Games Beaten 2024

Anything that is gaming related that doesn't fit well anywhere else
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elricorico
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Re: Games Beaten 2024

Post by elricorico »

1. Sonic Lost World (WiiU)

2. Kirby and the Forgotten Land (NS)


This morning I beat the other game that I had hoped to finish in 2023, Kirby and the Forgotten land. About 10 hours of play to roll credits, and I did a bit of side content in that time.

I did not play a single Kirby game growing up, but since my mid 30s it seems that I'm good for one every year or two. This one probably is my favourite Kirby game of all time now. It is a bright, colourful world that is fun to explore and the various power-ups all tend to make for interesting level design. Each zone has a set of different challenges for completionists and if you don't find them all on a playthrough the game provides you some hints. Leveling up the various powers pays off well, as some of the later bosses do provide a bit of a challenge. Overall though it is not a hard game to beat with just some minimal trial and error.

I'm not really sure that I have any negatives to offer for this game, perhaps the music isn't all that memorable? That being said it never felt out of place and I enjoyed it while playing.

This is the type of game that I think I would have played to completion as a kid - when there wasn't a giant backlog and so many other games available to play. Even so, I doubt that this is my last trip into the Forgotten World, as there are many more things I can explore with Kirby.

Coincidentally, I'd almost say that this could be a prequel to Sonic Lost World. Put a few millennia in between and this could take place on the same planet :lol: Maybe it's just a fact that many platformers have a lot of similar stages and themes.
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Re: Games Beaten 2024

Post by Flake »

2024, Let's Go!

January
Injustice: Gods Among Us (Xbox Series)

I have a weird suspicion this will be the year of comfort food gaming for me. Remakes, Remasters, Replays all sound like a warm blanket given how rough my 2023 was. At the start of the list, we have Injustice: Gods Among Us. I played this game to death on both WiiU and PS3 and I still love it a lot. The story mode is tons of fun, the character designs and graphics have aged very well, and I generally prefer the super moves in this game as the devs didn't seem to try to tie the environments into animation so things are much more over the top than they were in the second game.
Maybe now Nintendo will acknowledge Metroid has a fanbase?
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emwearz
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Re: Games Beaten 2024

Post by emwearz »

Max Payne Mobile
I wanted something to play on my lunch breaks at work, the game has been de-listed for years but getting hold of it was not all too hard. I'll tell you what, it controls so surprisingly well. The only issue that had were the dream/V sequences because it had all the precise walking, but other than that, the adjustments to the difficulty and the generous auto aiming really made it play well.

It got me in the mood enough that once I finished it, I installed it on my PC, chucked it on hard (I had a save with a previous play through or 2 on my PC) and did it all over again. Still plays great and the storytelling still appeals to me. I think I will go through 2 and 3 again.

The timing with the passing of McCaffrey was even sadder having been in the middle of the play through during the announcement.
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Ack
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Re: Games Beaten 2024

Post by Ack »

1. Live A Live (RPG)(Switch)
2. Turnip Boy Commits Tax Evasion (Action)(Switch)
3. Pathway (Strategy [Tactics])(PC)
4. Rewind or Die (Horror Adventure)(PC)


I'm a little behind, but I started off the New Year by wrapping up one of my favorites and have knocked out a few games since.


Live A Live

The original release of Live A Live on the Super Famicom is one of the games that got me interested in imports and emulation. While that version has received several translations at this point, I've gone back and beaten it a few times to see how things changed. I even commissioned a member here (who shall remain nameless for privacy reasons in this post) to make a reproduction version of the game that works in an NTSC-U Super Nintendo.

With Square Enix announcing the remaster for Nintendo Switch, I knew I'd have to check it out...and it lived up fully to my expectations. While the game engine has been updated to enable a 3D world, character spritework is still beautifully detailed. The music is the classic arrangement but updated to make use of the Switch's sound capabilities, and voice acting adds a new touch that the original could not provide. Cut scenes are also skippable if you've already seen them (so a series of them right before a boss fight you have to redo or something is easily manageable). In fact, it's basically the classic brought forward for a new generation to enjoy.

For those of you unfamiliar with the property, Live A Live starts with you selecting one of a variety of heroes from different time periods. You play through each story, and once the initial ones are done, a new set of stories unlocks that ties everything together, revealing that all the characters are drawn together by a singular powerful entity which represents relentless destruction. Each scenario offers unique approaches to story, though all rely on a tactical combat system where you maneuver around a grid and unleash attacks to hit specific spaces. In fact, if it weren't for the shared combat system, some of the stories would be radically different to feel they warrant their own games, from managing townsfolk setting up traps for an invasion to a fighting game-style story of a modern ultimate warrior to a futuristic horror title where fleeing is your best option.

I still love Live A Live, and this remastered release is a new way for me to enjoy it. I recommend it highly to RPG fans with a Switch.


Turnip Boy Commits Tax Evasion

Turnip Boy Commits Tax Evasion is a Zelda-inspired game in which a living turnip is stripped of his property by an unethical mayor and must fight back against tyranny and oppression...mainly by hitting things with a shovel and solving simple puzzles. It's short, it's silly, it does offer a never-ending combat dungeon if you really like the gameplay, and it lets you wear a variety of hats. Dungeons are pretty short, the plot is simplistic, and the visuals are charming.

That's pretty much it. There isn't a lot of meat on the bones here, but if you want something that approaches 2D Zelda games the way Gato Roboto approached Metroid, a quick romp that's fun and doesn't overstay its welcome, then Turnip Boy Commits Tax Evasion isn't a bad way to spend an afternoon.


Pathway

Pathway is a tactical game similar to X-Com or Jagged Alliance but with a visual style reminiscent of SNES games and set in 1930s North Africa and the Middle East against Nazis and cultists that raise the dead. There are a series of five unlockable adventures, each one focusing on tracking down a different legendary weapon that either the Nazis or the cult want to use for their own evil purposes, and your ragtag group of adventurers has to stop.

