Games Beaten 2023

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prfsnl_gmr
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Re: Games Beaten 2023

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Markies wrote:I would say it's at least a play through as it only took me a few times. Play it once and then go back to Castle of Illusion. :D


Better idea…play the absolutely stellar Game Gear/Sega Master System games instead. They are so much better than Castle of Illusion.
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Ack
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Re: Games Beaten 2023

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1. Northern Journey (PC)(FPS)
2. Hatchpunk (PC)(FPS)
3. Might and Magic IX (PC)(RPG)
4. Star Wars: Empire at War (PC)(RTS)
5. Chasm: The Rift (PC)(FPS)
6. Real Heroes: Firefighter HD (PC)(FPS)
7. CULTIC (PC)(FPS)
8. Consortium (PC)(FPS)

9. Brothers in Arms: Road to Hill 30 (PC)(FPS)
10. Forgive Me, Father (PC)(FPS)


Some things never change. I continue to play FPS.

Brothers in Arms: Road to Hill 30

The first Brothers in Arms game released in 2005, right in the midst of a glut of FPS games based around World War II. Medal of Honor, Call of Duty, Wolfenstein, and Battlefield 1942 were the big names, and by this point many had multiple releases or expansions in their series under their belt. And that's not counting the lesser knowns, like Mortyr or World War II GI. So how did Brothers in Arms: Road to Hill 30 stand out from the pack?

It went tactical.

Road to Hill 30 incorporated squad mechanics based on US military doctrine during the second World War. You play a sergeant who must lead troops into battle, sometimes as part of a combined arms strategy. To take down enemy forces, you send your squads into cover, have them suppress the enemy, and then outflank them with another squad. If the enemy is looking weak, you can also send a squad in to assault the position directly, though this has inherent dangers unless the enemy is severely depleted and suppressed. Conversely, you may have access to friendly tanks, so you can use these as mobile cover, a means to hit entrenched forces such as a machinegun emplacement, or a simple distraction while you hit from another angle.

Of course, you're in combat, so realistically you'd be under the effects of adrenaline, fear, and combat conditioning. The developers though it best to represent this with a shaky and inaccurate aim. Even looking through iron sights, your weapon will swing, and if you're under fire, you're hardly able to keep track of your foes. That said, you can and will learn to compensate. I found I was so often the best shot of my team that I'd direct my squads to suppress while I assaulted positions on my own. Yeah, the AI'd yell at me, but with the Germans dead and us moving forward, who cares what the AI thinks?

There are problems with this approach, however. A few levels have infinite enemies which continuously respawn, so you have to figure out the best way to maneuver through the "right" path until you find how the game wants you to proceed, particularly if the game has machinegunner emplacements, which simply autokill you if you get too close. Also, there are some surprising tools lacking, like the ability to go prone and crawl or fully run. You're limited to standing and crouching, and you can't book it, so you always need to find the best way to utilize geometry for blocking enemy fire. Also, zig zagging really does help save your butt when out in the open.

The AI for your squad is also limited, so if you tell them to shoot at a target, they won't always be able to figure out how to do it. I recall one action where I needed them to provide covering fire against an entrenched position, only for them to yell that they couldn't see the target, despite all they needed to do was move two feet up a shallow slope to a wall to have a covered position from which they could shoot. The solution? Literally tell them to move up the slope to the wall by clicking right next to them. In fairness, at the time of release, the AI was considered quite good. It's only with time and further development in AI squad mates and tactical FPS that the problems become apparent.

You may find while playing that level design eventually feels samey, and well...it is because it was. One of the major perks to Road to Hill 30 is that developer Gearbox spent a lot of time visiting, mapping, photographing, and relying on historical photographs, blueprints, and maps to give as realistic a layout as possible. You see the same fences and building designs because those were common architectural designs in the relatively small portion of France you are battling in. Reviewing how much the developers were dedicated to providing a more historical approach to the game, my sense of respect grew for Road to Hill 30. Yes, it's paratroopers in the same D-Day operations you'll have played through if you touched Medal of Honor, Call of Duty, etc. But it is portrayed with a historical accuracy that was highly prized in 2005, particularly in a genre that was so heavily saturated.

As a result, I would highly recommend Brothers in Arms: Road to Hill 30 to anyone interested in WWII or Tactical FPS games. In fact, I kind of wish this was a co-op experience, so a group of us could play together. It's a shame the series didn't add that until later, and then only for two players apparently.


