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Markies
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Re: Games Beaten 2021

by Markies Fri Jan 08, 2021 12:00 pm

REPO Man wrote:That was one of the first games I owned for the original Xbox. I took total advantage of its custom soundtrack option, but other than that I didn't really care for it.


I haven't done that yet. My friend did and it made for some interesting experiences. I have fond memories of playing hockey to "Silly Love Songs" by Paul McCartney and "Back In Time" by Huey Lewis.

prfsnl_gmr wrote:@Markies
I love that you’re always playing the most random games, and your reviews are great. I mean, who was expecting a new Midtown Madness 3 review today?


HAHAHA! :D
Thank You!

I like to do a mixture of classics and random games. Play great games that I didn't play when they came out and games that were overlooked by everybody.
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PartridgeSenpai
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Re: Games Beaten 2021

by PartridgeSenpai Sun Jan 10, 2021 8:19 pm

Partridge Senpai's 2021 Beaten Games:
Previously: 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
* indicates a repeat

1. Atelier Rorona: The Alchemist of Arland (PS3)
2. Portal 2 (PC) *

3. Atelier Judie: The Alchemist of Gramnad (PS2)

After completing Atelier Rorona, I got quite the itch to try out more games in the series, particularly older ones to see how things had changed since then. I was able to find a good few of the older, Japan-exclusive ones for cheap, and picked them up about a week ago. I decided to go with Judie, the 4th game in the series, hoping to get something "retro yet more polished", though I ended up only being partially right in directing my hopes towards Atelier Judie for that ^^;. Some 35~40 hours later (the game doesn't keep track of your play time, weirdly enough for a game this old on a console), I reached its conclusion. I didn't exactly get what I was looking for, but I did ultimately enjoy my time with it despite many bumps along the road.

Atelier Judie is, as is so often the case, the story of an alchemist named Judie (pronounced "yudee", as they're very about German names & pronunciations here). The game opens with her mixing a potion into her cauldron only to accidentally have on of her own hairs fall in. This messes up the delicate mixture and causes an explosion of light that flings her, her house, and her parrot 200 years into the future. She awakens after the explosion in her now ramshackle house in the middle of the wilderness, and a travelling money lender named Wist helps her realize just how far she's accidentally traveled and helps her get to the starting town (after plunging her far into debt, of course). She then embarks on a quest to get back to her own time period.

For 2002, the story is pretty underwhelming. Judie is never given any real stakes to traveling back to her own time. There's no ticking clock, we know nothing other than aesthetic particulars of her connection to the time period she's originally from, and she seems to be getting on just fine in her new time period despite the occasional bout of homesickness. Beyond that, almost all the characters are very flat and unchanging, and their character events end up feeling very incidental and unmemorable. That's not to say that games need to be serious all the time or incidental scenes can't help build character, but character needs some kind of foundation to be built upon, and this game provides next to nothing for any of them to do that. I didn't hate the story or the characters, but with just how surface level everything was, it made it very difficult to really connect with any of them, and the experience was largely unmemorable.

One of the biggest culprit for that lousy story, I believe, is that lack of any ticking clock. As mechanically this is a very bold step forward for the series: this is the first game in the Atelier series to have no ultimate time limit you need to complete your quest within. There are days of the week and the requests you fulfill do have deadlines, the festival in the big town is time sensitive for how often it's held, and perishable ingredients in your inventory will expire after a certain amount of time, but there is otherwise nothing really affected by the time mechanic. Combined with some pretty darn rough signposting at times (I had to use a guide for most of the narrative after about the halfway point), this makes the pacing of the narrative very ponderous by nature, and doesn't help the already weak building blocks that are there to begin with.

The combat is something I found simultaneously very cool yet very disappointing. Like in most Atelier games, you have 3 bars dictating your abilities: HP (health), MP (used for casting spells), and LP (used for physical, non-magic abilities). The thing is, however, is that unlike most games in the series, ALL three of those are vitality. Run out of HP? You're dead. Run out of MP? You're dead. Run out of LP? You're dead. Though still limited to 3-person parties (which is seemingly the one constant of this entire series), this ability to focus down a monster's weakest point total adds some really cool elements to the tactics you can bring to combat. This is even cooler by the fact that there are some enemies that simply don't have one of those point totals at all, so they're simply immune to damage from it. Ghosts, for example, have only MP, so only MP-damaging attacks can kill them. This is made even COOLER by how you can get a ghost in your party who ALSO has that same lack of HP or LP (and she's easily one of the most powerful characters in the game in most circumstances).

