Games Beaten 2024

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SpaceBooger
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Re: Games Beaten 2024

Post by SpaceBooger »

02/17/24 - Fallout 3 (PS3)
03/09/24 - Phantasy Star II (Genesis)

Phantasy Star II
I wanted to play a traditional JRPG so I decided to give this title a go since I love me some PSO. Man... the days of not knowing what to do next were on full display. I had to often refer to a FAQ to figure out where to go next. I did really enjoy this game though. Normally I don't mind grinding and I usually find a game that involves grinding during the school year since I play for about 30 min every morning, grinding fits this schedule better than trying to move a story forward, but I didn't grind while playing this game.
So you need to grind but I got lost enough times in the dungeons that some took me days to figure out. This made grinding part of the game. At first, I wanted to be annoyed at the confusing dungeons, but that is what makes this game. There were only 3 boss fights and the rest were trying to survive the trek from place to place. It was fun.
I didn't really follow the story other than the generic main plot that there was an evil machine (trying to stay spoiler-free) was messing up the planet and I never really got into the subplot... heck it wasn't until there were a couple of characters waiting for me at my house that I realized I needed to stop in after every new dungeon to find a new character to the party.
Anyway, I liked this game and I am looking forward to playing 3, but my biggest gripe is that 30+ hours into the game I still never really memorized the item and spell names....
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PartridgeSenpai
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Re: Games Beaten 2024

Post by PartridgeSenpai »

Partridge Senpai's 2024 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)
10. Fire Watch (PC)
11. Bokura (PC)
12. Romancing SaGa (SFC)
13. Trials of Mana (SFC)
14. Castlevania Legends (GB)
15. SaGa 2 (GB)
16. SaGa 3 (GB)
17. Celeste (PC)
18. Hell Yeah! Wrath of the Dead Rabbit (PC)
19. Celeste 64 (PC)
20. CB Chara Wars: Ushinawareta Gya~gu (SFC)
21. To The Moon (PC)
22. LOVE (PC)
23. Pikuniku (PC)
24. Night in the Woods (PC)
25. The Beginner's Guide (PC)
26. Suikoden (PS1)
27. Chocobo Dungeon 2 (PS1)

28. Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Advance! Fire Adventure Team (Wii)
29. Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Go! Storm Adventure Team (Wii)
30. Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Aim! Light Adventure Team (Wii)

These are games I bought years and years ago back when it was first announced that the Wii’s eShop would be shutting down. I held on to the Wii that I bought them on (the very same Japanese Wii I bought during my visit way back in 2013), and they’ve just sorta been on my plate, ready to be gotten to whenever I’ve felt the burning urge for more Mystery Dungeon. After playing and enjoying Chocobo Dungeon 2 so much, I felt it was high time I booted one of these up and finally played through it. I wasn’t originally going to play through all of them, but I figured, eh, why not just play through each as long as I had the Wii up and I wasn’t hating my time with them, so I just played through all three. I played through Flame first, and then Storm, and then Light, and it took me a combined 25-ish hours to do it all via the Japanese versions on real hardware.

Like virtually all Pokemon releases, there were three versions of this with almost identical stories. It follows the adventures of a small Pokemon adventure team in either the Pokemon Village, Pokemon Beach, or Pokemon Garden (depending on the version you’re playing), though the layouts of each are exactly the same. Oddly enough, these are basically the only PMD games where you don’t play an actual main character, and you can swap who your team leader is immediately too. Being WiiWare games, these don’t really have the file sizes to have much in the way of long story content, and they don’t push the envelope on that front. They’re short, simple stories that have some fun dialogue, but are ultimately pretty forgettable, especially when compared to their far meatier handheld counterparts and their quite good stories. The stories being weak aren’t exactly a bad thing in a vacuum, but it’s definitely something that’s going to underwhelm and disappoint any big PMD fan who went out of their way to track these down to play them in this day and age, that’s for sure.

The gameplay of each is pretty straightforward Pokemon Mystery Dungeon. You have a team of up to four Pokemon, you go through procedurally generated dungeons to complete rescue requests you pick up on the billboard in town, and you can recruit Pokemon if you’re lucky enough upon recruiting them. There aren’t many dungeon types, but given that it’s all procedurally generated, that’s not a terribly huge deal as long as they have all the Pokemon, and shockingly enough, all 493 Pokemon that existed at the time actually *are* available to recruit into your team for anyone crazy enough to get all three games and play them that obsessively.

