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pierrot
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Re: Games Beaten 2019

by pierrot Mon Dec 16, 2019 1:37 am

Yo, AJ! About those thoughts on Phantasy Star IV! You're right, actually. PSIV isn't especially great. It's not the best JRPG on the console, either; that would be Surging Aura. It's not even the second best JRPG for the Mega Drive; that would be Legend of Heroes. It's about as good as Legend of Heroes II, though. Unfortunately none of those are available in English, and are pretty uncommon/rare even in Japanese, so most people will probably never realize this, but I swear it's the truth. I do think it's true that PSIV fits alongside a lot of the SNES' heralded JRPGs in that I don't really care a lick about them, though.

I'm surprised that I was probably a little less sour about Landstalker than you, after I had played it. I definitely agree about its particular brand of isometric nonsense, though. Have you played Alundra before? If not, I think it feels a bit like if Landstalker had just not been an isometric game, and been more like Beyond Oasis. (I find Alundra to be the best alternative to Legend of Oasis.) The story is probably better overall in Alundra, as well. The gameplay and puzzles can still be really difficult, though, which I happen to like about both games, but I realize not everyone does. There's also the 'true' sequel in Ladystalker, which I still haven't played much of, but seems to control even worse, and removed jumping. I guess ladystalkers can't jump.

Also, Puyo Puyo Sun did start in the arcades. I happen to have it. I really enjoy puzzle games, but have always been balls at Puyo Puyo. The difficulty of the first two probably never helped matters. It sounds like I might have to try playing Sun instead. Do you have Puyo Puyo~n for anything? I now need for you to play that, and tell me what end of the Puyo difficulty spectrum it falls on.


Games Beaten List:

  1. Tiny Toon Adventures: Buster's Hidden Treasure (GEN)
  2. The Revenge of Shinobi (GEN)
  3. Shadow Dancer: The Secret of Shinobi (GEN)
  4. Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja Master (GEN)
  5. Go Go Ackman (SFC)
  6. Super Wagyan Land (SFC)
  7. Super Mario RPG (SFC)
  8. Shin Megami Tensei if... (SFC)
  9. Front Mission: Gun Hazard (SFC)
  10. Steep Slope Sliders (SAT)
  11. Valkyrie Profile (PS1)
  12. Sakura Taisen (SAT)
  13. Shenmue Chapter 1: Yokosuka (DC)
  14. Shinobi (PS2)
  15. Gungrave (PS2)
  16. Assault Suit Leynos 2 (SAT)
  17. Sakura Taisen 2: Kimi, Shinitamoukoto Nakare (SAT)
  18. Kino no Tabi: The Beautiful World (PS2)
  19. Ganbare Goemon! Karakuri Douchuu (FC)
  20. Ganbare Goemon 2 (FC)
  21. Sakura Taisen 3 ~Paris wa Moeteiru ka~ (DC)
  22. Capcom vs SNK: Millennium Fight 2000 (DC)
  23. Capcom vs SNK: Millennium Fight 2000 Pro (DC)
  24. Capcom vs SNK 2: Millionaire Fighting 2001 (DC)
  25. Sakura Taisen 4 ~Koi-seyo Otome~ (DC)
  26. Street Fighter Zero 3: Saikyou-ryuu Doujou (DC)
  27. King of Fighters '99 Evolution (DC)
  28. Madou Monogatari I (MD)
  29. Twinkle Star Sprites (SAT)
  30. Madou Monogatari (SAT)
  31. Policenauts (SAT)
  32. Demon's Blazon: Makaimura Monshou-hen (SFC)
  33. Akumajou Special: Boku Dracula-kun (FC)
  34. Akumajou Special: Boku Dracula-kun (GB)
  35. Red Arimer: Makaimura Gaiden (GB)
  36. Getsu Fuumaden (FC)
  37. After Armageddon Gaiden: Majuu Toushouden Eclipse (Mega CD)
  38. Zelda II: The Adventure of Link (NES)
  39. Elnard (SFC)
  40. Actraiser (SFC)
  41. Sonic Mania (PC)
  42. Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night (PC)
  43. Blazing Chrome (PC)
  44. ReCore - Definitive Edition (PC)
  45. The Outer Worlds (PC)
  46. Shenmue II (DC)
  47. Shenmue III (PC)

I guess it's been quite a while since I updated my list of beaten games. Just some quick thumbs-up/thumbs-down on most of these:

Zelda II - Am I happy to have salted this one away legit and without assistance (aside from cheesing Dark Link)? Sure. Was it worth it? Not really. Would I ever play it again? Not on your life.


Elnard - I mean, I didn't mind it for most of the game, but the final continent was a bit of a task to push through, and the ending was just complete nonsense. Even as a joke, I couldn't recommend it, but if you're a real glutton for C-tier RPGs, then sure. It's not terrible.


Actraiser - Piss off, Actraiser. Your gameplay is clunky, and not fun. Your graphics are lame, and despite a venerated VGM composer, your soundtrack is measly and uninteresting outside of the first two BGM. (I don't really love Yuzo Koshiro as a composer, but the theme for the pyramid area was as close to "bad" as I've ever felt comfortable describing his work.) The sim sections are trivial, and really don't "mix things up" in a way that I feel works with the action portions of the game. At least Quintet eventually knocked it out of the park with Soul Blazer and Terranigma, though.


Sonic Mania - Okay, this is going to sound weird, but I really didn't care for this game. It felt kind of lifeless and awkward to me. It tries as hard as it possibly can to be a 2D Sonic game, faithful to its roots, and I feel like it just misses the mark. Also, the Studiopolis Act 1 boss is the worst idea for a Sonic boss I think I've ever seen. I've been feeling like I should revisit it at some point, but it doesn't really feel worth it when I could just replay S3&K, or Sonic CD. I'm almost positive I would have a better time with either of them. It's disappointing because I really wanted to like Sonic Mania, but it feels a bit soulless, and misguided, just differently from Sonic Team's more recent attempts at continuing the 2D line of games. I do really like Studiopolis' Act 2 theme, though.


