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BoneSnapDeez
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by BoneSnapDeez Fri Sep 04, 2020 1:17 pm

prfsnl_gmr wrote:51. Legends of Amberland (Switch)

Legends of Amberland is a beautifully pixelated tribute to classic WRPGs like The Bard’s Tale, Dragon Wars, etc. You roll out a party of seven characters, and embark on a first-person, grid-based quest that consists of slaying hordes of monsters, going on fetch quests, exploring both a large open world and various caves, dungeons, and towers. You also spend a lot of time fiddling with your equipment to make sure you have the right combination of immunities and stat boosts. Monsters don’t regenerate, and it took me a little under 17 hours to render all of Amberland devoid of life. (Unlike old WRPGs, this game has an abundance of quality-of-life features, such as auto saving, fast, travel, and streamlined combat, that make it play extremely quickly.) I had fun with this game, and it wasn’t that tough on “normal” difficulty. Accordingly, I recommend it to anyone, like me, looking to dip their toes into this genre.


I like these new streamlined WRPGs.

I mean, Might and Magic is dope, but it takes like a month to complete.
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Ack
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by Ack Fri Sep 04, 2020 6:27 pm

BoneSnapDeez wrote:
prfsnl_gmr wrote:51. Legends of Amberland (Switch)

Legends of Amberland is a beautifully pixelated tribute to classic WRPGs like The Bard’s Tale, Dragon Wars, etc. You roll out a party of seven characters, and embark on a first-person, grid-based quest that consists of slaying hordes of monsters, going on fetch quests, exploring both a large open world and various caves, dungeons, and towers. You also spend a lot of time fiddling with your equipment to make sure you have the right combination of immunities and stat boosts. Monsters don’t regenerate, and it took me a little under 17 hours to render all of Amberland devoid of life. (Unlike old WRPGs, this game has an abundance of quality-of-life features, such as auto saving, fast, travel, and streamlined combat, that make it play extremely quickly.) I had fun with this game, and it wasn’t that tough on “normal” difficulty. Accordingly, I recommend it to anyone, like me, looking to dip their toes into this genre.


I like these new streamlined WRPGs.

I mean, Might and Magic is dope, but it takes like a month to complete.

Yep.

<-- Put over 200 hours into Witcher 3 this summer.

<-- Currently has over 50 hours logged in Morrowind from the last couple of weeks.
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PartridgeSenpai
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by PartridgeSenpai Mon Sep 07, 2020 4:39 am

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)
54. Ratchet: Deadlocked (PS2)
55. Itadaki Street Special (PS2)
56. Castlevania: Rondo of Blood (PCE)

57. Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction (PS3)

The 5th R&C game made by Insomniac, and a fairly early PS3 title, this game provides a very welcome return to form for the series after the strange, arcadey experiment that was Ratchet: Deadlocked. Not only that, but they really go above and beyond to try and imagine not just Ratchet & Clank as you've always known it, but Ratchet & Clank + a little bit more. It took me about 12 hours to beat the Japanese version of the game over the course of a couple days.

R&C Future's story starts at kind of a reset, but I mostly only mean that in terms of how this just starts with R&C hanging out in the city, repairing an old ship. It's very reminiscent of the first game in that regard, but it's notable in that this is the first Insomniac-developed game in the series not to pick up more or less directly from where we last left our heroes. They receive a distress signal from Captain Qwark as the city is suddenly under attack by a mysterious unknown force. On their way to meet Qwark, they're surrounded by these mysterious invaders and approached by their leader, the eccentric Emperor Tachyon, who informs them that not only is he only here to kill Ratchet, but that Ratchet is also actually the last of his species. They outsmart Tachyon, steal his spaceship, and end up in the system where Tachyon is originally from and embark on a quest to stop him.

R&C Future's story isn't just a reset to distance itself from the not very well received Ratchet: Deadlocked. It also marks a point where Insomniac are actually trying to tell more a more engaging and developed story beyond the buddy cop comedy that usually fill the runtime of the dialogue of these games. That's not to say the game isn't funny, but it's nice to have the game actually explore the motivations of Ratchet, Clank, and even their side characters and villains in a less binary way than past games. I didn't see the day coming when I'd suddenly care about the story in a Ratchet & Clank game, but here we are! XD

Mechanically, this game continues the (usually) consistent upward trend of each game improving on the last one. After four games you can FINALLY use the shoulder buttons to lock on and fire, meaning you can actually play without claw-handing the controller to hit both the face buttons to fire as well as using the right stick to turn. The guns are also a great balance of "situational" and "just damn good" that makes them all really fun to use (and you'll probably need all that firepower to survive, really). Ratchet also still plays great, the Clank sections are more fun than they've ever been before, and the Star Fox-esque spaceship parts are actually really fun. Most of the other games have at least one "oh heck, this part" moment, but R&C Future really doesn't and I love it. The game is pretty hard though, and I was routinely surprised at just how much damage I would take during the occasions I'd get hit ^^;

This is another R&C game, like 3, that actually has some pretty darn good music in it. My personal favorite was the pirate level theme, but overall I felt this game had a few more memorable tracks than the past games have. It's also a very pretty game, having a simple yet effective art style despite being such an early PS3 game. It has a physics system and some destructible terrain, which honestly feel more like they tax the PS3's CPU than anything (the intro level especially having some very noticeable framerate issues), but the game generally runs just fine despite the occasional enemy getting caught in a wall when it dies. Only once did I ever have to save and load due to a flag to progress not triggering, and that's an acceptable margin of error for me.

