Games Beaten 2023

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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)
54. Beltlogger 9 (PS1)
55. 64 De Hakken!! Tamagotchi: Minna De Tamagotchi World (N64)
56. Koudelka (PS1)
57. Pilotwings 64 (N64)
58. Mickey's Speedway USA (N64)
59. Boku No Natsuyasumi (PS1)
60. Pokemon Stadium: Gold & Silver (N64)
61. Chicory: A Colorful Tale (Switch)
62. Pokemon Stadium 2 (N64)

63. Pokemon Yellow (GB) *

In the big string of old Pokemon I’ve been playing lately, I had a real hankering to play through the first gen of Pokemon again. It’s also been a *very* long time since I’ve played Yellow in particular, and last time I didn’t even use Pikachu in my party! It so happened that I also needed more TMs to complete a team of Pokemon for more Pokemon Stadium nonsense, so this all made for the perfect excuse to track down a cheap copy of Yellow and give it a proper playthrough this time~. It took me around 21 hours to beat the Champion, and I played through the Japanese version on real hardware (with a team of Pikachu, Blastoise, Hitmonlee, Mr Mime, Fearow, and Rhydon). A note before I begin is that I have already reviewd gen 1 Pokemon very recently, so I’m not going to be quite as exhaustive here, and I’m mainly going to be comparing it to that review or referring back to descriptions/statements made there previously (as I see little reason to just type out all the same stuff all over again for the heck of it).

The story of Yellow is more or less the same as the original story in Red & Green, but with some interesting new twists. The whole gimmick of Yellow (or as it’s known here, “Pocket Monsters: Pikachu”) is that it’s the first Pokemon game but remade to be a bit more like the anime, and it achieves that about as well as it reasonably can, for better or worse. You don’t get a choice of starter, and instead you just get a Pikachu at the start. You not only can’t evolve this Pikachu, but he’ll also follow you around on the map, just like Pikachu does with Ash in the anime. You also have a few new touches, like Jessie & James (with their anime appropriate team) fighting you here and there, and a few characters like Brock and Misty having a more anime-appropriate outfit, but overall it’s still the same game, just with a few new touches.

Gameplay wise, Pokemon Yellow still has all of the fundamental issues with balancing that the original Pokemon Red & Green have, so I’m not going to go over them again here. The important thing that *is* different, however, is that the game has been rebalanced in ways big and small to make it overall significantly harder. Some of these are the result of the base premise. You have only a Pikachu, so the first gym that has only rock/ground type Pokemon are REALLY good against your starter. If you don’t know that there’s a rare chance to get a fighting type Mankey in a side route on your way there, you’re gonna have a HECK of a difficult time beating the very first gym (as I did) because you’re fighting with a type disadvantage and a Pokemon that can’t evolve. Then there are changes in making certain gym leaders and such have teams more accurate to how they are in the anime, so Lt. Surge is actually made quite a bit easier due to the fact that his whole team now only consists of one quite burly Raichu.

The other changes are more present in the later half of the game, with basically every gym from the fifth one onward having VERY significant power increases compared to the original Red & Green. Up through the Elite Four and even the champion, everyone has Pokemon roughly ten to fifteen levels higher than they usually do, and many of them have better put together teams as well. It makes for an interesting change to the normal Pokemon formula, sure, but I’m not sure I’d really call it “better” per se. Pokemon, especially with the very limited tool set of first gen stuff, isn’t something that often benefits significantly from being much harder games in this fashion, as all it really amounts to is making the player grind more as well as forcing them down choosing more optimal teams (rather than teams of interesting makeups or weird gimmicks). It’s not an impossibly hard game, sure, as I still beat this in the same amount of time that it took me to beat Green, even with my weirdo team full of sub-optimal move sets, but it’s still definitely more frustrating and less fun as a result of just how sudden a jump in difficulty so many of those late game gym leaders are (especially compared to the relatively unchanged levels of the Pokemon leading up to them).

Aesthetically, this game is pretty much still just what Red & Green were with a few changes here and there. On the smaller side, we have some slight adjustments to environments. As mentioned earlier, we also have some new character sprites here and there to get them more up to form with the anime, and there’s even a new song or two put in to accommodate new characters like Jessie & James (who have their own theme when they confront you for a battle). On the more drastic end, EVERY Pokemon has been given a new front-facing sprite, though their back sprites (the ones you see when you use them) are still unchanged. This has the upshot of making everything look a lot more like what it looked like in the increasingly codified key art of the time, but it also does take away a lot of the janky charm that original Pokemon had with all of the weird, disparate art that it had. It also has the unintended side effect of a fair few of the back sprites looking VERY odd compared to the front sprites, because some of these changes are so drastic that the old back sprites just don’t look very cohesive anymore compared to their front views. Overall, it’s a bit of a mixed bag, but I don’t think I’d call much any of it outright good or bad. It’ll really depend on what you like in particular about aesthetics of Pokemon of this era on if you like or dislike these changes.

Verdict: Hesitantly Recommended. While this certainly isn’t a bad game and it isn’t even a bad version of gen 1 Pokemon to play, I’d still very strongly hesitate recommending it, especially to a first-time player of this generation. While a lot of the balancing changes are going to likely be interesting to an experienced player, they’re just going to make the experience more frustrating and grindy to someone unfamiliar with the first Pokemon games. Aesthetic changes aside, this just isn’t a very great way to experience how the original Pokemon games were, and while this is still a neat and fun time in places, I found it to be a simply inferior experience compared to just playing the original Red & Green (which, over here at least, are just as common and just as cheap to get your hands on).


