Games Beaten 2023

Anything that is gaming related that doesn't fit well anywhere else
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PartridgeSenpai
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Re: Games Beaten 2023

Post by PartridgeSenpai »

Partridge Senpai's 2023 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)
5. Dragon Quest III (SFC)
6. Dragon Quest VIII (PS2)
7. Dragon Quest Monsters (GBC)
8. Mario Party 6 (GC)
9. Last Bible 3 (SFC)
10. Mario Party 4 (GC)
11. Kirby and the Forgotten Land (Switch)
12. Final Fantasy: Mystic Quest (SFC)
13. Chrono Trigger (SFC) *
14. BoxBoy + BoxGirl! (Switch)
15. The Murder of Sonic The Hedgehog (PC)
16. SaGa (GB)
17. Wario Land 3 (GBC) *
18. Sutte Hakkun (SFC)
19. Kane & Lynch 2 (PC)
20. Burger Time Deluxe (GB)
21. Super Mario Advance 4: World e+ (GBA)
22. Bomberman GB 2 (GB)
23. Mario Party 5 (GC)
24. Klonoa: door to phantomile (PS1)
25. Mario Party 7 (GC)
26. Mario Party (N64) *
27. Crash Bash (PS1)
28. Balan Wonderworld (PS4)
29. From TV Animation One Piece Tobidase Kaizokudan! (PS1)
30. One Piece Pirate Warriors 3 (Vita)
31. Atelier Iris: Grand Phantasm (PS2)
32. Mana Khemia: Alchemists of Al-Revis (PS2)
33. Mana Khemia 2: Fall of Alchemy (PS2)
34. Crusader of Centy (Genesis)
35. Shadow Hearts (PS2)
36. White Album (PS3)
37. Shadow Hearts 2 (PS2)
38. Shadow Hearts: From the New World (PS2)
39. The Hunt for the Red October (GB)
40. Wild Arms (PS1)
41. Wild Arms 2 (PS1)

42. Custom Robo V2 (N64)

This is a game I bought aaages ago after I beat the first game, but just never got around to finishing. I had a ton of fun playing the first game on Twitch a couple years back, but I got about halfway through this one on stream before I put it down and just never picked it back up. This game doesn’t record playtime, but I reckon that it took me at least a total 15 hours to play through the normal story mode until I hit credits and then play through nearly all of the post-game stuff. I also played the Japanese version of the game on real hardware.

V2 is a direct sequel to the original Custom Robo that takes place about a year after the events of the first game. Though it takes place in a new town with a new non-verbal player avatar at the helm, the formula is still very similar (and we even have some returning characters from the first game who get new and expanded roles here). You’re going out and starting to play Custom Robo in the new town you just moved to with the help of your new friends, and you get wrapped up in some shady plots by evil figures along the way. It’s still very much of the style of “anime based around a toy” of the time, where everyone just accepts the fact that their world is totally based around these toys and plays it completely straight, which is very fun, so that’s not a problem.

Overall, I’d say this game’s campaign mode is easily weaker than the first. It gets into the Mysterious Evil Plot stuff a lot faster, and while it does a better job establishing that overall mystery, it does a far worse job setting up the characters within it (despite the far larger amount of dialogue this game has overall compared to the first game). The conclusion to the story comes VERY fast, and the overall pacing is just really all over the place. It’s certainly neat that this story is *trying* to be something greater and grander than the first, and the way that it shakes up the pacing of the first by getting to the evil organization stuff so much quicker *does* show that they’re genuinely trying here. However, it really just isn’t enough at the end of the day, and while the story here isn’t a burden or bad, it doesn’t surpass the first game’s story for me.

Mechanically however, that’s another story. To put it simply, V2 is a very accurate way to describe this game, because it really *is* just the first game with more content. It’s still a one-on-one arena fighter where you fight to reduce the other robo’s health to zero first, but just with more stuff. In addition to finally being able to swap bodies/frames in story mode (whereas in the first game you HAD to use your normal all-arounder Ray body the whole time) so you have a *lot* more builds actually viable, they’ve also added two new body types as well. This comes along with the new blink system (where old frames only had the ability to do extra jumps or dashes in the air, the two new frames can blink around the map instead), as well as a smattering of fun, new weapons and even a ton of new arenas to fight in as well. The fact that you can still so easily test builds after you customize them makes engaging with these new weapons and experimenting with new builds all the easier too, and that feature is just as appreciated here as it was in the first game.

This ultimately does make for a much easier experience in the story mode as a result (which extends into the post-game which is just a massive series of tournaments with a bit of little story attached to each), but I feel like that comes more from the fact you just have so many more tools available to you rather than a “dumbing down” of the mechanics or difficulty or whatever. The post-game is also neat in that it’s not only where you unlock a large amount of the weapons and almost all of the frame variants, but it also really pushes you to learn new builds and not stick with what’s comfortable, which is a neat feature to make it good fun worth playing beyond *just* being new robo fights. While it may not replace the first game narratively, Custom Robo V2 lives up to its title and is absolutely just a flat upgrade on the first game mechanically.

Aesthetically, the game is basically just a continuation of the first game (which makes sense, as it reuses the same engine). We have very nice 3D battle arenas and well modeled and designed robos among them, and the game almost never has any slowdown as well, though that is indeed *almost* as some of the more texture-heavy battle arenas do get a bit of slowdown unfortunately. The game world is still 2D character sprites in 3D areas, and the character portraits and models are all very fun and cute with great Nintendo-y music on top of it all. As shouldn’t be surprising from a Nintendo-published N64 game, it aesthetically really knocks it out of the park and uses the hardware just about as well as it possibly could.

Verdict: Recommended. If you’re a fan of the first game (or even the GameCube game), this is a game well worth checking out. It’s not the most terribly import-friendly title, unfortunately, as it’d make customizing your robot quite difficult, so that’s one thing to keep in mind. However, on its own merits and ignoring the language barrier, Custom Robo V2 absolutely succeeds at being an unconventional fighting game that is a very worthy successor to its predecessor. If you like robot stuff and/or 3D arena fighters, this is absolutely one worth checking out~.

----

43. Mischief Makers (N64)

This is another N64 game I bought a fair while ago but just never got around to playing. It’s one I could never beat growing up, and it’s also one of the favorite games of a close friend of mine, so I thought it’d be a load of fun to show them the Japanese version of a game they know really well in English. Having the N64 hooked up again seemed like as great a time as any to finally play through this, so I did! It took me about 6.5 hour to play through the Japanese version of the game on real hardware, and I got 27 of 52 yellow crystals doing it (to see as much of the ending as you’d normally want to).

Mischief Makers (or as the Japanese title calls it, Trouble Makers) is a very oddball story about Marina, a powerful, happy, ditzy maid robot for Professor Cambell. However, on their visit to Planet Nendoro, the professor just can’t seem to stop getting kidnapped, and it’s up to Marina to save him again and again xD. The game is very silly with tons of horrible disaster weirdos everywhere (on both the heroes and villains sides), so the dialogue is always a joy to read. It’s not trying to do anything particularly daring with its narrative, but it’s written in a very fun way and also does have some genuinely sweet moments here and there. It does a more than serviceable job of setting up the action at hand, and it augments it significantly with just how much more fun and memorable it makes the adventure you’re playing through~.

The adventure in question is very much what you’d expect of a Treasure game. Almost playing like a spiritual successor to Gunstar Heroes, Mischief Makers is a 2.5D (but mostly 2D) side scrolling action game, but instead of guns like Gunstar Heroes has, you have a very expanded throwing ability. Marina can pick up, shake, and throw (or at least deflect) damn near anything enemies can throw at her. She can also dash in any cardinal direction by double-tapping the D-pad or pressing one of the corresponding C-buttons (though the C-buttons are a little bit slower than using the D-pad). All of that certainly has a not insignificant learning curve attached to it (especially when it comes to platforming), it still makes for a very satisfying and fun experience. Particularly great and Treasure-ful are the boss fights, some of which are (unsurprisingly) balanced a bit too hard, I’d argue, especially with bosses closer to the start of the game actually being a fair bit harder than most bosses in the back half of the game, but they still make for intense and enjoyable fights regardless that have some wicked cool set pieces and just feel awesome to play through. There are some problems here and there with level design in that some levels have puzzles that are just very needlessly plodding or mean, and some bosses just aren’t quite clear enough on how they’re actually fought, but those aren’t issues nearly big enough to dampen the overall experience.

There are also the yellow crystals I mentioned earlier. Crystals (other than red ones) are generally your health pick ups. Red crystals, on the other hand, are more like money, as they can buy hints from certain NPCs as well as revive you when you die. Pay more red crystals and you come back with more health bars (or just quit the game from the game over screen and it’ll bump you back to before you even started that level, meaning you never actually lose any money at all from up until that point scrapped attempts, which is a very odd development oversight). Yellow crystals, on the other hand, aren’t just huge health pick ups, they’re also special. There is one in every stage, and they can be hidden anywhere from at the end of a difficult platforming challenge or locked behind defeating a boss without taking a single hit, but collecting them is what gets you the game’s ending. Every one you grab will unlock a few more seconds of the game’s ending, with about 24 or 26 of them being needed to see the “normal” ending, and anything after that unlocking extra gags or silly moments after that. While the overall game is probably one of the easier 2D platformers Treasure has put out over the years, getting all of those crystals is absolutely what makes this game Treasure-levels of hard, and it really isn’t for the faint of heart. Thankfully, getting 20 or so is a relatively manageable thing (especially with a guide pointing you towards their hiding places), so seeing the normal amount of narrative conclusion is far from an insurmountable task.

Aesthetically, this game is absolutely gorgeous. Unsurprisingly for a Treasure game, the levels and particularly characters are absolutely oozing with style, and it’s hard not to love them. While both the English and Japanese versions both have character portraits and dialogue in addition to little bits of voice work here and there, something only the Japanese version has is little mid-battle speech bubbles that will appear from enemies, particularly bosses. It gives the overall game just that much more vibe of a gag manga, and it adds a ton of fun character silliness to an already delightfully put together experience that had me laughing a ton. The music is also absolutely excellent, which talking about a Treasure game from the 90’s should also come as no surprise.