Verdict: Highly Recommended. Ratchet & Clank land onto the PS3 generation in a big splash and an excellent return to form. It has me super excited to play the next one, which I've heard is even better in just about every way. You don't need to play the previous games at all to appreciate this one, as Captain Qwark is really the only returning character who isn't one of the titular characters Ratchet & Clank, and this is probably one you can find under $10 that will be well worth your time if you like action platformers.
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by MrPopo Mon Sep 07, 2020 4:59 pm

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
56. Silicon Zeroes - PC
57. Warcraft - PC
58. Serious Sam 3: BFE - PC
59. Wasteland 3 - PC
60. Iron Harvest - PC

Iron Harvest is an alternate history RTS set in the world of 1920+, which posits that World War I saw the introduction of mechs instead of tanks and neither Germany nor Russia saw its monarchy overthrown. It picks up shortly after the end of the war as tensions brew over the state of the post-war world, but it seems that there might be more going on than simple national tensions.

The game is divided into three campaigns of seven missions each, one for each of the three factions. You start with Polania (Poland) inciting rebellion against the Russviet (Russia) occupation of their lands. By the end you are introduced to the fact that things are more than they seem, which leads to the Russviet campaign which follows that main thread. Finally, you have the Saxony (Germany) campaign which starts with several flashbacks to the Great War before pulling you to the present and seeing you embroiled in the events.

Mechanically the game takes Dawn of War as its base; you must capture resource points which provide passive resources over time and those can be upgraded to produce more. Infantry are the only ones who can capture it, which gives you reason to hang on to them. Infantry can garrison buildings or take cover behind things like sandbags or small walls, and since the game calculates trajectories instead of a binary hit/miss chance you can also get cover from hiding behind one of your mechs, as shots will hit the mech instead. Your vehicles are the mechs, which have a dieselpunk aesthetic which makes the large, boxy, and overall cobbled together. Similar to the jankiness of the early tanks compared to a modern MBT. The mechs come in a variety of sizes and roles.

One thing I found was that the infantry get pushed out pretty quickly; every side has at least one infantry hero unit and heroes are FAR more survivable. Infantry, while cheaper than mechs, aren't cheaper ENOUGH, especially when it comes to supply (which is shared between both unit types). A given infantry will cost you three supply, while mechs will be between four and eight supply. The biggest thing in infantry's favor is the fact that the main resource for mechs is oil, which collects very slowly, so you can pad out with infantry much faster. And this might be the way to go in multiplayer, but certainly not in the campaign.

The campaign is a mixture of fixed force missions and base building missions. For the most part the missions have a decent difficulty curve to them, but there are three that stand out as having issues. The least egregious one is the defense mission that claims that you need to fortify three points on the map, but really only need to worry about one with maybe a small mobile force to get any spillover that hit the other two. You'll realize this the first time you do the map and grumble and restart. The more infuriating mission is the one where you have to stealth around the map with a single unit. The thing is, you don't have any good indicator for enemy visual range (other than a "this is DEFINITELY out of their range") and you need to scrape by some narrow spots at times. Detection is an instant failure, so you will need to save a lot. But the most egregious mission is the last mission of the Russviet campaign, which has quickly become infamous amongst the playerbase. You need to destroy an objective at the end of the map, but complicating things is that scattered throughout the map are invincible enemy spawn points. The only way to deal with those is to surround them with fixed defenses, but those eat into your supply. And meanwhile the enemy is sending forces at you. You end up under a very tight timing for a lot of the map to get defenses up and attack vectors closed off or else things will snowball against you. And once you've stabilized you have to deal with the major horde guarding the final objective (and meanwhile you've spent half your supply stabilizing). After several false starts I was able to beat it, but my final runthrough took multiple hours.

Overall it's a fun RTS in an interesting world. And the story ends right as it's prepared to launch into a larger series of events, so there's room for them to grow the story more. I'm hoping we can see more with this property.
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Games Beaten: 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
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PartridgeSenpai
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by PartridgeSenpai Mon Sep 07, 2020 5:15 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)
54. Ratchet: Deadlocked (PS2)
55. Itadaki Street Special (PS2)
56. Castlevania: Rondo of Blood (PCE)
57. Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction (PS3)

58. Crash Bandicoot (PS1)

Like with the Ratchet & Clank games, the Crash games (and the Spyro games too, still) are iconic Sony classics that I'd always thought looked/sounded neat but had never sat down to try before. I did a bit of retail therapy for myself last Friday and got a bunch of good PS1 games for 300 yen a piece, and Crash 1 and 3 were a part of that trip (gotta still find Crash 2 XP). I polled my friends on what they wanted to see my stream last Sunday, and Crash 1 beat out Ace Combat 3 (another game I got during that trip), and I ended up playing through the entirety of the Japanese version of Crash Bandicoot 1 over the course of a little over 3 hours on stream.

The premise for Crash Bandicoot is pretty simple. Crash is an experiment of Dr. Neo Cortex who escapes, but Cortex kidnaps his girlfriend and so Crash has to defeat Cortex to rescue her. Very standard "Save the girl, save the world" kinda stuff. It's a setting that works fine for the action, and the character designs are fun (and VERY polygonal X3).

The gameplay is a 3D platformer of the early 3D era, and that shows in many ways including the low polygon count mentioned earlier. The game is kind of a 3D 2D game, as you're mostly only going either forward & away from the camera, or going left and right, but you aren't ever actually running around a 3D space Mario 64-style. This can lead to some quite awkward and wonky platforming at times, but Crash has pretty tight controls and a clearly defined shadow beneath him. The biggest problem I ever had playing it was that I think the D-pad on my controller is dying ^^;

I think now is time to mention the differences between the English and Japanese versions of the game (granted even the American and PAL versions have differences), as there are MANY and they are significant beyond a few new (and often not as good) music tracks. There are far more bonus stages, and that amounts to way more extra lives and way more save points. Aku Aku gives you tutorial hints in just about every level you pick him up in, so the game actually just tells you about stuff like the colored gems, keys, and tips for killing bosses. There are generally a lot more extra lives in stages, and many platforms have been widened to make the timing on many jumps far more forgiving. The level order has even been shuffled around a fair bit to give the game a smoother difficulty curve. Some levels (like the second boar-riding level) have been outright removed. All this is ultimately towards the goal of making the game easier and more enjoyable, and I think they succeeded big time in that endeavor. While some parts felt a bit wonky, the game overall had a really fair-feeling difficulty to it, and I always felt like I had enough lives to feel safe experimenting and failing (I still beat the game with over 70 lives). I'm really glad that I streamed it, because a lot of my friends watching had played the English versions before quite a bit, so I was able to get perspectives on just how different this version of the game was.

