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MrPopo
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by MrPopo Tue Aug 18, 2020 12:35 am

First 50:
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

51. The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel III - Switch
52. Star Control Origins: Earth Rising - PC
53. Gunvolt Chronicles: Luminous Avenger iX - Switch

Gunvolt Chronicles is an alternate universe in the Gunvolt world; it has a lot of thematic similarity to the story of Mega Man Zero. The game stars Copen, the secondary protagonist of Gunvolt 2 in his own solo adventure. Like before his gameplay is based around dashing into enemies and then firing lock on shots. He also gains special attacks from beating bosses; these serve as your Mega Man style boss weapons which have an energy meter (which regenerates) and have a variety of attack patterns which particular bosses will be weak to.

I don't remember if Gunvolt 2 included this feature, but Copen has some pretty crazy mobility with his ability to angle his air dashes. This will also include being able to bounce off flat surfaces to reflect; on a narrow climb section you can just bounce back and forth and quickly get through and this does not spend your dash energy. This makes the game very fast paced if you get on a roll, and like the main Gunvolt games the main challenge is in trying to keep your combo to build up a big score. The bosses share the pattern of having three phases with the third phase opening up with them doing their giant fuck you attack. I found that in general boss attacks were much harder to avoid in this game, so be prepared to take damage. The fact that you use a lock on shot means you can focus more on dodging, but there are multiple times where you need to frankly react instantly in order to dodge an enemy attack in the right way. This is most apparent on the final boss, as it's a back to back series of fights that only heals you if you level up from killing the first boss.

Overall it's a solid platformer; like the main Gunvolt games it is inspired in feel from Mega Man X but does its own thing, so it isn't just trying to imitate. I didn't like it quite as much as the other Gunvolt games, but I can't really articulate why. There's just something subtle in the level and boss design that wasn't quite as good as before.
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BoneSnapDeez
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by BoneSnapDeez Tue Aug 18, 2020 1:02 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)
41. Arcade Archives: The Ninja Warriors (Switch eShop)
42. 8-Bit Adv Steins;Gate (Switch eShop)
43. Kid Niki: Radical Ninja (NES)
44. Dracula II: Noroi no Fuuin (Famicom Disk System)
45. Centipede (Atari 2600)
46. Infiltrate (Atari 2600)

47. Valis II (TurboGrafx CD)
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Releasing a plethora of platformers, RPGs, and shmups, Nippon Telenet was one of the more interesting developers to emerge during gaming's heyday. Working one's way through Telenet's backlog is quite the daunting task, as their games were spread across a vast array of home computers, consoles, and handhelds, and were additionally released under various divisions and subsidiaries (Wolf Team, Laser Soft, Riot, Renovation). While Telenet's crowning achievements were undoubtedly the ARPGs Exile and Xak I + II, their "flagship" series was known as Valis. The star of the series is one Yuko Aso, a Japanese schoolgirl turned "magical girl" who's given the mythical Sword of Valis and summoned to an alternate dimension to rid it of an ancient evil. It's a pretty standard idea, though somewhat novel for its time, and serves as a precursor to Sailor Moon, Magic Knight Rayearth, and so on.

Valis II was released in Japan in 1989 and in North America the year after, making it both a rather early CD-ROM console game and the first Valis title released stateside. The dozens of Americans who must have owned a TurboGrafx were surely stumped about the missing Valis part one, which in 1990 remained marooned in Japan on computers and the Famicom. Note that the Valis that did eventually reach the Genesis is in fact a full-fledged remake of the first game in the series, adhering to the aesthetic and gameplay of Valis II and III. In any event, these don't really need to be played in order. The story of Valis II is wholly uninteresting, and plays out like an episodic anime series. In each stage Yuko is tasked with destroying a "minion" boss monster, before finally confronting the ultimate evil, Emperor Magus.

