Games Beaten 2021

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Markies
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Re: Games Beaten 2021

Post by Markies »

Markies' Games Beat List Of 2021!
*Denotes Replay For Completion*

1. Midtown Madness 3 (XBOX)
2. X-Men 2: Clone Wars (GEN)
3. Sonic Adventure 2 (SDC)
4. Mega Man 7 (SNES)
5. Xenosaga Episode III: Also Sprach Zarathustra (PS2)
6. Bust A Move 4 (PS1)
7. Phantasy Star IV (GEN)
8. Gunbird 2 (SDC)
***9. The Legend Of Zelda: The Wind Waker (GCN)***
10. Fable: The Lost Chapters (XBOX)
11. Growlanser: Heritage Of War (PS2)
12. Double Dragon (NES)
13. Star Ocean (SNES)
14. Pokemon Snap (N64)
15. Metroid Prime 2: Echoes (GCN)
16. Castle Of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse (GEN)
17. Stella Deus: The Gate Of Eternity (PS2)
18. Super R-Type (SNES)
19. Threads Of Fate (PS1)
20. The Bouncer (PS2)
21. Phantasy Star Online Version 2 (SDC)
22. Final Fantasy III (NES)
23. Psychonauts (XBOX)
24. GrimGrimoire (PS2)

25. College Football's National Championship (GEN)

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I completed College Football's National Championship for the Sega Genesis this evening!

I have older brothers and that is how I got my start with video games. My first video game memory was playing Pitfall on one of their Atari 2600's. I played the original Legend of Zelda on one of their copies. They are huge sports fan, especially as kids, so most of our games growing up were sports titles. I mostly played the other ones, but I eventually gravitated to the sports titles. One of my older brothers loves College Football, so I remember buying College Football National's Championship for Genesis for him specifically. I played it as well, but it was mostly his game and became one of the last video game he's ever played. Throughout all of this, I never picked up the original. So, last year, I was looking for a quick Genesis to play and nothing is quicker than a sports game.

It is funny, but sports games have become like a hidden secret for me. I only like a specific kind as I grew out of them once Madden and the simulations took over. However, once a year or so, I get an urge to relive my childhood through nostalgia and play an 8 or 16 bit sports game. College Football's National Championship fit that to a tee. Being an earlier version, there are some features and teams that are missing, but it still holds the fantastic game play of the original. I love playing Nebraska as they have an Option play that is not used in the Pros, so its great to use it hear. I also like the ability to make your own schedule as you can play against who you want and where you want as well. The game play is a mixture of the Madden games, but is still pretty easy to pick up and play. You don't get burned because you don't know the minutia of College Football. The game felt a little too easy at times as I was returning punts for touchdowns three times in a row, but I have sunk many hours into the game and that might be the cause.

Overall, I still really enjoyed my time with College Football's National Championship. I had a few days off, so I was looking for a quick beat before I got back into my normal schedule of gaming and this worked out perfectly. I don't think this game will change anybody's mind when it comes to College Football or even Sports Games. However, if you are looking for a not too complex College Football game on the Genesis that is easy to get into, this is a fairly great one and highly recommended.
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PartridgeSenpai
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Re: Games Beaten 2021

Post by PartridgeSenpai »

Partridge Senpai's 2021 Beaten Games:
Previously: 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
* indicates a repeat

Games 1~51
1. Atelier Rorona: The Alchemist of Arland (PS3)
2. Portal 2 (PC) *
3. Atelier Judie: The Alchemist of Gramnad (PS2)
4. Pipo Saru 2001 (PS2)
5. Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon (N64)
6. Atelier Viorate: The Alchemist of Gramnad 2 (PS2)
7. Kirby's Dream Land 3 (SFC)
8. The Legend of Mystical Ninja (SFC)
9. Atelier Marie: The Alchemist of Salburg (PS1)
10. Ganbare Goemon 2 (SFC)
11. Paper Mario: Origami King (Switch)
12. Star Fox 64 (N64) *
13. Super Paper Mario (Wii) *
14. Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door (GC) *
15. Demon's Crest (SNES)
16. Cathedral (Switch)
17. Super Mario 3D World (Switch) *
18. Bowser's Fury (Switch)
19. Rogue Heroes: Ruins of Tasos (Switch)
20. moon (Switch)
21. Casltevania 64 (N64)
22. Captain Rainbow (Wii)
23. Doraemon: Nobita To Mittsu No Seireiseki (N64)
24. Blast Corps (N64)
25. Doraemon 2: Nobita To Hikari No Shinden (N64)
26. Custom Robo (N64)
27. Doraemon 3: Nobita No Machi SOS! (N64)
28. 64 Trump Collection: Alice No Wakuwaku Trump World (N64)
29. The Sunken City (PS4)
30. Lair of the Clockwork God (Switch)
31. Star Fox Adventures (GC)
32. Atelier Elie: The Alchemist of Salburg 2 (PS1)
33. Billy Hatcher & The Giant Egg (GC)
34. Mole Mania (GB)
35. Gargoyle's Quest (GB)
36. Rock Man 4 (Famicom) *
37. Wai Wai World (Famicom)
38. Mega Man: Dr. Wily's Revenge (GB)
39. Mega Man (Switch) *
40. Mega Man 2 (Switch) *
41. Mega Man 3 (Switch) *
42. Rock Man 5 (Famicom) *
43. Mega Man 6 (Switch)
44. Mega Man 7 (Switch) *
45. Mega Man 8 (Switch) *
46. Mega Man 9 (Switch) *
47. Mega Man 10 (Switch)
48. Rock Man World 2 (GB) *
49. Rock Man World 3 (GB)
50. Rock Man World 4 (GB)
51. Rock Man World 5 (GB)

Games 52~100
52. Wai Wai World 2 (Famicom)
53. Tiny Toon Adventures (Famicom)
54. King Kong 2: Ikari No Megaton Punch (Famicom)
55. Yume Pengin Monogatari (Famicom)
56. Rock Man & Forte (SFC)
57. Rock Man X2 (Switch)
58. Rock Man X3 (Switch)
59. Rock Man X4 (Switch)
60. Rock Man X5 (Switch)
61. Rock Man X6 (Switch)
62. Rock Man X7 (Switch)
63. Rock Man X8 (Switch)
64. Mega Man: Powered Up (PSP)
65. Magical Taruruuto Kun: FANTASTIC WORLD!! (Famicom)
66. Maken Shao (PS2)
67. Getsu Fuuma Den (Famicom)
68. Rock Man D.A.S.H (PSP)
69. Brave Fencer Musashi (PS1)
70. Joe & Mac (SFC) *
71. Atelier Lilie: The Alchemist of Salburg 3 (PS2)
72. Zelda 2: The Adventure of Link (Famicom)
73. The Bouncer (PS2)
74. Rapid Angel (PS1)
75. Atelier Totori: The Alchemist of Arland 2 (PS3)
76. Drakengard 3 (PS3)
77. Alwa's Awakening (Switch)
78. Hermina & Culus (PS2)
79. Atelier Meruru: The Alchemist of Arland 3 (PS3)
80. Splatterhouse: Wanpaku Graffiti (Switch)
81. Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana (PS2)
82. Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana 2 (PS2)
83. Mario Kart 64 (N64)
84. Super Mario Kart (SFC)
85. Mario Kart Super Circuit (3DS)
86. Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time (N64) *
87. Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask (N64) *
88. Legend of Zelda: Minish Cap (3DS) *
89. Rock Man X: Command Mission (GC)
90. Pikmin (GC) *
91. Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures (GC) *
92. Far East of Eden 2: Manjimaru (GC)
93. Pikmin 2 (GC) *
94. Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker (GC) *
95. Shin Megami Tensei (SFC)
96. Metroid Prime (GC)
97. Bomberman Jetters (GC)
98. Maximo (PS2)
99. Operation Logic Bomb (SNES)
100. Bombuzal (SFC)

101. Splatterhouse (PCE)
102. Shin Megami Tensei 2 (SFC)

103. Shin Megami Tensei if... (SFC)

The last of the (non-remake) Super Famicom Shin Megami Tensei games, if... (hereto referred to as "IF" because typing "if..." is annoying to type and difficult to parse) was released a scant SEVEN months after SMT 2. That said, it nonetheless manages to both stand apart from its predecessors as well as pave a brave new direction for the series that would end up defining SMT for the next five big games Atlus made (all the way until SMT 3, basically). It took me 32 or so hours to play through Reiko's route (the longest and most complete of the three available at the start) on the Switch Online SFC service using copious save states, rewinds, and online maps (because hoooo boy, is this game a doozy).

Taking a huge step back from the larger philosophical dissections and discussions that SMT 1 and 2 partake in, IF has a much smaller story set in a high school. You're a Japanese high schooler whose school suddenly gets sucked into the Makai (where all the demons live). You soon find out that your classmate Ideo Hazuma is behind it all (he even brags to you that he did it before the game starts), and you can choose to buddy up with one of three of your classmates (Charlie, Yumi, or Reiko) as you brave the perils of the Makai to save your imperiled classmates and get everyone (or not) out of the Makai and back to safety.

This is a game with a much more different story structure and tone from the previous games. It opens with a very silly personality quiz it uses to determine what sort of character you are (but we'll talk about that more later), and you can even pick your gender (which makes this one of the first and only SMT games to do that). Your classmate companions (Charlie, Yumi, and Reiko) all offer respectively longer and longer paths to the end of the story, but with very different outcomes, and in fact alignment doesn't dictate your story path at all. Once you pick a partner at the start (Charlie's being the shortest and easiest, Reiko's being the best and most complete, and an extra & very different fourth, Akira, being available after you beat the game once), that's the story path you're on.

It's a much lighter and sillier story in the smaller beats of it (your continuously self-augmenting and very eccentric science teacher as a recurring boss being one of my favorite parts of it), but it also does actually get serious in a way I really liked. It doesn't dwell on it a ton, and it's only in Reiko's route, but the way they go about humanizing but not excusing the antagonist's behavior was something that was surprisingly well done given the quality of Atlus's character writing up to this point. The high school setting and more character driven story became the impetus for the Persona series (and the female protagonist of this game actually appears in Persona 2~), and with character writing like this, it's not hard to see the connective tissue, even if it's relatively quite simple and brief here.

