Games Beaten 2024

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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
5. Might and Magic 7: For Blood and Honor - PC

Might and Magic 7 is a gameplay follow up to 6 and a story follow up to 3 (though you don't learn that last part until the very end). It is a very solid iteration on the class and skill system, but the actual game world shows a lot of signs of being rushed. Overall it's a middling entry and a sign of the general state of the franchise at the time.

The game starts you on a tutorial island, where you are competing to win a castle. This castle turns out to be dilapidated, so your next quest is to get it fixed up. In the process you end up triggering some long simmering tensions between two neighboring kingdoms, and the resolution of that will send you down a path of aligning with the forces of light or the forces of darkness. Alongside all of this, you get a handful of quests plus your promotion quests.

Might and Magic 6 really trimmed down the classes to just fighter, cleric, mage, and the hybrids. It introduced a skill system that gave you utility, but everyone could use every skill. 7 really expands on this. In addition to adding a fourth skill tier, it much more heavily restricts who can learn what and to what degree. So only the knight can learn armsmaster at grandmaster level, while only a druid can get grandmaster alchemy (and the ability to mix the permanent stat boost potions). This meant the devs could increase the number of classes, and more importantly create enough specialization that you have to make some real choices at character creation. You even get locked into having to choose between light magic (the best buffs) and dark magic (the best attack magic), since those are tied to the storyline you choose.

When it comes to the game world you have an overall smaller world than 6. They finally moved away from having the world be a grid of areas that corresponded to the world map in the manual. Instead, you have a more standard hotspot system, where the continent is understood to be larger than the areas you explore, and you just have points of interest that are linked by travel at the edges (or boat). There are also fewer total zones compared to past games; this ends up causing you to revisit areas over and over as you do your promotion and other quests, which makes a smaller world feel even smaller. The quests of the main plot make it seem like there was more ideas planned around having a more dynamic world and then they had to majorly pull back to make a ship date.

Overall, Might and Magic 7 is one step forward, one step back compared to 6. Stronger character development is pulled back by the weaker world and quest design, and things only get worse from the series for the next two games (which end up killing it until Ubisoft does a throwback with 10). If you're a fan of 6 this is worth a play.
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Re: Games Beaten 2024

Post by Limewater »

MrPopo wrote:5. Might and Magic 7: For Blood and Honor - PC


Is there continuity across Might and Magic games where they're better if you have played prior entries?
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Re: Games Beaten 2024

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In general, no. Each story is very self-contained and only links up to the larger mythos at the very end. That said, the progress of technology means you will likely want to play earlier entries first, as they're harder to go back to. I'd definitely say play 1 before 2, because you can import your party into 2 (which makes the opening much smoother). 4 and 5 actually combine into a single large game, with you having the ability to jump between the two game worlds at will (and while you'll mostly do the stuff in 4 first, strategic journeys to 5 can pay dividends). And 3-5 are all on the same engine with only minor changes, so you can do 3 after 4+5 if you want.
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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)
10. Fire Watch (PC)

11. Bokura (PC)

As with Fire Watch, this is another game I played alongside my wife as a sort of couples activity for us. However, unlike with Fire Watch, this is a game we actually played together! It’s something she’s been talking about playing together for a good few months now, and she bought us each a copy on Steam when it recently went on sale. I really had no idea what to expect from it, but I absolutely trust her judgment when it comes to looking for interesting games for us to get into together~. It took us about 3.5 hours to complete the English version of the game together.

“Bokura” means “us” in Japanese, and has an implication that the people being spoken of (or at least the person speaking) is a boy. Accordingly, Bokura is a story about two boys. The narrative starts with one of them sitting on a train as an adult, on their way home from work. Lost in their thoughts, they start to reminisce about an unforgettable winter they spent with their best friend at the time, and the story begins from that flashback.

The thing is, Bokura, as a game, can only be played with two people who each have a copy of the game. It’s impossible to play it by yourself, and each player chooses one of the two boys to play as at the start, and they see the story from their respective boy’s perspective. Most of the story is shown to the both of you, but there are several points where you’re separated and view a scene different from what the other person is seeing (the game even instructs you not to speak to one another during those times apart, which is a very interesting design choice). The game’s main gameplay gimmick ties in heavily with its main themes like this. Seeing the world through your own perspective, and needing to communicate and compromise with those who see the world differently from you. It ties all this together with a much larger theme of dealing with loss, and it’s quite a well told story. It’s got some pacing issues with how long some of the inter-story puzzle sections go on, but it’s by and large a quite well written story that the both of us enjoyed quite a bit~.