Combat is done tactically on a grid, with both sides taking turns to move and attack or use special abilities. The limited roster of characters you can get have to be unlocked, but they offer a variety of skills and playstyles, and there is an RPG system that enables unlocking a skill tree of options to build them however you want. Plus, each team member brings different talents to the party, which can help with your adventure outside of combat.

That's because a lot of the game isn't combat, it's actually spent traversing points across the region that each story segment takes place in. It's similar to a board game, where you must monitor your fuel supplies as you travel from point to point. Random things can occur at these points, be it finding friendly nomads, engaging in firefights with enemies, or simply nothing at all in the open desert. But sometimes random events will have options for your talents, which can lead to major changes in how the event plays out, with new benefits or different results. Or alternatively, sometimes you can take a gamble that may help you out or give one of your characters a crippling injury for the rest of that adventure.

With so many adventures, hidden events, as well as an array of unlockable characters and items, Pathway lets you enjoy short stints but also the long haul should you want to seek it. There are secret events too that can only be found by meeting very specific conditions; good luck finding them! Pathway has given me a lot to enjoy, and I look forward to continuing adventures and explorations in it.


Rewind or Die

Torture Star Video makes PS1-style horror games. Rewind or Die is just one of those games, where you play a frustrated video clerk named Tony who ends up trapped by a pig-headed slasher eager to show you what your internals look like at a nearby condemned meat-packing plant. Go from the monotony of work to the terror of fleeing a killer in sewer tunnels.

The game takes place in chapter sections, starting with you stuck at work on your day off and eventually devolving into a battle to find a security guard's handgun while fending off the killer, who looks straight out of Motel Hell except in his underwear. Each chapter offers something a little different, be it stealth, openly running from the killer, or trying to solve puzzles and find secrets which will enable the weird alternate (best) ending. Or you could accidentally kill the homeless guy who lives behind your video store. You know, choices.

If you like your horror games mostly helpless and running, and you have a love for the PS1 golden age of survival horror, this may well be a game worth checking out. I have liked what I have tried of the Torture Star games, so I'll keep looking into them.
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PartridgeSenpai
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Re: Games Beaten 2024

Post by PartridgeSenpai »

Partridge Senpai's 2023 Beaten Games:
Previously: 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022 2023
* indicates a repeat
1. Terranigma (SFC)
2. Eastward (PC)
3. Pulse (PC)

4. Lost Ruins (PC)

I’m a big fan of metroidvanias, and this was one I hadn’t heard of, but a friend of mine is a big fan of. They happened to have a spare key for it lying around, and they very graciously gave it to me so I could play through it! Other than the bits of praise I heard from that friend, this was honestly a game I’d just never heard of. Judging from all the friends who jumped in call with me to watch me play it and how much they talked about loving it, it seems it’s certainly a popular one, and now that I’ve finished it myself, I can certainly see why! I played through the game three times. Once on normal mode and getting the good ending, which took about five hours. After that, I did a “Boss Mode” (this game’s version of the old Castlevania’s Julias Mode) playthrough that took about 2.5 hours, and then I finished it off with a hard mode playthrough to get the true good ending (which can only be gotten on hard mode after you’ve beaten the game once), and that was another 3.5 hours.

Lost Ruins is the story of an unnamed Heroine (who is simply called such throughout the game), who is summoned suddenly into some, well, mysterious and unfamiliar ruins. She has no memories of her life before being summoned, but judging from her clothes, she assumes she used to be some kind of school girl. A helpful witch quickly informs her that she is only the most recent to be summoned here, and that the evil Dark Lady is summoning all sorts of souls from other worlds to serve as sacrifices for a dark, ultimate ritual. With not a ton of help from her witch friend, our heroine sets off to take down the Dark Lady’s subjects and perhaps even get home in the end. The writing is nothing special, but it’s fine silly fun for what it is. The character writing is funny and weird in ways that make its small yet colorful cast charming in their own absurd ways, and that’s especially evident in the Boss Mode. It’s a lot less horny than you’d think a metroidvania about school girls would be, which was nice, though that’s not to say it’s not horny at all, of course XD. It’s at a perfectly tolerable level of it for me, and I found the writing fun for what it was and a good motivator for the adventure~ (clearly good enough to get me to go through it three times, at least XD).

The gameplay of Lost Ruins is a 2D action/adventure metroidvania, so there’s going to be a lot of familiar elements for anyone even remotely familiar with the genre. However, there are a few interesting things that this game does that makes it stand out among the crowd of other high quality metroidvanias. First of all, this game has no mobility upgrades. There’s *some* recursive exploration, sure, but beyond going back to tackle trials or puzzles you just couldn’t beat the first time, the game is honestly fairly linear if you choose to play it that way, as the only thing keeping you from progressing are the bosses blocking your way and not the upgrades you might’ve otherwise gained from them.

On that note, the game is actually very sparse on the upgrades full stop, really. You start with 20 HP and 20 MP, and by the end of the game your base stats will, at most, be 35 HP and 30 MP. The weapons, magic, and armor you find as well don’t really scale in power too much (though there certainly is *some* scaling to them), and you really end up playing through the whole game at a very similar durability to how you started it out as. You’ll find better weapons with different sorts of passives, you’ll find armor and trinkets that give different sorts of passives both defensive and offensive, and you’ll even get the ability to wear more pieces of armor/trinkets at once, but you don’t really play the game that differently at the end than you did at the start.

This particular aspect of the game makes it particularly fun to replay, I think, as it’s both not terribly long *and* you’re not really getting much of a downgrade in your arsenal when you restart. As my hard mode playthrough that took 1.5 hours less than my original normal mode playthrough indicates, the skills and strategies you pick up from one playthrough carry over very easily to other playthroughs, and the different modes and little modifiers they give you make for some very fun challenge runs if you’re up to tackle them (such as Witch Mode, where you can’t use anything but magic spells the entire game).