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64. Pokemon Stadium (N64)

While going through the effort to finish the two sequels to this game, I naturally thought of this game as well. It’s a game that never came out in English, as it only has 40 Pokemon out of the original 151, and is otherwise *very* content light beyond just free battling. For many years I’d known about this game, but I’d actually always been under the impression that it had no single-player content to speak of at all. Imagine my surprise when, in my researching the other two Pokemon Stadium games, I found that this game does indeed have SOME content to it, and credits to reach! Given that this is a really easily found game for 100 yen, it was a pretty simple choice to run out and grab this so I could get to playing it once I was done with the other two (and it also gave me an extra good excuse to play through Yellow version to get the last few TMs I needed to create my super team for this game’s league~). I played through all four divisions of the the level 1~30 league, and I did it on real hardware. As with the other two Pokemon Stadium games, I can’t really say how long it took me to beat this. Sure, I made it through those four cups in only 3 or 4 hours, but I also used Pokemon from my copies of Green, Gold, and Yellow to win it, and that’s not counting all the time acquiring and training up those Pokemon. This is another one I just can’t really confidently give a “time to beat” for at all, unfortunately.

As with the two sequels to this game, there is no story to speak of with this game. It’s an even more simple version of its successor (the one that DID come out in English), lacking 111 Pokemon or even mini-games to speak of. What it *does* have are some neat tools for looking at your Pokemon if you insert your GameBoy Pokemon game via a Transfer Pak, a way to play those GB Pokemon games via an internal emulator, a free battle mode, and a *small* handful of single-player content. There are two tournaments, one with one division, and one with four, and actually beating either will get you the credits. The former is a level 50~55 league with the Nintendo Cup ’97 ruleset, but the trainers you’re facing in that are entirely teams based on the ’97 championship finalists, so I chose to do the other tournament instead. The other tournament being a cup that uses the Nintendo Cup ’98 rule set (only 33 Pokemon allowed and a level limit of 30).

That choice was made partly because I’m getting a little burned out on Pokemon stuff and partly because I’d yet to make a level 30s team, and that seemed like a neat challenge. But frankly, a more major reason I picked to do only this one was because this game has NO continues, unlike its sequels, so if you lose a match, you need to restart the WHOLE cup over again. Now, by a small miracle of luck (on top of all the effort I put into making my level 30s Alakazam, Jolteon, Tauros, Dugtrio, Starmie, and Exeggutor team as burly and mean as I could), I actually managed to go all four cups completely undefeated. This game *does* have rental Pokemon I could’ve used, but given the penalty for failure (and the small amount of actual content at play), it seemed more reasonable and fun to just make as mean a team as I could for this instead.

I had always written this game off as just an inferior version made totally obsolete by its immediate sequel, but I was very happy to have been proven wrong in that regard. Part of that is due to the later Pokemon Stadium lacking a four cup tournament that uses the ’98 Cup rule set, which makes this game an interesting oddity for that alone. However, the much bigger point of interest that I discovered is that, unlike the second Pokemon Stadium game, this game *actually* plays just like the Red & Green era GameBoy games do. Pokemon Stadium 2 starts making a lot of changes to Pokemon fix up bugs in the original GB games, and that ends up making it a weird sort of half-step between the first and second generation Pokemon games. This game, however, is JUST like the GameBoy games, warts and all. The biggest ones I noticed are that psychic types are immune to ghost moves and hyper beam doesn’t need a turn of recharge if it gets a kill or misses. They’re ultimately very small changes, but they’re things I encountered a *lot* in the second game and I was always second guessing whether or not the rules were actually like the games I trained these Pokemon up in in the first place. While it’s hardly a top-tier selling point, the rule set for this game’s battle system so closely mirroring the games you’d use to play it does make it a worthwhile addition to any Pokemaniac’s shelf alongside its two sequels.

Aesthetically, the game is really just a more simple Pokemon Stadium 2. The models are basically all the same, as are the animations, and there is only one battle field ever used for tournaments and such. The coolest part that I found that’s actually unique to this game is how the tournaments themselves are displayed. After winning a match and “getting a badge”, it actually affixes to an in-game hat your generic player model wears for the duration of that tournament! Not only that, but in the preview shot between you and the person you’re about to fight, it even still has the badges on your profile picture! It’s a very small thing, but it’s something I thought was cool enough to mention here x3

Verdict: Hesitantly Recommended. This is a game I really easily could just not recommend at all, but it’s both so cheap and such a unique little game in its rule set that I think it’s still something cool for big Pokemon fans to check out. Mind you, this still has a lot less content to enjoy than its sequels, as we don’t even have all the Pokemon to play around in in free battle, let alone mini-games at all to play with friends. However, if you’re into competitive Pokemon battling and want a very unique single-player challenge, then this is something you might get a good deal of fun out of (if you’re willing to use a menu translation guide to navigate it, at least ^^;).


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65. Batman (GB)

A close friend of mine recently came across her old GameBoy stuff in a closet while visiting her parents. Super super kindly of her, she actually sent me the whole bundle as a gift! (She said she was more than happy knowing that they were going to someone who’d enjoy them ^w^). Among that pile of GameBoy goodies was this game~! I’d heard of this game’s NES sibling before, so I knew I was in for a pretty decent if quite challenging time, but I was very surprised to learn that this game is actually completely different from its console big brother! I was super sleep deprived one morning, and a bit lost on what to play next after finishing the last Pokemon Stadium game, so I just popped this in and decided to give it my best shot. Despite how sleepy I was, I managed to beat its 9 stages and 2 boss fight stages in a little over an hour playing the UK version of the game via my Super GameBoy.