However, that cool combat system is hampered by a weirdly hamstrung crafting system. Now, this is a bit more simple than later games in many ways by nature of how new it is in the series. For example, there are so few actual items you can even craft that there are no tabs for different kinds of items. It's just one big list when you open up the alchemy menu. But this has to be one of (if not the only) Atelier game where you can craft ingots but NOT your own weapons and armor (unless that feature is just super super well hidden). Ingots and such can have stats effects on them, which implies armor crafting, but nowhere could I find the ability to do that (even after looking online a bit). This means you're entirely at the mercy of the weapons merchants and the very very rare enemy weapon drops (which can be sped up a bit if you steal from them a lot, but that requires one of your party members ALWAYS being a rogue). There are some other elements to the crafting that are kinda neat, like needing to buy tools to help certain recipes that need them have higher chances of success, but that one major gap in your ability to augment your arsenal really makes the few boss battles the game has very frustrating. I mean, sure, you DO have infinite time to grind up levels, but that's not exactly what I expect in an RPG whose main draw is the crafting system. The game even has a second ending locked behind a very long, difficult post-game dungeon, but I had no interest in even trying it when my ability to augment my party's power level was limited almost entirely to just more grinding.

There are honestly a lot of elements in the game that feel awkward and meaningless in that way. It gives the game a quality of feeling unfinished (which it likely is, given that this series has has annual releases almost every time since its inception with very few exceptions). Items not only expire in your inventory, but in your container too. I'm willing to give the series the benefit of the doubt for now (as in later games your container freezes the quality of items so they don't degrade), but in a game with no time limit dictating your playtime, this only serves to annoy the player and waste their time. The game takes place in the kingdom of Gramnad, and you constantly go from town to town to do requests and events, but you can only have your atelier in one place. Why do you have to keep uprooting your atelier (which involves selling most of your container's goods) instead of just buying out every upstairs room in every inn in the kingdom? No reason. Just another way the game seems to like to use a neat idea to waste your time for no reason. And that's outside of weird things like not even being able to craft your own equipment, alchemy levels being annoyingly grindy to raise, and the constant difficulty in making quality (always perishable) healing items and bombs yourself instead of buying them from merchants. The Atelier series is always an experimental one, but this game clearly needed more time to figure out what its underlying mechanics were actually there to do rather than just being there to be there.

The presentation is largely good but with some odd blind spots here and there. For a game from 2002, I was surprised at just how well this plays nice with the PS2's 480i option via component hookups. It makes everything look SO much criper, and the hand-drawn character portraits and pixel art for the in-game models look really nice. While I do like the monster designs (and the fairy NPCs are ADORABLE), I'm overall not a huge fan of the art style. So far as I can tell, this is the last game in the series to use a much more 90's-style for its anime character designs, but I just didn't really care for the art in the game. That said, the character expressions and art are done very well, regardless of my personal preference. The music is on the whole fine. Nothing was particularly ear catching despite some of the boss themes, but it was cool to hear musical motifs that reminded me of the PS3 games present in so early an entry in the series. As a fun bonus, even so back as this game (and I assume even earlier), beating the game unlocks a jukebox, art gallery (of event stills you've viewed already), and even little commentaries from the voice actors (as this game is all very well voice acted. There's actually virtually no unvoiced character dialogue in the game, even from minor NPCs, which was cool). It was really fun to see even stuff like that present in such an early entry in the series.

