Games Beaten 2023

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MrPopo
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Re: Games Beaten 2023

Post by MrPopo »

Big Red One sounds like one of your VNs not appropriate for the children.
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ElkinFencer10
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Re: Games Beaten 2023

Post by ElkinFencer10 »

Games Beaten in 2023 - 39
* denotes a replay

January (5 Games Beaten)
1. Banner of the Maid - Switch - January 2
2. Silver Falls: 3 Down Stars - 3DS - January 8
3. Silver Falls: Episode Prelude - Switch - January 8
4. The Pathless - PlayStation 5 - January 12
5. Modern Combat: Blackout - Switch - January 14


February (7 Games Beaten)
6. Fire Emblem: Engage - Switch - February 2
7. Dragon Quest Builders 2 - PlayStation 4 - February 15
8. Silver Falls: Undertakers - Wii U - February 16
9. Silver Falls: White Inside Its Umbra - Wii U - February 18
10. Silver Falls: Guardians and Metal Exterminators - 3DS - February 22
11. Silver Falls: Frontier Fighters Mini - Browser - February 22
12. Silver Falls: Ghoul Busters - Switch - February 24


March (7 Games Beaten)
13. Red Colony - Switch - March 5
14. Hentai World - Switch - March 5
15. Silver Falls Gaiden: Deathly Delusion Destroyers - 3DS - March 9
16. Silver Falls: Galaxy Bound Curse - Game Boy Color - March 12
17. Vs. Super Mario Bros - Switch - March 13
18. Dead Space - PlayStation 5 - March 17
19. Neptunia X Senran Kagura: Ninja Wars - Switch - March 24


April (3 Games Beaten)
20. Super Mario Bros - NES - April 10*
21. Super Mario Bros 3 - NES - April 11*
22. Back 4 Blood - Series X - April 17


May (0 Games Beaten)
I suck :(


June (6 Games Beaten)
23. Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom - Switch - June 10
24. Resident Evil 4 - PlayStation 5 - June 11
25. Hentai Girls - Switch - June 11
26. Halo Infinite - Series X - June 12
27. Star Trek: Resurgence - Series X - June 14
28. Redfall - Series X - June 18


July (8 Games Beaten)
29. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare [2019] - Xbox One - July 15
30. Neptunia: Sisters vs Sisters - PlayStation 5 - July 17
31. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Remastered - PlayStation 4 - July 18
32. My Little Pony: A Maretime Bay Adventure - PlayStation 5 - July 18
33. Final Fantasy XVI - PlayStation 5 - July 26
34. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II [2022] - PlayStation 5 - July 27
35. Gears of War Ultimate Edition - Xbox One - July 27
36. Gears of War 2 - Xbox 360 - July 30*


August (3 Games Beaten)
37. Call of Duty: World at War - Xbox 360 - August 2*
38. Call of Duty: World at War - Final Fronts - PlayStation 2 - August 6
39. Gears of War 3 - Xbox 360 - August 10


39. Gears of War 3 - Xbox 360 - August 10

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Gears of War was, alongside Halo and Forza, part of the holy trinity of Xbox IPs in the mid to late 2000s. It brought a level of visceral violence to which most gamers weren’t accustomed, and it coupled it with solid voice acting and an interesting storyline even if the world was almost completely desaturated. Gears of War started off rad, and Gears of War 2 kicked things into high gear. When Gears of War 3 dropped in 2011, Xbox fans were stoked.

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Gears of War 3 is a direct sequel picking up after the events of the second game, and Epic really put some real emphasis on character and world development here. The fact that a game about roided up dudebros with chainsaw machine guns can make me cry is all you need to know about the writing and voice performance in Gears 3. The lore is really moved along in a meaningful way here, and while it serves as the end to this particular Gears saga, it thankfully left the door open to future installments, thus Gears 4 and 5.

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Visually, Gears of War 3 takes the foundation of the previous two games and applies further polish and refinement. It’s not as big a graphical leap as Halo 3 to Halo 4, but it looks impressive nonetheless. As with the previous two games, the sound design is fantastic in terms of music, combat sound effects, and voice acting. No one can mistake the sound of a Lancer’s chainsaw revving up or the sound of a Boomer’s shouting “BOOM!” before firing a grenade at you. The addition of the Retro Lancer’s bayonet is my favorite new weapon in Gears 3.

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Gears of War 3 was initially expected to be the end of a series, but it thankfully ended up being more of a turning point than an end. The story and character development arguably peaked for the series with Gears of War 3, but whether Gears 3 is your favorite or if you prefer Gears 5, this game is absolutely worth dusting off your Xbox 360 or popping that old disc into your Xbox Series X. It’s an exceptional sci-fi war shooter that reinforces the idea that a war shooter doesn’t have to be first person to be badass.
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Re: Games Beaten 2023

Post by Limewater »

Bubble Bobble (NES, 1988)
Played on a real cartridge I found in a thrift shop around 2008 or so. It was water damaged and well-worn, and I never actually got it working until a few weeks ago. All it really needed was a few rounds of extremely thorough cleaning, including disassembly, white vinegar, DeOxit, isopropyl, a white eraser, water, and a hair dryer.