Bloodstained - Similarly, I just don't see a reason to play this game ever again. I did pretty much everything possible in the base game. About the only thing left that I could possibly do is multiple NG+ to max out a couple one-time boss drop shard grades. I just have no interest in doing that, even with DLC content or something. It does everything it possibly can to reimagine SOTN, but it's inferior in its methods in almost every respect. No, I would just replay SOTN. That would be much more worth my time. It's a fairly enjoyable game, once through, though--if you absolutely must play it.


Blazing Chrome - There's a real theme developing here: Just play Contra: Hard Corps, it does everything this game does, but way better. Blazing Chrome isn't bad, per se, but out of these three, it's the one I enjoyed playing the least; which is to say that I didn't enjoy it much at all.


ReCore - I wouldn't really recommend running out to buy it, but it's not really bad. I enjoyed it a fair amount, initially. It gets pretty stale about halfway through, and really needed some rethinking with the combat. It plays kind of rough at times on PC, also. There are some good ideas in ReCore, but they ultimately weren't executed very well.


The Outer Worlds - I enjoyed The Outer Worlds for the most part. I felt it had some issues with the narrative, and I was kind of expecting character development to be better, since I thought that was supposed to be a big thing with modern WRPGs, but it's an interesting game. I went kind of crazy, and explored the world a bit excessively for loot and stuff, so it kind of ended up feeling a bit overly repetitive, and not really worth the time investment, after a while. I'd potentially think about playing it again some day, though. Not any time soon, and I'd definitely just be doing it to explore a slightly different moral path, but it was pretty fun overall.


Shenmue II - This was a replay to refresh myself on most of the Shenmue lore for the release of Shenmue III. There's not a whole lot to say, it's still the greatest game ever made. There are some performance issues on the Dreamcast that I noticed a lot more than when I originally played it in 2001, but it was also fun to pick out some of the technical differences that were made between this one and the first game, like the sky being more natural, and all the NPCs having Ryo's model for shadows, unlike the drop shadows in the first game. Hong Kong is appropriately huge and full of personality, and both the third and fourth discs are unique, with a serious ramp up in narrative intensity. It's as much of a masterpiece now as it was almost two decades ago. I'm still going to need to replay it again, because I was kind of rushing (started on in-game Feb 15, and ended on Mar 8). I tried to complete a lot of things, like I actually got the gold medal this time, but I potentially missed a number of optional scenes, particularly pertaining to Fang Mei, and missed a bunch of Collection items in my clear file because I didn't play a lot of the arcade cabinets even once. That's all right, though.


Shenmue III - This was the best game I beat for the first time this year. (Sakura Taisen 3, and Shinobi III weren't too far off, though.) Somehow I always sort of expected that Yu Suzuki would be able to pick the series right back up from where it left off, but at the same time I guess I didn't really expect for it to flow quite so seamlessly together. I, presumably, did very close to everything possible in the game. The Epic Store version doesn't have any achievements like the PS4 version, so I'm not sure if I actually picked every herb possible, but I'm pretty sure I did. I know I missed more than one quest, six trade-ins for move scrolls, I didn't master every acquired move, and I only got 107 of the chobu-chan shop cards. I did, however, win at almost every smart ball and lucky drop board in the game, collect all the clothing I could find (including the kenpogi and the two trainer jacket prizes), unload all the Choubu-chan Fighter machines and play the mess out of it for prizes, completed the Rose Garden fights, and had many, many conversations with NPCs during the down times where Ryo isn't asking for directions, etc (the times where a lot of the best conversations are had). A lot of the NPC dialog is pretty great. It unfortunately gets a little repetitive at times in the first area, because the number of NPCs is a little more limited, and they don't change up what they say all that often, but I will never forget Ryo explaining the birds and the bees to a kid by reciting the beginning of the story of Momotaro, and the kid's response. Shenmue III, like the first two games, is all about how much you invest into it. The more you invest, the greater is the reward. I put a total of $600 and 106 hours into Shenmue III, and it was absolutely worth every bit of that. I'm really looking forward to the DLC that's on the way, and any other future announcements for the series.
Last edited by pierrot on Thu Dec 26, 2019 8:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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MrPopo
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Re: Games Beaten 2019

by MrPopo Mon Dec 16, 2019 1:55 am

pierrot wrote:Sonic Mania - Meh

Bloodstained - Meh

Blazing Chrome - Meh

Shenmue III - GOTY

I think it's safe to say that you and I have very different tastes in our games.
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pierrot
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Re: Games Beaten 2019

by pierrot Mon Dec 16, 2019 2:36 am

:lol: Yeah, that's more than fair.
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Re: Games Beaten 2019

by PartridgeSenpai Mon Dec 16, 2019 7:31 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)
47. Rave Master: Fighting Live (GC)
48. Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow (GBA) *
49. Castlevania: Circle of the Moon (GBA)
50. Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance (GBA) *
51. New Super Mario Bros. 2 (3DS)
52. The Outer Worlds (Xbone)
53. Momodora: Reverie Under the Moonlight (Xbone)
54. Guacamelee 2 (Xbone)
55. Steamworld Dig 2 (Xbone)
56. Yoku's Island Express (Xbone)
57. Guacamelee (Xbone) *
58. Blazing Chrome (Xbone)
59. Minit (Xbone)
60. Dishonored 2 (Xbone)
61. Deus Ex: Mankind Divided (Xbone)
62. Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night (Xbone)

63. Recore: Definitive Edition (Xbone)

Recore was a game that seemed cool but I knew basically nothing about outside of the very basic premise from the E3 reveal so many years ago. I'd heard it was plagued with terrible technical issues and loading times back at launch, and the game was quite clearly badly optimized and not even content-complete. I'd also heard that the definitive edition had fixed that up really well, and my experience playing it fits that hearsay well. I never played original Recore, but I really enjoyed my time with the definitive edition. It took me around 22 hours to get all but a couple collectibles and I also left a couple dungeons un-100%'d.

