Games Beaten 2023

Anything that is gaming related that doesn't fit well anywhere else
User avatar
MrPopo
Moderator
Posts: 23954
Joined: Tue Aug 26, 2008 1:01 pm
Location: Orange County, CA

Re: What was the last movie you've seen?

Post by MrPopo »

Previous Years: 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022

1. Void Destroyer - PC
2. Ender Lilies: Quietus of the Knights - Switch
3. Raging Blasters - Switch
4. Citizen Sleeper - Switch
5. GetsuFumaDen: Undying Moon
6. Hands of Necromancy - PC
7. Project Downfall - PC
8. Chasm: The Rift - PC
9. Cultic - PC
10. Kirby Super Star - SNES
11. Kirby's Dream Land 2 - GB
12. Kirby's Dream Land 3 - SNES
13. Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards - N64
14. Fire Emblem Engage - Switch
15. Mechwarrior 5: Rise of Rasalhague - PC
16. Kirby's Epic Yarn - Wii
17. Kirby's Return to Dreamland - Wii
18. Mega Man 7 - SNES
19. Mega Man 8 - PS1
20. Conquest: Frontier Wars - PC
21. Theatrhythm Final Bar Line - Switch
22. Octopath Traveler II - Switch
23. Last Call BBS - PC
24. The Legend of Heroes: Trails to Azure - Switch
25. Dread Templar - PC
26. The Great War: Western Front - PC
27. GrimGrimoire OnceMore - PS5
28. Haegemonia: Legions of Iron - PC
29. Everspace 2 - PC

Everspace 2 is the follow up to the space game that came out a while back. Whereas the original was a roguelike game, Everspace 2 takes more cues from Freelancer, giving you an ever opening galaxy to engage in trading, shooting, and more shooting in. The store is also far more straightforward, but it scratches that space game itch.

The game follows the same protagonist from the original; after the events of the first game Adam is trying to keep a low profile and make a life in the DMZ. The game begins with him escorting some mining ships before they get ambushed and he gets captured by bandits. After breaking out he gets caught up in a simple job that will be the score everyone needs to get out of the DMZ, but as you progress things you discover this job is a lot more complicated than you originally thought.

The game utilizes the mouselook-based maneuvering of the original that does take a little while to get used to, due to it being more of a virtual joystick. The sensitive is also turned up way too high by default, so you'll want to play with things. Once you get going the combat is pretty snappy, especially once you find the ship class and weapon classes that mesh best with your play style. You've got nine types of ships, so there's something for everyone. And most importantly, the ships are all valued approximately equally, rather than the fast, light ships being cheaper. It's nice to see the game acknowledge that the feel of the ship is the most important thing.

The galaxy is strewn with points of interest. Some of them are plot related, while others will just be for exploration and doing bonus objectives. The game has a lot of puzzle components where you need to find things like batteries to open doors, or move power cores before they expire. While you can do trading, as a system it is very underbaked and mostly serves as a source of cash loot from enemy drops. You also can do some mining, which is blowing up ore veins on the surface of asteroids. This is critical for the crafting system that is used to improve and build weapons, as well as level up passives from the people you encounter in your journey.

The game has a solid amount of content, and even more if you get into completionism. If you're a fan of space games this is definitely one to pick up.
Blizzard Entertainment Software Developer - All comments and views are my own and not representative of the company.
User avatar
Syndicate
32-bit
Posts: 245
Joined: Mon May 25, 2020 10:37 pm
Location: NoVA

Re: Games Beaten 2023

Post by Syndicate »

...I wrapped up Citizen Sleeper, I really enjoyed the game a bit more than I expected. I did goof a bit and finish the game before I wrapped up the DLC, so I'll jump back in to get through that as well at some point.
User avatar
PartridgeSenpai
Next-Gen
Posts: 3008
Joined: Mon Dec 14, 2015 9:27 am
Location: Northern Japan

Re: Games Beaten 2023

Post by PartridgeSenpai »

Partridge Senpai's 2021 Beaten Games:
Previously: 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
* indicates a repeat

1. Super Hero Operations (PS1)
2. Lil' Gator Game (PC)
3. Disco Elysium: The Final Cut (PC)
4. Dragon Quest VII (PS1)
5. Dragon Quest III (SFC)
6. Dragon Quest VIII (PS2)
7. Dragon Quest Monsters (GBC)
8. Mario Party 6 (GC)
9. Last Bible 3 (SFC)
10. Mario Party 4 (GC)
11. Kirby and the Forgotten Land (Switch)
12. Final Fantasy: Mystic Quest (SFC)
13. Chrono Trigger (SFC) *
14. BoxBoy + BoxGirl! (Switch)
15. The Murder of Sonic The Hedgehog (PC)
16. SaGa (GB)
17. Wario Land 3 (GBC) *
18. Sutte Hakkun (SFC)
19. Kane & Lynch 2 (PC)
20. Burger Time Deluxe (GB)
21. Super Mario Advance 4: World e+ (GBA)
22. Bomberman GB 2 (GB)
23. Mario Party 5 (GC)
24. Klonoa: door to phantomile (PS1)
25. Mario Party 7 (GC)

26. Mario Party (N64) *

The last of the Mario Party games that I both had but had not yet revisited, the very first Mario Party is one that, like Mario Party 2, I’ve had just about all my life. It was a game I played a ton as a kid, though not quite as much as I did MP2. I picked this up for cheap a little while back, and I decided why the heck not play through it until I can get to the credits. I’m pretty sure I’ve done it at least one other time, but it’s been so long I can barely remember it. I unlocked and played through every map at least once, beat the mini-game island side mode, and I beat the final “story” map and saw the credits. I played through the Japanese version of the game on real hardware.