This game loosely, VERY loosely, follows the plot of the 80’s Batman movie. Batman overhears there’s a break in at a chemical factory, he goes there and inadvertently creates the Joker, he goes to the museum, he flies the Batwing for a while, and then it’s off to the church for the final battle. This is a 1990 GameBoy game, so there’s virtually no story here in the first place, but the little cutscene shots do look very nice at least, and its an entertaining enough adaptation of the film’s plot, even if it’s not a terribly close one XD

While this game’s NES big brother is more of a Ninja Gaiden-type game, the GameBoy iteration of Batman is much closer to a Mega Man game! You have four worlds with two or three stages in each, and you run from left to right platforming over pits and shooting bad guys with your big bat gun. It’s very clearly a gun and not batarangs, which is pretty weird for a Batman game, admittedly, but it’s just a video game, so I don’t think it matters terribly much XD. The one exception is the Batwing section, where the game briefly becomes a shmup for two stages, where you can mercifully hold (instead of mash) B to shoot backwards and A to shoot forwards.

It’s a pretty damn hard game, as is to be expected from a Sunsoft game of this era. Batman’s jump physics take a little while to get used to, though he does have a good deal of play control to help you out, and you’ll be seeing tricky jumps that can easily lead to your death as early as the first level or so. That said, it’s still put together really well. You can collect powerups to increase the amount of bullets you can have on screen at a time, and there are a pretty good handful of different gun types you can pick up (though they do replace the gun you’re currently using, Contra-style), and different ones have their respective advantages and disadvantages in regards to range and power. It’s also a remarkably forgiving game, as not only do you keep your powerups after dying, you even keep them after *continuing* (though I didn’t get a chance to test how many continues you get). Batman even has four hits between him and death as opposed to just one! While this is a pretty tough game (especially in the boss fights), it’s more than forgiving enough to still keep it fun and not punish you too much for failure, and I really appreciated it for that.

The aesthetics are absolutely fantastic. The graphics are pretty good, having very pretty cutscene frames as well as very well done little Batman and enemy sprites. The game also thankfully runs great, and I never experienced any issues with chugging frame rates due to things being too busy, even in the auto-scroller levels. The music is the real star of the show here, though. The whole sound track kicks mad amounts of ass, even for a Sunsoft game of the era (for whom awesome soundtracks were nothing rare). The music is so good that I wanted to keep playing more if only to hear successive stages’ music tracks XD. While I’m hardly a walking encyclopedia of GameBoy music, this has easily gotta be one of the best sound tracks on the system, which is doubly impressive for a game that came out barely a year into the system’s life span.

Verdict: Highly Recommended. While it’s a bit short, this is still an awesome little action game for the platform. The hard difficulty may be a turn off for some, but the forgiving death mechanics go a long way towards making that a lot more easy to deal with. If you’re a big Mega Man fan like me, this is totally a must-play. While there are no enemy powers to steal, the overall fun of the gameplay scratched that classic Mega Man itch in a way I really appreciated, and I imagine it will for you as well~.


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66. Pokemon Snap (N64) *

In a bit of an early Christmas present to myself, I recently picked up a big pile of cheap N64 games that I’d been meaning to nab from a local used games shop. This was one of those games that I ended up picking up, as it’s always one I’ve been meaning to pick up and play all the way through. Or at least it *was* one of those XD. During the course of playing it, there were just too many things that seemed far too familiar, and while I’d originally assumed that I’d only briefly played Pokemon Snap but never ultimately finished it, I now think that I actually have played and beaten this game before at some time in the past XD. Regardless, that was so long ago I could barely begin to guess when it was, and I also had a great time (re)playing through it now! It took me around 4 or so hours to beat the game while snapping pictures of 58 out of 63 Pokemon, and I played the Japanese version of the game on real hardware.

The story of Pokemon Snap is one of main character Todd Snap (yes, really) who is a photographer in the Pokemon world. During one expedition of his, he manages to snap what he thinks are photos of the mirage Pokemon Mew, and it’s his mission to take a proper photo of it someday. Here is where Professor Oak enters our story, as he leads our main character to the ever so creatively named Pokemon Island. Using the auto-progressing vehicle, the Zero One, he wants you to photograph all sorts of Pokemon to help complete his Pokemon Report on what lives on the island. It’s a fairly threadbare story, but it more than adequately sets up the premise for your photo snapping adventure.

The actual gameplay of Pokemon Snap is, as the name suggests, “snapping” photos of Pokemon to submit them to Professor Oak. However, there’s a big difference between a good photo and a bad photo, so it’s up to you to aim for as high a score as you can for each shot you’re going to submit (as only one photo per Pokemon can be submitted at the end of one of the game’s seven stages). You’re judged on how big the Pokemon is in frame, how they’re posed (are they doing a special action or at least facing the camera?), whether they’re centered or not, and how many other Pokemon of their same species are in the frame with them (if possible). It’s something that doesn’t sound that ultimately great for a video game, admittedly, but it’s a much more addicting score attack kind of game than it first seems.

The rules are simple and intuitive enough that they’re easy to grasp even for someone like me who’s far from the biggest score attack or photography fan <w>. The Zero One also always follows a track in each level, and the same Pokemon appear at the same times, so there’s always an opportunity to try again if you mess up a particular trick or shot you’re trying to do. You even get more tools like Pokemon food or a Poke Flute as you progress, so there’s also a lot of value in revisiting old stages to find new secrets too~. It’s remarkably simple and as fun as it is novel, and it’s a gameplay loop that ends up working really well~.