Verdict: Hesitantly Recommended. Despite how much I rag on the game and call it unfinished and unfocused, I DID still enjoy my time with it and found it compelling enough to blaze through the thing in five days. With how easily this game was a time vampire for me, it's clearly still doing something right despite all its foibles. As far as Japan-exclusive RPGs go, I'm not sure the West was really missing anything by not getting this one, but while I do find this game hard to recommend, I wouldn't actively dissuade anyone from trying it out if they were looking at it as a historical curiosity for the Atelier series like I was.
Last edited by PartridgeSenpai on Mon Jan 18, 2021 5:05 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Games Beaten 2021

by ElkinFencer10 Mon Jan 11, 2021 12:10 am

Games Beaten in 2021 - 6
* denotes a replay

January (6 Games Beaten)
1. God of War - PlayStation 3 - January 1
2. God of War II - PlayStation 3 - January 2
3. God of War: Chains of Olympus - PlayStation 3 - January 3
4. God of War: Ghost of Sparta - PlayStation 3 - January 4
5. God of War III - PlayStation 4 - January 6
6. God of War: Ascension - PlayStation 3 - January 9


6. God of War: Ascension - PlayStation 3 - January 9

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I'm gonna be upfront here; God of War: Ascension is the point where the series gets stale. After playing this, I understand why they changed the formula so much for God of War 2018. That's not to say that Ascension is bad by any means because it's not. It just feels very rote. I don't know what the actual budgets for each game were, but Ascension feels like a much lower budget game than 3 or even 2 when you take into account the different generations. It's not bad, but it does feel like they're following a blueprint rather than making art. God of War III was Sunkist, and Ascension is Omazing Orange. God of War III was the Wii, and Ascension is Kinect. God of War III is Sonic the Hedgehog, and Ascension is Awesome Possum. Okay, that last one might have been a bit harsh, but you get my point.

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Despite being the second most recently released game, this feels like it should be the third game in the series, not the sixth. The combat is super repetitive in every game, but it *feels* more repetitive here than it has since the first game. Part of the issue, I think, is the weapons. Normally, you get at least a couple of different sub-weapons you can switch two, but here, they're "magic" enhancements. So you can fiery chain blades, or ice chain blades, or electric chain blades, but everything you unlock is a chain blade. You can pick up dropped weapons from enemies like a sword, or a shield, or a sledgehammer, etc., but those are items you pick up, and you can only hold one at a time. They can't be upgraded, they don't get special combos or magic attacks, they're temporary, and their use is frankly kind of limited.

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The puzzles were fine. The level design was fine. The story was fine. But that's the problem; it was all fine. Nothing stood out as a major improvement. It was the first game in the storyline chronologically, so there weren't any huge plot twists or character revelations. The interactions between Kratos and Orkos were nice, and I legitimately enjoyed Orkos as a character - his role in the end scene was actually one of the best scenes in the Greek saga - but other than that, everything about it was painfully average. Ascension just didn't really stand out. Pretty much everyone told me going into this game not to expect anything amazing and I see why. The relics you find and their abilities were kind of cool, but as far as gameplay goes, that's about all that stood out, and even there, only two of the three were all that cool. One let you manipulate time to repair or decay parts of the environment, and one let you create a shadow clone. Those two played a huge role in puzzles, and that was a fun added element. The third one just dispelled magic barriers, and it honestly wasn't used a whole lot.

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God of War: Ascension is fine. It really is. It's just not great. It's like Chibi-Robo: Zip Lash or Kirby: Planet Robobot; it's painfully okay. It's extraordinarily ordinary. It's stands out only in how little it stands out. It tells you how Kratos began his journey to defeat Ares, but other than that, it doesn't really add anything meaningful to the lore or the story. I can see why a few of my friends forgot this one existed when I mentioned playing the series; it really doesn't do anything memorable. You'll play it, you'll be entertained enough to justify the ten hours you'll probably spend on it, and then you'll put it on a shelf to collect dust and never give it a second thought. That's a shame, too, because even the two PS2 games in the series that failed to really impress me in a major way were at least memorable. This one just fails to make a meaningful impact in any way.
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Re: Games Beaten 2021

by BoneSnapDeez Mon Jan 11, 2021 4:18 pm

I've never even heard of that game. I thought the series went from part III to the Norse game.
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Re: Games Beaten 2021

by ElkinFencer10 Mon Jan 11, 2021 4:36 pm

BoneSnapDeez wrote:I've never even heard of that game. I thought the series went from part III to the Norse game.

