Games Beaten 2018

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marurun
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Re: Games Beaten 2018

Post by marurun »

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Xeogred
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Re: Games Beaten 2018

Post by Xeogred »

Yo prfsnl_gmr, I think Konami really dodges the sequalitis thing that some people might not enjoy (like the Mega Man formula, even though personally I could play hundreds of those if they existed!). IE, within the last few years I went through some deep Castlevania and Contra binges myself to trek through those franchises and the majority of the installments end up feeling quite different among one another, so it's a fun journey that ends up being more varied than you may expect!

I'm mostly thinking of Classicvania here though, since that's the side of the franchise I didn't get to until later. I can see how some of the Metroidvania's blend in a bit and might get repetitive. But like, Super Castlevania IV, Castlevania Bloodlines, and Rondo of Blood? They're all pretty dang different in a lot of subtle ways that got a long way. Same with Contra III vs Hard Corps. I appreciate how Konami made their SNES vs Genesis offerings extremely different and maximized the potential of both platforms. It's really hard for me to choose favorites, because both sides have their own charm.

All that fancy talk aside, it sounds like you've mostly beaten the main titles of these franchises that I'm thinking of here. :roll: :lol:
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prfsnl_gmr
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Re: Games Beaten 2018

Post by prfsnl_gmr »

marurun wrote:Don’t forget SotN on Game.com!


:shock: Wild. That was going to be a real thing!

Xeogred wrote:All that fancy talk aside, it sounds like you've mostly beaten the main titles of these franchises that I'm thinking of here. :roll: :lol:


Agree on all points, xeo. I could also play classic Mega Man games forever and ever. I love that formula.

And, you’re right. I have beaten a lot of Castlevania games, and I really am down to the b-sides with that series. Something I like about it is that there aren’t a lot of ports. (Contra is the same way.) Apparently, if classic Konami was going to make a game for another system, it was just going to make a completely different game. Not all developers...<cough> Sega <cough>...were like that.
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noiseredux
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Re: Games Beaten 2018

Post by noiseredux »

many Castlevania b-sides are dope deep cuts, my dude. Get to it. :D
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Markies
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Re: Games Beaten 2018

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Markies' Games Beat List Of 2018!
*Denotes Replay For Completion*

1. The Granstream Saga (PS1)
2. Perfect Dark (N64)
*3. Lunar 2: Eternal Blue Complete (PS1)*
4. Prince of Persia: Warrior Within (XBOX)
5. Donkey Kong Country (SNES)
*6. Pikmin (GCN)*
*7. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina Of Time (N64)*
8. Shining Force II (GEN)
*9. X-Men Vs. Street Fighter (PS1)*
*10. Mafia (XBOX)*
11. James Bond 007: Agent Under Fire (GCN)
12. ChuChu Rocket! (SDC)
*13. Super Metroid (SNES)*
14. Final Fantasy II (NES)
15. Devil May Cry (PS2)
16. Mega Man: The Wily Wars (GEN)
17. Secret of Evermore (SNES)
18. Test Drive: Eve of Destruction (PS2)
19. Mario Golf: Toadstool Tour (GCN)
*20. Paper Mario (N64)*
21. Grandia II (SDC)
22. Ghostbusters: The Video Game (PS2)
23. Bomberman Hero (N64)
24. OutRun (GEN)
25. Dragon Warrior IV (NES)
26. Super Monkey Ball (GCN)
27. Mischief Makers (N64)
28. Dragon Valor (PS1)
*29. Beyond Good & Evil (XBX)*
30. Tokyo Xtreme Racer (SDC)
31. Black (PS2)
*32. Street Fighter II (SNES)*
33. Koudelka (PS1)
34. Bad News Baseball (NES)
35. Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island (SNES)
36. Shattered Union (XBOX)
37. The Simpsons: Road Rage (PS2)
*38. Cruis'n Exotica (N64)*
39. Kid Icarus (NES)
40. The Lost Vikings (SNES)
41. Capcom Vs. SNK 2 (PS2)

42. Destroy All Humans! (XBOX)

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I beat Destroy All Humns on the Microsoft XBOX this evening!