Verdict: Highly Recommended. While there are a few bosses that are a bit tougher than they should probably be and a couple levels that just kinda suck, this is regardless an all-time classic on the N64. Though a relatively early game on the system (and one that uses the D-pad rather than the joy stick), it still succeeds at being an excellent 2D action game well worth playing. If you’re a fan of 2D action platformers, and especially if you’re a fan of Treasure’s other work, this is yet another Treasure master-work that is well worth your time despite the generally 3D-focused console it happens to find itself on.
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Raging Justice
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Re: Games Beaten 2023

Post by Raging Justice »

Love Mischief Makers, the silly dub adds so much to the experience. I never got tired of hearing "Shake, shake, shake"

I think it's one of Treasure's best and most underrated games.

Man, playing games by Treasure really highlights how lame boss fights are in most games. Treasure boss fights are awesome.
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REPO Man
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Re: Games Beaten 2023

Post by REPO Man »

Beat Marvel's Spider-Man for PS4 last night. Positively LOVED this.

Hoping to beat the Miles Morales game before buying Spider-Man 2.
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Ack
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Re: Games Beaten 2023

Post by Ack »

First 50:
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)

11. Teomim Island (PC)(FPS)
12. Regions of Ruin (PC)(Action RPG)
13. Void Bastards (PC)(FPS)

14. Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad - Single Player (PC)(FPS)
15. Quake: Scourge of Armagon (PC)(FPS)
16. Quake: Dissolution of Eternity (PC)(FPS)

17. Bioshock Infinite (PC)(FPS)
18. Chop Goblins (PC)(FPS)
19. Ravenloft: Stone Prophet (PC)(RPG)
20. Halfway (PC)(Tactical Strategy)
21. Brothers in Arms: Earned in Blood (PC)(FPS)
22. Might and Magic X - Legacy (PC)(RPG)
23. Civilization IV (PC)(4X Strategy)

24. Operation Body Count (PC)(FPS)
25. WW2 Rebuilder (PC)(Simulation)
26. Rogue Heroes: Ruins of Tasos (PC)(Action-Adventure)
27. The Ascent: Cyber Heist (PC)(Top-Down Shooter)
28. Bright Memory Infinite (PC)(FPS)

29. Tuin (PC)(Farming Sim)
30. Warhammer 40,000: Boltgun (PC)(FPS)
31. Warhammer 40,000: Shootas, Blood & Teef (PC)(Run and Gun)

32. Dark Messiah of Might and Magic (PC)(RPG)
33. Subnautica (PC)(Action-Adventure)
34. Frog Detective 3: Corruption in Cowboy County (PC)(Adventure)
35. The Shore (PC)(Horror Adventure)
36. Embr (PC)(Action)
37. That Which Gave Chase (PC)(Horror Adventure)
38. Witch Hunt (PC)(Horror FPS)

39. Amanda the Adventurer (PC)(Horror Adventure)
40. Shadows Peak (PC)(Horror FPS)
41. Berserk Mode (PC)(FPS)
42. Soul Calibur 2 (Arcade)(Fighting)

43. Zortch (PC)(FPS)
44. Bloodhound (PC)(FPS)
45. Poker Night at the Inventory (PC)(Traditional)
46. Ghostlore (PC)(Action RPG)

47. TimeShifters (PC)(FPS)
48. Beacon Pines (PC)(Narrative Adventure)

49. Amid Evil: The Black Labyrinth (PC)(FPS)
50. LEGO Brick Tales (PC)(Adventure)

51. Contraband Police (PC)(FPS)
52. Quake II (PC)(FPS)
53. Quake II: The Reckoning (PC)(FPS)
54. Quake II: Ground Zero (PC)(FPS)
55. Quake II 64 (PC)(FPS)
56. Quake II: Call of the Machine (PC)(FPS)


Listen all you little pukes. Nightdive Studios, MachineGames, and id Software teamed up and have given us the greatest gift a triggerhappy meat puppet commando like me could ever hope for: a full remaster of Quake II for modern systems, complete with all previous expansions, a new expansion, and the first ever PC port of the Nintendo 64-only version of Quake II. And what did I do when I got my hands on it?

Turned the Strogg into Stroganoff, with little extra bits of rocket fuel and buckshot.

Now eat up, you lily-livered waste of a good goreporn target. Because the Quake II remaster KICKS ASS AND THEN FEASTS ON THE CARCASS. Enemy AI is improved to make what were joke foes into violent threats. Graphics are in 1080p for widescreen monitors and run at over 60 frames per second. It supports online multiplayer as well as 8-player split screen, WHICH WILL MAKE YOUR EYES BLEED TEARS OF DIVINE BRUTALITY! And it gives you more content, even a new official Deathmatch map.

The new content is also brutal, throwing a nasty array of bosses, offering up challenging level design, and making you work your way, worrying about every bullet, plasma bolt, and shell of buckshot you get in the palm of your sweaty, God-fearing hands. Yes, there's a God. I know because I KILLED IT WITH A SUPER SHOTGUN, JUST AS QUAKE II DEMANDED. The Call of the Machine expansion will make you obliterate hordes with only your wits and the biggest fucking gun you will ever see. Try to find the secret levels. Then try to survive them. I did, and I wear the skins of my enemies to prove it.

Don't like Quake II? IT DOESN'T LIKE YOU EITHER, BLOOD BUCKET. Now get out of here before I use you to mop the walls.

ENHANCED QUAKE II ROCKS!
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MrPopo
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Re: Games Beaten 2023

Post by MrPopo »

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
15. Mechwarrior 5: Rise of Rasalhague - PC
16. Kirby's Epic Yarn - Wii
17. Kirby's Return to Dreamland - Wii
18. Mega Man 7 - SNES
19. Mega Man 8 - PS1
20. Conquest: Frontier Wars - PC
21. Theatrhythm Final Bar Line - Switch
22. Octopath Traveler II - Switch
23. Last Call BBS - PC
24. The Legend of Heroes: Trails to Azure - Switch
25. Dread Templar - PC
26. The Great War: Western Front - PC
27. GrimGrimoire OnceMore - PS5
28. Haegemonia: Legions of Iron - PC
29. Everspace 2 - PC
30. Star Wars Jedi: Survivor - PC
31. The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom - Switch
32. Warhammer 40000: Boltgun - PC
33. Diablo 4 - PC
34. System Shock (2023) - PC
35. Huntdown - Switch
36. HROT - PC
37. Armored Core V - PS3
38. Armored Core: Verdict Day - PS3
39. Aliens: Dark Descent - PC
40. Zone of the Enders HD - PS3
41. Trails into Reverie - Switch
42. Baldur's Gate 3 - PC
43. Quake 2 64 - PC
44. Quake 2: Call of the Machine - PC
45. Amid Evil: The Black Labyrinth - PC
46. Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon - PS5
47. Starfield - PC
48. Zone of the Enders HD: The 2nd Runner - PS3
49. Industries of Titan - PC

Industries of Titan is a city building game with a major emphasis on resource management. I first saw it as a demo at PAX's indie booth almost a decade ago, when the game was still in development. The hook that got me interested was that in addition to building the city, you could build a ship (or ships) to take the fight to rival corporations. It let you put the hostile in hostile takeover. However, the released product falls far short of the promise of those initial glimpses.

The basic setup is that you are running one corporation among many on Saturn's moon Titan. The goal is to get a seat on the council by taking out your rivals. This is accomplished by winning the maps that two of your rivals appear on. But to get to those maps, you have to do adjacent intervening maps. Now, doing more than the minimum does provide a bonus; map completion gives you a currency that provides persistent bonuses, like higher starting resources and lower costs for certain buildings.

Once you start a mission you begin with just your HQ and a selection of employees. You'll need to explore and clear out ruins and start your economy. Initially you can only collect basic resources, but as you build out you can create converters to upgrade those resources. It's a simple one in, one out system, with each higher tier being worth N times the lower tier. However, when you use those resources to build something you are not refunded any fractions. So if you only have tier 3 minerals (worth 25 tier 1) and build something that only costs a couple you're out a bunch. But since it only takes one regular to make a top tier, there isn't actually any reason to not just upgrade everything to top. It merely means that your resource totals are deceiving.

In addition to the raw materials you can collect from the ground, your workforce is another important resource. You have two kinds of people; employees and citizens. Citizens go through a cycle of work, leisure, and sleep, and only make money when they are in the work cycle (they do so by watching programs with ads). Since Titan is a fairly hostile environment, and you tend to make it more hostile with pollution, they can and will die (but can also be replaced with new shiploads of migrants). Employees, on the other hand, are effectively automatons. They are produced by converting citizens, and they do the work of moving resources and constructing buildings, as well as operating various special structures. Employees draw a salary, so you need citizens to keep them paid. If you run out of cash the penalty is inability to convert more employees. Once you get this basic setup going, you'll explore things like the power grid (fuel generators to power the electrical generators to power everything else) and buildings for raising habitability (so your citizens don't die too much). You also have to manage the waste generated by some of your key processes; you can toss this in dedicated bins, but eventually you'll need to burn it (which, again, pollution).

While there are a variety of dedicated buildings, there are also factories. Factories are fully modular and allow you to indulge in some more intensive Tetris-style base building. This has a few benefits; the first is that you can use them early game to get the economy going, while the dedicated buildings are too expensive at that point. Another benefit is that factories can fine tune your various needs; a full power plant might be overkill and expensive, while a factory with some power generators is much cheaper. Finally, conversion can only occur inside a factory, so you'll need some for that.

Finally, there's the ship system. The benefits of ships are twofold; they can fight against the rebels (which act as the game's disaster system) and can be used to attack other corporations. The maps tend to have an enemy corporation who is trying to win the map before you do, and ships are your primary way to stopping that (as opposed to racing it). Ships have the same building system as factories, where you have a grid and need to fit components in, being mindful of the need to have walking room for your employees to man stations. If you aren't careful you can actually cause a component like one of your weapon systems to be disabled due to not being able to reach it.

However, this is where things start to break down. The way a map is won is by accumulating victory points, which are gained by accomplishing a variety of randomly generated tasks. This could be things like building a certain number of a type of building, claiming a certain number of tiles in the world, or having a certain amount of cash on hand. At a minimum number of victory points you can claim the level, or you can try to get more points to get more currency for the persistent benefits I mentioned earlier. I found that sometimes victory points were unduly onerous to earn, as they can rely on map elements that may require you to claim large swathes to actually find the requisite number. And the thing is, claiming larger portions of the map doesn't really benefit you much. It tends to cause the rebels to attack faster (which is annoying) and slows down your gaining of other goals. And even with that, enemy corporations progress far slower than you do if you get a decent grasp of the mechanics. You can completely ignore them, and at that point you realize the ship building is pointless. You can fight off rebel ships just as well with some defensive turrets, and you can wipe out their camps by extending your territory to their land and then buying the land out from under them.

