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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by prfsnl_gmr Sun Aug 02, 2020 2:24 pm

Also a DQ fan, having beaten the NES and GBC versions. Have you played DQII or DQIII yet? I don’t like one but absolutely adore the other.
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by Ack Sun Aug 02, 2020 2:53 pm

1. The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening (Switch)(Adventure)
2. Final Fight [Japanese Version] (Switch)(Beat 'Em Up)
3. Ziggurat (PC)(FPS)
4. Magrunner: Dark Pulse (PC)(FPS)
5. The King of Dragons [Japanese](Arcade)(Beat 'Em Up)

6. Captain Commando [Japanese](Arcade)(Beat 'Em Up)
7. Knights of the Round [Japanese](Arcade)(Beat 'Em Up)
8. The Witcher (PC)(RPG)

9. Tenchi wo Kurau II (Arcade)(Beat 'Em Up)
10. Dark Sun: Shattered Lands (PC)(RPG)

11. Lichdom: Battlemage (PC)(FPS/RPG Hybrid)
12. Star Wars: Republic Commando (PC)(FPS)

13. DOOM 64 (PC)(FPS)
14. Half Dead 2 (PC)(Adventure)

15. Powered Gear - Strategic Variant Armor Equipment (Arcade)(Beat 'Em Up)
16. Torchlight II (PC)(RPG)

17. Battle Circuit [Japanese](Arcade)(Beat 'Em Up)
18. Hard Reset Redux (PC)(FPS)

19. The Stanley Parable (PC)(Walking Sim)
20. Waking Mars (PC)(Adventure)
21. Requiem: Avenging Angel (PC)(FPS)

22. Night Slashers (Arcade)(Beat 'Em Up)
23. Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath HD (PC)(Action Adventure)

24. Strikers 1945 (Arcade)(SHMUP)
25. SiN Episodes: Emergence (PC)(FPS)
26. Crysis Warhead (PC)(FPS)

27. Metro 2033 (PC)(FPS)
28. Good Job! (Switch)(Puzzle)
29. Blasphemous (Switch)(Action Adventure)

30. Two Worlds: Epic Edition (PC)(RPG)
31. Chex Quest HD (PC)(FPS)

32. NecroVision: Lost Company (PC)(FPS)
33. Icewind Dale (PC)(RPG)

34. Icewind Dale: Heart of Winter (PC)(RPG)
35. Icewind Dale: Trials of the Luremaster (PC)(RPG)

36. Ravenloft: Strahd's Possession (PC)(RPG)
37. Singularity (PC)(FPS)
38. The Witcher 2 (PC)(RPG)
39. Still Life 2 (PC)(Point and Click Adventure)
40. Myst IV: Revelation (PC)(Point and Click Adventure)
41. Gato Roboto (Switch)(Action Adventure)
42. Painkiller: Overdose (PC)(FPS)

43. Battle Realms (PC)(RTS)
44. Battle Realms: Winter of the Wolf (PC)(RTS)
45. Terminator: Resistance (PC)(FPS)
46. Picross S (Switch)(Puzzle)
47. The Witcher 3 (PC)(RPG)
48. Dragon Quest (Switch)(RPG)

49. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Switch)(Adventure)
50. Castlevania: The Adventure (Switch)(Platformer)

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

I played Breath of the Wild off an on over the course of a year and a half. I'd get totally engrossed by it and then suddenly hit some kind of wall, and I'd set it down for months, only to come back, rediscover it, and find myself wholly absorbed by it again. Finally beating it so close to playing through and beating The Witcher 3 also makes for an interesting experience, because there are major similarities in the openness of the worlds, the array of equipment, the emphasis on horseback riding. If I compared the two, I'd find things I like more in each over the other, but they would likely come out to an even mix, as I just love these open world games.

You'll also notice I put down Breath of the Wild as an Adventure title, as that is the genre I have always considered them. Yet at this point, the one thing that I find separating the crossover into the other genre is the lack of a leveling system; that's the only thing that BotW differs from compared to Witcher 3, relying on puzzle solving and acquiring items to gain power and stat boosts as opposed to an inborn experience system along with the acquiring items. While I hesitate to finally declare a Zelda game an RPG...well, BotW is the closest I've ever come to saying it, and it really is coming down to one singular aspect.

Breath of the Wild also finally realizes the prospect that I'd been waiting for since Ocarina of Time, the creation of a wholly 3D, fully explorable open world that I can wander and search at my whim. The series has come close with how it handles its exploration and open areas, but Nintendo has finally done it, and the results are every bit as wonderful as I wanted it to be. If I see a mountain, I can go climb it. Classic Zelda foes lurk on vast plains, in deep swamps, hide in tropical forests, and climb beneath the sand of massive deserts. Kill one Moblin and take his weapon to kill the next. It's the freedom to do what I wanted from the very first time I played Zelda, and BotW is what I envisioned in my head as I traversed an 8-bit world for the first time in the first game. Bravo, Nintendo.

