Games Beaten 2021

Anything that is gaming related that doesn't fit well anywhere else
Flake
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Re: Games Beaten 2021

Post by Flake »

January Thru October:
January
Thirteen Sentinels: Aegis Rim (PS4)
Dark Stalkers Chronicle: The Chaos Tower (PSTV)

February

Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo HD Remix (PS3)
Metroid Prime (Wii)
King of Fighters 14 (PS4)
King of Fighters 2002: Ultimate Match (PS4)
Splatoon 2 (Switch)
Super Mario 3D World (Switch)

March

Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker (Switch)
Bowser's Fury (Switch)
Triggerheart Exelica (Xbox Series S)
Guardian Heroes (Xbox Series S)
Megaman 4 (Xbox Series S)

April

Megaman 2 (Xbox Series S)
Megaman 3 (Xbox Series S)
Megaman (Xbox Series S)
Megaman 5 (Xbox Series S)
Megaman 6 (Xbox Series S)
Disgaea 1: Complete (Switch)
NiGHTS into Dreams HD (Xbox Series S)
Megaman Zero (Switch)
Megaman Zero 2 (Switch)

June

Mass Effect (Xbox Series S)
Mass Effect 2 (Xbox Series S)
Castlevania (PS4)
Super Castlevania IV (Switch)

August

Yakuza Kiwami (Xbox Series S)
Megaman X (Xbox Series S)
Shovel Knight: Shovel of Hope (Xbox Series S)
Tetris: Connected (Xbox Series S)
Metroid (Switch)
Metal Slug (Neo Geo MVSx)
Doki Doki Literature Club Plus (Switch)

September

Batman: The Telltale Series (Xbox Series S)
Metal Slug 2 (Neo Geo MVSx)
Ultra Street Figher II (Switch)
X-Men vs Street Fighter (Arcade)
Injustice 2 (Xbox Series S)
Injustice: Gods Among Us (Xbox Series S)

October

Batman: The Enemy Within (Xbox Series S)
Metroid: Other M (Wii)
Metroid Dread (Switch)
Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo (Arcade)]


November

Fire Emblem: Three Houses - Ashen Wolves (Switch)
Megaman 7 - (Xbox Series S)
Castlevania 3: Dracula's Curse (Xbox Series S)


Did some classic gaming over the long weekend!

Megaman 7 is a game I've beaten a few times but I've played it much less frequently than the earlier Megaman titles so it still feels fresh. I know that Megaman 7 is generally regarded as a black sheep in the series because of some of the difficulty and game design choices made but I feel like I come to appreciate it more and more as time goes on. My only complaint is that the bosses are designed in a way so that there is really only a single 'path' through them and trying to play the game in any other order just adds levels of difficulty with no real payoff. Also, Bass is awesome but felt criminally underused.

I am very excited to say that I beat Castlevania 3 for the very first time. I have tried to beat this game off and on for over two decades but this weekend I sat down and got it done. It took skill, luck, and a ludicrous abuse of save states. Castlevania 3 is such a damn good game. I feel that it is the second best of the 'classic' series, behind only Rondo of Blood (which I also have not beaten but love).
Maybe now Nintendo will acknowledge Metroid has a fanbase?
Limewater
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Re: Games Beaten 2021

Post by Limewater »

Flake wrote:I am very excited to say that I beat Castlevania 3 for the very first time. I have tried to beat this game off and on for over two decades but this weekend I sat down and got it done. It took skill, luck, and a ludicrous abuse of save states. Castlevania 3 is such a damn good game. I feel that it is the second best of the 'classic' series, behind only Rondo of Blood (which I also have not beaten but love).


Castlevania 3 was great. I incidentally played through it shortly before finding out that it would be the primary source for the Netflix series. I only played the Grant-to-Sypha route.

Death gave me a lot of trouble. I ended up having to use the cheap method of getting to the upper-right of the screen and just spamming the whip and holy water and hoping for the best. It took me a bunch of tries.

It was one of those cases where color-blindness really bit me. The game briefly signals where scythes are about to appear, but it does this by flashing a few red pixels on a black background. Unless I was already focused on the part of the screen where they appeared they were invisible to me.

I also never did figure out a good strategy for getting past the bone pillar on the crumbling floor at the bottom of the descent before fighting dracula. I'm pretty sure he killed me as many times as Dracula did.
Systems: TI-99/4a, Commodore Vic-20, Atari 2600, NES, SMS, GB, Neo Geo MVS (Big Red 4-slot), Genesis, SNES, 3DO, PS1, N64, DC, PS2, GBA, GCN, NDSi, Wii
Limewater
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Re: Games Beaten 2021

Post by Limewater »

Dust: A Tale of the Wired West (1995, CyberFlix)

This is a really strange and rather charming early CD-ROM adventure game. As you can probably guess from the title, it is western-themed and mostly doesn't take itself too seriously.

One of the big gimmicks of the game is that every character is fully voiced, which is cool. However, due to technological limitations at the time, they couldn't manage full-motion video. So, instead, every character is a "puppet" of sorts. Each charact is built using photographs of real models/actors in various poses and facial expressions, with limited gesture ability and limited animation. As a character speaks he may move only his mouth and chin, while occasionally awkwardly blinking or making large changes of pose. It's pretty funny, and is one of the things that caught my attention when I played the demo on an old PC Gamer disc from the mid-nineties.

Most of the game is spent wandering around town and talking with people. Characters are mostly silly, broad stereotypes-- the town drunk, the older, bawdy saloon woman, the greedy mayor, the "oriental" shopkeeper. A couple of the characters didn't age very well, but neither did the game interface. The PC version of Dust was made to run on Windows 3.1, and it shows.

On that note, it is not trivial to get the game running on a modern PC. As a result, I would be really surprised if the game every shows up on GoG or something. There is a website that is fairly easy to find that has a DosBox Game Launcher setup to run it.

Kind of interesting, the game required a double-speed CD-ROM drive. To test the drive speed it read two files and checked the read time. Trying to run the game on a modern PC with an ISO file of the disk results in a divide-by-zero error as the file accesses are far too fast. The launcher I mentioned uses a patched version of the executable to avoid this problem.

There is a segment of the game that includes playing checkers. This did not work for me. I had to resort to a walkthrough to get the information you are supposed to get for winning the checkers game.

The game takes place over several days, and time advances as you achieve objectives. Unfortunately, at some points this causes characters to mention prior events that I never actually experienced. This is kind of sloppy. When this happened I tended to reload an earlier game to try to make sure I saw everything.

I was worried about dead ends, but I don't think there are too many. There is a late-game puzzle that depends upon you remembering a tune someone played on a flute earlier. That's pretty crazy, but I guess you could always load an earlier save game and check.

The game commits another big sin, in my mind, and that is changing the interface on you for one scene late in the game and with no notice. When you finally get to your big showdown with "The Kid," at some point you have to click three places on the screen that you don't typically need to click, with no visual indicators that this is what you're supposed to do. As far as I know it's the only time you have to use the mouse to click on something in the action window that does not change the cursor to indicate a "hot-zone" of some sort. This is a huge annoyance in my mind.

There are multiple endings to the game, but they're based upon a decision you make at the very end of the game, so it's easy to see them all. I appreciated that. Also, as I understand it, there are multiple solutions to most puzzles, so I am probably going to give it another play-through. This time, I think I'm going to try to be a jerk to everybody and see if I can still make it to the end without creating and dead-ends for myself.

This game has been on my want-to-play list for more than two decades. I'm not going to say I was blown away by it, but I have enjoyed my time with it and am glad I went to the trouble of getting it to work.
Systems: TI-99/4a, Commodore Vic-20, Atari 2600, NES, SMS, GB, Neo Geo MVS (Big Red 4-slot), Genesis, SNES, 3DO, PS1, N64, DC, PS2, GBA, GCN, NDSi, Wii
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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)
104. Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner (Saturn)
105. Alundra (PS1)
106. Lunar: Silver Star Story (Saturn)
107. Tales of Xillia (PS3)
108. Digimon Rumble Arena (PS1)
109. Blue Stinger (DC)
110. Clockwork Knight (Saturn)
111. Tales of Xillia 2 (PS3)
112. Nightmare Creatures (PS1)
113. Tales of Rebirth (PSP)
114. Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Children: Red Book (GBC)
115. Heart of the Woods (PC)
116. Analogue: A Hate Story (PC)
117. Ibunroku Persona (PS1)

118. Megami Tensei: Last Bible (GB)

I managed to get in one more game for this month's TR, and it happened to be another SMT spin-off, and by the same company that made SMT: Devil Children as well! That said, as you may've noticed in the title, this isn't actually even an SMT spin-off. Coming out only a scant couple of months after SMT 1 in 1992, this is old enough to be a Megami Tensei spin-off, not a Shin Megami Tensei one! However, no matter which part of the series it claims to spin off from, this game has a TON setting apart from the proper SMT games. It took me about 17 or so hours (or at least I guess, since this is another game that doesn't count playtime) to beat the Japanese version of the game on a real cartridge via my GameBoy Player.