And it's at that point that you realize that after you finish the first map you've seen all the game has to offer. Each map is randomized, but completing each one tends to involve the same core steps, with just a final modification of which particular buildings you need to spam to hit the victory points you need. Now, this would be fine, except the pacing of the game requires multiple hours per map, even when you spend the entire time on the fastest speed (which, like SimCity, is the "move at a non-glacial pace" speed). The lack of any sort of handcrafted scenario really hurts the replayability; once you've done a few maps you have confidence in your ability to handle what the game can throw at you, and finishing is just a time sink.

There were some nifty ideas, but the devs were unable to get the pacing balanced and make the ships (which was a major mechanic) worthwhile. The game definitely shows that at some point they realized they weren't going to be able to fix things without a major rewrite, and so sent the game out to recoup costs. You can do far better in the city building genre.
Blizzard Entertainment Software Developer - All comments and views are my own and not representative of the company.
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Jagosaurus
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Re: Games Beaten 2023

Post by Jagosaurus »

prfsnl_gmr wrote:What’d you think about Aaero? I really liked that game.


Aero was interesting. Was Panzer Dragoon meets rhythm game. Some of the music tracks were really great.

My only 2 complaints ... the lock system could be a bit finicky when there were many fast moving enemies. Also, there were difficulty spikes in certain areas that weren't linear with progression.

Overall, I would definitely recommend it for fans of rail shooters and/or rthym games.

I actually thought about it yesterday because I saw a FPS metal rhythm shooter :shock:. Anyone play Metal Hellsinger?

My Retro Achievements | Games Beaten 2023 & 2024 |
xJAGOx = Xbox Gamertag | Console Mods
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alienjesus
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Re: Games Beaten 2023

Post by alienjesus »

1. Minit Switch eShop
2. The Ninja Saviors: Return of the Warriors Switch
3. Cuphead Switch
4. Cuphead: The Delicious Last Course Switch
5. River City Girls Zero Switch *NEW*
6. Bayonetta 3 Switch *NEW*
7. Fire Emblem Engage Switch *NEW*
8. Cannon Dancer - Osman Switch *NEW*
9. Metal Slug X MVS *NEW*
10. Metal Slug 3 MVS *NEW*
11. Garou: Mark of the Wolves MVS *NEW*
12. Windjammers MVS *NEW*
13. Clockwork Aquario Switch *NEW*
14. Psychonauts XBox *NEW*
15. Yume Penguin Monogatari FC *NEW*
16. Mappy Kids FC *NEW*
17. Wonder Boy Switch *NEW*
18. Wonder Boy in Monster Land Switch *NEW*
19. Wonder Boy III: Monster Lair Switch *NEW*
20. Minecraft Switch eShop *NEW*
21. Wonder Boy III: The Dragon's Trap Switch *NEW*
22. Wonder Boy in Monster World Switch *NEW*
23. We Love Katamari PS2 *NEW*
24. Monster World 4 Switch *NEW*
25. Castlevania II: Belmont's Revenge Switch eShop *NEW*
26. Parappa the Rapper 2 PS2 *NEW*
27. Gunpey WS *NEW*
28. Magical Drop for Wonderswan WS *NEW*
29. Buffer's Evolution WS *NEW*
30. XI [sai] Little WSC *NEW*
31. Kaze No Klonoa: Moonlight Museum WS *NEW*
32. Dream: Art's Journey PS4 *NEW*
33. Dreams: LOCK PS4 *NEW*
34. Dark Cloud PS2 *NEW*
35. Castlevania II: Simon's Quest Switch eShop *NEW*
36. Sly Raccoon PS2 *NEW*
37. Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back PS1 *NEW*
38. Boku No Dracula-Kun Switch eShop *NEW*
39. Rockman & Forte: Mirai Kara No Chōsensha WS *NEW*
40. Jumping Flash PS1 *NEW*
41. Shock Troopers: 2nd Squad MVS *NEW*
42. Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3 GC *NEW*
43. Star Wars Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader GC *NEW*
44. Terranigma SNES *NEW*
45. Neo Drift Out: New Technology MVS *NEW*
46. Sakura Taisen Saturn *NEW*
47. Samba De Amigo DC *NEW*
48. Pikmin 4 Switch *NEW*


It has been a very long time since I posted in this thread, so there's a lot of catching up to do. You can click the spoiler below to see my thoughts on all 44 of the games I just added to my list - I hid the reviews away because they would have made this page very very long otherwise.

Please read them, it took me a long time to write this all up :lol:


River City Girls Zero
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River City Girls Zero is a localised version of a previously Japan-only Super Famicom game in the Kunio series, and is the origin of Misako and Kyoko, the stars of the more recent River City Girls game. It is also a prime example of why not every game that stayed in Japan needs a localisation – mediocre, unresponsive combat, repetitive gameplay and an erratic difficulty curve mean that this game is just not very fun to play through.


Bayonetta 3
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I was quite excited about the new Bayonetta game coming out, but after playing it I’m quite mixed on it. The gameplay is still great, with some interesting twists with the new demon summoning system and the setpieces of the game are still extravagant and over the top, but something feels off about this one. Although enjoyable, the combat feels like a notable step down from Bayonetta 1 and 2, which is hammered home later in the game in a short section where you get to play with the classic playstyle. The plot feels a bit forced as well and Bayonetta doesn’t come across as a likeable character this time round. In 1 & 2 she would watch out for those weaker than her, but several times in 3 she just watches as the enemy monsters kill innocent people. The story is overall really weak, poorly told and very confusing – I still didn’t fully understand it after beating the game and I’m not alone in this. Don’t get me wrong – as a standalone title, Bayonetta 3 is still fun to play, but it feels like such a step back from 2 that I can’t help but be disappointed with it.


Fire Emblem Engage
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I am a long-time Fire Emblem fan since the first western release on GBA, but I wasn’t particularly excited for Engage. The series has increasingly leaned into elements like reclassing, skill management and out of combat RPG elements – in my opinion, to the expense of the classic strategy gameplay. Three Houses was a great game, but it focused way more on the RPG side of strategy RPG, and I found that there was little incentive to use a wide variety of classes, a very small proportion of gametime actually spent on the strategy gameplay, and really dull and generic maps to fight on designed to accommodate the fact that you might be using literally any type of unit. So when Engage was announced, and it looked like there was more of that, plus a gacha-style mechanic straight out of the mobile entry, I figured the series was just evolving and leaving me behind.

So image my surprise then, when it actually turned out to be one of my favourite entries in the franchise. I don’t mind the much more cliché anime story and sillier characters like some seem to, and I love that the game really leans much harder into the strategy side of things, with some great map designs and tons of interesting options to use in battle thanks to the engage system which lets you equip units with different buffs and effects courtesy of some classic Fire Emblem characters. I played on hard mode, where the difficulty felt just right – a real challenge was on offer but never did it feel totally insurmountable. It made me remember why I loved the series in the first place. Definitely one I’ll be coming back to in future.


Cannon Dancer – Osman
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Cannon Dancer is a classic arcade game which feels heavily inspired by the likes of Strider. You play as a dude who is really good at kicking stuff and venture through an arabian settings which features both mysticalism and sci-fi style technology kicking stuff real good. The game is fun to play, looks gorgeous and controls fluidly, but there’s no doubt it’s an arcade title – prepare to continue a lot if you want to see the ending. Still, it’s a decent time, and it’s always cool to see an arcade game from the past finally get a console release to make it more accessible.


Metal Slug X
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Metal Slug X is a game I’ve played many times before, but I recently picked it up for MVS, so I decided to give it a blast on original hardware. It’s a great game which takes the levels from Metal Slug 2 and remixes them to feature new elements, enemies and hazards whilst greatly improving performance from the slowdown-ridden 2. Performance aside, I actually think there’s merit to both games – this one really leans into the Metal Slug craziness, but 2 feels a little more fair to players and reminds me more of Metal Slug 1 (besides the ludicrously unfair last boss that is). Either way, this game is a blast and well worth playing.


Metal Slug 3
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Metal Slug 3 is often thought of as the best in the series. In a slightly controversial opinion, it’s actually one of my least favourite, but I can totally see why people love it. It ramps up the spectacle and crazy levels even further, with blood spewing zombies, crazy yetis, giant enemy crabs, split paths through levels and an absolutely enormous final level. For my money though, it perhaps leans too much into the spectacle at the expense of the balance – be prepared to spend way more credits on this one than 1, 2 or X. Again, I’ve played this one before but did this playthrough on real hardware. It might be one of my lesser loved titles in the series, but it’s still a great game, and one I’d recommend.


Garou: Mark of the Wolves
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I’m not a big fighting game fan, especially with 2D fighters, but I’ve found myself surprised by some of the Neo Geo titles, especially ones towards the latter end of the systems life. I loved Real Bout Fatal Fury and I also enjoyed King of Fighters 97, so I figured when I got to chance to own the most-loved fighting game on the system with Garou: Mark of the Wolves, it was worth a shot. And I’m glad I did, because this game is great. It controls super smoothly, feels incredibly responsive to play and is absolutely stunning for the hardware. I played through arcade mode as both Hotaru and B.Jenet and had a blast, especially with the latter and her pirate posse. On normal difficulty I felt the game was surprisingly accommodating to a noob like myself, as the game offered me some challenge but didn’t feel nearly as unfair as most Neo Geo fighting games I’ve seen. I definitely need to spend more time with the game, but I absolutely look forward to doing so, as the small amount I’ve played so far has been excellent.


Windjammers
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Windjammers has become a bit of a cult classic in the internet era, but it’s a game I’ve never had the chance to play. I recently picked it up on MVS and thought I’d give it a playthrough – and it’s a great time, and an absolute blast to play, especially in multiplayer. The game is essentially advanced pong – you play as one of 6 frisbee dudes and dudettes, and must throw the frisbee towards the opponents goal. The opponent must block and catch the frisbee and throw it back to yours. Different zones of the goal are worth different points so aiming well is key. You can do advance throws with control stick movements to add spin, or counter a flying frisbee to set up for a special move which has more power and a complicated flight path. Different characters have different balances of speed and power, but I found that power seems to be better in this game personally despite normally preferring speed, as even caught frisbees sometimes pushed opponents into their own goal. I had a good time with Windjammers and I’ll definitely give it another blast on occasion. Worth a play, especially if you can find a friend to devote time with you.