Forgive Me, Father

This is an example of a game I want to like a lot more than I do. In fact, there is a lot about it that I genuinely do like: it's beautiful to look at, the sound design and music works well, enemy designs are creative and have some tricks I absolutely adore, and many of the levels are genuinely interesting. But it doesn't last. There are balancing issues between the two playable characters, the upgrade tree is heavily lopsided in favor of certain weapons, and enemy projectile fire is a frustrating conundrum. Eventually the game relies on poor platforming segments, and level design falls into a slow slog of frustration.

The game ties into the Lovecraft mythos, with you playing either a priest or a journalist who returns home to discover a crazy cult and horrible monsters have taken over. As you take down monsters, you gain experience, which can be put towards radically changing and evolving your arsenal, building your character's stats, or making your special abilities more powerful. Unfortunately, the priest is flat out the better of the two characters because his special abilities are significantly better. He can become invulnerable, heal, gain infinite ammo for a short while, and stun a crowd. The journalist has a time slow ability as well as an AOE attack, but her corresponding stun is limited in its area (albeit limited in other ways), and her other ability requires she enter melee, which is a poor choice because you're gonna be taking hits. The one place she excels is in a better light source, but that's only useful for exploration at certain times. Also, her dialogue is often out of place. She uses slang that's way too modern for the 1920s, and I found it distracting.

Since both characters use the same weapons, it's worth noting that there are a lot of options, and with the upgrades, you can further change some in radical ways. For instance, you could make the tommy gun into a beam cannon...which you should absolutely do, as all auto and multi-burst weapons have horrendous recoil that make them largely useless in comparison to your pistol, shotgun, and harpoon gun. Even the secret Tormentor superweapon has such terrible kick, it's only worth grabbing to conserve ammunition. Because the game throws hordes at you, so you're going to need to conserve ammunition.

Level design starts solid but wears down over time. My absolute favorite levels are countryside settings that appear at the start of Act 3 and feel like some of the greatest moments of games like Dusk and Cultic, but they soon devolve into sewer levels and mines, and these seem to go on forever. By the time you reach Act 5, they're temples in a void of time and space, and they just start feeling samey and full of backtracking. I would much have preferred to be back battling in the streets, cemeteries, or in a cornfield again.

There is a lot of brilliance to the game though. For example, the most basic and common enemy in Act 1 is a zombie who sometimes holds a severed head. Blast off their heads, and they put the severed ones on their necks and just keep coming. It's an inspired design to keep you on your toes for what is a trash mob, and I loved it. Many of the enemies are memorable, though eventually the game just throws speed at you or random spreads on attacks, once again showing that the final act feels tacked on.

I struggle to recommend this game, because as much as I find to enjoy about it, I find something that equally frustrates me. But I don't despair of having gotten the experience. The highs are really high. I just wish the lows weren't so bad.
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Re: Games Beaten 2023

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prfsnl_gmr wrote:
Markies wrote:I would say it's at least a play through as it only took me a few times. Play it once and then go back to Castle of Illusion. :D


Better idea…play the absolutely stellar Game Gear/Sega Master System games instead. They are so much better than Castle of Illusion.

I'm still waiting for your response from last year!
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Note
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Re: Games Beaten 2023

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o.pwuaioc wrote:The theme song on this is leaps and bounds beyond the first game, but otherwise I do prefer the first game. Both are great games though.

The third game never hit like these two did, but I know it has its defenders.

Still, given the chance, I'd go back to the first one again and again. It's just that good, even without the title theme.


Yeah, I totally agree, both games are great and the theme song for DKC2 is awesome. I also have a slight preference for the first game, but it's mostly based upon the fact I grew up playing it a lot over the years.

I owned the third game back when released and still have it, but I didn't put the proper time into it. I'll probably give it a shot either later this year or next.
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Re: Games Beaten 2023

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Previous Years: 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022

1. Void Destroyer - PC
2. Ender Lilies: Quietus of the Knights - Switch
3. Raging Blasters - Switch
4. Citizen Sleeper - Switch
5. GetsuFumaDen: Undying Moon
6. Hands of Necromancy - PC
7. Project Downfall - PC
8. Chasm: The Rift - PC
9. Cultic - PC
10. Kirby Super Star - SNES
11. Kirby's Dream Land 2 - GB
12. Kirby's Dream Land 3 - SNES
13. Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards - N64
14. Fire Emblem Engage - Switch

Fire Emblem Engage is the second Fire Emblem mainline game to hit the Switch, which makes it the first time since the SNES that we've had multiple Fire Emblem games on a single console. It serves as a celebration of the series, with loads of callbacks and references to what's come before. But it doesn't just rest on those laurels; it does some unique things of its own that I think actually move some of the strategy in a better direction and I hope we get to see again.