I really enjoyed my time with Bubble Bobble. I played it primarily as a one-player game. This makes things significantly more difficult, and you have to do some things I believe the game did not intend for you to do to make it through. The game was really designed for two players, and I'll discuss this in a moment.

In Bubble Bobble you play as Bubblun (player 1) and Bobblun (player 2), but they are never really called by these names in the game until the end. Today, they are more commonly known as Bub and Bob. Interestingly enough, in one of the endings, they are actually referred to as Bobby and Babby. In the game, the two brothers have been turned into dragons who shoot bubbles out of their mouths and their girlfriends have been kidnapped and taken deep into the cave of monsters.

Each level is a single screen, with enemies dropped from the ceiling and running around. To defeat enemies, you capture them in bubbles and then pop them. If you don't pop the bubble in time, the enemy will pop back out angry. You can also bounce on the bubbles and use them to get places you otherwise could not. There are over 100 levels in the game and a surprising number of endings. The password system is very nice, allowing you to return to the exact level you died on in either single or two-player modes. This is very nice because, as i mentioned before, the game is really designed for two players, and you really do have to play it in that mode to get the best ending. I really appreciated being able to just switch to two-player mode when I had to.

The game shows that it is designed for two players in several ways. This first clear demonstration of this is in level 57. In this level, you begin at the bottom of the screen while enemies called invaders run back and forth on a platform at the top, shooting lightning bolts or something down below them. The level is clearly intended to have one player shoot bubbles to the center of the screen while the other bounces on top of them as the stack gets higher.
With only one player you have to either execute a very difficult and unintuitive maneuver with near-perfect timing or hope for a power-up drop that clears the screen. I had to do the former.

You encounter this again in level 99. At the risk of giving away spoilers, there is a secret in level 99 that is designed to require two people to execute. This puts you on the secret path to the true final boss and the true ending. Player 2 is supposed to grab a crystal ball that makes a secret door appear in a hard-to-reach area. Player 1 is supposed to just immediately head to the area to get there in time.
As a single player it is possible to execute by yourself, but it is so difficult that it was widely reported to be impossible in the eighties and nineties. It took me many, many attempts to pull off, and that's with the benefit of having video of it being done available on Youtube.

Beating level 99 like normal takes you to the final boss in level 100, but if you beat him there you get the first bad ending. However, the game is kind enough to give you the password back to level 99 and a very strong hint on how to access the secret path.
The secret path gives you another 13 levels to complete before meeting the final boss, whose battle is identical to the one you would encounter in level 100.
However, if you beat him, you STILL get a bad ending! Even with two players if one of them has lost all of his lives!
Again, the game is nice enough to give you the password to the previous level and tell you that you have to finish it with a friend.

So, to really beat the game with one player, you have to enter the level in two-player mode, beat the boss with at least one extra life, then, before performing the final action to end the level, press "start" and "select" to share your extra life with player 2 so he'll be alive.

This gets you the first good ending and a message that your quest is not over, opening access to SUPER BUBBLE BOBBLE!

That's right, to get the best ending, you now have to beat the whole game again on a higher difficulty mode. More basic enemies are replaced with harder ones, some enemies are faster, and they break out of bubbles more quickly. Despite this, I got through the second play-through more easily than the first. I dreaded trying to get through level 57 again, and it was significantly more difficult the second time through, but I got very lucky with a power-up that wiped out all enemies on maybe my twentieth attempt. I was also concerned about level 99, since you have to take the secret passage on the second play-through as well, but really it was not significantly more difficult the second time though, which was nice.

Super Drunk, the final boss, has more health on the second play-through, but moves exactly the same, so once you've learned how to beat him in regular Bubble Bobble he isn't really much harder in Super Bubble Bobble.

For full disclosure, my son did actually play a few levels of this game with me, but curiously wasn't interested in helping on levels 57, 99, or Super Drunk!

I loved Bubble Bobble and would recommend it to anyone. It was a lot of fun and the infinite continues and simple password system really makes it pretty forgiving, despite some levels being pretty difficult.
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Re: Games Beaten 2023

Post by ElkinFencer10 »

Games Beaten in 2023 - 40
* denotes a replay

January (5 Games Beaten)
1. Banner of the Maid - Switch - January 2
2. Silver Falls: 3 Down Stars - 3DS - January 8
3. Silver Falls: Episode Prelude - Switch - January 8
4. The Pathless - PlayStation 5 - January 12
5. Modern Combat: Blackout - Switch - January 14


February (7 Games Beaten)
6. Fire Emblem: Engage - Switch - February 2
7. Dragon Quest Builders 2 - PlayStation 4 - February 15
8. Silver Falls: Undertakers - Wii U - February 16
9. Silver Falls: White Inside Its Umbra - Wii U - February 18
10. Silver Falls: Guardians and Metal Exterminators - 3DS - February 22
11. Silver Falls: Frontier Fighters Mini - Browser - February 22
12. Silver Falls: Ghoul Busters - Switch - February 24