As far as mechanics go, this thing is HEAVILY built onto the skeleton of SMT 2, so a lot of features from that are effectively identical here. The general way that combat and navigation is the same, but there's a lot that's polished up and new despite how similar things are. For starters, the UI has been even further polished up and made faster, amking for a generally nicer and more quick play experience. Demon negotiation has been improved significantly from SMT 2. It's still not nearly as delightfully simple and rewarding as in SMT1, but it's nowhere near as frustrating as SMT 2 can be. Another good thing is that SMT 2's horrid mangnetite (the secondary money-like resource you need to keep demons summoned and in your party) has been solved too, and I basically never felt like I was running out. Instead of slowly getting upgrades for your arm computer, it comes fully featured right off the bat (so you can befriend 12 demons and analyze items right from the start). But there's also a LOT here that's very significantly different from how SMT 2 is constructed.

First of all, you have the significantly changed way alignment works. Choices you make in the narrative now don't make any change to your alignment, and your alignment doesn't affect the narrative's path at all. Now, your alignment is something that changes dynamically depending on what demons you have summoned. Have too many Chaos-leaning demons summoned and you can't recruit or summon Law demons, and vice versa. It's nice to not have to worry about messing up your path through the story just because you picked the wrong dialogue option at a story part, but it's also a bit of a pain to need to constantly worry about having a team you can actually have summoned all the time. It's not an awful thing, but it's not all around good either.

Then you just have the general design of the game. Whether on one of the initial three routes or the extra fourth route (which is completely different and basically a whole new adventure, albeit one that leans very hard, even compared to the main game), there is no overworld at all. The main game has a hub from which you go to different towers based on different deadly sins, and the bosses and encounters you experience there are based off that particular sin in some fashion. Some of these places aren't the best designed (particularly the one that has no boss and you just need to wait an age to finish it), but no genuine fast travel nodes and no overworld is a huge change to get used to. But that unfortunately relates to just how much of what's new may be novel, but is just also not very well polished or designed.

For starters, they just imported the weapon list from SMT 2 has more or less just been imported as it was. Now this isn't a problem on its face, but you need to consider that you can actually choose your gender in this version, and SMT 2 is balanced for a male main character and a female NPC partner. If you chose a female main character and a female partner like I did, you will not be able to use ANY of the scads of male-exclusive equipment, particularly the loads of really good weapons that only guys get to use. It's really cool that you can choose to play as a girl in this, but I just wish they'd made more of an effort to balance the game around that. This is also a big reason beyond Charlie's route being significantly shorter (he doesn't even fight the final boss) that Yumi and Reiko's routes are so much harder, because they can't use a lot of the best weapons in the early, mid, or late game. The game is generally really good at giving you player information and being very candid about upcoming traps or trials, and just how poorly it communicates what is effectively its difficulty modes (choice of gender and choice of partner) is really unfortunate in how it can sour the experience.

But the biggest bugbear in the room is also one of the most significant parts of the game: The Guardian Spirit System. This game is actually super forgiving compared to most SMT games in that it has no hard game overs. When you die, you just get kicked back to the start of the tower you're in, which sucks, but at least you don't lose all your progress with EXP and money. You're also given a new Guardian Spirit, and they're actually REALLY important. As you kill enemies, you rack up points for a new Guardian Spirit, which is just a particular demon from the game. When you die, depending on which of the four character types you are (as determined by the quiz at the start), what gender you are, your level, and your number of Guardian Points, you get a particular new Guardian Spirit. This spirit gives stat boosts or nerfs to the character player depending on how the demon's stat's compare to yours. When your partner dies, they come back immediately after the battle with a new Guardian Spirit of their own, but their Guardian Spirit impacts what spells they get/have, making it super important to whether or not your one party member who can learn spells (your main character still can't. They have the demon summoning computer after all) will or can actually have the spells they need.

And therein lies the critical and immensely frustrating flaw with the Guardian Spirit system: The player has heck-all control over it. Dying can be an absolutely debilitating penalty despite not having hard game overs because your new Guardian Spirit may take away a really good spell your partner had or give you WAY worse stats because the demon's stat comparisons really penalize the kind of min/max-ing that you're encouraged to have for the main character (the level up system where you just put a point into one of your six main stats from SMT 1 and 2 is back again all the same here). There were tons of times I'd dread dying and coming back because I'd be given yet more nigh useless INT and Magic stats and my super valuable Speed stat would be dropped even lower. You also can't see a numerical representation of your Guardian Points, as it's just a bar that fills up, so trying to get a specific demon by dying at a certain point is nigh impossible. While it was the inspiration for the eventually much better designed titular system of the Persona series, just how uncontrollable the Guardian Spirit system is makes it worse than nothing, and makes an already hard game even harder.

That's another sort of problem with this game. While SMT 1 and 2 are hardly easy games, IF cranks things up significantly. Dungeon design is way meaner, with far more teleporter mazes, labyrinths of total darkness, pit fall traps, and no-map or computer areas to give you an absolutely nightmarish time. There are also far less demons to recruit in this game. While there are a surprising number of brand new demons, in general the demons you run into will be from demon families that can never be recruited, so taking advantage of the ones you can actually recruit is a must do. The early game is also really hard even for an early SMT game, with the Zombie-chan school girls in particular being a really nasty enemy. Most of these awful enemies can't be recruited or even fused into, so you're forced to just have to fight them or try (and likely fail) to run from them. They also make shops and towns much more spread apart and difficult to get to due to the lack of a world map, and that problem is amplified even more by two more really mean new changes.

First of all is that this is the first game to make melee attacking from the back row completely impossible. In SMT 1 and 2, you got a significant damage penalty for melee attacking from the back row, but you could still do it. Now you need to either be casting magic or firing guns or you have to just sit on your hands in the back row. This is compounded by an even more evil new change: Guns now have limited bullets. Before, bullets just acted as a damage type modifier for your guns. Now, you need to keep your inventory stocked full of stacks of 99 bullets of the most advantageous (sleep and charm bullets are still your best friends) bullets you can get your hands on. This is made EVEN worse by the fact you can't just buy a whole stack at once. You've gotta tap right on the D-pad 99 damn times to buy a stack, and you've gotta do that one at a time. Hand cramps from buying bullets were a very constant element of my time with SMT IF. While in some segments the enhanced difficulty made for some more fun and challenging boss fights, by and large the added difficulty in IF is achieved by doubling down on the worst and most frustrating parts of earlier SMT games, and I am absolutely not a fan of it.

The presentation is one of the things that makes it most clear that this is based so heavily on the bones of SMT 2. There's very little new music, for one, as most of it is reused from SMT 2. Now it's still the same nice atmospheric music that worked well in SMT 2, but it's reused nonetheless. There are also a TON of reused demon sprites and attack effects. Now this isn't a huge issue as far as playing the game goes, as all the bosses are still new and there are a really surprising amount of new demons on top of the old ones, but there's still a lot reused here. At the very least basically all of the environments have been redone and look very nicely detailed and scary. They add great flair to each of the different parts of the Makai they grace.

Verdict: Hesitantly Recommended. Although I did ultimately enjoy my time with SMT if... more than I did SMT 2, the sheer length of this review should speak pretty clearly to how conflicted my feelings on it are. This is a game that would be absolutely miserable to play without save states or even online maps, as it's just way too in love with being mean and punishing you very hard for just getting unlucky. It's a game of lower lows but higher highs, and while I wouldn't say it's a better all around product than SMT 1, I'd still say it's worth trying if you're a fan of the series and don't mind either using save states like I did, or don't mind a LOT of punishment and trial and error ^^;
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REPO Man
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Re: Games Beaten 2021

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Picross S: Genesis & Master System Edition, a Sega-themed Picross title in the Picross S series, a Switch continuation of the Picross e series from the 3DS from developer Jupiter. FYI, that's the same developer who did Mario Picross back in the day and the unreleased Pokemon Picross and the not-unreleased Pokemon Pinball.

Basically another Picross title, but with Sega-themed puzzles. A few puzzles I had to use the "Check Mistakes" option. But I did beat every puzzle.
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Re: Games Beaten 2021

Post by ElkinFencer10 »

Games Beaten in 2021 - 94
* denotes a replay

January (12 Games Beaten)
1. God of War - PlayStation 3 - January 1
2. God of War II - PlayStation 3 - January 2
3. God of War: Chains of Olympus - PlayStation 3 - January 3
4. God of War: Ghost of Sparta - PlayStation 3 - January 4
5. God of War III - PlayStation 4 - January 6
6. God of War: Ascension - PlayStation 3 - January 9
7. God of War [2018] - PlayStation 4 - January 16
8. Epic Dumpster Bear 2: He Who Bears Wins - PlayStation 4 - January 16
9. God of War: Betrayal - Mobile - January 17
10. Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit - Switch - January 18
11. Muv-Luv photonflowers* - Steam - January 22
12. Muv-Luv photonmelodies♮ - Steam - January 27


February (5 Games Beaten)
13. Gun Gun Pixies - Switch - February 1
14. Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel - PS4 - February 8*
15. Pantsu Hunter: Back to the 90s - Vita - February 13
16. Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II - PS4 - February 17*
17. Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky - Steam - February 23


March (3 Games Beaten)
18. Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky SC - Steam - March 4
19. Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky 3rd - Steam - March 7
20. Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel III - PS4 - March 21


April (7 Games Beaten)
21. Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel IV - PS4 - April 5
22. Muv-Luv Unlimited: The Day After 00 - Steam - April 7
23. Muv-Luv Unlimited: The Day After 01 - Steam - April 10
24. Muv-Luv Unlimited: The Day After 02 - Steam - April 11
25. Muv-Luv Unlimited: The Day After 03 - Steam - April 13
26. Neptunia Virtual Stars - PS4 - April 18
27. Before Your Eyes - Steam - April 18