I love history and any video game that lets me play during a historical time period always piques my interest. However, when that time period is the 1950's, one of my favorite time periods, then my interest goes through the roof. That is what happened to me when Destroy All Humans came out several years ago. I never got around to it until I started going through that generation again for the Xbox and GameCube. I had completely forgotten about the game and I saw the XBOX version was rated a bit higher, so I decided to jump in.

The best part about Destroy All Humans is the time period. It is absolutely perfect. It's like playing a good Back to the Future game. The cars, the people, the phrases, the look and everything about that time in history is there to be shown. Granted, it is all satirical and taken with a grain of salt, but it is still very well represented. Also, as a fan of old movies, they play up that 1950's Science Fiction very well. The game feels like one of those 'B' movies you would watch in the drive in as some serious care was put into the game. The actual combat is a typical third person shooter while also being able to ride around in a saucer. The physics engine of the game is really fantastic as each object has its own weight. So, when you blast something in your saucer, the cars go flying. When you psycho kinetically throw somebody, they go flying and its amazing. Being able to mess around the world in a GTA style is amazing.

I just wish the game had better GTA style missions. The game relies too heavily on stealth, which is one of its weaker points. The stealth isn't that fun and unlike GTA, once your cover is blown, people go crazy just looking at you. Also, the main character versus the enemy is incredibly unbalanced. I can die in just a few hits while enemies take forever to kill. It gets really annoying later on in the game when the entire Army is after you.

Overall, I enjoyed Destroy All Humans. The stealth and annoying enemies can ware on you rather quickly and can get incredibly frustrating. But, the atmosphere and time period is just perfect. I can never visit the 1950's, but this is the closest experience. Also, blowing up buildings and shooting beams where cars are like ping pong balls never gets old. If you enjoy history or some mindless fun, Destroy All Humans satisfies both.
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Arenegeth
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Re: Games Beaten 2018

Post by Arenegeth »

So I finally sorted out the the list of games I both finished and completed throughout the year (in no particular order).

Finished Games:

    1. Octopath Traveler (Switch)
- I was good on my way to 100%’ing this game until I realized I was missing a relatively innocuous piece of gear that drops only from some boss’s adds (160 hours in). Since then I’ve restarted the game and I’m already 20 hours+ in my second playthrough.

    2. Little Dragons Café (PS4)
- I played this game on my run up to playing the great, long quest, that was Dragon Quest XI. Though I got almost everything, one Trophy still evades me, and there’s also some smaller not Trophy related stuff left to do.

    3. Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age (PS4)
- I finished the game on 6x Draconian on my first run through the game (and subsequently Platinumed). It was a long, arduous but highly enjoyable process, now I’m stuck at endgame maxing out characters and accolades, I do not anticipate to be done by the end of the year.

    4. Chrono Cross (PS1)
- I’ve owned a copy since 2005, but like a fine aged wine I like to keep PS1 era JRPG’s stored for a rainy day, so I finally played it this year. I’m very close to completing this, I’ve done pretty much everything and have 99 of every item (which was a very long process) and I’m in the middle of my final run, all I need to do is get to the end and save, which I will probably do some time next year.

    5. Clock Tower (PS1)
- I already 100% completed this game many years ago, but my save was lost in one of the two PS1 Memory Cards (out of 12) I had go dead from the old days. So I decided to do everything all over again. I was almost done when other games distracted me, if I find the time I may complete this one again before the end of the year.

    6. Thimbleweed Park (PC)
- The only adventure game I got to play for the whole year (not counting Detective Pikachu), which is a pity, I enjoyed the gameplay but find the story very lacking. I don’t consider the game ‘complete’ not that there’s much to complete in most adventure games anyway, but because GOG didn’t have achievements for it when I played it (still doesn't) and also because I didn’t bother getting the top score in all of the Arcade mini-games.