Nope, God of War III came on PS3 in March, 2010; Ascension came out on PS3 in March, 2013; and the Norse one came out on PS4 in April, 2018.
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Re: Games Beaten 2021

by Ack Mon Jan 11, 2021 7:02 pm

1. Frog Detective 2: The Case of the Invisible Wizard (PC)(Adventure)
2. Revulsion (PC)(FPS)

Revulsion is a neat idea for an FPS that was made by a single developer. It has interesting and ambitious ideas, but it is also rough around the edges. I like some of what it does a lot, and there are some things it does that I don't care for. But it didn't cost me much, and if it grabs you, there is a LOT of possible content here, so you get well more than your money's worth.

Of course, we should probably start at the beginning. First, you must pick a class; do you favor speed, armor, moderation, etc.? From there, you start the game proper, shooting blocky zombies in a Minecraft-inspired dungeon, until eventually you discover safety and the great machine: the Fabricator. Yes, Revulsion is a game about shooting blocky enemies and making guns and armor. As you play, you'll find blueprints to build more gear, and as you level up killing enemies and completing sets of levels, you'll gain access to greater, more powerful items...while also steadily losing power. This is one of those rough edges I talked about. To keep some kind of "balance" going, your current gear gets weaker every time you level, so you are in a constant state of trying to upgrade your gear again. Hold on to a weapon long enough, and eventually it will do 0 damage, not because the enemies are that tough, but because you got better.

There are also a lot of types of gear, and while initially you don't have too many options for each slot, progression will open up options. For example, my "grenade" slot can be used to equip a flamethrower, a throwable grenade, or for a grenade launcher. The "shotgun" slot is used for pump shotguns and double barrels as well as crossbows. And as you go, stranger options become available like the Icelance, a shotgun that shoots ice shards, or the Hell Shotgun, which shoots fire. Now one nice thing about building this gear is that whatever you make in the Fabricator is always your current level, and once you have a blueprint, you have it for life. You can also upgrade your armor into various types, so if you want to focus more on damage dealing, accuracy, or even higher defense at the expense of movement speed, you can.

Now, why include six different weapon slots? Because the enemies have a lot of variations! They seem to come in two flavors: zombies and demons. But from there, they further break down into multiple types, such as zombie minigunner or zombie soldier. While zombies tend to take more damage from fire-based weapons and demons take more from lightning, this isn't always the case; an individual monster could also be resistant to a particular damage type or have a heavy set of armor that acts as an additional health bar. Or sometimes they'll have a massive amount of health and be a higher level, so you have to put a lot of rounds into them to drop them. And by the time you run through the initial sets of levels on Normal difficulty, you'll probably be around level 30 and still won't have seen them all.

Progressing between the level sets can also be tough, as sometimes they feature a jump in enemy levels that you're unlikely to match, especially right off the bat. For the first set of stages, you'll probably get through with your character level around 5 or 6...and the next set starts off with monsters at level 10. But never fear, there are alternate game modes to try out, such as an endless dungeon mode where you can farm credits and gear while shooting your foes in the face, as well as an "Open World" setting, which features the stages all mashed together into a much bigger area to explore. Also, when you beat the four initial sets of stages, you can go back through on higher difficulties, until you eventually reach level 100...and then you can do a sort of New Game Plus that goes even higher for the monsters. Like I said, if this game clicks, great, because you have a LOT of content options.

Unfortunately, it does get a little samey. While there are randomized elements to the levels, if you die, you replay, and you'll see certain room designs repeated a lot. Worse are the limited enemy types, so while you'll encounter harder types earlier on runs, once you've beaten the game on Normal, you'll have seen most of what it can throw at you. Keep going, and, well, it's just tougher hides on the same critters. Also, you can find exit points in levels to go back to your sanctuary and the Fabricator, but doing so respawns all of the monsters in that particular level, and if you want to go do a different type like the Endless Dungeon run, you have to quit out of the whole set and start it over again later to proceed. There were apparently some balance issues with the Open World set too where you could access the New Game Plus setting way earlier and end up in an unwinnable state of enemies 70 levels higher than you...but the dev is aware of all this and active on the Steam forums, so if you have something to say, someone is listening. It's something small but appreciated to know when an independent developer wants to hear the thoughts of players and implements ideas passed along.