The big gimmick of these games that makes them stand out from the other Mystery Dungeon-type games (though I’ve heard one or two have dabbled in it since) is the Pokemon Tower mechanic. After the third dungeon has been unlocked, you’re taught how to do the Pokemon Tower, which involves finding a hole in a dungeon, and then being able to stack your Pokemon in a tower up to four Pokemon tall. Pokemon towers are VERY strong, as not only do the two to four of them share a combined health bar, but if the Pokemon at the base uses a special move, everyone in the tower can use one too. Not only that, but the Pokemon not at the tower’s base get to use their moves *for free*, so they don’t actually even consume PP as they’re doing it. Pokemon come in 4 size rankings, and you can only stack a maximum of two Pokemon of the same size on top of one another, so building a team that’s both strong and readily stackable is an important part of any successful Adventure Team. Pokemon towers are extremely powerful, which is why your enemies will do them too, but that’s kinda where the game’s issues begin.

Pokemon towers are SO powerful that not being in one is basically an invitation to die. The start of a dungeon is always the most dangerous part, since if you don’t find a hole to stack in quickly, you’ll be hunted down and killed *very* fast because the enemy tower’s move chains are exactly as devastating as your own. On top of that, there are hidden traps on the floor of the dungeons that will unstack you, and even weather events at the start of a floor that will ALSO unstack you completely. In a normal Mystery Dungeon game, these sorts of things wouldn’t be so bad, but given just how crucial your tower is to staying alive, you’re relying a LOT on the traps’ RNG to not screw you over at any given time unless you want to grind a LOT.

These games being somewhat content poor also lends to them being pretty bad with the grinding they require to see the credits (and just do new content full-stop, really). The penultimate and especially the ultimate story dungeons are REALLY significant jumps in difficulty from the previous dungeons, and you’ll likely need to be doing a couple hours of grinding to get your team to a place where they actually have a chance to survive to the end. Survive is actually the key word there, oddly enough, as these games actually have no bosses. Likely a factor of their light story content, it’s not a problem per se, but it’s just one more thing that makes them feel like the budget titles that they are.

Lastly, a weird thing these games have for a PMD game that’s actually something they share with Chocobo Dungeon 2 is that your Pokemon can actually evolve anywhere at any time as long as the right requirements. For your own Pokemon, it’s kinda neat that you don’t need to wait until some special post-game area unlocks to be able to evolve your Pokemon, but for your enemies it’s a different story. Just like in Chocobo Dungeon 2, if one of your allies gets taken down, the enemy that did it will evolve immediately to a stronger form. That’s not quite so bad in a well balanced game like Chocobo Dungeon 2, but it’s very often immediately a death sentence in a game like Pokemon where an evolution can theoretically make an enemy jump up in power some 15 or 20 levels in an instant, and there’s virtually nothing you can do about it. It’s not as big an issue overall as the poor level curve or the RNG that dictates the survival of Pokemon towers, but it’s just one more aspect that makes these games feel unfair and frustrating (even for RNG-dictated games like Mystery Dungeon ones).

The aesthetics are overall just fine. They use the character models from the Pokemon Ranch and Pokemon Rumble Arena games, so if you’re a fan of those, you’ll like these, and if you’re not a fan, you’ll not care for them. The areas are bright and colorful, and I thought the game looked quite nice, and it’s honestly always hilarious watching your Pokemon hop on top of each other and make scared little faces as their tower teeters back and forth XD. The music is very solidly OK, but it’s nothing special. The game’s presentation is good-to-serviceable, and I’d have a hard time finding outright faults or strengths in it unless someone has extreme feelings on the Pokemon Ranch art style one way or the other.