The aesthetics of the game are very pretty, and the pixel art is done very well. Both in the VN-style portraits for when the girls are talking as well as the animations on attacks, you can really tell a lot of time and effort went into bringing Lost Ruins’s cast to life. Several friends unfamiliar with the game actually thought I was playing a Momodora game, which is high praise in and of itself so far as I’m concerned. The music is also very fun and fits the mood of the game very well, and it all makes for a really good and fun time~.

Verdict: Highly Recommended. As far as more action-focused metroidvanias go, this is a pretty damn good one! The story is fun, and the action and exploration is even better. Heck, the fact that I played through it so many times is in and of itself a testament to just how fun the game is to play. If you’re a fan of the genre, then Lost Ruins is definitely one you don’t wanna miss out on.


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5. Turnip Boy Commits Tax Evasion (PC)

This is a little game I’ve been meaning to play through for ages, but I’ve never really gotten around to it until now (and receiving it for free on the Epic Games Store also made for a very nice excuse as well, of course ;b ). Just like I really love metroidvanias, I’m also a huge fan of 2D Zelda-like games, so this was something right up my alley from the start. It took me about 2.5 hours to beat the game and toy around with the post-game endless mode a little too.

As the title suggests, this is a game about Turnip Boy (a boy who’s a turnip) who’s unhappy with taxes. When the evil Mayor Onion uses some obscure tax law nonsense to steal his green house, Turnip Boy sets out on a document-burning adventure to get his green house back and take out the evil mayor. The game is extremely silly and wears its nonsense proudly upon its sleeve (as the title is ever so helpful demonstrating). There isn’t *nothing* behind its silly writing, though it is a little hard to deduce if the anti-tax/anti-government messaging of the game is more coming from the devs being anarchists or if they have more libertarian leanings. At any rate, just enjoying the nonsense and the delightfully strange world of the game is good fun for the few hours of fun the game will give you, and that’s more than enough for me.

The gameplay is a pretty straight forward 2D top-down Zelda like. You get several weapons and tools that you’ll use to solve puzzles both optional and mandatory, and there are lots of NPCs to talk to and do little sub-quests for, but this game isn’t trying to reinvent the wheel or anything. The combat was surprisingly challenging for what I otherwise would’ve expected, but this is far from a terribly difficult game. As long as you aren’t afraid to take your time with fights, bosses are generally really good about giving you health mid-fight to make even the tougher fights nothing too daunting. It’s a perfectly competent Zelda-like that doesn’t outstay its welcome, though it doesn’t have much to set it apart from better, longer games other than its zany concept.

The presentation is, like the rest of the game, perfectly adequate. The art style is simple and not flashy, but just stylized enough to be memorable where it counts. The music is similarly nothing to write home about, but it fits the mood of the respective locations nicely nonetheless. Not much to go wild with praise over, but not much to really complain about either, really.

Verdict: Recommended. I feel like I’ve repeated myself a million times saying this already, but this game is a short, sweet, and to the point that does a good job not outstaying its welcome. If it were any longer, I think they’d be laying the joke on way too thick for how much mileage their premise ultimately has, but the devs were smart in making something juuuust long enough that it doesn’t feel tiresome. If you’re a fan of the genre, this will be a fun thing to spend an afternoon on as long as you don’t expect anything super hilarious or life changing.


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6. Dropsy (PC)

Like Pulse which I played earlier in the year, this is a game that I actually Kickstarted aaaages ago back in high school but just never got around to finishing. As was also the case with Pulse, I figured it was high time that I actually sit down and finish this game, because I’ve certainly owned it for more than long enough to justify it XD. It took me about 7.5 hours to finish the game doing just about everything I possibly could, though I’ll freely admit I would’ve finished it a LOT sooner had I not been stubborn about not using a guide when I got stuck.

Dropsy is a story of the titular character, Dropsy the clown with a quite scary face. As the intro cutscene shows, his life used to be happy and fun, loving being at and being in his family’s circus every day, but it all came to a horrifying end one day when the circus tent burned down and his mother lost her life in the accident. Now living in the old, dilapidated circus tent with his dad and little doggy, Dropsy sets out to make a better place of a world that fears his face (and maybe just do something incredible while he’s at it). Dropsy’s “story” is a weird thing to write about, as this game actually has no text at all. Outside of the title card itself, you’ll never see any text in the game until the credits roll, not even in the save menus or title screen. Characters communicate with speech bubbles that have pictures in them depicting what they’re talking about, and that’s how you as Dropsy interact with the world around you.

The story that is there is remarkably well put together despite these self-imposed limitations, though it does fall a bit short, in my opinion. While the game’s main message of how doing good deeds brings good deeds back to you in return (and of course that you can’t judge a book by its cover) is one I quite like and think it does a good job at portraying, but they really fumble it in the last hurdle. I won’t spoil what the ending is here, but in taking the path they do for the ending, they end up muddying the waters of what the entire game is meant to say, and it just doesn’t logically parse with what the story has been up to that point. I’m not sure if they even are purposefully trying to have a point or message with the ending they went for, and they may’ve just been trying to be weird/shocking, but at any rate, I think choosing a different conclusion would’ve done the game a world of good. As things are, I think the story is certainly good, but decidedly not great.

The gameplay of Dropsy is a point and click adventure game through the island that Dropsy calls home. Exploring the circus, the forest, the military base, and the nearby city, you’ll control Dropsy as he goes around trying to progress the main plot as well as give hugs to as many (consenting) folks as he’s able to (with the game’s dedicated hug button!). Hugs are your side objective, and Dropsy will slowly decorate his room with more and more drawn pictures of those whom he’s made friends with. A neat feature is that Dropsy isn’t alone on his quest. There’s his clown make-up wearing doggy you start the game with, but you’ll also acquire a mouse friend and a bird friend too, and swapping between them to accomplish tasks only they respectively can is a neat way many of the puzzles are designed.