Verdict: Recommended. Crash Bandicoot 1 hasn't aged perfectly, and the controls and level design will likely be quite frustrating to some (especially those who aren't fans of platformers in the first place), but I really enjoyed my time with it. The Japanese version makes the whole game's difficulty curve far more forgiving and more fun as a result. It might be heresy to some who love the original English version, but to someone who wants Crash 1 that doesn't kick your teeth in quite so hard, I think this is a great version to play.
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MrPopo
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by MrPopo Mon Sep 07, 2020 7:02 pm

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
56. Silicon Zeroes - PC
57. Warcraft - PC
58. Serious Sam 3: BFE - PC
59. Wasteland 3 - PC
60. Iron Harvest - PC
61. Serious Sam 3: Jewel of the Nile - PC

Jewel of the Nile is a three mission expansion for Serious Sam 3. It's set right before the level where you lose all your stuff; the premise is that even though you turned on the power generators for the Time Lock you still need to release some kind of failsafe switch. This sends you to three different areas to do so; the first two merely being ways to unlock the third. The whole thing is pretty short; you should be able to wrap it up in three hours.

There are no new weapons but the sniper rifle and lasergun are now made into regular weapons you can find, which is nice. Though it also makes clear that the model for the lasergun wasn't thought through, as it majorly obscures your targeting reticle. The sniper rifle does some major work, though, as not only are there a lot of the harpies, there is one new (returning) enemy, the four armed lizard guys who throw the homing green shit at you. Sniping those bastards from afar is imperitive.

The three levels show some solid level design. The first one is a fairly small island where you keep visiting various portions as you collect items to unlock the final gate. So your ability to take advantage of its layout to manage enemy spawns is key. The second level is a more standard long path with enemy spawns, but things are metered quite well. The third level brings back the jetpack from the final boss for the first half, which mostly used to give you some more options for moving through box canyons with lots of middle rises. It sort of keeps things a bit fresh. There is a final combat arena which is surprisingly restrained, and then a final boss who is mostly an HP sponge but can one shot you with an easily avoided attack. Fortunately, if you know the trick he goes down quite fast (C4 on belly).

Frankly, it's a bit of a shame that these levels weren't in the base game. I think it would have been better if these levels were inserted in the story order and they just dropped the first three levels of the base game instead.
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Games Beaten: 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by fastbilly1 Mon Sep 07, 2020 10:38 pm

Witcher 2 beat. Then I went back and played with mods to make the magic shield Quen, do infinite chain lighting if it is ever hit. Then went to the big battle scene in the second act and had it kill everything until the game crashed...

The game itself is a prime example of taking everything you learned from the first time around. Most of the issues from Witcher 1 are gone, but they had not figured out the systems yet - Mapping was left alot to be desired. That said, the story was nigh perfection and worth getting through the issues.
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by prfsnl_gmr Mon Sep 07, 2020 10:47 pm

:lol: :lol: :lol: Nice work, Fast.

.....

First 50
1. Her Story (iOS)
2. Elminage Original (3DS)
3. Legend of Grimrock (iOS)
4. Silent Bomber (PS1)
5. Crash Bandicoot (PS1)
6. Bust-a-Move 2 Arcade Edition (PS1)
7. Transformers Cybertron Adventures (Wii)
8. Squidlit (Switch)
9. Sydney Hunter & The Curse of the Mayan (Switch)
10. Mega Man Legends (PS1)
11. Revenge of the Bird King (Switch)
12. Blossom Tales: The Sleeping King (Switch)
13. Gato Roboto (Switch)
14. Kamiko (Switch)
15. Night Slashers (Arcade)
16. Subsurface Circular (Switch)
17. Iconoclasts (Switch)
18. Wonder Boy Returns Remix (Switch)
19. Resident Evil 3 (PS1)
20. The Messenger (Switch)
21. The Messenger: Picnic Panic (Switch)
22. Samsara Room (iOS)
23. Heroes of the Monkey Tavern (Switch)
24. Sayonara Wild Hearts (Switch)
25. Gris (Switch)
26. Donut County (iOS)
27. Donkey Kong Country 2 (SNES)
28. Donkey Kong Country 3 (SNES)
29. Contra (Arcade)
30. Super Contra (Arcade)
31. Minesweeper Genius (Switch)
32. Kuso (Switch)
33. 20XX (Switch)
34. Spooky Ghosts Dot Com (Switch)
35. Aggelos (Switch)
36. Quell+ (iOS)
37. The White Door (iOS)
38. Grizzland (Switch)
39. Momodora: Reverie Under the Moonlight (Switch)
40. Silent Hill (PS1)
41. Tcheco in the Castle of Lucio (Switch)
42. The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening (Switch)
43. Stories Untold (Switch)
44. Boxboy! + Boxgirl! (Switch)
45. R-Type Leo (Arcade)
46. Cybarian: The Time-Traveling Warrior (Switch)
47. Duck Souls+ (Switch)
48. Daggerhood (Switch)
49. Gravity Duck (Switch)
50. Biolab Wars (Switch)

51. Legends of Amberland (Switch)
52. Mega Man & Bass: Challenger from the Future (Wonderswan)
53. Double Dragon (Game Gear)