The story of Mario Party 1 is about as simple as these games get. The gang is arguing about who the super star among them is, and to decide it, they decide to throw a big party, with the winner being declared the super star. There *is* the mini-game island single-player mode, but even that doesn’t really have any story behind it beyond, “here’s a challenge. Can you do it?”. It’s not a problem, though. The conceits of each board being that there’s some problem that only becoming the super star can solve is a bit weird and uninvolved with the actual gameplay, but that hardly matters. It’s a more than fine enough set up for the game to take place, and it does its job just fine.

While the gameplay of Mario Party 1 *does* set up the formula that would define the franchise for the next decade, it has a lot of other elements that would never be brought back again that really give it a flavor all its own. Many aspects are very familiar to later Mario Party games. Each map is 20, 35, or 50 turns long, and there’s a mini-game at the end of every turn that involves all 4 players, a 2v2, or a 1v3. You earn coins from these mini-games and use them to buy stars on the board game part once you reach Toad, and the person with the most coins is the winner. All very familiar elements to later Mario Party games. It’s the unfamiliar stuff that I have quite a fondness for, though.

For example, there are the mini-games. Of course there are the infamous control-stick spinning mini-games (which I wore a work glove to save my palm from), which I would say are easily the weakest link of this entire game. But beyond that, there’s a real adversarial aspect to the games here that later Mario Partys completely abandon. In just about every 2v2 mini-game, the winners get 10 coins, but the losers *lose* 10 coins. Many 1v3 games work the same way, with the 3 each getting or losing 5 coins, or the 1 getting or losing 15 coins, but many 1v3 games make it impossible for one side to gain money at all. You also have single-player mini-game spaces spread around the map which do drag out the game longer than it needs to be, yes, but I didn’t mind them too terribly. You even have weird mixes in quite a few 4 player mini-games, where they’re completely co-op experiences. Everyone is working together to win, and if you all win, you all get money, but if you lose, you all lose money. All of this is stuff later games completely abandoned, and it’s kinda a shame, since apart from being unique, it also just makes the game better. The only real design philosophy-level complaint I have aside from the control stick spinning is just how many games last too long. Games that last 40 to 60 seconds can be a real and literal pain when you’re mashing a button for almost the entire time, but it’s only really a problem if you’re playing a ton of Mario Party in one sitting, and it shouldn’t affect you too much if you’re playing more casually.

It not only gives players more control over other player’s finances by winning and losing money in so many games, but the single-player game spaces also allow for players who aren’t so good to still gain money, even if they’re not too great at the end-of-turn mini-games. It keeps money moving through the economy and keeps maps from getting stale with one player far too far in the lead, which is something later Mario Party games REALLY struggle with. They shift from this method to battle mini-games and items to balance out their economies, but I think there was a lot more value in these old games than they assumed, and it’s a shame that they pivoted away from this style of mini-game design philosophy so quickly. Some of the games are pretty unbalanced, sure, but apart from that, it’s honestly one of the stronger mini-game libraries as far as Mario Party goes.

The board design is also something that is quite strong. Like with the mini-games, the boards too follow a philosophy of trying to balance skillful strategy with just getting lucky in a way that I found keeps boards dynamic and exciting. With how Bowser isn’t just a space on the board, but a guy on the field like Toad, he provides a necessary funnel of money *out* of the economy to keep players from getting too wealthy. Another aspect that does this is how, in maps where Toad moves after he’s gotten a star bought from him, a chance time space is left where he stood before. Covering the board in chance time spaces like this really does crank up the randomness of games, sure, but the large majority of the time, it’s only coins trading hands, not entire star totals or what have you. It keeps chance time from feeling like such a death sentence like it is in later games, and it was actually something I had fun with for a change. MP1 really tries to provide a large variety of experience with its boards in a way that wouldn’t be reattempted until Mario Party 6 on the GameCube, and its massive total of 8 boards would barely be seen again in the series.

The presentation is very good as well, and it manages to survive just how old it is quite well. The peppy, energetic N64-era Mario Party music is at some of its best here, and there are tons of tracks I still love hearing even after all these years and hours listening to them (including one new song that isn’t in the North American version at all, I was quite surprised to learn). The graphics also blend 3D models on 2D texture boards to make environments that look quite nice and utilize the graphical hardware of the N64 in a way that looks nice, even if it isn’t as striking as later MP games on the system.