The setup is your classic "1000 years ago the evil dragon was defeated but now he's back" that they've done multiple times before. This time, however, the twist is that you fought in that war, went to sleep, and are back as well. However, you have amnesia, so some of the details won't be revealed until a dramatically appropriate moment. You need to collect the 12 Emblem Rings so that you can stop the resurrected dragon.

And these Emblem Rings are both the major part of the celebration as well as one of the new features. Each ring holds the spirit of a prominent hero from each preceding game (Fire Emblem 3 doesn't get one, since it's effectively an expansion pack to 1). When equipped to a unit you gain some passive stat boosts and some passive skills that are representative of the character. And then mid-battle you can activate them, which is a fusion dance between you and the spirit that unlocks more passives and gives you access to their weapons (regardless of your own class proficiency) and a once-per-battle special attack. This fused state lasts a limited amount of time and must be recharged afterwards through combat or consuming a special resource on certain tiles. Fighting while equipped with a ring will increase your bond with the spirit, unlocking better stat bonuses and more and better versions of the passives. And midway through the game you get access to a special trial, where you do a map from an old Fire Emblem game that is significant to the spirit in order to unlock more levels for them. You'll get a quick story about the map and get to experience things all over again. The devs liked to throw in a bunch of callbacks to the original maps, such as special units or triggers that long time fans will remember.

The other major change is to the weapon triangle. I think they finally hit a balance of making it advantageous but not utterly overwhelming. When a unit attacks a unit it has advantage over it doesn't get any stat boosts. Instead, when you strike with your weapon you knock the enemy weapon out of their hand, putting them in a break state. This prevents them from counterattacking during your attack and during the next attack. This allows you to strategically reduce an enemy's effectiveness before sending in a risky attack. This also means that the weapons end up much closer in performance to each other; you still have the swords are fast and weak vs axes being slow and damaging, but you no longer have a major amplification of this effect (or effective elimination in the games that gave damage bonuses to swords on having the advantage). There is one unit that gets to avoid this; the General's armored status means they cannot be broken, which really makes them valuable for eating hits on enemy turns. I really hope they continue with this system going forward.

The game has a similar sort of post-battle rest area that Three Houses had, with similar limitations on certain activities. But because it recharges after every fight (including infinite spawning skirmishes) you don't have the same feel; they kind of pared things back since they knew you can do everything as much as you want if you're willing to spend the time. It took me to about 2/3 of the way through to realize that many of the activities weren't worth engaging in anymore and had become busywork, so don't feel compelled to exhaust it every time.

Overall it is another great entry into the series. It pulls back on the visual novel aspects that were in Three Houses in favor of just having the ability to do classic-style supports outside of combat (but the bulk of gain is still in combat; just a handful of ways to help in between battles). So it's a bit more of a pure experience for a modern title. I doubt we'll ever see the old school "just the battles and dialog boxes in between" ever again, barring maybe a remake of an old title. If you're a fan of SRPGs you should definitely grab this.
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PartridgeSenpai
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Re: Games Beaten 2023

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Partridge Senpai's 2021 Beaten Games:
Previously: 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
* indicates a repeat

1. Super Hero Operations (PS1)
2. Lil' Gator Game (PC)
3. Disco Elysium: The Final Cut (PC)

4. Dragon Quest VII (PS1)

After playing through Super Hero Operations, I managed to lose the Super Robot Wars bug (for now ;b) and re-catch the JRPG bug I had a year or two before that. Some other friends of mine across various friend groups also happened to be playing a fair bit of Dragon Quest around that time, so I thought what better time to finally get into the copy of DQ7 I bought last year. I played the Japanese version of the game on original hardware, and it took me around 105 hours.

The story of DQ7 puts you in the shoes of Hero (the main character whom you name), who in this game is the son of a fisherman on the one island in the whole world. You live in this tiny village with your family and play with your friends Maribel (the mayor’s daughter) and Kiefer (the prince of the nearby kingdom) and dream of adventuring one day. Your dreams are suddenly realized one day when a mysterious stone your good for nothing uncle finds leads you to the forbidden ancient ruins in the mountains north of town, where you’re flung back in time to a far off island to help save it (and eventually many others) from being sealed away by some strange dark force!