Played these for Together Retro. Ones an incredibly bad Mega Man game, and the other’s a surprisingly solid portable beat ‘em up.
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by Ack Tue Sep 08, 2020 2:18 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)

59. The Darkness II (PC)(FPS)
60. MOTHERGUNSHIP (PC)(FPS)
61. SNK vs. Capcom: Card Fighter's Clash - SNK Version (NGPC)(Card Game)


MOTHERGUNSHIP

A few years ago, I played through Tower of Guns and enjoyed it but found it lacking in long term appeal. As much fun as a roguelike FPS with a bullet hell style was, there just wasn't enough meat to keep me going after several playthroughs. Still, it kicked off an interest in the roguelike FPS genre that has since spread in the indie realm like wildfire, from Bunker Punks to Immortal Redneck to Ziggurat. And then MOTHERGUNSHIP entered the scene, promising more roguelike bullet hell style, but this time with a twist: you could build your guns. It was an intriguing idea, so of course I went for it.

I didn't realize at the time, but MOTHERGUNSHIP is actually the next game from the Tower of Guns devs, and it fixes many of my complaints about longevity. There is now a main plot, yes, and it is humorous, but more importantly new alternative modes unlock as you get through it. Want to throw yourself at harder challenges for coins, experience, or new gun parts? Sure. Want to see how far you get in an Endless mode for skill testing and bragging rights? You got it. Want to try a much harder variation that locks you in with tougher opponents in a battle to try and survive in Nightmare Mode? Of course you do. And then you can replay the campaign, you can take on harder versions of levels to try and destroy a new massive gunship, and you can even try an Endless mode variant that lets you construct an over-the-top superweapon and go to town obliterating whatever gets in your way. I haven't even gotten into the hidden secret levels that pop up from time to time either!

However, there are some limitations to all of this, and that is that the game has a limited number of enemy types and a limited number of room types, which is further subdivided by the type of ship you are on. There are secrets hidden in these rooms too, but once you become adept at spotting them, you'll end up finding tons. You also probably won't be able to build exactly what you want in each level, because you're usually limited to only a handful of gun parts to bring with you and can only access these along with whatever parts you find in shops along the way. And the coins to buy them also have to be found. Also, if you die, you go back to the hub, sans the gun parts you brought or bought on that run; all of those are lost and can only be reclaimed via the expensive Lost and Found.

Now what kinds of guns can you build? Well, you get blasters, rocket launchers, grenade launchers, chainguns and machineguns, as well as guns that do things like launch exploding barrels, spew lava, or send out a massive shockwave. You find connectors that can link all these things together as well as mods that can do things such as increasing critical rate multipliers, boosting damage while sending you flying backwards while shooting, or even turning your shots into sticky mines that do area effect damage to anything around them for a short time afterwards. All of these eat up your power, and if you build too much, you'll use up all your power to fire once and then be forced to wait while it regenerates back to full. Of course, you can also build a gun that lets you aim at the ground and then fly through the air, so...have fun. The world is your oyster. Your gun-covered oyster.

You could also eschew all of this and just bring your bare robo-hands and punch everything. You laugh, but it's actually a solid tactic for conserving gun power in one hand for long range targets, especially if you can get behind some of your static enemies. Some special levels even require specific gun parts or bare hands, and while these levels only rarely pop up, they're entertaining. In one, I found myself punching out waves of robots that look like flying saw blades. In another, I had a flamethrower and was fighting in vent shafts against small doglike robots. I wish these kinds of levels were more common, because they were cool.

Do I have complaints about the game? Well, yes, a few. For one, restarting the campaign means I have to listen to all the cheesy jokes and events over again, and I'm good there. I also hear two player multiplayer is bugged in the campaign so you can't actually fight the final boss. There is also a general lack of bosses, only occurring in the tutorial level where you cannot die, the final boss battle, and a single boss about halfway through the campaign. That's it. I feel like an opportunity for further interesting boss designs was missed. Also, it doesn't always control as smoothly as I want; I have often taken a hit because the weapons didn't fire when I wanted them to, and I found myself repeatedly pressing my mouse until they went off, costing me precious milliseconds and sometimes getting me killed.

Still...not a bad package if you're a fan of these kinds of games. There is way more meat on these bones than last time, and I enjoyed myself immensely. I still have a few achievements to go, too, so I'll probably go back for more.


SNK vs. Capcom: Card Fighter's Clash - SNK Version

I played through the Capcom-centric release of this game on the Neo Geo Pocket Color several years ago but decided that it was time I finally get around to checking out the SNK release. It wasn't vital, as the experience is generally the same save for what cards you are more likely to find, but I am still happy I did it. As usual, the NGPC controls like a dream, offers cute sprite work, and sounds good. There are also numerous references to both SNK and Capcom thrown in, so much of the framing and the cards feel like a love letter to the two companies.

As for the game itself, you're mainly running around various arcades and shops, challenging folks to play cards until you eventually get to beat the local champ. Beat the five local champs, and you then move onto the semifinal and eventually the final in an idealizing Las Vegas where SNK and Capcom have jointly built a hotel and filled it with people who actually think card games are better than Blackjack and slot machines...in Las Vegas. Oh yeah.

Now the real meat is the card game you're playing. Your objective is to drain your opponent's health points to zero. Underlings are played at 2000 health, while bosses are played at 3000. Each turn you can play a character card, use abilities, use action cards, and launch attacks, but how you choose to prioritize what way you do things will all be based on your deck, what cards you have in your hand, and what possible strategies you can develop over time or on the fly for certain situations.

I tend to play the game straightforward, so many of my cards were chosen for power, though I would sometimes favor specific abilities to do things like provide me with more health or prevent my opponent from using certain card abilities. Above all else, I worked to drop my opponent's cards in power, until he was fielding a weak group that would do only small bits of health while I could power through and hit hard for chunks. This strategy doesn't always work, especially if you can't get a rhythm going or are up against an opponent with equal or better cards, so that is where your choices on abilities plays out and really becomes a game changer. There is also some luck involved with getting needed cards in your hand, but there are even some ways to mitigate that.