That's not to say there isn't some amount of gatekeeping done in various section, mainly through armor or heat issues...or fatigue levels, though I felt the aspect of choosing between health and stamina made for a fascinating choice with some interesting consequences on how I could traverse the world. Say I want to get past a fight...I could go fight or climb around. BotW gave me options and let me use it, and only in specific areas such as Death Mountain or the woman-only Geruda city did I find myself being limited.

Is it perfect? Not entirely; stealth sections are annoying, and the enemy targeting system to enable dodging limits some of what I want to do when I want to do it, especially when facing the dreaded Lynels. Yet quick and easy fast travel, a large selection of quests, a vast array of equippable items, and whole systems to explore, from cooking to photography, really make for a fascinating and fun experience that I sunk a lot of time into.

In fact, the biggest downside is that I just don't know where Zelda games can go from here. Topping this will be a monumental challenge for Nintendo. I wish them luck.

Castlevania: The Adventure

I respect Classic-vanias. I started with them on the NES, and while I like how the series has evolved over time into multiple distinct styles, it's nice to go back and play through the originals to see where it all started...sometimes. I picked up the Castlevania Anniversary Collection on Switch to get my Vania fix, and here I sit, raging that I put myself through Castlevania: The Adventure.

What's wrong with it? Well, it's an early Game Boy title from an era when the developers hadn't yet figured out its tricks, so it's like if you took the original Castlevania, made it shorter, removed the sub-weapons, removed many of the most recognizable elements, and then gave it all the fun physics of a turtle.

Our hero, Christopher Belmont, is slow to move, slow to react, and jumps like a man trying to throw himself desperately into any of the vast array of bottomless pits found throughout the game. Oh yes, precision is required for the pixel-perfect jumping, yet despite the spike walls and much faster moving enemies, Chris just doesn't care to try and put a little urgency in his step. He plods along, often missing jumps, and occasionally even ending up in a bad position where a bouncing enemy projectile can stunlock him onto a rope or onto spikes or off a cliff or into other enemies or into other projectiles... Do you see where I'm going with this?

Look, it's a feat that there was a Castlevania game available so early on in the Game Boy's life, and at the time, this game was highly respected for serving as a suitable translation. Age has not been kind, however, both in that we see where the series would go and in what the Game Boy could really do once you understood how to use what was under the hood. Now, Castlevania: The Adventure feels like a bad joke. I've been told by several folks that the ReBirth remake was a wonderful update, but sadly it appears Konami is letting that one be forgotten to time.

Also, hey look, insta-death spike pits in the final Dracula fight. Weee.
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by Ack Sun Aug 02, 2020 2:54 pm

prfsnl_gmr wrote:Also a DQ fan, having beaten the NES and GBC versions. Have you played DQII or DQIII yet? I don’t like one but absolutely adore the other.

Not yet. I do own DQII on the GBC, but I currently lack a GBC to play it.
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by MrPopo Sun Aug 02, 2020 3:35 pm

Ack wrote:For DQ, I'd say the grind isn't as bad as what you can come up against in the likes of Ultima. But it definitely helps to know going in that you will be doing a fair bit, just because the game is so short and it's still quite early in the history of the genre. I'd much rather go back to DQ than the original Ultima trilogy though, any day. The leap between the two is phenomenal.

Ultima's grind is an interesting case. The first game the grind is effectively to get a ship; once you get that you just spam the signposts over and over to crank up your stats and get max gear and you don't even need to worry about monsters. Then magic your way to the bottom of a dungeon and back a few times to pump your HP. Ulitma II similarly is a case of murdering townsfolk until they drop all the key items you need (because apparently their loot table has everything). It's not until Ultima III that you see a more traditional grind.
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by REPO Man Sun Aug 02, 2020 9:20 pm

The GBC ports of Dragon Quest 1-3 are based on the Super Famicom remakes, which have been fantranslated. Also those SFC ports were ported to those iOS/Android ports or whatever.
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by PartridgeSenpai Mon Aug 03, 2020 5:37 am