Verdict: Recommended. This would be a highly recommended if not for the control stick spinning mini-games (which don’t just destroy your hand but your joysticks too). Mario Party 1 has a ton of charm and is really well crafted for being such a clearly experimental product. I thought I’d be suffering through it, but it was easily some of the most fun I’ve had playing Mario Party these past couple of months. No other Mario Party game I can think of has normal difficulty CPUs that provided such a satisfying gameplay experience, and that’s a testament to just how well put together the boards and mini-games are. It’s definitely a game I’m happy I picked up, and even though I’ll need a new, tougher work glove rather than the cheap awful one I used for this if I wanna play more control stick spinning games, this is definitely one I’ll be revisiting in the future to have fun in a nostalgic and strategic way~.

-----

27. Crash Bash (PS1)

As I was out of Mario Party to play (at least of ones I could acquire cheaply, easily, and stream to Discord were concerned), a friend of mine recommended this game to me. I had never even heard of Crash Bash (or Cash Bandicoot Carnival, as we call it over here), but as luck had it, we actually had a copy available locally for cheap, so I snapped it right up. I was very curious to see what Sony’s attempt at this formula was, even if it wasn’t actually made by Naughty Dog themselves. Though I have certainly given my friend an earful for pushing me towards this in the first place, I eventually conquered the trial and tribulation and saw this game through to the end of its story mode. The game doesn’t keep track of play time, but I reckon it took me 7 or 8 hours at least to beat the Japanese version of the game on real hardware playing as Crash.

The story setup for CB is kinda weird, but ultimately not super important. Aku Aku (the good totem fella) and Uka Uka (the evil totem fella) are arguing in their little hangout in the heavens about who among them is better. They decide to determine it once and for all by summoning representatives from down on Earth to duke it out in a series of games (and since there are way more bad guys than good guys, Aku Aku is allowed to take two bad guys for two even teams of four). Whomever you pick will need to fight and win their way through four worlds of games and beat the bosses at the end in order to see your team the winner. It’s not ultimately a very important story, given the genre of game it is, but it’s cool that they went through all of the trouble to design and craft the cutscenes for it, as they’re charming in that very Crash Bandicoot-y way that the PS1 titles so often had. It’s a more than adequate premise for the gameplay at hand to take place, and it does its job well.

Though this was recommended to me because of all of the Mario Party I was playing, it is decidedly not really much of a Mario Party clone as such. It’s more like Microsoft’s Fusion Frenzy, in that it’s a competitor to Mario Party via being a party game based around mini-games rather than outright trying to do its own spin on the Mario Party formula like Sega’s Sonic Shuffle. In each world, there are a series of games you need to win in order to get the trophy from that game, and you’ll need the trophy from all 22 games in order to see the credits. Be the first to win that game 3 times among you and the CPUs, and you’ve got yourself a trophy. Then, after the trophy, you’ve got a diamond and a power crystal (in very Crash Bandicoot fashion) to win as well, with certain numbers of each being needed to unlock boss fights. The diamond is generally gotten by winning a round within a time limit, and the power crystal is gotten by winning a round under some kind of challenge mode or handicap. There are eventually ankhs to win from each as well, which usually just involve winning normal rounds consecutively, but they’re only required for unlocking post-game content (which I didn’t really bother with).

It’s a fine enough formula, but the mini-games themselves are the real problem here. World 1 has 4 games, 2 has 5, and so on and so forth. The way this actually works isn’t just about numbers though. Each successive world has one totally new kind of game, with the others being new spins on the games that the last world had. This means that if you’re like me and you despise the 4-player pong game that’s in the running since world 1, you’re gonna keep on playing versions of that over and over if you wanna see the credits. A lot of my complaints here ultimately are only important if you’re playing the single-player mode, but given that the PS1 only has 2 controller slots natively, most people who are playing this are going to be doing it without a multi-tap, so they’re going to have some computers to deal with. The computers are just too unbalanced in too many games.

This is especially true for the pong game (including the boss fight based on it), but too many games are just too random in either their execution or difficulty balance to actually feel all that fun when you’re forced to be the first to win 3 rounds. It even feels like there’s an internal difficulty switch at times that will just dynamically make the CPUs go from playing nearly perfectly to utterly embarrassingly after you lose enough times. I imagine this wouldn’t be quite so bad for a party game with a bunch of friends, but as a single-player experience, it is a terribly frustrating experience. The boss fights are just versions of the normal mini-games but modified to be fights against bosses from the Crash trilogy. They’re usually okay, and they mercifully have checkpoints, but the good bits they *do* have are not nearly enough to offset how frustrating the normal mini-games can be (especially with how miserable the final boss’ pong section is).

The presentation is quite good, but nothing super special. I wanna say most if not all of the assets are just taken from the original Crash trilogy games and modified with new animations or some new models here and there, so it’s a very familiar feeling thing. The arenas for the games themselves are usually okay, if nothing impressive, but quite a few suffer from some significant camera issues where it’s just too hard to see yourself too often. The music is very forgettable, but it fits the games its in well enough I suppose.