May (9 Games Beaten)
28. New Pokemon Snap - Switch - May 2
29. Resident Evil 8: Village - PS5 - May 8
30. Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age - Switch - May 15
31. Torment: Tides of Numenera - Xbox One - May 18
32. Pepsiman - PS1 - May 20
33. Super Blackjack Battle II Turbo: The Card Fighters - Switch - May 20
34. Reel Fishing: Road Trip Adventure - Switch - May 23
35. Planetscape: Torment - Steam - May 26
36. Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne - Switch - May 31


June (17 Games Beaten)
37. Hentai vs Evil - Switch - June 1
38. Troll and I - Switch - June 2
39. Zombie Army 4: Dead War - PlayStation 4 - June 5
40. Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 - Switch - June 6
41. Military Madness - TurboGrafx-16 - June 7
42. Puyo Puyo 2 - Game Gear - June 17
43. Yakuza 0 - Playstation 4 - June 19
44. Neptunia Shooter - Playstation 5 - June 20
45. Little Samson - NES - June 22
46. Tiger-Heli - NES - June 23
47. Blaster Master - NES - June 23
48. Gun-Nac - NES - June 24
49. Rollerblade Racer - NES - June 25
50. Marble Madness - NES - June 25
51. Metroid - NES - June 25
52. Mario Golf: Super Rush - Switch - June 26
53. Metroid: Zero Mission - GBA - June 28
54. Metroid II: Return of Samus - Game Boy - June 29


July (31 Games Beaten)
55. Super Metroid - SNES - July 1
56. Where's Waldo? - NES - July 1
57. Metroid Fusion - GBA - July 2
58. Neptunia ReVerse - PlayStation 5 - July 3
59. Tetris Effect: Connected - Series X - July 3
60. Battletoads - Xbox One - July 4
61. Chicken Police: Paint it Red! - Switch - July 5
62. The Falconeer - Series X - July 7
63. Astral Chain - Switch - July 10
64. Dynowarz: Destruction of Spondylus - NES - July 12
65. Skull and Crossbones - NES - July 12
66. Sky Kid - NES - July 12
67. Top Gun - NES - July 12
68. Top Gun: The Second Mission - NES - July 13
69. Mega Man 7 - SNES - July 13
70. Mega Man X - SNES - July 14
71. Mega Man X2 - SNES - July 15
72. Second Extinction - Series X - July 15
73. Mega Man X3 - SNES - July 16
74. Mega Man: Dr. Wily's Revenge - Game Boy - July 19
75. Mega Man II - Game Boy - July 19
76. Mega Man III - Game Boy - July 19
77. Mega Man IV - Game Boy - July 20
78. Mega Man V - Game Boy - July 20
79. Mega Man Xtreme - GBC - July 21
80. Mega Man Xtreme 2 - GBC - July 21
81. Portal Runner - GBC - July 22
82. Bubsy in Claws Encounters of the Furred Kind - SNES - July 22
83. Mega Man and Bass - SNES - July 23
84. Cotton Reboot! - Switch - July 27
85. Yakuza Kiwami 2 - PlayStation 4 - July 29


August (2 Games Beaten)
86. Doom Eternal: The Ancient Gods Part 1 - Series X - August 7
87. Doom Eternal: The Ancient Gods Part 2 - Series X - August 7


September (6 Games Beaten)
88. Maneater: Truth Quest - PS5 - September 5
89. Empire of Angels IV - Switch - September 5
90. 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim - PS4 - September 19
91. Star Trek: Voyager - Elite Force - GOG - September 21
92. Star Trek: Elite Force II - GOG - September 25
93. Earth Defense Force: World Brothers - Switch - September 29


October (1 Games Beaten)
94. Blair Witch - Switch - October 1


94. Blair Witch - Switch - October 1

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I'm a sucker for horror in general - movies, books, games, anime, everything - and I'm an absolute slut for the found footage subgenre of horror in cinema. As such, I absolutely adored Blair Witch Project despite the flaws. When I saw that there was a Blair Witch game on Switch, then, I immediately ordered a copy. Of course, I then put it on a shelf to sit untouched for nearly six months, but I finally got around to actually playing it. It's...well, it's not bad.

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You play as this Army veteran turned disgraced sheriff's deputy named Ellis as he joins the search party for a lost kid in the woods. As you search for the kid with your dog, Bullet, you start to notice that something isn't quite right. Clues found in plain sight that the rest of the search party somehow missed. Landmarks that no one else on the search party can seem to find when you try to meet up. Camcorder tapes left throughout the woods. As the psychological horror element of the game begins to pick up, that's when the game's one real strength starts to shine - atmosphere. The game doesn't really have more than a couple of enemy encounters until the end, and the ones it does have before that are super short, so you don't have the kind of horror that you get from Resident Evil or Outlast. For most of the game, it feels like if Myst were a horror game; you're just walking around, solving (pretty light) puzzles, and picking up clues here and there about the world and its lore.

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Unfortunately, the atmosphere is really all the game has going for it. The story is good, but it's not going to impress anyone as it's basically a non-Konami Silent Hill; the protagonist has some deep-seeded trauma and/or guilt, finds himself lost in a bizarre world of terror that doesn't play by the normal rules of physics, and he's forced to confront his inner demons. It's not bad, but it's not exactly reinventing the wheel here. What is bad are the visuals. Even the Xbox One footage I saw looked like a late-gen Xbox 360 game, and on Switch, it could pass for a PS3 launch title. I'm the poster child of "graphics aren't what matter in a game," but even I was playing this game while saying to my roommate, "Dude, look how ugly these textures are." It definitely looks a lot better on the more powerful platforms, but even there, it doesn't look good.

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Overall, Blair Witch is an enjoyable horror romp, and it's a solid pick to play during October for a spoopy game (hence why I played it when I did), but it's certainly not an exemplar of the game design or a pillar of the genre. The story is pretty standard, but the execution is pretty good, and the end of the game really picks up the adrenaline and mixes it well with the horror atmosphere. I can't I'd recommend Blair Witch at the normal $30 price tag, but if you see it on sale for $20 or less and are a fan of horror games and don't mind a quasi-walking sim, I reckon it's worth it for that price. I enjoy my time with it, and I certainly don't regret paying to import a Japanese copy for Switch to have on my shelf, but it's a pretty mid-tier game all things considered.
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Markies
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Re: Games Beaten 2021

Post by Markies »

Markies' Games Beat List Of 2021!
*Denotes Replay For Completion*

1. Midtown Madness 3 (XBOX)
2. X-Men 2: Clone Wars (GEN)
3. Sonic Adventure 2 (SDC)
4. Mega Man 7 (SNES)
5. Xenosaga Episode III: Also Sprach Zarathustra (PS2)
6. Bust A Move 4 (PS1)
7. Phantasy Star IV (GEN)
8. Gunbird 2 (SDC)
***9. The Legend Of Zelda: The Wind Waker (GCN)***
10. Fable: The Lost Chapters (XBOX)
11. Growlanser: Heritage Of War (PS2)
12. Double Dragon (NES)
13. Star Ocean (SNES)
14. Pokemon Snap (N64)
15. Metroid Prime 2: Echoes (GCN)
16. Castle Of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse (GEN)
17. Stella Deus: The Gate Of Eternity (PS2)
18. Super R-Type (SNES)
19. Threads Of Fate (PS1)
20. The Bouncer (PS2)
21. Phantasy Star Online Version 2 (SDC)
22. Final Fantasy III (NES)
23. Psychonauts (XBOX)
24. GrimGrimoire (PS2)
25. College Football's National Championship (GEN)

26. Chameleon Twist (N64)

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I beat Chameleon Twist on the Nintendo 64 this afternoon!

I think I am beginning to realize that I am not a big 3D Platformer fan. I always seem to be fighting with the controls and the camera. However, I do like the genre and even though the games can be rather annoying, I still enjoy my time with them. Banjo-Kazooie is very annoying, but it is also fantastic. So, I guess, I'm becoming more hesitant when it comes to them. So, when I saw Try4ce from My Life In Gaming review the two Chameleon Twist games, it piqued my interest. He mentioned how easy and forgiving the games were along with being simple fun. So, when looking for my next N64 game, I decided to pick it up while it was relatively cheap.

And Try4ce was very correct. I don't think I have ever seen a more forgiving game. Every time you die, even when you game over, you start right back at the room where you died. So, each little room or small area is its own check point. This is really nice considering some of the control and camera issues you have with the game. But, for now, in the story, you are chasing a 'Alice In Wonderland' style white rabbit as you are chameleon that got turned into a person. You do your normal running and jumping, but you can use your tongue to reach tall ledges, grab onto things and suck and then spit out various enemies. The levels are fairly short, but they are extremely varied along with some nice music to make the game go by in a brisk pace. It's not a long game either as you can beat it in less than 3 hours.

My major flaw is the camera and the perspective you have. There are several jumps that make it hard to distinguish if you need to use your tongue or not. Also, some of the tongue swinging can be so precise that it is impossible to see where you are exactly. The camera is very far away and does not swivel like you would like it too. Along with two control figuration that you are very similar, but different in the game makes the game a little tough to move around in sometimes.