However, this is at the end of the day a point and click adventure game, and this game is absolutely not free from the pit falls this genre so often finds itself in. While I was able to do *most* things without consulting a guide, I ultimately had to, as some puzzles are just that unclear on how you’re meant to do them. This is made an even more serious issue, of course, by the whole “no text” gimmick the game has going for it. This means that you are entirely on your own for figuring out what items do and sometimes what they even are, and I think the game really would’ve benefited from *some* kind of way to analyze items in your inventory to help give the player a good kick in the right direction when they needed it. It’s far from the hardest point and click out there, but it’s certainly not going to convert anyone who already doesn’t gel well with this genre.

The presentation of Dropsy is wonderfully surreal and one of the coolest things about it. While it’s especially the case for Dropsy himself (with all of his weird, wiggly animations and mannerisms), the whole world is populated by strange and delightfully stylized people who act and move like caricatures come to life. The sound design adds to this surreal nature very well, and seeing what there is to see in the world you’re adventuring in is definitely one of the biggest highlights of playing Dropsy.

Verdict: Recommended. While this is certainly not one of my favorite games, and I certainly have my reservations about the story, this is still a game I had quite a good time with even when I was really stuck. The message of value kindness in the face of adversity is done in a way I found very endearing, and the unique approach to storytelling and surreal world design help make it an adventure that’s easy to really get into and want to see the next step of as soon as you can. If you’re a fan of the genre, this is totally one worth trying, but if you’re really turned off by point’n’click games, this is probably one to just watch a Let’s Play of instead of playing it yourself.


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7. Call of Juarez Gunslinger (PC)

The last of the games that I played on my recent efforts to clear through some of my PC backlog, this is yet another game that I was curious about for ages, bought it on sale years and years back, and have only just finally gotten around to playing XD. I’m not usually one for FPS games, let lone one tied to Ubisoft, but the premise of this one had me so curious and the praise it received was so great that I just had to check it out. It took me about 5.5 hours to finish the game on normal mode.

Call of Juarez: Gunslinger follows Silas Greaves, an old cowboy just looking to stop into town and get a drink. Once he sits down at a table, he strikes up some conversation and the patrons quickly recognize his name as one of a famous gunslinger about which there are no shortage of unbelievable tales. Demanding stories straight from the source, Silas begins telling them stories of his younger days, and that is where you, the player, come in. Inspired by the way that Bastion’s narrator affected its gameplay, the narrative conceit of Gunslinger is that you are playing through the stories Silas is telling as he tells them, and revisions to the story or folks jumping in with their own details will change the game as you play it. It’s a super cool way to design a game, and they pull it off really well here.

Being a game about the old west, there are certainly marks of the genre (especially regarding racism), but I think the game does a pretty darn good job of striking a balance between making the characters feel appropriate to the world they’re in while also incorporating many more modern ideas about the culture and stories of the old west. This is a game whose story is a love letter to old west fiction, and it has a lot of fun playing with the notion of storytelling and how the stories we tell affect our perceptions of both history and the present. It’s simultaneously a big, dumb cowboy story that features every famous and infamous cowboy who ever graced a Hollywood screen as well as a thoughtful contemplation on what these kinds of stories mean to us. It’s not the most deep dissection of those things, sure, but it does a great job at what it’s trying to do, and I loved every minute of it.

The gameplay is pretty standard for an FPS of this time, but it has a few things here and there to make it special. On the more typical end, you can carry two guns at a time, you’re going through levels following objective markers and shooting enemies as they come, and you even have a bullet time mode you can activate once you’ve killed enough enemies. This definitely has the feelings of a budget title, in a sense, with how relatively few guns it has and how often locations are reused, but both of those aspects serve larger purposes. The guns are all relatively cowboy appropriate, for starters, and the reuse of locations is a bit more than meets the eye, and it’s honestly an aspect of the narrative device that I respected the most by the time I was done with it.

On the more special end, you have little six-shooter inspired skill trees (which isn’t that unique, sure), as well as how the story changes depending on the flow of the narration as I mentioned earlier. The most unique part of the gameplay is how they’ve conceived boss fights in this game. In grand cowboy movie fashion, no matter how many unimportant enemies get taken down, a showdown against a bad guy almost always ends in a one-on-one showdown of reflexes. The way the game does this is with you seeing Silas’s hip holster and his hand as well as the enemy in front of you. Your goal here is to focus the reticle on the right hand side with your right stick (or mouse) on your enemy’s head to increase your zoom in for an easier shot, and you simultaneously use your left stick (or WASD on the keyboard) to keep Silas’s hand near his gun to increase the speed you draw your weapon at. The way you kill normal enemies already gets you points and EXP for both score and leveling up, and the better you do in these duels, the more EXP you’ll get for them. You get an extra big bonus if you win the duels honorably (by letting your enemy draw first), though it’s obviously a lot harder to do that. It’s a bit of a jank mechanic, but they do some really fun stuff with it and it helps the silly cowboy-ness of it all come alive that much more.

My one main comment here is that these work WAY better with a controller, and I ended up being really glad that I still had my Xbone controller plugged in, because I’d play the normal game with my mouse and keyboard and then swap to the controller (which is a really nice, seamless transition) as soon as the duels started, because these control WAY more easily with joysticks than they do with the WASD keys and mouse.

The aesthetics are really fun as well. The voice acting is really well done as is the sound design in general, with lots of fun, very cowboy-feeling music underscoring the action as it happens. The graphics also fit the game really well too. They’ve gone for a cell-shaded, vaguely realistic graphics style that gives the whole game a somewhat comic book feel without feeling like a comic book game. It lends itself really well to the hyper-reality of the action at hand, and it makes the whole thing that much more fun.

Verdict: Highly Recommended. This is a really awesome game! I went in expecting to like it okay, and I came away loving it. If what I described about the storytelling intrigues you, or you’re someone who likes westerns and/or FPS games, this is absolutely not one you want to miss, because it’s a real treat on all levels (and I’m saying that as someone who’s never even seen a western movie <w>).