Recore is the story of a girl named Joule, a girl all alone on an alien world known as Far Eden save for her robot dog named Mack. It turns out though that Mack isn't actually the dog, but the core powering the K9 frame, and over the course of the game you'll get more corebots as well as a total of 5 frames to plonk them in as you unravel the mystery of why this planet is so desolate, why you're all alone on it, and why it's covered in horrible killer corebots. The story isn't anything super special to write home about, but it's done well enough. What's especially great are the corebots themselves. Their designs are good, but the animations on your companions just bring SO much life to them. Especially the way the dog frame will bounce around happily wagging its tail, run forward to where you're gonna go to try and lead you there. I found it very endearing, and it brought some well-needed levity to a story that can be pretty bleak and dark at times.

Recore is a really weird kinda game to describe that isn't really like anything else I've played. I imagine it might be somewhat like Metroid Prime, but not having played much of that, I can't say for sure. Either way, this product from Keiji Inafune and the Metroid Prime team plays like something between Metroid Prime, Breath of the Wild, and Mario Odyssey (the latter two not having been released yet when this game came out in 2016, for what it's worth). And it all kinda works in the end? At least it did for me. XD

There are 5 large, sub-open worlds with things scattered about them. You can just follow the story, or you can explore around looking for prismatic cores. The world isn't quite as tightly designed as Breath of the Wild, but how much you can just wander around these big areas looking for dungeons (which have a very BotW shrine-like feel to them) or misc activities to do for prismatic cores, health powerups, or crafting materials really scratched the same itch for me that BotW did. Prismatic cores are very much like Mario Odssey's moons in how you go around and hunt for them, and you need a certain amount of them to open up certain gates to let the story progress. Then the Metroid Prime bit comes from how you unlock new traversal abilities to go back to earlier areas to get goodies you couldn't access before as well as how this is a shooter with a lock-on mechanism.

Unpacking all of that a little at a time, the exploration and platforming feel great. The game controls fantastically, and Joule moves really tightly with her two jumps and an air dash. The dungeons are either combat trials, platforming trials, or mini-adventure (like proper little dungeons) ones. Each have a secret key to collect, 8 floating switches to find and shoot, and a time limit to do it all in, with each of those getting you a treasure for doing it. Do all three in one go and you get an extra bonus treasure. Interesting areas on the overworld where goodies may lie are signposted very well with bright glowy material collectibles that function like coins in Mario: they're a sign to where the action is.

The platforming SHOULD feel a lot more fiddly than it does, but it doesn't. Good camera control, a generous ledge-climbing feature, and a bright yellow circle indicating directly underneath you all help contribute to this. Even when I was just searching the world with a fine-toothed comb for prismatic cores, I was having fun because of how fluid and easy it is to move the character through the environment.

Another thing helping that was the combat. Joule has a rifle that can swap between white, red, blue, and yellow. Enemies also come in these colors (or combinations of them), and shooting them with the matching color does WAY more damage. You also have up to two corebots at a time in one of five frames. Each of the three colors of corebot has a special attack that corresponds to each frame (blue more quick & damaging, yellow more defensive, and red is damage & damage over time), and both your corebots and enemy corebots function this way. You unlock more corebot frames to use as you progress through the story, giving you more combat options as well as more traversal abilities to go back and nab more goodies with.

You can find blueprints and materials to upgrade your corebots (basically better weapons & armor), as well as rare silly-looking ones with special abilities. There's also a neat mechanic where killing an enemy outright will drop materials for crafting armor, but extracting its core when its weak gives you more energy that you'll need to use to boost your corebots stats (they're SUPER weak if you don't boost their stats, and they're killing machines if you keep up on boosting them). Tie that all in with a combo system that gives you more damage output as you keep dealing damage and avoiding taking it, and you have a combat system that I never got bored with. I know a common complaint for this game is that the combat gets repetitive, but I never found that a problem. There's a decent amount of enemy variety, and the level scaling is really viscous (it's pretty uncommon to fight stuff below your level unless you're REALLY backtracking), so there's always an element of danger especially to overworld-wandering enemies.

The combat's biggest fault is that it doesn't give the player enough information. You can die SO fast (for basically the entire game, even the first corebots you meet hit really hard) that if you're caught off-guard by something, that can be a death right there (although luckily death respawns are nearly instant). This game really could've used something like Dad of War's ring around the player that points towards incoming attacks, because sometimes you're SO overwhelmed with enemies there's just nothing you could've done to not die. It can sometimes feel like you just had no control over whether or not you lived or died and you just didn't get lucky enough.

Part of this is certainly down to how the game handles its combat. You have a lock-on for your gun as well as air-dashes and a double jump. A big part of combat is avoidance and constantly moving, and once you get the hang of that and also start using your corebots special abilities as much as possible, you'll start dying a LOT less. That said, you can still stagger from stuff like fire REALLY hard, and the screen is often so busy that no matter where you are in the game, you're never entirely safe from a death that will feel like it was unfair. It's certainly not how the bulk of the combat feels, but it's a frequent enough problem that it alone is more or less what keeps me from recommending this game as highly as I WANT to recommend it.

Presentation is a mixed bag. The graphics are pretty for an earlier Xbone game, but nothing super outstanding. The previously mentioned corebot personality is definitely the strongest part of the game's presentation. The environments don't have a toooon of variety, as most are just the craggy desert that makes up the surface of Far Eden. Either that, or underground caverns or tech facilities. It's not allll the same, but it feels pretty samey. The music is also nothing to write home about, and sometimes the VA is pretty bad too. Especially for the tank-related new content they added for the definitive edition, Joule's VA sounds like she's really phoning it in for some bits of dialogue where her tone will be weirdly detached from the emotional content it seems the words she's saying should have.