Verdict: Not Recommended. I suppose on a desert island with friends, if this was all you had for entertainment, you could get by on it, but as a single-player experience, Crash Bash made me wanna do nothing but bash crash my head through my desk XP. Not nearly enough time and attention was paid to polishing the games to make them actually fun and balanced, and the whole product suffers for it as a result. A special shout out to my friend ButtercupBandito for recommending this to me, but I’m afraid I don’t think I’ll ever be picking up Crash Bash for any reason again other than to sell it back to the Book Off I bought it from XP
I identify everyone via avatar, so if you change your avatar, I genuinely might completely forget who you are. -- Me
Flake
Moderator
Posts: 8068
Joined: Wed Dec 16, 2009 3:27 pm
Location: FoCo

Re: Games Beaten 2023

Post by Flake »

I'm so behind, yet again. This year I'm not going to worry about organizing and dating the games I beat. Ya'll know I am an amazing man of simple tastes.

Nintendo Switch

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity
Kirby's Dreamland
Super Mario Bros (All Stars)
Super Mario Bros 3
Wario Ware, Inc Mega Microgames
Mario Galaxy (All Stars)
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins
Hyrule Warriors Deluxe
Pokemon: Let's Go Eevee

The only game on this first dump that is not a replay is Pokemon: Let's Go Eevee

I'm not a huge Pokemon fan but I was a massive fan in the Gen 1 days. Let's Go Eevee is many of the best parts of the original games with a fantastic presentation and great mechanics, with enough different from the original Blue, Red, Yellow to warrant a play through. It's just too bad that Nintendo will probably not release another game in this format.
Maybe now Nintendo will acknowledge Metroid has a fanbase?
User avatar
Ack
Moderator
Posts: 22356
Joined: Tue Mar 18, 2008 4:26 pm
Location: Atlanta, GA

Re: Games Beaten 2023

Post by Ack »

1. Northern Journey (PC)(FPS)
2. Hatchpunk (PC)(FPS)
3. Might and Magic IX (PC)(RPG)
4. Star Wars: Empire at War (PC)(RTS)
5. Chasm: The Rift (PC)(FPS)
6. Real Heroes: Firefighter HD (PC)(FPS)
7. CULTIC (PC)(FPS)
8. Consortium (PC)(FPS)

9. Brothers in Arms: Road to Hill 30 (PC)(FPS)
10. Forgive Me, Father (PC)(FPS)

11. Teomim Island (PC)(FPS)
12. Regions of Ruin (PC)(Action RPG)
13. Void Bastards (PC)(FPS)

14. Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad - Single Player (PC)(FPS)
15. Quake: Scourge of Armagon (PC)(FPS)
16. Quake: Dissolution of Eternity (PC)(FPS)

17. Bioshock Infinite (PC)(FPS)
18. Chop Goblins (PC)(FPS)
19. Ravenloft: Stone Prophet (PC)(RPG)
20. Halfway (PC)(Tactical Strategy)
21. Brothers in Arms: Earned in Blood (PC)(FPS)
22. Might and Magic X - Legacy (PC)(RPG)
23. Civilization IV (PC)(4X Strategy)

24. Operation Body Count (PC)(FPS)

Operation Body Count is a first person shooter from Capstone Software, famous for classics like Witchaven and William Shatner's TekWar. This particular game was one of their first forays into the FPS genre, and while there are some glaring issues, there are also some surprising ideas for a game released in 1994 and built from the Wolfenstein 3D engine.

Terrorists have taken over the United Nations headquarters. You play as a member of an elite strike force which must infiltrate the sewers below and then work their way up through 40 floors to take out the terrorist leader on the top. Along the way you'll be contending with an army of terrorist troops, an entire armada of killer drones, a heavily armed homeless population, and NYC's giant rat problem. And also goo mutants. Because why not?

To take these guys down, you have a decent arsenal you'll build, starting with an Uzi that stays useful throughout the game but also the Galil automatic rifle, a flamethrower, and a "grenade launcher" that actually fires rockets. And with 40 floors, you'll get plenty of chances to use these puppies. While ammo isn't as plentiful for the bigger weapons, your Uzi and Galil will be able to handle most situations, and enemies drop ammo for them regularly. Also, considering those are Israeli weapons, I guess we know which country decided to rush in.

You will also have a squad with you for some levels, meaning Operation Body Count is a very early and rudimentary tactical FPS. You can give a few basic commands, but they mainly consist of telling the AI to follow you or aimlessly wander, which means they'll probably end up rushing into a bathroom, because bathrooms are vitally important in OBC. Your squadmates will take out foes ahead of them but also don't tend to turn around, so don't expect them to protect you. That said, you can shoot and kill them with little repercussion; they come back for the next level when they're available, and they drop body armor for you when they die. The one downside of them dying is that you can actually swap between squad mates at a whim (and they're almost always at full health), so killing them means fewer guys to jump between.

Unfortunately, OBC suffers from being very samey. 40 levels of office building. The first 8 or so are sewers. Occasionally you end up with a security office level, and level 39 is full of wreckage from where the terrorists first engaged in their attack. But that leaves around 30 or so levels of office settings and checking bathrooms for important gear (terrorists love storing medkits and body armor by the toilet for some reason). Thankfully, you don't have to fully explore each level; instead, you have to kill a certain number of enemies to gain access to the next floor. The game also shows you how many enemies you have killed on any given floor, hence the Body Count part of the name. This means you can pop into a floor, take out the minimum number of foes required, and then hightail it back to the elevators or stairs to head up to the next floor.