Though the story text itself may hold little appeal, how it's told is something altogether different. Valis II features an abundance of primitive anime cutscenes. They're similar to those dating back to the likes of Ninja Gaiden, except here they're presented with glorious CD-ROM audio. There's some light animation here and there, but most scenes unfold via a small sequence of stills, presented in a tiny box surrounded by gaudy green borders. The art is actually quite lovely, in all its retro pixelated glory, though the English voice acting is atrocious. The actors sound as if they're reading their lines from paper, without a moment of prior practice or recital. There's even a moment of light "Engrish" -- yes, in the North American version of the game -- where at one point the sword is referred to as the "Varis" Sword. Presumably the actors were working off an earlier translation. The instruction booklet actually takes things a step further, where the sword itself is referred to as "Valis II."
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Sandwiched between these "Visual Scenes" is, ya know, the game itself. Valis II is of the "action-platformer" variety. Though projectile weapons are persistently available, this one's not speedy enough to be considered a run and gun. Rather, the pacing is on par with the likes of Castlevania, Magician Lord, and The Revenge of Shinobi. The jump and attacking controls are fairly fluid, this is one of the Valis games to not utilize a clunky "mega-jump" in addition to the regular one. Yuko attacks by swinging her sword, which emits one of four projectile types. There's the default "fireball" attack, a "cutter" weapon which can block enemy projectiles, a homing missile, and a two-way spread shot. Collecting one weapon will automatically overwrite whatever Yuko presently has equipped, and weapons can be upgraded by collecting multiple icons, so it can be advantageous to try to stick with one weapon throughout the duration of a stage. There are additionally some defense boosting items, items that grant special attacks, one-ups, point boosts, and life refills. The gathered "special attacks" (such as the full-screen "crusher" move) are activated simply by pushing the up button, which makes them far too easy to engage accidentally. The clunkiest aspect of the controls, however, is actual act of walking itself. As Yuko moves she presses up rather closely to the screen's edge, and one is required to adapt to a persistent start/stop/attack strategy to clear out enemies. Humorously, the instructions acknowledge this bit of sloppy programming, but rebrand the whole thing as a "tip" of sorts. The occasional miniboss won't emerge until Yuko literally hits the screen's edge, whereupon she must immediately turn tail and run in the opposite direction to avoid getting hit. It's quite strange.

As for the stage designs themselves, the quality is mixed. Stage one, an outdoor cityscape, feels like a tutorial: basically a big flat plane with all items in plain view. It's not bad, but it's way too long for what it is. Stages two, three, and four kick things up a notch with some cooler environments (caves, floating towers, alien landscapes) and more platforming obstacles, but once again they all feel just a touch too lengthy. The final two stages are most clever in design. The penultimate environment eschews enemies in favor of a series of laser and spike obstacles, requiring one master a sequence of tricky jumps and maneuvers. The final stage is an autoscroller, with Yuko riding what looks to be a gigantic jawbone on her way to the final confrontation. Each stage concludes with a boss battle, naturally. Bosses are introduced in dramatic fashion, with their height, weight, and "power" displayed onscreen. There are taunts directed at Yuko, delivered via the atrocious voice acting, and then the battles commence. Bosses typically posses rather simple attacks. It's a matter of learning their individual attack patterns, though some shoddy programming guarantees that Yuko will take at least a few hits.
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Surprisingly, the game is very easy overall. Continues are unlimited, one-up items can be found in most every stage, and extra lives are additionally granted whenever certain point thresholds are hit. Checkpoints are plentiful. Moreover, if Yuko falls during a boss battle, she respawns "arcade-style." One of her lives is deducted, but the diminished boss lifebar stays intact. Thus, if one has an extra life to spare then any boss, including Emperor Magus himself, can be defeated via button-mashing. All told, Valis II is the easiest entry in the series by a fairly wide margin.

