Games Beaten 2023

Anything that is gaming related that doesn't fit well anywhere else
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Note
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Re: Games Beaten 2023

Post by Note »

1. Kirby's Dream Land (GB)
2. River City Girls (Switch)
3. Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest (SNES)
4. The Simpsons (Arcade)
5. Illusion of Gaia (SNES)
6. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder's Revenge (Switch)
7. Shining Force III [Scenario 1] (SAT)
8. Mighty Morphin Power Rangers (SNES)
9. Klonoa: Door to Phantomile (PS1)
10. Sonic the Hedgehog 3 (GEN)
11. X-Men Legends (PS2)
12. Snatcher (SCD)
13. Smash Remix (N64)
14. Golden Axe III (GEN)
15. Iridion II (GBA)
16. Fatal Fury Special (SNES)
17. Harmful Park (PS1)
18. Gunbird (SAT)

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19. DoDonPachi (SAT)

I was still in the mood for another shoot 'em up after the few I played recently, and went for DoDonPachi, which I heard great things about but never had a chance to play before. Bullet hell shooters aren't a strong point of mine, as I still need a lot of practice with these kinds of games, but I'm a fan of Cave and would like to continue to check out their titles that I missed out on. For this playthrough, I played with the blue ship which has the spread shot and went through the game in Arcade mode.

To start, DoDonPachi gives you the choice of a variety of ships to venture through the game with. The main difference between each ship is the type of main shot they have, with one being straight forward, one rotating based on your direction, and the last being a spread shot. I usually prefer spread shots when it comes to shmups and run and guns, so I went with the ship with that option. Each ship has their main weapon and access to a laser shot, which is more powerful but only shoots straight ahead. Also, when you have the laser shot going, your ship moves slower. You can use this to your advantage by holding down the laser when an intense bullet pattern is coming your way, as it will slow down your ship, so you may then maneuver your way through the insane amount of bullets. You also have access to a screen clearing bomb, which will prove to be invaluable, as it will also get rid of the bullets on screen in moments of danger. Another nice feature is the availability of two player co-op, love to see that included in this genre. Specific to this port, there is a Saturn mode included, which has an additional level at the beginning of the game and limits your credits to just one. The better ending can only be achieved if you're able to finish the game in Saturn mode, with the finish of the first loop, and then playing the game again on a more difficult second loop.

Graphics wise, DoDonPachi sports some great 2D sprite work, which I think should be expected on the Saturn, as the console has a great reputation for handling this graphic style. Also, the game doesn't seem to have any slow down, even with so many bullets, tokens, enemies and player ships on the screen. DoDonPachi also has an impressive soundtrack with a rock influence, that goes well with the action on screen. My favorite tune is the one that is playing throughout Stage 3. The game has super tight controls, which is necessary, as you'll need to be pinpoint accurate to get through some of the sequences.

Overall, DoDonPachi is a fun and challenging bullet hell shoot 'em up, and is one of the best representatives of this style of game not only on the Saturn, but during the 32-bit generation as a whole. If you're a fan of the Saturn or shmups, give it a go!
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Re: Games Beaten 2023

Post by Note »

1. Kirby's Dream Land (GB)
2. River City Girls (Switch)
3. Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest (SNES)
4. The Simpsons (Arcade)
5. Illusion of Gaia (SNES)
6. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder's Revenge (Switch)
7. Shining Force III [Scenario 1] (SAT)
8. Mighty Morphin Power Rangers (SNES)
9. Klonoa: Door to Phantomile (PS1)
10. Sonic the Hedgehog 3 (GEN)
11. X-Men Legends (PS2)
12. Snatcher (SCD)
13. Smash Remix (N64)
14. Golden Axe III (GEN)
15. Iridion II (GBA)
16. Fatal Fury Special (SNES)
17. Harmful Park (PS1)
18. Gunbird (SAT)
19. DoDonPachi (SAT)

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20. Gley Lancer (GEN)

I was still in the mood for another shoot 'em up; however, I decided to go for a 16-bit game this time and revisit Gley Lancer. I originally played a chunk of the title through emulation years ago and thoroughly enjoyed it. When I heard the game was getting an official translation and Western re-release on the Genesis, I went for it, as prices for the original import copy are pretty high. For this playthrough, I went through the game on the recently released Retro-bit cartridge. The game also got a re-release in 2019 for JP consoles via Columbus Circle, but I've heard mixed things about the quality of the components used in their cartridges, so I stayed on the sidelines for that one. I'm glad I waited!