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

1. Invisigun Reloaded (Switch)
2. Human: Fall Flat (Switch)
3. Shantae: The Pirate's Curse (3DS)
4. Darksiders: Warmastered Edition (PC)
5. Splatterhouse (PS3) *
6. 3D Dot Game Heroes (PS3)
7. Tokyo Jungle (PS3)
8. Pictobits (DSiWare)
9. Puzzle Quest: The Legend Reborn (Switch)
10. WarioWare Gold (3DS)
11. Disaster: Day of Crisis (Wii)
12. Sleeping Dogs: Definitive Edition (Xbone)
13. Sleeping Dogs: Nightmare in North Point (Xbone)
14. Sleeping Dogs: Year of the Snake (Xbone)
15. Dynamite Headdy (Genesis) *
16. Shovel Knight: King of Cards (3DS)
17. Shovel Knight: Shovel of Hope (3DS) *
18. Shovel Knight: Plague of Shadows (Switch) *
19. Shovel Knight: Specter of Torment (Switch) *
20. Shovel Knight: Showdown (Switch)
21. Dragon Quest Builders 2 (PS4)
22. ActRaiser (SNES)
23. Castlevania: The Adventure ReBirth (WiiWare)
24. Mega Man X (SNES)
25. Breath of Fire II (SNES)
26. Ape Escape 2 (PS2) *
27. Doubutsu No Mori+ (GC)
28. Ape Escape (PS1)
29. Ape Escape 3 (PS2) *
30. Maken X (DC)
31. Cubivore (GC)
32. Wario World (GC) *
33. Hatoful Boyfriend (PC)
34. Fire Emblem: Mystery of the Emblem (SFC)
35. Baku Bomberman 2 (N64)
36. Chameleon Twist (N64)
37. Gato Roboto (PC)
38. The Messenger (PC)
39. The Messenger: Picnic Panic (PC)
40. Baku Bomberman (N64)
41. Bomberman Hero (N64)
42. Blazing Lasers (TG16)
43. Neutopia (TG16)
44. Neutopia II (TG16)
45. Bomberman '94 (PCE)
46. Super Mario Sunshine (GC) *

47. Sonic Adventure 2 Battle (GC) *

This is a game I technically beat before I even started Mario Sunshine, but I wanted to wait until I was properly done playing with it to write a review for it. That time was when I finished playing it on stream (again) yesterday, so now's the time to put it back on the shelf and write my review for it. I got 68 out or 180 emblems, and played the Japanese version of the game for about 20 hours.

Sonic Adventure 2 is the followup to the first Sonic Adventure, and it follows Sonic & co as they try to stop Eggman from blowing up the world with the power of the Chaos Emeralds. But that's only the Hero story mode. There's also the Dark story mode, where you play as Eggman & co trying to end the world with the power of the Chaos Emeralds. It's a neat gimmick where you see both sides of a story that plays out more or less the same either way, as there's a "LAST" story mode you unlock after completing the other two that ties them together and gives a conclusion to everyone's stories. It's ultimately a fairly campy and silly story (that introduces characters such as Shadow the Hedgehog and Rogue the Bat), but it does have some nice moments. It's serviceable and entertaining for what it is, and that's all it needs to be.

I'd actually never realized that apparently this game just has a language select feature, and you can switch between several languages' subtitles as well as the Japanese or English voice tracks in any version of the game! As a result, the Japanese version of the game's only actual difference (so far as I can tell) is that the main title screen is in Japanese (changing the language doesn't affect that, so far as I know). The Japanese voice track is much better voice acted than the English in many places, but I will say that I definitely prefer the English voice for Eggman over the Japanese one. And the infamously awful sound balancing this game has, where music in cutscenes is often far too loud compared to the dialogue, is also consistent across both languages, sadly XP

There are six playable characters, but they're basically light and dark copies of each other. There are upgrades to find for each character individually, but for the most part each character plays identically to their counterpart. Sonic and Shadow both have very speed-focused stages where you jump around, platform, and homing attack enemies. Rogue and Knuckles both have more open stages where there isn't a goal to get to, and instead you're using computer terminals scattered around the level to get hints to where the hidden master emerald pieces are. Last, you have Tails and Eggman, who each have linear levels where they stomp around in big mechs, using homing shots to blast everything in their paths.

Sonic/Shadow stages and Tails/Eggman stages all work pretty soundly and are good fun to go through. This was originally designed for the Dreamcast, and this is a pretty dead-on port job, so the C-stick does nothing and instead the camera is controlled by holding R and L respectively. This is usually something you don't need to worry about, as the game does a pretty good job following you with its auto camera, but it's often not an issue outside of a few boss fights. Where it is constantly a problem is in Rogue/Knuckles stages. They're so open that the auto-camera often doesn't really know what to do, and the levels eventually become so large and annoying to navigate (one of them even has a 5 minute time limit), and they're by far the least fun parts of the game.

There are 31 levels in the game not counting boss fights and including two racing time trial levels, but once you beat a story mode you unlock those levels to play in level select mode. In level select mode, you can play through each of that stage's five missions, and each of those missions has its own emblem associated with it. There are also hidden powerups you can only find upon returning to a previous level with a later level's powerup. It adds a LOT of playtime to the game if you're going for 100%, but this is easily one of the hardest/time consuming games in this fashion I've played in that regard from this time period.

Even completing all the missions in a certain stage (which range from collecting 100 rings to finding a hidden Chao to completing a much harder version of the level) is a challenge in and of itself, but there is also an emblem for each character that you get when getting an A rank on every single one of their missions. You get a rank from A to E when finishing a mission, and that's dependent on your point total at the end (and the point total associated with each rank is never told to the player). Points are gotten by chaining together enemy kills and finishing the level quickly, so in order to get A ranks on EVERY mission, it means replaying them a LOT to get really good at finishing them very quickly and with as many good enemy kills as you can. It's a time commitment I can't really justify for how much I enjoy the gameplay loop, so it's not something I think I'll ever do (and it's the reason I stopped at a little over 60 emblems when I was too demoralized to continue getting them XP).