The level graphics are fairly standard, but pleasant to look at. Nothing looks exemplary by today's standards, but the 16-bit color palette on display here must have wowed quite a few folks back in the day. Remember, this was released before the Super Nintendo even existed. One neat little detail is the evolution of Yuko's "costumes" as the game progresses. She begins the journey clad in her schoolgirl outfit and works her way up to a sort of golden bikini. The enemies look pretty fashionable too. There are lots of creepy little demonic creatures, and the bosses are like hefty beasts straight out of a tokusatsu series. The soundtrack is pretty amazing. It's presented in the glorious redbook format, and is overflowing with all sorts of catchy 1980s synth work. It's a bit like The Ninja Warriors, however, as the best song to be found here is placed right in stage one. Nothing else quite compares. Sound effects are fairly standard. There's the constant sword slashing, though certain weapons (like the homing missiles) add some additional audio. Enemies expire amidst crunchy explosions.

All told, this is a "good" old platformer, albeit one that feels a bit janky and like it could have benefited from a couple of extra months in development. Forget the fact that it's "part two" -- series neophytes should start here. Ignore the Valis on Famicom, as it's utterly abysmal, and just play the upgraded Genesis Valis later on. Gotta love those magical girls.
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by Ack Wed Aug 19, 2020 11:42 am

The First 50:
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)

51. Kid Dracula (Switch)(Platformer)
52. Castlevania (Switch)(Platformer)
53. Akumajō Dracula (Switch)(Platformer)

54. Akumajō Dracula [Castlevania IV](Switch)(Platformer)
55. The Witcher 3: Hearts of Stone (PC)(RPG)
56. Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse (Switch)(Platformer)


Hearts of Stone

This is the first of the expansions for The Witcher 3, and it builds upon the previously open areas, adding to a map that was already fairly robust in its offerings. The general gist follows Geralt of Rivia as he encounters an immortal man who lacks emotions and the ability to really feel, and then later encounters a mysterious man who wants Geralt's help in claiming the immortal man's soul. Yeah, you end up having to help out someone who is basically the devil claim another soul from a bargain. Of course, this requires Geralt having to do three "impossible" tasks, made entirely possible through the help of magic, thievery, and the powers of Satan, even if you don't realize exactly who it is you're working for initially.

If all this sounds grim, well, it is as usual. The Witcher series is dark fantasy and some unwilling political intrigue, but here we've dropped the politics entirely in favor of the dark fantasy and a cautionary tale around getting what you wish for and realizing it isn't what you really wanted. Don't make deals with devils, kids. Of course, there are a couple of possible outcomes depending on how fully you explore certain options and are willing to gamble on yourself, though these are hidden behind some cryptic clues.

While the main plot offers some intriguing moments, such as putting together and executing a heist that goes poorly and attending a wedding while possessed by a party animal ghost, much of the side content is more of the same from the series that by now you will have already experienced. It's just higher level. That said, some previously forgotten groups and characters who were sorely lacking the both this and the last game make their return, so if you've played through the whole trilogy, you'll be happy to see at least one familiar face. Not everyone fares so well, such as a knightly order from the first game that has been disbanded and now resorts to banditry, but hey, times are always hard in The Witcher universe.

There is one side situation that is enormously interesting: runecrafting. The one major addition to the game is now the opportunity to have certain abilities stitched into your armor. While I personally favor one of the weakest enchantments, if you've the coin and the desire, you can have your weapons and armor upgraded in some interesting ways. I'm a big fan of the ability to have arrows bounce off of me. Means one less thing I can ignore in a fight, and the sound effect it produces is positively thrilling.

Look, Hearts of Stone isn't exactly going to shake the world, but it offers some tweaks that are nice and help builds up for the next big treat, which is the second expansion. I'll get more into that once I beat it.

Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse

I have nostalgia for Castlevania III. I knew a kid in elementary and middle school who had an NES with this game, and a few times I spent the night at his place. This was in the early '90s, and I remember watching the early days of Cartoon Network and also trying to get a handle on Castlevania III, which I totally sucked at. I'd get to the first choice and either end up trying my luck in the clock tower or getting my butt kicked by owls in the woods. I never got very far, but it was always cool to try.