The aesthetics would need to be pretty darn good in a game all about looking around and taking photos, and they thankfully achieve that really well! Despite the first (two) Pokemon Stadium games predating this, I’d wager almost none (if any) of those models were reused for this. You need to be so much more up close and personal with the Pokemon, and you also need the Pokemon themselves to be much more expressive (not to mention do things like ambulate around, which they never do in the Stadium games). The end result is a bunch of Pokemon that move great and look awesome, and the polygonal look of the N64 gives the whole thing a very fun retro charm on top of it all. The soundtrack is also great, with a lot of new very Pokemon-y feeling tracks to help make your adventure that much more fun~.

Verdict: Highly Recommended. This is a really great, super clever little game! It’s not too long, and it’s not too deep, but you can go really nuts with trying to improve your scores and find extra Pokemon if you got really into it. A bit like Pilotwings 64, while this certainly wasn’t my favorite game ever, I can absolutely see how this could be someone’s favorite game ever if it hit for them the right way. But even then, this game is so unique and fun that it’s well worth trying out, especially if you’re a Pokemon fan (and especially if you have the Switch Online N64 service, which this is also on~).

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67. Diddy Kong Racing (N64)

This was another game that I picked up in my recent N64 haul, and it’s also another white whale of a game from my childhood. Like the Pokemon Stadium games, this was a game I played a fair bit when I was younger, but it was just SO hard that I thought there was never any way I was ever going to beat it (as a kid or as an adult). Even picking this game up again now, I thought I’d still never be able to beat it. I wasn’t even going to pick this game up again (despite its 300 yen price tag) recently until my friend Psy convinced me to pick it up, as it’s one of his favorites. I was still in a bit of a slump for what I was going to play next, and after picking this up for a little, I decided to toy around with it and see just how far I could get, even though I was super ready to eventually hit a point where I’d just have to put it down and call it quits. After about 10 or so hours with the Japanese version on real hardware, I actually managed to do it! I beat Wizpig and saw the credits, and managed to get 43 balloons (dipping into the post-game extra world to do the base races at least once) by the time I was done with it. Like with Pokemon Stadium I’m certainly not going to try to do the post-credits extra challenges all the way, but I’m incredibly proud of myself for sticking with this one long enough to actually complete it where my younger self never could~.

On Timber the Tiger’s island, the denizens run about, race vehicles, and play all day. That is until one day the big magical bully Wizpig comes along and starts ruining things for everyone. Until someone can beat him in a race, he won’t leave either! That’s where you come in! Picking one of the eight possible racers (whom you can swap between whenever you want on the title screen), you’ve gotta complete all the challenges around the island and kick that big awful Wizpig’s butt! It’s a quite complicated setup for a racing game of this era, admittedly, but that’s because this isn’t just a racing game. It’s an *adventure* racing game. What exactly that entails is a lot of what makes DKR such an odd and novel experience.

For the racing parts, it’s a quite solid cart racer with really polished tracks. While it does have items, it’s not like how something like Mario Kart 64 does. Instead of random item boxes, there are differently colored balloons you can pick up while you’re racing, and each one gives a different respective type of power up (reds give missiles, blues give boosts, etc.). While it’s a bit of a bummer that they’re *quite* so specialized compared to Mario Kart powerups (none of them have different directional capabilities the way you can fire a green shell forward or backwards, for example), they make up for that with a risk reward system of upgrades. Keep collecting the same kind of balloon, and your item will increase in strength. It’s a very neat system and allows for tracks to be much more heavily curated as to when players can have things like missiles, boosts, or traps, and give the game a very different kind of feel than something like Mario Kart 64.

One neat thing that it borrows from Super Mario Kart (but actual Mario Kart games actually use very infrequently) is the banana system. In Super Mario Kart, if you collect coins around the track, it’ll slightly increase your speed. Bananas do the same thing here, and the more you have, the faster you’ll go, adding another bit of strategy to each map. Do you go for bananas for extra speed, or race more efficiently to just get ahead in the first place? Or do you just go for powerups and try to win that way? This is made even more interesting when combined with aspects of DKR that it lacks compared to Mario Kart 64, such as drift boosting. Even though it came out barely a year later, the thought and ideas presented here make it a *really* different feeling kart racer than Mario Kart 64, and it does a great job giving a new and fun spin on this formula that I honestly think I overall prefer, at least in the broad strokes of things (especially as someone terrible at drift boosting XD).

The last really cool aspect that it has as a racing game is that it’s not just a cart racer, at least not in a literal sense. In addition to races that use your little carts, you also have races in airplanes as well as races in hovercraft, and the three vehicles handle *very* differently and make for some really cool variety in the types of races present. Sure, you’re probably familiar with how to drive a kart racing car, but can you translate that into the far more momentum-based driving of the hovercraft? Can you translate it to the twists and turns (and near lack of breaking) that you have in an airplane? DKR ends up having a ton of actually great variety in its tracks because of this, and it’s one more thing that makes the whole thing feel like such a special little racing game for the time.

As for the adventure aspects, there’s a lot to describe here. Rather than just a menu to scroll around to pick your races and what not, DKR has a hub area just like a game like Mario 64 does. Your goal here is to collect golden balloons, and you get those sometimes by special races in the hub world or just finding them hidden in the hub, but most of them are from winning races and challenges. There are four worlds (with one extra one unlockable after you beat the credits), and each one has four races each (with each world and each race having a required number of balloons you need to have to access it in the first place). Beat each one once, and you’ll get a balloon each time. After that, you’ll need to race the animal boss of that world, who is a special race with special mechanics, and they’re generally quite tough.