Outside of all of that, in each level, you can also find boxes with Chaos on them, and breaking one reveals a Chao key which takes you to the Chao garden afterwards. Around levels and from defeated enemies, you'll pick up power cores and small animals, and you can take these back to your Chao garden to allow your Chaos to absorb the power from them (but not kill them) and level up. Chaos who absorb energy from animals will even take on features from that animal (like bunny ears, dragon wings, etc). Chaos age as real time passes, and they can eventually turn into a Hero or Dark Chao depending on what alliance of character has given them the most affection. One of the most significant changes from the Dreamcast version to the GC port is actually that the time for a Chao aging one year has gone from 1 real time hour to 3 freakin' real time hours. Thankfully about a minute gets shaved off of that time each time a Chao eats a piece of fruit, but it still takes an annoying amount of time.

You can enter your Chao in races and karate competitions, which is why you need their stats raised. Completing a karate tournament or winning a series of races will earn you an emblem, and you need at least two (one hero and one dark) Chaos who are very good at racing in order to get all the emblems associated with the Chao garden. That requires a LOT of animals and power cores to get them that high, so ultimately the huge amount of time you'll spend replaying levels to try and get A ranks will feed into how much time you'll have to sink into raising two racing-ready Chao. Raising Chao is a simple but fun addition to the overall experience of going through levels and even just to the normal story mode. Chao have cute little idle animations, and you can even take them to Chao school to have them learn new animations to do (like playing with a tambourine). It's a weirdly engrossing part of the game, and raising my little Horatio and playing around with him is one of the things that kept me playing so far after I beat the game's main story.

Verdict: Recommended. This game won't be for everyone, but if there are any good purely 3D Sonic games, this is definitely among them. It's got a campy, fun story, reasonable gameplay, and a decent amount of extra content if you really wanna sink your teeth into it. It's a childhood favorite of mine, and it was really fun to go through it again after all these years ^w^
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by MrPopo Mon Aug 03, 2020 2:15 pm

1. Elite Dangerous - PC
2. Soldier of Fortune - PC
3. Star Wars: TIE Fighter: Defender of the Empire - PC
4. Star Wars: TIE Fighter: Enemies of the Empire - PC
5. Star Wars: X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter: Balance of Power - PC
6. Star Wars: X-Wing Alliance - PC
7. Phoenix Point - PC
8. Serious Sam HD: The Second Encounter - PC
9. Descent II - PC
10. Inbento - Switch
11. Ori and the Will of the Wisps - XB1
12. Doom Eternal - PC
13. Serious Sam 2 - PC
14. Black Mesa - PC
15. Descent 3 - PC
16. Darksiders II - PC
17. Resident Evil 3 (2020) - PC
18. Overload - PC
19. Final Fantasy VII Remake - PS4
20. Trials of Mana (2020) - Switch
21. Persona 5 Royal - PS4
22. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Campaign Remastered - PC
23. Sublevel Zero Redux - PC
24. Final Fantasy XII: Zodiac Age - PS4
25. Maneater - PC
26. XCOM: Chimera Squad - PC
27. Sakura Wars - PS4
28. Stela - Switch
29. Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2 - DC
30. Darksiders III - PC
31. Shadow Warrior (2013) - PC
32. Robotrek - SNES
33. Shadow Warrior 2 - PC
34. EVO: The Search for Eden - SNES
35. Blast Corps - N64
36. Command & Conquer: The Covert Operations - PC
37. Command & Conquer Red Alert: Counterstrike - PC
38. The Last of Us Part 2 - PS4
39. Exodemon - PC
40. Halo: Reach - PC
41. Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary - PC
42. Halo 2: Anniversary - PC
43. The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel - PS3
44. Halo 3 - PC
45. The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II - PS4
46. Command & Conquer Red Alert: Aftermath - PC
47. Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon 2 - Switch
48. Carrion - Switch
49. Ninja Gaiden - NES
50. Earthworm Jim - Genesis

Earthworm Jim is a distillation of the 90s; a goofy mascot hero designed to be cross media and with a terrible game clearly done by people who think they are far more clever than they actually are. I still cannot figure out why the game is so well thought of, though the second was halfway decent.

I'll start off by pointing out that the game is beautiful. It has great looking animations and everything is very well drawn with lots of little things to add to visual flare. But this leads right into the problems. The level design clearly was first done by someone on paper to make something that looked pretty, and then they had to figure out how to wire everything up so that you had a functional game. This leads to a lot of level design problems on the gameplay end. You'll fall off of ledges because they decided that part of the slow is a falling part rather than a part where you just move slightly down, and you'll not realize you can traverse a portion of the level because you thought it was a background. Not to mention all the times you'll miss seeing ledges and whip points. And the view is a little too zoomed in so you have to make a BUNCH of blind jumps.