You play the main character (canon name El, but you name all three playable characters at the start) just graduating from Zodia's academy of magic, but such is fate that just as you graduate, trouble strikes and monsters start attacking in much more viscous ways than before, even trapping the new trainees on the nearby trial mountain! So begins your quest to figure out just what's driving the monsters so wild as well as what's trying to destroy the world, while also picking up another couple of human heroes along the way. The story isn't nearly as philosophical as its contemporary MT or SMT games, but it was surprisingly deep for what it is. I'll admit that I had a fair bit of trouble keeping proper nouns all sorted (still not sure if it's like, the planet named Gaia or the planet's life force named Gaia or what), but the mystery of just who is to blame for it all, the Zodians or the Gaia Masters, as well as why they're even doing it, was engaging and fun in a deeper way than I expected for a GameBoy JRPG. One final note, other than how I quite liked the dialogue writing as well, is that I have absolutely no idea why it's called "Last Bible". That appears to have absolutely nothing to do with the story or the framing device, and is a 100% ass-pull of a title XD

The mechanics are, like Devil Children eight years later, an attempt to make the more standard Megami Tensei formula much more forgiving and easier in an attempt to make it appeal more to kids (even down to how they're explicitly not demons, they're monsters, as if there's a difference :b). Much like the SFC SMT games, you go around getting in random battles with monsters, and if the monsters are close enough in level to you (in this case, your level + 5), you can convince them to join your side via a negotiation conversation mid-battle. The monster negotiations are easily the worst in one of these games that I've played though. There's only one or two conversation trees, and whether or not the monster joins you is down to whether or not you happened to pick the right sequence of yes/no answers from them. More easily, however, is that you can also have one of your AI companions negotiate with them instead, which effectively just puts it down to a dice roll, meaning that although manual negotiations are frustrating in a way few other games in the series manage, being able to auto-negotiate like that makes it easier than it's ever been (and it's not hard to see why they made auto-negotiating the standard way the games work by the time you get to Devil Children).

The battle system is also very SMT even down to the balancing. While the game is certainly easier than other SMT games, it still ain't super easy, and the difficulty curve, particularly in the beginning, can be pretty brutal. Thankfully, leveling up is a pretty quick process, even though money is earned very slowly and keeping a good cash flow can be a really big problem quite frequently. The way grinding works reminded me a lot of early Dragon Quest in how it can be the solution to all life's problems despite how the game's systems can at times be quite technical. Having a good composition of monsters on your team is really important, but even then, you don't need to try THAT hard to get good random ones out and about, as there are some optional special ones you can get that are REALLY good and perfectly fine to take with you to the end game like I did.

The only other big and consistent problem which impacts basically the entire game, particularly around your monster composition, is that keeping your party healed is a really tough thing to do. Your inventory is VERY small, items don't stack, and healing spells are uncommon and very expensive even in the late game. Bosses tend to be quite easy, only being a little harder than normal encounters if harder at all, but just getting to them in any state ready to fight them is the biggest challenge in the game. Thankfully, the game is pretty forgiving around this as well beyond the aforementioned "grinding solves everything eventually" approach. Dungeons are not first-person, unlike normal SMT games, and are done top-down in the very familiar Dragon Quest-style. They also tend to be quite short, and you can even both save anywhere AND fuse & summon demons anywhere. The game doesn't even have true game overs, as when you die you just lose half your cash (ouch) and get kicked back to the last inn you stayed at. The game certainly isn't a cakewalk, but it's a great conversion to handheld that really respects your time in a way other SMT games don't. It even has a mode that lets you connect to a friend's GameBoy to battle against their monsters! I couldn't test that, of course, but it's still neat that a game so many years before Pokemon was doing something like that in such a similar way.

The presentation is quite surprisingly nice given that it's a relatively early GameBoy game and that this is one of the first games this team made. The monster sprites are really well-detailed, though this admittedly does come at the cost of the game re-using monster sprites pretty frequently. Those reused monster sprites look exactly the same as well, and that's even more of a bugger when these double- and triple-duty sprites are sometimes even found in the same dungeons. It makes it so you need to pay attention to enemy names a fair bit more, but combat is often so simple (just auto-attack everything to death) that it isn't a huge mechanical problem at the end of the day. The music is also surprisingly nice, with quite a few really good tracks out of the relatively small soundtrack.

Verdict: Hesitantly Recommended. For a '92 GameBoy RPG, this is a pretty darn fun one if you're into retro JRPGs. It's not aged the best compared to most contemporary stuff, so it's difficult to recommend if you aren't into retro RPGs at all, but if "easier SMT that plays more like Dragon Quest" sounds like something you'd be a fan of, this is well worth checking out! It even has an official English release on the GameBoy Color, Revelations: The Demon Slayer, so it's pretty painless to check out as well~.
I identify everyone via avatar, so if you change your avatar, I genuinely might completely forget who you are. -- Me
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alienjesus
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Re: Games Beaten 2021

Post by alienjesus »

AJ's Games Beaten 2021:
1. Machinarium Switch eShop
2. Pikuniku Switch eShop
3. Sonic Generations XBox 360
4. Neutopia Wii VC
5. Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown PS4
6. Coca-Cola Kid Game Gear
7. Gunstar Heroes Game Gear
8. The Great Circus Mystery Starring Mickey & Minnie SNES
9. Sonic Mania Plus Switch
10. Mickey No Tokyo Disneyland Daibōken SFC
11. Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Sky DS
12. Yakuza 0 PS4
13. Fire Emblem: Three Houses Switch
14. Soleil Mega Drive
15. Stranded Kids GBC
16. Great Greed Game Boy
17. Crystal Warriors Game Gear
18. Madou Monogatari I: Mittsu No Madō-kyū Game Gear
19. Biomotor Unitron NGPC
20. New Pokémon Snap Switch
21. Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots PS3
22. Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance PS3
23. Command & Conquer: Red Alert PS1
24. Ape Escape PS1
25. Ys Seven PSN Vita
26. Probotector NES
27. Tetris Attack SNES
28. Magical Pop’n SFC
29. Bubble Symphony Saturn
30. Sexy Parodius Saturn
31. Toree 3D Switch eShop
32. SEGA AGES Herzog Zwei Switch eShop
33. Lego Builder’s Journey Switch eShop
34. Alba: A Wildlife Adventure Switch eShop
35. Later Alligator Switch eShop
36. Mario Party 2 N64
37. Gate of Thunder PC Engine CD
38. Mushihimesama Switch eShop
39. Toejam & Earl: Back In The Groove Switch
40. Shining Force III Saturn
41. Rayman Saturn
42. Panzer Dragoon Saga Saturn
43. Mother 3 GBA
44. Drill Dozer GBA
45. bit Generations: Boundish GBA
46. bit Generations: Soundvoyager GBA
47. bit Generations: Digidrive GBA
48. bit Generations: Dialhex GBA
49. Densetsu No Stafy 2 GBA
50. Pokémon Pinball: Ruby & Sapphire GBA
51. Manx TT Superbike Saturn
52. Klonoa: Empire of Dreams GBA
53. Shining Wisdom Saturn
54. Layer Section Saturn



Toejam & Earl: Back in the Groove

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I consider myself a fairweather Toejam & Earl fan – I enjoyed the first game on Mega Drive, thought the second was interesting but not much fun, and never bothered with the 3rd. I picked up Back in the Groove though because it looked like more of the first game (aka the decent one) and that’s basically what it is. Mechanically it’s very similar but with some fun new presents and enemies to encounter. You can choose between multiple characters with different stats, and your stats randomly improve when levelling up so every run is a bit different.

Some mechanics are brought back from Toejam 2, such as the hyperfunk zone and the parking meters you can put coins in to find secrets. Both are honestly just as pace disrupting as they were in TJ&E2 and don’t add a lot. That said, the game is easier than the original and a lot of fun to play through.

I’d happily recommend it but with a strong caveat – the performance in this game is bad. I played on Switch, several years after release, and the game is full of massive slowdown during loads, framerates drops and the likes – in 2player this often happens if someone falls to a different map or loads a new area, causing unresponsive controls for the other player. We also had 2 full game crashes in our 3 hours playing the game. This far into the game’s life, they’re not going to be fixed, so it’s a shame these issues affect an otherwise fun title.