That nostalgia is why I opted to play Castlevania III on the Anniversary Collection before delving into Castlevania II, which I have no prior experience with. While I'm significantly better at games now, I'm sorry to say that the one thing about my childhood memories that holds up is Castlevania III being a lot tougher than the original. There are some new additions, such as being able to bring along and swap to a different party member, and the visuals and music build on what the original offered and what the NES could do in wonderful ways. Unfortunately, the controls don't feel as smooth as I need them to be, and while I finally figured out what I was getting wrong with staircases, fighting on said stairs is at best a chore. Hell, having to maneuver quickly can sometimes be problematic, as Trevor Belmont occasionally likes to become unresponsive to my need to make him duck or turn around.

Also, this game is difficult, though in a way that I admit I admire. Castlevania III feels like it wanted me to be able to beat Castlevania before coming to it. There is even a moment towards the end of the game where I realized I was looking at a room based on the initial level of the original Castlevania, complete with hordes of infinite shambling zombies...and bats. The bats are an interesting tough because they don't show up in this room in the first game until the second, harder playthrough. Here I see them on the first time through, which tells me that yeah, this game wants me to know that it's tougher and less forgiving than its predecessor. I can appreciate this, both in that Konami wanted to up the ante and also in that feeling of continuity to a previous game.

One thing that Castlevania III brings to the table is the branching pathways towards the ultimate goal. Unfortunately I ended up on what's considered the hardest path without realizing it and then ended up with Alucard as my partner...the worst of the three partners apparently. Getting through was more by tooth and nail than kicking ass, but I would make it through, rarely use Alucard since I found him largely useless, and do everything I could to keep the cross as my subweapon, just because that's what I've learned to do in Castlevania games.

While I don't think I want to return to Castlevania III any time soon, I am impressed by it. It's amazing what ideas the developer was exploring this early on with the series, and the ambition shines through. It doesn't always work out, and there are some balance problems, particularly with Alucard being worthless, but I still find I appreciate a game that wanted to kick my ass.

Oh, and on a completely different note, is this the easiest fight with Death in the series? Because even with two forms, he went down like a putz.
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MrPopo
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by MrPopo Wed Aug 19, 2020 12:27 pm

Ack wrote:Oh, and on a completely different note, is this the easiest fight with Death in the series? Because even with two forms, he went down like a putz.

It's the second easiest. The easiest is CV2, and that's assuming you actually take the time to fight him (turns out the monsters in CV2 couldn't afford to purchase boss doors).
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pook99
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by pook99 Thu Aug 20, 2020 12:23 am

@Bone: great review, basically every tg16 cd game had completely atrocious voice acting, they were so bad they were good when I was a kid and they have aged unbelievably well. If you haven't played last resort I strongly encourage you to check it out, it is a pretty fun top down shooter with some of the worst voice acting, if not the worst, the world has ever seen.

@Ack: Fun fact, when you enter the castle, not only is the level layout similar thematically to the opening level of the original castlevania, but the music is the same track that plays in the first stage of the original which is a great touch.

I completely disagree that death is the easiest fight here, in fact I would argue he is considerably harder here than in any of the other games. I may be desensitized to CV 1 death since I have played that game + rom hacks dozens of times, but even taking that out of the equation I struggle with cv 3 death far more than his incredibly easy iteratrion in cv 4 and his iteration in bloodlines where my biggest challenge is staying awake through that horribly boring fight.

I agree his second form is easy, but his first form always gives me a hard time since the layout of the level leaves little room to maneuver around the sickles.
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by MrPopo Fri Aug 21, 2020 12:11 am

First 50:
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

51. The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel III - Switch
52. Star Control Origins: Earth Rising - PC
53. Gunvolt Chronicles: Luminous Avenger iX - Switch
54. Jedi Knight: Mysteries of the Sith - PC

About midway through this I went back to my original review of to see what I thought. And it confirmed my feelings of the expansion; Jedi Knight is not a good game. It's a very awkward transition between Dark Forces and Jedi Outcast where you suck at both gameplay styles. Mysteries of the Sith compounds it by having worse level design than the base game.