The gameplay is a co-op puzzle platformer (bold choice for a story-focused indie game, I know ;b). This game isn’t just metaphorically about seeing the world differently. Each player not only has a totally different graphics style for what they’re seeing, but they also have different things in the world that they can see and interact with. A moveable box for one player might be an impassible barrier for the other, while a scary monster for one can be a harmless platforming aid for the other. There are also certain parts of each level that only one player can interact with, making playing through the game twice a not unreasonable choice if you wanted a taste at what the other player got to do while you were in your world.

It’s a game that trends surprisingly tough, overall, but it’s a quite fun little puzzle game. I think we finished it a bit faster than some others might because we have a bit more experience with platformers, but that shouldn’t be something that dissuades you from trying it out. This game doesn’t have combat or particularly challenging reflex tests, so even those who struggle with 2D action platformers can absolutely find fun here. My one piece of advice would be that the person with the most experience with platformers should probably choose the boy in the green coat, as we found that he had more difficult platforming stuff than the boy in blue. Similarly, if either of you has issues with seeing blood or gore, then that person should probably play the boy in the blue coat, as the imagery in green’s (while certainly not being a modern Resident Evil game by any means) is a fair bit more graphic than what blue has to deal with.

Aesthetically, I think the game succeeds very well at doing what it sets out to do. The normal world along with the two worlds the boys see are all set apart very well in their graphical styles, and it aids the narrative themes and gameplay very well. The game has some slight net code issues here and there, and you can certainly see some weird screen tearing and graphical glitches here and there when things get a bit more animation intensive, but it’s nothing that made the game more difficult to play (even with her on the east coast of the US and me here in Japan). The graphical style is very pretty pixel art, and the music is quite good too~.

Verdict: Recommended. I’d like to recommend this game more highly, but it’s a fair amount of little things that keep me from doing that. For sure, it’s far from the only well put together story-focused indie puzzle platformer out there, and that’s certainly part of it, but the fact that you NEED a partner to play through it with in co-op is another big part of it that’s going to be a meaningful hurdle for a lot of people. Add that in with that you also need to have some kind of voice communication ability (whether it’s over Discord or just sitting across from each other) to do a lot of the puzzles, and that’s one more thing that makes this a bit more difficult to engage with simply by the nature of how the game was designed. All that said, if you’re willing to spend a little over 10 bucks (and that’s when it’s not on sale) for something that you and a buddy can spend an afternoon doing together, this is a really great way to do it~.
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Re: Games Beaten 2024

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Games Beaten in 2024 - 1
* denotes a replay

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


Army Men: World War - PlayStation - January 9

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Army Men is one of my all-time favorite series. It’s definitely a guilty pleasure series that I love for nostalgia more than anything else, but it was a huge part of my childhood. Army Men: Sarge’s Heroes and Army Men: Sarge’s Heroes 2 on N64 and Army Men II and Army Men: Toys in Space on PC were among my favorite games growing up. That’s why I decided to do a playthrough of every handheld game in the Army Men series several years back. I’ve decided to do the same with the console games for 2024. As I have previously played through and reviewed Army Men 3D on Playstation, I decided to start with the Playstation-exclusive Army Men: World War. Technically, World War is also on PC, but they are completely different games.

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As far as narrative goes, it’s hard to place World War in the larger Army Men universe. Assuming you take it as a single cohesive universe at all. I, personally, place the World War games at the very beginning of the series before Army Men 3D (as well as Army Men and Army Men II on PC). The game’s cut scenes seem to imply that open military conflict between Tan and Green and its allies is a relatively recent thing. Between that and the lack of portals to our world, it seems pretty clear to me that this game takes place before the events of Army Men and Army Men II. As for the game’s narrative, it’s pretty bare-bones. You play as a soldier - it may or may not be “Sarge” from the original PC games - as you fight your way through fairly random missions in three campaigns. Each of these campaigns symbolizes the three main fronts of World War II - the Pacific theater, the Eastern European theater, and the Western European theater. That said, despite the allusions to World War II in the game’s story, setting, and theme, the characters stay true to the “source material” plastic toys that many of us played with as children with M16s and attack helicopters.