Overall, I really had an enjoyable time with Chameleon Twist. I really only had area where the camera and controls were a major problem. Besides that, the game went by in a brisk pace and it was a fun romp all the way through. The game never blew my mind, but for a short game with little stakes to it, I'm glad I got to play it. If you looking for a break from the more intense and heavy games and enjoy platformers, give Chameleon Twist a play!
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Re: Games Beaten 2021

Post by MrPopo »

Previous Years: 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020

First 50:
1. EYE: Divine Cybermancy - PC
2. Legend of Grimrock - PC
3. Legend of Grimrock 2 - PC
4. Shovel Knight - Wii U
5. Yakuza: Like a Dragon - PS4
6. Yoshi's Island - SNES
7. Vectorman 2 - Genesis
8. Super Mario Sunshine - GC
9. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time Master Quest - GC
10. Bomberman '93 - TG-16
11. Cannon Fodder - PC
12. Panzer Dragoon II Zwei - Saturn
13. Dragonborne - Game Boy
14. Rock n' Roll Racing - PC
15. The Lost Vikings - PC
16. Blackthorne - PC
17. Contra III: The Alien Wars - SNES
18. Bravely Default II - Switch
19. Axelay - SNES
20. Ryse: Son of Rome - XBOne
21. Killer Instinct (2013) - XBOne
22. Heretic Kingdoms: The Inquisition - PC
23. Thief: The Dark Project - PC
24. Killer Instinct - XBOne
25. Killer instinct 2 - XBOne
26. Record of Lodoss War: Deedlit in Wonder Labyrinth - PC
27. Thief 2: The Metal Age - PC
28. Wing Commander II - PC
29. Wing Commander III - PC
30. The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel IV - Switch
31. Shadow Man Remastered - PC
32. Wing Commander: Privateer - PC
33. Salt and Sanctuary - Switch
34. The Elder Scrolls: Arena - PC
35. The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall - PC
36. Resident Evil Village - PC
37. SaGa Frontier Remastered - Switch
38. Metaloid: Origin - Switch
39. SaGa Scarlet Grace: Ambitions - Switch
40. Metro Exodus: The Two Colonels - PC
41. Metro Exodus: Sam's Story - PC
42. Panzer Paladin - Switch
43. Returnal - PS5
44. Dark Void Zero - DSiWare
45. Panzer Dragoon Saga - Saturn
46. Magic Knight Rayearth - Saturn
47. Cathedral - Switch
48. Final Fantasy VII Remake: INTERmission - PS5
49. Eterium - PC
50. A Street Cat's Tale - Switch

51. Bug Fables: The Everlasting Sapling - Switch
52. Banner of the Maid - Switch
53. CrossCode - Switch
54. Total Annihilation: The Core Contingency - PC
55. Ultima Underworld - PC
56. Betrayal at Krondor - PC
57. Assassin's Creed: Origins - PC
58. Axiom Verge 2 - Switch
59. Elderborn - PC
60. Hellbound - PC
61. Wargroove - Switch
62. Eye of the Beholder - PC
63. Quake: Dimension of the Past - PC
64. Quake: Dimension of the Machine - PC
65. Legends of Amberland: The Forgotten Crown - Switch
66. Anopek - PC
67. Baten Kaitos - Gamecube
68. No More Heroes 3 - Switch
69. Eye of the Beholder II - PC
70. Eye of the Beholder III - PC
71. Hedon II - PC
72. Deathloop - PC
73. Tales of Arise - PS5
74. Mechwarrior 5: Legend of the Kestrel Lancers - PC
75. Maneater: Truth Quest - PC
76. G String - PC

I picked up G String because the store page description sounded interesting and it had pretty solid reviews. What I got was a mediocre Half-Life 2 reskin that shows amateur level game design and an ending that isn't actually an ending, just a cessation of the game without actually going into any of the things it was starting to build up.

The game is set in a Bladerunner-esque future Earth where space travel is common and the atmosphere is so polluted that there are air factories. You are a psychic test subject who, during the course of a test of your abilities, experience an attack on the facility and you go ahead and escape while the getting's good. You then wander through this dystopic world and occasionally inadvertently cause trouble for the establishment, but there's never a sense of purpose. The finale has you swept up in a rebellion by Mars because you happened to be there at the time. It tries to pull of Half-Life's storytelling style but doesn't actually understand how to pull it off.

In fact, the game is a study in how to mimic Half-Life without actually understanding Half-Life. As mentioned, fundamentally the game is a Half-Life 2 reskin. Your telekinesis is literally the gravity gun, and the rest of your arsenal is reskinned Half-Life 2 guns (minus the crossbow and they removed the bouncy ball from the heavy rifle). The enemies consist of the human soldiers, basic headcrab zombies reskinned as robots (both regular and torso only variants), turrets, snipers, and flying miniguns that can shoot down your rockets. There are a couple of "unique" enemies; floating guys that replace the manhacks but most just float (a handful have ranged weapons) and these weird double ended slugs that show up now and again. So you have less enemy variety than Half-Life 2. The game still uses physics puzzles, but the puzzles here tend to be more obtuse (a lot more "remove this support from a ramp that isn't obvious even exists"). The novel physics puzzle everyone gets stuck on because the devs couldn't figure out how to make it apparent it even exists; there's a broken elevator you jump down on top of, and you need to add more weight to go down another floor. But when you initially jump it barely sways, so you don't realize it's a physics object that needs weight to move.

Another aspect the devs showed their lack of experience is in sound and level design. Enemies rarely make noise, which means you will take damage left and right from foes you aren't aware of. It's important that players know when threats are incoming. Similarly, the levels are full of minor steam vents that hurt you and are hard to see, and liquids may or may not be hazardous depending on the whims of a particular level (the muddy water in level X is fine, but the same muddy water in level Y hurts). There's one level in particular that has an interesting gimmick (acid rain, so you need to stay under cover) but does a poor job of giving you feedback. There's a sign at the start of the level that acid rain is a thing, but it's easy to just see that as part of the game's atmosphere. Then you walk under sky and start losing health. And the damage feedback in this game is pretty bad; no hud flashes or noises from your suit. Many times I've taken environmental damage and not realized it. The game weirdly uses the same hazard suit mechanic of Half-Life 2 (so batteries for armor, zoom, flashlight) but doesn't give any explanation that you have something more than a skintight body suit and cuts out most of the feedback that made it so useful. Another thing in the level design is half the levels (the first half of the total set of levels) are far too long; they feel like they are two levels stitched together, with a fairly obvious thematic shift midway through where you would expect a level change. Once you're halfway through the game it gets better.

I will say the game does have one quite unexpected thing at the end; the last real level is a space shooter. It's not a particularly advanced or compelling space shooter; it basically is just a free segment where you have to intentionally try to die, but it's novel. It's also the point where your character stops having any relevance to anything going on, as you just jump on a fighter to escape a ship you're in and join in an existing space battle just because.

Overall G String is a painfully amateur effort that should only be pursued by hardcore fans of the Source engine specifically. It basically does everything Half-Life 2 does, but worse. It's still very playable, but you'd be better off playing Half-Life 2 again or picking up Black Mesa.
Blizzard Entertainment Software Developer - All comments and views are my own and not representative of the company.
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Re: Games Beaten 2021

Post by ElkinFencer10 »

Games Beaten in 2021 - 95
* denotes a replay

January (12 Games Beaten)
1. God of War - PlayStation 3 - January 1
2. God of War II - PlayStation 3 - January 2
3. God of War: Chains of Olympus - PlayStation 3 - January 3
4. God of War: Ghost of Sparta - PlayStation 3 - January 4
5. God of War III - PlayStation 4 - January 6
6. God of War: Ascension - PlayStation 3 - January 9
7. God of War [2018] - PlayStation 4 - January 16
8. Epic Dumpster Bear 2: He Who Bears Wins - PlayStation 4 - January 16
9. God of War: Betrayal - Mobile - January 17
10. Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit - Switch - January 18
11. Muv-Luv photonflowers* - Steam - January 22
12. Muv-Luv photonmelodies♮ - Steam - January 27


February (5 Games Beaten)
13. Gun Gun Pixies - Switch - February 1
14. Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel - PS4 - February 8*
15. Pantsu Hunter: Back to the 90s - Vita - February 13
16. Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II - PS4 - February 17*
17. Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky - Steam - February 23


March (3 Games Beaten)
18. Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky SC - Steam - March 4
19. Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky 3rd - Steam - March 7
20. Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel III - PS4 - March 21


April (7 Games Beaten)
21. Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel IV - PS4 - April 5
22. Muv-Luv Unlimited: The Day After 00 - Steam - April 7
23. Muv-Luv Unlimited: The Day After 01 - Steam - April 10
24. Muv-Luv Unlimited: The Day After 02 - Steam - April 11
25. Muv-Luv Unlimited: The Day After 03 - Steam - April 13
26. Neptunia Virtual Stars - PS4 - April 18
27. Before Your Eyes - Steam - April 18


May (9 Games Beaten)
28. New Pokemon Snap - Switch - May 2
29. Resident Evil 8: Village - PS5 - May 8
30. Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age - Switch - May 15
31. Torment: Tides of Numenera - Xbox One - May 18
32. Pepsiman - PS1 - May 20
33. Super Blackjack Battle II Turbo: The Card Fighters - Switch - May 20
34. Reel Fishing: Road Trip Adventure - Switch - May 23
35. Planetscape: Torment - Steam - May 26
36. Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne - Switch - May 31


June (17 Games Beaten)
37. Hentai vs Evil - Switch - June 1
38. Troll and I - Switch - June 2
39. Zombie Army 4: Dead War - PlayStation 4 - June 5
40. Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 - Switch - June 6
41. Military Madness - TurboGrafx-16 - June 7
42. Puyo Puyo 2 - Game Gear - June 17
43. Yakuza 0 - Playstation 4 - June 19
44. Neptunia Shooter - Playstation 5 - June 20
45. Little Samson - NES - June 22
46. Tiger-Heli - NES - June 23
47. Blaster Master - NES - June 23
48. Gun-Nac - NES - June 24
49. Rollerblade Racer - NES - June 25
50. Marble Madness - NES - June 25
51. Metroid - NES - June 25
52. Mario Golf: Super Rush - Switch - June 26
53. Metroid: Zero Mission - GBA - June 28
54. Metroid II: Return of Samus - Game Boy - June 29