March (7 Games Beaten)
13. Red Colony - Switch - March 5
14. Hentai World - Switch - March 5
15. Silver Falls Gaiden: Deathly Delusion Destroyers - 3DS - March 9
16. Silver Falls: Galaxy Bound Curse - Game Boy Color - March 12
17. Vs. Super Mario Bros - Switch - March 13
18. Dead Space - PlayStation 5 - March 17
19. Neptunia X Senran Kagura: Ninja Wars - Switch - March 24


April (3 Games Beaten)
20. Super Mario Bros - NES - April 10*
21. Super Mario Bros 3 - NES - April 11*
22. Back 4 Blood - Series X - April 17


May (0 Games Beaten)
I suck :(


June (6 Games Beaten)
23. Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom - Switch - June 10
24. Resident Evil 4 - PlayStation 5 - June 11
25. Hentai Girls - Switch - June 11
26. Halo Infinite - Series X - June 12
27. Star Trek: Resurgence - Series X - June 14
28. Redfall - Series X - June 18


July (8 Games Beaten)
29. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare [2019] - Xbox One - July 15
30. Neptunia: Sisters vs Sisters - PlayStation 5 - July 17
31. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Remastered - PlayStation 4 - July 18
32. My Little Pony: A Maretime Bay Adventure - PlayStation 5 - July 18
33. Final Fantasy XVI - PlayStation 5 - July 26
34. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II [2022] - PlayStation 5 - July 27
35. Gears of War Ultimate Edition - Xbox One - July 27
36. Gears of War 2 - Xbox 360 - July 30*


August (3 Games Beaten)
37. Call of Duty: World at War - Xbox 360 - August 2*
38. Call of Duty: World at War - Final Fronts - PlayStation 2 - August 6
39. Gears of War 3 - Xbox 360 - August 10


September (0 Games Beaten)
idk man, I think I spent the whole damn month playing Pokemon and Battlefield 2042


October (1 Games Beaten)
40. The Quarry - PlayStation 5 - October 7


40. The Quarry - PlayStation 5 - October 7

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Supermassive Games is a studio of which I'm quite fond. Until Dawn is one of my favorite horror games because of its intensely character and choice driven cinematic focus matched only by TellTale's games. Their Dark Pictures Anthology tetralogy was met with mixed reviews although I enjoyed it, but they broke free from that label with The Quarry in an attempt to recapture the magic of Until Dawn. Did they succeed? Well...yes and no.

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Critics have been pretty hard on The Quarry, but I quite enjoyed the game. The character models are extremely impressive, and the voice acting and sound design is excellent. I enjoyed the story, although it did feel a lot like "Until Dawn again." On the one hand, that's not necessarily a bad thing if you haven't played Until Dawn, but it can take a bit of the wind out of your sails if you have played Until Dawn. You play as some camp counselors on the night after the deep-in-the-woods camp ends. Sort of Friday 13th vibes minus the serial killer. Being a Supermassive game, the antagonist is obviously something supernatural, not just a serial killer, and as is par for the course for their games, your choices and response to quick time events determines which characters live, which characters die, and how the story ends.

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The only real negative about the game is that the camera is complete garbage in a few places. Most of the time, it's perfectly fine, but there are a few angles where the camera adamantly refuses to cooperate. The quick time events are also much simpler here than in past games which makes them a little less tense. The story takes its sweet time really picking up after a prologue, but I personally didn't mind the slow build-up of tension.

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There are a few minor glitches here and there, and the camera can be obnoxious, but overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the game. The models look fantastic, the story is fairly generic but nonetheless enjoyable, and the characters are a fun cast. It's not quite as good as Until Dawn, but it's probably my second favorite Supermassive game.
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Re: Games Beaten 2023

Post by ElkinFencer10 »

Games Beaten in 2023 - 41
* denotes a replay

January (5 Games Beaten)
1. Banner of the Maid - Switch - January 2
2. Silver Falls: 3 Down Stars - 3DS - January 8
3. Silver Falls: Episode Prelude - Switch - January 8
4. The Pathless - PlayStation 5 - January 12
5. Modern Combat: Blackout - Switch - January 14


February (7 Games Beaten)
6. Fire Emblem: Engage - Switch - February 2
7. Dragon Quest Builders 2 - PlayStation 4 - February 15
8. Silver Falls: Undertakers - Wii U - February 16
9. Silver Falls: White Inside Its Umbra - Wii U - February 18
10. Silver Falls: Guardians and Metal Exterminators - 3DS - February 22
11. Silver Falls: Frontier Fighters Mini - Browser - February 22
12. Silver Falls: Ghoul Busters - Switch - February 24


March (7 Games Beaten)
13. Red Colony - Switch - March 5
14. Hentai World - Switch - March 5
15. Silver Falls Gaiden: Deathly Delusion Destroyers - 3DS - March 9
16. Silver Falls: Galaxy Bound Curse - Game Boy Color - March 12
17. Vs. Super Mario Bros - Switch - March 13
18. Dead Space - PlayStation 5 - March 17
19. Neptunia X Senran Kagura: Ninja Wars - Switch - March 24


April (3 Games Beaten)
20. Super Mario Bros - NES - April 10*
21. Super Mario Bros 3 - NES - April 11*
22. Back 4 Blood - Series X - April 17