Shining Force III

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In September I decided to set myself a goal of focusing on 2 consoles – 1 home console and 1 handheld, and trying to work through the unbgeaten games I had on those systems. The goal was to familiarise myself with the systems more as I jump around so much that some consoles still feel unfamiliar to me 10 years after I bought them! The objective was to either clear out every unbeaten game I had for the platform, or 10 of them, whichever came first. My first home console pick was Sega Saturn, and I kicked it off with a big one by playing Shining Force 3.

I really enjoy the Shining Force games on Mega Drive, and I enjoyed my time with this one too. It took a while to get into – the 2d sprites on 3D environments took some getting accustomed to and lining up my character to search objects never quite felt right. The scope of this game is also simultaneously large and yet pretty small – the story and events are set up for the full trilogy so the narrative feels grand, but your available party members are pretty small by series standards, especially early on where new recruits come pretty slowly. The missions in game are quite interesting and inventive though, with some interesting objectives and map hazards to negotiate between the more standard battles. The difficulty balance is awry though, with some of the hardest maps coming early on before you have enough flexibility of units to adapt – recruiting iris in the warehouse is tough, and the train map to rescue the refugees is brutal and took me many tries – and I still lost one of the buggers.

I’ve heard people describe this as one of the better looking Saturn games, but in all honesty I think it looks a bit ugly. Battle scenes are well animated for the generation but the environments are pretty plain and the pre-rendered sprites clash against them. The music is good, although sometimes sound effects drown it out too much. Voice acting in battle scenes is iconically bad though, with some true classics “Now bear my arctic blast!”

Overall I really enjoyed my time with Shining Force II. It’s not perfect by any means, but it’s still a good time and I’m keen to play scenario 2 and 3 with the translation patch at some point too.



Rayman

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My second Saturn game was the one I played for Together Retro – 5th Generation platformers month, and if you followed that thread you’ll know what I made of it. Rayman is an awful, cruel and unbalanced platformer that hates it’s players and doesn’t want them to succeed. Limited lives, no respawning extra lives, excessive instant death traps, enemies who spawn on top of you – this has the whole lot.

It’s a real shame though, because at it’s best, Rayman can be beautiful looking, sound great, have fun ideas and good level design. It’s best comes so infrequently that it’s not worth playing to see it though. If it had just been a bit more forgiving, even just removing the lives system, it would have been a lot more fun. But as it is, Rayman is a terrible slog to play through, that’s made all the worse by being almost good in most areas.



Panzer Dragoon Saga

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The 3rd Saturn game on my list is another big one. Getting the elephant out of the room first, Panzer Dragoon Saga is super expensive and not worth the money. However, that’s not to say it’s bad – in fact, it’s pretty great. But it’s just not £300+ worth of great!

Panzer Dragoon Saga is the 3rd game in the Panzer Dragoon series and the first to really make the lore of the series accessible. You play as Edge, a boy who teams up with a dragon to get revenge on Krayman, a rogue empire general who killed Edge’s mercenary band and ran away with a mysterious girl he discovered in a mine. Eventually doing this puts him at odds with Krayman’s forces, the empires forces and Azel, the mysterious girl herself, and more mysteries unfold surrounded ancient civilisations, the dragons and the towers, giant structures said to control the environment.

PDS has an interesting an unique battles system that draws from the rail shooter predecessors. Edge can move his dragon around the enemies to get different angles, and can shoot with his own gun (for focused fire on one enemy) or the dragons lasers (for spread damage on multiple targets). He can also use items or cast ‘berserks’, which are essentially spells. Enemies will move around too, and depending on both of your positions, you may be safe from harm, or very vulnerable to attack. Equally, enemies may have weak spots targetable from certain angles. Often, these will involve putting yourself at risk to target so it takes some balance. The battle system is fun, but it’s probably good that the game is only about 12 hours long, as it runs out of things to do with it by the end of the game.

The story of PDS is interesting, if sometimes a little hard to follow, and the gameplay is fun but way too easy for the most part. It’s a visually impressive game for the system, but at the same time it didn’t stand out to me these days because I’m much more familiar with the PS1 and N64 and those systems had much nicer looking games than this by the time it launched. I really enjoyed my time with Panzer Dragoon Saga, and I’d recommend giving it a play. But don’t actually spend the money on it, because it’s way too much!



Mother 3

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My handheld console choice to focus on was Game Boy Advance, and so I kicked things off with Mother 3. Mother 3 is a game I’ve been wanting to play through for a long time and I’ve tried multiple times before, but bounced off of it. The game uses a chapter structure early on where you play as different characters as you’re introduced to them. First you play as Flint, Lucas’ dad. In chapter 2 you play as Duster, the thief. Chapter 3 introduces us to Salsa the monkey, and finally, in chapter 4, we get to play as Lucas, the main character for the first time. Although these are interesting from a storytelling point of view, I think this works against the game. Flint, Duster and Salsa are all characters with no PSI (read: magic) and for most of their stories you only have 1 party member. This makes battles feel a bit of a slog as you whittle their health down with physical moves and have to use healing items (with a very limited inventory) to heal. The opening chapters, whilst still quirky in that Mother series kind of way, are also pretty depressing, with lots of terrible events happening.

Once chapter 4 got going and you start to build a full party though, the game became a lot of fun, the game hits a better balance of darkness to goofiness, and the expanded party and moveset make battles go by way faster. It wook me ages to reach this point but after I got to there I played through the rest of the game pretty quickly.

I think mother 3 does a good job of introducing its world – it gives time to see it grow and change, and you get to see the characters around you change too. I struggled a bit at first as to be honest, none of Lucas’ fellow residents of Tazmily came across as particular nice people, and I didn’t really feel any sympathy for them. But over time, it did start to gel a bit more. I wonder if this is a translation issue, or just a cultural difference perhaps?

Gameplay wise, Mother 3 functions similarly to Earthbound with a standard RPG battle system and limited inventory to manage, but it also adds a rhythm system where you tap to the beat of the music to deal extra damage on basic attacks. I found this surprisingly hard despite being a rhythm game fan. It does serve to highlight the excellent music though, the game has music quality far surpassing your standard GBA release and it sounds great through headphones.

I (eventually) really enjoyed my time with Mother 3. I found it to have a slow start, but once I finally made it



Drill Dozer

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Drill Dozer was GBA game 2, and it’s a pretty fun platformer by Game Freak, who are better known for the Pokémon series. You play as Jill, a thief in the Red Dozers. Your dad and boss of the Red Dozers has been injured during an attack by a rival thief group and they ran off with your treasured red diamond too. You set out to get it back, using the Drill Dozer, a mech suit with a massive drill on the front. This is used for drilling through walls and doors, twisting through air vents, screwing in bolts and dispatching enemies, and accompanied by a bit of shaking from the built in rumble pack.

The game tries to make the drill feel powerful, with big flashy graphics, loud drill noises and rumble every time you use it, and it’s quite satisfying. In each level you start at first gear, but finding extra gears boosts your drill power to 2nd and 3rd gears, allowing you to rev up even further and increasing the rumble and volume. Level 3 is really satisfying as you can essentially drill endlessly and charge through lines of enemies.

The game takes place over several worlds with 2 levels a piece. You can upgrade the drill dozer on occasion for more health, a stronger drill tip and more, which encourages exploration for more cash to buy the upgrades, and revisiting of earlier levels with the upgrades to find hidden treasures. The levels are pretty easy going with some fun ideas, and the bosses can be reasonably challenging at the end of each, requiring some specific timing and movements on occasion.

Although I liked Drill Dozer, it’s not perfect. It’s pretty short, but to be honest I was not clamouring for more when I was done, as the game is rather slow paced. Jill moves at a walk, drilling through stuff takes a few seconds, and the mech has some landing impact after every jump which adds to it’s feeling of heft but makes the game feel rather sluggish. It’s a very well made game mind, and some of you may love it. I personally prefer my platformers a bit faster paced so whilst I enjoyed my time with the game, it’s not one I’m desperate to replay again soon.



Bit Generations: Boundish

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For GBA game 3, I decided to tackle on of the various Bit Generations titles I own. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the series, Bit Generations is a series of 7 minimalist art puzzle games for GBA, mostly by Skip who are also known for Chibi-Robo. The series wasn’t brought west on GBA, but a follow up series, Art Style, saw release on Wiiware and DSiWare worldwide and included several remakes of the GBA Bit Generations titles amongst the 12 games in the series.

Boundish is one of the first wave of Bit Generations games, and is one of the 3 games in the series to not be remade as an Art Style title. In this case, it’s probably because it’s honestly not that great. Boundish is Pong remixed at it’s core, and thus it’s lifespan and mechanics are rather limited.