Clockwork Aquario
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Clockwork Aquario is an arcade game by Westone, the studio who made the Wonder Boy games. Or rather, it was intended to be. You see, Clockwork Aquario was never released back in the day, but has recently seen a modern release onto Switch. You play as one of 3 characters (who all control the same to my knowledge) as they platform through multiple levels in an enemy fortress, fighting aquatic enemies and mechanic crustaceans throughout. You can jump on enemies to stun them, after which you can pick them up to throw at others. The game features big colourful sprites and a jazzy soundtrack and it controls well. It’s a lot of fun to play, but it’s also super easy – you can see why this wasn’t released in arcades back when – it was too easy, had too long a playtime and featured 2D platforming gameplay at a time when arcades were leaning hard into exciting 3D racers, lightgun games and fighting games. It’s not a masterpiece or anything, but Clockwork Aquario is a fun, short (read: 30 mins or so) romp that’s worth a play.


Psychonauts
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Psychonauts is a game I’ve been wanting to play for ages, and I finally sat down and played through it this year. You play as Raz, a kid with psychic powers who fled from the circus to attend a psychic summer camp aimed at training children with psychic abilities to be Psychonauts – psychic special agents. Although he is told he has to leave as he doesn’t have permission from his parents to attend, Raz gets to attend some of the classes in the camp in the meantime, and starts to unravel a conspiracy at the camp.


The game plays as a 3D platformer, with Raz navigating each level by jumping around and interacting with his environment with psychic powers. Early on you can’t do much but you learn new skills as you progress, including pyrokinesis, a double jump and floating move, a psychic mind blast and more. Each skill is used in fun ways, but in truth, the levels themselves are the highlight. Each level takes place in the mind of a different character, and they’re often bizarre. Highlights include a world set in a twisted suburban neighborhood where everyone is spying on each other, a world set in a strategy boardgame taking place between Napoleon Bonapart and his descendent, and a world inside the mind of a lungfish where you stomp around a city full of lungfish citizens as a Godzilla-sized child.


The end of the game feels a little rushed, and I had a bit of a nightmare of a time with performance issues when playing this game on Xbox 360 (use original hardware for this one), but I loved my time playing Psychonauts, and I immediately went out and purchased the sequel. Looking forward to playing that one soon.


Yume Penguin Monogatari
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Yume Penguin Monogatari is a Japan-only Famicom game that has you playing as a penguin whose girlfriend is threatening to leave him because he has gotten too fat. Questionable messaging aside, your goal is to get into shape by platforming through levels drinking diet drinks to lose weight, all the while avoiding eating any food thrown at you by enemies, who are under the command of an evil penguin trying to make a move on your lady friend. You also need to avoid water, as if you fall in you’ll fill right up like a water balloon. You get more capable as you lose weight – at your fattest, you walk slowly and can only belly flop on enemies, but as you get thinner you speed up and gain more potent attacking capability. Each level has a quotaThe game is an easy, fun platformer with 6 levels to play through and 2 separate endings. It mixes things up occasionally with some different gameplay styles too. Overall, it’s a very simple and easy game, but a fun one for a quick blast through now and again. Worth a shot.


Mappy Kids
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Speaking of easy but fun Japan-only Famicom games, here’s Mappy Kids. You play as one of Mappy’s (from the arcade game of the same name) two sons. Mappy has found you a beautiful lady mouse to be your bride, but she doesn’t just want some loser. You have to build a new house for you and your new lady companion to live in before she agrees to wed. Questionable messaging aside, your goal is to platformer through a bunch of levels gaining money and using it to buy parts for your new dream abode. You can find coins in levels, but taking damage causes it to scatter. At the end of levels, you can gamble money on some mini-games to earn more – but watch out, because each of your 3 opponents is best at a particular game, and you’re likely to lose if you draw the wrong game and rival. Finish the game with your house built and you’ll get married, but if you don’t manage it things won’t go quite so well. The game is actually primarily designed to be played 2 player. In this mode, each of you race through the levels grabbing money as fast as possible and buying different house pieces. You can gamble various parts with each other in the mini games at the end. The mouse with the best house at the end wins the bride. Man, these Famicom games do teach some poor life lessons!


Wonder Boy
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I recently picked up the Wonder Boy Anniversary Collection, and decided it would be fun to play through at least one version of each game on the collection to make the most of it. I opted for the Arcade version of Wonder Boy 1, as I’ve previously beaten it on Master System. This is a fun but definitely challenging game where you run through levels avoiding obstacles and eating fruit to prevent your hunger meter from emptying. You can grab axes to throw at foes or a skateboard which serves as an extra hit but forces you to move forward at all times, and generally the game is fast paced with a focus on continuous movement. It’s not perfect, and you will absolutely hate the very repetitive music by the end, but for it’s era there weren’t many platforming games of this quality to rival Wonder Boy.


Wonder Boy in Monster Land
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I also played through the Arcade version of Wonder Boy in Monster Land, which I’ve also previously beaten on Master System. It has a number of differences on this version as the Master System game added some additional levels and secrets. Monster Land is a very odd game, being set up as a hybrid platformer and action adventure game, but with a timer that causes you to lose health due to being an arcade title. In all honesty, the game would be drastically improved by removing this timer, as it feels overly punishing. Despite that, the game is still charming and fun, and marks the future direction of the series. This is a hard game though, and I definitely hard to use a few credits to make it through. Don’t die in the final level though – it won’t let you continue if you do. The final boss is really tough so you really need to be perfect through the final dungeon. This is a flawed game, but I honestly love it still. Play the superior Master System version if you’re going to play it though!


Wonder Boy III: Monster Lair
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Wonder Boy III: Monster Lair is the one game in the original Wonder Boy line-up I’d never beaten before. I have played it – I own it on PC Engine – but the game is very difficult and honestly needlessly long with 14 stages each split into 2 halves (essentially 28 levels). The game undergoes yet another genre shift, with this one being 50% run n gun and 50% shmup. The first half of each level is a platforming run n’ gun level where you run through an auto-scrolling stage shooting enemies and grabbing fruit to keep your hunger meter from emptying. The second half has you flying on a dragon in a side scrolling shooter, finishing with a boss encounter. The game looks great, but it’s not the greatest to play. The various shot types you can collect are both awkwardly ranged and temporary, and your hitbox is way too big considering you die so quickly. Boss encounters are also pretty tough, especially the final boss. There’s definitely some charm here but the game long outstays it’s welcome and doesn’t feel compelling or well balanced enough to be worth persevering with. I again played the arcade version here, but if you can I’d recommend the PC Engine version, as it has a remixed soundtrack which is awesome, and is easily the best element of the game. Probably the only game in the series I’d say you can skip.


Minecraft
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Everyone on the planet under a certain age has played Minecraft it seems, but until recently I was not one of those people. I decided that with the game being so huge and influential, it was worth trying to see what I was missing. I have mixed feelings on Minecraft after beating it. There’s so much I liked – stumbling across cool new areas, growing a farm, building my house up and creating automated contraptions were all cool. But there was also a lot I didn’t enjoy – for my tastes there’s way too much obscure stuff that needs a google or youtube search to figure out (examples include villager job mechanics, buried treasure and the way to access the ender dragon), the actual mining can be super tedious when you’re looking for the likes of iron or diamond, and I found the game too punishing in some parts – losing enchanted diamond armour and other assorted treasures to lava in the nether is heartbreaking when it takes literal dozens of hours to recoup your losses. That said, I found the experiencing of just playing the game to be fun, and if you’re not focused on achieving an ‘ending’ like I was, I can totally see how you could derive hundreds of hours of fun from this. Minecraft isn’t for me, ultimately, but I wouldn’t say I had a bad time with it. I mostly enjoyed the 70 or so hours I put in, and it feels good to have seen what all the fuss is about. I probably won’t be returning soon though.


Wonder Boy III: The Dragon’s Trap
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I replayed this game as part of the Wonder Boy collection mostly for the sake of completeness. I’ve beaten the game several times before, both on the original Master System release and on the recent remake on PS4. Either way you play, this is a fantastic game and my vote for best in the series. The game takes place as a sidescrolling action adventure, following on from Monster Land. Your hero is cursed by the dying mecha dragon and transformed into a lizard-man, so you quest around the world defeating other dragons to undo the curse. Each dragon you beat transforms you again, into a Mouse-man, Piranha-Man, Lion-Man and Hawk-Man, and eventually you can switch between these forms to boot. With some metroidvania elements, a challenging but mostly fair difficulty, and a great soundtrack and visuals, this is the best in the series for me. It’s also my vote for best game on the Master System. Play it on whatever console you can get a hold of it on.



Wonder Boy in Monster World
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Wonder Boy in Monster World is the following up to Dragon’s Trap, and another one I’ve played through before. It’s been a while since I played through it though, so it was fun to revisit this game. It follows on from the explorative side-scrolling gameplay of Dragon’s Trap, with a new protagonist exploring the world to save it from evil. Early on gameplay feels a bit stiff and sluggish, but once you buy a boot upgrade or two it feels much more fluid. You’ll gain new abilities as you progress, but there’s no transformations here, and the game feels more linear than the previous one. That said, it’s still a fun time and whilst I don’t think it’s quite as good as Dragon’s Trap, it’s still a must play on Mega Drive.


We Love Katamari
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I played through Katamari Damacy for the first time a few years ago on Nintendo Switch and had a blast, so I decided to follow this up with the sequel. At the time I played it, PS2 was the only way to do so, but it’s since also received a switch HD port, which I’m sure is the best way to play. Whichever version you opt for though, We Love Katamari is more of the same, in the best way. It takes what worked in Damacy and doubles down on it, with way more content, more craziness and a selection of fun levels to roll around. I think it’s missing a finale as fun and epic as the first game had, but it’s definitely the superior experience overall. The whole Katamari series feels therapeutic to play with it’s simple gameplay, pastel colours and wonderful music. I certainly do Love Katamari.