After that, you need to go and do all four races *again*, but this time with a special rule: There are 8 N64 coins hidden in the race, and you need to collect them all AND win against harder-than-last-time AI in order to get your balloon. Only after THAT can you go race the animal boss *again* (where they’re usually WAY harder) and then you win one of the four tokens that you’ll need to race Wizpig at the end. To top it all off, beating the animal boss that second time unlocks a Trophy Challenge, which is basically a grand prix of all that world’s races for one last big trophy (not a balloon), and you’ll want those trophies if you want to get to the last post-credits extra space world. Those trophy races, despite being against the hardest type of AI racers the game has, are ironically not very hard at all, as the CPUs are actually still just as vicious in regards to one another as they usually are. As a result, the same guy isn’t always getting the same places, so you don’t actually need to place first or second that many times to win even the hardest of them. Not really a complaint, but something that’s odd all the same.

If my exasperation didn’t quite come through in the last two paragraphs, the only thing that really needs explanation here is that a lot of the “neat” and “unique” ideas that make up DKR are often what make it such a difficult game to recommend. Most of these ideas of adventure game and racing game melding are certainly “neat”, but it’s a lot harder to argue that they’re particularly “good” ^^;. The N64 coin collecting challenges are a neat idea, but the also just take so much of the fun out of kart racing. Especially in certain stages where you can *really* tell that these stages were specifically designed to make the coin challenges a nightmare, it can really start to grate on the fun aspects of an otherwise really solid racing game. Same thing goes for the animal boss races, including ol’ Wizpig himself, who are dastardly difficult and 100% deserve the infamous reputation they’ve caused this game to have. Heck, even just finding your way around the island to the different worlds can be confusing at times.

On top of that, you have the actual way the game works under the hood which makes all of that that much more frustrating. The AI cheats, sure. That’s likely no surprise at all, as that’s how basically every racing game works, especially on the N64. What’s a bit more annoying is *how* they cheat, especially when combined with the other mechanics at play. One thing that can *feel* like cheating is certain badly explained mechanics. Racers actually have different stats for max speed, acceleration, and handling, but they’re just hidden away in the manual, not the game. The correct way to boost, on the other hand (laying off the accelerator until the flame behind you goes away) is never explained anywhere though, so far as I can tell. That’s just bad communication of information, however, and it’s not what I’m talking about here when I say the AI cheats. Compared to something like Mario Kart’s item system, it’s very easy to observe when the AI is cheating itself items it shouldn’t have, such as when it gets automatic tier 2 or 3 trap items from green balloons despite only grabbing 1 of them (because it’s the first green balloon of the race). Similarly, sure, bananas can make you go faster, but I cannot count how many times the AI just inexplicably was FAR faster than me despite having no bananas while I had over 10 (a very high amount).

Even outside of just how frustrating the animal boss fights can be, at least they’re not other cart racers. There’s some expectation that they’re operating on unfair or different rules from the player. The actual racers, however, are both observably quite bad at actual racing (hence why the coin challenge AI *feel* so much harder than the actually-better-at-racing Trophy Challenge AI), and their cheating is so obvious that it makes it all the more annoying when you just can’t quite beat them at a particular challenge. The actual recycling of content is quite clever, especially when it comes to using new vehicles on different tracks, but the way it’s all executed ends up very consistently turning a fun time into a frustrating time.

The aesthetics are, very predictably for a game from Rareware, really excellent. The racers themselves are all 3D models, no 2D tricks here outside of how certain things like your wheels render, and the tracks are all distinct and fun and colorful. The music is also, of course, freakin’ fantastic. Even in the little breaks I took between the three play sessions I beat this in, I just couldn’t get the sound track out of my head, and even despite all my issues with the game and just how relieved I was to FINALLY beat Wizpig and see the credits, I nevertheless STILL went back to check out the last extra world at least in part to see what new music it had! While this is far from my favorite N64 game, this is easily one of my favorite sound tracks on the system, that’s for sure.

Verdict: Hesitantly Recommended. This is a weird thing where if you’re trying to play this game for multiplayer stuff, it’s an excellent game and very highly recommendable. It’s a very well put together kart racer with a ton of personality and a stellar presentation, albeit with battle maps that are a little wanting. On the other hand, if you’re trying to play the single-player content, you’re in for a VERY rough time with a LOT of caveats to your enjoyment. Rare was never great at balancing their games, and DKR is no exception to that. If you go in with your expectations tuned accordingly, I think you can still have a really fun time with this one (especially if you’re a racing game fan), but if you’re a more casual racing game fan and/or you MUST see the credits of any game you start, I think Diddy Kong Racing is probably a game you’re better off not playing, as it’s far more likely to bring frustration rather than fun.
I identify everyone via avatar, so if you change your avatar, I genuinely might completely forget who you are. -- Me
Limewater
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Re: Games Beaten 2023

Post by Limewater »

Super Mario Sunshine (2002, Gamecube)

I completed the main game in Super Mario Sunshine, defeating Bowser and Bowser Jr. and saving Princess Peach. I am not going to try to 100% this one.
My experience with this game seems to have been different than a lot of people's.
Overall, I really disliked it. The presentation was excellent, but there were too many major gameplay annoyances for me to recommend this to anyone, and I don't understand why other's like it.
I found myself struggling the entire time to perform basic tasks, frequently failed to accurately gauge distances. I clipped through the floor several times, including during the final boss fight, and was frequently frustrated by foreground objects occluding my view and preventing me from seeing the platform I was on, leading to several deaths.
I don't mind dying in games. I don't mind taking a while to get a handle on how to address challenges. But usually I can at least see what I fell off of, or what enemy touched me. This happened a lot, and it was infuriating.