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8. Pokemon Ruby (GBA) *

Somewhat continuing all of the Pokemon I played last year (though without the looming responsibility of using the Pokemon within them to beat Pokemon Stadium games XD), this is a game I played a TON when I was in grade school. It’s also, however, a game that I never played through with a proper Pokemon team of six, and it’s also a game that my partner really wanted to parallel play together. This made for a great opportunity to give this a replay for the first time in nearly 20 years, and seeing my partner’s experiences in her version of the game was also a really fun time~. It took me about 33 hours to beat the Japanese version of the game on real hardware (with a team of Blaziken, Claydol, Sharpedo, Plusle, Skarmory, and Shiftry).

The third Pokemon game starts and plays out very similarly to the previous two. You’re a young person (you get the choice of a boy OR a girl this time, carrying forward the trend started in Crystal) going out on an adventure to become the regional Pokemon League champion. You arrive in the Hoenn region having just moved there from Johto to here where your father is a gym leader, and you quickly set off on your quest to be the best like no one ever was. It tries a few new things with the narrative writing, like how we’re not fighting Team Rocket anymore or how there are a few more characters with a *little* more meat to them, but it’s by and large very similar to how these games had always been up to that point. That absolutely isn’t a bad thing, mind you, as I certainly don’t mind a Pokemon game with a thread bare story if it’s otherwise fun to play, and this one absolutely fulfills the being fun to play.

Gameplay-wise, it’s still Pokemon. You catch them, you train them, you fight trainers, win badges. It’s something you’re almost certainly already well familiar with by now, and the third generation of Pokemon doesn’t really rock the boat too much on the fundamentals and plays very similarly to the first two generations. That said, while some of the more fundamental problems with Pokemon still haven’t been cleared up yet (most prominently, the stat a move scales off of is still tied to the move’s type and isn’t particular to the move itself), there are a LOT of quality of life changes as well as general polish to the design that makes this game WAY easier to go back to than its GameBoy predecessors.

The game as a whole is so much easier to play now. You still have an inventory limit, yeah, but it’s far larger than Gold & Silver’s was, and inventory management is far less of a constant burden. You also no longer need to swap your Pokemon boxes manually, so you can catch Pokemon to your heart’s content without ever needing to worry about running out of space in your computer. Lastly, while it’s still not perfect, the running shoes are a VERY welcome addition to the bicycle to make getting around a lot faster and easier. Sure, it sucks that you still can’t run inside, but being able to zoom around in outdoor areas really helps the pace of the gameplay significantly.

As for the topic of polishing design, the overall experience has been fine tuned very significantly from the previous game, and a lot of more burdensome design choices of past games have been either ironed out or removed entirely. On the topic of the latter, wild Pokemon no longer run away from you unless they’re one or two very special cases, which makes catching Pokemon FAR less of a burden than it once was. Additionally, while there are still 8 HMs in this game, far less of them are actually needed to progress, so you need to spend a lot less time worrying about juggling HM users or trying to find space for crappy moves in your team. The biggest and most important change, however, is not only all of the new Pokemon, but all of the new moves. We’re still not quite there yet, but the moves added in these games make SO many Pokemon types SO much more viable now that they actually have move sets. Poison and bug types are still SOL, sadly, but most other types with really weedy move sets (especially dark types) are finally far more usable than they’d ever been, and the game balance is SO much better for it. We’ve still got some important stuff to clean up, but we’re at least at the point where Pokemon isn’t just fun to play, it’s easy to play, and that’s a milestone worth celebrating in and of itself.

Just about every main line Pokemon game is a big presentation upgrade, and this game is no exception. With the power of the GBA, Pokemon look bigger, better, and more detailed than ever before. The GBA’s sound chip is infamously under powered compared to the graphics, but this game still manages to have a really fun and memorable soundtrack either way, even if it’s not the best the music would ever be.

Verdict: Recommended. There are still some quality of life features and design shortcomings that make Pokemon games from this era a chore to go back to compared to more recent entries, there’s no doubt about that, but the advances we’ve made by this point really cannot be understated. If you’re looking for some retro Pokemon fun, this is a really good game to sit down with, even if all the kinks in the series still wouldn’t be ironed out for another game or two.
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MrPopo
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Re: Games Beaten 2024

Post by MrPopo »

Previous Years: 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022 2023

1. Tormented Souls - Switch
2. Battlefleet Gothic: Armada II - PC
3. Fantasy Empires - PC
4. Vagrant Story - PS1

The late 90s and the 4th generation of consoles was a time of great experimentation for Square. Nowhere is that more evident than with Vagrant Story, a game that mixes elements from Parasite Eve and roguelikes and story inspiration from Final Fantasy Tactics. You won't find another game quite like it, though some of that is due to the fundamental mess that its systems are.

You control Ashley Riot, an agent for the church known as a riskbreaker. It has been discovered that a town is a nexus of power and several different groups are trying to tap that power. You are sent in to stop this from happening. In addition to learning more about what this power is, you learn more about Ashley's past. The game has an excellently done localization, with a consistent voice that is far above a basic translation. And story elements are told with sweeping cutscenes that are frankly impressive they got working on the PS1. The use of camera angles and the general direction is more akin to what we would see on the PS2, and the only tipoff that this is on the PS1 is the low polycounts and low res textures on the models.

The game is set up as a dungeon crawler, where you have this large city with its various zones to navigate. Things are divided into rooms, each with a fanciful name on the map. Inside a room there might be enemies, or there might be box or jumping puzzles to navigate. Or there might be nothing. After your main initial foray through things you'll need to start doing a lot of backtracking to use keys you've picked up. This is assisted with a teleport spell, but it's clunky and doesn't have the same sort of level design a Metroidvania would have, even though the "revisit previously inaccessible areas" is a common feature to both.