Similarly, the animations, while pretty, also add a bunch of floatiness and bad delay to your actions. This is most apparent with the whip move; you'll miss a bunch of them because the animation has a shockingly long windup, and heaven help you if you have to do two in a row. And this windup is especially bad in the Peter Puppy level, as you both have a landing delay from jumping and then a windup on the whip while you're trying to get him over successive pits. The gun also feels really terrible due to the mechanics; it's eight way firing with you being force stationary, but you don't have a visible projectile. The game seems to, in the background, calculate intermediate spits when you transition between points (similar to in Contra III with the machine gun if you whip between two angles you can see the bullets hit between the two), but the hit box on the aiming is wonky and to get anything that isn't exactly on one of the eight points you have to mash between two directions and let it decide whether or not it actually hits. Oh, and you can't do it in midair while most enemies are flying, so the majority of your damage comes from taking damage in midair.

The game also likes to have various changes in gameplay; you have a terrible racing level between stages which is like a worse version of Sonic 2's bonus stages (if that was possible), one level is a bungee jump battle with obtuse mechanics, and one pair of levels has you pilot this submarine which is clumsy an time limited, so you end up going into needing to go fast to beat timer but then get killed by running into the walls too much. It's lose lose. Oh, and that level also has segments where you will take chained damage if you do things wrong in the platforming parts due to enemy placement.

Finally, the game has the type of "humor" which is the product of those poorly drawn adult cartoons of the 90s where some idiot thought something was funny and no one had the heart to tell them no it wasn't. Mostly wacky for the sake of wacky without any real cleverness involved. It's mildly appealing when you're a kid, but as an adult it's just dumb, and you realize that a bunch of adults came up with it.

I really can't recommend this game to anyone. There are so many better platformers of its generation.
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by BoneSnapDeez Mon Aug 03, 2020 4:08 pm

1. ACA NeoGeo: Cyber-Lip (Switch eShop)
2. Pengo (Atari 2600)
3. Kirby's Epic Yarn (Wii)
4. Knights of Xentar (PC)
5. Hoshi o Sagashite... (Mark III)
6. Dead Zone (Famicom Disk System)
7. Samurai Sword (Famicom Disk System)
8. High School! Kimengumi (Mark III)
9. Princess Tomato in the Salad Kingdom (NES)
10. Sindbad Mystery (SG-1000)
11. Steins;Gate (Vita)
12. Champion Boxing (SG-1000)
13. Squidlit (Switch eShop)
14. Skyblazer (SNES)
15. Tokyo Dark: Remembrance (Switch eShop)
16. Bubble Bobble (Famicom Disk System)
17. Steins;Gate Elite (Switch)
18. Johnny Turbo's Arcade: Joe and Mac Returns (Switch eShop)
19. Johnny Turbo's Arcade: Express Raider (Switch eShop)
20. Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle (Genesis)
21. Sword of Vermilion (Genesis)
22. Steins;Gate: My Darling's Embrace (Switch eShop)
23. Oink! (Atari 2600)
24. Bio Miracle Bokutte Upa (Famicom Disk System)
25. Super Castlevania IV (SNES)
26. Phantasy Star Online (Dreamcast)
27. Chaos;Child (Vita)
28. Scar of the Doll (Steam)
29. Kirby's Adventure (NES)
30. Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure (PlayStation)
31. Hangman (Atari 2600)
32. Metal Slug (Neo Geo MVS)
33. Metal Slug 2 (Neo Geo MVS)
34. Masters of the Universe: The Power of He-Man (Intellivision)
35. Shark! Shark! (Intellivision)
36. Videocart 1: Tic-Tac-Toe / Shooting Gallery / Doodle / Quadra-Doodle (Channel F)
37. Haunted House (Atari 2600)
38. The Earth Dies Screaming (Atari 2600)

39. Vroom in the Night Sky (Switch eShop)
40. Sonic Mania Plus (Switch)

"Noooooo you can't put shovelware on my brand new Nintendo console!"
"Haha witch girl go vroom!"

Engage me in this hypothetical. Pretend you're a developer with an awful game that's near completion. What's the best (or only) way to get consumers to notice such an abomination among all the other rubbish that clogs digital storefronts? Easy -- get the game out early on a fledgling console. Make it a (near) launch title, where little competition exists. Such was the plan of one Poisoft, with their "magical girl" slog Vroom in the Night Sky. By the way, the aforementioned "strategy" worked -- on me, at least. With precious few (physical) Switch launch titles holding my interest I turned instead towards the then-barren eShop, where my initial purchases consisted of Kamiko (a cute little action-adventure game) and.... this.
Vroom in the Night Sky stars a magical girl of the classic anime tradition; I believe she's literally named Magical Girl in capital letters. She's a cutesy witch who pilots a series of motorcycles as opposed to the typical broom. She's joined by a fast-talking familiar, some glowing ball thing. The witch's mission: to vroom. In the night sky. The game is so incomprehensible that the simple act of assigning it a genre tag becomes a difficult task. Its closest contemporary is probably (I kid you not) the infamous Superman 64. That's because success in Vroom is predicated on flying through a series of rings. That sentence was supposed to end with "within the allotted time limit" right?? Well, no, because Vroom has no stipulations, no challenge, no puzzles, no obstacles. Just bumble around until an objective is completed. And repeat.