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The missions feature a lot of objective variety. Sometimes you have to eliminate all of the Tan soldiers in an area, sometimes you have to break POWs out of a Tan prison camp, sometimes you have to hold off waves of Tan attacks to keep control of an area. The game may be rough by today’s standards, but for an early 3D game on the original Playstation, it’s actually pretty impressive and offers a lot of depth of gameplay. The game is pretty short and beatable in a few hours, but it definitely gets challenging. The challenge isn’t exactly a smooth scale - rather, it’s like a mountain range with spikes followed by a couple of easy missions that lead up to another spike - but as you play through and get a feel for the controls, aiming, and how the rudimentary AI behaves, you quickly become acclimated to the game’s mid 90s jank, jank which I personally consider part of its charm. There is one level where you man a cannon turret on a train that you are almost guaranteed to fail your first time through as there’s a train collision you have to avoid that gives you almost no warning, and that’s a really cheap death that is sure to frustrate you, but that’s the only part I can remember that essentially requires dying to learn that it’s there.

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The game isn’t exactly beautiful, but most Playstation games are pretty ugly by today’s standards, and for an early 3D game on a console not known for its hardware prowess, it features some impressively detailed environments. Again, you have to take it in the context of a nearly 30 year old game, but taken with that perspective in mind, there’s a surprising amount to appreciate for a game in a series known for mediocrity and mid-budget releases. The sound design is a similar bag. It’s not going to blow anyone’s mind, but the sound effects are decent. The music, likewise, doesn’t hold a candle to classic soundtracks of the era like Final Fantasy VII and Super Mario 64, but it’s solid and does the job well. It doesn’t have any earworms that get stuck in your head, but you won’t be left questioning why the game sounds the way that it does.

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Army Men: World War has a lot of the same charms as well as a lot of the same drawbacks as Army Men 3D. It suffers from the typical early 3D visual problems, but it does somewhat make up for that with its surprisingly detailed environments. The mission variety is surprisingly solid and definitely outperforms Army Men 3D in that regard. The controls, however, are just as janky, and the story is bare bones and virtually non-existent aside from some occasional cutscenes and newspaper headlines that display between missions. In that regard, it falls short of Army Men 3D. Overall, it averages out to being a good companion to Army Men 3D that I don’t consider better or worse when taken as a whole package. If you enjoyed Army Men 3D, you’ll enjoy Army Men: World War. It’s not nearly as cartoony or polished as the more popular Sarge’s Heroes games, but it does provide a somewhat grittier plastic war that may be more appealing to some.
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Re: Games Beaten 2024

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January
Injustice: Gods Among Us (Xbox Series)
Metroid Prime Remastered (Switch)
Fire Emblem Engage (Switch)

Yikes, I forgot how long Fire Emblem Engage can be. This is my second play through but my first since all the story DLC was finally released. I feel kinder towards Fire Emblem Engage in 2024 than I did last year. I still think Three Houses is the more ambitious game but Engage has a better cast of characters, better maps, and isn't nearly as much a 'death by menu navigation' situation than its predecessor. I still don't understand why there is no New Game Plus.
Maybe now Nintendo will acknowledge Metroid has a fanbase?
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Re: Games Beaten 2024

Post by Stark »

1. Castlevania: Rondo of Blood (English patch) - TurboGrafx CD - January 3rd
2. Castlevania: Bloodlines - Genesis - January 5th
3. Castlevania: Dracula X - SNES - January 6th
4. Castlevania: Symphony of the Night - January 16th

5. Castlevania 64 - Nintendo 64 - January 23rd

Alright I've reached the dreaded first foray of the Castlevania series into 3D! Is it as bad as everyone says? No, but it ain't too great either.

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Just like the 2D games, there are a series of levels, most of which have platforming challenges, a boss at the end, and sometimes minibosses in between. The are several things that hold this back from being a good game. First, the camera is terrible. This is early days of 3D gaming and there were a lot of things to learn. No dual stick for camera free movement, it gives you several options to switch through: Normal, Action, and Battle. If you read the instruction manual, Normal is your usual running around camera, Action tries to set up the camera to help with challenging platforming, and Battle helps you focus on enemies. As you might suspect none of these are really all that great and have their pros and cons and you will definitely die because you can't get the camera in the right place. Plus having to manage which camera it is on is not fun gameplay.