Verdict: Hesitantly Recommended. Even as poorly balanced and frustrating as these games often are, I did have fun with them. Even with each new one I started, despite the annoyances of when I wasn’t in a tower, it was hard not to feel a satisfying rush of power once my Pokemon had towered up and I could start raining hellfire down on my enemies once more. There aren’t exactly a wealth of options for console-native Pokemon Mystery Dungeon experiences, and if you REALLY must have one, these are perfectly serviceable for a fun enough time in a Mystery Dungeon game on your Wii. That said, it’s really just damning with faint praise. Any fan big enough to be even considering hunting these and their English patches down to play these days will definitely be familiar with the better made PMD games, and it’s impossible to not be constantly comparing these to their far superior handheld cousins. If you’re a big fan of Mystery Dungeon games and want something a bit quirky and different and don’t mind some poor balancing, then these could certainly be a quite fun time. However, if you’re someone who’s a big PMD fan and you’re hoping that these will be some secret, lost entries as great as the contemporary Explorers Of games, then you’re going to be really disappointed with these, and you’re better off avoiding them.
Last edited by PartridgeSenpai on Tue Mar 12, 2024 4:04 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Games Beaten 2024

Post by Markies »

Markies' Games Beat List Of 2024!
***Denotes Replay For Completion***

1. Mario Kart Wii (Wii)
2. Jackal (NES)
***3. Evolution: The World Of Sacred Device (SDC)***
4. Skies Of Arcadia Legends (GCN)
5. Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando (PS2)
6. Sunset Riders (GEN)

***7. Tactics Ogre (PS1)***

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I completed Tactics Ogre on the Playstation 1 this evening!

Right after college, I had a stack of Strategy RPG's that I used to play on the PS1 and PS2. These were long titles that I played for small bits between other titles. Well, one of the first games I ever played was Tactics Ogre as it was one of my introductory games to the SRPG genre. I only did one path and it always irked me that I never did the other paths. After I beat my Backlog, I started to play SRPGs while watching the Backloggery on Twitch on Monday evenings. They are perfect mindless grinding games that I can make a slow amount of progress. After starting in June of last year, I finally went through all of the paths and did all of the optional stuff to finally finish off Tactics Ogre.

Tactics Ogre should truly be lauded as a landmark title. It is not the first, but in a way, it is one of the most defining titles of the SRPG genre. The game basically laid the groundwork for Final Fantasy Tactics and influence so many games afterwards. The story involves a great deal of political intrigue along families feuding and nations warring. It is complex and gripping all at the same time. I always get lost in the story, but I still want to see what happens next. But, the meat of the game are the hundreds of strategy battles that you will partake in throughout your quest. They are deeply rewarding and laid the foundation for many games afterwards. That is what I spent most of my time doing and I loved that part so much.

It's a little sad that the grinding part was my favorite part near the end. The final part of the game can be such a chore to play through. Most battles, you are battling enemies who have a severe height and numbers advantage. Also, if any of your characters die, they are gone for good. Permanent Death. Take that and then some side quest battles near the end that are beyond frustrating and I was a bit happy to be finished with the game. Granted, grinding helps for some of the issues, but that does take quite a while.

Overall, I still respect and love Tactics Ogre. It can be a bit rough in many parts including some translation bits, but the game is such an important game and such a fun game to play. I wouldn't say doing all the side quests or doing all the paths is really necessary to get enjoyment out of the game. But, if you love the RPG genre or want to give the SRPG genre a try, this is a great one to try out!
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PartridgeSenpai
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Re: Games Beaten 2024

Post by PartridgeSenpai »

Partridge Senpai's 2024 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)
10. Fire Watch (PC)
11. Bokura (PC)
12. Romancing SaGa (SFC)
13. Trials of Mana (SFC)
14. Castlevania Legends (GB)
15. SaGa 2 (GB)
16. SaGa 3 (GB)
17. Celeste (PC)
18. Hell Yeah! Wrath of the Dead Rabbit (PC)
19. Celeste 64 (PC)
20. CB Chara Wars: Ushinawareta Gya~gu (SFC)
21. To The Moon (PC)
22. LOVE (PC)
23. Pikuniku (PC)
24. Night in the Woods (PC)
25. The Beginner's Guide (PC)
26. Suikoden (PS1)
27. Chocobo Dungeon 2 (PS1)
28. Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Advance! Fire Adventure Team (Wii)
29. Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Go! Storm Adventure Team (Wii)
30. Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Aim! Light Adventure Team (Wii)

31. Line Attack Heroes (Wii)

In my ongoing quest to clear through the remaining WiiWare games I’ve got on my Japanese Wii while I’ve still got it hooked up, this was the next thing on the list. This is a game I firmly recall hearing from many places was easily one of the best games on the WiiWare store regardless of region, and although it’s one I recall putting like half an hour into many years back, I didn’t remember much of my time with it. On top of all that, it’s also interestingly one of Grezzo’s first games, the studio made by the guy responsible for the Mana series, so this seemed like a fitting thing to play this year after all of the Mana games I’ve played earlier in the year (regardless of how much I didn’t enjoy them XD). It took me around 4.5 hours to play through the game to the credits on real hardware.