Monster World 4
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The final game from the Wonder Boy Anniversary Collection is a follow up to Wonder Boy in Monster World, and drops the Wonder Boy moniker – presumably because you play as a girl in this one. You play as Asha, a girl on a journey to save the world who encounters a creature called a pepelogoo who accompanies you on your adventure. Pepelogoo can be used in various ways to solve puzzles by pushing switches, creating a platform on lava, or gliding across hazards, and the game utilises this in multiple dungeon style areas that feel much more central to the experience here. This game is way more linear than it’s predecessirs but leans into that to create a curated experience with a focused plot, progression and challenge. It looks amazing, and having the English translation is amazing - this was originally a Japanese Mega Drive experience but got an official translation in the Wii era. Monster World 4 is one of the best games on Mega Drive, and whilst for me Dragon’s Trap is still the best Wonder Boy game, this is a close second. Definitely give it a play.


Castlevania II: Belmont’s Revenge
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Castlevania II: Belmont’s Revenge is the Game Boy sequel to Castlevania: The Adventure. Whilst Adventure was honestly fairly mediocre, general consensus is that Belmont’s Revenge is fantastic. I personally sit somewhere in the middle here – Belmont’s Revenge is a big improvement from Adventure, but still feels somewhat limited in level design, weapon variety and length. You can chose from 4 starting levels which can be played in any order, and gameplay is classicvania style with stiff jumping and whipping, and high difficulty level. You can get axes or holy water as subweapons but these are the only ones so your decision will just be based on whether you’re going more upwards or downwards in the frequently vertical levels. The game isn’t quite as sluggish as Adventure, but it still feels pretty stiff, so it’s a very deliberate game to play. I had an OK time with Belmont’s Revenge, but I didn’t love it as much as many do, even as a big Game Boy fan. It’s worth a play, but for some of the prices I’ve seen it go for lately, I don’t know if I think it’s worth investing in the real cartridge for. I played it as part of the Castlevania Collection on Switch, and as a bonus along with 7 other games, it’s definitely worth the price of entry there.


Parappa The Rapper 2
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I’m a big rhythm game fan, but I can’t say I’ve loved the Parappa series up to now. I had a terrible time with the PSP port of the first, which seemed to have arbitrary and unpredictable timing, where it was easy to do the ‘advanced’ freestyling than just follow the button prompts provided. Apparently this is an issue of the port, not the original game. I played Um Jammer Lammy as a PS1 classic on Vita, and whilst it was better I still found it a bit cumbersome. Parappa the Rapper 2, though, is much friendlier in this regard, and was the first game in the series I was really able to gel with. The gameplay is pretty standard Parappa gameplay – a rhythm call and response game where you repeat the pattern of notes back in time with the music. You can also freestyle by playing the same notes in a rhythmic pattern of your own, and this is the way to get the best ranking – figuring out what is considered good or bad by this mechanic though is very hit and miss. I had a good time with Parappa 2 – it’s silly and fun and I had a good time. It’s super short though, and I think I’d definitely have felt a little hard done by had I bought it at full price as a kid. Nowadays though, a short game hits the spot, and this was a fun weekend afternoon.


Gunpey
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Gunpey on the Wonderswan is a puzzle game where you must swap blocks with lines on vertically. Your goal is to create a solid line from the left to right of the grid, causing the blocks with lines on to disappear. In the story mode of the game, you play as a lone wanderer who visits a western town to find it overrun by bandits. You decide to kick them out of town, using your weapon of choice – a tile swapping puzzle game. It’s a fun little premise with some charm, but it’s held together by the surprising quality of the core gameplay – Gunpey is just a fun time to play. Enemies in story mode will sometimes cause you issues using powers that shuffly your grid, turn it dark so you can only see nearby blocks and more, and you’ll have to handle these challenges whilst aiming to clear enough blocks to end the level. I haven’t owned many English-friendly games on my Wonderswan until recently when I bought a bunch. This one was thrown in for free, but it’s actually probably my favourite of the bunch. If you have a Wonderswan, definitely pick this up.


Magical Drop for Wonderswan
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Another of my English-friendly Wonderswan acquisitions – Magical Drop for Wonderswan plays much like the Neo Geo entries in the series, with your character able to pull a line of similarly coloured orbs from the top of the screen, then throw them back up in a new spot. Match enough of a colour at once and they will vanish and clear. The big exception here, obviously, is that there is no colour – this is an original Wonderswan game – so you’ll be matching based on the symbol on the orb instead. This works well enough, but it’s not as easy or intuitive as the colour system would be. I really feel for colour blind gamers when it comes to these games! Still, this is a fun title to play through on the system, and if you’re looking for English-friendly titles on Wonderswan you could certainly do worse. Worth a play.


Buffers Evolution
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Another Wonderswan title, and this is a weird one. In Buffer’s Evolution you play as a animal-human hybrid android and are tasked with speedrunning through a variety of courses. You run and jump through the level, and throughout you’ll find enemies to avoid and numbered platforms to land on. Landing on these heals you, and if you find all 10 in a level you’ll find a new form. You can equip up to 2 forms per level, and pressing a button allows you to switch between them and your base form. These new forms give abilities such as gliding, destroying blocks, swimming or blasting off like a rocket, and clever use of the right forms can be used to improve your times – this is a speedrunning game at heart. I had an OK time with Buffer’s Evolution – it’s a little clunky and sometimes repetitive, but it’s fun to see if you can go faster, and to see what new forms you can find. It’s also pretty cheap, which is rare when it comes to Wonderswan games playable without knowing Japanese. Worth picking up if you have the system.


XI [sai] Little
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XI Little is a port of a PS1 game better known in the west as Devil Dice. It’s a puzzle game where you roll around on top of dice trying to match the numbers together. Matching 1 one, 2 twos, 3 threes etc will cause them to disappear. You can roll around on top of the dice to move them into place whilst rolling to a new face, or push them around at ground level. I honestly found the game extremely difficult to master, and needing to remember the layout of the dice faces too complicated to be fun. I counted beating the main 100 puzzles in puzzle mode as my beaten criteria, and it took me a lot of time to finish. The puzzles are complicated by additional factors such as dice which react differently when pushed or rolled, or needing to combo additional dice onto an existing match (turning 3 threes into 4 threes, 5 threes, 6 threes, to make them all disappear). Despite it not really gelling with me, this seems like a very solid port of the game, so if you like it on PS1 you’ll probably enjoy it here too. I wasn’t enamoured though. Probably one of the Wonderswan games I’m least likely to come back to.


Kaze No Klonoa: Moonlight Museum
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More Wonderswan, and this one is an entry in a series I love. This is the first 2D entry in the Klonoa series, but if you’ve played either of the western released GBA games you’ll know what to expect, as they very much follow the template this one set. You’ll platform through side scrolling 2D stages aiming to find 3 treasures needing to open the exit. The game is very puzzle heavy, so figuring our how to best use the enemies, obstacles and hazards in each room is key. There are 6 levels in each world, and new obstacles are introduced over time. The game also sometimes flips from the Wonderswan’s horizontal to vertical mode too, but I never felt like it made much difference – everything was essentially the same either way – they definitely could have used the extra vertical resolution more effectively than they did. I had a good time with the game but to me it felt a bit unfinished – there wasn’t really any boss encounters at all for example, even a final boss. Still, this is a good game in a good series, and worth playing through if you access to it.


Dreams: Art’s Journey
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I picked up Dreams on PS4 earlier in the year and played through a variety of games and experiences. It’s a really awesome little tool and it’s incredible what people have made with it. This is one of the few games I beat within it that I think warrants being counted as a ‘beat’ though for this list. Art’s Journey is a game made by Dream’s developer, Media Molecule, using the tools within Dreams. It showcases a variety of different gameplay experiences tied together by a story about a man named Art, a bass player in a jazz group, who left the band after experiencing anxiety and lashing out. You switch between playing as Art in an adventure style setting, talking to characters and solving puzzles, and some other characters based on toys and comics Art loved growing up, representing his muse and confidence. These later characters mix up the gameplay style with platforming and brawling elements, and there are also interludes into other styles such as rhythm and driving sections. It’s an interesting little experience and well polished, but I did find it a little dull at times, and not super cohesive. A full playthrough only takes 2-3 hours and it’s a fun enough time that showcases the tool well. You’re unlikely to play it twice though.


Dreams: LOCK
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Whereas Art’s Journey was a game by the developer of Dreams using the tool, LOCK is a game built by someone who bought Dreams, and is a shining example of what can be achieved. Honestly, is a travesty that LOCK is only playable for free within Dreams, as it is more than worthy of being a full game release on Playstation store. In LOCK you arrive on an island with a building on it and lots of digital keypads with space for 4 character words to be entered (for example - LOCK). By entering the correct word you can open the door, but to do so you’ll need to solve environmental puzzles to figure out what the word is. The amazing thing about the game is the sheer number of ways these solutions are discovered – you’ll really have to think, explore and consider all the options to solve each room. Once you do, and reach what you think is the end, you’ll be amazed to discover that you’ve only managed to complete act 1 – of THREE! – in the game, and that there’s still a whole bunch of secrets and puzzles to solve within the environments you’ve already explored. The game keeps revealing more and more and making you feel alternately more and more stupid and then more and more like a genius as you work through all of the puzzles. I don’t want to explain more because really the game needs to be played and experienced for yourself, but if you have Dreams, I highly highly recommend you go into it and play this game. It’s awesome!


Dark Cloud
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Dark Cloud is a game I remember reading about in a gaming magazine as a kid, long before I had any playstation consoles, and thinking it looked awesome. An action adventure game where you find parts of a city hidden away in dungeons and then can rebuild as you like, I thought the premise sounded awesome. So when I recently decided to expand my PS2 collection, I figured it was as good a time as any to try it for myself. Dark Cloud is a very early game on the console, but it has a lot of charm and character from the outset. A dark genie is unleashed upon the world and destroys all of the cities, but a good fairy king seals the cities and their inhabitants away in capsules which get scattered around the world. You must explore and find them all and then rebuild the world as you do so.


The gameplay of Dark Cloud is extremely simple – each dungeon takes the form of procedurally generated floors where you explore and find capsules and defeat monsters. You have to manage your HP, weapon durability and thirst as you explore, and you can upgrade weapons into stronger ones as they gain more kills. As you progress, you get access to more characters with different weapons abilities and health/water meters which you must switch between to explore further. Town building is simple with a basic grid structure to place buildings on, each of which have predefined furniture that needs to be attached to complete the structure (signs, lanturns, ladders etc). You can lay the town out as you please, but residents have requests for where they’d like to be in relation to other people or the environment, and pleasing all of them will get you rewards.