May (0 Games Beaten)
I suck :(


June (6 Games Beaten)
23. Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom - Switch - June 10
24. Resident Evil 4 - PlayStation 5 - June 11
25. Hentai Girls - Switch - June 11
26. Halo Infinite - Series X - June 12
27. Star Trek: Resurgence - Series X - June 14
28. Redfall - Series X - June 18


July (8 Games Beaten)
29. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare [2019] - Xbox One - July 15
30. Neptunia: Sisters vs Sisters - PlayStation 5 - July 17
31. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Remastered - PlayStation 4 - July 18
32. My Little Pony: A Maretime Bay Adventure - PlayStation 5 - July 18
33. Final Fantasy XVI - PlayStation 5 - July 26
34. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II [2022] - PlayStation 5 - July 27
35. Gears of War Ultimate Edition - Xbox One - July 27
36. Gears of War 2 - Xbox 360 - July 30*


August (3 Games Beaten)
37. Call of Duty: World at War - Xbox 360 - August 2*
38. Call of Duty: World at War - Final Fronts - PlayStation 2 - August 6
39. Gears of War 3 - Xbox 360 - August 10


September (0 Games Beaten)
idk man, I think I spent the whole damn month playing Pokemon and Battlefield 2042


October (2 Games Beaten)
40. The Quarry - PlayStation 5 - October 7
41. The Dark Pictures Anthology: Little Hope - PlayStation 4 - October 8


41. The Dark Pictures Anthology: Little Hope - PlayStation 4 - October 8

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If you’ve played any games by Supermassive, known most for their incredible work on Until Dawn, then you know basically how all of the games in their Dark Pictures Anthology series work. I played Man in Medan last October for Halloween, but I’ve since collected the other three games in the series, so this year, I decided I’d go through the remaining three starting with Little Hope.

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Little Hope takes place in the northeastern ghost town of Little Hope, long abandoned after the closure of the textile factory that kept the town’s economy afloat. As is hinted at in the beginning and revealed bit by bit over the course of the game, the town has a dark history relating to witchcraft and the occult. You play as a group of five people - a college professor and his four students - as you find yourselves stranded in Little Hope after a bus crash. As you try to survive the night and the pursuit of supernatural creatures, you piece together the mystery of the strange goings on in the abandoned town. Its strongly character-driven and choice-based approach isn’t going to be everyone’s cup of tea when it comes to horror, but it perfectly fits what I look for in a horror experience.

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The game’s atmosphere and general aesthetic is very reminiscent of Silent Hill as both towns are abandoned, haunted by supernatural monsters and bad memories, and blanketed in a thick layer of eerie fog. The character models are absolutely fantastic, and the game’s sound design adds to the creepy ambiance and the overall vibe of the experience. Compared to the previous Dark Pictures Anthology game, Man in Medan, I found the environment of the town to be a bit less ensnaring than the abandoned ship and the characters less interesting, but the overall story and ending was better in my opinion.

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If you want a thrilling horror experience like Dino Crisis or Resident Evil 4, then Little Hope probably isn’t for you. If you liked TellTale’s games, though, especially their Walking Dead games, then this is definitely going to appeal to you. I adore Supermassive’s games, even the ones that most critics are lukewarm on, and this is one of those lukewarm ones; it’s got a 71 on Metacritic. It’s definitely not a masterpiece, but I thoroughly enjoyed it from start to finish and have no problem recommending it to others.
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Re: Games Beaten 2023

Post by MrPopo »

Previous Years: 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022

First 50:

51. This Way Madness Lies - PC
52. Mechwarrior 5: Mercenaries: The Dragon's Gambit - PC
53. Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty - PC
54. Sprawl - PC
55. Zortch - PC
56. Ion Fury: Aftershock - PC
57. Spider-Man 2 - PS5
58. Alan Wake II - PC

Alan Wake 2 serves as a sequel to the original and its spinoff American Nightmare and feels like Remedy has finally been able to make the game they originally envisioned. It continues the themes of the first game, adds in all the worldbuilding that Control added to the Remedy universe, and features gameplay that doesn't make you want to stab your ear with a knitting needle.

The game begins with FBI agent Saga Anderson and her partner Alex Casey (a straight up Max Payne stand in, reuniting Sam Lake's face and James McCaffrey's voice) as they head to Bright Falls, WA to investigate a strange murder. Poking around the site they discover manuscript pages from a story called "Return", written by Alan Wake. As the Dark Presence once again tries to break free Saga must try and get to the bottom of things, while Alan Wake tries to escape the Dark Place that has kept him trapped for 13 years.

While the original game was an action game with horror elements, Alan Wake 2 is a proper survival horror and is all the better for it. It keeps the same basic pattern of "shine light on enemy to make vulnerable, then shoot dead", but by taking on the standard of survival horror you now have another option; run. While there are forced fights, many of the encounters are obstacles that can be avoided or fought, depending on how you're feeling. To support this, the environments are now more open, with the shortcut opening and puzzle solving and key finding you would expect to find in a Resident Evil game. This suites the overall feeling of the story better, and allows the player to stew in the ambiance more as you investigate.