Our story follows our main character, who can either be a Mii of your choosing or the default in-game model named “Yuu.” On a quest to prove your worth as a warrior, you come to a land that is explicitly stated to be a world “like feudal Japan, but also like the more distant past as well as the future”. This very silly and irreverent attitude carries on throughout the game, and it follows you all the way through your quest as you’re quickly wrapped up in helping Princess Tomoe to squash a rebellion in the country (by a character whose name is literally the word for rebellion X3). It’s a story that’s exactly as serious as it means to be, which is to say not at all, and it’s delightful. A very funny and silly story that sets the stage for our ridiculous action very well, and I had a very fun time reading through it all~.

That ridiculous action is stage-based and almost feels like a Wonderful 101 predecessor. You start with yourself and a buddy, that buddy lending you their weapon. You then go around the stage thwacking other baddies to get them into your increasingly long conga line of dudes, and any stronger ones with weapons can have their weapons borrowed just like you can from your main buddy. There are three weapon types, swords, hammers, and lances, and among the various types of them, they have different combos on top of each weapon type having its own line attack (which is activated by swinging the Wiimote). However, not all is so easy, as your enemies can thwack the guys following you and steal them right back! Thankfully for both you and them, though, the head of a line is only truly vulnerable when their line is completely destroyed, so you’ve gotta be getting thrashed to actually die.

The much easier way to game over is by failing your present mission, which will usually be the result of the buddy you gotta protect dying. There are 40 stages between you and the credits, with more generic randomized missions filling the spaces between the story missions you hit at every multiple of five. During those randomized missions, you can recruit procedurally generated extra buddies as well as get accessories to bring into battle to power up your stats and line attacks.

Your buddies even have personalities and will dislike some mission types and like others. Doing missions they like will get them bonus stats after battle, but doing too many ones they dislike can actually make them leave your group forever! Given that you can’t re-pick a buddy after you’ve done it, and you only see the mission types after you pick them, there may be times you need to pick a harder mission even to save the buddy you’ve got with you so you don’t risk losing them forever. On top of all of that, the procedurally generated non-story named bad guys you fight can even form rivalries with you, slowly getting stronger as you encounter them more and more. Eventually you can have “showdown” mission types appear, and if you win against them, that super powerful enemy will now be a buddy of yours!

There are some slight drawbacks here and there. Some mission types are much harder than others, and given that your buddy is also your weapon, an unwise choice of buddy can make your next mission much harder if it turns out their weapon type is a bad match for the map you’re dumped into. There also aren’t too many maps in the game, with the same handful of 4 or 5 story maps being reused over and over with some slight variations in environmental objects. That said, it’s hard to see the lack of variety as much of a problem given how quick and breezy the missions are. There’s even a high score table in the game that keeps track of your highest rank reached, as though there are save points every 5 stages in the main story, you can keep going in the post-game and play as many of those non-story missions in a row as you possibly can for the highest score you can muster! All in all, it’s a really cool gameplay loop, and it’s super cool to have what’s basically an action rogue-lite (though we wouldn’t’ve called it that back then) on the Wii for such a cheap price digitally.

The presentation of the game is very well done too. The music has some really fun and rockin’ tracks, with the boss themes being some of my particular favorites. The graphics are also simple but very clever in how well they get emotion out of the characters they’re using. Because Yuu, the main character, can also be a Mii, this means that basically everyone in the game is animating and emoting with Mii-like proportions, and it’s remarkable just how much variety they have in these despite the limited pieces they’re working with. The story characters are super fun and expressive, but the degree to which Grezzo makes the Mii-like characters emote makes it no surprise that Nintendo tapped them for projects like 3DS Streetpass games or the more recent Miitopia, as they’ve shown an incredible aptitude for it for quite some time.