Dark Cloud is very slow and frustrating to start – your weapon breaks so easily early on, you cant take more than 1 or 2 hits, and your thirst runs out quickly. You also don’t have access to buying items right away, so you’ll be doing one floor of the dungeon at a time and tediously trekking back to the mayor who gives you 1 of each healing item at a time. As you begin to progress though, things speed up and become much more fun. It’s still super basic and repetitive, and it’s probably a bit longer than it needs to be, but I still enjoyed my time with Dark Cloud. I hear the sequel is a big step up, so I’ll have to try it some day.


Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest
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Castlevania 2 on NES is an infamous game that has a bad reputation for being difficult and obscure. People are not wrong on either front, but what they often fail to mention is that it’s also, actually, pretty fun! I played through the game for the first time for my Summer Games Challenge list this year, and whilst I certainly used the internet for help, I didn’t find it to be notably worse on either difficulty or obscurity than many other games of the era, such as both Zelda titles. I also found it to be pretty fun, with a solid progression of abilities and much more fluid controls compared to either Castlevania 1 or 3. It’s not perfect, and I’m sure I would have found it frustrating back in the day without the help of the internet to get past the obscure nonsense, but the year is 2023 and that’s not an issue anymore. I really liked this one, even though I was expecting not to.


Sly Raccoon
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Another game on my summer list, this was my first time playing through a game in the Sly Cooper series. I’ve been a bit mixed on Playstation platformers generally over the years, with Jak and Daxter not appealing, and both Crash and Spyro being good but not amazing. Sly though, I found to be a lot of fun. The game is mostly a simple 3D platformer with linear levels, but the gameplay is mixed up by the use of Sly’s acrobatic capabilities allowing you to swing on hooks, hop between small platforms and climb up pipes, and the occasional stealth element requiring you to sneak by enemies or obstacles instead of just killing them. As you progress you’ll get new skills, most of which are pretty redundant or inessential novelties, but a few of which offer fun buffs or bonuses to your movesets. The story I found pretty forgettable, and I found Sly’s turtle pal Bentley to be pretty much insufferable, but despite that I had a good time with the game. I’ll have to give 2 and 3 a go sometime soon.


Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back
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Crash Bandicoot 2 is actually the last of the original trilogy I needed to play through, but I think it’s also probably the best. Unfortunately though, despite that, I still don’t think it does enough to rise above the merely ‘good’ category, similar to the 1st and third games. There’s not a lot to say about the game – it’s just more Crash Bandicoot. Run forward in levels jumping across platforms and breaking boxes, die a lot, shout ‘Whoa!’. It’s plenty of fun but pretty short and they were really pumping these games out at the time. Crash 2 is the best by dint of being more refined than Crash 1 but having less crap gimmicks than Crash 3. It’s worth playing, but I’ll never understand how people could compare it to the likes of Mario 64 or Banjo-Kazooie, which were just comparatively in a different league.


Boku No Dracula-Kun
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After completing both Castlevania 2’s earlier in the year, I had finished 7 of the 8 games on the Castlevania Collection on switch, so I took it upon myself to finish the final one. Boku No Dracula Kun is the original Kid Dracula game, starring a Chibi Dracula (Alucard?) as he platforms through various levels to take revenge on an enemy trying to be the boss. The game plays more like Mega Man than castlevania, with frequent platforming and a projectile weapon. As you progress you gain access to new abilities which can be selected with select and used by charging the fire button. These include homing shots, transforming into a bat and walking on the ceiling. In between levels you can play mini-games for extra lives, all of which are luck based – but it’s fairly simple to accrue a big pool of reserve lives over time. This is useful, as a few of the later levels have some really mean sections which will drain this back down. Outside of those sections though, the difficulty is generally fairly reasonable and the game is a lot of fun. I think the Game Boy sequel is marginally better over all, but this is definitely worth a play and I had a good time with it.



Rockman & Forte: Mirai kara no Chōsensha
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Another Wonderswan title, this time we have Mega Man & Bass for Wonderswan. This title is not a port of the SNES game and is instead an entirely new game in the series. You can play as either Mega Man or Bass (I played as the former) and they control different and have access to different upgrades. You then play through stages beating the 5 (yes, only 5) robot masters to get to the final boss, Rockman Shadow, a future evil version of Mega Man. It honestly doesn’t feel like the highest quality game in the series – the graphics look a bit odd, and the difficulty is generally pretty low. Some of the stage designs aren’t great either, with cheap hits from enemies who are basically already on top of you after a screen transition. Despite this, it’s still a reasonably fun time, just don’t go in expecting the level of quality you usually would from the series. Worth a try, but not a must play.


Jumping Flash
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Jumping Flash is an early platformer for PS1 that surprisingly holds up really well. You play in first person as Robbit, a robot rabbit who jumps around stages finding giant metal carrots before heading to the exit. You can shoot lasers to defeat enemies, and jump super high in the air up to three times. After jumping the camera turns downwards so you can see below you, and using your shadow it’s surprisingly easy to land despite being in first person. Controls are tank controls whilst grounded, but in mid-air you can adjust in any direction mid jump with the d-pad so landing is a breeze. There are 3 levels in each world, with a few levels having gameplay twists such as being in corridors and playing more like a dungeon crawler. Every third stage is a boss which tend to be super easy but fairly fun. Beating the game unlocks a harder game mode needed for the credits, but even accounting for this the game is pretty short and not too difficult. I had a great time with it – definitely worth playing.



Shock Troopers 2nd Squad
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Back to Neo Geo again, with a sequel to one of my favourite games on the system, Shock Troopers. I actually played this game first, playing it on an arcade machine in the wild long before I tried the original, and I remembered liking it a lot. However, in many ways it feels like a step back from the original. The beautiful sprite work of the original has been replaced by uglier pre-rendered graphics, and the number of characters was cut from 8 down to 4. They also got rid of the team mode where you could play as 3 characters you could switch between. Despite all of this though, the game is still a lot of fun at the core, with the usual running and blasting gameplay, and the addition of some vehicles to ride, Metal Slug style. The original is certainly the better game, but I think people tend to hold that against this one too much – it’s not as good, but it is still good, and you’ll have a fun time playing through it.


Tony Hawks Pro Skater 3
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I haven’t played this one since I was a teenager. A cousin of mine and I used to rent it a lot frok blockbuster, and we had a blast playing through. I remember really liking the Airport and Cruise Ship levels. Well, now I finally own a copy, and I spent a fun weekend playing through it again, clearing all missions on all levels as my own create-a-skater character. This is one of the highest rated games of all time as per Metacritic, and whilst I wouldn’t personally rate it as high as other games in the same ballpark of average score, I can still understand why – it achieves everything it sets out to do with a layer of polish, smooth controls and finesse that holds up amazingly today. I really enjoyed replaying this one.


Star Wars Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader
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I never owned this game back in the day, but I did rent it once or twice, and I remembered this game being really hard. I think maybe my memories were clouded by the genuinely much harder multiplayer version of this in Rebel Strike though, because I sat down to play this game one weekend over the summer, and I finished it in a few hours. I had a ton of fun playing through it though, and it was awesome to actually finish it as I had never done so before. The level variety in the game is fun, with some high points (any dogfighting space mission) and some low points (the stealth mission) throughout, but the quality level is consistent enough that you’ll have a great time and can easily overlook the few blips. The game also looks amazing for the system, especially considering it was a launch game. A fantastic time, and one I intend to come back to to get more medals one of these days.


Terranigma
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Terranigma is one of the few RPGs on SNES to get a European release, which is especially unexpected seeing as it didn’t get an American one. It’s a rare game and highly regarded, but I’ve never really looked into it much before. After playing it, I can certainly see why. It’s maybe not as consistently polished as other greats on the system such as Chrono Trigger or Final Fantasy VI, but it’s unique, ambitious and intriguing throughout. You play as a boy who accidentally triggers the beginning (?) of the world by opening a box. This causes all your fellow villagers to turn to crystal, so you journey the underworld to 5 towers to cure them. Upon clearing each tower a continent appears on the surface of the world. After saving your fellow villagers, ou are sent into the new world to help resurrect it, first by reviving life, then by guiding humans into great achievements in art, science, exploration and more. The game is an action RPG and you will explore areas fighting enemies and unlocking new abilities to help you clear dungeons. The game is quite poignant and has a lot to say, although it’s messaging is often confused and you’ll need to do a lot of reading into things yourself. I suspect this is partially issues with translation and partially just the way the game is. I had a great time with Terranigma, and I think it’s an experience well worth having. Expect something a little quirky, a little unusual and a little overambitious, but a game full of heart.


Neo Drift Out: New Technology
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Neo Drift Out is a top down racer for Neo Geo where you drive a rally car through a variety of courses. There’s not a lot to describe about the game – each course has several sections with checkpoints to extend your time, and you must drive as efficiently as possible to navigate the course under the time limit. There’s three cars to choose from with different balances of speed, turning and acceleration, and there’s only 7 courses to play on so it’s very short. It’s also a ton of fun though – the cars are excellent fun to control, with great steering, fun drifts around corners and a camera that pulls back enough to show you upcoming turns without you always crashing headfirst into every corner. Getting your times down enough to progress will take some work but it’s a lot of fun doing so. I’m not normally into this type of game, but this one is a blast. Play it if you can.


Sakura Taisen
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Sakura Taisen is a hybrid dating-sim and strategy RPG for Sega Saturn, that to my knowledge is a big deal in Japan, despite being almost unknown in the west. You play as a military officer assigned to a secret unit in a theatre in Tokyo. By day, the girls of the theatre perform plays, but when evil demons and robots attack 1920s steampunk Tokyo, they pilot their psychic mech battlesuits into combat. By romancing the ladies you can improve their mood causing them to fight more effectively, and maybe you’ll even get a date out of it. This is actually the second game in the series I’ve played – I’ve previously played the localised 5th game on Wii, but it was great being able to go back and see where it started with the fan translation of the original. I think the Wii game is better – the backstories, motives and plot points are stronger and better developed, but this is still a fun starting point. If you like anime and a bit of cheesiness, there’s a lot to like here.