When you begin the game, you will be brought to a menu screen to choose how your satellites or "mover system" as it's called here will work. You get a choice between seven different options, and I went with the "search" option, which makes the satellites control in a manner that's similar to a homing shot. The satellites will move towards the closest enemies and target them. I'm a fan of spread shots and homing shots in these types of games, as it lets the player focus more on movement to dodge enemies and bullets and less on maneuvering the ship to aim. You can also find power-ups for different types of weapons throughout the game, such as the twin shot, the bounce shot, laser shot, the saber (a short distance attack), a spread shot, a bounce shot, and a flame thrower. The twin shot was my personal favorite, but I found the flamethrower, bounce shot, and saber all very useful in certain sections. Unlike most others in the genre, you do not have a screen clearing bomb here. The game also has a checkpoint system, so if you die, you'll move back to the last checkpoint; however, there are multiple checkpoints per level, so I didn't find this to be an issue.

There are some amazing level designs and background graphics in Gley Lancer! You start off in an asteroid field with an impressive look to it, due to the layers of parallax scrolling. However, one of my only gripes with the game, is that the bullets and enemies are particularly difficult to decipher in this level. Besides the usual enemies and bullets, it's tough to tell which asteroids can actually damage you and which are in the background. After this level though, this problem of being able to decipher enemies and potential environmental hazards is a non-issue, as the later stages aren't as difficult to analyze. There are a total of 11 stages, which is quite long for a shooter, but many of them are fairly short and will be over in a matter of minutes, so the game doesn't feel like a slog. Regarding the looks of the levels, some of my favorites were Stage 2 - Neledi the Ocean Planet, Stage 6 - The Wastelands of Luma, which has a great looking sunset effect, and Stage 7 - The Crystal Caves of Typha, which is an ice cavern level.

Other than the impressive background graphics, Gley Lancer includes some good looking cut scenes prior to the game starting and between certain stages. The cut scenes have a simliar art style to anime from the same time period, and it's one of the rare shmups that has a bit more focus on story. Gley Lancer also has a great soundtrack and each stage has its own theme song, which is a nice touch in this genre, as many games in this era would have tunes repeated in multiple levels. I really like how the soundtrack kicks off in the first stage, with the song being melodic, upbeat, and energetic. It just gets you in the mood for the action! I like the tune in Stage 5 a lot as well. The soundtrack is good enough for me to listen to outside of the game, and something I may put on in the background while working. Another sound related feature you'll notice in Gley Lancer is the use of voice samples. This game has a lot of digitized voice samples -- there's a unique voice sample for each level and each power-up found in the game, and they're pretty crisp. The samples here are not garbled like some early Genesis titles. I like the positive voice messages throughout the game! It's a unique and fun touch.

Overall, Gley Lancer is a great game and I think it might be my favorite shoot 'em up on the Genesis, which is high praise, as the console has a lot of amazing games in the genre. The controls are tight, the graphics in the levels and cut scenes are well done, and the soundtrack is also impressive. I highly recommend this one! Other than the various Genesis/MD releases, the game can also be found on the Switch eshop, so check it out. Stick to it and believe in your power!
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Raging Justice
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Re: Games Beaten 2023

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Vengeful Guardian: Moonrider - PS4