Combat is quite weird. You and enemies run around in real time, and if they're close enough and are ready to attack enemies will be able to attack or use magic on you. At any time you can press a button and pause time; this will allow you to cast magic or attack enemies in range. Attacks are directed against body parts; different parts might have different resistances and evasions, and damaging a body part sufficiently imposes a penalty (both on you and on enemies). Spells just fire off, but attacks introduce the chaining system. Like many other games of the era, you have timed hits available to chain your basic attack into special attacks you've learned. These special attacks do less damage, but they usually have additional effects, and more importantly you can chain it all infinitely if you can master the timing (in practice you won't go above 8, both because timing gets harder past that point and because of risk gain). There is a downside to chaining, however. There is a mechanic in the game called risk. As you attack you build up risk points, and if you chain too long this goes from a linear buildup to a geometric buildup. Now, this doesn't have an effect in the middle of a chain as the relevant numbers aren't calculated until the chain ends, but once a chain ends you'll discover that a high risk means your accuracy is noticeably lowered and you take more damage (you also take more healing, because the heal formula is identical to the damage formula with the sign inverted). Risk goes down over time and can be purged with items, but it does mean in a battle you can get blown out on a counter attack if things are timed wrong.

Then there's the crafting system. This is where the roguelike comparison comes from (the game doesn't have per-playthrough random elements). The game has a fairly deep system around your gear which utilizes crafting to maximize. Let's start with the basics; you can combine two pieces of gear in special forge areas to make a hopefully better piece of gear. Most recipes are sidegrades, but there are just enough upgrade ones that you'll want to take advantage. Gear also has a material property, which improves the base statistics. Fortunately, this one is easy; you pretty much always turn into the second best material after a combination or two, and once there it is extremely hard to get off. Forge areas also let you repair gear, which is important (it has a significant impact on your damage). Where forging gets more complicated is the relationship between the various trained stats on gear and the final piece; it isn't a simple "sum both" or "take the best of both".

And let's talk about those trained stats. Every piece of gear has several groups of stats. The first is the base stats; these represent your raw damage/defense. Then you have a grouping of how effective it is against classes of enemies (human, beast, etc). Next is elemental affinity; the highest is the one applied on attack while defense uses the appropriate one for the incoming attack. Finally, there is the edged/blunt/piercing axis. All of these axes serve as multipliers (alongside your weapon durability) that improve the base stat (as part of a formula that sums up your character base and the weapon base). This all ends up being SHOCKINGLY impactful; as an example, my first attempt on the final boss saw me doing a base of 0 damage (so I could do a couple points with random jitter), while my second attempt had me repair my 25% durability weapon and swapping my accessory from being -14 against the boss's type to being +15 and now I'm doing 30 damage a hit (on an enemy with 666 HP; only took a handful of decent combos to work through that). All of these stats (aside from pierce/bludge/edge on weapons) can be trained by hitting or being hit by a relevant enemy; each time there is a chance the stat goes up. But when a stat goes up there is also a chance another stat goes down (with a well defined set of relationships). The sum of all of this is you have two options for effectively playing the game. The first is to have several types of weapons that you swap between depending on the enemy. The other is to just use a single weapon (forging up the rank chart as you go on), as overall it will gain an overall increase in stats over time, alongside swapping out gems (which can give targeted stats) depending on the enemy.

I mentioned block and jump puzzles earlier, and this is the single weakest aspect of the game. Some areas just require you to make precise jumps to clear gaps. The jump physics are bad, and many of these jumps are shockingly precise in terms of jumping at the last pixel to clear things. You would think they might have considered just slightly upping his jump velocity or something. It gets worse when you need to do an angled jump and use your "grab the ledge" ability; this often misses because the game didn't like your angle. Worse is the block puzzles (which sometimes end with precise jumps). The game has a series of block types, and sometimes these will be in a room and require you to arrange them properly so you can make a jump or get a full bridge to a chest (because the lid is facing a cliff). They start off as "this takes an annoyingly long time due to animations" and turn into "ugh, these are a pain in the ass to try and solve along with taking an annoying time even knowing the solution". It really drags down things.

Overall Vagrant Story best serves as an example of a studio willing to experiment and take risks. But it's telling we never saw a follow up, or even a game using the same mechanics. The combat is simplistic while the gear is complex, and you need to engage with that gear complexity to succeed (that aforementioned final boss is a straight up brick wall if you don't). This is definitely not a game to pick up at the secondary prices it commands.
Blizzard Entertainment Software Developer - All comments and views are my own and not representative of the company.
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REPO Man
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Re: Games Beaten 2024

Post by REPO Man »

Ack wrote:Rewind or Die

Torture Star Video makes PS1-style horror games. Rewind or Die is just one of those games, where you play a frustrated video clerk named Tony who ends up trapped by a pig-headed slasher eager to show you what your internals look like at a nearby condemned meat-packing plant. Go from the monotony of work to the terror of fleeing a killer in sewer tunnels.

The game takes place in chapter sections, starting with you stuck at work on your day off and eventually devolving into a battle to find a security guard's handgun while fending off the killer, who looks straight out of Motel Hell except in his underwear. Each chapter offers something a little different, be it stealth, openly running from the killer, or trying to solve puzzles and find secrets which will enable the weird alternate (best) ending. Or you could accidentally kill the homeless guy who lives behind your video store. You know, choices.

If you like your horror games mostly helpless and running, and you have a love for the PS1 golden age of survival horror, this may well be a game worth checking out. I have liked what I have tried of the Torture Star games, so I'll keep looking into them.


Have you tried Night at the Gates of Hell or Bloodwash? The former's a creepy tribute to the Italian zombie films of the late 70s and 80s, and as a fan of retro Italian zombie films that immediately got my attention. Definitely a recommend to fans of Zombi 2 (RIP Tisa Farrow) and Zombie Holocaust (aka Dr. Butcher MD). The latter's more of a tense thriller about a young pregnant woman who runs afoul of a serial killer while doing laundry at an all-night laundromat.

Fun fact: The main character's boyfriend from Bloodwash appears at the beginning of Night at the Gates of Hell.