That said, you gotta be wary. Terrorists like their explosives, so they will often mine elevators and stairwells. They also hide them under corpses, so if you see a dead civilian, do NOT walk over them. Sometimes they will also pretend to be dead themselves and then hop up and start firing, so if the body you're looking at doesn't seem sufficiently injured, you know what to expect. And they also like the nice facilities of the UN's numerous private offices, so yes, expect to shoot many terrorists sitting on toilets. Or sitting at the numerous bar facilities in the UN. Or working those bars for tips, because terrorists gotta think about making enough money to support the next generation. I recommend tipping well. With bullets.

Of course, not all the ideas work. Sometimes blood or sewer goo will end up splattering your screen, for example. You have to then use the dedicated "wipe blood off my face" button. Seriously, this is a thing. But the worst part of the game is that sometimes enemies and your weapons simply do not appear to register attacks. You may turn the corner, find yourself face to face with a foe, and unload...only to realize the game hasn't registered him as active nor your bullets as hitting him. You end up wasting a lot of bullets this way. I recommend backing up, because for some reason that helped me when I was stuck in these kinds of situations.

Operation Body Count is very old school for an FPS. As in "arrow keys to move, left Ctrl to shoot" old school. As I mentioned earlier, it was built from Wolfenstein 3D, so if you struggle going back to this era, this isn't the game for you. But if you enjoy your classic FPS and are curious about the genre's evolution, I'd say at least take a look. It's a better game than Witchaven, definitely.
Image
User avatar
MrPopo
Moderator
Posts: 23954
Joined: Tue Aug 26, 2008 1:01 pm
Location: Orange County, CA

Re: Games Beaten 2023

Post by MrPopo »

Previous Years: 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022

1. Void Destroyer - PC
2. Ender Lilies: Quietus of the Knights - Switch
3. Raging Blasters - Switch
4. Citizen Sleeper - Switch
5. GetsuFumaDen: Undying Moon
6. Hands of Necromancy - PC
7. Project Downfall - PC
8. Chasm: The Rift - PC
9. Cultic - PC
10. Kirby Super Star - SNES
11. Kirby's Dream Land 2 - GB
12. Kirby's Dream Land 3 - SNES
13. Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards - N64
14. Fire Emblem Engage - Switch
15. Mechwarrior 5: Rise of Rasalhague - PC
16. Kirby's Epic Yarn - Wii
17. Kirby's Return to Dreamland - Wii
18. Mega Man 7 - SNES
19. Mega Man 8 - PS1
20. Conquest: Frontier Wars - PC
21. Theatrhythm Final Bar Line - Switch
22. Octopath Traveler II - Switch
23. Last Call BBS - PC
24. The Legend of Heroes: Trails to Azure - Switch
25. Dread Templar - PC
26. The Great War: Western Front - PC
27. GrimGrimoire OnceMore - PS5
28. Haegemonia: Legions of Iron - PC
29. Everspace 2 - PC
30. Star Wars Jedi: Survivor - PC

Jedi Survivor is the follow up to Jedi Fallen Order, and maintains the same general gameplay. It's set five years after the first game and follows Cal Kestis as he seeks to find another option besides throwing himself at the seemingly unstoppable juggernaut of the Empire (as we're still prior to Battle of Yavin). In the process, the game pokes more at the High Republic era, as the goals of this game were first laid during that period (which is a couple hundred years before the movies).

As before, the game features more methodical combat than the Jedi Knight games from days of yore. While it definitely wouldn't count as a Souls-like (though a handful of bosses wouldn't be out of place in Sekiro), if you go in trying to just mash attack you're going to be sorely disappointed. Compared to the first game I feel like this game tossed in a few too many different melee enemies with long attack chains. It shifts the needle from "don't be reckless" to "play super passive until you can get that one opening you need, then realize almost everything takes three openings to work through their health bar (if not more)". Even though you start off with more tools to reflect that you're more experienced, and gain more tools after that, it feels like the power fantasy has been pulled back from the previous game.

The game also has a few more areas of wider exploration. One planet is fairly open, while another has big stretches of open land to traverse, and both of those will let you unlock the ability to ride features to move over those areas faster. However, I found this openness to be misused and unnecessary. See, the fundamental problem is that due to decisions made around where your power comes from, the bulk of the findables as you explore are cosmetics, currency for cosmetics, and lore entries. While you can find health and force upgrades, those are few and far between compared to the others. As a result, tapping that impulse of "what's over here?" ends up leading to a lot of disappointment.