Where luck is most needed is in getting new cards, because most are won through beating opponents, and the better cards can be rare finds. If your experience is anything like mine, you'll end up spending hours beating the same folks over and over again for trash cards while hoping you get lucky. Why? Because the semi-final is three rounds against three tough opponents, and unless you are an ace at these kinds of games with your strategies all mastered, you're gonna need some great cards to help you take them down. The semi-final is the hardest part of the game, even harder than the final, since you cannot save between the three fights or even swap or adjust your deck. Truly, it's what separates the adults from the children.

It's this reliance on luck that is the biggest detriment to the game, and it's the only real criticism I have. Beyond that, this game is a lot of fun, especially once you have a strong deck going and have a chance against anyone. And once you beat the finale, a few new events open up for even more powerful top-tier cards, such as a card option or the chance to play the infamous Mask character (and you want to win cards from him). Plus, there is always two-player, so if you have another NGPC and both copies of the game, as well as a friend who likes to play, you can have some fun seeing who has the better deck and the better strategies...and then you can also unlock some secret trades.

Card Fighter's Clash is one of my favorite titles on the NGPC, and anyone with the little handheld should at least look into checking it out. It's a lot of fun and well worth the money for the amount of time you will spend with it.
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Re: Games Beaten 2020

by BoneSnapDeez Wed Sep 09, 2020 6:49 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)
48. The Song of Saya (Steam)

49. New Super Mario Bros. (DS)
50. Otocky (Famicom Disk System)
51. Raging Loop (Switch)
52. Arcade Archives: Contra (Switch eShop)

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I always thought this game's title was rather goofy. With a literal proclamation of New in the title, it has now aged over a decade. It's doubly humorous, as this installment made no real attempt to "reinvent" the Mario formula. Rather, it's a throwback to the old days. See, after the SNES era, Mario and Luigi spent quite a bit of time in the land of 3D. Sure, there were those Game Boy Color and Advance titles, but all of those were redundant but welcome ports of the classics, not originals. New Super Mario Bros. represents Nintendo's attempt at crafting an old school platformer for a piece of hardware that could certainly handle 3D. It's a love letter to the longtime fans, and in many ways feels like a successor to Super Mario World (Yoshi's Island, if you recall, "did its own thing").

New Super Mario Bros. is certainly structured like your classic 2D Mario. A mercifully brief opening cutscene reveals that Princess Peach has been (wait for it) kidnapped by what the instruction booklet calls an "unknown assailant" (it's Bowser Jr., who first appeared in Super Mario Sunshine). With Peach whisked away, it's up to Mario to save her by trekking through eight worlds, each consisting of a series of levels. You've got your standard stages, hidden stages, warp cannons, Toad Houses, Ghost Houses (too few!), and castles. While exploring the world map, Mario can be tossed back to any previous world by using the stylus on the bottom screen menu. So, it's pretty easy to hop around amongst previously-cleared areas, which is incredibly useful for those types who want to beat the game and then search for hidden exits.

This is a Nintendo platformer and a Mario game. The controls are the best in the business. The control scheme remains typical: A or B are used for jumping, while X or Y can be held to dash. This can be modified for those who want the NES-style B-dash A-jump control scheme, though that feels clunky here on the DS. Jumping and running are spot-on and the game "flows" as beautifully as any other 2D Mario. Traditional items like the mushrooms, fire flowers, and starmen are back, though there are plenty of new additions as well. A wall jump allows Mario to, ya know, jump from wall to wall. It's integrated into the stage design nicely, and can occasionally be used to save Mario from death via bottomless pit. The ground pound (press down while jumping) will smash brown brick blocks and can even free items from ? blocks (humorously, if Mario ground pounds a ? block containing a vine it will send it downwards and thus render it useless). The blue shell power-up allows Mario to move around like a kicked Koopa shell. It's an interesting concept, albeit a little difficult to keep under control. And then there are the new mushrooms. The HUGE marauding Mario pictured on the game's box gained his status through acquisition of the mega mushroom, which inflates the plumber to a massive size until a gauge ticks down to zero. In this state Mario can plow through all obstacles: enemies, pipes, blocks, and so on. The mini mushroom has the opposite effect, shrinking Mario down to baby size and granting him giant floaty jumps and access to tiny pipes. In the vein of Mario World, a "back-up" power-up can be stored. This can be accessed by tapping the icon on the bottom screen: hitting it with the stylus whilst in the middle of action isn't practical, so prepare for a thumbprint. Unfortunately, the game contains no "flying" power-up and features not a single appearance from Yoshi. It's a bit of a bummer, but the stages are designed accordingly. There's little vertical scrolling and of course no bush-berries.

The stages are designed well. There's a ton of variety spread across the eight worlds, which all adhere to a specific theme: grasslands, deserts, water, forests, ice and snow (the best!), mountains, sky, and then the dark domain of Bowser. The game is full of "gimmicks" whether it be giant tilting mushrooms, underwater bumpers, vanishing staircases, dinosaur rides, rope swings, or bent pipe launchers. All elements are cohesive and finely-tuned and the game is a joy to play. Be on the lookout for star coins. Three are contained within each stage, and they're used to unlock Toad Houses and alternate paths on the world map. Early coins are easy enough to collect, while others may require certain power-ups or will be stashed in hard-to-reach places.
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Graphically, the game has a simple but satisfactory look. The 2D backgrounds are well-drawn, if perhaps a bit too flat and "clean" looking. Sprites themselves are 3D polygons, which surprisingly mesh well with the scenery. The animation is great and full of subtle little touches, like Mario's slowly swinging white gloves. Musically, this one's alright. The tunes are catchy enough, though they don't hold a candle to the great Koji Kondo tracks of old. The highlight here is the default outdoor stage theme; the enemies even bounce along to the "bah bah" vocal riff! It's amazing.