And if you're a patron of Puppet Combo, you can even get Steam keys for games they put out, including the Torture Star titles. And that's not counting early pre-releases, unreleased betas and the first two parts of the three-part Planet of Bloodthirsty Santa series.
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PartridgeSenpai
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Re: Games Beaten 2024

Post by PartridgeSenpai »

Partridge Senpai's 2023 Beaten Games:
Previously: 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022 2023
* indicates a repeat
1. Terranigma (SFC)
2. Eastward (PC)
3. Pulse (PC)
4. Lost Ruins (PC)
5. Turnip Boy Commits Tax Evasion (PC)
6. Dropsy (PC)
7. Call of Juarez Gunslinger (PC)
8. Pokemon Ruby (GBA) *

9. Secret of Mana (SFC)

This is a game I’d heard a lot about as a kid, and I even bought it on the Wii Virtual Console well over a decade ago. I played a bit of it, but found it too awkward and difficult, so I put it down and never ended up returning to it. I’ve tried it once or twice again since then, but it’s never really gelled with me, and I’d grown quite the negative impression of it over the years. Listening to some friends talk about their experience with the Mana series convinced me, though. I’d owned this game long enough, and I was going to sit down and finally finish this thing! Playing on my Super Famicom Mini, it took me around 19 hours to beat the Japanese version game without abusing save states (though sometimes using a walkthrough).

Secret of Mana follows the story of a young boy who, when playing in the forbidden area behind his tiny village, discovers a mysterious sword calling to him. Pulling it from its place in the ground, he finds the world around him suddenly filled with monsters! After fighting his way back to his village, the villagers accuse him of inadvertently starting the end of the world by pulling the blade from its place, and they quickly banish him forever. So starts the journey of our intrepid young hero who soon meets both a young girl and a strange fairy who also come along for the journey.

Secret of Mana’s English story is a further truncated version of an already very cut down story (as this game had quite a hectic development cycle). The original Japanese version that I played does have a bit more character to the dialogue and certain details are a little more fleshed out, but it still bears the scars of the some 40% of the story they allegedly needed to cut to get this final product out the door. There are a few themes or interesting (or even surprisingly heavy) plot beats here and there, such as how the empire ends up falling or how all three of our protagonists are missing parental figures in their lives.

There are some very strange parts here too, such as the “Republic” only having a king as its government, or some NPCs complaining about how the empire used to be so good and peaceful until the war 15 years ago despite an empire, by its very nature, being a political entity founded upon an idea of inherent supremacy above subjugated groups (and there’s very little to suggest that these NPCs are being ironic or speaking from misguided viewpoints). Regardless, by the halfway point, it all just feels like a rush to the finish as nothing is really dwelt on enough to form much of any larger cohesive messaging. The story isn’t bad, per se, but it’s certainly nothing special, and unlike a lot of other SquareSoft games from this time, the story really isn’t a big reason to come to this game.

The gameplay is part turn-based RPG, part 2D top-down Zelda game, and it frankly manages to miss most of the fun aspects of both. The gameplay as a whole is what I found the most difficult aspect of the game to tolerate, and this was quite the slog for most of the game, even after I’d gotten more to grips with the combat past the few several hours. Your melee attacks function via a charge system, and you’ll need to wait several seconds between strikes if you want your attacks to have any power at all. However, just hitting the enemy isn’t enough to land a strike. For both you and the enemy, you have innate hit and dodge percent chances, so it’s actually a dice roll behind the scenes that dictates whether a well aimed and charged melee attack will hit. On top of that, enemies (especially bosses) have very unclear hit boxes, dodge animations, and invincibility frames in between their animations and attacks, so combat is often a very messy rinse and repeat exercise of slowly pummeling an enemy in between periods where they happen to be invincible. It makes for a really unsatisfying combat experience that makes every fight feel like an endless waiting game until you can get lucky enough to kill your opponent, and that’s especially frustrating for the enemies that continuously spawn full-health copies of themselves.

While the boy can only use melee attacks, the girl has defense and support magic, and the fairy has attacking and debuff spells. Sure, magic attacks (both yours and the enemy's) never miss, but it takes so long to cast them and the enemy is invincible during them that most of what they do is just slow the already dull combat down to an awful crawl. Additionally, your own reserves of MP are very limited for a large chunk of the game, so this makes using it to fight normal enemies a very unwise choice, especially with how invaluable magic so often is for fighting the very annoying to hit bosses. Even when you have the MP to actually use spells effectively without worrying about running out of juice, you need to spend time grinding up spells levels to make them actually effective. While your normal attacks and stats increase just by killing enemies, and the level and money curves of the game are pretty reasonable as long as you just kill most things you see, magic only levels up by repeatedly using that specific type of spell a bunch of times. You’ll REALLY want things like your ice and moon spells at max power as much as you can, so that means going to an inn, resting, going to a battle area to spam you spells until you run out of MP, and then doing it all over again until the spells you want are maxed out. It cumulatively takes hours, and there’s just nothing fun about it for how necessary a part of the gameplay loop it is.

Weird design choices like this abound in this game. On the lower end, you have annoyances like how necessary armor is, so should you miss a merchant (or should a merchant be hidden from you in an out of the way location) and you miss the next armor upgrade, you’ll start getting absolutely mulched with just how tough the next area’s enemies are. Then you have your consumable items, which you can only carry four of at a time, so your healing and such are really reliant on your magic because you just don’t have the pockets to carry around large amounts of healing candy. That in and of itself isn’t much of a problem, balancing-wise, and you can always find more items in chests dropped by enemies. These chests, however, THEY are where the problem lies, as they are just so vindictively mean as to be pointless.

Whether you have space for the item inside or not, a chest disappears once you open it. You’re likely going to be conserving your items anyhow, so most chests will have useless stuff you need to throw away anyhow or just useless equipment you out-leveled ages ago. A lot of the time, however, chests are trapped! This can range from a little punch to the face, to health-bar shredding poison effects (particularly nasty in the first half of the game), or even instant death for the character who opened the chest! You only can carry four revive items at a time, remember, and you don’t get the revive spell until almost the very end of the game. This makes opening chests dropped from monsters a proposition so dangerous as to be pointless. Anything not harmful from them is almost certainly useless, and anything harmful from them is SO bad as to be a potential catastrophe. Outside of messing with the player, it is totally beyond me why the trapped chests are in the game at all, and they feel like a very half-baked mechanic.