The game has two protagonists: Kyle Katarn and Mara Jade. Each protagonist gets an intro level, then the rest of the game is done in three mission chunks that form a continuous bit of story. Kyle gets one of these and Mara gets three. The titular Mysteries don't even show up until the last of them, and even then it's mostly tangential (Kyle goes to Sith planet, turns Dark, Mara saves him, but there isn't really any Sith crap going on). Kyle starts off midway powered Force-wise, while Mara starts from scratch. The game also changes up how you get Force powers; now they are in tiers and you can only gain a certain number of powers in each tier. This is a bit annoying with Mara because you get forced into a couple of powers for puzzles.

Which brings me to the level design. The game really cranks up the puzzle level but the graphics aren't really suited for it. There are a lot of switches which you will miss because they get lost in the busy textures (not to mention they are just textures themselves). Not to mention grates that need to be sabered hidden in places that would normally qualify as secrets but here are the actual way to go forward. And the Kyle missions also start off with "you remember how to play this game, right?" levels of enemies. Not like you have any weapons when that happens. Then weirdly, when you do Mara they remember to have a proper difficulty curve.

This is no better than the base game, is maybe worse, and the only thing it does is give an excuse for Kyle to not have a lightsaber at the beginning of Jedi Outcast. So that's three strikes; it's out.
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pook99
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by pook99 Fri Aug 21, 2020 10:14 pm

127. Castlevania 3 (nes)
128. Exception (switch)
129. Super Punch out (snes)
130. Return of the Double Dragon (snes)
131. Legend of the Mystical Ninja (snes)

128. Exception (switch)

Exception is a pretty unique 2d action platformer, that takes some inspiration from strider but definitely does enough unique stuff to stand out on its own.

The story starts out with you in a computer world, you play as one of many mindless threads that the program uses to run, one day you grow tired of all the rules that the system has in place and, with the help of 2 other rebellious threads, seek to free the world from its evil overlords. The story is told in comic book style cutscenes between each of the 16 chapters, it actually is a pretty unique and well told story with some solid character and world development and a pretty good twist at the end.

The game plays through 16 worlds, each with about 8 mini levels. The levels in this game are pretty short, many can be beaten in under a minute and the game is definitely designed with speedrunning in mind. Your character has a very long jump and a quick sword slash, both of which will definitely draw parallels to strider when you see them in action, as well as a slide (which is almost never needed or used) and a wall jump. Gameplay has you racing through levels which have an awesome bright, neon, techno feel to them. The twist is as you run through the levels you will come to dead ends with little orbs, grab the orb and the enire level twists and turns in different ways to open up new paths, it is a very cool visual effect that leads to some very interesting game design. For example, one level has you running down a hall fighting a bunch of enemies and avoiding obstacles, at the end of the hall you grab the orb and the hallway turns vertical and you now have to wall jump back up the same hallway you were just running down, any enemies you didnt kill on the way down will still be around to annoy you as you wall jump to the top. The game is constantly doing that and the level design is very inventive and not like anything else I have ever seen.

Combat here is generally simple, most enemies die in one hit, but in this style of game that works great because of the speed of the levels you wouldnt want to stop and slash an enemy repeatedly, the one hit kills makes for some very fast and smooth gameplay. At the end of each world is a boss, the bosses are usually giant robots that aren't too difficult once you learn their patterns but you cant just blindly run in and slash them to death. As a general rule the level with the boss is usually super easy which is nice for when you run into a difficult boss it is never hard to get back to them and give them another try.