    7. Sonic Adventure (Dreamcast)
- I already mentioned finishing this game and though I also 100%’ed this game on the XBLA DX version, I want to do it again with the original. I’m not sure if I’ll be done by the end of the year though, since I want to build a perfect Chao for the races (not that is necessary) and I’m not sure how possible that is without access to the Black Market and Sonic Adventure 2. I’ll try to do everything else by the end of the year though.

    8. Ni No Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom (PS4)
- Yet another JRPG for the year. I got the Platinum, but more Trophies were added after that and there’s more DLC to come. Won’t go back to this until all the DLC for it is out, probably next year if I can fit it in.

    9. Final Fantasy XV - Comrades (PS4)
- Though technically DLC for another game, Comrades is about to receive a standalone release in a few days and be separated from FFXV forever (at least on console) so I think it deserves its own separate entry. I finished both the original story path and the extra they added in an update while getting all the Trophies, my character is far from being perfect and there's more content coming for the game (maybe even past the 12th now that is separated from the main game).

Completed Games:

    1. Super Mario Odyssey (Switch)
- This was only recently completed due to the New Hint Arts and costumes Nintendo stagger released all the way until late November. I was done with the main game way early in the year and with the Luigi Balloon stuff sometime in the summer.

    2. Detective Pikachu (3DS)
- Not much to say about this game. Is a simple adventure game for kids and ‘completing’ it consisted of getting all the Pika Prompts which was easy enough to do with the Amiibo.

    3. Ever Oasis (3DS)
- This was a looong project that started all the way back in 2016, and one of my best uses of a daily scheduled grind. As far as I know, I’m also the only person in the world who bothered to complete this game legitimately. Which gives me some hope for the future of humanity.

    4. Final Fantasy VIII (PS1)
- This was a long time coming and this last playthrough was started back in 2016. Finally after a ton of grinding and CR2032’s spend on the PocketStation, I can call this one complete. Is the first and only PS1 Final Fantasy that’s complete to my standards, though I started a VII run all the way back in 2013, I still haven’t completed it.

    5. Dino Crisis (PS1)
- I finally went back to this game and got every ending and unlockable, plus completed Operation: Wipeout. It was satisfying going back and completing this one and I also doing it on the back of my save file that I made all the way back in 1999.

    6. Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine (PC)
- This game felt like a lost Tomb Raider game from the series heyday back in the PS1 era, yet unique enough to be its own thing. I’m glad I finally got to play it. In fact I liked it so much I’m aiming to get the N64 version too since it seems to be different enough to make it worth playing again. Completing the game was also extra fun since I love finding secrets in these sorts of games.

    7. ZombiU (Wii U)
- Though I finished the game last year, it wasn't until early this year that I completed it. Which mostly entailed killing Zombies for ammo over and over again (so I could max proficiency with all weapons) and be very careful not to die, which wasn't that hard though they were a few moments I came close to wasting 20 hours worth of work.

Finished: 9
Completed: 7

Total: 16

Honorable Mentions:

    Xenoblade Chronicles 2 (Switch)
- Despite finishing the game late last year, I spend most of my time on this game early this year, preparing my character for the, at the time, still upcoming New Game+ mode. I haven't completed it yet and haven't touched Torna at all, so it doesn't normally belong on the list but it deserves a mention given the amount of time I spend on it this year.

    Wild Arms 2 (PS1)
- Like Xenoblade Chronicles 2, this is a game I technically finished last year, but I started a second playrthough this year all the way to the middle of Disc 2 in doing a low level Ashley run in my attempt for a perfect playthrough. Though highly unlikely I will complete it this year, it also deserves a mention due to the amount of time I spend on it through this year.