July (31 Games Beaten)
55. Super Metroid - SNES - July 1
56. Where's Waldo? - NES - July 1
57. Metroid Fusion - GBA - July 2
58. Neptunia ReVerse - PlayStation 5 - July 3
59. Tetris Effect: Connected - Series X - July 3
60. Battletoads - Xbox One - July 4
61. Chicken Police: Paint it Red! - Switch - July 5
62. The Falconeer - Series X - July 7
63. Astral Chain - Switch - July 10
64. Dynowarz: Destruction of Spondylus - NES - July 12
65. Skull and Crossbones - NES - July 12
66. Sky Kid - NES - July 12
67. Top Gun - NES - July 12
68. Top Gun: The Second Mission - NES - July 13
69. Mega Man 7 - SNES - July 13
70. Mega Man X - SNES - July 14
71. Mega Man X2 - SNES - July 15
72. Second Extinction - Series X - July 15
73. Mega Man X3 - SNES - July 16
74. Mega Man: Dr. Wily's Revenge - Game Boy - July 19
75. Mega Man II - Game Boy - July 19
76. Mega Man III - Game Boy - July 19
77. Mega Man IV - Game Boy - July 20
78. Mega Man V - Game Boy - July 20
79. Mega Man Xtreme - GBC - July 21
80. Mega Man Xtreme 2 - GBC - July 21
81. Portal Runner - GBC - July 22
82. Bubsy in Claws Encounters of the Furred Kind - SNES - July 22
83. Mega Man and Bass - SNES - July 23
84. Cotton Reboot! - Switch - July 27
85. Yakuza Kiwami 2 - PlayStation 4 - July 29


August (2 Games Beaten)
86. Doom Eternal: The Ancient Gods Part 1 - Series X - August 7
87. Doom Eternal: The Ancient Gods Part 2 - Series X - August 7


September (6 Games Beaten)
88. Maneater: Truth Quest - PS5 - September 5
89. Empire of Angels IV - Switch - September 5
90. 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim - PS4 - September 19
91. Star Trek: Voyager - Elite Force - GOG - September 21
92. Star Trek: Elite Force II - GOG - September 25
93. Earth Defense Force: World Brothers - Switch - September 29


October (2 Games Beaten)
94. Blair Witch - Switch - October 1
95. The Medium - Xbox Series X - October 3


95. The Medium - Xbox Series X - October 3

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When The Medium was announced, I was excited about it for a few of the right reasons and some of the wrong reasons. Obviously, I was excited for a new horror game because that's one of my favorite genres, but I was also excited that Xbox Series X would FINALLY have an exclusive game even if it took two months. No more of that cross-gen crap; this was a genuine only-on-Xbox-Series X exclusive. And then it got ported to PlayStation 5, so Series X is back, as far as I'm aware, to zero as far as exclusives go with everything either being Series X and Xbox One or Series X and PS5. Oh well, back to the matter at hand, The Medium would have been a pretty solid exclusive to the system even if not a system seller.

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The Medium, like most games, takes a lot of inspiration from its predecessors in the genre, but it does so to pretty good effect. The premise of the game is that you're a medium (in case the title didn't give it away) who is investigating a mysterious call she received from a mysterious man who is mysteriously located in a mysterious Polish resort that was abandoned abruptly under mysterious circumstances. As she is a medium, she can not only sense but at times communicate with the spirits of the dead, so when she gets to the old Niwa resort, she very quickly realizes that the urban legend about the "Niwa Massacre" wasn't such an urban legend after all as the property is teeming with residual pain, grief, and rage along with the trapped spirits of the dead. As she investigates, she begins to learn that not only do her powers extend farther than she'd realized but that the spirit world poses more danger than she'd realized as well as aspects of her past that she'd long since forgotten thanks to the good old fashioned protagonist staple of "trauma-induced amnesia."

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The first thing that I noticed during the introductory hour or so is that, at least from a visual standpoint, there's no reason for this game not to be cross-gen. Don't get me wrong; I hate cross-gen games, so I'm thrilled that this is current gen only. I don't quite understand it, though; other than some fog effects, there's nothing here that looked like something the Xbox One couldn't do, and even with the fog effects, I've seen effects that look similar on Wii U and Switch, so I highly doubt those would have been beyond the Xbox One's capabilities, either. A few hours in, however, I realized what I think the reason is; the game is so badly optimized that it relies on the power of the Series X to brute force a decent performance. The frame rate would occasionally (although not frequently) dip, the game crashed to the dashboard a couple of times, and - most damning of all - there were numerous instances in which the textures would pop in a full ten seconds after the game loaded and I started moving and playing. Keep in mind, I'm playing nine months after release and with multiple gigabytes of update data installed. I can overlook the frame rate drops given how infrequent they were, and this is by no means the only Series X game that I've had crash to the dashboard, but the texture pop-in is just absolutely unacceptable especially when you consider how average the textures are; the Series X has more than enough system resources to handle it if the developers optimize the game properly. ​Of course, having to render everything twice for the split screen effect is a more likely explanation, but given that consoles have been doing split screen for 25 years, I'm skeptical that this too couldn't have been done on Xbox One with the right team.

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As is now apparent, there was a lot of The Medium that I found lacking, but that's not to say that I dislike the game. On the contrary, I thoroughly enjoyed it for the most part. The atmosphere gave me more of a mystery vibe than a horror vibe for the most part, but when it leaned into the horror, it was definitely well done although I'd still call it more "creepy" than "scary." The whole split reality aspect was really interesting, too, and while it took me a while to get the hang of moving through the physical world and the spirit world simultaneously, once I got a feel for it, it definitely made for a unique gameplay experience. Despite how impressive the split screen aspect was, though, the highlight for me was the story and the setting. The story itself and visual design of the world was fairly standard and gave me some HEAVY Silent Hill vibes, but the fact that the game took place in Poland in the late 1990s in an abandoned resort that had been built the Polish Communist Party as a "workers' resort" was absolutely perfect for a history teacher like me and immediately hooked me. Going through the resort, investigating the letters and journals left behind, and getting a feel for the general zeitgeist of mid-to-late Cold War Poland was a perfect recipe for keeping me interested.

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The Medium is neither a masterpiece of storytelling nor a marvel of technical game design, but it is an enjoyable horror game that's perfect for October. It's a real shame that the visuals are so standard and the performance disappointing because beneath the technical issues is a really solid game that horror buffs and fans of supernatural stories will eat up. Having been ported to PlayStation 5 along with its Series X and Windows releases means that everyone who's moved to the current generation can access this game, and I definitely recommend doing so. Just make sure that you keep your expectations in check and go in understanding that this isn't a AAA game.
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Re: Games Beaten 2021

Post by PartridgeSenpai »

Partridge Senpai's 2021 Beaten Games:
Previously: 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
* indicates a repeat

Games 1~51
1. Atelier Rorona: The Alchemist of Arland (PS3)
2. Portal 2 (PC) *
3. Atelier Judie: The Alchemist of Gramnad (PS2)
4. Pipo Saru 2001 (PS2)
5. Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon (N64)
6. Atelier Viorate: The Alchemist of Gramnad 2 (PS2)
7. Kirby's Dream Land 3 (SFC)
8. The Legend of Mystical Ninja (SFC)
9. Atelier Marie: The Alchemist of Salburg (PS1)
10. Ganbare Goemon 2 (SFC)
11. Paper Mario: Origami King (Switch)
12. Star Fox 64 (N64) *
13. Super Paper Mario (Wii) *
14. Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door (GC) *
15. Demon's Crest (SNES)
16. Cathedral (Switch)
17. Super Mario 3D World (Switch) *
18. Bowser's Fury (Switch)
19. Rogue Heroes: Ruins of Tasos (Switch)
20. moon (Switch)
21. Casltevania 64 (N64)
22. Captain Rainbow (Wii)
23. Doraemon: Nobita To Mittsu No Seireiseki (N64)
24. Blast Corps (N64)
25. Doraemon 2: Nobita To Hikari No Shinden (N64)
26. Custom Robo (N64)
27. Doraemon 3: Nobita No Machi SOS! (N64)
28. 64 Trump Collection: Alice No Wakuwaku Trump World (N64)
29. The Sunken City (PS4)
30. Lair of the Clockwork God (Switch)
31. Star Fox Adventures (GC)
32. Atelier Elie: The Alchemist of Salburg 2 (PS1)
33. Billy Hatcher & The Giant Egg (GC)
34. Mole Mania (GB)
35. Gargoyle's Quest (GB)
36. Rock Man 4 (Famicom) *
37. Wai Wai World (Famicom)
38. Mega Man: Dr. Wily's Revenge (GB)
39. Mega Man (Switch) *
40. Mega Man 2 (Switch) *
41. Mega Man 3 (Switch) *
42. Rock Man 5 (Famicom) *
43. Mega Man 6 (Switch)
44. Mega Man 7 (Switch) *
45. Mega Man 8 (Switch) *
46. Mega Man 9 (Switch) *
47. Mega Man 10 (Switch)
48. Rock Man World 2 (GB) *
49. Rock Man World 3 (GB)
50. Rock Man World 4 (GB)
51. Rock Man World 5 (GB)

Games 52~100
52. Wai Wai World 2 (Famicom)
53. Tiny Toon Adventures (Famicom)
54. King Kong 2: Ikari No Megaton Punch (Famicom)
55. Yume Pengin Monogatari (Famicom)
56. Rock Man & Forte (SFC)
57. Rock Man X2 (Switch)
58. Rock Man X3 (Switch)
59. Rock Man X4 (Switch)
60. Rock Man X5 (Switch)
61. Rock Man X6 (Switch)
62. Rock Man X7 (Switch)
63. Rock Man X8 (Switch)
64. Mega Man: Powered Up (PSP)
65. Magical Taruruuto Kun: FANTASTIC WORLD!! (Famicom)
66. Maken Shao (PS2)
67. Getsu Fuuma Den (Famicom)
68. Rock Man D.A.S.H (PSP)
69. Brave Fencer Musashi (PS1)
70. Joe & Mac (SFC) *
71. Atelier Lilie: The Alchemist of Salburg 3 (PS2)
72. Zelda 2: The Adventure of Link (Famicom)
73. The Bouncer (PS2)
74. Rapid Angel (PS1)
75. Atelier Totori: The Alchemist of Arland 2 (PS3)
76. Drakengard 3 (PS3)
77. Alwa's Awakening (Switch)
78. Hermina & Culus (PS2)
79. Atelier Meruru: The Alchemist of Arland 3 (PS3)
80. Splatterhouse: Wanpaku Graffiti (Switch)
81. Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana (PS2)
82. Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana 2 (PS2)
83. Mario Kart 64 (N64)
84. Super Mario Kart (SFC)
85. Mario Kart Super Circuit (3DS)
86. Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time (N64) *
87. Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask (N64) *
88. Legend of Zelda: Minish Cap (3DS) *
89. Rock Man X: Command Mission (GC)
90. Pikmin (GC) *
91. Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures (GC) *
92. Far East of Eden 2: Manjimaru (GC)
93. Pikmin 2 (GC) *
94. Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker (GC) *
95. Shin Megami Tensei (SFC)
96. Metroid Prime (GC)
97. Bomberman Jetters (GC)
98. Maximo (PS2)
99. Operation Logic Bomb (SNES)
100. Bombuzal (SFC)