Each stage contains an assortment of rings, and a goal that appears once all rings are gathered. There's additional stardust to collect, which is essentially the game's currency. A minute into each stage, a "rival" appears in the form of another witch girl named Shining Star. She gathers stardust as well, which would be a problem, if not for the fact that it respawns infinitely. There's a gas gauge, which appears to be bugged as it creeps down incredibly slowly. Good luck losing more than 10%. In any event, there's a refill station in the center of every stage. As for the environments themselves, they're sparsely decorated and dreadfully dull. Each one takes an average of two or three minutes to traverse. There are eight stages total.

Controls are aggressively bad. B and A are used for acceleration and braking, respectively. Acceleration feels clunky and uneven, while there isn't nearly enough feedback when braking. Turning (with the d-pad) is much too loose, and it's not uncommon to see poor Magical Girl hurtling towards the borders of the screen. Y and X provide additional functions, as one assists in "grabbing" stardust while the other initiates a brief "vroom" speed burst. The fact that shoulder buttons were ignored in favor of the face button foursome makes for a cramped and unwieldy experience. There are some additional maneuvers that can be pulled off by rapidly tapping buttons in a "combo" style, but activating these moves properly is nigh impossible, as is keeping control of the bike during execution. To "assist" the player there's a series of tutorial stages, which also include "helpful" written instructions, for example:

Let's occur "Magical Turning & Getting *"3 times with getting Stardusts during "Magical Turn"! "Magical Turning & Getting *" occurs if you get Stardusts during "Magical Turn".

Thanks for clearing that one up! This is as good a time as any to mention that the game's translation is comically bad and full of such "Engrish" gems. The penultimate stage, for example, is described as follows: "It is a Sky. It is a completely Sky." The inchoate exchanges between Magical Girl and her familiar are frequent and (unintentionally) hilarious, and arguably the "highlight" of the Vroom in the Night Sky experience. I'll admit it. I lol'ed often.
The game looks unfinished, with the flattest and most featureless textures imaginable. The soundtrack can be described in similar terms, consisting of some stock rock/jazz fusion that sounds like it was yanked out of one of those royalty-free websites. But the most egregious sin committed by Vroom is in regards to its stage progression. While stages one through five can be played through quickly and sequentially, stages six through eight remain mysteriously locked. Entrance into these areas requires one first buy specific "upgraded" motorcycles from a shop accessible from the game's main menu. There's no indication that one needs to do this, nor is there any hint in regards to what bike will unlock what level. There's not even a tenuous connection; it's not like specific bikes handle better in specific stages or anything. It's just totally arbitrary. To add insult to injury, the stardust currency collected while playing the game "normally" isn't enough for these bikes. No, one must replay stages to grind for this stuff. It's maddening and stretches what would be an annoying twenty-minute shovelware romp into an excruciating eighty-minute endurance test. Complete stage eight and nothing happens. No ending, no credit roll. Just a boot back to the stage selection screen.

Vroom in the Night Sky is a broken-down sloppy insulting experience. It's actually gained a bit of notoriety; as of this writing it's the lowest-rated Switch game on Metacritic, as well as the lowest-rated game of any kind released in 2017. Big ouch. Vroom away from this one as quickly as possible. Just don't use one of these motorcycles to do so.

I feel compelled to preface this review with a bit of a confession. I've never been a huge fan of the Sonic games. And no, I'm not just talking about the 3D ones that "everyone" hates, but the series in general. Even in the 16-bit era, this series displayed issues with level design that feels incongruous with the protagonist's physics. Sonic, I felt, has always had a tendency to move too fast, or too slow, or to have his movements whisked away from the player altogether as he's tossed about like a pinball or thrown headlong into a "hilarious" spike or pit trap. In many ways, Sonic Mania Plus (which was released in 2018 but is an expanded version of a game released one year prior) is the Sonic game I've always wanted. It's taut, finely-tuned, and an absolute joy to play. The genesis (haha) of this game is interesting, as it was developed by indie studios, a project led by one Christian Whitehead of the Sonic romhacking community. Presumably there were other people involved too, as Sonic Mania Plus has the longest credits scroll I've ever seen. I think it includes literally anyone who was even tenuously involved with this project, with the exception of perhaps the third shift janitors at Sega of Japan.