One of the most annoying mechanics, however, are your AI party members. Your party members don’t *have* to be AI controlled, granted, and if you’ve got some friends, they can hop in and take control of the other characters. You can even press Select and switch between them on the fly if you’d like. However, there are SO many compromises to the rest of the gameplay to accommodate these party members that I frequently found myself wishing that they weren’t there at all, and I simply had one character who had all of these spells and such.

On the level of outright compromises, there’s first the camera. The game needs to accommodate two or three people potentially playing the game at once, so it can’t just focus on one character all the time. As a result, you need to get VERY close to the edge of the screen to actually scroll it, meaning you’re quite vulnerable to enemies just off screen “seeing” you first and working in a cheap shot before you can react to it. This makes the already slow, plodding combat and exploration even more slow as you’re force to very frequently tiptoe forward lest you get ganked by an unlucky enemy placement. On top of all of that, your AI allies have some very mixed pathing abilities. This means you’ll very frequently be swapping control to them or going back and forth as you try to un-stick them from whatever pillar or bush they’ve decided to take the wrong path around.

While I do appreciate how you can adjust their AI on scales of how aggressive you want them to be as well as the distance they should keep from enemies, I found that I was nonetheless babysitting them constantly while I tried to get them close enough to actually aggro on enemies (or pull them away from things they’d decided needing to be killed at once). Sure, you can go into their respective AI menus and swap which preset they’re fixed to depending on what you’re fighting or where you’re exploring, but that involves going into the tedious menu system. To facilitate the simultaneous RPG multiplayer, you’ve got an unconventional menu UI where a ring appears around each player. You can press Y for the one of the player you’re controlling or X for one of the AI’s menus, and there is nothing quick or simple about going through these things. It’s not the worst thing in the world, sure, but it’s very quickly a huge pain in the butt to have to constantly change their AI behaviors, so I usually didn’t bother.

This even extends to just changing your own weapon as well. The game has eight different weapons you can use, find upgrades for, and level up in proficiency in, but you NEED to go into your respective ring menus if you want to change which weapon you’re using. This wouldn’t be such a huge annoyance if you didn’t need to switch between the sword, axe, and whip so often to cut down particular barriers or cross certain whip-able gaps. Given that not one but *both* shoulder buttons are completely unused for normal gameplay, it is absolutely beyond me why they didn’t just let you hot-swap between weapons using R and L. If I had to guess, it’s probably down to some programming hurdle that couldn’t be overcome, but no matter what the actual reason is, it doesn’t make switching weapons any less annoying.

The gameplay experience of Secret of Mana isn’t a particularly difficult one most of the time, but good gods is it boring. Mechanic upon mechanic piles up to make an experience that feels as unrewarding as it is frustrating. The only times it feels particularly great is when things have gotten *so* simple that you can just breeze through enemies because you don’t need to deal with the most annoying design decisions at this particular moment.

The aesthetics of the game are decent enough for 1993, but they’re nothing special, and as is also the case with the writing, they certainly bear the scars of something that was in development for so long. Sprites are relatively nice looking, but animations are often very simple for both players and enemies alike. Despite this, the game still gets quite bad slowdown problems, and only 3 enemies can ever be on screen at a time lest the game slow down to an impossible crawl. That can even turn into commands for your AI allies to use spells getting eaten while their AI and the gameplay action catch up from whatever was happening at the inopportune moment you decided to fire. The music is at least pretty good. That’s one area where even a much rougher gameplay experience like this doesn’t let you forget that it’s a SquareSoft game. It’s a nice silver lining to a very dark cloud.

Verdict: Not Recommended. There were times where I was enjoying this game okay, but those times felt more like happy accidents than actual high points of design. The general pieces of the experience of Secret of Mana make for a consistently boring and frustrating gameplay loop that is very hard to recommend to really anyone. Like Shining Force that I played a couple years back, this is one I can kinda see why people may’ve enjoyed it back then, but even still, the problems it has are so great that it’s kinda hard to believe it didn’t have more detractors back then. Even if it was great back in its day, Secret of Mana is a game that has aged like milk in the sun, and it’s one you’re far better off avoiding in favor of one of the better games in its series.
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TheSSNintendo
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Re: Games Beaten 2024

Post by TheSSNintendo »

Evo Land 2 (Steam)
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elricorico
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Re: Games Beaten 2024

Post by elricorico »

1. Sonic Lost World (WiiU)
2. Kirby and the Forgotten Land (NS)

3. Kinect Adventures (XB360)


Many years back, when the Kinect was a pretty new thing, a friend brought one over with Kinect Adventures and Dance Central. I recall having fun playing with the kids. I've had a Kinect from a bundle for years, but didn't have any games for it until I found Kinect Adventures and Kinect Sports for super cheap a couple of months ago. I grabbed them thinking that I might get the family playing together and have some laughs over the holidays.

Well I didn't manage to convince anyone in the family to play kinect games with me, but in trying I played enough Kinect Adventures to realize it had a bit of a main quest and an actual finishing condition, so I ended up playing through those myself. That part is only a few hours long, though I don't have an exact time.

The Kinect tends to work a little better than I expect it to, reacting to me jumping around and looking silly fairly responsively. I have a decent sized room, thought I probably would have had to move some furniture to play with 2 people at once. There are five basic games that make up Kinect Adventures, and each requires you to use your entire body to play. The physicality of the games ranges from finding the right body position in a 3d space to plug leaks in a glass case underwater, to jumping, ducking, shuffling side to side and reaching for items in an obstacle course. I keep myself in decent shape, and the obstacle course left me sweating quite a bit when I had to play through 3 or 4 courses back to back.

I had fun and got some exercise. I probably would have had even more fun if the kids wouldn't take themselves so seriously and had played along, but I guess you can't have it all.
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