The game features 5 play modes. First up is Pool Flower, a pong game where your paddles can move freely in your half of the screen as divers move them around. Grey bubbles appear across the screen in various sizes and move around, and hitting the ball through one changes it’s colour to match yours. Bubbles in your colour obstruct the opponent, bouncing the ball back if it hits it (but turning to the other players colour afterwards) and slowing the other players movement if they swim through. Hitting the ball through a bubble of your own colour speeds it up whilst inside. It’s simple but probably one of the better modes.

Power slide is pong around 2 conjoined circles where your players hold 2 paddles. They can hit the ball for more impact and add spin to it too to curve the trajectory, as the ball bounces around. Human League features 2 people extended on ropes as the paddles, and has you controlling both. They shout as the ball hits them, which is probably the best bit of Boundish. Wild Go Round is pong around a spinning vinyl record, where the rotation of the record manipulates the ball. The goal is to keep a rally going, so missing the ball after the other player hits it costs you a point. This one is really tough.

Finally is Box Juggling, which is essentially a modified version of the Game & Watch game Ball. Move your dude around and catch the boxes with your hands, or press the button to shove them higher into the air. As you go more boxes are added, and one miss will end the run. Probably the best game, but very, very basic.

Overall, Boundish is definitely one of the worst games in the Bit Generations / Art Style series, and is probably only worth picking up for collectors. It’s playable in 2 players, but I think you’d struggle to find people to play this with!



Bit Generations: Soundvoyager

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My 4th GBA game, Soundvoyager, is the final Bit Generations release, and is another of the 3 titles that didn’t get remade on Wii and DS. The premise of Soundvoyager is that it is a game you can play without looking at it, as the gameplay is all guided by audio, rather than visuals. The game makes use of stereo sound to try and guide you to find things or avoid obstacles, and so a good pair of headphones is a must.

Gameplay comes in several modes, with different objectives. Some I enjoyed more than others. The main mode you’ll encounter the most is called Sound Catcher, where you fly through endless space listening for instruments playing part of the track. You must guide yourself to fly into them as they pass to layer their section onto the background music. At that point they keep playing whilst you listen out for the next part, making it a bit harder. Some things are easy to find, liking high trumpets or similar, whilst bass and synths can be harder to track. The mixes you create all sound pretty good, although some are really weird, with barn animals mooing and baaing as part of the track.

Other modes include Sound Cannon, where you rotate a turret in the centre and shoot lasers at approaching threats based on where they are around you (this one is really tough), Sound Drive, where you move down a 5 lane road at speed avoiding hazards based on the sound of where they are, Sound Chase where you do the same whilst tracking a specific object to catch it, Sound Slalom, where you must position yourself between 2 flags which beep alternatively by positioning yourself so you get beeps in alternating ears, and the hilariously named Sound Cock, where you must chase invisible chickens around a farm based on the sound they make.

SoundVoyager gets a bit repetitive, and some modes and levels are way harder than others, but overall it works and is certainly like nothing else you will have ever played. It’s not one I’ll come back to often, but it was worth experiencing, and I’d happily recommend it.



Bit Generations: Digidrive

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More Bit Generations for GBA game 5, and this time it’s Digidrive, the only game in the GBA series not made by Skip, but rather by Q games. This one WAS remade as an Art Style title, on DS where it’s known as Art Style: Digidrive in the US and Art Style: Intersect in the UK. Digidrive is complicated and abstract, and difficult to explain, but I’ll give it a try. The important thing is it’s a lot of fun to play once you get to grips with it though.

The game has 2 views on screen – one of a crossroads, and one of a puck, with a piston approaching it. Your goal is to boost the puck away from the piston as long as possible by powering it with fuel, which is generated on the crossroads screen. On that screen, 3 types of ‘cars’ drive by, either black, white or red, and you can direct them down any road except the one they came from by pressing a direction on the dpad as they approach the middle, at which point they will remain in the lane. If you stack 5 of the same colour, they will create a fuel reserve for that lane, and stacking more cars on top will boost the amount of fuel. Fuel gradually depletes and if it empties it is lost, so you must keep it topped up as much as possible. Periodically, a flashing car with an alarm will come by – directing that into a lane with fuel will send the fuel to the puck, propelling it upwards away from the piston.

So far, only slightly complicated. But if you send a car to a lane which already has other cars in, then the fuel is lost and the cars all turn around back to the road to be redirected. However, if another lane has fuel, instead of the fuel being lost it is added to the other lane. If 2 or 3 other lanes have fuel, the lost fuel is added to all of them, essentially multiplying the amount by the number of fuel tanks being filled. The ideal then is to fill a massive fuel reserve and then deliberately break it whilst other lanes have small fuel tanks to hugely increase the amount. Managing all this at once is very complex though, as you can imagine.

The learning curve on Digidrive is huge, but the game has so much going on that it has a lot to master and it can be very compelling once you get your head around it. I think it’s one of the beter games in both the Bit Generations and Art Style line-ups and would recommend it. It’s fortunate that it’s one of the few entries with a physical release somewhere, now the Wii & DSi stores are gone, but it’s a shame as the DS version is superior, as dual screens make it a lot easier to see whats going on with the puck and the crossroads laid out on each.



Bit Generations: Dialhex

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Game 6 of GBA now, and the last Bit Generations title for the moment. Dialhex was remade on Wiiware as Art Style: Rotohex, and is probably by favourite game in the series.

Dialhex is a pretty standard colour matching puzzle game but the twist here is that all of the falling pieces are triangular, and your goal is to make hexagons of matching colours to make them disappear, which can do by twisting the pieces clockwise or counterclockwise in a hexagon. It takes a bit of getting used to as there are some tricks to moving around efficiently, but it’s a lot of fun.

The games main mode, Marathon mode, starts you off with 2 colours, green and orange matching 6 hexagons of both adds red to the mix, and matching 6 red hexagons will add a 4th colour, and so on until you successfully clear 6 hexagons of all 8 colours. This gets exponentially harder as the number of colours and the speed of tiles dropping into the field increases over time.

Fortunately, power ups exist in the form of flashing tiles – they will either pulse black or white, and matching a hexagon with one in has an extra effect – a white pulsing tile will cause all tiles of the same colour to change to the colour of an adjacent tile – useful when you need a specific colour to clear. The black pulsing tile causes a ‘leak’ in the bottom of the field below it, causing titles to pour out for a while and taking the pressure off – but also potentially losing the colour you need or rearranging your pieces as the tiles ‘flow’ like water towards the hole. This is the only real difference between the GBA and Wii versions other than resolution – in the Wii version you can rotate pulsing tiles to change the type of power up offered, but on GBA you get what you’re given.

The game starts of mellow and becomes hectic, and as each colour is cleared, the soundtrack builds and expands, starting very minimalist but building up. It’s one of my favourite elements of the game and it suits the minimalist aesthetic of the game well. One thing I like less though is some of the colour choices. Most are fine, the game uses 8 total (light green, orange, yellow, dark green, red, dark blue, purple and light blue) but the 2 shades of green look a little too similar and can be hard to distinguish at a glance, especially a problem as they are both some of the earlier shades used. I think swapping one for a pink or grey would have helped immensely. At least for me – for those of you out there who are colour blind, there’s no saving this one – it’s likely completely unplayable for you, sorry!

Rotohex on the Wii is one of my all time favourite puzzle games, and I’m happy to say that Dialhex on GBA is just as great. It receives a hearty recommendation from me, go and play it! Unless you’re colour blind, that is.



Densetsu no Stafy 2

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And onto GBA game 7, with Densetsu No Stafy 2. This is the second game in the Starfy series, and like the other games on GBA, it’s Japan exclusive. Unlike the first one, this has no translation patch either, so I was expecting to have to muddle through a lot – the first game featured a lot of backtracking and was surprisingly hard to progress in without knowing the lingo.

Fortunately, the formula for Starfy 2 has been quite refined, and the levels are now more linear. Where backtracking or finding specific items are required you’re often guided with visual cutscenes that you can parse without reading Japanese, or they’re easy to find your way back, so I beat most of this without help. I did need a guide for a random quiz segment once though, but it turns out you can just brute force each option anyway.

Starfy 1 was a fun game that controller well but was very short, with only 9 levels. The postgame involved visiting every level and finding all the chest, which involved replaying some stages 9 more times, which was frustrating. Starfy 2 instead packs more levels in – shorter, but more focused ones, with about 50 required to finish the game. Upon finishing, another 40 or so become available, as well as harder versions of the previous 50 to replay. It’s packed with content!

The game looks and sound lovely, although it’s mainly reusing stuff from the first which also did. It controls excellently – Starfy is fast and easy to control both on land and in the water, and in this game he learns some moves as he progresses – some return moves don’t show up right away, but some new ones show up too, such as a ground pound and a double jump, which make starfy feel even better to control.