DQ7’s narrative is a very strange one among both JRPGs and DQ games I’ve played. Though it has named characters, such as Maribel and Keifer and a few others, instead of creating your own blank-slate party members as DQ3 and 9 do, they have very minor roles in the story compared to DQs 4-6 before or DQ8 after. Most of the narrative’s MASSIVE amount of text is taken up by the minor characters on the islands you’re visiting and saving. On each island, you’ll play through a little adventure to free that land from the darkness and allow that island to reappear in the normal world. You’re not only going into the little sealed worlds of these islands, but significantly back in time as well, and they get to have all their history play out by the time they appear in the real world again. Visiting these lands both in their far flung pasts of peril and in the safe present when your deeds are distant enough to have become legend is a really neat story conceit, but most of these stories (though not all) are more or less self-contained from one another.

The game has a vibe something like a playable shonen anime as a result, with each island being like a mini story-arc making up the larger story of the “series” that is this game. It makes it feel like more of an adventure for the sake of it than most other DQ games which usually have clearer stakes, but there are certainly larger things afoot beyond mere island saving. These stories really range a lot in tone as well, with some being more lighthearted and silly with others being quite emotionally affecting and some being truly harrowing. It gives a wide spread of stories to interact with, and they’re all so different from one another that I never felt bored going to a new island. It was always an exciting experience to see just what thing lay around the next portal~. There are just about 20 of these island to go through, and between that and mechanical things we’ll get to later, that’s where you’ll find principle blame for the game’s significant length. I ultimately quite liked the story, even though it’s pretty light on themes at the end of the day, but the sheer length and at time directionless-seeming nature of the story is definitely going to turn some people off, or at least be a significant obstacle in them sticking with DQ7 long enough to finish it.

Mechanically, this is very much a successor to DQ6 and how it handles its systems. At the base line, it’s very much Dragon Quest as you’ve always known it. First-person turn-based battles, you can control party members either directly or with pre-set general behaviors, you can cast spells: a very typical JRPG as DQ so loves to be. The monster recruiting from DQ5 is more or less gone, and instead (around a 30 hours into the game) you unlock a job system very much like DQ6’s job system.

The big caveat here is that unlike DQ6, the jobs here matter a LOT and affect your stats a TON. Being a bad or inconvenient class can really be a pain to play as, but you’ll need to play those classes a lot if you want to get past the weaker jobs and unlock the several tiers of prestige jobs in this game’s job tree. Once you get a skill (be it a spell or other special skill), you keep it forever in a continuously growing pile, and some jobs also have passives associated with them in general and most of them have a bonus for mastering the job. But when you master a job, you’re unlikely to stay as it for long if you can help it, as you need to get to your next job and start mastering that ASAP, because these things take a LONG time to master.

The base level jobs (of which there are about ten and you’ll likely be mastering three to five of them) all take from 130 to 180 battles to master, with the intermediate and expert jobs taking from 200 to 240 battles to master. Top this off with EXP and money being very slow to earn as well, and you have the recipe for a game with a LOT of grinding, and that’s not even factoring in the Monster Job system which is like the normal job system but with piles more stuff to grind through. I kept track, and about 20 hours of the 105 of my playtime were just grinding through the game’s job system stuff, and I never even touched the monster job system. The sheer amount of endless grinding in this game is easily one of the biggest factors that would make me hesitate recommending this game to anyone not already very familiar and comfortable with retro RPGs (and especially retro DQ), as that level of endless grinding is sure to turn of players with more modern sensibilities towards such things.

Speaking of putting lots of time into things, the signposting is another big sticking point for me with this one. I did my absolute best to play through this game never using a walkthrough. I used a guide for the jobs, but only a walkthrough near the very end when I was just so stuck I couldn’t fathom what to do next (and I’m glad I looked it up, because I would’ve been stuck forever otherwise XP). The game is usually pretty straightforward with how to progress, but that’s with the key exception of its main advancement mechanic: tablet fragments. These fragments are found in both the past worlds and in the present, and you use them to unlock new islands to travel to. These worlds aren’t particularly small or compact either, and you don’t even always find only the pieces for the very next island in the one you’re currently on. This means if you miss one or don’t realize what side quest in the present has suddenly progressed and that you’re meant to go back there, you’re up shit creek without a paddle.