Overall I found I just didn't enjoy this as much as the previous game. In an attempt to take a half step forward it tends up taking a full step backwards. There's just a lot that felt like it was added because they could, without wondering whether they should. One thing I am happy to report is I had zero performance problems on PC. I had one CTD and three instances of what appeared to be the lighting rays getting textures applied, which cleared up when I entered and exited the pause menu. Given I also didn't have any major technical problems with launch day Cyberpunk, I have to seriously wonder what's up with the machines professional reviewers are running (I won't even consider the general populace). Maybe they all try to mix budget with performance, and it causes things to fall over, while I'm willing to toss money at performance on all components.
Blizzard Entertainment Software Developer - All comments and views are my own and not representative of the company.
User avatar
Markies
Next-Gen
Posts: 1441
Joined: Fri Mar 27, 2015 4:29 pm
Location: St. Louis, Missouri
Contact:

Re: Games Beaten 2023

Post by Markies »

Markies' Games Beat List Of 2023!
***Denotes Replay For Completion***

***1. Dragon Valor (PS1)***
2. Breath Of Fire (GBA)
3. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder's Revenge (NS)
4. World Of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse And Donald Duck (GEN)
5. XIII (GCN)
6. NES Remix Pack (WiiU)
7. Dr. Mario (GBC)
***8. Bully (PS2)***
9. Dragon's Crown (PS3)
10. Bangai-O (SDC)
11. Super Smash Bros. Brawl (Wii)
12. Destruction Derby (PS1)
13. X-Men Legends II: Rise Of Apocalypse (XBOX)
14. Vice: Project Doom (NES)
***15. Atelier Iris 3: Grand Phantasm (PS2)***
16. Terranigma (SNES)
***17. Super Street Fighter II (GEN)***

18. Guitar Hero II (PS2)

Image

I beat Guitar Hero II on the Sony Playstation 2 this afternoon!

I love music, but I am also incredibly rhythmically challenged. Thankfully, music games have come to the rescue as I am able to enjoy the music and also pretend like I am playing the instrument. However, that also means there is a limitation as I can only go so far in them. They are games that I like to play on Easy and maybe Medium, but that is about it. I have been slowly following Harmonix music games ever since I was introduced to Amplitude. I have a long list of Guitar Hero games to go through, so since they are still incredibly cheap, it was an easy pickup after I had beaten my Backlog. I wanted something different to play at the moment, so I decided to pop it in and hopefully rock out!

There really isn't much difference in Guitar Hero II compared to the other entries in the series. The main difference is a Practice Mode which allows you to focus on specific parts of the song and even slow it down so that you can get the timing down. It is an invaluable tool and helps out a ton. There is also a multiplayer mode which allows another play to play either Rhythm Guitar or Bass, a precursor to Rock Band being released afterwards. In single player, not much has changed as you rise from playing High School Gyms to huge stadiums playing some classic tunes. It is still incredibly enjoyable and hitting those notes in the correct sequence is such a huge hit. For the most part, the music selection is good if a little bit strange.

I cannot stand Metal Music, so the songs nears the end began to wear me down. Also, I just don't have the finger dexterity and the pinky strength to play some of the songs. Hitting two notes at the same time while not using the finger in the middle is very difficult for me. Also, the middle fret button has a raised contour to help you know where your fingers are. My finger would become numb because of me hitting that fret with so much pressure. It became painful and made me want to stop playing earlier than normal.

Overall, I would say I still really enjoyed Guitar Hero II. I had some favorite songs in the game, so that was fun to play. And even though the game play hasn't changed, it is still solid and fun to play. Obviously, I wish the selection was more to my taste and the pain you get from playing is very real, but it can be worth it. If you enjoyed others in the series, this is another good entry to pick up!
Image
User avatar
PartridgeSenpai
Next-Gen
Posts: 3008
Joined: Mon Dec 14, 2015 9:27 am
Location: Northern Japan

Re: Games Beaten 2023

Post by PartridgeSenpai »

Partridge Senpai's 2021 Beaten Games:
Previously: 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
* indicates a repeat

1. Super Hero Operations (PS1)
2. Lil' Gator Game (PC)
3. Disco Elysium: The Final Cut (PC)
4. Dragon Quest VII (PS1)
5. Dragon Quest III (SFC)
6. Dragon Quest VIII (PS2)
7. Dragon Quest Monsters (GBC)
8. Mario Party 6 (GC)
9. Last Bible 3 (SFC)
10. Mario Party 4 (GC)
11. Kirby and the Forgotten Land (Switch)
12. Final Fantasy: Mystic Quest (SFC)
13. Chrono Trigger (SFC) *
14. BoxBoy + BoxGirl! (Switch)
15. The Murder of Sonic The Hedgehog (PC)
16. SaGa (GB)
17. Wario Land 3 (GBC) *
18. Sutte Hakkun (SFC)
19. Kane & Lynch 2 (PC)
20. Burger Time Deluxe (GB)
21. Super Mario Advance 4: World e+ (GBA)
22. Bomberman GB 2 (GB)
23. Mario Party 5 (GC)
24. Klonoa: door to phantomile (PS1)
25. Mario Party 7 (GC)
26. Mario Party (N64) *
27. Crash Bash (PS1)

28. Balan Wonderworld (PS4)

This is a game I’ve been morbidly curious about basically since it came out. I quite like 3D collectathon platformers, and if I can afford it, I try to play all the ones I can get my hands on, even if they’re not very good. It’s been a long wait, but I’ve been biding my time ever since waiting for it to get at or below the threshold at which I find it reasonable to buy a game even if I’ll end up disliking it. I ended up getting engaged with it a lot more than I at first thought I would, first beating it, and then spending the whole weekend finishing it out nearly 100% (a couple costumes and achievements I didn’t feel it was worth my time to slog through, but I got all 300 statues). It took me around 35 to 40 hours (the game doesn’t keep track, so far as I’m aware, so I had to give my best estimate) to do it all (and beating the game originally took me around 13 or 15 hours).