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Have you guys heard of Blazing Chrome? It's an indie game by JoyMasher that is a clear homage to the Contra series, particularly the 2d classics of that franchise. I played a little bit of that game, but didn't stick with it though. Run and gun games aren't really my thing. I tend to find many of them a bit too hard for my skillset. Though I have beaten and enjoyed a few of them so there are exceptions. Though I didn't finish Blazing Chrome, I played it long enough to know that it literally felt like a 16-bit Contra game made by the awesome Konami we remember from that era (not the awful one we have today). It could have easily been a follow up to both Contra III and Contra: Hard Corps and perfectly captured the spirit of those games. I knew these devs knew their stuff when it came to retro gaming, even if Blazing Chrome wasn't for me. I recently learned of Vengeful Guardian though and heard that it was a platformer, and that's totally up my alley.

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So at its core, this is a Mega Man X game infused with some ninja influence along the lines of Shinobi and Strider. Maybe Hagane as well, I never played that game so its hard to say. You play as a ninja cyborg that sort of looks like the one in Hagane though. The ninja cyborg thing also made me think of The Ninja Warriors on the SNES. Your move set though is clearly a nod to Shinobi and Strider. You can hang from horizontal beams like Strider. You also have the diving kick and running slash from Shinobi III. You can jump off of walls in a similar fashion to the Shinobi games as well. If you hit the attack button three times though, you're totally in Mega Man X land with your protagonist doing a 3-hit slash combo that looks a LOT like Zero's from Mega Man X 4 (if not identical). Owing to the influence of the afore mentioned ninja games, the action revolves mostly around melee combat. For you Mega Man X fans, this is a game where Zero would feel more at home than X.

The basic structure of the game is like any Mega Man game. You pick what levels you want to play in any order and you acquire new attacks when you beat a stage boss. I wasn't sure at first if using certain weapons on each boss made a difference in terms of damage. I did a lot of the boss fights "buster only" style for you hardcore Mega Man players, which is to say that I used my default weapon most of the time. I only experimented with the different weapons occasionally. There was one boss though that went down in seconds when I used a certain weapon on him, so you definitely can make bosses easier if you know what weapon they are weak to. How you want to fight them is up to you.

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You can find upgrade chips in each stage as well, though they are usually hidden. You can only carry two at a time though. The upgrade system is not as extensive as a Mega Man X game, no health upgrades, no armors, etc. However, whatever chips you use can definitely help. There is a particular one that I used for the majority of my playthrough that helped me a lot. I picked up another one that I liked later in my playthrough that extended the range of my basic attack, which was one more thing that kind of reminded me of Strider (and Ninja Gaiden III on the NES too).

On that note, playing through this game reminded me of a lot of 16-bit era classics. It's pretty common for indie retro games to have lots of references to classics from the 8-bit and 16-bit era. However, the way that Vengeful Guardian incorporates a lot of these references into the game really makes me feel like they have actually PLAYED these classics. I'll give you a few examples.

There's a level where you ride a motorcycle that looks and feels like Hang-On. However, there's actual combat and it reminded me a little of the Batmobile levels in Batman: Returns on the SNES or the Mode 7 ones in Turtles in Time.

There's a rising elevator where you fight waves of enemies like some well known beat 'em up classics

There's an enemy in one stage that is below the ground you're walking on and he tries to hit you with a vertical attack like some enemies in Castlevania: Bloodlines do.

Some enemies and bosses reminded me of the Contra games, not surprising given that the developers worked on Blazing Chrome

There's a water level that kind of reminded me of X-Men: Mutant Apocalypse

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A lot of indie developers are SUPER obvious with their retro references, but a lot of this stuff you won't recognize unless you grew up on a lot of these games.

These devs really nail the 16-bit aesthetic in this game just like in Blazing Chrome. It LOOKS like a game from that era, particularly Sega Genesis games like Contra: Hard Corps and Shinobi III. There are certainly visual nods to those games you'll probably notice in some of the screen shots I posted. Though being heavily inspired by the Mega Man X games, the aesthetics will remind you of the SNES at times as well. One or two of the bosses and sub bosses look VERY similar to certain ones from the Mega Man X games and even fight kind of like them too. The game even has the big WARNING message come onto your screen before a boss fight like some of those games. Like I said earlier, a lot of this stuff you wouldn't even notice if you hadn't grown up on games like this. Vengeful Guardian wears its influences on its sleeves, but you won't know unless you've played a lot of these games.