101. Splatterhouse (PCE)
102. Shin Megami Tensei 2 (SFC)
103. Shin Megami Tensei if... (SFC)

104. Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner (Saturn)

I was considering stopping playing SMT after I was finished with the SFC games available on Switch Online, but then a friend of mine finally convinced me to buy the Saturn I've been debating picking up for the past couple years XD. SMT if was so successful that it basically threw SMT 3 onto the backburner for years and years as Atlus took those same ideas about a smaller-scale story and tried them out in different ways, with the Devil Summoner series going in one direction, and the Persona series (the first three anyhow) going in the other. Upon learning that not only was the first of this mixed Devil Summoner/Persona series on the Saturn but that it also didn't even have a fan translation, I was too intrigued to not pick up that Saturn and dive into this. I'll admit I was pretty damn intimidated going into my first SMT game I'd be playing with no save states or rewinds to help me, but it ended up being nowhere near as bad as I feared it'd be. It took me about 50 some odd hours (that's a best guess, as this is another SMT game that doesn't tell you your play time) to finish the game on real hardware.

Devil Summoner tells the story of you, a college student who is hanging out with his girlfriend one day. You go get some weird book from the library when you then split up to get some tickets from a ticket office for a concert later that week (the pre-internet purchasing days were a WILD time, huh?), only to find it full of blood-thirsty demons. You're saved from certain death by a mysterious but arrogant man who introduces himself as Kyouji Kuzunoha, a devil summoner and private investigator. Upon leaving the building, you're stopped by a man named Sid. A strangely dressed foreigner who nonetheless has pretty good Japanese, who teleports you into a building with no escape as he demands you hand over the book you checked out earlier (your girlfriend forgot her library card, so it was checked out under your name), and upon learning you don't have it, he kills you. Charon awaits you at the River Styx, but tells you it not only isn't your time yet, but you also can't go back to your body, so upon being sent back you wind up in the body of the recently deceased... Kyouji Kuzunoha, and a new devil summoner is born!

That's only the first twenty or thirty minutes of the plot (explained in perhaps a bit more detail than needed), but I'm going to such lengths to try and get across just how much more emphasis on characters and dialogue are present in this story compared to prior SMT games. Despite how story-focused the three SFC games are, they don't really have THAT much text (certainly not story-important text) compared to many contemporary JRPGs. The jump from the Super Famicom to the Saturn almost feels like the jump from the Famicom to the Super Famicom in regards to just how much more story is here.

It's got a bunch of silly and/or interesting characters (from the James Bond villain-like gun store owner to your ever skeptical investigation partner Rei), but the main story isn't really all that deep. It's an engaging mystery to figure out just what's going on with Sid and the appearances of all the demons, sure, but there's not really character arcs going on here. It's more like a blockbuster thriller film, where the events and how they happen are more interesting than the actual deeper beliefs of the characters in the narrative. To give credit where credit is due, the main theme of the story being about how the higher escalations of society (both legitimate and illegitimate) more often work together to the benefit of themselves and the expense of all us normal people is done well. Just outside of the modern setting, that theme isn't exactly terribly unique among JRPGs from the 90's. It's a well done story with charming dialogue that I enjoyed my time with, but it's not exactly setting the world on fire.

The mechanics of the game are still very recognizably SMT, as you go through dungeons in first-person and have random battles with demons whom you recruit via negotiations and can fuse into more powerful demons (with some retaining skills from whom they were fused by). You also still put a point into a single stat (strength, intelligence, magic, vitality, speed, or luck) upon leveling up instead of getting general stat boosts. It's simultaneously a further polishing of the non-Persona-y parts of SMT IF (no guardian-spirits, thank heck). Returning from SMT IF, we have mechanics such as no aligment due to narrative choices, and your alignment only being a factor of the balance of demons in your group (law ones don't wanna be with chaos ones and vice versa). The narrative is actually completely linear now. Another few mechanics are the inability to use melee from the back row (although some spear weapons do allow that now), and how guns have limited bullets (although you can buy them MUCH faster now and running out of them is never really a problem, as they have stacks of 999 now). The entire inventory system has been super improved, really, as you can carry 30 of normal items and those massive bullet stacks in a *nearly* (but not actually) unlimited space inventory.

Speaking of improved features, the dungeon and overall game design are definitely among them. With the exception of the town hall (which I'd call easily the hardest dungeon in the game), all of the dungeons are of very reasonable length and have very reasonable trap design. You'll never have a truly hellish or unreasonable massive labyrinth of darkness, teleporter mazes, or pitfalls (at least not nearly to the degree the previous games do). Dungeons also have much more detailed looks to their graphics now, and it's actually much easier (although not all the time) to use visual landmarks to find your way around without constantly referring to the auto-mapping tool. Money and magnetite (the resource you need to maintain having demons summoned) are still here, but I never had a problem having enough of either, thankfully, and usable items are cheap and easily bought in the shops. You can even get an item (although only one at a time) that lets you save anywhere outside of battle, which makes retrying difficult bosses WAY easier. Getting sniped by a stray instant-death spell is still a danger, but there's even late-game equipment you can find to be totally immune to instant death, which is certainly more than the other SMT games up to this point could say XD. The overall difficulty with both the dungeons and bosses are really well tuned, and this is actually a game in the series I could recommend to non-SMT fans who just like JRPGs and confidently believe that they could finish it without getting too frustrated.

The biggest changes, however, are in regards to demons and how battle itself works. Some of these changes are good, but some of them are on the more not so good end. On the good end, we have a total rework to how combat works. You can still talk to demons to negotiate with them, and this is definitely my favorite way demon negotiation has been since they got rid of the simpler (and better :b) system that SMT 1 used. You need high enough intelligence to get them to get on your side (I found 15 to be a good amount), but there's a good mix of conversation and randomness to how they talk with you. However, the important thing here is how they appear in battle. They are now much more like contemporaries like Dragon Quest in that you just have an assortment of demons in front of you, and what you literally see is what you're fighting. Gone are the systems of the previous 5 games of only fighting one or two types of enemies who have 1~8 members of their species with them, and this much more standard system works much better. It may not be unique, but it just works better and makes battles go more quickly (although the auto-battle system actually goes much more slowly now so you can more easily see what is happening to whom and why).

But it's about time I addressed the big, cranky, uncooperative elephant in the room: Demon Loyalty. Anyone who knows of this game's sequel, Soul Hackers, (which was actually localized on the 3DS), will likely be extremely aware of the new mechanic of demon loyalty. No longer will demons simply do as they're told. There are 10 ranks of loyalty they can have, and if they're more loyal they'll do what you tell them, and if they're less loyal, they're more likely to disobey (or it may be impossible to even give them any kind of specific instructions at all). Depending on the personality they have, they'll prefer doing different commands, and you can buy them alcohol or give them gems to make them more loyal. However, even perfectly loyal demons (including your man-made demon Zouma) do sometimes disobey, meaning you can never perfectly rely on anyone but yourself and your human partner to do things exactly as needed.

This IS a huge pain in the butt, but the game is actually forgiving enough (for an SMT game, anyhow) that this doesn't *need* to be a huge problem if you play around your demon's whims. The way I played, I just got demons who tended to do a certain thing with their minimum loyalty behavior that suited my purposes. Tough front line guys with few spells to fruitlessly spam who will wail away at targets in front of me, and back-row healers and support characters to help out if they feel like it. And demons are thankfully pretty smart even when they're not being told what to do, and will often heal or do buffs or de-buffs if they think they should. I was routinely surprised at just how eager (sometimes over-eager) they were to heal a hurt party member even with me never telling them to. While the demon loyalty system is definitely not a plus side of Devil Summoner, I was pleasantly surprised at how it is so easily not really a negative either.

Presentation is really nice for a game released around the Saturn's first birthday. Sure, there's no bells and whistles like voice acting, and there's only a couple of animated cutscenes (which use really old 3D pre-rendered footage and often look very retro and/or funny XD), but the 2D and 3D both look quite good. The 2D sprites used for demons, humans, and portraits all look very nice with the art style, and the 3D environments both look nice and are well-detailed enough to make finding your way around a lot easier (as mentioned before). The music is also really good. With a lot of more upbeat and pumping tracks in addition to atmospheric ones, this is the first SMT game with a soundtrack I genuinely really enjoyed.

There are some bugs and performance issues, but nothing major. When turning in the first-person mazes, screen tearing happens pretty darn often. It didn't bother me, but it's certainly the graphical issue I felt was most worth mentioning. Bugs are significant, but often not horrible. In the original (but not the special box edition re-release) version that I played, raising Kyouji's speed above 25 will make his speed glitch out and make him nearly always go last. Now speed is still a super valuable stat for how it increases defense, accuracy, and evasion, and there's actually a fair bit of utility in Rei almost always going first and Kyouji so reliably going last, but it's still annoying. The game also has some issues with certain negative status effects never triggering. I never once saw things like SHOCK or FREEZE actually work for either me or the enemy despite both the game and manual insisting they exist. The game also apparently has level drain, but I never once ran into it (thank heck). That all adds up to the game ultimately being more forgiving and fun, as the game is already plenty hard without that stuff, but it's definitely all stuff worth keeping in mind as you play.