Funny enough, I saw several people say that the final level, Corona Mountain, was frustratingly hard, particularly in the boat navigation section.
I really didn't have much problem with this. Once I realized that the boat wasn't going to just sink after ten seconds, I took my time and got it on the next try.

The final level and boss fight actually left a positive impression, and made me feel like maybe I had finally understood the game and should give it another try. But I'm pretty sure that is not the case, and I have no intent of giving the game any more attention.

DO NOT RECOMMEND.
Systems: TI-99/4a, Commodore Vic-20, Atari 2600, NES, SMS, GB, Neo Geo MVS (Big Red 4-slot), Genesis, SNES, 3DO, PS1, N64, DC, PS2, GBA, GCN, NDSi, Wii
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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
59. Ghostrunner II - PC
60. RoboCop: Rogue City - PC
61. Super Mario RPG - Switch
62. Blake Stone: Aliens of Gold - PC
63. Turbo Overkill - PC
64. Dragon Quest Monsters: The Dark Prince - Switch
65. Sigil II - PC

Remember when John Romero released an unofficial Episode 5 for Doom? Well he's back with an unofficial Episode 6, giving us more Doom goodness. And that's Doom, not Doom II. No sawed off shotgun, no chaingunners, no archviles (or the other new monsters). Instead, the focus is on the sorts of maps that can be made with modern tools and modern game design techniques. They all feel like they could have been released back then; there's no crazy gimmicks, just a deep understanding of how to make a player's life hard.

The game is probably the hardest at the beginning. The first level involves a lot of precision movement across narrow ledges over death pits, with galleries of monsters sniping you all the way. And you only have the pistol and shotgun to make it through, with a low amount of ammo and sparse health pickups. The second level isn't much better; it's combat arena focused, and again the pickups are a starvation ration. If you can make it through those two you start to actually get more weapons, along with getting more regular ammo and health pickups. At that point it transitions to merely being quite hard, with liberal use of Barons of Hell, some Cyberdemons stalking around, and a final boss fight that tests your ability to prioritize targets and manage the AI. This is the WAD that will teach you that the BFG is not just for end of episode bosses; you can easily snag one in stage 3 and it's the best way to deal with Barons.

If you're a Doom fan this is a no brainer pickup. It really tests your skills, and gives you a real sense of elation with every level beat.
Blizzard Entertainment Software Developer - All comments and views are my own and not representative of the company.
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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
59. Ghostrunner II - PC
60. RoboCop: Rogue City - PC
61. Super Mario RPG - Switch
62. Blake Stone: Aliens of Gold - PC
63. Turbo Overkill - PC
64. Dragon Quest Monsters: The Dark Prince - Switch
65. Sigil II - PC
66. Turok 3: Shadow of Oblivion - PC

Turok is the last of the N64 trilogy of Turok games. It really pushes things to the limit, but that ends up coming at a cost. The game is criminally short, and it's still at that awkward phase of 3D games where they've gotten enough power to try and put some effort into cutscenes, but everything is bug-eyed and they still don't have real voice actors yet.

The game picks up not too long after the second game. Joshua Fireseed, the current Turok, is having dreams of a mysterious child that is critical to protect. But then Oblivion's forces track him down and kill him. One of his sister or his younger brother needs to take up the mantle of Turok and defeat Oblivion. Each character plays a bit differently. Danielle jumps higher and uses a grappling hook, while Joseph is shorter (can squeeze into areas) and has night vision goggles. These differences will give you multiple paths through some of the levels. Each character also has different upgrades for their weapons. While they share the same base of bow, pistol, assault rifle, shotgun, grenade launcher, they have different upgrades for them. For example, Danielle gets the Tek Bow explosive arrows, while Joseph has a rapid fire crossbow. It definitely changes how things feel, though all the guns feel pretty anemic. Some of this appears to be the damage system; the game has location based damage, and the damage from headshots is extreme. But it's at the point of enemies taking way too many body shots, rather than headshots being a reward for skillful play. And the game is quite stingy with ammo at times.

The game is ambitious as hell; the level layout is reminiscent of Half-Life, complete with an attempt at seamless transitions between stages with just a load screen. But you can definitely tell that all of this cut into their ability to create more game. There is a very small set of enemies, with most of them being effective reskins of previous ones to fit with the theme of a given area. There are several bosses, and some effort was made into giving them something going on besides "circle strafe and win". But all in all, it's a fairly middling performance, and it's not a shock that the franchise started to go on a downward slide from here.
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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)
54. Beltlogger 9 (PS1)
55. 64 De Hakken!! Tamagotchi: Minna De Tamagotchi World (N64)
56. Koudelka (PS1)
57. Pilotwings 64 (N64)
58. Mickey's Speedway USA (N64)
59. Boku No Natsuyasumi (PS1)
60. Pokemon Stadium: Gold & Silver (N64)
61. Chicory: A Colorful Tale (Switch)
62. Pokemon Stadium 2 (N64)
63. Pokemon Yellow (GB) *
64. Pokemon Stadium (N64)
65. Batman (GB)
66. Pokemon Snap (N64) *
67. Diddy Kong Racing (N64)

68. Wipeout XL (PS1)

Having been something of a fan of the F-Zero series for a long time now, I’ve always been somewhat curious about the very aesthetically similar Wipeout series. Though it’s even appeared on Nintendo consoles (with Wipeout 64 being effectively identical to XL here just with the tracks mirrored), it’s always existed in this space of “Sony’s F-Zero” in my head. Given that it’s a western-developed title, I was somewhat surprised to discover that they were released in Japan at all, and this was the first (and so far only) one of them I’ve ever been able to find locally at anything accepting a reasonable price. Being in quite the mood for racing games still after Diddy Kong Racing, I decided to finally pop in this game to see if I could finish it. I didn’t 100% it, and frankly I likely never will, but I was able to get gold on all six tracks of the arcade mode, and that’s good enough for me XD. It took me around 6 hours to complete the arcade mode in the Japanese version of the game on real hardware.