Samba De Amigo
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I played Samba De Amigo as part of my summer games challenge. I started the game using the Maraca controllers, which are lot of fun – you shake the maracas high, middle or low on either side to hit the notes, and they’re reasonably accurate. However, unfortunately I had issues with my maracas as they kept losing detection, so I moved over the Dreamcast controller in the end. This was inevitable to some extent though, as beating this game requires clearing all of the challenges in challenge mode, and these are really quite tough. Even from the 2nd difficulty of 5, the game is asking you to clear songs with perfect ratings (no notes missed) and by the 5th difficulty, you’ll need to clear some of the toughest hard mode songs with perfects and beat the hardest song in the secret superhard difficulty with an A rank to finish. In all honesty, even at their best the maracas are just not responsive enough to handle this.

Playing with dreamcast controller is still a lot of fun, but a bit painful – hitting the top right, top left, bottom right or bottom left notes requires a diagonal press of the d-pad or two simultaneous button presses on the buttons, and in harder songs you’ll often be hitting two notes simultenously. Rapidly switch your thumb around to hit 2 buttons at once at pace starts to get painful and tiring quickly, especially with how uncomfy the dreamcast controllers is anyway.

Despite this though, I persevered and had a great time with the game. I also downloaded the DLC songs from the internet and got to play the music from Nights, Burning Rangers and Sonic R, so that was a lot of fun. The Maracas themselves aren’t holding up so well quite often these days, but even if you cant get the peripherals, Samba De Amigo is a ton of fun and well worth playing. If you’re not a rhythm expert though, just know that those credits are probably not within reach for you!


Pikmin 4
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I love Pikmin, so I was super excited to see Pikmin 4 was coming out. As more details came to light, I did start to worry as the game clearly took more inspiration from Pikmin 2 – a fan favourite for sure, but my least favourite in the series. The game features more combat, caves to explore and a focus on collecting treasures, just like 2, but for my money, it’s a much better game.

Pikmin 4 introduces Oatchi, who is a key focus of the game. Oatchi is super overpowered – he starts fairly wimpy but quickly becomes able to carry as much as 100 pikmin, take down small enemies alone, stun enemies in place, swim and more. Interestingly though, the game really focuses in on the idea of ‘dandori’ – effectively multitasking effectively to ensure that no time is wasted. Achieving some of the hardest challenges and rankings in Pikmin 4 requires you to really consider how to use Oatchi effectively alongside your pikmin – he may be able to do everything, but he cant do it all at once.

It’s a shame this is only really needed for the hardest challenges – Pikmin 4 is really quite easy otherwise, almost to a fault. It certainly doesn’t have the teeth of pikmin 1 and 2, but it does control wonderfully and it’s a great into game to the series. The game also has a ton of content compared to the previous 3, so it’ll keep you busy for some time. If you’re a pikmin fan like me, you’ll have a blast from start to finish.

Pikmin 4 isn’t the best the series has to offer – for me, 1 and 3 are both better games. But being better than those games is a high bar to clear, and Pikmin 4 is still excellent. One of my favourite games I’ve played this year so far, and well worth picking up.
Last edited by alienjesus on Wed Sep 20, 2023 5:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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marurun
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Re: Games Beaten 2023

Post by marurun »

Wow, fantastic review bonanza, AJ! Always enjoy your thoughts on games.
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elricorico
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Re: Games Beaten 2023

Post by elricorico »

1. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles(Arcade)(XBONE)
2. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles:Turtles in Time(Arcade) (XBONE)
3. Kirby Super Star Ultra (NDS)
4. Metal Slug II (PC)
5. Odin Sphere Leifthrasir (PS4)
6. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder's Revenge (Android)
7. Horizon Chase Turbo (PC)
8. Streets of Rage 4 (XBONE)
9. Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams - Owltimate Edition (NS)
10. Legend of the Skyfish (Android)

11. Triangle Strategy (NS)


I beat Triangle Strategy yesterday, after about 40 hours of gameplay. For those of you that have played I ended with Frederica's ending.

I've been a fan of tactic/strategy RPGs since I got Shining Force 2 near the time of its release, and I've played a lot of them over the years. This one is definitely high on my list for quality, probably the top for story and definitely would be in the running for overall fun-factor. I really enjoyed the characters(I like that no two are really the same, and I didn't find any truly unusable). The battle system rewards trying different things. Grinding was pretty enjoyable. The graphics are top notch.

There were times where the pacing fell off because too much story was told in between battles, but the story was strong enough that I rarely minded. If I had one real complaint I would say that this game practically requires either a walkthrough to get the best ending or multiple playthroughs. For some that would just crank up the replayability, but for me it is a bit of a downer. I didn't want to spoil anything with a walkthrough, so I never really had much chance of getting the best ending, and with limited play time available I don't see myself making another run through this game anytime soon.

That being said this was well worth my time and I would absolutely recommend it to anyone that enjoys the genre. So long as you can tolerate a bit of long-windedness I can't imagine it being a disappointment.
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PartridgeSenpai
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Re: Games Beaten 2023

Post by PartridgeSenpai »

Partridge Senpai's 2023 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)
5. Dragon Quest III (SFC)
6. Dragon Quest VIII (PS2)
7. Dragon Quest Monsters (GBC)
8. Mario Party 6 (GC)
9. Last Bible 3 (SFC)
10. Mario Party 4 (GC)
11. Kirby and the Forgotten Land (Switch)
12. Final Fantasy: Mystic Quest (SFC)
13. Chrono Trigger (SFC) *
14. BoxBoy + BoxGirl! (Switch)
15. The Murder of Sonic The Hedgehog (PC)
16. SaGa (GB)
17. Wario Land 3 (GBC) *
18. Sutte Hakkun (SFC)
19. Kane & Lynch 2 (PC)
20. Burger Time Deluxe (GB)
21. Super Mario Advance 4: World e+ (GBA)
22. Bomberman GB 2 (GB)
23. Mario Party 5 (GC)
24. Klonoa: door to phantomile (PS1)
25. Mario Party 7 (GC)
26. Mario Party (N64) *
27. Crash Bash (PS1)
28. Balan Wonderworld (PS4)
29. From TV Animation One Piece Tobidase Kaizokudan! (PS1)
30. One Piece Pirate Warriors 3 (Vita)
31. Atelier Iris: Grand Phantasm (PS2)
32. Mana Khemia: Alchemists of Al-Revis (PS2)
33. Mana Khemia 2: Fall of Alchemy (PS2)
34. Crusader of Centy (Genesis)
35. Shadow Hearts (PS2)
36. White Album (PS3)
37. Shadow Hearts 2 (PS2)
38. Shadow Hearts: From the New World (PS2)
39. The Hunt for the Red October (GB)
40. Wild Arms (PS1)
41. Wild Arms 2 (PS1)
42. Custom Robo V2 (N64)
43. Mischief Makers (N64)

44. Quest 64 (N64)

This is a game I’ve heard called awful and bad for years and years. One of the very first (and of course ultimately one of the only) RPGs on the N64, for some reason I had it in my head that it was a western-developed game for the N64. Only recently did I discover so much more about it, like that it’s both developed and published by Imagineer, a Japanese developer. Not only that, but it was also released in North America *first* by almost a year, and the Japanese version (known by the far less catchy title “Eltale Monsters”) actually has a mentionable amount more polish and content as a result. Now I never went into this game thinking that the Japanese version would be some secret super edition of the game that suddenly turned it into something awesome, and that is absolutely what I found to be the case. Nonetheless, I found Quest 64 to be a far better game than its reputation would lead one to believe, even if it still doesn’t exactly deserve a stellar reputation regardless. It took me about 9 hours to play through the Japanese version of the game on real hardware.

Quest 64 (aka Eltale Monsters in Japan (aka Holy Magic Century in PAL regions)) is the tale of Brian (aka Jean Jacques in Japan (aka Aryon in PAL regions)) and his quest to save the land of Celtland (which the Japanese version does confirm is pronounced with a soft ‘c’ sound). The magic Tome of Eltale has been stolen, and its destructive power could potentially be catastrophic. Though only a novice elementalist of 12 years old, with his father having gone missing on this very same quest, it’s up to Jacques to be the world’s savior and figure out what’s going on here in the first place.

Being an N64 game, Quest 64 struggles with a lot of issues that RPGs on the system faced in terms of cutscenes and dialogue storage, and they are very present through a lot of the game’s presentation. One of the more notable things in the Japanese version is a slightly revised script and a completely redone ending, so things are a *little* more polished up here, especially as far as the end of the story goes, but it’s still really nothing special. That’s one reason why talking about the English translation in comparison to the Japanese is a bit difficult. So much is genuinely changed in a way localization couldn’t’ve been responsible for that it’s nearly impossible in a lot of cases to say what might’ve been the result of a bad translation and what is the result of that part of the story simply having been changed since the game had been released in English.

Honestly, for a game from 1998/1999, Quest 64 feels far more like something that would’ve been expected nearly a decade earlier on the Famicom. NPCs basically never move (so in-game scripted events are basically nonexistent), the story and adventure are so linear that there are very few returning characters, and the bulk of the plot is defined by the twist at the end. The dialogue is still written quite well, regardless, and there are some memorable characters here and there, but overall, while I wouldn’t call the story “bad”, I’d absolutely say it is immensely underwhelming for the time, and I don’t blame people at all for feeling it was boring then or now. If you hold your expectations accordingly, I still think it can be a fun little adventure, but if you expect something to rival its contemporaries on the PS1 and Saturn, you’re going to be very sorely disappointed.

Mechanically, there is a lot that is VERY strange about Quest 64, and in some cases (in)famously so. Running into a lot of hurdles with the N64’s hardware that other RPGs on the system also faced, there are a lot of staples of the genre that are completely or virtually absent here. For example, Quest 64 has no money, it has no shops, it has no equipment items, and it has no party members. While it does have an inventory for you, all items are either found in chests or given to you by NPCs (many of whom will give you an item only if you have completely run out of that item already). This also means inns, which are your save points, are completely free as well. While this *does* mean that you can’t grind up cash to extra healing items or to buy better gear if you’re having a hard time, this isn’t really a problem in large part due to just how easy a game Quest 64 is.