My one complaint is that the game weirdly has a lot of land based levels. They’re a lot of fun still, but I feel the shift in focus away from aquatic levels takes away from some of Starfy’s uniqueness. He still needs to swim in most levels, but for shorter segments, rather than entire levels being underwater.

That said, I had a great time with Starfy 2. It doesn’t change too much from the first, but it does improve on it and it adds a whole bunch of content in comparison. I’m glad I played it.



Pokemon Pinball: Ruby & Sapphire

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GBA game 8 was Pokemon Pinball: Ruby & Sapphire. The original Pokemon Pinball on GBC is a great game which seems to be rather fondly remembered. The goal is to catch all 150 pokemon across the Red & Blue tables whilst also obviously aiming for a high score. Pokemon Pinball Ruby & Sapphire on the other hand appears to be most forgotten, which is a shame – because it’s the better game.

Pinball Ruby & Sapphire also features 2 tables (the Ruby & Sapphire tables obviously) and a similar gameplay structure. Going around the right loop 2-3 times opens up the ‘catch’ trigger in Wailmer or Sharpedo’s mouth, at which point you need to catch a pokemon by hitting the bumpers enough times to uncover it and battering it with your pokeball. Going around the left loop 3 times unlocks the ‘evo’ trigger, activated by entering the pokemart, which requires you to grab 3 experience icons that spawn around the board before sinking into the bonus hole to evolve it. Latias & Latios work as ball savers activated at certain times, and Pikachu can save your ball from the side well if you charge up a guage. You can get bonuses by lighting the word ‘hole’ and entering the bonus well which give extra points, pichu + pikachu mode which protects both side wells and keeps pikachu fully charge, timed ball savers and more. It’s a lot of fun.

Pokemon are available at different locations which can be swapped to via various board mechanics, and some are rarer than others. Eggs can be hatched too which is the only way to get many pokemon, by taking a specific loop of the table and hitting the hatched pokemon with your ball. Getting 3 captures unlocks a bonus level, getting 15 gives an extra ball. Gathering coins by hitting a specific loop allows you to spend them in the pokemart for more bonuses. There’s a lot to do.

And there’s secrets too. I have so far caught 200/201 pokemon available in the game, and some were tough to catch. Regice, Regirock, Registeel and Beldum require moving locations 6 times in one game to arrive at the secret ruins area. Jirachi only appears as a bonus event in the ruins too. Latias and Latios are rare spawns on each table after you have 100 pokemon in the pokedex, and Groudon and Kyogre require you to clear their bonus rounds twice to capture – meaning you need to capture 12 pokemon on each table minimum in a game to do this. I chose Rayquaza as my criteria for beating the game, probably the hardest to capture skill wise, as he requires beating his bonus game twice – which only appears after successfully clearing 4 other bonus rounds. This means 15 captures are needed for the first visit, and 30 for the second, as well as his bonus round being the hardest one.

It’s not perfect. I’m aiming for completion but the last few Pokemon are a pain to capture and I spent hours trying to get the rare anorith spawn to appear. My last remaining Pokemon is Pichu, who only appears from eggs 2% of the time after catching 5 pokemon in a run – I’ve not even seen one yet, never mind captured it.

But the fact I went for catching ‘em all is a testament to the games quality. I highly recommend it, and encourage anyone to give it a go. It’s really great.



Manx TT Superbike

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After beating a whole bunch of GBA titles, I refocused on Saturn. I’d played a few RPGs so I decided to take on some arcade stuff for game 4 next with Manx TT Superbike.

Manx TT Superbike is an odd game. I don’t think it’s great, but yet I find myself quite enjoying it. The game is a motorbike racing game based on the Isle of Man TT circuit. The game features just 2 tracks – a shorter track that goes along the cost, and a full longer track based on the actual circuit which goes through the hills and the town. The first track is quite wide and features few tight bends, whilst the second is narrower with a few sharp twists including a nasty Z bend before the finish line and a sharp corner after the start of the lap that took me a while to get the hang of.

The game features 2 modes – the first is the Arcade mode, which replicates the arcade game. There’s no bike selection, just a choice between 2 tracks and off you go. The second is Saturn mode, which features 4 tracks – the 2 originals, and then the 2 originals again, but in reverse. You can choose between a selection bikes with different states in this mode too. Unfortunately, this mode didn’t get much love from me because to progress requires you to get first in every track, and first place was incredibly hard for me to achieve on the supposed ‘easy’ track. The track is less difficult sure, but the margins for saving time are tight and the opportunities to reduce time shave milliseconds rather than seconds.

I played on Arcade instead, and spent a long time getting 1st place on the easy track. It only took 4 attempts after that to come first on the hard course though, which I think demonstrates the balance. Even super familiar with the easy track I struggled for first, but I barely knew track 2 and won.

Other than the difficulty and lack of content, the main issue with Manx TT is the controls. The game supports digital or analogue controls (the latter is preferred) but has an exponential turning system- so a small movement will cause your rider to barely move, but a medium movement will launch into a turn and a heavy movement will cause your rider to careen wildly to the side. It takes a long time to adjust and you’ll find you end up having to do a weird tap-tap-tap movement to get around longer corners without oversteering.

Manx TT superbike honestly isn’t a great game. I don’t like the controls, it’s too hard, theres not enough content. But I still enjoy taking it out for a spin now and again which is why I kept it. Now it’s not on my backlog, there’s no guilt left in this guilty pleasure game for me. It’s mediocre, but in a good way, even though that makes no sense!



Klonoa: Empire of Dreams

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Back to GBA for game number 9 now. Klonoa: Empire of Dreams is the second fully 2D entry in the Klonoa franchise, after the Japan-only Wonderswan title. It is a platformer with some unique mechanics which it uses to create some puzzle heavy platforming stages.

Klonoa and his friend Huepow wake up in a strange new world called the Empire of Dreams, and find that dreaming is banned. The emperor and the king say they have banned dreaming because nightmares have taken root. He accuses Klonoa of being a nightmare and says to prove he is not he must travel to the different lands of the empire and defeat the nightmares there.

This takes the form of 5 worlds of 8 stages each. 5 stages are standard platforming stages with puzzle elements. Klonoa can grab enemies and inflate them, at which point they can be thrown as a projectile or thrown downwards in mid air to double jump. Stage introduce lots of elements making use of enemies as platforms, boxes that can reused and can block air vents, explosive enemies that can thrown multiple times but explode after a time limit and more. Some of the puzzles in later stages can be quite devious too.

1 stage per world is an auto-scrolling stage which contains extra collectables but requires some very quick and precise movements to get everything. These can be frustrating but the level of finesse they require also makes them quite satisfying, and they have enough checkpoints and lives are plentiful enough that you can retry the section if you miss something.

1 other stage per world is a hoverboard stage, where Klonoa rides forward on his speedy hover board. These also contain more collectables then normal and require fast reactions and timing to grab enemies and double jump or hover a just the right times to get them all. These don’t have checkpoints so getting everything requires perfection, and were the only levels I didn’t 1005 because of it.

Finally, there are boss fights which are fun enough but generally rather easy and underwhelming. The levels are definitely the focus.

Klonoa Empire of Dreams is pretty short – it took me about 2 and a half hours to beat the game, getting almost everything. But I really enjoyed the time I spent with it, and I’m keen to play the sequel some time. Definitely worth playing!


Shining Wisdom

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Saturn game 5 now, and I decided to take on another Shining game with Shining Wisdom. This one is unique in the franchise as it’s a top down action adventure game in the vein of Zelda or Crusader of Centy. You play as Mars, a new member of the royal knights, who must save the princess. Initially, she is suffering from a sleeping curse, but early in the game she is kidnapped and turned into a swan and replaced by an imposter. As the story progresses you save the princess but realise the 4 evil djinn are being unleashed who will release the evil giant who will help the baddies conquer the world for the forces of evil, or something.

Crusader of Centy is a fairly standard action-adventure game. You explore an overworld map and venture into dungeons where you can discover new weapons and items to equip and progress. Sometimes these can be used in earlier areas to uncover secrets. The game is rather combat focus – puzzles exist but unlike many Zelda games where most rooms have puzzles of some kind or are otherwise self contained, the dungeons in Shining Wisdom are open, hard to navigate and full of respawning enemies who are the main focus of gameplay, with the odd puzzle thrown here and there.

It has some interesting mechanics, with the most noticeable (and annoying) one being the odd acceleration mechanic. You must mash B repeatedly to build up speed and then hold it to maintain it once built up. Getting hit drops it back down. Later on, you get magic orbs to equip, and fully charging your speed with an orb and weapon equipped will add an elemental effect to the weapon, which is required for many puzzles. For example, the magic glove item throws a boxing glove which can hit switches, but using it with a charge ice orb creates a reflective barrier instead to protect from lasers. The stone boots can break crumbled floor tiles, but using it with the ice orb lets you freeze water to walk on it. Sometimes the effects of these aren’t very obvious or intuitive, so trial and error is necessary.