As for me, I'm good. Having gone through the game, tried the various modes, explored my gear options, and had fun finding secrets and blueprints, I've done what I set out to do with the game. If you want something that you can enjoy for a long time, either in small bits or in a massive chunk, you could do far worse.
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Re: Games Beaten 2021

by MrPopo Tue Jan 12, 2021 2:41 am

Previous Years: 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020

1. EYE: Divine Cybermancy - PC
2. Legend of Grimrock - PC
3. Legend of Grimrock 2 - PC

After the first game did so well a sequel was inevitable. Grimrock 2 expands on the first and cleans up some complaints, but at the same time I think it ends up overreaching a bit and as a net ends up being about as much fun as the original. The changes I liked ended up being canceled out by the changes I didn't, and in the end it's still fun.

The setup for the second game is you wash up on a mysterious island, and there's notes left by the "Island Master" telling you to navigate the tricks and traps. Having literally nothing better to do you proceed in some grid based real time combat and puzzle solving. Unlike the first game you aren't in a single multi-level dungeon. Instead, like Lands of Lore, you have a more sprawling world with dungeons underneath. In general the dungeons under the main area will have one main level and a sublevel for when you go through pits.

This leads to the first thing that annoyed me; the large number of tilesets means you have to relearn every dungeon what buttons, switches, and hidden buttons look like. Many times when I got stuck it was because I didn't notice a regular button in the geometry. The game also features the ability of a given floor to have multiple levels; you traverse up and down with ladders or just falling. This lets them do some more interesting things with creating chokepoints and navigating around enemies, but at the same time it also lets them do room over room stuff which creates more confusing maps. They also now support water, which is mostly frustrating. You have limited air and can only attack with a couple of weapons which can be hard to find. And visibility is down, which isn't good when you have to find switches or items while a timer is ticking. They could have ditched the water entirely at no real loss.

The puzzles are mostly solid, though now there's a lot of the note to solve a puzzle is on a completely different map going on. This forces you to traverse a lot of terrain, and there isn't a good fast travel system. One exists, but I have no idea how they decided on the termini they used. It really doesn't help. So be prepared for a lot of backtracking. Which goes from annoying to really annoying with the handful of respawns the game has. Said respawns are always incredibly annoying enemies at extremely inconvenient times.

Which leads to the final complaint before I finish with some positive stuff. The new enemies added (on top of the mostly returning cast) are all obnoxious. Most of the added enemies can do a fast turn sideswipe, so the combat dance loses a lot of effectiveness. But they didn't change how deadly combat is, so you're sort of in a rock and a hard place here. One particularly egregious enemy is only vulnerable to a single spell and a single weapon. Fortunately it doesn't show up much and can mostly be avoided, but still. Comon guys.

The biggest area of improvement is in the characters. Rather than the simple three classes we now have eight, with more differentiation. Each class has a particular bonus, such as barbarians getting a point of strength every level, or alchemists regularly creating duplicates of your herbs. But the other neat part is all the skills are now available to everyone. Instead of you getting several skill points per level and a given skill having breakpoints that give you a benefit, now you get one skill point and skills go up to five. Each level has a tangible benefit (e.g. armor gives +20% to your protection score per point) and then breakpoints exist for additional benefits (e.g. light/heavy armor can be worn with no evasion penalty at 2/4). Anyone can use magic, but only the caster classes can use it with their bare hands (other classes need a wand/rod). So you're free to really customize your party. They even let you melee attack from the back row with two points in accuracy. This gives you a ton more freedom in party building.

Overall, I think the game ends up being one step forward, one step back. And given the history of the genre of every series having two good games and if a third exists it's a letdown I'm not surprised they didn't make a third game. It's a hard genre to iterate on without ruining it, like over seasoning a broth.
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Re: Games Beaten 2021

by Gunstar Green Tue Jan 12, 2021 12:29 pm

So now that I've acquired a Nintendo Switch I can take a look at some of these first party titles, starting with:

The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening

I'm not the biggest Zelda fan though I've enjoyed most of the 2D games. Link's Awakening, the original game on the Game Boy is what I'd consider "My Zelda." It's the Zelda game I predominantly grew up with and the one I have the fondest memories of. When the remake was announced I knew it would be on the top of my list when I finally got around to getting a Switch.