Verdict: Recommended. This game certainly has its shortcomings, but I really enjoyed my time with it. It's easily my favorite SMT game I've played so far, and one I definitely recommend. It's a little ironic that this is one of the only mainline games in the extended series to never be officially or unofficially localized, but if it does get translated or you can read enough Japanese to play it, this is definitely a JRPG worth checking out on the Saturn, even if you aren't otherwise a huge fan of SMT.
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Re: Games Beaten 2021

Post by ElkinFencer10 »

Games Beaten in 2021 - 96
* denotes a replay

January (12 Games Beaten)
1. God of War - PlayStation 3 - January 1
2. God of War II - PlayStation 3 - January 2
3. God of War: Chains of Olympus - PlayStation 3 - January 3
4. God of War: Ghost of Sparta - PlayStation 3 - January 4
5. God of War III - PlayStation 4 - January 6
6. God of War: Ascension - PlayStation 3 - January 9
7. God of War [2018] - PlayStation 4 - January 16
8. Epic Dumpster Bear 2: He Who Bears Wins - PlayStation 4 - January 16
9. God of War: Betrayal - Mobile - January 17
10. Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit - Switch - January 18
11. Muv-Luv photonflowers* - Steam - January 22
12. Muv-Luv photonmelodies♮ - Steam - January 27


February (5 Games Beaten)
13. Gun Gun Pixies - Switch - February 1
14. Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel - PS4 - February 8*
15. Pantsu Hunter: Back to the 90s - Vita - February 13
16. Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II - PS4 - February 17*
17. Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky - Steam - February 23


March (3 Games Beaten)
18. Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky SC - Steam - March 4
19. Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky 3rd - Steam - March 7
20. Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel III - PS4 - March 21


April (7 Games Beaten)
21. Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel IV - PS4 - April 5
22. Muv-Luv Unlimited: The Day After 00 - Steam - April 7
23. Muv-Luv Unlimited: The Day After 01 - Steam - April 10
24. Muv-Luv Unlimited: The Day After 02 - Steam - April 11
25. Muv-Luv Unlimited: The Day After 03 - Steam - April 13
26. Neptunia Virtual Stars - PS4 - April 18
27. Before Your Eyes - Steam - April 18


May (9 Games Beaten)
28. New Pokemon Snap - Switch - May 2
29. Resident Evil 8: Village - PS5 - May 8
30. Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age - Switch - May 15
31. Torment: Tides of Numenera - Xbox One - May 18
32. Pepsiman - PS1 - May 20
33. Super Blackjack Battle II Turbo: The Card Fighters - Switch - May 20
34. Reel Fishing: Road Trip Adventure - Switch - May 23
35. Planetscape: Torment - Steam - May 26
36. Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne - Switch - May 31


June (17 Games Beaten)
37. Hentai vs Evil - Switch - June 1
38. Troll and I - Switch - June 2
39. Zombie Army 4: Dead War - PlayStation 4 - June 5
40. Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 - Switch - June 6
41. Military Madness - TurboGrafx-16 - June 7
42. Puyo Puyo 2 - Game Gear - June 17
43. Yakuza 0 - Playstation 4 - June 19
44. Neptunia Shooter - Playstation 5 - June 20
45. Little Samson - NES - June 22
46. Tiger-Heli - NES - June 23
47. Blaster Master - NES - June 23
48. Gun-Nac - NES - June 24
49. Rollerblade Racer - NES - June 25
50. Marble Madness - NES - June 25
51. Metroid - NES - June 25
52. Mario Golf: Super Rush - Switch - June 26
53. Metroid: Zero Mission - GBA - June 28
54. Metroid II: Return of Samus - Game Boy - June 29


July (31 Games Beaten)
55. Super Metroid - SNES - July 1
56. Where's Waldo? - NES - July 1
57. Metroid Fusion - GBA - July 2
58. Neptunia ReVerse - PlayStation 5 - July 3
59. Tetris Effect: Connected - Series X - July 3
60. Battletoads - Xbox One - July 4
61. Chicken Police: Paint it Red! - Switch - July 5
62. The Falconeer - Series X - July 7
63. Astral Chain - Switch - July 10
64. Dynowarz: Destruction of Spondylus - NES - July 12
65. Skull and Crossbones - NES - July 12
66. Sky Kid - NES - July 12
67. Top Gun - NES - July 12
68. Top Gun: The Second Mission - NES - July 13
69. Mega Man 7 - SNES - July 13
70. Mega Man X - SNES - July 14
71. Mega Man X2 - SNES - July 15
72. Second Extinction - Series X - July 15
73. Mega Man X3 - SNES - July 16
74. Mega Man: Dr. Wily's Revenge - Game Boy - July 19
75. Mega Man II - Game Boy - July 19
76. Mega Man III - Game Boy - July 19
77. Mega Man IV - Game Boy - July 20
78. Mega Man V - Game Boy - July 20
79. Mega Man Xtreme - GBC - July 21
80. Mega Man Xtreme 2 - GBC - July 21
81. Portal Runner - GBC - July 22
82. Bubsy in Claws Encounters of the Furred Kind - SNES - July 22
83. Mega Man and Bass - SNES - July 23
84. Cotton Reboot! - Switch - July 27
85. Yakuza Kiwami 2 - PlayStation 4 - July 29


August (2 Games Beaten)
86. Doom Eternal: The Ancient Gods Part 1 - Series X - August 7
87. Doom Eternal: The Ancient Gods Part 2 - Series X - August 7


September (6 Games Beaten)
88. Maneater: Truth Quest - PS5 - September 5
89. Empire of Angels IV - Switch - September 5
90. 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim - PS4 - September 19
91. Star Trek: Voyager - Elite Force - GOG - September 21
92. Star Trek: Elite Force II - GOG - September 25
93. Earth Defense Force: World Brothers - Switch - September 29


October (3 Games Beaten)
94. Blair Witch - Switch - October 1
95. The Medium - Xbox Series X - October 3
96. Maid of Sker - Xbox Series X - October 3


96. Maid of Sker - Xbox Series X - October 3

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Maid of Sker is my third horror game for October 2021, and it's my favorite of the three (the other two being Blair Witch and The Medium). Based on Welsh folklore, Maid of Sker is like a love letter to and an amalgamation of some of my favorite horror games all wrapped up in a setting that doesn't get enough love in my opinion - Victorian Wales.

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The game opens with the protagonist, a fellow named Thomas, riding a train to the Sker Hotel to meet up with his wife/betrothed/girlfriend/whatever following a concerning letter he received from her. He was asked to compose a "counter" song - one of four she had commissioned from four different composers - to a specific melody that she sent to him and to bring it to her in Sker. Complying with her request, he wrote the piece and raced to Sker, but when he gets there, he finds that something is off. The hotel is abandoned, and it's clear that some manner of malicious mishap has occurred. As he investigates the hotel, his wife communicates with him only through the system of phones in the hotel as she has locked herself in the attic for safety from the evidently mind-altered men roaming the hotel. Thomas must now brave the violent brutes as he searches for the other three pieces of the counter-melody and four golden cylinders that have the potential to alter the minds of a large number of people all at once. It's kind of a bizarre story, not gonna lie, but it's pretty interesting and definitely kept me wanting to know more.

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I mentioned that Maid of Sker is clearly influenced by a number of other games, and I personally think that's its greatest strength. The setting of a run down hotel has some serious Resident Evil vibes not to mention that you save by interacting with gramophones in safe rooms spread throughout the game's world. The gameplay that sees you avoiding and hiding from enemies with almost no way to fight back screams Outlast. The general atmosphere of the game and the design of the enemies are clearly inspired by The Evil Within and Silent Hill. A lot of people online throw around the term "rip-off" these games to describe games that borrow elements of games that came before it, but I think Maid of Sker strikes the perfect balance of being influence by a number of its genre predecessors while still managing to feel like its own thing, and that's not always easy to do. The story, while well written, takes a backseat to the atmosphere here. Very few horror games nail the atmosphere quite as well as Maid of Sker, and it's solidly creepy from start to finish while frequently bolting straight into downright scary. I audibly screamed numerous times through the game, and for someone who plays as many horror games as I do to be made to scream is a testament to the game's design.

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The music and overall visual design are fantastic, and while I enjoyed the story and the setting, the story is actually the weak point of the game; it gets pretty predictable pretty quickly, and never once makes you give a damn about the protagonist. The fact that the game still managed to impress me so much despite that given how story-focused a gamer I am, though, should speak volumes to how well-done the rest of the game is. The music nails that subtle "haunting" feel without making the mistake so many horror games do of trying to build tension through loud and often disorienting music; it's a lot harder to make a soundtrack haunting than intense, but if a composer can manage it, it will automatically elevate any horror game to the next level, and Maid of Sker is an exemplar of that.

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If you look at the critical reception of the game, you'll see that I disagree with most of the big reviews pretty heavily. Maid of Sker's reviews from the big names like IGN, Gamespot, etc. as well as its Metacritic aggregate scores are all middling, but I gotta disagree; I'm a big fan of this game and thoroughly enjoyed it. It's definitely got its flaws especially where the story is concerned, but as a spooky horror experience, I found it to be great. Not amazing, mind you, but solidly great, and the Victorian setting and basis in Welsh folklore just check all the right boxes for me. It's not going to be for everyone, and most of the complaints that the big reviewers had are truthfully pretty valid, but I think the sum here leaves a much better product than those reviews give it credit for. If you're a fan of horror games, do yourself a favor and play Maid of Sker. It probably won't knock most people's socks off, but I'm confident that you'll enjoy it and have no regrets with the time invested in a playthrough; I absolutely loved it.
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Re: Games Beaten 2021

Post by PartridgeSenpai »

Partridge Senpai's 2021 Beaten Games:
Previously: 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
* indicates a repeat