The game has a ton of items to get though, and it suffers very much from it’s controls. Each of the main face buttons, A, B & C, can only be assigned a particular type of item. A is for consumable items like healing herbs and the angel wing which warps you to the dungeon entrance. B is used for magic orbs which are charged by running. C is used for all action items which includes literally every item used for combat, navigation and puzzles, including your sword, and you have to pause and swap them out constantly. The Saturn has 6 face buttons and 2 shoulder buttons, but they all go unused. Really, they should have mapped running to R and had it ramp up by holding it and allowed you to freely assign items to the 6 face buttons, but the way it is now is awful. I’ve heard this game started as a Mega Drive title, so maybe it’s a hold over.

Visually, the game isn’t great, with muddy pre-rendered visuals and an art style I don’t like very much. Thankfully, the soundtrack picks up the slack a bit with some cheesy but fun jams.

Shining Wisdom is a mixed bag, and unfortunately, it’s not really a great game. I’m happy to have played it as I’m working through the Shining series, but this one is totally skippable I think. There’s better action adventures out there – even if this had been a Mega Drive game, it wouldn’t be the best on the system.


Layer Section

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Game 6 on my Saturn hitlist was Layer Section. I actually started this before Shining Wisdom, but it’s a shmup with limited continues so it took me longer to beat! Layer Section is a vertical shooter arcade port for Saturn which goes by many names. My Japanese Saturn copy is called Layer Section, but it’s known as Galactic Attack in the west and Ray Force in the arcade, except in Europe where it was Gunlock. Naming fun aside, this is a Taito game so it has some good arcade talent behind it.

Galactic Attack takes place over 7 levels, with you starting in space on approach to a planet and diving deeper in each level – first into orbit, then the atmosphere, then ground level, then down into the underground and deeper and deeper into an enemy base at the core. Each level starts where the previous one finished off which is a nice touch.

Mechanically, the game is very simple. You have a gun and a laser. The gun shooters airborne enemies ahead of you, and the laser can be used to target multiple enemies in the background below you and unleashed as a homing attack at them. Tactical use of the laser is essential, as there’s nothing else – no shields, no emergency bombs – just the pew pew gun and the pew pew lasers, although you can power up the gun and increase the number of lasers from 5 to 8 via power ups. Fortunately, many enemies like to approach from the background, or sit below you on terra firma and can be dispatched before becoming a major threat using the laser.

The game has a pretty nice difficulty progression, with stage 1 and 2 being very accessible, 3 and 4 being a bit challenging, 5 kicking things right up and 6 kicking you right in the nuts. 7 is fortunately a bit easier than 6 which was appreciated. The game gives you 3 lives and 4 extra credits to finish the game, but unfortunately I have to admit defeat – it was too tough for me. I could just about make it to stage 6 with 4 credits, but I would be demolished quickly. Eventually I gave in and used the cheat code which increases extra credits from 4 to 8, and I’m glad I did as even then I struggled through the final 2 stages. On my winning run I still had 6 credits left at the beginning of stage 5, 5 and the beginning of stage 6, and 3 at the beginning of stage 7 – I finished on my last credit with 3 lives remaining. It’s made rougher by the fact the game uses a rank system where the better you do and the longer you go without dying, the harder levels get in response. On my best run I encountered attacks I’d never seen before in earlier levels due to this!

Despite it being a bit hard for me (I am not a 1CC kinda guy at this genre unfortunately), I still had a great time with Layer Section. The patterns are fun and mostly fair (the bit at the end of stage 6 before the boss is the exception…) and the pacing and difficulty are just right. The levels are just the right length and each attempt doesn’t take too long so it doesn’t feel like a slog to have just one more go. I’d absolutely recommend this game to anyone, even if you’re no shooter pro, as it’s just a fun time regardless.
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Ack
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Re: Games Beaten 2021

Post by Ack »

1. Frog Detective 2: The Case of the Invisible Wizard (PC)(Adventure)
2. Revulsion (PC)(FPS)
3. Nonogram - Master's Legacy (PC)(Puzzle)
4. Sekiro (PC)(Action-Adventure)
5. Grim Dawn (PC)(Action RPG)
6. Grim Dawn: Ashes of Malmouth (PC)(Action RPG)
7. Grim Dawn: Forgotten Gods (PC)(Action RPG)

8. Viscera Cleanup Detail: Santa's Rampage (PC)(FPS)
9. Viscera Cleanup Detail: Shadow Warrior (PC)(FPS)
10. Shrine (PC)(FPS)
11. Record of Lodoss War - Deedlit in Wonder Labyrinth (PC)(Adventure)
12. Forgotten Realms: Demon Stone (PC)(Action)
13. Red Alliance (PC)(FPS)
14. The Forest (PC)(Horror)
15. Pixel Puzzles: Japan (PC)(Puzzle)
16. 12 is Better Than 6 (PC)(Top Down Shooter)
17. Torchlight II (PC)(RPG)

18. An Elder Scrolls Legend: Battlespire (PC)(RPG)
19. Port of Call (PC)(Walking Sim)

20. NeonCode (PC)(Walking Sim)
21. Carrion (PC)(Adventure)
22. Dr. Langeskov, The Tiger, and The Terribly Cursed Emerald: A Whirlwind Heist (PC)(Walking Sim)
23. Helltaker (PC)(Puzzle)
24. Warhammer 40,000: Inquisitor - Martyr (PC)(RPG)

25. Castlevania: Bloodlines (Switch)(Platformer)
26. Treachery in Beatdown City (Switch)(RPG)
27. Zeno Clash (PC)(Action)
28. Borderlands: Enhanced Edition (PC)(FPS/RPG)
29. Ion Fury (PC)(FPS)
30. Wolfenstein: The Old Blood (PC)(FPS)
31. Shrine II (PC)(FPS)
32. Lycanthorn I (PC)(Action Platformer)

33. Lycanthorn II (PC)(Action Platformer)
34. DLC Quest (PC)(Adventure)
35. Live Freemium or Die (PC)(Adventure)

36. Satellite Reign (PC)(Real-Time Tactics)
37. Heat Signature (PC)(Action)
38. HellSign (PC)(Action)
39. The Walking Dead: Season Two (PC)(Point-and-Click Adventure)
40. Umurangi Generation (PC)(Action)
41. Shadow of Loot Box (PC)(FPS)
42. Hellbreaker (PC)(FPS)


Three more games beaten, three more skulls to add to the pile.


Umurangi Generation

Umurangi apparently means "red sky" in the Maori language. It's the near future, you're a courier in New Zealand who is way into photography, and the world is coming to an end from jellyfish-like aliens. You are the final generation that will witness the end of everything. Get your camera ready, because you have things to photograph.

Umurangi Generation is a photography game first and foremost. In each level, you have specific targets to photograph, such as red lights on railway tracks, a certain number of candles in the frame, or wall graffiti. You go for these targets so you can deliver a package, but you also have bonuses like photographs of all your friends, finding hidden film canisters, and so forth. Completing the challenges nets you new kinds of lenses, such as a fish-eye lens, telescopic lens, or ultra wide-angle, which in turn lets you take different types of shots. These photographs are judged for a monetary value based on a variety of factors, though the game never flat out tells you a picture is bad, because art is subjective. Also, you can replay levels over and over again, so if you see something you just really want to photograph, you can always come back for fun later with better gear to get your shot.

The other cool feature of Umurangi Generation is that it excels at conveying story without actually telling you anything. What makes more sense, saying the UN lost a fight against the alien invader or showing a train full of wounded survivors smoke cigarettes while staring dead-eyed at cheap hamburgers with American flags on toothpicks sticking out of them? Graffiti, posters, photographs of dead loved ones, body bags, destroyed military equipment, punks holding a dance off to rebel while UN soldiers look on from street corners...the story here is told to you without actually telling. It's visual, it's exploratory, and it's beautifully handled.

If you enjoy games where the object is to study the world, and you want something from the perspective of a modern indigenous person dealing with the impacts of both human and now alien colonization, Umurangi Generation nails it. It's hard to believe it's the vision of one person and is their first real game.


Shadow of Loot Box

DLC Quest came out nearly a decade ago, and at the time, it was an excellent means of criticizing what were then the common trends in AAA game design. Leave it to the indie scene to tackle subjects that we all seem to lambast before we go and spend our money on whatever title is continuing the trends we claim to despise. But that was the early 2010s looking back at the 2000s. We're now in the early 2020s, and gaming has continued to evolve.