Verdict: Highly Recommended. While it takes a bit of getting used to the controls and the best practices in how to play, this is a super fun game! It absolutely deserves its reputation as one of the best games on WiiWare, as its gameplay loop expertly captures the most of what was possible with the relatively small file sizes you were restricted to for that system. If you’re a fan of action-based rogue-lites, this will certainly be a major pain in the butt to track down (let alone play if you don’t know Japanese ^^;) these days, but if you’re willing to go through the effort, you’ve got a super fun time waiting here for you~.
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Re: Games Beaten 2024

Post by PartridgeSenpai »

Partridge Senpai's 2024 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)
10. Fire Watch (PC)
11. Bokura (PC)
12. Romancing SaGa (SFC)
13. Trials of Mana (SFC)
14. Castlevania Legends (GB)
15. SaGa 2 (GB)
16. SaGa 3 (GB)
17. Celeste (PC)
18. Hell Yeah! Wrath of the Dead Rabbit (PC)
19. Celeste 64 (PC)
20. CB Chara Wars: Ushinawareta Gya~gu (SFC)
21. To The Moon (PC)
22. LOVE (PC)
23. Pikuniku (PC)
24. Night in the Woods (PC)
25. The Beginner's Guide (PC)
26. Suikoden (PS1)
27. Chocobo Dungeon 2 (PS1)
28. Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Advance! Fire Adventure Team (Wii)
29. Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Go! Storm Adventure Team (Wii)
30. Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Aim! Light Adventure Team (Wii)
31. Line Attack Heroes (Wii)

32. The Quest for Camelot (GBC)

Looking for something noncommittal and not very hard to sink my teeth into before I started playing another game with a friend the next day, I remembered that this existed on the Switch Online service. Of course I had no reason to believe it’d be a *great* game, being a licensed game on a console with no small amount of dire licensed games, but I’m a sucker for 2D Zelda-style action/adventure games, and there was really only so long one as easily available to me as this was going to escape being played by me regardless of how good or bad it was XD. It took me 4-ish hours to beat the English version of the game via the Switch Online GameBoy service (with moderate use of rewinds and save states).

The story of the game presumably follows the story of the film on which its based. The Quest for Camelot is a film I’m honestly completely unfamiliar with beyond a general awareness that it’s not very good, so I can really only assume that Kaylee’s quest to avenge her slain father, defeat the evil usurper Ruber, and save King Arthur and Camelot is reasonably close to the film. Either way, it’s a very forgettable story told quite clumsily. There are some neat pixelated renditions of shots of the films in between walls of text that exposit between stages, but it’s still just “this thing happens, so do this thing. Okay on to next location to do another thing” over and over until the end. I certainly wouldn’t expect a great story out of a GBC Zelda clone if it were licensed or otherwise, really, but just how clumsy and overly wordy this game’s narrative is definitely makes it start veering towards an active negative on the game vs. being something comfortably simple and ignoreable. At the very least the adventure has quite good signposting, which is certainly more than I can say about a fair few other 2D Zelda clones I’ve played over the years.

The gameplay is no better than the story. It’s frankly pretty easy to say that it’s even worse, or at the very least a fitting counterpart to the inelegance of the writing. In the broad strokes of things, it’s a pretty shameless copy of 2D Zelda games like Link to the Past, Link’s Awakening, and the Oracle games. Tons of items and design concepts are copied outright, though that copying unfortunately doesn’t extend to the actual design of the combat and levels. The game is broken up into several stages with action and puzzles (if you can call them that) leading up to a boss fight. Movement feels awkward with the game’s large sprites, enemies are rudimentary and often move too fast to hit properly, and your sword’s length is pathetically too short to hit things with reliably (in keeping with the grand tradition of bad Zelda clones). It even has tons of padding via fetch quests! In addition to enemies being hard to hit (and bosses being miserable damage sponges), the actual world design is dreadful, and the game has some of the most irritating instant-death jumping puzzles I’ve seen in a game like this as well as a serious aversion to enemies ever giving the player health pickups. It’s not the most incompetent 2D Zelda clone I’ve ever played, sure, but that’s damning with faint praise with just how low a bar that is XD.