Balan Wonderworld’s story is somewhat infamously told with very, very little dialogue. After the opening cutscene of your main character stumbling into the titular Balan’s world, he gives you a well animated but surreal introduction, and the subtitles there are just about the last text you’ll see as far as the story goes. The rest of the story is told through pantomime as you make your way through one world at a time, helping the character associated with that world overcome their fears and doubts to do the difficult thing in their real life. It’s somewhere between Psychonauts and Nights (with which this game shares a lot of DNA), but it’s lighthearted and fun enough to give the action a fun premise and aesthetic.

Another somewhat infamous note about the story is that there is a book separately available that’s effectively a novelization of the game’s narrative, though I’d be hard pressed to say that the game is worse off for not having loads of text explaining its story. It’s not like Mario Odyssey is a good 3d platformer because it has hundreds of pages of text explaining some deep narrative, after all. Balan Wonderworld makes the smart decision to keep the in-game story as brief as it needs to be, and I found it a fun and well paced setting for the adventure to take place.

The gameplay of Balan is a stage-based 3D platformer which uses a similar approach to something like Banjo Kazooie. In each stage, there are 6+ Balan statues (the equivalent of a jiggy or power star) to find. Six are scattered about, and an extra 1 to 3 are unlocked by perfecting Balan’s Bouts (which I will explain later). You need a certain total number of statues to unlock more worlds to explore, and there are 12 worlds in total with 2 acts each, with a third act to each world being unlocked after you’ve beaten the final boss. The main difference to something like Mario 64 or Banjo Kazooie is that, even though you do have the statues to collect, each level does have an end point you need to reach to complete it. This lends to a more well paced level design generally, and it also makes the Balan statues a bit easier to find. Ones you’ve found are listed in order in the upper left, so it’s a bit easier to try and guess where you might’ve missed one by using process of determination based on the ones you’ve already found.

The way you actually navigate these stages is by running and jumping around them via the aid of costumes you find in the levels. A big deal was made during its release that Balan Wonderworld is a “one-button game”. While not entirely true (you use the shoulder buttons to swap between costumes and the pause button opens the menu, for example), just about every button does the same thing, so the costumes are how the game gives you more depth to your exploration despite the simplicity. You can bring any costume to any stage, and you can stockpile extra copies in your little wardrobe you can access at checkpoints. Getting hit once will lose you your costume, but it’s generally not too difficult to avoid getting hit. It’s a good motivator to be extra careful with your best and favorite costumes, at the very least.

While the one-button gameplay does make navigating some menus a little bit more cumbersome than it feels like it should be, I found it to be a nice accessibility feature that the game is well designed around. Finding new costumes and experimenting with what they could do was always fun, and each of the 12 worlds is designed around the abilities its respective costumes give you, making the puzzle design generally nice and intuitive as well. I say “generally” because just about every stage has at least some statues that can’t be acquired using only the costumes found within it. Sometimes you’ll be waiting a very long time to get the costume that makes a much earlier world’s final statues collectible. This isn’t a super problem, given that you only need less than half of the statues to beat the game, but as an element of design philosophy, it’s one I’m not a fan of. I much prefer the approach the original Banjo Kazooie takes, were even though you’re progressively unlocking new abilities, every world can be completed as soon as you get to it. The fact that some statues are just impossible to get at first approach can make ones that are otherwise just difficult to access seem actually impossible, and it just makes for a somewhat frustrating waste of time trying to collect them sometimes.

Each stages has tons of little colored crystals to collect, and you can multiply your currently held crystal total by completing the Balan’s Bouts. These are QTE-based cutscenes that you can activate by finding Balan’s hat hidden in the stage. They’re just easy enough to be far from impossible, but also not so easy as to be trivial. The fight animations in them are quite pretty and the music is fun too, so I didn’t mind replaying them in my long quest to acquire all 300 statues in the game. That said, even if you hate them, collecting crystals is ultimately entirely optional, and you only need 110 of the 228 total statues available in the main game to beat it, so you can ignore the Balan’s Bouts entirely if you want (which I certainly appreciate, even if I did like them).

The purpose of all those crystals, however, is to feed your Tims on the Isle of Tims in the hub world. You can either breed them by feeding them crystals or find eggs in stages to get more Tims. In stages, you’ll have little fluffy companions following you around. They’ll sometimes bring you crystals, keys, or even eggs or new Tims themselves as well as help you fight enemies. These Tims are very much like the Chao Gardens were in the Sonic Adventure games. They’re ultimately something not required to beat the game, but the crystal collecting and Tim raising is a nice activity to give extra purpose to replaying stages as well as a fun side activity in and of itself. Feed the Tims more crystals and they’ll play in the Tower o’ Tims in the hub world, and playing in it makes a counter go up which will make the Tower o’ Tims grow ever larger and more complex. The fact that you need to wait for the counter to go up can be a bit annoying if you’re power gaming for achievements and whatnot, but it’s ultimately an entirely optional activity, so I find it difficult to complain about too seriously.