So how's about a first person shooter where randomized loot boxes are everything, and you can spend your in-game currency earned via watching ads or mining for cryptocurrency to get more loot boxes or buy easy shortcuts through game levels? That's what Shadow of Loot Box is all about; every level focuses on criticizing some aspect of modern games, be it survival simulations run amok, procedurally generated level designs, levels removed so they can be turned into DLC, obnoxious leveling systems to make the character feel "unique," open world exploration, Early Access criticism, DRM issues impacting gameplay, and so on. And every level will blatantly tell you what it is criticizing at the start from quotes pulled from a faux-developer of the game. I particularly enjoy the level where there are no textures, just blocks to represent unfinished character models because the level is still in an alpha state, but hey, you paid for it!

Of course, we know the criticisms, and at a couple of hours long for a first playthrough, the game does feel a little overly long with some of its jokes. Combat is generic, with your standard set of weapons to shoot enemies that mindlessly charge you and then rapidly explode or eat your face off. Ammo pickups and experience for leveling are also only found in loot boxes, which are randomized, so you can get screwed with the RNG. And the game features checkpoint saves as an additional gripe that we've had for 20 years.

This game exists more as a curiosity than a legit game, but it's also a nice way to see what we're complaining about. I hold it up there with indie criticism titles like Cod of Duty, which is literally about shooting fish in a barrel.


Hellbreaker

There are some games that offer so much promise and yet never see it, and Hellbreaker is sadly one of them. It's a first person shooter, and a solid one at that, focusing around the core idea of battling hordes of monsters at a time. Of the game's 9 levels, each features roughly 250-300 enemies, so expect to grab your minigun and go nuts. Guns are based on the traditional DOOM weapons, so pistol, shotgun, minigun, rocket launcher, etc., and enemy designs aren't exactly more advanced than what you'll see in Quake 2. Hell, the game doesn't even have a story, but you're some kind of dude in a suit fighting demon-critters in fancy tech-industrial facilities full of teleporters and the like. It's like a miss-mash of the best FPS games of the 1990s.

And it's built around speed. Hellbreaker doesn't just want you getting through the levels, it wants you getting through them fast. You achieve medals at the end of each run based on how quickly you got through, how many enemies you killed, and how little damage you took. There are no difficulty options, so the game is always throwing everything it has at you, so you better be prepared. And if you want an extra challenge, you can turn on a timed mode where if you don't meet the par time, it's game over no matter how well you were doing. This offers some replayability for the speedrunners who like to test their skills against impressively massive groups of enemies.

The game was also intended to enable users to build their own stuff, so it comes with a level editor built in. You want to make your own Hellbreaker level? Go nuts! Unfortunately, this is where the promise ended, because despite costing about $2, only one person ever actually made any additional levels, and they stopped after about 3. And that's where the game trips and falls; it needed a fan base to really get going, and it never got one. Which is sad, because while its cribbing from the 1990s, it's cribbing from the best of the 1990s, and it makes combat fast-paced and just as fun as it is frantic.

This is a game that knows you need something always, so you get an infinite ammo peashooter pistol. But it's also a game that gives you a minigun where wind-up speed needs to be accounted for as well as angle based on distance. If you're too close, the gun is shooting way lower than your targeting reticle because you're freaking holding a minigun, it ain't exactly at your shoulder. Your grenade launcher? It's packed with cluster bombs. Your rocket launcher? The blast radius will mess you up. Your shotguns? Plan for reload times and know when to swap! Every gun sounds and feels good, every gun requires just enough thought which you must mold into instinct, and every enemy can be taken out with any one of them so long as you know what you're doing.

Hellbreaker had promise with the level editor, and that promise never materialized, but for what we do get at its price point, you're still gonna have a lot of fun blasting the crap out of anything and everything that moves. If you like old school FPS on Steam, drop a couple of bucks for this one. It's worth it for no frills mass combat.
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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
77. Thief (2014) - PC
78. Metroid Dread - Switch
79. Vomitoreum - PC
80. Severed Steel - PC
81. Syndicate - PC
82. Alan Wake - PC
83. Limitless Hunger - PC
84. Syndicate Wars - PC
85. They Always Run - PC
86. Control - PC
87. Control: The Foundation - PC
88. Control: AWE - PC
89. FIST: Forged in Shadow Torch - PS5
90. Beyond Good and Evil - PC
91. Call of Duty: Vanguard - PC
92. Dungeon Keeper 2 - PC
93. Shin Megami Tensei V - Switch
94. Pokemon Stadium 2 - N64
95. Pokemon Brilliant Diamond - Switch
96. Battlespire - PC
97. Mercenary Kings - PS4

Mercenary Kings is an indie platformer with the aesthetics of Metal Slug but the more methodical playstyle of a Mega Man. It features an extensive weapon customization system and a variety of mission types, though it gets brought down a bit by the level reuse. And it's a bit on the long side, all things considered.

The plot is that there's an evil dictator on an island who has some sort of magic serum, so you get sent in to kill him. Very 80s action movie in terms of it's influences, and it isn't afraid to get hammy, which suits the art style. As mentioned, the art clearly is inspired by Metal Slug, and the game abounds with references to all things. The two main characters are budget versions of two Metal Slug characters and many of the guns are swiped from other properties (including the Nerf Long Shot rifle). The animations are quite well done, and overall the game is a visual treat for fans of 2D art.

On the gameplay side, you start off in camp, where you can purchase items, customize your guns, etc. You then pick a mission and need to accomplish a certain number of missions to unlock the rank up mission that closes out the chapter. Many missions, once beaten, unlock more, but you are not required to beat all of the missions in a given rank. Instead, there are a certain number of story missions (though they aren't marked) which cover major plot beats and then when you've gained enough mission points and have done all the story missions then you can do the last mission. You gain additional mission points for accomplishing bonus objectives, so that can help reduce the number of missions you need. While the story missions aren't marked, listening to the dialog between missions will give you clues as to the important objectives for the chapter.

Once you're in mission you are dropped somewhere in a pretty large map. You can pull up a map screen and see where your objective points are. So if you need to wipe out an area it will draw a box around the specific section of the level to clear out. Similarly, if you have key targets those get marked. Bosses are the one exception; you will only see potential spawn points. Once you get into a boss fight an arena pops up and you have your brawl, though if you take too long the boss will bug out and teleport to another spawn point. Fortunately, once a boss has been encountered once the map will follow where it teleports to. One thing you'll notice is the maps get reused a lot. You'll spawn in different points and need to approach different areas, but at the end of the day you'll see the same terrain a lot. In the later game missions you'll notice an odd mix of enemies, with some of the regular ones being replaced with higher tier palette swaps.

The game features an extensive gun customization system. Your guns fall into a handful of categories that roughly describe their performance. Pistols, shotguns, SMGs, machine guns, and sniper rifles are your base categories, giving you a variety of general handling types. You then can slap on barrels, magazines, scopes, stocks, and custom ammo to make them shine. The ammo is worth mentioning; in addition to things like elemental effects, you also get special types of ammo that change your firing pattern. A gun needs to be compatible with that ammo, though. A sniper rifle is not going to be compatible with the shotgun shells that create a spread effect, after all. And this is where the customization comes into play, as if you don't want these special ammo types you have more room to swap out parts (whereas if you do want the special ammo you tend to need to create full weapon sets to get all the necessary compatibility points).

As mentioned, the game is a bit more methodical like a Mega Man. You can fire in four directions (fourth while jumping) and crouch, and you have limited ammo per magazine. When you run out or manually trigger a reload you have a Gears style active reload system, with nailing it giving you a damage bonus to the bullets that were replaced and missing it causes it to take longer. This plus the gun customization lets you find a playstyle that suits you best. In my case, I went with snipers and armor piercing ammo (goes through terrain), as I preferred high damage to spray and pray. In order to purchase all the weapon upgrades you'll need materials dropped by enemies and gained as end of mission bonuses. There are a couple of personal upgrades that help out with this (one makes enemies always drop gear, one increases the rare drop chance), and you'll want to rush both of those ASAP.

Overall it's a pretty fun platformer that has some tricky parts with nasty enemy placements and reuses levels a bit too much, but is quite fun throughout. The boss fights can get intense, but they all involve learnable patterns and you'll find yourself going damageless as you go on (as many bosses get reused for bonus objectives). If you're a fan of ranged-based platformers I recommend this one.
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 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
77. Thief (2014) - PC
78. Metroid Dread - Switch
79. Vomitoreum - PC
80. Severed Steel - PC
81. Syndicate - PC
82. Alan Wake - PC
83. Limitless Hunger - PC
84. Syndicate Wars - PC
85. They Always Run - PC
86. Control - PC
87. Control: The Foundation - PC
88. Control: AWE - PC
89. FIST: Forged in Shadow Torch - PS5
90. Beyond Good and Evil - PC
91. Call of Duty: Vanguard - PC
92. Dungeon Keeper 2 - PC
93. Shin Megami Tensei V - Switch
94. Pokemon Stadium 2 - N64
95. Pokemon Brilliant Diamond - Switch
96. Battlespire - PC
97. Mercenary Kings - PS4
98. Resogun - PS4

Resogun is a modern take on Defender that was a PS4 launch title. I'd played about halfway through, then abandoned it for other games and finally decided to go back as part of cleaning out the few remaining PS4 titles before the end of the year (though I won't fully, as I still need to do Ni no Kuni on the PS3 before doing the PS4 sequel). It's by the same team as Super Stardust, and it shows a lot of the same patterns.