Notes:
Obviously most of my time was spend on JRPG's this year (about half the list is JRPG's), and as much as I like them, I have to take a break for them next year since they take so much time, especially to complete by my rigid standards.

Also other than Chrono Cross and Indiana Jones, every other retro game I played this year was a replay, I have to make up for that next year.

Well this was interesting to go through, gave me a better perspective on how I spend my gaming time.
Last edited by Arenegeth on Sun Dec 23, 2018 12:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Xeogred
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Re: Games Beaten 2018

Post by Xeogred »

Xenoblade 2 Torna is incredible. I 100%'d it at 40 hours, so it's a bit more doable than the other main installments.
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Re: Games Beaten 2018

Post by pook99 »

I think Castlevania is a great series of games to play through, for the most part the series is comprised of some pretty incredible games and none of them feel samey. I playthrough most of the traditional vania games pretty much every year, I would advise anyone wanting to play through the series to stay away from the game boy adventure series, all 3 of those games are incredibly slow and boring, castlevania adventure rebirth on wii is a solid playthrough though.

I would also say that if your playing through the castlevania series that bloodstained curse of the moon is a mandatory playthrough, although it is not technically a castlevania game, it is as close as possible and a very fun experience with a lot of different ways to play it.
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Re: Games Beaten 2018

Post by BoneSnapDeez »

1. Antarctic Adventure (Famicom)
2. Nuts & Milk (Famicom)
3. Commando (Atari 2600)
4. Binary Land (Famicom)
5. Devil World (Famicom)
6. Disney's Aladdin (SNES)
7. Popeye (NES)
8. Super Mario Land (Game Boy)
9. Ys: The Vanished Omens (Sega Master System)
10 Ys II: Ancient Ys Vanished - The Final Chapter (Famicom)
11. Final Fantasy Mystic Quest (SNES)
12. Lunar: The Silver Star (Sega CD)
13. Otenba Becky no Daibouken (MSX)
14. Metroid (Famicom Disk System)
15. Mahou Kishi Rayearth (Game Boy)
16. Wabbit (Atari 2600)
17. Kirby's Dream Land (Game Boy)
18. Warpman (Famicom)
19. Final Fantasy (NES)
20. Transformers: Convoy no Nazo (Famicom)
21. Arcade Archives: Moon Patrol (Switch eShop)
22. Gremlins (Atari 2600)
23. Arcade Archives: Ninja-Kid (Switch eShop)
24. Shining in the Darkness (Genesis)
25. Johnny Turbo's Arcade: Gate of Doom (Switch eShop)
26. Front Line (Atari 2600)
27. Donkey Kong 3 (NES)
28. Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins (Game Boy)
29. Exerion (Famicom)
30. Johnny Turbo's Arcade: Bad Dudes (Switch eShop)
31. Arcade Archives: Double Dragon (Switch eShop)
32. ACA NeoGeo: Ninja Combat (Switch eShop)
33. Johnny Turbo's Arcade: Wizard Fire (Switch eShop)
34. Super Mario Land 3: Wario Land (Game Boy)
35. Virtual Boy Wario Land (Virtual Boy)
36. Grand Master (Famicom)
37. Johnny Turbo's Arcade: Sly Spy (Switch eShop)
38. ACA NeoGeo: Top Hunter Roddy & Cathy (Switch eShop)
39. ACA NeoGeo: Shock Troopers (Switch eShop)
40. Donkey Kong Country (SNES)
41. Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest (SNES)
42. Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong's Double Trouble! (SNES)
43. Kangaroo (Atari 2600)
44. New Super Mario Bros. (DS)
45. Giana Sisters DS (DS)
46. - 52. Metal Slug Anthology (PSP)
53. Gorf (Atari 2600)
54. Phoenix (Atari 2600)
55. Mario Bros. (NES)
56. Balloon Kid (Game Boy)
57. Esper Dream (Famicom Disk System)
58. Arcade Archives: Traverse USA (Switch eShop)
59. Kouryu Densetsu Villgust (Super Famicom)
60. King Kong (Atari 2600)
61. Donkey Kong (Atari 2600)
62. Donkey Kong Junior (Atari 2600)