The soundtrack is great. A couple of times while listening to the music I would repeatedly mash the down direction on my D-pad. The animation of my character repeatedly ducking and standing up made it look like he was headbanging :lol:

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The game's story is a fairly simple one. It's basically a story about anti-fascism and what happens when certain individuals oppress people's freedoms (or outright murder them) in the name of "maintaining peace" or "keeping order". Mega Man X games often have dialogs before boss fights where X or Zero get into debates with the boss about whether or not what they are doing is right. X and Zero usually view them as criminals, but sometimes the boss will defend his or her actions or paint X and Zero as the real villains. In this game, most of the bosses are defending the corrupt regime that your character is fighting against and often express outrage at the fact that you are not joining them. There are philosophical debates that occur between your character and the boss, but 9 times out of 10 it's pretty obvious that the boss is an evil asshole. There are some other interesting aspects to the story that give it just a tad more depth that I won't spoil, but this is an action game so you'll spend a lot more time jumping around and killing things than reading text.

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So what's wrong with this game? It's pretty short, though that adds to the 16-bit nostalgia for me. Though I was still a bit surprised when I saw the end credits rolling. The end of the game seems to come rather abruptly. The only replay value is in finding all of the upgrade chips and improving your rank. Yeah, i forgot to mention that you get a level ranking after each stage. I have a feeling it is based entirely on how fast you finish a stage. You'll need S ranks in every stage for the platinum trophy. I love when retro games actually include a platinum, unlike certain games I won't mention (looking at you Tengo Project :evil:). I'm not one for speed running, but I bet these are doable with the right chip upgrades and by making good use of the weapons you get from bosses. Anyway, short game as I said. However, the game isn't particularly expensive and right now it's on sale. I feel that i certainly got my money's worth. I still remember back when games like this would cost like 60 bucks and you didn't complain. You would just beat the game fifty more times and just be happy that you had an awesome game to replay. Now I sound like an old man. This really does feel like a 16-bit era game, and the length of the game adds to that.

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Also, during some of the game's cutscenes the text goes by so quickly I barely had time to read it. Would have been nice to just let the player decide when to move to the next line of text instead of it being automatic.

All that said though, it's a very well designed and fun game. Levels all feel different. Some stages have a brisk pace with you racing through the level while an enemy in the background is attacking you or running and jumping across platforms as a laser weapon targets you. Another level features a slower pace with a maze and some puzzle solving and some tricky underwater platforming. One level takes place high in the sky with a lot of precarious platforming and a lot of hanging off of horizontal beams like both Strider and classic Contra games. All of these levels manage to invoke memories of great games I have already mentioned, but with a slightly new twist. I have never played a retro game that mixes these influences together. Contra, Shinobi, Strider, Mega Man X...it's pretty damn cool in my opinion. The way the game stokes the flames of your nostalgia for both the SNES and the Genesis at the same time is pretty awesome. When you're done with the game, it will leave you wanting more. That's always a great compliment in my opinion.
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PartridgeSenpai
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Re: Games Beaten 2023

Post by PartridgeSenpai »

Partridge Senpai's 2023 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)
29. From TV Animation One Piece Tobidase Kaizokudan! (PS1)
30. One Piece Pirate Warriors 3 (Vita)
31. Atelier Iris: Grand Phantasm (PS2)
32. Mana Khemia: Alchemists of Al-Revis (PS2)
33. Mana Khemia 2: Fall of Alchemy (PS2)
34. Crusader of Centy (Genesis)
35. Shadow Hearts (PS2)
36. White Album (PS3)
37. Shadow Hearts 2 (PS2)
38. Shadow Hearts: From the New World (PS2)
39. The Hunt for the Red October (GB)
40. Wild Arms (PS1)
41. Wild Arms 2 (PS1)
42. Custom Robo V2 (N64)
43. Mischief Makers (N64)
44. Quest 64 (N64)
45. Maximo Vs. Army of Zin (PS2)
46. Klonoa 2: Lunatea's Veil (PS2)

