ironic way that feels much more in-line with Japanese horror, and another that's more of a happy ending (that at least I was happy to see in the game). Compelling character relationships, intrigue, and suspenseful horror are all there. The game seems to go out of its way to make you trudge through unnecessary garbage to get to it though.

Finally, the mechanic and design elements of the game as an adventure game.

A lot of the game's design problems relate to the glacial pacing of the script mentioned earlier, but certainly not all. For one, for a game with some fairly long cutscenes, dialogue is unskippable. You HAVE to button mash to get through them, and that came off as a bit of a silly oversight to me for a game that came out in 2006 and was then ported in 2010. Second, the game's signposting is pretty awful at times, and you can be left wandering around the school trying to figure out where to go. Especially when the proper progression endings to the first few chapters are related to "doing all the things", some of which are easily missed if you aren't paying attention, it can be very frustrating to go through a long cutscene AGAIN just to realize that you in fact missed the important thing and need to do this whole thing all over yet again.

This is further compounded by the terrible action sequences which involve maneuvering around NPCs in the map who will instantly game over you if they touch you which is front-loaded to hell, especially in chapter 2. For the record, the one extra chapter I played was literally all about action scenes like this, which is why I decided to never touch any of the other ones. It makes navigating the maps really irritating, and the action sequences are often so annoying and frustrating more than actually difficult that the game suffers for their inclusion far more than it gains from them. The game would've been far better off as a puzzle-based horror experience (as some chapters very nearly entirely are), or as just a straight up VN with no RPG-style walking around stuff.

Verdict: Not Recommended. This game as a whole is different than the sum of its parts, but that whole is dragged down by the worst actors. While there are good horror elements to be found here and a story with some genuinely interesting twists and turns, the work you have to put in to get to them is frustrating more often than it's fun (especially in the game's front half with how front-loaded with bad content it is). The sexualization of minors is the biggest offender here. If you aged up the cast, this would probably be a "hesitantly recommended" entry, but that last aspect kills any possibility of me recommending this in good faith. I can certainly see why some people who are less bothered with the sexual aspects of the game genuinely do enjoy the horror and mystery parts, and perhaps what I've described here sounds even sounds like something you could enjoy yourself. But for me, it was an experience where the good was far too tainted to be worth trying to salvage.
I identify everyone via avatar, so if you change your avatar, I genuinely might completely forget who you are. -- Me
pook99
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Re: Games Beaten 2019

by pook99 Mon Oct 14, 2019 12:42 pm

@alienjesus: I really enjoyed your genesis reviews, I agree that Dynamite Heady is an very under rated game. I remember when I was working in Funcoland and it was just one of those slow nights where we didn't get a single customer so I grabbed dynamite heady off the shelf and gave it a try, not even knowing what it was. I literally played it the rest of my shift without interruption and bought it at the end of the night. Fabulous game.

I think GA2 is better than the original, I love both games but I just think the sequel is a bit smoother to play, I definitely get the gripe that it feels more like an expansion than a sequel, especially given the huge jump between streets of rage 1 and 2, it would have been nice to see a similar leap for the golden axe series.

I also played shining force for the first time this year, but I never played a FA game to compare it to. Definitely agree that the inventory system is beyond terrible but I did love the game and will eventually play the rest of the series.

@MrPopo: I'm currently playing Valfaris and loving it. Have you ever played slain? It is from the same developer and has a very similar graphical style and metal soundtrack but it is more gothic and a hack n slash
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