While the beginning and end of the game are fixed, the middle of the game lets you jump back and forth between the two protagonists at will, as they each try to make sense of what is going on and bring things to a conclusion. Each character has their own unique mechanics. Saga Anderson spends time putting up the big board with pictures and string you see in all the crime shows; these allow her to gain insights into what's going on and allows her to find key items to get through progress gates. Alan Wake, on the other hand, uses the fact he's trapped in a dimension that turns art into reality by using his writing ability to alter the world around him. At various key locations he can change the scene to focus on a particular plot point; this will cause objects to appear and disappear and allow him to reach places he couldn't before. The game makes fun use of dream physics in the Dark Place; do not expect paths to make sense or be physically possible if plotted on a map.

The game focuses heavily on the story and the characters, and the gunplay being an afterthought (like in the first) is part of what makes the shift to survival horror work well. You have long sequences of poking around creepy locals, picking up clues, and figuring out the details of the plot, rather than needing to keep dealing with enemies all the time. The story is very well told, though it can be tricky to follow due to its very nature. This is not a game to play in fits and spurts; you're best off knocking it out while things are still fresh in your memory.

Alan Wake 2 demonstrates Remedy having confidence in their ability to tell longer, ongoing stories across their games, and shape an interesting world with its own rules. I'm very much looking forward to what else they decide to create, now that things are going so successfully for them.
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Re: Games Beaten 2023

Post by ElkinFencer10 »

Games Beaten in 2023 - 42
* denotes a replay

January (5 Games Beaten)
1. Banner of the Maid - Switch - January 2
2. Silver Falls: 3 Down Stars - 3DS - January 8
3. Silver Falls: Episode Prelude - Switch - January 8
4. The Pathless - PlayStation 5 - January 12
5. Modern Combat: Blackout - Switch - January 14


February (7 Games Beaten)
6. Fire Emblem: Engage - Switch - February 2
7. Dragon Quest Builders 2 - PlayStation 4 - February 15
8. Silver Falls: Undertakers - Wii U - February 16
9. Silver Falls: White Inside Its Umbra - Wii U - February 18
10. Silver Falls: Guardians and Metal Exterminators - 3DS - February 22
11. Silver Falls: Frontier Fighters Mini - Browser - February 22
12. Silver Falls: Ghoul Busters - Switch - February 24


March (7 Games Beaten)
13. Red Colony - Switch - March 5
14. Hentai World - Switch - March 5
15. Silver Falls Gaiden: Deathly Delusion Destroyers - 3DS - March 9
16. Silver Falls: Galaxy Bound Curse - Game Boy Color - March 12
17. Vs. Super Mario Bros - Switch - March 13
18. Dead Space - PlayStation 5 - March 17
19. Neptunia X Senran Kagura: Ninja Wars - Switch - March 24


April (3 Games Beaten)
20. Super Mario Bros - NES - April 10*
21. Super Mario Bros 3 - NES - April 11*
22. Back 4 Blood - Series X - April 17


May (0 Games Beaten)
I suck :(


June (6 Games Beaten)
23. Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom - Switch - June 10
24. Resident Evil 4 - PlayStation 5 - June 11
25. Hentai Girls - Switch - June 11
26. Halo Infinite - Series X - June 12
27. Star Trek: Resurgence - Series X - June 14
28. Redfall - Series X - June 18


July (8 Games Beaten)
29. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare [2019] - Xbox One - July 15
30. Neptunia: Sisters vs Sisters - PlayStation 5 - July 17
31. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Remastered - PlayStation 4 - July 18
32. My Little Pony: A Maretime Bay Adventure - PlayStation 5 - July 18
33. Final Fantasy XVI - PlayStation 5 - July 26
34. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II [2022] - PlayStation 5 - July 27
35. Gears of War Ultimate Edition - Xbox One - July 27
36. Gears of War 2 - Xbox 360 - July 30*


August (3 Games Beaten)
37. Call of Duty: World at War - Xbox 360 - August 2*
38. Call of Duty: World at War - Final Fronts - PlayStation 2 - August 6
39. Gears of War 3 - Xbox 360 - August 10


September (0 Games Beaten)
idk man, I think I spent the whole damn month playing Pokemon and Battlefield 2042


October (3 Games Beaten)
40. The Quarry - PlayStation 5 - October 7
41. The Dark Pictures Anthology: Little Hope - PlayStation 4 - October 8
42. The Dark Pictures Anthology: House of Ashes - PlayStation 5 - October 19


42. The Dark Pictures Anthology: House of Ashes - PlayStation 5 - October 19

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House of Ashes is the third game in Supermassive’s Dark Pictures Anthology series. It plays almost exactly like Until Dawn, Man in Medan, and Little Hope before it. It does make a couple of changes to the gameplay that make it feel distinct from the previous two games, but it’s still solidly Dark Pictures Anthology.

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House of Ashes takes place in 2003 in US-occupied Iraq. After the fall of Baghdad and the defeat of Saddam Hussein’s army, the United States Marine Corps is combing the country in search of Saddam’s mythical chemical weapons that President Bush SWORE to the American people and to the world existed. Thinking that his fancy satellite system found an underground silo, Colonel Cucksworth or whatever his name is orders a Marine battle group to attack the village above the suspected silo and secure the weapons. After a firefight with the remnants of Saddam’s Republican Guard, it turns out that it wasn’t a silo but a massive subterranean ruin that the satellite detected, and now two US Marines, two CIA agents, and an Iraqi soldier are trapped there.