The challenge in this game is just right, you will die, but you will not die that many times trying to beat any given level, and due to the short length of the levels and the instant respawns I never found myself frustrated

Overall, exception is a pretty fun and unique game, it is very fast paced and is one of those games that is hard to put down once you start playing it, definitely worth a playthrough for 2d platforming fans.
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PartridgeSenpai
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by PartridgeSenpai Fri Aug 21, 2020 10:46 pm

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

1-50
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) *
48. Shenmue 3 (PS4)
49. Wandersong (Switch)
50. Ratchet & Clank (PS2)

51. Ratchet & Clank 2: Going Commando (PS2)
52. Ratchet & Clank 3: Up Your Arsenal (PS2)

53. Nier: Automata (PS4)

I absolutely adored the original Nier when I played it around 5 years ago (right before I joined this site, as coincidence has it), and I was really excited when I heard they were making a successor game to it. It then took me like years to buy Nier Automata, and over another 3 years to actually play the thing, but here I am. A little over 40 hours later (and a lot of contemplative writing on my own dissecting its themes), I got all of the main endings and did almost all of the quests (all but the most labor intensive ones).

Nier: Automata is the story of 2B and her partner 9S, two androids in the YoRHa project, a fighting force operated out of an orbital bunker that is trying to take back the Earth from invading aliens. The aliens invaded thousands of years ago with an army of constantly learning and adapting machines, and its these machines that YoRHa fight against while trying to find the aliens behind it all to end the war once and for all. Nier: Automata is a game much more about its themes rather than the overall narrative, but the overall narrative that is there is solid. It's also a game that is more in the same universe as the original Nier, rather than a direct sequel in the traditional sense. Like 2018's God of War, while there are elements in this game that have meaningful callbacks to past entries, this game stands very well on its own, and playing the previous game(s) in the series is by no means required to get something really meaningful out of the story.

Where the original Nier asked questions about what it means to be alive, and what humanity really is, Automata takes that one step further. Okay, we're here, now what? What do we do since we're alive, and why should we? It's a very good companion piece to Nier 1, but I would say Automata on the whole does its storytelling in a bit of a better way than the original game does. While there are a lot of more obvious elements to the storytelling, there was a lot I didn't realize until I'd really sat down with it and thought about it for a while. Automata is a really well crafted piece of fiction, especially for a video game, that does something really interesting with the concept of replaying through a story (much like the original Nier did).

That said, Automata has a lot less outright replaying of content than the first Nier did. It has 5 main endings, but really 3 main routes. Route A, Route B, and Routes C and D are more or less different sides of the same route, with Route E being the final ending after completing C and D. Thinking about it like an old PS1 game, Route A is disc 1, Route B is disc 1.5, and Routes C, D, and E are disc 2. It is absolutely intended that you play through all the routes, especially since Route C/D is just the second half of the game with no repeated content of any kind. This confusing approach to endings is a deliberate choice, but one I think this game handles clumsier than Nier 1 does it (where they're just straightforward replays of content), and it's really my only meaningful complaint with how the game's narrative is constructed. Nier: Automata doesn't really present in an obvious enough way that the "new playthroughs" are quite as dramatically different to one another as they imply.

The gameplay loop of Automata is quite close to the first Nier, in that it's an open-ish world action RPG, but it's on a bigger scale with more to do and more quality of life improvements. Platinum handled the development of this game, and it really shows with JUST how much better the combat is in Automata than Nier 1 had (which was something much more simple like a Zelda game). In addition to the melee combat, there are also several shmup sections as well as a hacking minigame (which are really just more shmup-like sections). They vary up the gameplay in a fun way, and the tons of different weapons you can get really do vary up the combat as well. There's still a lot of walking around and talking to people, exploring for resources for quests, and upgrading weapons, sure, but it is all around a significant improvement on the first Nier. Great writing aside, I have no trouble saying that Nier: Automata is a game that is simply much more fun to play than the first Nier.

The art style for the game is also very pretty. I imagine it looks even better on PC, but on the base-model PS4 I played it on, Nier: Automata is still quite a lovely looking game with really cool looking enemies. The music, like Nier 1, is also fantastic, and does a fantastic job of setting scenes and creating atmosphere. The songs which evolve out of dialogue (such as "This Cannot Continue") are particularly fantastic.