Wipeout is very much a video game’s video game in just how little premise it needs. It’s future racing with flying F-1-ish cars. There are different companies who are represented with different cars, and the tracks themselves do technically exist in or around real world places, but that’s just about all you’re gonna get with Wipeout XL’s writing (if you can even call it that). But this is a PS1 racing game! As long as the cars are fast and the tracks are fun, you don’t really need any more than that for a good time, and Wipeout XL is absolutely not an exception to that rule. It’s fun future races, and we don’t need much more excuse than that to have some fun racin’ action~.

The actual racing of Wipeout XL is *very* different than what I was expecting for someone otherwise only familiar with F-Zero. Frankly, it’s almost a Yakuza and Shenmue situation, where despite their significant aesthetic similarities, they’re almost nothing alike when you start getting into what actual gameplay involves. Wipeout XL, as mentioned before, has only six tracks in the normal arcade mode as well as four different cars to pick from (though more tracks and cars are unlockable if you’re a mad enough lad to brave the super hard challenge modes you unlock after you beat arcade mode). Your goal is to go around the tracks and get first place, of course, but the actual way that the racing is put together makes it very different from any other racing game I’ve played (which is admittedly not terribly many <w>).

The first and most major thing I’ll point out is how braking works. Rather than just a normal braking feature, Wipeout has you using R2 and L2 for a right and left “air brake” specifically, cutting off the acceleration to your right and left sides respectively. This effectively means that you right brake to turn right, left brake to turn left, and do both if you want to do a general brake. It doesn’t sound like a huge deal on paper, but in actual practice, this amounts to a TON to get used to, and it really makes Wipeout feel like a beast all its own as a racing game. It also means the skill ceiling on just how good you can get at these tracks is pretty damn high if you put forward the effort to memorizing them (which you’ll need to do at least a bit if you want any hope of beating arcade mode, let alone the post-arcade challenge modes). However, this also means that the skill floor is quite high as well, and more casual racing game fans are likely to be turned off by just how brutal Wipeout’s harder courses are to complete.

The other thing that makes Wipeout quite different from something like F-Zero is that, while this game does have shield energy that is the difference between car life and car death, it also has weapons Mario Kart-style. Run over a colored tile on the track, and you’ll grab a weapon power up of the corresponding color. There are quite a few different power ups at play (from standard boosts, missiles, and shields to a difficult to aim instant-kill beam to even an auto-pilot feature), and they really add a whole new flavor to such a fast-moving racing game. Not only do the Wipeout cars go fast, you see, but they also actually get faster on their own as the race goes on, so between all the weapon-ing and high tech air braking you’re doing, there’s a lot to sink your teeth into if you’re willing to put the time into it.

All that said, that high skill floor comes with a few other causes as well. For starters, Wipeout XL is 12-man races, and you always start at the back. You’ve got some pretty stiff competition to overcome if you want to see first place. On top of that, it’s also kind of a fake 12-man race. Something you’ll discover quite quickly as you get better is that it only *appears* to show all the other racers at the start. Let the guys more than a couple places ahead of you disappear over a hill (out of the view of the camera), and they’ll have literally vanished by the time you crest the hill moments later. Only 3 or 4 other racers *actually* exist at a time, and that can make for some pretty frustrating experiences trying to pass those buggers on the harder difficulties, just waiting for them to spawn in so you can actually pass them.

On top of that, the computer is also not out here to win. They’re here to make YOU lose. They will actively focus you down with any weapon they can get their hands on, even passing up attacking fellow computers right in front of them just to fire a homing shot directly back into your face. This is aided a little bit by there being a lot of power ups the CPUs just can’t get at all, with their arsenals generally being restricted to standard or homing missile types as well as the ever deadly mine spreads (so they can’t get the big earthquake weapon or the instant death gun, thank goodness). That said, the big pain in the butt here is also that those jerks don’t even need to pick up weapon power ups to actually get weapons (though they can still snipe weapon tiles from you by running over them just before you, of course). The computer just automatically is given weapons periodically, and you can tell this very easily by the announcer very helpfully saying the weapon they’re about to use a second or two before they’re about to use it. This factor, combined with how you have shields and can therefore die, means there were tons of times where I just happened to find myself behind a recently spawned pack of 3 racers who all unloaded homing missiles and mines into my face at once resulting in me going from 80% or 100% shields to 0% in an instant. I’m sure I don’t need to tell you just how frustrating a racing experience that can make for, and just how badly the CPUs cheat was a big reason I had no interest in pursuing victory in anything beyond arcade mode.

Cheating computers aside, the aesthetics of the game are incredibly cool. They build futuristic cityscapes and wilderness tracks that look super cool as they zoom past your car, and the flying future cars themselves look pretty darn snazzy too. This is all on top of a very pumping EDM sound track that, while not my particular favorite kind of music, certainly fits the gameplay very nicely. The game also runs really well, and while tracks take a good few seconds to load in, they never need to again once you’re there, and they even restart really quick too. I never had to worry about just driving into a blank void because I happened to take a corner too fast, and that’s pretty darn impressive for a game with such fast speeds not on the N64.