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I’m rather torn on House of Ashes. On the one hand, the game is steeped in ancient Sumerian mythology, and as a history teacher, I absolutely love that. I also love the references to the political issues surrounding the American invasion and occupation of Iraq. On the other hand, having battle hardened soldiers be the protagonists of a horror game can be tough to pull off. It’s certainly not impossible, but it takes some careful world building and atmosphere maintenance to keep it scary knowing that you’re an elite-trained soldier with an automatic assault rifle. That aspect does, however, introduce the mild gameplay change - there are numerous sequences where time slows and you have to aim the crosshair over an enemy to attack. Failing that can, like the regular quick time events, cause characters to die. It’s a nice change to the standard formula, but it doesn’t quite revolutionize the experience.

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House of Ashes is a low point for Supermassive’s games in my opinion, but don’t take that to mean that it’s a bad game. I still enjoyed it quite a bit, but I must confess that it dragged a bit for me. I wouldn’t say I had to force myself to finish it, but it didn’t grasp me like Man in Medan or Little Hope did. It’s definitely worth a playthrough, but I’m not sure if I’ll do any subsequent playthroughs of this one.
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Re: Games Beaten 2023

Post by Limewater »

ElkinFencer10 wrote:It’s definitely worth a playthrough, but I’m not sure if I’ll do any subsequent playthroughs of this one.


At the rate you go through games, do you actually do subsequent playthroughs of anything?
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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

1~51

52. Gyakuten Saiban 3 (GBA) *

53. Pokemon Gold (GBC)

Recently, some friends of mine have been playing (or replaying) through a bunch of old Pokemon games, and it really got me in the mood to play some myself~. They had been talking a lot about how generation 2 in particular was a really weak generation with a lot of really annoying design decisions. It’s been at least 15 or more years since I last played through Gold or Silver myself, and I certainly didn’t remember it being that bad when I was a kid, so Pokemon Gold seemed like a great fit to scratch the Pokemon itch I’d been feeling. It took me about 25 hours to beat the Elite Four and the Champion, and then it was around the 36 hour mark that I beat Red at Mt. Silver. I played the Japanese version of the game on real hardware via my Super GameBoy (with my team being composed of Golem, Typhlosion, Magneton, Alakazam, Slowbro, and Pidgeot).

Being a Pokemon game and such an early one, there isn’t a ton of story here, and the story really isn’t the focus of the game, but what’s here is certainly interesting in several respects. Taking place in the Johto region, the one adjacent to the west of Kanto (where the first game takes place), this is the rare Pokemon game to actually be a narrative sequel to the previous one, taking place three years after it. It’s hardly high art, and a lot of it is no doubt due to cuts that were required as a result of trying to fit all of Johto AND all of Kanto onto one lil’ GameBoy cart, but it’s nonetheless very interesting to see not just all the new places, but how all of the old, familiar locations in Kanto have changed too. As with how the first generation of Pokemon had it, it’s a fun and light guide through the new region along your trainer’s journey to be the new best trainer around, and it does that job very well~.

As for the base mechanics, Pokemon is still very much the same as it was the last time around, save for a few additions or changes here and there which have varying degrees of significance. On the more light side of things, the new gimmick of an in-game clock give us both events related to days of the week as well as a day and night cycle. It can be a bit of a pain to wait for the right day of the week to get a particular item or to wake up early in the morning enough to catch a certain Pokemon, but it’s not all that important most of the time, and it adds a good bit of extra flavor to the experience.

As for more significant changes, the new Pokemon (just about 100) do a good job of helping flesh out some types that were underrepresented in the last generation, and a bundle of new Pokemon moves help expand out on several types who had woefully poor move pools in the last game too. It’s hardly perfect, as there are still a good few types who are nearly nonexistent or totally useless, but the introduction of dark and steel types (as well as re-balancing how some other type interactions work) have done a lot to break psychic types’ stranglehold on the greater strategy of Pokemon.

Another significant addition to that effect is that “special” is now two stats, “special attack” and “special defense”, and that means that a lot of preexisting Pokemon are either now a lot better or a fair bit worse as a result of how they’re more or less resistant/adept at using special-aligned attacking moves. We’re still a couple generations away from solving the bigger problems with types and special/physical attacks (move category is still dependent on type and not yet linked to the individual move instead as it would be in Pearl & Diamond), but this is a good step in the right direction that adds a good deal of strategy beyond mere type advantage.

The bigger changes and issues with Pokemon Gold (and Silver), however, are present more in the nature of its execution rather than how the mechanics work on paper. A large amount of strange and questionable design choices end up making this game feel very awkward and overly convoluted compared to games before and after it. Most prominent among these issues is how the distribution of Pokemon (and the types thereof) is handled. Many Pokemon (both strong and weak, both old and new) are not in Johto at all, but in Kanto (meaning they’re found in the later third of the game, and after the Elite Four, one of the game’s biggest challenges). Additionally, evolution stones, which are used to get many water, grass, fire, and electric type Pokemon to their final and strongest evolutions, are virtually nonexistent. The only way to get them is through a rather obtuse method once in Kanto or through being very lucky with certain very poorly signposted RNG mechanics involving specific NPCs back in Johto.