Next up on the challenges list is save point placement. You save at little white crystals put around the map. It starts off ok and quickly devolves into madness and you screaming "what were you thinking?" 3 especially egregious examples:
- One save point at the beginning of a mansion. You have to go through multiple doors (load screens) to get back to it and the intervening trek is not difficult just time consuming. At the end of the level there is a garden maze where you're tracked by dogs that paralyze you and Frankenstein's Monster that is invincible. You have to make it through the maze running after a character, going through doors and being chased by unkillable monsters and if you die, you have to go back to the start of the level. Ugh.
- Save point at the beginning of a trek, where you have to carry an explosive, and you cannot jump or fall off of objects or you explode and instadie. The trek is long and hard.
- Save point at the beginning of a level with 5 mini-bosses and dangerous platforming between each one. No save point until next level.

Surely there has to be something good? Yes the music is good, the combat is fun with the whip and the special items you expect from Castlevania. It's not too long either, so it may be worth it if you really like the series and just seeing it for the first time in 3D. But hold off until my next review, which is Legacy of Darkness, which was released the same year and is a remaster of sorts and fixes a lot of those issues. I will let you know if there is any reason for someone to play C64 in addtion to LoD. Maybe my time was moot! :)

This is my first post for the year, let me know if you want thoughts on the other 4 games in the series I beat this year.
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Re: Games Beaten 2024

Post by REPO Man »

Have you tried the Castlevania Doom mod, Simon's Destiny? FYI, if you didn't know, it's an IWAD so it can be run as-is.
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Re: Games Beaten 2024

Post by prfsnl_gmr »

Great review! I plan on playing through both CV and CV: Legacy of Darkness, and it’s good to know what I’m in for…
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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

The latest Prince of Persia game is a Metroidvania, which puts it about halfway between the original and the Sands of Time trilogy. Sidescrolling, traps to dodge, special abilities that can put you back in time, this game has it all. And it actually puts it all together in a very solid package.

As I understand it, the game is pretty divorced from the continuity of all the previous games. You play as Sargon, an elite soldier of Persia who actually needs to SAVE the titular prince of Persia. The prince is kidnapped and taken to the sacred mountain where kings are crowned, because only he can open the door to the temple. So you head off to rescue him, and naturally weird stuff starts occurring.

The game is a pretty standard modern Metroidvania. It's got some challenge platforming, a somewhat involved combat system, and boss fights that ignore about half of that somewhat involved combat system. Most of your abilities are pretty standard; the one that stands out as somewhat unique is a power to drop a shadow, and then later teleport to it. This can be used as a recovery mechanism on tricky jumps, as well as required for certain puzzles (extend a platform that your shadow is over and teleport to it) and to dodge certain boss attacks.

The combat is your mix of attack combos, air combos, dodges, and parries. You can launch into a pretty extensive combo if the enemies behave. But unfortunately, most enemies do not. Compared to a game like Guacamelee, here it feels like the enemies all have too many defensive options. The enemies that are vulnerable to your full array of combo options don't have the health to require it, while enemies with lots of health will either block or dodge out of your combo after a few hits. And bosses are based around vulnerability periods in between attacks where you can only get in a few hits, and you can't use any of your more advanced combo things (with one exception, and even that one will hard cancel a combo after so many hits). That said, the boss fights are all quite solid; they are all multi-phase and each new phase takes the attacks from the prior one and adds additional wrinkles. They test your ability to use your full kit and to avoid attacks in a way that gives you time to get in a few hits afterwards.

On the exploration side, you have a sprawling map with a mixture of collectables to power up and just straight up junk. The junk sometimes is interesting lore, like tablets with messages from people giving you backstory, and other times are just objects that technically add flavor to the world, but that's about it. There are often challenge platform sections a la Ori where you need to traverse something nasty to get a reward. One type of reward is a material used for upgrading that is always placed in an area that will get you killed if you don't platform right and requires you to land on safe ground to actually collect. Everything else in game is always collected and saved to your file immediately, so even on death you don't have to recollect anything (including that one material, if you hit that safe ground and then died sometime later). Some of them get to be a bit too precise for my taste, or are too long of a stretch, but the stuff in the critical path is much more managable.

Overall, if you're a fan of modern Metroidvanias this is a very worthwhile one to pick up. The difficulty and power curve is at just the right level, and I found by the end I had internalized enough reflexes that the boss fights were more manageable, requiring far fewer restarts to get through (and the game lets you restart from the get go, no run back).
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