It should be noted that there is some additional content outside the main game. A "versus" mode pits Mario and Luigi against each other as they each try to collect the greatest number of stair coins. The "minigames" feel like tech demos designed to show off the DS technology and stylus controls. They're pretty corny, honestly, and can safely be skipped, for the most part. The one with the rolling snowballs and giant penguins is a touch amusing.

The game's biggest issue: it's too easy. Like, comically easy. Power-ups seem to be encountered every few seconds. Toad Houses dump out extra lives by the dozen, and 1-ups are additionally unearthed in a great many stages. Mario even gains a life from hitting the top of the flagpole! Stages feel as if they're designed to be beaten into submission on the first attempt, rather than challenges to be overcome and conquered. Warps allow huge stretches of the game to be outright ignored. And bosses put up no fight whatsoever; just bop each one a few times and it's lights out. Now, easy games aren't inherently bad. Kirby's Adventure is easy and one of the best platformers ever. The issue here is that New Super Mario Bros., while technically and aesthetically quite competent, doesn't quite have the pizzazz or memorable moments of a good Kirby game. It makes the game feel "mindless" -- something that one can just casually float through without putting in much effort or thought. As such, New Super Mario Bros. ends up "forgettable" in its own way. I've beaten it several times and still can't "organize" the events of the game in my own head. It all shakes out like a mishmash of Mario gameplay without any solid firm recollection of specific events and moments. Truthfully, there is some challenge, but it's all contained within the optional content, and even that is only slightly more difficult than the cluster of mandatory stages. Anyone familiar with platformers in the slightest will roll through this one without breaking a sweat.

With all that said, the game's still pretty great. It's undeniably well-crafted and expertly programmed. It's debatably even a good place to start for a series newcomer. But it's not one of the all-time Mario greats. It's a game you bring along while travelling or play here and there while riding the bus. And you know what? There's really nothing wrong with that. I do miss Yoshi though.

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Otocky is a 1987 Famicom Disk System rhythm-based horizontally-scrolling shmup featuring a procedurally generated soundtrack. Yeah, it's pretty fair to say that there isn't much else out there like this, then or now. The game comes courtesy of Sedic and ASCII. It was designed by Toshio Iwai, the musician/developer behind Electroplankton, and was "endorsed by" Natsuki Ozawa. That's the cute Japanese gal on the cover. Anyone buying a complete retail copy back in the day got a poster of her as well. Nice.

The hero of the game appears to be some sort of cutesy sentient spaceship, not unlike the protagonist of TwinBee. The goal is to complete eleven stages by collecting all the musical notes contained within, and to defeat all eleven bosses. Sounds formulaic so far, but the gameplay is completely out there. The "ship" can fire in eight directions, somewhat similar to a run and gun. The projectile is an "orb" that can be used to vanquish enemies, demolish scenery, and collect notes (it isn't enough to simply touch them with the ship). A specific number of notes must be collected before a boss presents itself. A steady percussion beat (120 bpm) plays in the background, though the bulk of the game's music is created by the player. Each orb fired will play a certain note, depending on direction. This generated music is quantized, so it lines up with the beat perfectly eliminating any inherent imprecision.

As for the resulting soundtrack, it's quite good! To avoid excessive sound repetition, the game includes a series of "A" power-ups that change the instrument that plays when an orb is emitted. There's plenty of variety here: an organ (by default), piano, electric piano, clavier, violin, viola, mokkin xylophone, brass, oboe, clarinet, guitar, accordion, steel drums, even chirping bird sounds and various "noises." There are additional power-ups as well, including a "record" item that "plays back" previous shots, a "B" item that grants the player a powerful multi-directional shot (which can harm enemies but can't pick up notes), and items that slow, hasten, and stop the speed of both gameplay and background music. Graphically, Otocky is pretty utilitarian. Sprites are rather muddy and pixelated, and plain black backgrounds are very common. There are some nice pastel colors used in certain stage backdrops, and the penultimate stage is played across a massive keyboard. A few stages are unfortunately quite ugly, especially those that make heavy use of gray.
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This all sounds swell in theory. In practice, there are issues abound. The controls are inherently clunky. Eight-directional fire simply does not mesh well with a scrolling shmup. Firing feels "off" too, as the ship freezes for a brief moment with every shot. Additionally, an orb simply cannot be fired unless the A button is pressed in tandem with a direction. This means that even if you want to shoot in the "default" direction (forward, to the right side of the screen) A and right must be pushed simultaneously. Collecting notes is difficult given how quickly the screen scrolls, and many notes are housed inside "boxes" or behind walls. Such barriers need to be destroyed first, so grabbing these notes requires two shots. A given stage will loop endlessly until the note meter fills up, with collected notes replaced by enemies. This is includes notes that were hidden in environments. This creates an irritating memorization game that clashes with the fast-paced action. Later stages feel like they barely contain enough notes, and will send the player looping around continuously hunting for that last one. And the final stage is downright infuriating, as all elements are initially invisible until struck by fire. It's awful.

There's also a severe three-pronged penalty for getting hit by an enemy. First, a chunk of health from the (invisible!) lifebar is deducted. Second, a small portion of collected notes vaporizes. Third, the orb projectile gets smaller! Geez, think that's enough of a punishment?! There are no "lives" and a Game Over is granted upon death, but there are unlimited continues. It's strange to see how many obscure old Famicom games contained three Zelda-like save slots; this is one of them so the game needn't be finished in one sitting. Bosses are giant malicious musical notes (well, the final boss is a clef). They slowly bob around the screen, occasionally dumping a group of enemies from their "holes." Said holes must be fired upon, repeatedly, to destroy the evil notes. These battles are long-winded though not especially challenging. Each boss is noticeably easier than the stage that precedes it.