The presentation is also quite weak. The graphics take the path of many subpar portable games and opt for big, more detailed sprites that then consequently make the action harder to parse because you don’t have enough room on the screen to see yourself. Additionally, the graphics that are there are pretty ugly and often poor representations of their film counterparts, with the main character often looking nothing like the character even on the front of the game’s own box. The music is also just embarrassingly poorly done. The game has like 3 or 4 music tracks total, and they’re painfully simple and half-baked for a GBC game from 1998 even compared to what composers were accomplishing on the original GameBoy nearly a decade earlier. The biggest and most hilarious music issue, however, is now no non-gameplay scene actually has any music at all. I thought my Switch had crashed, but nope, no errors. The company splash screens, the title screen, and ALL of the text-wall “cutscenes” have 0 music of any kind, meaning you don’t even get music at all until a minute or two after you’ve booted up the game XD

Verdict: Not recommended. There are certainly more unenjoyable licensed games on the GBC, but again we’re back to damning with faint praise XD. Even on its best day, this game is tuned overly difficult and aggressively mediocre, and your time is simply better spent on other things. The GameBoy is no stranger to great action/adventure games, and there are even more at least decent ones than there are great ones, so I have no idea why you’d pick this thing to play over the piles of better ones unless you had genuinely nothing better to do with your time at all.
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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)
4. Metal Slug (PC)
5. Final Fantasy Mystic Quest (SNES)
6 Modnation Racers (PSP)

7. Mario Kart 8DX - Expansion Pass (NS)


Mario Kart is my all time favourite game series. I played a ton of Mario Kart 8 on the Wii U, so I didn't put nearly as much time in on the Switch version. Once the expansion pass was fully released it was just a matter of time before the urge caught me.

I played through all of the new Grand Prix circuits, first in multiplayer at 100cc with a friend who hasn't played much Mario Kart in a while. Then I played through again single player at 150cc. I took first place in each circuit on my first try, with about half of the circuits resulting in an unblemished record of four straight first place finishes.

The extra 48 courses are mostly enjoyable. There are few that would reach into my favourites, but there are also few that I found boring. I will admit that the "Tour" courses were all new to me and sometimes were a bit on the confusing end, since they tend to change lap-to-lap most of the time, and the wayfinding isn't quite the same as more classic courses.

It's Mario Kart, and technically a version of a game that has been out for nearly 10 years, yet it is still going strong. Great game, and if you are a fan or frequent player you'll likely want to grab the collection of new tracks as it practically doubles the content.
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Re: Games Beaten 2024

Post by ElkinFencer10 »

Games Beaten in 2024 - 3
* denotes a replay

January (1 Game Beaten)
1. Army Men: World War - PlayStation - January 9


February (1 Game Beaten)
2. Silver Falls: Guardians and Metal Exterminators S - Switch - February 18


March (1 Game Beaten)
3. Army Men II - PC - March 14*


3. Army Men II - PC - March 14*

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To say the original Army Men game is a bit rough is an understatement. You hope games like that get a sequel that turns the series around, but a lot of the time, the sequel is just more of the same. Thankfully, Army Men II is an example of the former. The first game may have been somewhere between hot garbage and painfully okay, but Army Men II took that, fixed virtually everything that the first game did wrong, and produced a product that's not just much better but genuinely great. Just like how a lot of people ignore Wolfenstein and Duke Nukem until the 3D games, a lot of people don't bother with the original Army Men and just pick up at II, and I honestly can't blame them; after all, this was my first Army Men game.

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Army Men II picks up immediately after the end of the first game. Sarge has largely foiled the Tan plot to utilize their "super weapon" against the Green, but not completely; portals between the Plastic World and the Real World are now open, creating an entirely new front in the Green vs Tan war. The first level drops you out of a portal and on to a kitchen counter. You have to fight your way around to the other side of the U shaped counter to find the portal and return to the Plastic World. Once there, you fight your way through to a radio station to stop a Tan sabotage plot. That's largely how the campaign goes - a couple of mission in the Plastic World, a couple of missions in the Real World, a couple more in the Plastic World, etc. Between the switch between worlds and the varied environments within those worlds, that makes sure that the game never begins to feel stale. The campaign isn't super long anyway - it took me about four and a half hours - but what it lacks in quantity of hours, it makes up for in quality.

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About halfway through the game, you discover one of the Tan super weapons in this game; with the help of an insane Grey scientist, they have constructed a machine that takes the plastic pieces of dead soldiers and reanimates them into plastic zombies. These zombies are extremely tough to kill, and if you want a little more challenge (and a lot more chaos), there's a cheat you can enable that spawn a zombie every time a soldier dies. Personally, I love it, and because these guys are made entirely of plastic, it's not quite as left field as if you were playing through Battlefield and Russian corpses started reanimating and trying to eat you.