63. Sukeban Deka II: Shoujo Tekkamen Densetsu (Mark III)
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The Sega Master System (Mark III in its native Japan) is a funny thing. Sales-wise, it was thoroughly trounced in both its homeland and North America. However, it was a success in Europe and Brazil, and saw many exclusive releases in those regions. Japanese exclusives were kept to an extreme minimum -- less than twenty, from my count (compare this to the hundreds of games that graced the Famicom but not the NES).

One title that remained marooned in Japan was Sukeban Deka II: Shoujo Tekkamen Densetsu. This is a licensed game, based on a media franchise that began with a manga series and later branched out to anime and live action television. There is a also a Sukeban Deka III, on the Famicom. Try as I might, I was unable to find a "part one." Turns out the II in the title refers to the fact that this particular game is based upon the second series of the TV show (likewise, III is based on the third series). That first season was apparently ignored by game developers, thus making Sukeban Deka II "part one" of an 8-bit gaming duo. This is a text heavy Mark III game, and one of the very few to receive a Japanese-to-English fan translation.

Sukeban Deka II is a Japanese adventure game. These generally have a distinct feel to them. They tend to be heavily menu-driven, with the first-person "action" relegated to a small window. Trial-and-error progress is typical. One is required to speak to everyone, search every inch of every onscreen environment, and test every item acquired. Success in this genre is predicated on the plot being captivating and not entirely obtuse. Unfortunately, this particular experience tends to be bland and cryptic. Now, I'm not familiar with the source material, and have no interest in becoming familiar after finishing this one. The lead heroine is a "delinquent" girl named Saki, not her real name but a government code name, tasked with infiltrating high schools to assist in taking down their internal crime syndicates. She carries a weapon, a lethal metal yo-yo. There are a couple of delinquent buddies of Saki's who appear as NPCs, Okyo and Yukino, though they make only brief occasional appearances. Yeah, the whole thing is comically preposterous, but never gets particularly interesting.
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So, the bulk of the game is spent roaming around high school classrooms, searching for objects and then subsequently placing them in the correct spots. It's immediately apparent how bland the graphics are. The Master System had a great robust color palette, though it isn't utilized effectively here and the copy-and-paste locales get tiresome quickly. In contrast, the music is great - too great for this game - with a strong Phantasy Star vibe. Turns out the great Tokuhiko Uwabo served as composer here as well.

While looting the seemingly infinite number of desks and chalkboards, Saki will come across a string of bizarre references. The fourth wall is broken consistently, as copies of the Sukeban Deka manga appear in-game, and characters from Alex Kidd, Teddy Boy, and Fantasy Zone make cameo appearances, not to mention the string of "Sega rules!" sentiments. I'd call these things "Easter eggs" but they appear conspicuously and constantly; it's almost as if the game is loaded with advertisements. As for the actual obtainable items: finding and placing them is a colossal pain due to the game's overly picky "hit detection." For instance, an object behind a chalkboard can only be unveiled if the player clicks in one specific corner, rather than the logical dead-center area. At one point in the game something must be moved to a pedestal -- again, this is done by clicking on a single certain corner, though when the item actually appears it goes to the pedestal's center. More frustrating are the switches required to open off-screen doors and passageways. These offer zero audiovisual cues when properly activated so the player must loop around a given school to check if anything in the scenery has changed.
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To give the game some credit, the developers of Sukeban Deka II attempted to shake things up a bit. While the "adventure" stretches comprise the majority of the game's playtime, there are also first-person dungeons and even combat sections. The dungeon visuals appear to be lifted straight from Yuji Horii's Portopia Renzoku Satsujin Jiken. Gray, vapid, and dull. Dungeons serve little purpose, most contain no items or NPCs; they just exist to connect point A to point B with a few dead ends along the way. Hard pass.