Completing the game unlocks some extra modes. BGM Mode allows one to cruise around within any stage, unencumbered by enemies, with the ability to switch music instruments and special attacks on the fly. Music Maker mode is similar, but also grants the player an additional method to compose their own music. Four measures are granted, with eight eighth (heh) notes allowed per measure. There are four "voices" available, plus percussion, and sixteen sound fonts. Now, this type of stuff...... this stuff is fun! Otocky works so much better as an 8-bit musical composition tool than an experimental shmup.

Undeniably innovative, Otocky feels "ahead of its time" in ways that are both positive and negative. As a rather rare FDS exclusive with no later ports or digital releases, it remains difficult to recommend. In any event, this one's more fun to play around with than it is to play through.

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Raging Loop is a visual novel that was originally released in Japan in 2015 under the title Rei-Jin-G-Lu-P (get it?). Initially exclusive to mobile devices, four years later it arrived in North America via Switch, PlayStation 4, and Steam ports. If you're fortunate enough to own the "Day One Edition" (as I am, on Switch) do not look at the art book until the game has been completed!! You have been warned. Raging Loop was published by PQube (on Switch, that is), written by someone who calls himself Amphibian, and was developed by... Kemco. Yes, that Kemco, of Ghost Lion and SNES Lagoon and one-thousand identical mobile RPGs fame. They're back, baby.

The basic scenario of Raging Loop is heavily inspired by the visual novel legend Higurashi, and is the tale of an outsider arriving at a creepy Japanese hamlet that is somehow exempt from the typical laws of linear time passage. The protagonist is one Haruaki Fusaishi, a graduate student and VN geriatric at the age of twenty-four. Upon leaving Tokyo after a particularly nasty break-up, the young man crashes his motorcycle in a remote mountainous region of Japan. He's rescued by Chiemi Serizawa, a cute and spunky tomboy and possible love interest, who leads him to the remote settlement of Yasumizu, which she inhabits. Haruaki quickly becomes acquainted with the village residents and a few other outsiders. But then, a foreboding mist rolls in and "the feast" begins...
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Raging Loop is essentially a story-heavy adaptation of the party game know as "Werewolf" -- if you're wholly unfamiliar with such things don't worry, as it's fully explained contextually in the game (and in this paragraph!). See, during these "mist" seasons, which occur sporadically across decades, a small group of villagers transform into werewolves each night and slay one sleeping human. The following day, a council is assembled where villagers vote to ascertain the identity of one possible wolf; this individual is subsequently hanged. It's in the humans' best interest to rid themselves of the wolves quickly. And the wolves wish to sow confusion and infighting, pitting human against human, until only wolves remain. Much like the party game, there are some additional "rules" as well, with an unseen village deity acting as moderator. Only one suspected wolf is allowed to be hanged per day. Likewise, the wolves are only permitted to slaughter one human each evening. No "rampages" on either side are permitted. Humans are required to shelter indoors at night and the mist prevents folks from fleeing. Anyone violating the rules is destroyed by the deity in a process known as "corruption." To add further complexity, some other roles lifted straight from the party game are assigned to the non-wolf humans. For instance, the crow is able to identify if one sacrificed individual was a wolf after all, or an innocent human being.

This makes for some great, strategic choice-based gameplay. It's fascinating to see all the countering viewpoints and arguments made at each council, and certain astute players will be able to solve specific mysteries ahead of the protagonist and the game itself. The character roster is fantastic. Haruaki isn't your typical visual novel doofus. He's shrewd and calculating, but also empathetic enough to root for the village's best possible outcome. The "Werewolf" game is heavily complicated by the fact that all villagers have ulterior motives. The elders, for instance, respect the ritual to the point of being self-sacrificial. Blood relatives will try to save each other. Romances are torn apart, and some particularly cold-blooded villagers use the councils as an opportunity to vanquish old rivals. A senile old man and a semi-verbal toddler are allowed to cast votes, much to the chagrin of more lucid individuals. There's plenty of lying, finger-pointing, attempts at cheating, and, of course, inevitable bloodshed. Juxtaposed against the carnage of the feasts, the villagers still have to live their normal day-to-day lives: eating in the mess hall together, socializing with friends, and so on. It makes for a very unnerving experience, where any possible acquaintance could be friend or foe, protector or harbinger of death.

As a choice-based visual novel, there are various "pop-up" menus where the player must pick one of two (or several) options to proceed. This leads to branching pathways and plenty of bad outcomes for Haruaki. But there's a catch: upon dying Haruaki will mysteriously resurrect, memories intact, on that fateful day he decided to take the bike out. Thus, the objective is to lead Haruaki to an eventual, favorable outcome. There are three main big "loops" -- each dedicated to a "feast" and each ending with a credits scroll. There are also a plethora of drive-by bad endings. The bad endings are pretty hilarious. Many are outright "trollish" and lifted right from old Western adventure games: there are literal spike traps and plenty of "oops I shouldn't have done/touched that!" moments.
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Structurally, Raging Loop is absolutely brilliant in its implementation of a chronological flowchart, which allows the player to jump back to any previously-visited scene. The means the entirety of the game can easily be played with a single save file, and the fast-forward function is rarely, if ever, a necessity. There are even hints provided upon death, whereupon a cigarette-smoking sheep (seriously) appears to explicitly tell Haruaki where and when he went wrong (these hints can be skipped if the player wants to self-investigate). "Keys" are obtained periodically, mostly when dying, which represent accrued knowledge. Basically, "keys" are data that Haruaki learns in the present that could be usefully applied in a past situation. As keys are collected, additional pathways on the flowchart are unlocked, and the game continues to unfold to its ultimate conclusion. Don't worry -- keeping track of the keys is easy. There's an inventory menu, and the flowchart spells out both where keys are found and where to use them.