The only real issue I could say (apart from the lack of any kind of mini-map making the memorization of tracks that much more of a necessity) is that the colors and such can get a bit *too* loud at times. It can be difficult to actually parse the track and the cars at times because you’re going SO fast and the colors are so all over the place, which doesn’t make for a very difficult time when you’ve learned a track a bit, sure, but it does make the process of learning a track that much more difficult.

Last but not least is the very funny product placement in the game, with Red Bull energy drink ones being the most prominent. They’re not so funny in a vacuum, sure, but when you consider that this game came out in ’96 despite Red Bull not being sold here in Japan until 2005, it’s hard not to giggle about for me x3. That does speak to, however, just how poorly a localized game this is in the first place. While the packaging and manual is thankfully translated into Japanese, there is literally no Japanese text in the actual game whatsoever. This isn’t the *worst* problem in the world for a racing game, but for one like this that requires setting up type of race, car you’re using, and track before you actually hit start to initiate it all, it must have been a real pain for players back in the day who didn’t have terribly great English skills. I’m certainly used to western publishers not giving much of a crap when localizing their stuff for Japan, but Psygnosis hit an all new low for me with this one. Frankly, it’s no surprise that these games were so unpopular (and are therefore now so rare) in Japan on the PS1 when SO little effort was put forward into actually making them playable for a non-English speaking audience.

Hesitantly Recommended. This is far from a bad game, but it’s one that I think only pretty serious racing game fans will really like. The skill ceiling is high, but the skill floor is also very high, and the big cheating AI only compound that skill floor’s difficulty even worse. There’s a lot of fun to have here, but casual racing fans are likely going to find this one a bit too difficult (and a bit too content light) to really get much fun out of. That said, if all this sounds fun to you, it’s well worth checking out! You just might find an all time new favorite series buried here among the zooming fury of the far flung future~.
Last edited by PartridgeSenpai on Fri Dec 15, 2023 9:21 am, edited 1 time in total.
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prfsnl_gmr
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Re: Games Beaten 2023

Post by prfsnl_gmr »

Great review! Wipeout XL was one of my first PS1 games, and I loved it. I’ve been through it a few times, and I own a copy of the soundtrack. I’ve never been able to get into any of the sequels, though, likely for the reasons mentioned in your review.

Also, Red Bull wasn’t widely available in the U.S. at the time of the game’s release, either, and I had no idea it was a real product until years later.
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Re: Games Beaten 2023

Post by REPO Man »

A demo of the first game was one of the first PS1 games I ever played.
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PartridgeSenpai
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Re: Games Beaten 2023

Post by PartridgeSenpai »

prfsnl_gmr wrote:Great review! Wipeout XL was one of my first PS1 games, and I loved it. I’ve been through it a few times, and I own a copy of the soundtrack. I’ve never been able to get into any of the sequels, though, likely for the reasons mentioned in your review.

Also, Red Bull wasn’t widely available in the U.S. at the time of the game’s release, either, and I had no idea it was a real product until years later.


Yeah! It's a really neat series that is also just like SO not for me (which I think is most racing games in general, really XP). My friends tell me that the later series do get more approachable in certain ways, but ultimately it just doesn't really scratch the itch of what I want from my Go Fast games <w>

And omfg, that is so incredible about Red Bull. I had no idea! XD
That makes the whole thing feel SO much more surreal :lol:
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TheSSNintendo
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Re: Games Beaten 2023

Post by TheSSNintendo »

Super Mario Bros. Wonder. I might take a chance another time and attempt the final special level.
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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
59. Ghostrunner II - PC
60. RoboCop: Rogue City - PC
61. Super Mario RPG - Switch
62. Blake Stone: Aliens of Gold - PC
63. Turbo Overkill - PC
64. Dragon Quest Monsters: The Dark Prince - Switch
65. Sigil II - PC
66. Turok 3: Shadow of Oblivion - PC
67. Elderand - Switch

Elderand is a by-the-numbers Metroidvania that doesn't really do anything new or have anything stand out. But it also doesn't do anything bad or too frustrating. It's the kind of game you don't regret playing but also don't tell people to run out and get it.

You are a mercenary, contracted to kill some boss. Your ship capsizes on the way to the area and you need to start from scratch, grabbing a weapon and killing dudes and trying to find your way through. In the process of finding your target you start to find evidence of a cult, and the evidence points to them being an evil cult. There's also a bunch of hinted at backstory about the world, but it never reaches the level of a Souls game or Blasphemous. Just some general evil god, wants power, blah blah blah. You kill your target midway through the game, but for some reason you decide to keep fighting the other stuff, even though there isn't really a compelling reason at that particular point of the story.

The game is fairly standard melee Metroidvania. You have two weapon sets that you can hot swap, you have quick potions, you gain some movement abilities. When you level up you can put points in health, strength damage, dex damage, or magic damage. Swords and axes are strength weapons, daggers, whips, and bows are dex weapons, and staves are magic weapons (well, their projectiles are). You'll want to pick one damage stat and stick with it, though near the end of the game you can gain the ability to respec an unlimited number of times. I actually took advantage of this and got a much better character at the end, though I would have struggled getting to that point. So that's a nice feature.

That's about all there is to say. It doesn't do anything that other Metroidvanias have done better, but it doesn't do anything poorly. It's not too long, not too difficult, so if you have some time to kill and it's on sale it's not a bad purchase.
Blizzard Entertainment Software Developer - All comments and views are my own and not representative of the company.
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