Verdict: Highly Recommended. Nier: Automata is not only a worthy successor to Nier, but succeeds on its own merits on being a fantastic video game and piece of writing. It is easily one of the best games I've played this year, and one of my new favorite games I've played. Yoko Taro outdid himself yet again and made a really fun game to play to boot, and it's absolutely a game worth checking out if you dig open world games and love a good story in your games.
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by MrPopo Sat Aug 22, 2020 12:13 am

First 50:
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

51. The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel III - Switch
52. Star Control Origins: Earth Rising - PC
53. Gunvolt Chronicles: Luminous Avenger iX - Switch
54. Jedi Knight: Mysteries of the Sith - PC
55. Wizardry: Labyrinth of Lost Souls - PS3

The Wizardry series has an interesting history; it was one of the original CRPGs that made a major impact when it was localized in Japan. It was such a big hit there that there are actually far more Japanese Wizardry games than there are US Wizardry games, and they kept the brand going long after Sir-Tech closed down. Labyrinth of Lost Souls is one of those titles, and is part of the Wizardry Renaissance project where several devs decided to get together and get more of a style guide to the brand. As a result, Labyrinth of Lost Souls feels a lot like a modern remake of the original Wizardry, going with a simple formula (rather than having a ton more options like more recent games).

The plot is pretty simple; the king disappeared in a dungeon and you need to go find him. You have a ten level dungeon that you can bring up to a six person party to, divided into three front people and three back people (which affects attack ranges). You have the same eight classes available as the original; Fighter, Thief, Mage, Priest, Samurai, Lord, Ninja, and Bishop, with the latter four being prestige classes which require higher stats and act as hybrids (Fighter/Mage, Fighter/Priest, Fighter/Thief, Mage/Priest). Unlike the original it is definitely possible to have enough stats to roll all the prestige classes from the beginning, which is nice because otherwise class changing resets your level and really interrupts your flow. Each class has a special ability, and this represents the main update compared to the original. These special abilities tend to be situationally useful, though the Bishop's Magic Wall is amazing.

The game starts off not too difficult but quickly ramps up, and the end game is full of a ton of bullshit enemies. On the final floor about half the enemies are reasonable and half are "just run or you will die". To give you an idea of how bad the latter camp is, once I got a preemptive against a couple of ninjas. This gives you a free round of melee attacks. I figured I could take out one and then Magic Wall to keep the other from hurting me. Instead, they dodged all six attacks, counterattacked, and did 1000-2000 damage (which is their normal attack damage), wiping my party. Other enemies on the floor can drain up to three levels per attack. It's such a drastic difference in difficulty from the previous floor, and it makes the final boss extremely anticlimactic (only one attack, so just Magic Wall and win). But that is in grand Wizardry tradition, so I can't be too mad.

Compared to the original game there's also a lot of quality of life. You actually can see equipment stats and when you use the automap spell or have a map item for the floor you can pull up your automap at any time and see where you've explored, rather than having to do it yourself. The map is especially helpful when in dark areas or hitting a spinner, or just after a teleport. The game also has an interesting distribution of its weapon drops (which is how you'll get all your worthwhile equipment). Several end game pieces also have early game drops available (at a low rate), which means you can stumble upon a great item and get a major power boost. But at the end of the day this is a punishing experience with some grinding required.

If you've been interested in the Wizardry series this is not a bad intro to it. I'd say this is one of the more approachable entries, so you can see if the general conventions are something that interests you before you dip your toes into the less forgiving ones.
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by Ack Sat Aug 22, 2020 2:44 pm

The First 50:
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)

51. Kid Dracula (Switch)(Platformer)
52. Castlevania (Switch)(Platformer)
53. Akumajō Dracula (Switch)(Platformer)

54. Akumajō Dracula [Castlevania IV](Switch)(Platformer)
55. The Witcher 3: Hearts of Stone (PC)(RPG)
56. Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse (Switch)(Platformer)

57. Castlevania II: Belmont's Revenge (Switch)(Platformer)
58. The Witcher 3: Blood and Wine (PC)(RPG)


Castlevania II: Belmont's Revenge

Someone at Konami must have been paying attention to how poorly the original Game Boy Castlevania game went, because instead of simply rehashing the terrible gameplay of the series' first handheld outing, the company took the basic ideas and rebuilt something incredible. You still have some of the quirks of Castlevania: The Adventure, such as climbing ropes instead of stairs and much of the same enemy design, but now it's better balanced, more interesting, and plays way better.