The story is succinct and stereotypical. Dr. Robotnik (or "Eggman") is up to no good. He's stolen more gems, this time with the assistance of some rotund robots. It's up to Sonic and his pal Tails, and perhaps various other members of the animal posse, to retrieve the purloined artifacts. To do so, Sonic must traverse through twelve zones, each split into two stages, with each stage concluding with a boss battle. This is a beefy game. It took this reviewer three and a half hours to trek through "Mania Mode" (the main game) -- that's with a small assortment of deaths but zero Game Overs, thanks for asking. Autosaving occurs, but between zones only (not individual stages).
It's likely that anyone reading this review (lol such optimism) is familiar with the way Sonic controls, but here's a brief recap. The d-pad moves Sonic, and in a delightful tribute to the games of olde there's only one action button. Without a dedicated run button à la Mario, Sonic speeds up quickly on his own as a direction button is continuously pressed, eventually becoming an absolutely blazing blue blur (assuming there's ample space for such a thing). Should he require speed to clear a ramp or some obstacle and there's no "runway" available, Sonic can duck and subsequently execute a rolling dash via repeated taps of the action button. He can jump too, of course, in big smooth arcs whose size varies based on speed. This game also incorporates a "drop dash" where tapping the action button twice in quick succession can send Sonic rolling as soon as he lands a jump. Combat requires a certain level of finesse, as Sonic defeats enemies by jumping (or rolling) on or "into" them. Unlike his plumber buddy (and fellow Olympian) Sonic cannot vanquish a fiend by simply "falling" on top of it. Point being, Sonic must be in "ball mode" to land a successful hit; if his floppy red shoes are exposed he is vulnerable. Collected rings will grant Sonic an extra life per 100 earned, but their primary function is serving as Sonic's "lifebar." Should Sonic be hit he's knocked back and his rings scatter about. These can be grabbed quickly, though most will rapidly bound off-screen.

Sonic games live and die by their stage design, and the design here is absolutely stunning. The stage (or "act") list consists of a smooth blend of nostalgic throwbacks and brand new environments. The game eases the player in, with the fan favorite Green Hill Zone, which is once again replete with the anticipated obstacles and features: floating platforms, ziplines, crumbling cliffsides, and hedgehog-launching springs. Additional zones offer additional gimmicks. All are self-explanatory (no Sonic 3 spinning barrels, ugh) and presented in a clear and unambiguous manner. The Chemical Plant Zone, for instance, is full of liquids that possess varying effects on Sonic's movements, while the Flying Battery Zone experiments with magnetic charges, and the Metallic Madness Zone utilizes shrink rays to squeeze Sonic into tight spaces. Every act feels like a fresh experience; old elements are quickly swapped out for new ones, that are soon abandoned or evolved just as quickly as they arrived. Despite its hefty length, Sonic Mania Plus never begins to feel stale, and the more endurance-oriented gamers will feel compelled to roll through this one in a single sitting. Most importantly of all, the game "flows" beautifully. While each act is massive and offers multiple avenues to victory, there are never any frustrating dead ends. Nor are there moments that make the player feel "stuck" or that backtracking is the most viable option. Moreover, Sonic's speed meshes perfectly with the design, as it's an absolute blast to be shot through loop-de-loops, launched from slopes, and ricocheted off the various bumpers. When the game does slow down the focus is on precision platforming, rather than, say, "waiting" for sluggish moving platforms to align properly. And Sonic Mania Plus is devoid of any and all "cheap" moments that defined some prior series entries of decades past. You won't suddenly find yourself accidentally launched into a spike pit, or dropped onto an enemy unexpectedly, or caught between a haphazard mess of nigh inescapable trampolines. No, this experience is pure fluidity and momentum from start to finish.
To nitpick a bit: as the game progresses the stages most certainly get larger. And the final stages take much too long to complete. Even with the seemingly generous ten-minute time limit, I was still slammed with a "Time Over" in the game's penultimate act. The final act is just as egregious (I hit the last checkpoint at 9:45) but the timer is wisely reset for the rather grandiose final boss battle. It's a small quibble, and those who are more accustomed to the game's mechanics and layouts likely find this a non-issue.

Sonic Mania nails the aesthetics. The graphics here look like they walk a fine line between late Genesis and early Saturn. The pixel art is luscious and strikingly detailed. Each stage contains a flurry of background pieces and multiple layers of scenery. The character animations are lovely and brimming with humor, and there's a wide selection of new friends and foes alike mixed with the old ensemble. The soundtrack spans two hours, a frothy mix of Genesis hits plus some tunes making their debut. It's energetic stuff, and it all nails that techno-Genesis vibe perfectly.

Two types of bonus rounds appear throughout the journey. The first present themselves within checkpoints, should they be reached with 25 rings in tow. These are the classic 3D bonus rounds atop a giant checkered orb, where Sonic is granted "pivoting" tank controls and tasked with collecting blue spheres (hey you never said I couldn't grab the red ones too!). Success in these rounds unlocks additional content accessible from the main menu, like a sound test and debug mode. To access the second type of bonus round, one must first discover well-hidden "giant rings." These rounds see Sonic chasing a UFO as it speeds away. The chase occurs over a wrapping 3D plane; grabbing rings increases allotted time, while snatching spheres speeds Sonic up. By catching all these UFOs one gains a full set of chaos emeralds, and thus access to the true ending. Truth be told, I always found Sonic bonus rounds quite difficult and not especially compelling, though these are some of the best (or least worst) of the bunch.
With a boss fight concluding every act, we're left with a lot of bosses on our hands. The quality and difficulty of these skirmishes fluctuates, though most are meticulously designed and memorable. There are the usual "Robotnik in a big machine" battles, plus all kinds of wacky newcomers like a robot that inhabits a trash compactor, a sandworm that floats in and out of the background, and even a match of Puyo Puyo (or, uh, Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine). The "race" boss fights also make a reappearance, where Sonic must engage in a melee whilst running along a track and avoiding various hazards. It makes for a delightfully frantic time.