As for the brawling segments, they're a welcome change of pace whilst also woefully inadequate. Combat is presented in a sort of 3/4th view, with a nice full view Saki in her hilarious schoolgirl outfit. Combat appears in two varieties. There are brawls that pit Saki against a group of male delinquents, as well as the (generally) one-on-one boss fights. The difficulty level of these skirmishes is paradoxically very hard and yet very easy. At first it seems like Saki is hopelessly unable to defeat her foes, as choppy movement and janky hit detection take center stage. After some experimentation, it soon becomes apparent that every enemy, from the first random thug to the final boss, can be taken out by unceasingly moving around the screen in a figure eight pattern, stopping short occasionally to get a single hit in. It's a chore, and takes a toll on the fingers. Saki can move in eight directions, but her yo-yo can only be fired in six. Most enemies need to be hit on a diagonal, which is easier said than done. Exacerbating the issue is the fact that every villain has a massive health bar (though, so does Saki).

All told, Sukeban Deka II takes about forty-five minutes to complete -- well, that's assuming one has a walkthrough handy. Expect a long and exasperating road otherwise. There are indeed plenty of retro Japanese "detective" video games that are true hidden gems, worthy of a second (or first) look. Despise lofty ambitions, this isn't one of them. It's tiresome, and the plot and aesthetics do little to lighten the load of constant object-clicking and arbitrarily-added fluff. Sukeban Deka II is a somewhat intriguing look into the old and forgotten Mark III scene, but little more.
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Re: Games Beaten 2018

Post by marurun »

1. Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Switch)
2. Wonder Girl: the Dragon's Trap (Switch)
3. Dragon Quest IV: Chapters of the Chosen (DS)
4. Chrono Trigger (DS)

I was anxious going into this title. I had tried to play it in an emulator maybe 14 years ago or so, but one boss shut me down. I think it was Golem. The first time you face Golem you are allowed to lose, but I was not in the mood for that, and I'd struggled some with the game prior to that as well. So I quit and never went back. Until last month. Thanks to Together Retro, I decided it was time to take a crack at CT again, this time on the DS, which is an excellent version of the game. It feels very true to the SNES, but with a few modern UI conveniences due to the DS's second screen. So let's talk, then, about Chrono Trigger. Just a warning in advance. This is a lot of text and no pretty pictures. And since I'm one of those people who tends to be overly critical at times, you're probably going to get pissed at my review if you're a real lover of this game. If you read my summary paragraph at the end, though, I think that'll help put it all in perspective.

Chrono Trigger is widely lauded as the best RPG on the SNES, and sometimes as the best RPG of all time. The latter claim is quite a bit hyperbolic, but the former may have some value, depending on your preferences in RPGs.

Let's start with what's good about Chrono Trigger. For SNES music, the soundtrack is excellent, and Mitsuda's compositions are great. You can hear some of Uematsu's contributions here and there as well, and the two composers' respective works blend together quite well as a cohesive whole. The graphics are pretty good, some some rather interesting special effects in the late game for some of the special Techniques that show off stuff the SNES can do that's unique to its hardware. The story is decent for a time-travel narrative. And since the RPG is pretty light-hearted, even in its more serious moments, the continuity problems that are rife with most (even all) time travel stories don't really present a challenge to suspending disbelief. Once you do all the side-story content in the late-game run up to the end-game, the characters (Chrono aside) actually come off pretty well. Sure, they're fairly stock characters without a ton of complexity, but once you've done the side quests their personalities become more apparent and they become much more likable. And the game does introduce some interesting story ideas about the world it is set in. The game is not particularly long, as RPGs of the era go. It took me about 30 hours, but some folks can do the game in 20 to 25 comfortably. It was pretty challenging in a few places in the early and mid-game, but thanks to not avoiding battles and doing all the side content, I was able to glide through the latter third of the game fairly easily for the most part.