47. Moguuru Dabas (PocketStation)

48. Legend of Dragoon (PS1)

Returning to playing PS1 RPGs, I decided to pick up one that a fair few of my friends have talked to me about for years, Legend of Dragoon. This was a game I’d loosely heard of in the past, but not one I’d ever really seen anything about in particular, so I went in more or less completely blind. It was also during the course of this game that I learned of the PS1’s very own VMU equivalent: The PocketStation! It took me around 7 or so hours (which is my best guess) to play through Moguuru Dabas, and it took me around 65 hours to play through Legend of Dragoon itself. I played the Japanese versions of both on real hardware. I wanna cap off the intro here with a special thanks to my good friend Anna for gifting me the PocketStation! For reasons I’ll get into later, I likely couldn’t have beaten the game without her generosity! ^^;

Legend of Dragoon is the story of a young man named Dart. Upon returning to his hometown in the middle of a much longer journey, he’s first accosted by a dragon and then finds his hometown reduced to a charred ruin by the invading armies of the neighboring empire. Saved by a mysterious woman named Roze, Dart sets off on a journey to save his childhood friend Sheena from the evil empire. Along the way, they’ll become intertwined in a much larger world-saving plot involving the truth behind their world’s legends, its dragons, and the titular dragoons.

While the writing and story have a STRONG first impression of being just an off-brand Final Fantasy (at times it really feels like outright copying ^^;), the game thankfully manages to outgrow and outshine that impression very strongly over the course of your adventure. Handling themes like the evils of colonialism (both material and psychological); the relationships between legend, truth, and propaganda; and the trials often necessary to grow beyond past traumas; this is a game about how the past (be it distant history or just a few years ago) will always shape and mold the present, but we need not let it define the future. That said, the writing is still far from perfect. The character writing, particularly of your main party, is very strong and well done. However, that makes it only all the more noticeable how your last party member, defined largely by racial stereotypes, has comparatively poor character development when compared to the other six. Be that as it may, I still think that the good manages to outshine the bad more than well enough to let the game be one of the better written RPGs I’ve played on the system.

Unfortunately, despite its narrative successes, Legend of Dragoon leaves a LOT to be desired on a mechanical level. The main head behind this game was the same guy who did the battle design for Super Mario RPG on the SNES, and a lot of the turn-based battle system feels very much like a far more ambitious version of that game’s systems. However, the main battle systems being a series of timing QTEs for your main attacks always felt far more finicky than it should’ve been. The UI design of those QTEs is far less precise than something like we’d see in Shadow Hearts a couple years later, and the lack of a precise area to aim for really makes it a frustrating system to engage with. There are more advanced combos (called “Additions”) you can equip for your normal physical attacks well, but longer combos are not only harder to execute properly with their button timings, but they also open you up to counter attacks from enemies. As we’ll get to in a bit, this is already a game where healing is very difficult, so opening yourself up to even more damage never felt like a very good trade off, and I stuck to shorter, more reliable Additions the entire game.

One of the main reasons that healing is quite so difficult is down to the game’s dragoon system. Instead of having magic normally like most other RPGs do, your characters normally have no spells or magic. Instead, they have dragoon forms that they unlock over the course of the story. As you deal normal attacks, you’ll gain SP, and getting enough SP allows you to transform into your dragoon form. Better Additions give better damage and/or SP as well as you improve them, so that’s one reason beyond just damage to try out the harder Additions (if you’re so inclined). Every 100 points of SP allows for one turn in your dragoon form, and you increase your dragoon level to gain more spells and better stat modifiers while in that form once you hit certain (invisible) thresholds of your total ever gained SP.