Kanto as a whole has an incredible paradoxical nature to it. On one hand, it was absolutely purposeful to put it in here. After the credits roll for defeating the Champion, going over to Kanto gives you new story events and unique NPC sprites to see, tons of new music to listen to, and a ton of new Pokemon to catch. That’s all saying nothing of just what an incredible programming challenge fitting Kanto on the cartridge alongside Johto was in the first place, of course. On the other had, it feels like a serious afterthought with just how poorly balanced it is. You’re likely already going to have a somewhat difficult time with the Elite Four with just how much higher level they are than you are that point (roughly level 40 to 50), and yet the first five gyms you’ll encounter in Kanto have Pokemon that average around level 35, making them an absolute joke to any trainer who beat the Elite Four to get there. Wild Pokemon are also generally incredible low level, the levels they would’ve been in Pokemon Red & Green, so you aren’t getting challenging encounters anywhere other than the last three gyms and the final battle with Red. Going through Kanto is still fun and interesting, of course, but it’s difficult to ignore just how strangely balanced the whole experience is.

Looking back at your initial adventure through Johto, a lot of the new Pokemon are just very poor at doing what they’re meant to do, and the change to the special stat means that a lot of old favorites that were great before are now awful because their stats have been gutted. By the same token, it can be very discouraging to find a favorite Pokemon only to realize later that they require an evolution stone to evolve, so they’re just really not worth using. It’s very easy to end up feeling quite boxed in to only a few actually viable Pokemon due to the statistic shortcomings of some and the inability of many others to evolve. Numerically speaking, almost all of the electric, grass, water, and fire types you’ll find in Johto need an evolution stone to evolve, and only one or two (if even that) end up being reasonable to use at all. The types used in many of the new gyms as well as in the new Elite Four make certain types like Grass feel ultimately quite useless, and the game, while not being *that* hard as far as Pokemon games go, is left with some oddball balancing issues as a result (and the relatively slow leveling curve doesn’t really help matters either). These aren’t fatal problems for the overall design of the game, but it just ends up making the overall experience feel a lot more frustrating compared to earlier or later Pokemon games.

The presentation is, as one would expect for Pokemon games of the era, absolutely excellent. The new music is great, and the new takes on old tracks in Kanto are really well done too. The graphics are also excellent, with the new Pokemon art being really well done while having a much more unified style than the first games had. While I do miss the charm of just how weird and disparate the original first generation art was, it’s hard to be upset with new sprites that look this dang nice~.

The game looks great in color, of course, but I do want to mention just how surprised I was by this game’s Super GameBoy compatibility. The SGB’s interaction with black cart GameBoy games (that being ones that are in compatible to be played on an old monochrome GameBoy as well as are proper color games on a GameBoy Color) is super variable with some games not using it at all, but this is easily one of the most impressive uses of the hardware I’ve come across. While the overworld you’re walking around in is virtually always in some shade of color-tinged monochrome, battles are actually entirely in color. It’s not a perfect recreation of how the game looks on a GBC, but you’d be hard pressed to spot the difference most of the time. I thought I might be longing for the color that a GameBoy Player or similar GBC-like device would add as I played this on my SGB for the novelty of it, but I was very pleasantly surprised with just how much effort clearly went in to making this game be an impressive color experience for SGB owners as well~.

Verdict: Hesitantly Recommended. This is a really weird one to recommend, because your mileage is going to vary a LOT depending on how tolerant of the shortcomings in its execution you are. The second generation Pokemon games are absolutely not bad games by any stretch, but a lot of their weaknesses are most prevalent in comparison to their sister Pokemon games. While this is a fun game that I quite enjoyed my time with, it’s really hard to argue that I wouldn’t have probably had just as good if not better a time with virtually any other Pokemon game due to just how generally better designed they are. This is absolutely a Pokemon game worth checking out for fans, but if you’re someone who’s more tepid on the series, then this is very likely you’re going to find is worth skipping even if you’re generally okay with the poorer quality of life features found in these old GameBoy RPGs.
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ElkinFencer10
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Re: Games Beaten 2023

Post by ElkinFencer10 »

Limewater wrote:
ElkinFencer10 wrote:It’s definitely worth a playthrough, but I’m not sure if I’ll do any subsequent playthroughs of this one.


At the rate you go through games, do you actually do subsequent playthroughs of anything?