But the game certainly isn't flawless. Until you get to those late game side-quests, all of which are optional and not necessarily well sign-posted, the characters really don't feel all that compelling. They all have some character moments, but those are just fulfilling certain roles in the story. They feel like stock characters who are in the story because the story needs that kind of character to push it along. I didn't feel attached to any of them, except perhaps Ayla and Robo, until I played those side-quests. And suddenly I learned more about these characters, details that were related to the story but not essential for it. The characters started to become more fully realized, and that made a big difference. If I hadn't played those side-quests, or even known about them to play them, I would have wrapped up the game probably feeling pretty "meh" about the game's cast. I think that's why I ended up not coming back to the game so many years ago. Also, I'm not a fan of the silent protagonist. Chrono is a total dud. No personality. I know that's on purpose, but once the rest of the characters open up, he feels like a real turd in comparison.

There's also a moment very early in the game where you end up making a bunch of little changes that can have an effect on the story, except the game doesn't really hint to you that you're making those choices. And it actually only has so great an effect. It kind of makes me wonder why they bothered to include it, especially since there are no other scenes anything like it later in the game. It's like they're allowing you to have some minor narrative impact, but you don't find out you have that impact until you already did it. At least that particular narrative impact is so minor as to not really amount to much, so it's not like you can accidentally screw yourself over or anything, though the game certainly seems to make a big deal about pointing out your choices/not-really-choices. You do actually have some narrative impact later that affects the ending of the game (more later), but it manifests in a very different form than this early example.

I also felt that the end-game had too little story and too much combat, and that too many combat accessories that opened up gameplay were shoehorned into the late-game. Basically, in the early and middle portions of the game, the accessories you get are mostly stat-boosters, with a couple nice exceptions. It isn't until the latter portion of the game, in many of the side-quests, that you start getting items that do things like boost critical rates and open up new triple techs (more on techs later). And you start getting lots of armor with different additional effects, like elemental resistance or absorption and immunities. A little of this shows up in the middle third of the game, but the end of the game is replete with it. And despite all the late-game decisions about who to take with you in your party and what to equip them with, it felt like in-battle options actually shrank, but more of that in the next bit. Basically, I wish the interesting items and abilities had been more spaced out and the final "dungeon" had been much shorter. After all those great story and character development moments in the side-quests, I was expected to slog thanklessly through battle after battle after battle to get to the end of the game. I kind of wish that last-gasp had been quite a bit shorter and tighter, with some character moments interspersed.

Let's talk about the mechanics of the game. You can see many of the enemies on the map and try to avoid them. This is great for saving time re-traversing previously visited areas, but you probably don't want to skip battles your first time through or you may find yourself unprepared for some fights, especially early on in the game. During combat, you are place around the battlefield instead of just lined up on one side with the enemies on the other. And placement on the battlefield is important, at least early on. Some enemies can't counter attack you until they move close enough, for example. The down side of this, however, is that you can't adjust your battlefield location. Enemies can wander around the battlefield and change their arrangement, but you can't. Wherever the game put you, you're stuck, unless a rare enemy attack happens to knock you to the end of the screen. And none of your attacks seem limited by range. You can melee anyone, no matter how far away they are, and for the most part so can the enemies.

Your characters don't really have spells, per se, though some do acquire magic later in the game. Instead, you have techniques. Some are just attacks and some have elemental affinity. Each character has a designated element, and with one exception, their spells are largely limited to that elemental sphere. You also get double and triple techs, which are combined attacks. Sometimes it will involve one character adding an elemental effect to another's attack. Sometimes it's just tossing someone into the fight. Healing and other effects are also enhanced. The combo techniques tend to look pretty good and have an enhanced effect in battle. Early on, a lot of the effects are shaped as well. They will typically affect one enemy, or all enemies within a certain range, or all enemies in a line. Once you hit the latter half of the game, however, that largely changes. More powerful attacks become mostly limited to hitting one enemy or hitting all enemies, with only a few exceptions. Since you can't change your location on the battlefield, how useful those early techniques are in any given battle is really up to the game's designers, and not at all up to you. By the time you are in the late-game, it matters so little anyway that that strategic element of battle is largely nerfed. Instead you're customizing your party and equipment around physical and elemental strengths and weaknesses and positioning becomes mostly pointless.