A lot of the difficulty is VERY front-loaded, with the first boss of the game being by far its hardest fight, with things getting progressively easier and easier due to how the magic and combat systems function. Your stats are quite weird in Quest 64. To raise your agility, you just run around the world. Raising your attack requires raising your HP as the two are linked, so get bopped on the head and do bops on the head yourself to raise your defense and HP. Your max MP is increased by casting more spells, and you heal MP by either dealing physical damage in battle or by just running around the world. It’s a quite nifty system, almost like a more approachable version of how the old SaGa games worked, but the way your magic works is also quite unconventional.

By finding little wisps in the world or just by doing enough battles, you’ll be able to level up one of your four elements of earth, water, air, and fire (up to a max of 50). Upgrading different ones will allow you to mix and match elements (up to three) to cast spells ranging from healing to utility escape spells to buffs to good old attacking magic. The only issue there is that the magic system is designed in such a fashion that there is a very straightforwardly best possible battle strategy and therefore upgrade path. Water + earth is your level 1 healing spell, and adding a level 3 earth on the end there will get you healing level 2. As your MP is healed not just by running around but also bapping things with your mage’s staff (physical attacks), this means that a pretty golden strategy is bap with staff to regain MP, heal, rinse and repeat. There are some times where you’ll need to use some kind of magic to hurt enemies or bosses, but even physical immune enemies are very easily run away from, so you don’t really have any emphasis to not just play the game this way.

Sure, random encounters are a bit too common (and they make just how easy it is to get turned around in dungeons even easier as a result) and enemy weaknesses are extremely arbitrary and hard to guess, but factors like this just don’t really matter much in the face of just how easy it is to trivialize basically all combat. I’d love to praise how you kinda have a real-time element to this turn-based game, as you can actually run-around during enemy turns to genuinely avoid their attacks, and that’s a super cool thing in an RPG of this time. I’d also like to praise the game for being a more approachable RPG in an era where a lot of RPGs were generally on the harder end of things still. But it’s hard to do that when so much of the game’s systems just don’t matter in the face of these larger execution problems. As with the story, while I can’t really call the game’s mechanical systems outright bad, their sloppy execution and rough difficulty curve certainly makes people not being enthused with them very understandable.

The aesthetics of the game are all around pretty decent for a game released in mid-1998. The graphics are cute and charming, and while the actual environments aren’t terribly impressive (and all often look so similar that getting completely turned around is far too easy with how you actually have 0 manual camera control), the monster and NPC designs are very nicely done.The music is all around pretty good too, although it is very amusing with just how many sound effects sound *extremely* similar to ones also used in Link to the Past x3

Verdict: Hesitantly Recommended. Quest 64 is absolutely not a bad game, particularly for the time. That said, it is very far from flawless, and only the most dedicated RPG or N64 fans really have much reason to look back on it nowadays. Seeing the additions and polishes the Japanese version added was a very cool experience, but it still can’t save this game from being a cool historical footnote unable to live up to the ambition it was clearly conceived with.


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45. Maximo Vs. Army of Zin (PS2)

I played the first Maximo almost exactly two years ago, and I actually bought this game very soon after, but just never got around to it. The first game was just challenging and awkward enough to play and finish that I never found myself *really* wanting to hop back in and try and complete it for real this time. I wanted a bit of a break from PS1 RPGs, however, so I thought I might as well knock out some of the shorter PS2 action games I had lying around while I was at it, and hits definitely seemed like it fit the bill. It took me around 7 hours to complete the Japanese version of the game on real hardware.

Maximo Vs. Army of Zin is really exactly what it says on the tin in regards to the narrative. Some time after the events of the first Maximo, our titular hero is still traveling around with his good friend Grim the grim reaper trying to find his lost lady love Queen Sophia (dead or alive) after the events of the last game. However, he stumbles into an entirely new conflict, as the nefarious, immortal soul-powered machines called Zin have mysteriously and suddenly returned despite having been sealed underground centuries ago. It’s up to Maximo and Grim to once again don their sword, shield, armor, and heart-print boxers to get out there and save the world from this evil threat!

As far as PS2 action game narratives go, it’s nothing really special, but it’s got a lot of character to it, and it makes for very fun set dressing for our larger adventure. It’s overall a bit better done than the first game’s story, having a slightly stronger cast of characters to help it in that regard, and the English VA (for which there is actually no Japanese dub at all) also goes a long way in bringing the story to life too (which makes it even funnier that the dub can't seem to decide if Zin is pronounced with a 'z' sound or a 'j' sound x3). Interestingly, just as there’s no Japanese dub (which is understandable, as a TON of Capcom games from this era have that same quality to them), the Japanese subtitles are also quite bad and really don’t try at all to capture the fun quirkiness of the English dialogue, so that was somewhat of a shame for this particular release at least.

The mechanics of the game are really just more Maximo but a bit better polished up than last time. We’re still very much dealing with a 3D revival of Ghouls & Ghosts, complete with Maximo in his Arthur-like heart-print boxers, but with an overall easier approach to its design than the far more viscous older G&G games had. You still hack and slash to defeat enemies, and you also still have several mini-health bars to your armor pieces instead of you just having one hit per armor piece. This game also has some pretty mean platforming sections, particularly in the first half, that really require you to get comfortable with how you have two jumps all the time (even after falling off of a ledge) to actually reach your far-flung destinations.

Overall, I’d say it’s all just better put together than the first Maximo was though. Being able to actually control the camera with the right stick this time is a very big reason for that, but it also felt that enemies hit a bit less hard and checkpoints are just a bit more generous than they were in the last game. Getting rid of the hub worlds in favor of just one big world map as well making it so you can effectively never lose your throwable shield were also very significant improvements towards making the game more fun as well as less needlessly punishing. Bosses are still no slouch, mind you, with the final boss in particular being an absolute monster, and 100%-ing stages is something only for the truly brave of heart. There’s also the fact that while yes, you get a lot of money from rescuing villagers and such in stages, but those prizes can only be gotten once a save file, so while you *can* buy power ups and money with in-game gold you collect at merchants, grinding for money is certainly not made easy. That said, I’d still nevertheless say that this is at least a *little* easier and better polished than the first Maximo even if the difficulty is still likely going to be quite a turn off for some.

Aesthetically, this is, again, an enhancement on the first Maximo. The art style is still very much a continuation of that game’s, so if you liked that game’s art, you’re gonna like this one’s too. The music is also quite good, with some of the boss fight themes in particular being great. I’m not gonna say it’s one of the best looking games on the PS2, but it’s still quite a good looking game nonetheless, and very much what you’d expect from a big publisher like Capcom in the system’s midlife era.

Verdict: Recommended. This is honestly kind of a difficult game to recommend despite the verdict, but I still think it’s a good game worth playing either way. This is absolutely *not* a game to tread lightly with if you aren’t quite comfortable with 3D platformer action games, but if that’s your jam and you’re not afraid of something a bit more unforgiving, then this is totally a game worth checking out. It’s not going to change your life, sure, but I think it’ll still make for a fun weekend for you like it did for me either way~.


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46. Klonoa 2: Lunatea's Veil (PS2)

While I was at it with playing PS2 action games that are sequels to games I’d beaten earlier, I thought why not play Klonoa 2 as well. I enjoyed the first Klonoa a fair bit, but it certainly had a fair bit of room for improvement. I’d heard nothing but great things about its sequel here, so I figured it was high time I finally get to checking out what Klonoa’s second big adventure was all about. It took me around 7 hours to beat the game getting all of the doll pieces in each stage, and I played the Japanese version of the game on real hardware.

Klonoa 2’s narrative follows our titular character as he’s pulled into a mysterious dream world to save it from the encroaching forces of darkness. He must help his new friends ring the five bells scattered around the land while constantly keeping the nefarious sky pirates at bay as well. It’s something that very much feels like something out of a Japanese children’s film or OVA series of the era, and it’s got a lot of the same writing beats and such that you’d expect to see as a result, and it does a pretty good job at executing upon them. Learning a valuable lesson from the first Klonoa, it cuts down on the cast a LOT and that does absolute wonders for the narrative as a result.

Nonetheless, I still think the game has a bit *too* much text in places, and it makes for some very stop-and-start pacing between the action & story telling that I grew to find grating far before the game’s end point. Though, at least in my case, that may be because the overall themes it’s going for are things I’ve seen quite a few times in other games and done better in them. The story certainly isn’t bad by any means, goodness no, but given how heavily I’d had this game’s story hyped up to me as a super well done emotional narrative, I found it decidedly lesser in that regard for my tastes at least.

Mechanically, I can’t really sum it up better than saying that this game is absolutely a successor to the first Klonoa. You still have a 2.5D action platformer centered around grabbing enemies and objects and using them to launch yourself up and around stages. There are 6 special goodies to collect in every stage, and collecting all of them will unlock a couple of far harder challenge stages to play (which unlock you the sound test, just like in Klonoa 1), but that isn’t to say the main game isn’t difficult on its own. While some stages (particularly the burning city) are *far* harder than the rest of the game, the usual source of the game’s difficulty usually comes from how you only have a health bar of 3 hits before you die. The platforming itself isn’t usually that hard (indistinct contrast to Klonoa 1), but that 3 hits between you and death is more often than not what will lead to your death, particularly in boss fights. It’s a very well constructed little platformer with some fun gimmick levels to spice things up, and while it’s overall not quite as hard as Klonoa 1, it’ll still provide more than adequate challenge for any seasoned veteran of the genre looking for something a bit meatier to sink their teeth into.

The aesthetics are also very much more Klonoa, but as this is a game with the power of the PS2 (albeit one released barely after the console’s first birthday), we’ve dropped more or less any 2D stuff for all 3D models. Klonoa and friends, all the characters really, have wonderfully adorable designs that my friends watching me play described as having Dreamcast aesthetics (which I’m inclined to agree with). The dream world itself’s designs are also very pretty, and it all makes for a great adventure. Also adding to that is the soundtrack, which is also excellent.

Verdict: Recommended. While Klonoa 2 didn’t live up to the super hype it’d been sold to me as, it’s still a quite good game nonetheless. If you’re into 2D action platformers and don’t mind a relatively difficult time, then this is absolutely one you shouldn’t sleep on. However, if you’re someone who is less comfortable with 2D platformers but still love the aesthetics of the game, it might be worth looking at some bits of a playthrough online before you run out and buy the remasters recently released for modern systems.


Spoiler'd for space :>
I identify everyone via avatar, so if you change your avatar, I genuinely might completely forget who you are. -- Me
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