Dracula's power has taken Christopher Belmont's son, Soleil, and is using him to try and bring about the vampire lord's return. Instead of a short and frustrating linear adventure, now Chris Belmont gets to choose how he wants to proceed, Mega Man style. Belmont's Revenge begins with your selection of four different levels which can be beaten in any order. Each of the four levels offers something different and unique in their approach, based on the nature of the castle, but all offer some tight platforming and interesting if not always difficult boss battles. Once the four castles are finished, Dracula's castle rises from the lake for a more linear set of levels that still throw interesting puzzles at you. Already, this is a far more interesting package than the previous Game Boy game.

To add to this, we still get the fireball whip upgrade of the previous game, but now we also get the option of a couple of sub-weapons. The NTSC-U release features the ax and the holy water, and while I generally found the ax more useful, both can play critical roles in improving your survivability. However, even if you do die, you can always continue, even mid-level. That said, it probably won't happen that often, as Belmont's Revenge is fairly easy compared to its handheld and console siblings.

How so? First, the most annoying enemies of the previous game do come back, but they've been toned down; they attack slower and have larger projectiles and hit boxes. Second, bosses aren't much of a challenge and follow relatively straightforward patterns...at least up until the final level. The Dracula fight in general is only tough until you find the best places to stand based on where he shows up, and if you brought the ax and enough hearts, it's simply a matter of time. He does still offer a learning curve, but as he has only one attack, it's all about learning how to avoid it.

Still, with some good music, interesting level design that incorporates some quick-thinking, and background work that I found stunning considering the tech, Belmont's Revenge turned out to be a fantastic experience. I recommend it.

The Witcher III: Blood and Wine

Blood and Wine is the last of The Witcher III's expansions, and therefore ends the entire saga. It takes place in the picturesque land of Toussaint, heavily influenced on the wine regions of southern France or Italy. It is a land of song and music, of sunshine, and of heavy drinking, where knights showcase their chivalry, love is a major driving force, fashion is a crucial player, and the night casts long shadows...some of which have fangs. Of course, this isn't a social visit, as Geralt's been hired to track down a strange and magical serial killer known as the Beast.

Toussaint adds an entire new region to the game, every bit as large as areas like Skellige and Velen, thus making for a significantly larger new adventure than the other expansion, Hearts of Stone. Everything of the base game comes back: new and variant monsters, a whole array of side quests, new armors and weapons to seek, and a main plot with several branching options which can have important consequences not only for Geralt but all players involve. Old friends appear, though not from the games; instead, the histories woven here are lifted directly from the series' source material. There are even dyes added in for changing armor colors as well as a mutation system to further build up your character at a somewhat prohibitive cost. Heck, there's even a new Gwent faction if you love playing in cards and a major sidequest involving it.

Most important of all, though, is the house you are provided. Never before has Geralt owned real estate, and this is what leads to his eventual end. After several hundred hours across three games and several expansions, this is the retirement I felt Geralt deserved, in an idyllic setting with the final romance I had spent the series building towards. Blood and Wine is where the game series ends, and frankly it's where it should; that is its greatest contribution to the series, and it is one that feels genuinely earned.

If you played the Witcher series, play Blood and Wine last, and know that it will end where it should. The finality of the game is bittersweet, as all endings are, but it is the best way that it could be. I'm happy to say that everything ended on a high note, and though I was ready for the series to be over, I'm pleased, both with it and myself for seeing it through.
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