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In addition to the short but extremely fun campaign, there's also a multiplayer mode. I'm not sure if this still works online - I honestly never checked - but what I always do is set up a game against AI bots and have a huge Green vs Tan vs Grey vs Blue fight. You can select your map, select a certain number of units to start with - including vehicles - and have a bathtub meat grinder. This is one of the most important improvements over the first game, at least to me. The campaign is significantly better, but it's very short - shorter than the original game's. The multiplayer, however, is several orders of magnitude better, and it could keep me entertained for a whole day sun up to sun down.

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Aside from gameplay and controls, everything else about the game is superior, as well. Visually, it still looks like a game from a quarter century ago, but it looks much better than the previous game. Sound design doesn't even feel like the same series. Whereas the original game's sound design and music were downright painful after a level or two, the weapon sound effects are much improved here, and the soundtrack is not only tolerable but legitimately good and fits the tone of the game to a T. The voice acting, while still turn of the century gives-English-dubs-a-bad-name quality, is also much improved over the first game.

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Army Men II is one of the single most nostalgic games for me, and it reminds me of my early childhood. Back before cliques, back before we started liking girls and/or boys, back when my friend Richard and I were just military obsessed eight-year-olds before he went off to the Navy and I went off to become a teacher, there was Army Men, and it was our prepubescent boyhood daydreams come to life. Army Men II isn't the best PC game, it's not the best turn of the century game, and it's not even the best Army Men game, but it IS my favorite Army Men game because of the period of my life of which it evokes memories. Even aside from nostalgia, it's a seriously fun game, and like the first game, it's dirt cheap on GOG, so go download it asap.
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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
5. Might and Magic 7: For Blood and Honor - PC
6. Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown - Switch
7. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: The Manhattan Project - NES
8. Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth - PS5
9. Tomb Raider Remastered - PC
10. Final Fantasy VII: Rebirth - PS5

Rebirth is the second game in the Final Fantasy VII remake project. The first game gave us the entirety of the Midgar sequence, which was roughly the first act of the original game. Rebirth gives us that second act. And just like in the original, you move from a fairly cramped and linear city to a larger world, with options for doing more side activities, even though you still have a set of plot points to follow.

The world is divided into major regions, each corresponding to a major plot beat of the original. Within these regions you will have a series of open world tasks available, which fall under the standard "find a thing", "kill a thing", "do a special thing" set of modern open world design. Many of the special activities are riffs on segments from the original, such as engaging in several Fort Condor sequences. Engaging in these activities gives you a currency to purchase some special materia.

In between the open world segments are more focused sections. For example, the Mithril Mines are a dungeon crawl with some party switching to showcase everyone. In fact, one thing you will notice is the game regularly will parties on you so that you end up using everyone at one point or another through the game. The game also uses this to give more characterization to your party members. One of the highlights of the game is how much each character is realized.

On the combat end, it's mostly an iteration of the first game. Much of it was shown off in the Intergrade DLC; here it's expanded to having team ups between all the party members. It makes the combat feel a bit more dynamic, and less of "mash attack until you have the ATB to Braver", and the different party members have enough going on with their movesets and special abilities that you're not necessarily going to control Cloud as your primary.

As with Remake, there are differences in the story of the original. All the major beats are still there, but some things have been expanded on, others have been tweaked to fit the scope change, and some are brand new wrinkles to what we've seen before. Veterans will come out with questions on the significance of some of these changes, but we won't see it all pay off until the third game.

All in all, Rebirth continues to deliver on the promise of bringing the core of Final Fantasy VII to a new era with a couple decades of game design under their belt. I can't wait to see the conclusion.
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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
5. Might and Magic 7: For Blood and Honor - PC
6. Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown - Switch
7. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: The Manhattan Project - NES
8. Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth - PS5
9. Tomb Raider Remastered - PC
10. Final Fantasy VII: Rebirth - PS5
11. Unicorn Overlord - Switch

Back in the day, there was a game on the SNES known as Ogre Battle. It was a unique SRPG, moving units around in real time and featuring combat between groups of units according to the formation they were in. We got a sequel on the N64, but since then we haven't seen a proper successor to its gameplay (though we've had a few take elements). But our days of waiting are over, because Unicorn Overlord is here.

Unicorn Overlord comes to us from Vanillaware, known for their incredibly pretty 2D artwork. They're also known for trying out various genres with each game, so this time they're doing Ogre Battle. The story is fairly standard for the genre; you're the refugee prince of a kingdom who must lead a liberation army against the evil general who stole your throne. You gather allies, help out other countries who will then back you, and reclaim your throne.