Performance on my base-model Xbone was mostly fine. If you're looking over a huge vista with tons of stuff on-screen, you're gonna get some framerate dips, but the game never stuttered in a way that affected how I was playing it in a meaningful way. Loading times are generally pretty quick if not instant (for things like respawns after death or fast-travel within the same region), so that's nice. The only really noticeable problems are things like texture maps REALLY freaking out some times in the Shifting Sands area, or texture/model pop-in being pretty noticeable as well. Not stuff that bothered me at all, but if you're someone who would be bothered by that, you're probably better off getting Recore on PC or on an Xbone X.

Verdict: Recommended. The combat issues keep me from giving this the highly recommended I really wanna give it, but it's still a game I enjoyed a ton. I really had no idea what I was going in for, and I was very pleasantly surprised by the end of it. This game is easily worth its $20 digital price tag or going through if you happen to have Game Pass if you like action/adventure games and platformers. It's not Dad of War and it's not Breath of the Wild, but it's honestly close enough that I really hope Microsoft lets this team revist Recore someday. With some tightening up mechanically, this yet-to-be-a-series could be something really really special. Microsoft have a Nier on their hands with Recore, and if they were so inclined to give it another entry in the series, I think they could easily give it its Automata.
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Markies
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Re: Games Beaten 2019

by Markies Wed Dec 18, 2019 12:28 am

Markies' Games Beat List Of 2019!
*Denotes Replay For Completion*

1. Power Stone 2 (SDC)
2. Radiata Stories (PS2)
3. Dusty Diamond's All-Star Softball (NES)
***4. Saiyuki: Journey West (PS1)***
5. Shining In The Darkness (GEN)
***6. Metropolis Street Racer (SDC)***
7. Half-Life 2 (XBOX)
8. Soul Blazer (SNES)
9. Mario Party (N64)
10. Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance (GCN)
11. Street Fighter Collection (PS1)
12. Pokemon Stadium 2 (N64)
13. Burnout (PS2)
14. Phantasy Star III (GEN)
15. Batman: The Video Game (NES)
16. X-Men Legends (XBOX)
***17. Final Fantasy VII (PS1)***
18. Maximum Pool (SDC)
19. Puzzle Quest (PS2)
20. Jet Moto (PS1)
21. The Legend of Zelda: Collector's Edition (GCN)
22. Dead Or Alive 3 (XBOX)
23. Growlanser III: The Dual Darkness
24. Luigi's Mansion (GCN)
25. Diddy Kong Racing (N64)
26. Wild Arms 4 (PS2)

27. Sonic & Knuckles (GEN)

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I beat Sonic & Knuckles on the Sega Genesis this evening!

When I first got my Genesis back in the day, it came with Sonic the Hedgehog 2. Besides a few other games, that was the game that I mostly played during the beginning of owning a Genesis. I know that game like the back of my hand and I can still almost beat it in a few short minutes. Slowly, I got more of the Sonic games on the Genesis. I got Sonic 1 and then Sonic 3. Much later, I finally acquired Sonic & Knuckles. Surprisingly, I never beat any of the games until my Backlogging days because all of the Sonic games are incredibly tough. They all require trial and error for a game with limited continues. However, one by one, each game began to fall until I only had Sonic & Knuckles left. Looking for a quick beat before 2019 ends, I decided to give Sonic & Knuckles a full try.

When I first got the game, I thought the lock on technology was rather neat. It was unique, but it wasn't ground breaking or anything to me. I did play around as Knuckles in Sonic 2, so that was kind of unique. I always thought Sonic 3 was the weakest of the first 3, so to have a game that just added more Sonic 3 wasn't all that appealing. But, it is still a comparable and interesting Sonic game. They do try new things in the game and do not go over any old territory. I also like the ability to play as Knuckles at the beginning as it feels like two different games wrapped in one.

However, in my eyes, the game never rises above more of Sonic 3. Knuckles is neat, but the game still feels like a continuation of Sonic 3. The music, which is normally the best part of the series, isn't all that good or memorable. The game's levels are incredibly and take a while to figure out where to go. Also, the bosses have the tiniest of weak points, so you will get hit more times than not. With a feeling of less guys and continues, the game feels harder than the others as you will be starting over many times. Unlike Sonic 3, there is no save feature and you don't start with any continues.

Overall, I was really glad that I was able to finish all of the Genesis Sonic games. Sonic 2 will always be my favorite because of nostalgia, but I also understand the merits of Sonic 1. Sonic 3 is interesting and Sonic & Knuckles builds on it. If you are a Sonic fan, it is worth owning. But, if you are new to Sonic, I would try with one of the others first before trying this one.
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Re: Games Beaten 2019

by dsheinem Wed Dec 18, 2019 7:55 am

Games Beaten 2019

Kentucky Route Zero Act 1 - PC
All Our Asias - PC
Shape of the World - Switch
Hidden Folks - PC
Hyrule Warriors - Wii U
Onrush - PS4
Assassin's Creed Origins - X1
Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown -360
Metro Exodus - PS4
Split/Second - 360
Far Cry: New Dawn - PS4
Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon - X1
Marvel vs Capcom Infinite - PS4
Rage - PC
Red Faction: Armageddon - 360
Momonga Pinball Adventure - Switch
Psycho Soldier - Vita (Arcade)
Super Mutant Alien Assault - Vita
Burly Men at Sea - Vita
Sigil - PC
Fat Princess - PS3
Borderlands 2: Commander Lilith and the Fight for Sanctuary - PC
Monster World IV - Genesis (PS3)
Marvel's Spider-Man - PS4
Mega Man X4 - Switch
Armored Warriors - Switch (Arcade)
Battle Circuit - Switch (Arcade)
Borderlands 3 - PS4
Hyper Dyne Side Arms - PS3(Arcade)
Legendary Wings - PS3 (Arcade)
The Outer Worlds - X1
Akai Katana - 360
RayStorm - PS2 (Arcade)
Operation C - PS4 (Game Boy)
Kid Dracula - Switch (Famicom)
Castlevania: The Adventure - Switch (Game Boy)
Castlevania II: Belmont's Revenge - Switch (Game Boy)
What the Golf - iOS
Untitled Goose Game - X1 *new*

Total: 39


Previously: 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010

The game that spawned a thousand memes...