Like Defender, your ship moves up down, left right, fires left or right, and the arena wraps around. In this case you can see the cylinder, which provides more visibility. Your goal is to shoot down enough enemies to spawn the boss, then kill the boss. There are also humans in boxes who need saving, and this is a mechanic that is not explained at all in game. In fact, the game in general does a poor job of telling you its mechanics. So the way humans work is that every so often you'll get a notification of a certain type of enemy spawning. Then you'll see some glowing green enemies coming at you. If you shoot down all the glowing green enemies then a human will be freed. You can then fly over them and take them to one of the two orbiting rescue ships. Doing so gives you a bonus, like points, bombs, or extra lives. If you leave a human out for too long then an abductor will spawn. You'll get a notification when it happens and then you have a limited amount of time to shoot it down and save the human. If you don't shoot down all the glowing green ships before they go off screen then the human dies in its box. A thing to be aware of is the glowing ships spawn relative to you, so when you hear the notification you need to hold position. If you go blasting off then you'll probably lose sight of them and lose the human. Fortunately, humans are optional.

In terms of your tools of destruction, you've got one of three ships that each have a different weapon and different parameters. The weapon, as mentioned, fires to the left or right, so you need to use a lot of vertical movement to hit things. You have a limited supply of bombs that asplode everything. You have a boost, which recharges over time, hurts enemies when you run through them, and running through them extends the boost. You're invincible while boosting, so it's a good way to get out of a jam and coming out generates a minor explosion to clear out anything immediately around you. You also have an overdrive meter which fills up as you collect the green particles enemies leave when they die, and when fully charged you can activate overdrive. This slows time and gives you a hyper death laser that also cancels bullets. Use this to blow the hell out of everything. Both your laser and the overdrive can be upgraded two times. The three ships vary in their primary weapon coverage and in their agility vs. overdrive. High agility ships move fast and can boost long, but their overdrive takes a long time to fill and doesn't last long. On the flipside the high overdrive ship fills fast and lasts a long time, but the boost is short and takes longer to recharge, and they don't move as quickly. You'll need to find the ship that fits you best.

The game is pretty short, only five stages. You can do them in either single stage mode (shooting for high score) or string them together in arcade mode. And arcade mode is brutal to try and get through because the game is really good at catching you off guard and stealing lives. With enough practice you can pull it off, but you better enjoy Defender. And this game adds in a lot of learnings from shmup development since the 80s. It's not quite to the level of bullet hell, but it definitely involves a lot of popcorn enemies, segments of dodging bullet patterns, and taking advantage of the small displayed circle that is your hitbox (especially on the last boss). If you liked Super Stardust you might like this one, though personally I felt Super Stardust was a bit more fair in how everything spawned.
Blizzard Entertainment Software Developer - All comments and views are my own and not representative of the company.
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MrPopo
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Location: Orange County, CA

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
77. Thief (2014) - PC
78. Metroid Dread - Switch
79. Vomitoreum - PC
80. Severed Steel - PC
81. Syndicate - PC
82. Alan Wake - PC
83. Limitless Hunger - PC
84. Syndicate Wars - PC
85. They Always Run - PC
86. Control - PC
87. Control: The Foundation - PC
88. Control: AWE - PC
89. FIST: Forged in Shadow Torch - PS5
90. Beyond Good and Evil - PC
91. Call of Duty: Vanguard - PC
92. Dungeon Keeper 2 - PC
93. Shin Megami Tensei V - Switch
94. Pokemon Stadium 2 - N64
95. Pokemon Brilliant Diamond - Switch
96. Battlespire - PC
97. Mercenary Kings - PS4
98. Resogun - PS4
99. Hellbreaker - PC

Ack mentioned he'd beaten an FPS a few days ago and I saw it was on sale for less than two bucks; he confirmed it was worth the price. So I snagged Hellbreaker and spent a couple hours getting through all eight of its levels. It's a very minimal game that focuses on its core and doesn't try to get fancy outside of that. Unfortunately, the core has several small nits that bring it down.

The game has no story whatsever, and no proper campaign. Instead, there is an initial level that you must beat before you can play the rest. You play them in any order, and the menu sets it up as a series of individual levels for you to try to beat as fast and efficiently as possible. There's no recommended order; the list is sorted alphabetically. And when you beat a level it doesn't even dump you to the level select; instead you get a prompt to retry and must hit escape to load the main menu. It very much comes off as the bare minimum to make things work.

Each level is something like a Quake level with Serious Sam levels of enemy density. You have a handful of weapons and there are a handful of enemies. On the weapon side, you've got a decently powerful infinite ammo pistol, two kinds of shotguns, a minigun, a grenade launcher, a rocket launcher, and a plasma gun. On the enemy side, you've got walking melee guys, melee dogs, running melee guys, huge walking melee guys, imps, floating imps, and rocket/grenade combo guys. The audio for your weapons is a bit subdued, so you don't necessarily feel the power; this is especially evident on the minigun. The grenades are not visible enough and have a super bouncy trajectory, which will get your ass killed by your own and the enemy grenades a bunch. The rocket launcher explosion also doesn't feel powerful, though it does good damage.

The thing that sticks out is that the game has several small rookie mistakes that really pull it down. The first is that enemies take almost no hitstun; this reduces the effectiveness of the minigun and causes you to take a lot of return fire you aren't necessarily expecting. This is especially egregious on the running melee guy, as unlike the dogs and the big guy he doesn't do damage in discrete swings. Instead, he does damage per frame while touching you. And the maps like to put him on the other side of a door in a narrow hallway. He was my second biggest source of deaths after explosions. The game also has really muted feedback overall. I mentioned the gun sounds, but also enemy noises and death screams. It all combines to just remind you that this is an amateur effort.

Hellbreaker certainly isn't a bad game, but it does feel like the initial prototype of something that needs a polish pass to really reach a proper shine. I don't regret the couple of bucks I spent on it, but at full price I would have been disappointed.
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 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)
27. The Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild (NS)
28. Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back (PS1)
29. The Bard's Tale (XBOX)
30. Super Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (SNES)

31. Star Ocean: Till The End Of Time (PS2)

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I beat Star Ocean: Till The End Of Time on the Sony Playstation 2 this evening!

Tri-Ace is one of my favorite video game developers as I have enjoyed every single one of their games. So, a few years ago, on my birthday, I found a near mint copy of Star Ocean for the PS2 and I decided that I had to have it. I had completely forgotten about the SNES game that I wanted to play, so I quickly purchased that as well and played it earlier this year. My hopes were high with the game being from Tri-Ace and from the Star Ocean series, which I really enjoyed when I finally decided to sit down and play through the game.

At the very beginning of the game, I was really enjoying myself. The graphics are absolutely stunning and look great even to this day with the cutscenes and the character models. Also, I was shocked to hear the voice actors that I had been so familiar with at other games. I could pick out almost the entire voice cast from Xenosaga. And besides some guitar prog rock, I really enjoyed the soundtrack. I was enjoying the battle system and it was moving along nicely. And then after spending almost the entire game at this one planet, you move off of it to another world and the game takes a sharp nose dive.

Most of the game is in this European/Suikoden planet and then you are carted off to this world within a world. A huge spoiler happens that is one of the worst ideas I have ever heard and makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. The characters that I were enjoying just keep on babbling and interjecting each other to make the dialogue even longer. The combat and battle system that was brisk and fun turned into a chore for every single fight that I began to run from every single fight. Bosses just become hit points sponges that even grow more ludicrous. The only way to travel is by foot and you retread old dungeons and areas over and over again. And the game just feels like it goes on forever!

Overall, I really began to dislike my time with Star Ocean: Till The End Of Time. Each day, I felt like I was disliking the game more and more. It's been a long time since I have been this disappointed in a game. I love tri-ace, Star Ocean, Valkyrie Profile and Radiata Stories. After so many great games, it was such a disappointment to play one where my enjoyment of the game decreased rather than increased. If you are a diehard RPG, tri-Ace or Star Ocean fan, I would give this one a shot. If you aren't, then this is an easy pass!
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