Beyond Sonic, one can choose to play as the additional woodland creatures. By default, Sonic has Tails the fox in tow, who can lend a helping (or "lifting") hand and deal blows to bosses. Tails played solo can fly for brief spells by rapidly whirling his multiple appendages. Knuckles is back. He still resembles an echidna about as much as Sonic resembles a hedgehog. Knuckles is able to climb walls and blast the ground. This Plus version of the game also boasts the inclusion of Mighty (an armadillo with a smashing ball attack) and Ray (a flying squirrel who glides). These extra characters are pretty neat, and stages are modified slightly to accommodate them, but it's often too easy to trigger their abilities by double-tapping the action button accidentally, and nothing feels as smooth and sleek as good ol' Sonic himself. It's also possible to play as a tag team, with a press of the X button swapping between, say, Sonic and Knuckles, where the computer AI steers the unused character behind the active one. And, ya know, there's multiplayer if you happen to have friends. Finally, Plus includes an "Encore Mode" for those who mastered the default "Mania" and are seeking remixed stages with an additional challenge. There's a lot to dive into here, with the Plus experience stretching for several hours after the main quest has been completed.

All told, Sonic Mania Plus is not only one of the better Switch platformers but is the best game within the entire Sonic series. The team behind this clearly understood not only the elements that make for a decent Sonic title, but what elements make for an unforgettable platforming experience. Forget the trauma caused by Sonic Shuffle and Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric and that weird game where Sonic has a realistic human girlfriend. Instead, think back fondly to the greatest attributes found within the Genesis titles, and then multiply everything by one-hundred. Dive into the "Mania" without hesitation.
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by pook99 Mon Aug 03, 2020 4:56 pm

@MrPopo: Blasphemy!!!!! I absolutely adore everything about earthworm jim, outside of the sub levels, I agree they suck. It is definitely a silly game, not sure if I would find it as amusing now as I did when I was a teen, but I was a hardcore fan of the series.

117. Infinite Beyond the Mind
118. Rogue Trooper: Quartz zone massacre (wii)
119. Rockettron
120. Double Dragon (nes)

118. Rogue Trooper: Quartz zone massacre

Rogue trooper is a 3rd person shooter that began its life as a ps2 game, got ported to the wii, and then ported over to the ps4 and switch. Kind of weird to have a game that nobody has ever heard of to be ported over to so many systems over the course of 3 console gens, but I guess stranger things have happened.

The story here is you play as a trooper named rogue, who is part of a genetically engineered band of soldiers. You embark on a mission in the quartz zone and your entire race is annhilated(hence the name of the title). You then go on a mission to figure out what went wrong, the story is nothing amazing but it does a good enough job of keeping the story moving which is really all I ask for from a shooter.

The gameplay here is a ton of fun and does a few things that are unique to the genre. You start off with a machine gun, as you kill enemies, rather than dropping guns and ammo like in most games, the enemies here all drop salvage. You can use this salvage to craft more guns, more ammo, health, upgrades etc. There is plenty of salvage to go around, effectively giving you unlimited ammo for all of your guns, grenades, gadgets etc. I enjoyed this style of gameplay because it lets you confront challenges however you want, if you want to just hang back and snipe everyone feel free, want to run it with a shotgun that works too.

Aiming is done with the wiimote, which works really well here. Having a sniper rifle, with unlimited ammo, and wii mote aiming led to hundreds of very satisfying head shots which was really fun. When you are not sniping enemies the game plays like a cover shooter, lots of cover everywhere, which you can duck behind, blind fire from, or pop out and shoot. Stealth is also an option and it is fun, but never required, to sneak around and shoot everyone with the silenced sniper rifle, or perform melee stealth kills.

In addition to the guns there are also a number of gadgets and grenades to add more flair to the battles. There are several different types of grenades, hologram decoys, and auto gun turrents which can be deployed at will to set traps for enemies which is pretty cool. Like if you are unlocking a door you may place a gun turret and some mines in front, and then watch the enemies run straight into them which is always good for a laugh.

I really enjoyed this game, it is not perfect, some of the collision is a little off, the cover can be spotty at times, and the AI is often pretty brain dead, but I had a ton of fun with it and is well worth a playthrough for 3rd person shooter fans.

120. Double Dragon (nes): Not going to write anything too deep here, just a friendly reminder that the NES version is so much better than any other version including the arcade. This may be an unpopular opinion but I think of it more as a fact.
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by prfsnl_gmr Mon Aug 03, 2020 7:51 pm

Infinite Beyond the Mind review, please. :lol: (I am genuinely curious to read about it.)
Last edited by prfsnl_gmr on Mon Aug 03, 2020 10:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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