This certainly has a lot of charm and left me giggling a few times, but the game is short and relatively easy. All told, my favorite element might have been the event-responsive piano soundtrack, which lends the whole thing a pastoral sheen. I can see going back to do some post-game things, but the "feel" of being a goose was sometimes more frustrating than fun, and it feels like it could have used a little more time to incubate.
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Re: Games Beaten 2019

by alienjesus Wed Dec 18, 2019 1:05 pm

Games Beaten 2019:
First 50:
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
44. Mario Tennis N64
45. Fire Emblem Warriors Switch
46. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time [Randomiser] N64
47. The New Zealand Story SMS
48. Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana Switch
49. Shenmue 2 Dreamcast
50. Castlevania GBA

51. Mario Party N64
52. ActRaiser SNES
53. GoldenEye 007 N64
54. Mom Hid My Game Switch eShop
55. Money Puzzle Exchanger Switch eShop
56. Gunbird Switch eShop
57. Tokyo School Life Switch eShop
58. Musynx Switch
59. Gremlins 2: The New Batch NES
60. Subsurface Circular Switch eShop
61. Yoshi's Woolly World Wii U
62. ToeJam & Earl: Panic on Funkotron Switch
63. Bare Knuckle III Switch
64. Gunstar Heroes Switch
65. Space Harrier II Switch
66. Sonic Spinball Switch
67. Phantasy Star IV: The End of the Millennium Switch
68. Sonic 3D Blast Switch
69. Rabbids Go Home Wii
70. Alien Storm Switch
71. Alien Soldier Switch
72. Untitled Goose Game Switch eShop
73. Landstalker: The Treasures of King Nole Switch
74. Fatal Labyrinth Switch
75. Ristar Switch
76. Golden Axe III Switch
77. Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja Master Switch
78. Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine Switch
79. Bonanza Bros. Switch
80. Shining Force II [& Sega Mega Drive Classics] Switch
81. Castlevania Bloodlines Switch
82. Puyo Puyo Sun 64 N64
83. Chameleon Twist 2 N64
84. Cruis'n USA N64
85. Darkwing Duck Game Boy
86. Fortified Zone Game Boy
87. Lock 'N Chase Game Boy
88. Spanky's Quest Game Boy
89. Looney Tunes Collector: Martian Revenge! GBC




Darkwing Duck

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I had a few days off at the end of November, and I decided to use them playing through a selection of short games. Game Boy is always a good shout for bitesize fun, so I started off my time off with some 8 bit portable titles. Darkwing Duck was the first of these. This is a run n gun platformer by Capcom (as was the case with most Disney games of the era) and it originally appeared on the NES. How does the GB version hold up though?

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Darkwing Duck takes more than a few cues from Capcom’s own Mega Man, and it definitely feels like it’s running on the same engine. DW runs and shoots a little like the blue bomber, but he has a few gimmicks of his own too. First of all, he can find some ammo for special weapons he can use. Unlock Mega Man, these aren’t permanent armoury expansions, but temporary power ups with a range of advantages. These run off of gas ammunition which can be found throughout the level, but finding a new subweapon power up will replace the current one.

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Darkwing can also block shots by pressing down on the d-pad. This has him raise his cape in front of his face, which somehow blocks enemy projectiles. Is this something from the show? Unfortunately, whilst I know of the show and it’s theme tune, I don’t remember actually seeing it back in the day, so some of the enemies and stuff are lost on me. Finally, Darkwing can hang from some scenery, which is used frequently to cross gaps via jumping between lampposts or holding onto zip lines.

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There are 7 levels in the game, with you getting to play stages 1-3 in any order, and then 4-6 in any order too. The stages are all decent fun, but they don’t really stand out from each other as well as I would have liked – I’ve forgotten the theme of quite a few now, besides a couple of the more frustrating sections. They all look pretty nice for the Game Boy though, and the soundtrack, whilst no Mega Man quality, is fairly catchy and enjoyable too.

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Overall, Darkwing Duck is a decent time, and for the relatively low price it goes for it’s a worthy play on the Game Boy. It’s not exactly up there with the best on the system, but it’s still a great game. I’d recommend picking it up if you spot it.





Fortified Zone

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Fortified Zone is a top down action adventure game for Game Boy. The game is a bit like a full game version of the caves from Blaster Master on NES – with rooms filled with enemies to blast, spikes to avoid and other hazards to evade. You play as 2 different heroes who can be switched between at any time from the pause menu – the guy character has more firepower – he can have 3 bullets on screen at once compared to the girls 2 – but the girl character has the ability to jump which is necessary for some sections too. Generally, you want to play as the guy for most combat sections and the girl in between, although this can be affected by the subweapons and health of the character – which are stored separately. For example, the girl may have full health whilst the guy is almost dead, meaning you’ll want to use her for the next boss instead.

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The stages are set out like labyrinths, and there are 4 in total. The first stage is quite small, with only one floor, but later labyrinths are multiple floors with a ton of paths through them. Progress in some routes can be blocked by keys which are normally found on mini bosses and bosses (later levels have multiple boss rooms). They can also be blocked off by stuff like dark rooms full of pits – impossible to navigate until you turn on the lights, which often require you to navigate into the room from another direction.

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The bosses themselves are quite simple to defeat – they fill the screen (or often, several screens of space) and require taking down each section bit by bit, but there’s not too much strategy to it. Get a good angle and blast away whilst avoiding enemy fire. Later bosses are tougher, but you’ll also discover permanent health and weapon power extensions as you progress so by that point both of your characters are likely to be able to take a lot more punishment.