All that said, you ONLY have spells within your dragoon form, and getting into your dragoon form not only takes the time of racking up that SP, but you can also only do it within battle, meaning you absolutely cannot cast spells outside of battle. Additionally, while some fraction of total EXP gained in battle is distributed to your non-active party members, you only gain SP while actively in battle. This means that non-active members gain no dragoon levels at all, and in a game that’s already this hard and has this slow of a leveling curve (grinding one level can easily take over an hour if not several), you REALLY don’t want to be experimenting with your party make up very much because you’re only going to be punished for it. Your party of seven feels almost uselessly large a lot of the time, because not only are your new party members basically always without a dragoon form for some period (meaning they’re not gaining any dragoon levels if you use them), but that also means that’s less experience that your main/strongest party members aren’t getting too. I stuck with Dart (whom you’re stuck with no matter what), Albert, and Roze the whole game, and I don’t regret it one bit, no matter how cool the other characters may be.

On the whole, Legend of Dragoon’s mechanics feel extremely poorly thought out. Having your only real form of attacking being normal attacks when you don’t have a limit break form to break out just makes battles feel like a contest in getting lucky enough that the boss doesn’t decide to just mulch you with a few repeated nasty multi-target attacks. You have attacking items, sure, but they take up very valuable inventory space, but that is extremely nonviable in a game where not only do you have virtually no healing outside of healing items (you can heal 10% of your HP if you block, but that’s almost always a useless amount), but you also need to face bosses who, from almost the very start, can often cast up to three very nasty status effects. How do you heal these status effects? Well, there are THREE different items that cover different ranges of status effects, and that’s not counting the items you’ll need to have to heal MP or revive downed party members. All of this is supposed to fit into a puny inventory of only 32 items. While the narrative may be among the best on the console, the mechanics of Legend of Dragoon make it something far less, and they’re so rough that they make the game tragically difficult to recommend as a result.

This is a good a time as any to mention that the Japanese version, while it lacks the poor translation of the English version, is overall significantly more difficult of the two versions of this game. Enemies and especially bosses have anywhere from 20 to 80% more health than their English counterparts, and you also earn roughly 3 times *less* money from encounters. While your main source of healing is items, so rationing your healing items accordingly is an extremely important part of your gameplay strategy, they don’t cost *that* much. Being that poor in the Japanese version basically just means that you’ll be forever unable to afford the super armor and helmet sold in certain shops which cost 10k each.

I’ve seen tell online that the reason that the English version has so much more money is because you don’t have the PocketStation game to earn money in, but I would disagree with that to a point, as in my experience playing Moguuru Dabas is roughly just as fast a way of earning money as just doing random battles (generally speaking). However, what Moguuru Dabas DOES get you is special items for completing stages, so that makes for a nice segue into talking about the PocketStation companion game!

Moguuru Dabas is a game starring Dabas, an eccentric merchant who you bump into around halfway through disc 1. After you meet him, you’ll gain the option to download Moguuru Dabas to your PocketStation and get yourself items, money, and special equipment by playing through it. Just like a Dreamcast’s VMU, the PocketStation has its games downloaded onto it like memory card data, and all 72kb of Moguuru Dabas live on there for you to pop out of the PS1 and play to your heart’s content. Dabas has 5 stages to dig through, with not just money, but also mushrooms, bones, and gems to find as he goes. There are caves he can find (and your radar makes finding the much easier), and you won’t know what’s inside them until you enter them. Sometimes, it will be a treasure room with items or money. But those aren’t for Dabas, of course. They’re to transfer back to Dart & friends! Other times, you’ll find a cave with a Minint dwelling in it, and they’ll convert your mushrooms into more max HP, your bones into more attack power, and your gems into cash as well as fully healing you!