Now there is a fortune teller on the main island who gives story progression hints, but they’re VERY general hints, and I basically never found them useful. There’s thank heck a fortune teller for fragment pieces, but she’s quite well hidden and you don’t unlock her location for a couple tens of hours into the game. I didn’t even realize she was there until significantly after that either. Her hints are better, thank goodness, but that involves even realizing she exists in the first place. While I could deal with the grinding, the selectiveness with how well signposted was another really big factor that made this game harder to enjoy than I wanted it to be, and this is almost certainly a game you’ll need to end up consulting walkthrough for at some point or another.

Aesthetically, it’s a very pretty mostly 2D game. Environments are 2D sprites on 3D-ish environments. Buildings and such are 3D, and you can rotate the camera either completely or a bit side to side depending on the area. The battles are entirely 2D and have some really nice 2D animations for the monsters (many of whom are completely new, as a good portion of this game’s monster roster is entirely knew from the comparatively quite homogeneous previous six games). I think some might be turned off by the 2D-on-3D aesthetic, but I really liked it. I think there’s a good reason they used this style for the remakes of 4, 5, and 6 on DS and then for the remakes of 1, 2, and 3 on 3DS (other than that the PS1 remake of 4 used this engine and in all likelihood they just ported that version to the DS and then that set the format for how the rest of those remakes would look :b). The music is also very good and Dragon Quest-y as usual. If you like DQ music, you’ll likely really like what’s here too~.

Verdict: Hesitantly Recommended. This game is a really mixed bag. The good stuff is really good and fun. It’s a lovely sort of swansong, in retrospect, to the Enix-era DQ games before they became Square Enix and so much changed. If you can get past the poor signposting and loads of grinding, you’ll likely have quite a good time with this, as I did, but if you’d like a more forgiving time in those regards, seeking out the 3DS remake will likely be better worth your time. DQ7 is a bit of an odd black sheep of the DQ series, but it’s one I think still has a lot of merit and charm to it despite its flaws.
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prfsnl_gmr
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Re: Games Beaten 2023

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o.pwuaioc wrote:
prfsnl_gmr wrote:
Markies wrote:I would say it's at least a play through as it only took me a few times. Play it once and then go back to Castle of Illusion. :D


Better idea…play the absolutely stellar Game Gear/Sega Master System games instead. They are so much better than Castle of Illusion.

I'm still waiting for your response from last year!


You’ve got it!!!

o.pwuaioc wrote:
prfsnl_gmr wrote:IMO, the SMS version of Castle of Illusion is better than the Genesis version. (Maybe this comment brings in the unpopular opinions thread…)

But does it best Genesis Castle of Illusion + oodles and oodles of nostalgia and memories tied to significant life events? I doubt that!

But seriously though, what makes the SMS version better in your opinion?


Crisper 8-bit graphics, better, more varied level design, tighter controls, more content, and a more consistent difficulty curve. The Sega Genesis games, especially World of Illusion, mask ho-hum gameplay behind great graphics and sound. The Game Gear/Sega Master System games, which were developed later, can’t do this, and they end up being better for it. In fact, I’d consider them among the very best 8-bit platformers.
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Re: Games Beaten 2023

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prfsnl_gmr wrote:Crisper 8-bit graphics, better, more varied level design, tighter controls, more content, and a more consistent difficulty curve. The Sega Genesis games, especially World of Illusion, mask ho-hum gameplay behind great graphics and sound. The Game Gear/Sega Master System games, which were developed later, can’t do this, and they end up being better for it. In fact, I’d consider them among the very best 8-bit platformers.

You sure know how to sell me a game. ♥ Time to go find some 8-bit Mickey.
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Re: Games Beaten 2023

Post by alienjesus »

I don’t dislike the Mega Drive titles like Prfsnl does, but I otherwise agree with him wholeheartedly. The 8 bit Illusion games represent the best in the series, with Land of Illusion probably being my pick of the bunch.
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Re: Games Beaten 2023

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alienjesus wrote:I don’t dislike the Mega Drive titles like Prfsnl does, but I otherwise agree with him wholeheartedly.


I only dislike the second one. Castle of Illusion is a very good platformer!!!…just not as good as the subsequently released Game Gear and Sega Master System games.

I need to play the 3DS Epic Mickey tribute to the series, which I’ve read is good, and I’m excited for the new “Illusion” game releasing later this year.
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