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Fortified Zone is pretty fun, but it has some flaws. For one, it’s super short – the whole game can easily be beaten in an hour or so , even on a first time play. Whilst the fortresses remind me of Blaster Master’s Caves or Zelda’s dungeons to some extent, they are completely missing all of the content in between that the others have, plus there’s less fortresses to boot. Secondly, the game is quite easy too – grabbing health power ups when you’re already at full health adds them to a stock in your inventory wich get automatically used if you would take a fatal hit, and there’s plenty of the first aid kits around to help that.

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Fortified Zone is a fairly nice looking game for the system. The sprites have a lot of detail, and the main character sprites are big and chunky too. Bosses are impressive despite the lack of backgrounds too, but the games environments are rather bland in comparison. This serves to make things clear and easy to take in on a 4 colour screen I guess, but it looks a but plain sometimes. The music of the game isn’t especially memorable, but it’s not bad by any means. You’ll generally enjoy listening to it as you make your way through the game.

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Overall, Fortified Zone is a pretty good time. It’s surprisingly short, perhaps a little disappointingly so, but it’s fun whilst it lasts. It’s not too pricy, so if you spot it it’s worth picking up and playing through. Just be prepared to have another game ready to go shortly afterwards





Lock ‘N Chase

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Lock ‘n’ Chase is a pac-man clone of sorts by Data East. You play as a thief who breaks into multiple banks with the intention of robbing them blind. This take the form of coins, which you collect around a maze-like level, pac-man style. The original Lock ‘N Chase was an arcade title which was very similar to it’s inspiration, but this Game Boy version isn’t just a straight port – it adds lots of new ideas to make something much more interesting than the original.

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Lupin the thief is not the most capable character in gaming, despite his trade. He can walk around the maze with the d-pad, but he can’t dodge, run, jump or attack. Instead, like pac-man, you must rely on clever movement to avoid enemies. Luckily, that’s not your only option though – firstly, there are multiple areas in each maze where you can set up barriers – after passing through the area, pressing B will create a temporary wall on the last barrier location you passed, blocking off your chasers. You can even trap pursuers between 2 barriers – but only for a while, because 2 barriers is all you have – once a third is set up, the first disappears. Grabbing lots of coins also spawns power ups on the stage worth bonus points. The money bag gives points and briefly stuns the police, allowing you some breathing room, whilst the diamond offers points and temporarily makes you invincible and boosts your speed.

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The game takes place over 6 worlds, each containing 3 levels. Each world introduces a new gimmick which will become a key mechanic during that world. Examples include a stage with doors that work as teleporters between parts of the maze, a stage with automatic doors which open slowly when you touch them, and a stage with sleeping policemen who will only wake up if you touch one of the alarm clocks on the path. The first stage of each world introduces the mechanic, the second offers a simple challenge with it, and the 3rd often ramps up in size and difficulty. Luckily, if you run out of lives you restart on the level you died on when you use a continue.

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18 stages isn’t very long, but Lock ‘N Chase does have a final trick to play – after beating the game, you get a cheat code which unlocks extra mode – essentially another 18 stages of much tougher challenges, doubling the games length.

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Lock ‘N Chase is an early title for the Game Boy, but it’s a good one. It manages to take a very basic arcade game and refresh it in a way that still manages to feel fun years later. The graphics of the game are simple, as expected for an early title, but they’re clean and charming, with silly cutscenes before and after each level too. The music is pretty good too, but the invincibility theme is a little painful to hear. Overall, this is a worthy and affordable pick up for the system that I think is worth giving a go. It’s not going to top my best Game Boy games ever list or anything, but I did enjoy the time I spent with it. Worth a bash.




Spanky’s Quest

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Spanky’s Quest is a game I picked up earlier in the year for a Together Retro theme and never got around to playing. The theme in question was ‘monkeys’, and yes, that’s seemingly the main thing this game is known for – the rather unfortunately named hero, Spanky the Monkey. However, the game interested me anyway for a few reasons. First of all, it’s a fun single screen game in the vain of Bubble Bobble or similar, which I tend to rather enjoy, and secondly, it was developed by Natsume, in the days when they put out excellent top-tier games. This one seems mostly forgotten – hopefully I won’t find out that quality is the reason why.

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Spanky’s Quest has Spanky the Monkey taking on 5 towers with the goal of defeating an evil witch for some reason (I don’t have the manual…). Each tower contains 16 levels of enemies defeating with a boss at the top of each. The enemies and bosses are all giant fruit because why not? Some just walk about as you might expect, but some are a bit different – bananas for example climb along walls and slide across floors, making them more hazardous.

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Spanky can fight back vs the killer fruit using his balls. Because the name wasn’t bad enough. By pressing B, spanky throws a bubble into the air, which he can then bounce on his head, with each head bounce making the bubble bigger. Pressing B again pops the bubble, sending balls outwards to attack and defeat enemies. In the SNES game, these are all sports balls (baseballs, basketballs etc) but on the Game Boy they’re just black circles.

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Depending on the size of the bubble when popped, different effects occur. Size one bubbles create one small ball which can hurt enemies. Second level bubbles release a trail of balls which create a damaging area for longer. Size 3 bubbles explode into several balls creating one localised area of damage, and the max size bubbles create a spread of 5 giant balls which fall down the screen. The level 2 and 4 effects are the best – 3rd tier bubbles are often underwhelming. Power-ups also exist – one which lets you throw baseballs to attack directly without bouncing bubbles, and also the letters of SPANKY which will clear the level when gathered. Spanky has limited lives but infinite continues, so progression is easy enough.

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Spanky’s Quest is a rather simple looking game, but I actually prefer the charming designs of the Game Boy title to the ugly character in the SNES game. Whilst the graphics are very simple, the game has style and charm to it that I quite enjoy. The music is pretty good in the game, with some 12 bar blues based tunes that are quite bouncy and fun.