Games 1~51
1. Atelier Rorona: The Alchemist of Arland (PS3)
2. Portal 2 (PC) *
3. Atelier Judie: The Alchemist of Gramnad (PS2)
4. Pipo Saru 2001 (PS2)
5. Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon (N64)
6. Atelier Viorate: The Alchemist of Gramnad 2 (PS2)
7. Kirby's Dream Land 3 (SFC)
8. The Legend of Mystical Ninja (SFC)
9. Atelier Marie: The Alchemist of Salburg (PS1)
10. Ganbare Goemon 2 (SFC)
11. Paper Mario: Origami King (Switch)
12. Star Fox 64 (N64) *
13. Super Paper Mario (Wii) *
14. Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door (GC) *
15. Demon's Crest (SNES)
16. Cathedral (Switch)
17. Super Mario 3D World (Switch) *
18. Bowser's Fury (Switch)
19. Rogue Heroes: Ruins of Tasos (Switch)
20. moon (Switch)
21. Casltevania 64 (N64)
22. Captain Rainbow (Wii)
23. Doraemon: Nobita To Mittsu No Seireiseki (N64)
24. Blast Corps (N64)
25. Doraemon 2: Nobita To Hikari No Shinden (N64)
26. Custom Robo (N64)
27. Doraemon 3: Nobita No Machi SOS! (N64)
28. 64 Trump Collection: Alice No Wakuwaku Trump World (N64)
29. The Sunken City (PS4)
30. Lair of the Clockwork God (Switch)
31. Star Fox Adventures (GC)
32. Atelier Elie: The Alchemist of Salburg 2 (PS1)
33. Billy Hatcher & The Giant Egg (GC)
34. Mole Mania (GB)
35. Gargoyle's Quest (GB)
36. Rock Man 4 (Famicom) *
37. Wai Wai World (Famicom)
38. Mega Man: Dr. Wily's Revenge (GB)
39. Mega Man (Switch) *
40. Mega Man 2 (Switch) *
41. Mega Man 3 (Switch) *
42. Rock Man 5 (Famicom) *
43. Mega Man 6 (Switch)
44. Mega Man 7 (Switch) *
45. Mega Man 8 (Switch) *
46. Mega Man 9 (Switch) *
47. Mega Man 10 (Switch)
48. Rock Man World 2 (GB) *
49. Rock Man World 3 (GB)
50. Rock Man World 4 (GB)
51. Rock Man World 5 (GB)

Games 52~100
52. Wai Wai World 2 (Famicom)
53. Tiny Toon Adventures (Famicom)
54. King Kong 2: Ikari No Megaton Punch (Famicom)
55. Yume Pengin Monogatari (Famicom)
56. Rock Man & Forte (SFC)
57. Rock Man X2 (Switch)
58. Rock Man X3 (Switch)
59. Rock Man X4 (Switch)
60. Rock Man X5 (Switch)
61. Rock Man X6 (Switch)
62. Rock Man X7 (Switch)
63. Rock Man X8 (Switch)
64. Mega Man: Powered Up (PSP)
65. Magical Taruruuto Kun: FANTASTIC WORLD!! (Famicom)
66. Maken Shao (PS2)
67. Getsu Fuuma Den (Famicom)
68. Rock Man D.A.S.H (PSP)
69. Brave Fencer Musashi (PS1)
70. Joe & Mac (SFC) *
71. Atelier Lilie: The Alchemist of Salburg 3 (PS2)
72. Zelda 2: The Adventure of Link (Famicom)
73. The Bouncer (PS2)
74. Rapid Angel (PS1)
75. Atelier Totori: The Alchemist of Arland 2 (PS3)
76. Drakengard 3 (PS3)
77. Alwa's Awakening (Switch)
78. Hermina & Culus (PS2)
79. Atelier Meruru: The Alchemist of Arland 3 (PS3)
80. Splatterhouse: Wanpaku Graffiti (Switch)
81. Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana (PS2)
82. Atelier Iris: Eternal Mana 2 (PS2)
83. Mario Kart 64 (N64)
84. Super Mario Kart (SFC)
85. Mario Kart Super Circuit (3DS)
86. Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time (N64) *
87. Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask (N64) *
88. Legend of Zelda: Minish Cap (3DS) *
89. Rock Man X: Command Mission (GC)
90. Pikmin (GC) *
91. Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures (GC) *
92. Far East of Eden 2: Manjimaru (GC)
93. Pikmin 2 (GC) *
94. Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker (GC) *
95. Shin Megami Tensei (SFC)
96. Metroid Prime (GC)
97. Bomberman Jetters (GC)
98. Maximo (PS2)
99. Operation Logic Bomb (SNES)
100. Bombuzal (SFC)

101. Splatterhouse (PCE)
102. Shin Megami Tensei 2 (SFC)
103. Shin Megami Tensei if... (SFC)
104. Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner (Saturn)

105. Alundra (PS1)

Next on my chronological list of SMT games to play was the first Persona game, but I didn't have it yet, so while I waited for it to come in the mail, I settled on playing something else relatively short and non-RPG-ish until then. The only thing I could think of out of the games I had recently picked up in another bundle of very cheap games from the resale mall was Alundra. I'd heard good things about it, but it was something I picked up on a whim more than anything. I barely even had much idea what sort of game it was, beyond some sort of action title. And so I bravely stumbled forth into this 2D Zelda-like game published in '97 by Sony (and made by a newly minted dev team staffed partially by Landstalker veterans). It took me about 30 hours to finish the (quite different) Japanese version of the game.

Alundra tells the story of the titular young man Alundra. Sent by a beckoning figure in recurring dreams, the story begins on a voyage to a far off village, and since this is a fantasy adventure from the 90's, the ship he's on inevitably gets sundered into pieces by a mysterious massive storm. Washed up on shore and saved by the village's blacksmith, he finds himself in a village of mysteries. A village robbed of its ability to create, villagers plagued by never ending nightmares, and a strange church on the hilltop that a few (looked down upon) villagers pray to for salvation. It's not the most original setup by any means, but it ends up going places I certainly didn't expect it to.

Alundra's story is a surprisingly serious and often quite dark one, and it repeatedly caught me off guard in just how large the body count gets by the end of the game. There isn't a lot of levity in the text itself, but that levity is sorta provided second-hand by the nature of it being an action-adventure game. The main theme of the story is not around how faith itself is bad, but how those who would seek to exploit people abuse their faith to manipulate them. It's a remarkably topical story for a Zelda-like game, and while it does have some trouble with setup and payoff at times (particularly around the blacksmith's story), I found it to be a quite story I really enjoyed.

The gameplay of Alundra is something I can best sum up with "Did you ever think that Link to the Past would be improved with more difficult puzzles, the addition of (often very hard) platforming, and a generally harder combat difficulty as well?" XD. It's a 2D Zelda-like game with tons of dungeons to explore, bosses to fight, sub-weapons to wield and even a few main weapons to experiment with. Dungeons and puzzles are all well designed, but as I explained before, it's just all pretty damn hard. There are some really brain bending mental puzzles, some absolutely fiendish platforming puzzles among the generally quite difficult ones, and bosses that while well designed take an awful long time to kill. This is mitigated by mid-dungeon save/heal points (though only one per dungeon, and sometimes not that well placed), the ability to get quite a lot of healing items to bring into dungeons, and a generally quite low price for failing any of the platforming puzzles.

But there are more problems than just an overall difficulty. Mind you, that difficulty is probably the #1 thing that will drive anyone away from Alundra. If you aren't very comfortable with 2D action games in the Zelda style, you're likely going to have a very hard time with Alundra, as it's easily one of the hardest games in the genre I've played. I actually managed to do the entire game without looking up any puzzle solutions (which I was kinda proud of myself for), but there were some that took me a heck of a lot longer to do than I thought they would. And the platforming may be already tricky, with tons of jumps right from the start requiring you to edge-jump if you want a chance of making it, but the camera perspective doesn't help things.

Alundra is a 2D game, and while some of you may've recoiled in horror at the word "Landstalker" in the start of this review, you can rest safely that this game doesn't have an isometric perspective like that. Unfortunately, what it does have is a more Zelda-like top-down view with LOTS of platforming toward and away from the camera (on the vertical axis). It's difficult to judge where you're going to land when jumping like this, and even though Alundra's foot hitbox is pretty big and you do have a very reliable shadow to guide you, you're still gonna have quite a time dealing with the jumping puzzles even if you're a veteran to retro platformers like myself. It's by no means a deal breaker, especially with how small the penalty for failure often is (almost always just a short walk back to where the start of the jumping puzzle is), but it can definitely get frustrating and is something very worth keeping in mind.

The presentation of the game is VERY pretty. Beautifully animated 2D art and animations (they've gotta be some of the nicest looking on the PS1, at least for '97) make for a beautiful adventure with a more earthy color palette than most other games in the genre tend to have. The music is also excellent, having both fun upbeat tunes as well as more somber affecting tracks for emotional beats. It isn't always perfect with the timing of when to use these (happy village music playing over emotional scenes doesn't happen *every* time, but it happens often enough to be weird), but when it uses them well it works damn good. There are 2D animated cutscenes as well, but it's more like just one cutscene, and it plays at the very end of the game to serve as a sort of flashback on how you got here as well as an epilogue. It's very weird to just suddenly have it there, especially with the main character going from his usual yellow to suddenly red hair, and it reads like something that was commissioned much earlier in development and ended up being far too different to the end product to actually use anywhere else ^^;. The game has a very 90's art style for its characters, and they look nice in those animated cutscenes, but I found them pretty darn ugly in the in-game portraits.

The last thing worth commenting on is the changes between the Japanese and English versions of the game, as if you're going to play the English version (which I think it's a safe bet virtually everyone reading this review would be), you should go in knowing that it was localized and worsened by none other than Working Designs. In their usual fashion, they made the game significantly harder (giving the already overly tanky bosses FAR more HP) and the writing significantly worse (I guess they were trying to add some levity, but it just does not work with the original tone at all, at least from what I've seen of the English version). Alundra still seems overall fine in English, but from what I have seen it is quite easily an inferior product to the writing and balancing in the original Japanese version.

Verdict: Recommended. Alundra would be a highly recommended game if it didn't have the camera perspective or difficulty issues, but it's still a damn fine game. I enjoyed the hell out of it, and managed to put 30 hours into this thing in only three days I was having so much fun. I'd hesitate to call it a hidden gem on the PS1, but it's definitely one worth checking out if you're into 2D Zelda-like games and aren't afraid of something a bit harder than you're likely used to from Nintendo's offerings in the genre~.
I identify everyone via avatar, so if you change your avatar, I genuinely might completely forget who you are. -- Me
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