Not usually, but if it's a game I really loved, I sometimes will after a year or so. Or if it's Fire Emblem, I'll start a replay immediately after finishing the first playthrough lol

Games Beaten in 2023 - 43
* denotes a replay

January (5 Games Beaten)
1. Banner of the Maid - Switch - January 2
2. Silver Falls: 3 Down Stars - 3DS - January 8
3. Silver Falls: Episode Prelude - Switch - January 8
4. The Pathless - PlayStation 5 - January 12
5. Modern Combat: Blackout - Switch - January 14


February (7 Games Beaten)
6. Fire Emblem: Engage - Switch - February 2
7. Dragon Quest Builders 2 - PlayStation 4 - February 15
8. Silver Falls: Undertakers - Wii U - February 16
9. Silver Falls: White Inside Its Umbra - Wii U - February 18
10. Silver Falls: Guardians and Metal Exterminators - 3DS - February 22
11. Silver Falls: Frontier Fighters Mini - Browser - February 22
12. Silver Falls: Ghoul Busters - Switch - February 24


March (7 Games Beaten)
13. Red Colony - Switch - March 5
14. Hentai World - Switch - March 5
15. Silver Falls Gaiden: Deathly Delusion Destroyers - 3DS - March 9
16. Silver Falls: Galaxy Bound Curse - Game Boy Color - March 12
17. Vs. Super Mario Bros - Switch - March 13
18. Dead Space - PlayStation 5 - March 17
19. Neptunia X Senran Kagura: Ninja Wars - Switch - March 24


April (3 Games Beaten)
20. Super Mario Bros - NES - April 10*
21. Super Mario Bros 3 - NES - April 11*
22. Back 4 Blood - Series X - April 17


May (0 Games Beaten)
I suck :(


June (6 Games Beaten)
23. Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom - Switch - June 10
24. Resident Evil 4 - PlayStation 5 - June 11
25. Hentai Girls - Switch - June 11
26. Halo Infinite - Series X - June 12
27. Star Trek: Resurgence - Series X - June 14
28. Redfall - Series X - June 18


July (8 Games Beaten)
29. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare [2019] - Xbox One - July 15
30. Neptunia: Sisters vs Sisters - PlayStation 5 - July 17
31. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Remastered - PlayStation 4 - July 18
32. My Little Pony: A Maretime Bay Adventure - PlayStation 5 - July 18
33. Final Fantasy XVI - PlayStation 5 - July 26
34. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II [2022] - PlayStation 5 - July 27
35. Gears of War Ultimate Edition - Xbox One - July 27
36. Gears of War 2 - Xbox 360 - July 30*


August (3 Games Beaten)
37. Call of Duty: World at War - Xbox 360 - August 2*
38. Call of Duty: World at War - Final Fronts - PlayStation 2 - August 6
39. Gears of War 3 - Xbox 360 - August 10


September (0 Games Beaten)
idk man, I think I spent the whole damn month playing Pokemon and Battlefield 2042


October (4 Games Beaten)
40. The Quarry - PlayStation 5 - October 7
41. The Dark Pictures Anthology: Little Hope - PlayStation 4 - October 8
42. The Dark Pictures Anthology: House of Ashes - PlayStation 5 - October 19
43. The Dark Pictures Anthology: The Devil in Me - PlayStation 5 - October 29


43. The Dark Pictures Anthology: The Devil in Me - PlayStation 5 - October 29

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Devil in Me is the most recent of the Dark Pictures Anthology games and the end of their “season one” games. It actually introduces some minor gameplay changes over the previous three Dark Pictures Anthology games, but it’s still pretty much the same general gameplay as the others. That’s not necessarily a bad thing - “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” after all - but playing them back to back to back does start to feel a bit stale despite having totally different stories, settings, and characters. Still, though, Devil in Me offers an interesting story with some really compelling choices the player has to make. It’s the story I found least interesting of the Dark Pictures Anthology games, but it’s got the choices that left me second-guessing myself the most.

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You play as the film crew for a small production studio that’s making a TV series documentary episode about H. H. Holmes, often considered to be America’s first major serial killer. During a meeting to watch a cut of the episode, Charles, the owner of the studio, gets a phone call from a mysterious man who claims to have inherited from his uncle a recreation of Holmes’s infamous “murder castle” and a lot of original Holmes artifacts. Charles convinces the other four members of his team to spend the weekend at the man’s island hotel and shoot new footage to really improve the episode. When they get there, though, things go from odd to weird to downright suspicious when a figure dressed as Holmes starts appearing.

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The big gameplay change here is that each character has an equipment ability that only that character can use. Charles can use a card to unlock drawers, Jamie can fix electrical equipment, Erin has a gizmo to hear distant sounds and conversations, etc. If a character dies too early, you may not be able to use the equipment needed to perform some task later on which could put other characters in peril. It’s a fantastic element that wasn’t present in the other games, but it unfortunately isn’t enough to keep the game itself feeling fresh. I can’t even put my finger on what specifically is holding it back. It looks great. Voice acting is fine. The story itself is interesting, and the premise’s roots in the 1893 World’s Fair is fascinating to an American history teacher like me. I guess the kicker for me is that there’s nothing supernatural about this story unlike the others, and the characters are less interesting to me than in the other three games. On paper, this should be a smash hit, but in execution, it just feels so-so.

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Devil in Me wasn’t exactly a high note to end the first season of the Dark Pictures Anthology on, but by no means does that make it a bad game; it’s just the least good of the four. If it were the first Dark Pictures Anthology game you played, you’d probably leave with a much better opinion of it than I have. I’m glad I played it, I’m glad it’s on my PS5 shelf, and I can readily recommend it to those who enjoy choice-driven horror games and haven’t played this one before, but I’ll definitely not be going back to this for another playthrough any time soon if at all.
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