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Overall, Spanky’s Quest doesn’t really deserve to be so forgotten. It’s a great little game for the Game Boy, and one with quite a lot of content to enjoy too. It’s fun to play, has a cute and charming presentation, and just the right balance of challenge. I think it’s well worth a purchase.





Looney Tunes Collector: Martian Revenge!

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Looney Tunes Collector: Martian Revenge! Is the sequel/counterpart game to Looney Tunes Collector: Martian Alert! Which I beat earlier in the year. As these games came out on the GBC in the late 90s you see, everyone wanted to get in on the Pokémon craze and have 2 versions of a game which could link together to trade and unlock content. That’s the case with these 2 games too, with different Looney Tunes characters available in each, but these aren’t quite 2 versions of the same content – as each game has a different plotline, and Revenge follows on directly from the events of Alert.

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In Martian Alert, Bugs Bunny thwarted Marvin the Martian’s attempts to destroy Earth. In Revenge, you play as Marvin, who, watching TV one day, sees Daffy Duck boasting about how he saved the day and how stupid Marvin is. Marvin decides to get Revenge on the duck, and thus begins a quest to Earth to deal with him.

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Now, although the story is different, it’s clear this game was built using the content from the first quite heavily. All of the areas from the game existed in Alert too, but this time you take a different route throughout the map. Some areas you didn’t really visit in the main story of Alert are utilised here and some places you went to Alert are not used. What’s clear though is that Alert was the primary focus of map design – Marvin jumps around the map really randomly here, teleporting via rainbows or flying to new locations in his spaceship – it’s not logically connected like before.

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That said, this game felt a lot more structured and coherent to me. One of my gripes with the first game was the amount of side stories that felt disconnected from the main game – here, that doesn’t happen and the adventure feels more focused overall. The core gameplay remains the same, and the game still has some annoying fetch quests, but I didn’t find any as aggravating as the first title.

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So overall, like Alert before it, Martian Revenge is surprisingly high quality licensed game. I’d hesitate to rate it above ‘decent’ but for a portable licensed title of it’s era, that’s still pretty good going. It also feels quite ambitious, with multiple playable characters and a big map to explore – not just the easy route of a sidescrolling platformer. If you spot this and fancy something different, it’s worth a go.
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MrPopo
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Location: Orange County, CA

Re: Games Beaten 2019

by MrPopo Wed Dec 18, 2019 8:06 pm

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
52. Unreal: Return to Na Pali - PC
53. The Outer Worlds - PC
54. MechWarrior 4: Black Knight - PC
55. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare - PC
56. Deus Ex: Mankind Divided: System Rift - PC
57. MDK - PC
58. Pokémon Sword - Switch
59. Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order - PC
60. Blazing Chrome - Switch
61. MDK 2 - PC
62. Heavy Gear - PC
63. Virtual-On - Saturn
64. Virtual-On: Oratorio Tangram - DC

OT is the younger, sexier version of Virtual-On. It takes everything you know about the first game, adds more mechs, prettier graphics, and some additional wrinkles to the combat system. However, these wrinkles also mean that you pretty much HAVE to use the twin sticks to get an optimal experience. Like before, with a twin stick you have turbo and fire on each stick, pull them apart to jump, together for the crouch maneuver (helpful for quick jumping to dodge stuff). In this installment you can modify your shots by hitting either left or right turbo at the same time as the shot (and each one is different). So it's not just "standing, jumping, dashing", you also have turbo modifiers. This is where the Dreamcast controller fails; by removing buttons you don't have the nice layout the Saturn did that let you map everything without weird finger contortions.

Gameplay-wise beyond that it's the same game as before. The replacement for Jaguarandi now cannot be skipped by doing well, and it unfortunately works under the "only vulnerable sometimes" mechanic that Z-Gradt did (and frankly, it looks like two Z-Gradts fused together). This makes it a pretty bad roadblock until you find the right mech with the mobility to dodge and the damage to kill it within time. The final boss is shockingly much easier; while it still uses a vulnerability phase system it's attacks are very easily dodged, due to being in a weird 3D space which gives you far more mobility than you are used to.

The basic review is this is more Virtual-On, though I'd say the twin sticks are mandatory for real fun with it.
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Markies
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Re: Games Beaten 2019

by Markies Wed Dec 18, 2019 10:39 pm

Markies' Games Beat List Of 2019!
*Denotes Replay For Completion*

1. Power Stone 2 (SDC)
2. Radiata Stories (PS2)
3. Dusty Diamond's All-Star Softball (NES)
***4. Saiyuki: Journey West (PS1)***
5. Shining In The Darkness (GEN)
***6. Metropolis Street Racer (SDC)***
7. Half-Life 2 (XBOX)
8. Soul Blazer (SNES)
9. Mario Party (N64)
10. Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance (GCN)
11. Street Fighter Collection (PS1)
12. Pokemon Stadium 2 (N64)
13. Burnout (PS2)
14. Phantasy Star III (GEN)
15. Batman: The Video Game (NES)
16. X-Men Legends (XBOX)
***17. Final Fantasy VII (PS1)***
18. Maximum Pool (SDC)
19. Puzzle Quest (PS2)
20. Jet Moto (PS1)
21. The Legend of Zelda: Collector's Edition (GCN)
22. Dead Or Alive 3 (XBOX)
23. Growlanser III: The Dual Darkness
24. Luigi's Mansion (GCN)
25. Diddy Kong Racing (N64)
26. Wild Arms 4 (PS2)
27. Sonic & Knuckles (GEN)

***28. Secret of Mana (SNES)***

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I know that Secret of Mana has many flaws, many of them having to do with the production of the game. But, I think the game is a flawed masterpiece. Whenever I play the game, all I want to do is play more of it. The characters and setting is beautiful. The music is fantastic and the combat system is engaging and exciting. There are little things that annoy me after a while, but they do not take away from the overall enjoyment and love I have for this game. One of my all time favorites!
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PartridgeSenpai
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Location: Northern Japan