Most seem to agree on the most "controversial" aspect of the game: the ending. While the majority of Raging Loop is a taut thrill ride, things really go off the rails during those final hours. Here the game gets heavy on exposition (and dishes out plenty of the dreaded "info dumping"). The game grants elaborate long-winded backstories to characters who were arguably developed enough already. A bunch of "stuff" happens that's just utterly absurd and unbelievable, even within the context of a werewolf fantasy horror story. It doesn't ruin the experience, far from it, but it's all really, really weird and the tale ends with a fizzle rather than a bang. With that said, those who can't get enough of this plot are in luck, as there's a bunch of additional content. Such content is presented in two forms. First, there are five post-game chapters delving deeper into the lives of specific characters. Second, there's a "Revelation Mode" which essentially a New Game+. Here the player restarts the entire story, but with additional "behind the scenes" content (things that happened outside of Haruaki's viewpoint). All told, it may take upwards of fifty hours to trek through everything, though most player/readers will be content with the main journey.
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In terms of aesthetics, Raging Loop is quite stunning. The character art is excellent, as are all the mysterious creepy backdrops. The event CGs are just incredible and manifest quickly, almost akin to jump scares. It should be noted that Haruaki engages in quite a bit of introspective thinking, whilst staring at a blank wall or otherwise mundane backdrop. It's a little different, to say the least, but doesn't occur often enough to get irritating. Surprisingly, there's very little actual gore in the game. Corpses of specific characters are never displayed, as death is represented by generic images of blood and silhouetted body parts. The soundtrack consists of slow ominous tunes. They're quite contextual, almost to the point of being Pavlovian. Like, once that "Feast Strategies" tune hits you know it's time for slaughter. Kudos to the translator(s?), too. Raging Loop is incredibly text-heavy and dives deep into Japanese religion and myths. There are even characters that speak in a weird feudal dialect. It's a miracle that this ended up in English, and the prose flows beautifully. There are a couple of weird moments of breaking the fourth wall, like in the intro when one of the characters informs the player about how much of the game can be legally streamed online. One wonders how this type of thing will age.

All told, Raging Loop is one of the more interesting visual novels released in recent memory. I'm inclined to rate this one the same way I did Chaos;Child -- with an 8/10, which is meant to be taken quite literally, as 80% of the story is exemplary while the other 20% wavers a bit or is outright questionable. In any event, this is a smooth read, and the ingenious flowchart system makes this one of those rare VNs that's suited for both epic binge sessions and quick little "bus ride" plays. One of Kemco's best!

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Arcade ports. Anyone (well, anyone my age) has been burned by some terrible ones. It's a pain felt by those who purchased Mr. Do's Castle for the Atari 2600. Or Double Dragon for the 7800. And so on. But there are of course some mediocre ports as well, and some good ones. And some so great they overshadow the source material. Contra being the stereotypical example.

Contra on the NES is most certainly the strongest example of a "run and gun" ever conceived, and possibly the best "action" game of any kind, period. Growing up, I had no idea that Contra originated in the arcade, and I still have yet to see a cabinet in person. My first exposure to the arcade game came via official emulation in the form of the Konami Classics Vol. 2 compilation on Xbox 360 (note that the sequel to Contra is part of "Volume 1" -- of course it is). However, the squishy 360 d-pad made it difficult to play; it fares much better on the Switch.

Allow me to be succinct, as this is a game "everyone" has played, plus I've already reviewed the superior NES port. Contra is an action-platformer (or a "run and gun" due to the persistent shooting) where one or two muscled men are tasked with destroying a hostile group of aliens (plus their human and robotic lackeys). Controls are generally smooth, as the protagonist(s) can jump, fire in eight directions, duck, and even fire while ducking. The jumping gets a little janky at times: due to the screen resolution and positioning of platforms it's possible to jump off-screen, and when this happens the gun becomes disabled. It's most common in the first stage, and it initially led me to believe that it was outright impossible to shoot while jumping! Oh, and the jumping animation is also quite ugly. Weapon upgrades are available, with the "spread gun" being the undisputed best of the bunch.
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Compared to the NES game, arcade Contra is very short. Arguably too short. The final three environments are mushed together into one stage, and some iconic NES bosses (like the spaceship and the, uh, big guy who throws things) can be skipped altogether. Despite the length (or lack thereof) there's a wide variety to gameplay. In addition to the traditional horizontally-scrolling segments, there's a vertically-scrolling waterfall stage where the screen bottom represents a bottomless death pit, and two "3D" treks through mechanical bases. The 3D bases have time limits that at first glance appear to be rather strict, though the stages themselves are actually quite tiny. The player is allowed to navigate the hallways of the bases (as opposed to being automatically shifted from one battle screen to the next) and there's even a map display. It's arguably all superfluous, but fun nonetheless.

Aesthetically, this one's much weaker than the NES variant. The musical compositions are quite good, but have a "techno" vibe here, which doesn't suit the game as well as the grittier noises emitted by Nintendo's sound chip. The graphics are decent enough, but have a sterile and washed-out "clean" look, as opposed to the NES where sprites and environments are sharply-drawn and well-defined.

I actually find arcade Contra to be more difficult that the "impossible" NES version. Some of this is general unfamiliarity, surely, but there are additional factors as well. Special weapons are uncommon, and victory over specific bosses feels wholly dependent on spread gun acquisition. Is it possible to defeat to the final boss with just a pea shooter? Yes, but expect to die several times in the process. There are one-hit deaths, of course, and a small number of lives and continues. Yes, continues are limited by default, though this can be changed in the options menu.

All told, this is a pretty sweet slice of retro arcade action. As I may have hinted at two or three or eight-hundred times, it just isn't quite on the same level as the NES game. Still a worthy playthrough, regardless. Just don't expect that Konami Code to work.
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