As mentioned, the game is Ogre Battle at its core. Instead of maneuvering single units like in Fire Emblem, you create armies. An army consits of one to five units placed on a 2x3 grid, forming a front and back row. Back row combatants can't be targeted by melee units until the front row is dispatched, but are still vulnerable to ranged attacks. These armies move around the map in real time, and when they get close to another they engage in a round of combat. The winner of that combat is the one that did the most damage, and the loser is pushed away (unless assaulting a fortified position; there the defender is not removed until it is killed).

The game has several innovations on Ogre Battle's formula. Gone are the fiddly worrying about charisma, alignment, and reputation. Instead, you're going to focus on micromanaging your army building. In Ogre Battle, the actions a unit took in battle were defined by their class and their position on the grid (front vs. back row). Unicorn Overlord instead uses a system akin to Final Fantasy XII's gambits. Each unit has one or more active and reactive skills. You set up a list of these skills, with optional conditions attached to them. For example, you might have a ranged attack with the condition "prioritize mage", so your archers will snipe out the casters. You can have multiple of the same skill in the list, with different conditions. Whenever a unit is ready to take an action the game starts at the top of the list and finds the first action it can take based on the conditions set and if you have any action points left. Active and reactive skills each have their own pool of points, and combat is over once all units can no longer act (either from being dead or being out of points for legal actions). Coming up with skill lists and army setups that synergize with each other is a huge part of the strategizing.

Like Fire Emblem, there is a system of character supports, where units that fight together learn to like each other, gaining combat bonuses and unlocking conversations to fill out details about the characters. And like Fire Emblem, you get a large number of named characters, more than you can field at once. You still have the option of recruiting generic soldiers if you have some specific class requirements for a given army, but you're likely only going to grab a few.

Unicorn Overlord is a breath of fresh air in the SRPG space, giving us a new way of playing beyond the standard Fire Emblem and Final Fantasy Tactics models. I can only hope that this game leads to some more to follow in its gameplay footsteps.
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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
5. Might and Magic 7: For Blood and Honor - PC
6. Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown - Switch
7. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: The Manhattan Project - NES
8. Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth - PS5
9. Tomb Raider Remastered - PC
10. Final Fantasy VII: Rebirth - PS5
11. Unicorn Overlord - Switch
12. Mechwarrior 5: Mercenaries: Solaris Showdown - PC

Solaris Showdown is the final piece of Mechwarrior 5 DLC to tide us over until the Clans game hits later this year. As with the other DLCs, it is set after the previous one, ever edging the timeline towards the Clan Invasion. When the existence of the DLC was amde known through an invester presentation, the fanbase wasn't sure what it would cover, because the last major conflict prior to the Invasion was already covered in Dragon's Gambit. As it turns out, this DLC focuses on a beloved character first introduced in Mechwarrior 4. That's right, we're hanging out with Duncan Fisher.

After an intro mission that has nothing to do with anything, other than showing the devs know yet another canon merc company, you ship out to help aspiring gladiator Duncan Fisher, who seeks to become Solaris Champion. First you need to do a qualifying fight in the Magistracy of Canopus, but after showing your chops you get to throw down in the Steiner Colliseum for fortune and glory.

This DLC is shorter than all the previous ones. There's only seven missions total, and only three of them are the larger maps typical of the game. The rest are small arenas, fitting the gladiatorial combat nature of the campaign. Most of the missions have you dropping with a single mech, either alone or with Duncan. And most of the arena fights are free-for-alls, so even though you are heavily outnumbered from the onset, you can pick them off piecemeal. They also nicely give you repair bays in between fight waves; this allows them to not have to go through the cycle of ending and starting new missions for each wave. One major miscalculation by the devs is the fact that they still keep using the pilot distortion filter when Duncan is fighting alongside you, which really diminishes the impact of them bringing the character back (he's well known for his amazing voice). Fortunately, the last couple missions has him in the announcer booth, where he belongs.

Overall, the DLC ends up being a bit of a letdown. It's much easier than the others, and the length doesn't match up with the price. The other DLCs shipped at the same price but had more meat to them. You're basically buying this because you want to hear George Ledoux playing Duncan again.
Blizzard Entertainment Software Developer - All comments and views are my own and not representative of the company.
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