Re: Games Beaten 2019

by PartridgeSenpai Thu Dec 19, 2019 3:06 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)
47. Rave Master: Fighting Live (GC)
48. Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow (GBA) *
49. Castlevania: Circle of the Moon (GBA)
50. Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance (GBA) *
51. New Super Mario Bros. 2 (3DS)
52. The Outer Worlds (Xbone)
53. Momodora: Reverie Under the Moonlight (Xbone)
54. Guacamelee 2 (Xbone)
55. Steamworld Dig 2 (Xbone)
56. Yoku's Island Express (Xbone)
57. Guacamelee (Xbone) *
58. Blazing Chrome (Xbone)
59. Minit (Xbone)
60. Dishonored 2 (Xbone)
61. Deus Ex: Mankind Divided (Xbone)
62. Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night (Xbone)
63. Recore: Definitive Edition (Xbone)

64. Ori and the Blind Forest: Definitive Edition (Xbone)

One of the last Metroidvanias on Game Pass I hadn't beaten yet, I stayed away from Ori until now because I tried it on PC last year and bounced off of it hard. I decided to give it another chance, in a year of several second chances in my games beaten list, and I'm kinda glad I did. A lot of the problems that turned me away from Ori when I first tried it are absolutely still there, but I was able to push past them and find a sorta happy medium. I 100%'d the game on normal mode and it took me about 7 hours.

Ori and the Blind Forest is about a small sprite named Ori. He gets separated from his home in the great tree in a storm, and the tree tries to emit a massive surge of mystical light to find him, but is fatally wounded in the process. A creature called Naru finds Ori and raises him as a friend up until the decay caused by the great tree's death reaches their grove. Ori mourns the loss of his adopted mother and then sets out on a quest to find what destroyed the great tree and if anything can be done to fix it. The story is very simple but sweet, but it isn't trying to be anything more than that. The real focus of this game is its presentation, and it absolutely nails its look.

A soooorta 2.5D look (although more often 2D-looking), Ori and the Blind Forest is an absolutely beautiful game packed with color, detailed animations, and painting-like environments. Ori seems like a game that was made specifically to seem like a work of art come to life, and it absolutely achieves that. No loading screens means everything flows together visually as well as in pacing as you explore. Lots of ballad-y music brings the sort of somber yet hopeful tone of the visuals to life in a way that works well (although it certainly isn't my kind of music).

Unfortunatley, Ori's biggest strength is also one of its biggest flaws. The environments are SO detailed in the foreground, background, and everything in between, and packed with so much color that it can often be hard to tell what you can actually interact with. There were many times that I was super cautious when I didn't need to be because I thought something in the background was in a plane that I could interact with, and just as many times where I was suddenly killed or heavily damaged out of nowhere because something I thought was in the background was in fact something I could interact with. The game's visual design is very loud, too loud, and that really brings down the game's platforming often enough to be a consistant nuisance.

The other biggest design bugbear about that is that there are a ton of one-hit deaths and quite tricky jumps in the game, so not being confident in what you can even interact with can get you killed a LOT. The game's main saving grace in this respect is its save system, which is almost save-anywhere. Hold B and you make a save point where you're at where you can also assign skillpoints from. It makes what could be an infuriating time a much more forgiving one (but also kinda hilarious given that the game DOES have a hardcore "only one life" mode).

Ori's gameplay is a Metroidvania, but one that takes things a little bit differently from most others I've played. The closest thing I can think of would be Yoku's Island Express, as not only is Ori also about a small creature trying to save a beautiful, colorful wooded world, but the main mechanic is movement. Combat is handled almost entirely by mashing X to launch homing projectiles at nearby enemies. There is almost no aiming other than an optional, not that great grenade projectiles, that's more for hitting switches than fighting. The main mechanic of Ori is its platforming and world exploration, and it doesn't exactly come off on the best foot there either.

A lot of early game stuff is weirdly hard, and I'd say many of the game's hardest platforming is in its first hour or two before you get things like the wall jump or double-jump. Later platforming is hard by virtue of lots of instant-death traps, but early platforming has a lot of jumps very easy to miss if you aren't really trying (heck one of the first jumps in the game is one of those). The maps feel like they were designed with Ori's mid-game or end-game moveset in mind instead of the moveset you'd have when you first reach that area, and as a result the game's best content and flow is after the first hour or two.

The game has a skill point system that you can use after you've killed enough enemies to level up or found an instant level up item hidden in the world. There's an achievement for beating the game with no skill points used, so these level ups are entirely for making the game easier to play for the player. That on top of some optional yet very useful unlockable traversal skills (like the dash and aforementioned grenade) go towards making the game more or less as tricky as the player wants it to be (to a point). Much more powerful homing projectiles, the ability to see hidden walls far easier, and even a second double jump lie in wait if you just get enough skill points. This is a really neat idea as a way to allow the player to grind to make the game easier despite the lack of a combat focus, and is definitely one of the more ingenious elements of Ori's design.

Verdict: Hesitantly Recommended. Part of my lower recommendation for this is certainly due to me preferring different Metroidvanias. The focus on platforming rather than combat isn't quite my cup of tea. But the bigger part of it is how the game stumbles so significantly on the one thing it's supposed to be the best at mechanically. A cluttered visual design hindering the platforming was the recurring mistake that kept me irritated with the game over and over, just as I had started to enjoy it again. Between that and the weirdly omnipresent yet indirect combat, the game struggles with an identity crisis from start to finish that isn't deal breaking but is also quite hard to ignore. That probably won't be a problem for a lot of people, but if your time for Metroidvanias is limited, I think a lot of people can find games (especially on Game Pass) that will better suit their time than Ori.
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