The presentation of Balan Wonderworld is where it shines brightest, in my opinion. Character design, particularly of Balan, his rival Lance, and the game’s bosses, are excellent, and seeing new worlds and boss designs was always such a treat. The mechanical design of the bosses is even clever too, as each has 3 primary ways to hit it, and doing each respectively will net you another statue for each one. The costumes are all super cute and fun as well, and the same goes for the enemy design. The world design can feel a bit overly blocky and simple at times, but this is in service of making the world very mechanically consistent. You never need to worry if a door or a barrel is secretly breakable from some future costume, because the only breakable objects are the very clearly marked cracked blocks, for example. That said, the simplicity sometimes works against it. There are some costumes that let you get around vertically quite a lot, and while the game has a surprising lack of invisible walls preventing you from climbing the scenery, it is not completely devoid of them. This can lead to some frustrating deaths if you’re going for the harder to reach statues as you try to do a little bit of guesswork on what weird outcroppings can actually be stood on vs. those that can’t. This is a rare problem, but it’s certainly a present one.

The music is also very nice. A lot of memes and jokes were made of the little dance party scenes that play when you beat bosses, but the music in them is still fun and well done. My personal favorite track is the song that plays during the Balan’s Bouts, which made replaying them for statues even more fun x3. The animated cutscenes before and after bosses are also very pretty, even though the game itself looks pretty rough for a game on PS4 quite frequently. Therein actually lies my biggest complaint with the game: it’s pretty damn poorly optimized. I had to download a 2gb patch to play this when I first installed it on my PS4, and even then, a year and a half after release, there are some areas that have some really bad framerate drops. Only the framerate, not the action, actually drops, meaning if you just stay the course you won’t die, but it can still lead to some quite frustrating deaths in ways that really should not be the case. The game just doesn’t look good enough to be having these types of technical problems, and though I’ve heard the game runs with basically no problems on PC, let this be a warning for anyone considering picking up the PS4 version at least.

Verdict: Recommended. Technical issues aside, I was really surprised at how much I enjoyed my time with Balan Wonderworld. While it’s certainly not perfect, and exactly to whom to recommend it to is a little tricky (the difficult curve for example starts a a bit too easy for veterans yet it ends a bit too hard for beginners, I’d say), it’s still a very competent game. Outside of how it was certainly not worth $60 at launch, this is a situation a lot like I experienced with Mighty No. 9 last year. The game itself holds up pretty damn well for something with *such* a toxic reputation, so it was weird to me just how solid it was. It’s absolutely worth it at the current price point, and while it’s not the easiest game to recommend 100%-ing like I did, it’s absolutely worth picking up for any fans of 3D platformers. At the very least, I’d say it’s a far more polished and well put together game than other modern 3D platformers I’ve played like Yooka Laylee or Super Lucky’s Tale, so if those didn’t exactly wow you like they didn’t wow me, Balan Wonderworld just might do it for you~
I identify everyone via avatar, so if you change your avatar, I genuinely might completely forget who you are. -- Me
User avatar
marurun
Moderator
Posts: 12077
Joined: Sat May 06, 2006 8:51 am
Location: Cleveland, OH
Contact:

Re: Games Beaten 2023

Post by marurun »

I find it quite fascinating that the design is good and the performance lacking, because Yuji Naka is considered a very talented programmer and not a planner (what we would call a designer). He probably picked solid planners to work with on this and then, what, phones in the programming?
Dope Pope on a Rope
B/S/T thread
My Classic Games Collection
My Steam Profile
The PC Engine Software Bible Forum, with Shoutbox chat - the new Internet home for PC Engine fandom.
User avatar
PartridgeSenpai
Next-Gen
Posts: 3008
Joined: Mon Dec 14, 2015 9:27 am
Location: Northern Japan

Re: Games Beaten 2023

Post by PartridgeSenpai »

marurun wrote:I find it quite fascinating that the design is good and the performance lacking, because Yuji Naka is considered a very talented programmer and not a planner (what we would call a designer). He probably picked solid planners to work with on this and then, what, phones in the programming?


A friend of mine hypothesized that, for the same reason the anti-aliasing is so bad on PS4 compared to what you'd expect for a game from 2021, the reason that it runs so badly is that this basically just *is* the Switch version but running on a PS4. I don't have a Switch copy to confirm or deny that the Switch version might run better or worse (though I've seen a copy in this city for 1000 yen, so it wouldn't be hard :b), but I'm inclined to agree with that hypothesis if only because it'd do a lot to explain why the in-game graphics look a bit fuzzier than you'd think it should for this console.
I identify everyone via avatar, so if you change your avatar, I genuinely might completely forget who you are. -- Me
Post Reply