First off, the graphics are beautiful. The toy-like diorama style is easily my favorite cartoony Zelda style to date. I was never a big fan of the Windwaker look (though I didn't hate it either) and this style more accurately reflects what those older games were in my mind's eye. They did an excellent job of making things look sort of plasticy without making the graphics look cheap and dated which is a pretty impressive feat.

This may have come at a cost though as performance is easily the worst part of this package. The dungeons run fine but the overworld occasionally slows down dramatically. Though it's never below a playable framerate I'd be lying if I said it wasn't distracting and didn't detract from the experience.

Despite this the game itself still shines. There are many obvious quality of life improvements like mapping items to the Switch's additional buttons, more quick travel points and of course an in-game map and a tool that helps you locate the (still sort of annoying) secret seashells needed for your sword upgrade. The gameplay has also been improved with 8-directional attacking.

At its core it's still Link's Awakening, for better or worse, though I never found myself getting stuck on anything for very long despite having not played the original game in over two decades there were a few moments that could have been clearer.

I did perhaps find myself a little spoiled after A Link Between Worlds, a game that sort of remade, but not really remade the SNES classic, A Link to the Past. Even though I know the goal of this game was to be a straight remake I did find myself wishing for more newness at times. The biggest new things that it offers is its dungeon creator, but it's not very robust or interesting and I ended up completely ignoring it for the most part. Even though it offered rewards like pieces of heart and secret seashells it felt too much like padding for me to bother with. It would be cool if Nintendo had a "Zelda Maker" in the works but this game's dungeon creator simply does not cut the mustard.

Overall I would definitely call this the definitive version of Link's Awakening despite the performance hitches, and really that's what a good remake should be. It delivered all of its nostalgia and all of the things I liked about the original in an absolutely beautiful fresh coat of paint. I can definitely see myself revisiting it on the more difficult setting in the future.

Speaking of Zelda Maker...

Mario Maker 2 (Story Mode)

There's not much to say about this. The story mode does a solid job of introducing the player to different types of levels and gimmicks to inspire their own course building. It's longer than I thought it would be (though still relatively short) and accommodates all skill levels by letting you choose between difficult or easy courses or even letting the game beat courses for you if you simply can't master their challenges. Honestly it's a decent little Mario game with lots of well designed levels even if taken separate from the rest of the MM2 package. It definitely got me thinking about the kinds of things I could do with the builder myself and that was exactly its point. Thumbs up.

I wasn't around for the original Mario Maker, so it was my first time playing with the level builder and Nintendo did a good job of creating something really delightful. I only put together a very basic Mario 3 level so far but the cutesy UI made building just as fun as playing if not more-so. I mainly got this game to mess around with other people's memey creations but I was surprised at how much enjoyment I got out of building my own level.
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Re: Games Beaten 2021

by PretentiousHipster Tue Jan 12, 2021 12:34 pm

Link's Awakening was awesome in the game boy and game boy colour, but the remake is what made it shine. It keeps the same awesome gameplay, but the graphics is what makes this entry shine. I've always considered the game to be the best in a sense of showing the sense of wonder that a child might have. Considering the twist, it seemed like the most child-like entry in the first hand. The graphics are child-like as well, which helps emphasize that sense of wonder and child-like imagination.

Only flaw of the graphics is that you notice how small the world really is when walking through it. Somehow the screen transition method of the game boy versions made the world seem larger. Weird how that works.
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Re: Games Beaten 2021

by ElkinFencer10 Tue Jan 12, 2021 5:11 pm

prfsnl_gmr wrote:@Elkin
Are you planning on playing GoW: Betrayal? If so, would you let me know how you get it running?.

I hadn't planned to since I wasn't sure if I could get it running, but I did some more Googling, and while it's not perfect, I've got it running pretty well on an Android Java emulator on my phone. Found this on Reddit.

Download J2ME Loader on play store

Download the game on Phoneky (Google)

Put the archive to run on J2ME Loader

Sometimes, you have to configure the game for it to look good on the phone, didn't have to do it on Assassin's Creed II, but had to on GOW: Betrayal
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