I found this a little frustrating, because I really liked the idea of positioning-based combat. I loved the way Grandia and Grandia II implemented it, and also the way it was done in Panzer Dragoon Saga. Those games made positioning and attack shapes and ranges important, and throughout the entire length of the game, not just the beginning. They also give you the tools to change your positioning to find more advantageous positions. In Chrono Trigger, the game tells you it is important but doesn't give you the tools to really capitalize and thus never really follows through on the promise.

All that said, combat is still mostly a fun affair, with some minor strategy, but never too stressful, and few combats fall into the trap of being puzzle combats to the extent that Final Fantasy combats sometimes did. Yes, you do sometimes have to identify which part of a multi-part boss you should really be attacking to take out the whole thing, and yes, sometimes an enemy will be strong against, or even absorb, magic or physical attacks. But that's all pretty standard stuff. Nothing too far afield. Honestly, only the bosses that go overboard with attacks that halve your HP or drop you to 1 HP are ever much of a challenge, assuming you've not been avoiding fights. People have told me you don't have to grind in this game, but you kind of do. It's just a different kind of grinding. Instead of going back into areas to farm enemies for XP or gold, you just have to make sure you don't avoid the battles you can see on the screen. Unless you want a challenge. If you want to be challenged, try avoiding battles. So I guess you can get what you want out of the game in terms of difficulty.

One really standout quality of the game is the way it handles endings. There are a number of different endings, only some of which you can see on your first pass through the game. You have a number of opportunities to take on the last boss early, though, in truth, it's highly unlikely you'd survive. But even once you hit the end-game, you can choose to go straight to the last boss or do a ton of optional content. Going straight to the last boss would be a challenge, but not impossible, and a lot of the optional content is not sign-posted, so if you're not exploring you could miss it altogether. And those factors all affect the ending you get. And as long as you do the really obvious and important optional content prior to beating the game, you unlock New Game+, which lets you start over with your cool stuff, and opens up new opportunities to beat the game early, opening new endings. It also gives you a chance to catch some of those side quests you might have missed first time through (even though I think those character moments should have just been part of the game, not optional). I'm not the type to replay an RPG, but I must admit that I am tempted to see how it does when you're a powerhouse and there's some new chances to mess with the game's story and endings.


Ultimately, Chrono Trigger is an auditory and visual feast that does some neat things, but ends up feeling a quite a bit incomplete. There are all these signs that the creators were playing with big ideas and straining against limitations but had to make some massive compromises. Chrono Trigger is a good game, even a great one, and I know why people hold it up as a masterpiece. But coming to the game so far after it was originally released, it's hard for me to really put it in context. I've played games that do all the elements this one did much better and more completely. And while I appreciate that the game was doing so much with the SNES hardware and trying to be all these different things, the game can, at times, feel scattered as a result. The first 2/3 of the game end up feeling quite different in some ways from the latter 1/3. Ideas and mechanics introduced early in the game are dropped or not fully capitalized upon, and new mechanics are introduced later which, rather than working with earlier mechanics and ideas, end up supplanting them. And yet, despite my complaints, I did enjoy the game, especially in that latter 1/3 where I was doing side quests and learning more about the characters, at least up until the last dungeon. Chrono Trigger is, despite its problems, a high achiever and deserves a good grade. I'm really glad I finally got to play it and actually beat it. I'm not going to call it the best RPG ever, or even the best RPG of the 16-bit era, but I will call it highly recommended.
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