In most caves, however, you’ll find a monster to fight! Monster fights are very simple, as a game with only 4 directional buttons and an action button would make them. Dabas and his opponent move back and forth automatically, with your 4 directional buttons all being a block button, and your action button swinging your pick axe to attack them. Enemies guard treasure chests full of money, items, or health for Dabas, and the bosses at the end of each stage guard a special chest as well. That special chest has a particular piece of equipment in it to send back to Dart! Some highlights are an accessory that halves all incoming magic damage, one that halves all incoming physical damage, and one that halves ALL incoming damage.

With loot this good on the table, playing through Moguuru Dabas is a pretty obvious choice for an enterprising Legend of Dragoon player. You can do it whenever you want, and despite there only being five stages (at which point you see the credits), you can just restart and play through again for the same prizes again, if you’re having enough trouble in Legend of Dragoon itself. I only played through it the one time (only actually finishing it one room before the final boss of LoD XD), but I had a lot of fun with it! The graphics are simple but very charming, and it’s a very pleasant little gameplay loop. The only music it has is over the credits screen, but that’s to be expected for a machine with such little data and power at its disposal. The only bummer is that you *do* need to return to home base (the PlayStation) after very stage completed to activate the next stage being playable, so it’s a somewhat inconvenient companion app at times, but given that all you lose for dying is being sent back up the hole you’ve dug a bit, you could always just die on purpose to continue your Dabas adventures on the go however much you want~.

The one place where Legend of Dragoon doesn’t slack a single bit is its aesthetics. Over 100 people at Sony Japan Studios spent three years an 16 million dollars developing this game, and hot damn does it look like it. The music is quite good, yes, but the graphics look incredible, and a lot of that is down to a deliberate focus away from the prerendered CGI cutscenes so popular in RPGs at the time. This means there are a ton of really gorgeous in-engine animations both within battles and outside of them that just never stopped looking awesome the whole way through this game’s four discs. It does have some CGI cutscenes, which look nice enough, but the in-engine cutscenes, from more dramatic chase and battle scenes to more subtle mid-conversation reactions from characters really make this story come to live in an incredible way.

This beauty sadly does come at the cost of battles taking quite some time. This game is no stranger to quite noticeable loading times even mid-battle, and those luxuriously animated fight scenes do make battles take quite a bit longer. Just how long animations (especially for spells) take is one of the main reasons the average completion time is like ten hours longer on the Japanese version of the game, and it’s also another major reason that grinding takes SO long to do. The final boss alone took me just over an hour to kill between his spell animations, my spell animations, and the 60,000 HP he has in this version of the game (vs. his 42,000 in the English version). I think overall that battles do move at least a *bit* faster than earlier PS1 games like Final Fantasy 7 or Persona 1, but it’s still quite noticeable, and it’s very difficult to ignore just how lengthy battles and animations take no matter how pretty they are ^^;

Verdict: Hesitantly Recommended. No matter how fun Moguuru Dabas is, the roughness of the mechanics of the main game can really not be ignored. They’re less of an issue in the significantly easier English version, granted that does come at the cost of a worse translation. Be that as it may, however, the story and presentation are good enough that this is still a game some will find very much worth playing. It’s hard but far from impossibly difficult, especially in English, and if you’ve played most of the other biggest RPG hits on the PS1, this is still something I think is worth checking out. I overall enjoyed my time with it, and I’m glad that I played it, even if its battle systems drove me crazy for a good portion of it XD
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Raging Justice
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Re: Games Beaten 2023

Post by Raging Justice »

I remember seeing somewhere that there is a romhack or modded version of Legend of Dragoon that removes the inventory limit. It's on that one website that has a ton of romhacks on it. I forget what it's called. It's been a long time since I played that game so I forgot that there even was an inventory limit. I remember that I loved the combo system in that game. It made battles fun. I don't think of them as QTEs because I think the inputs were fixed, not random. You just have to learn them. I also remember that there is an item in the game that you can equip to one character that will automatically do your attack combos for you. So I had that on the character whose combos I had the hardest time with. I think that character was Albert if I remember correctly.

The Dragoon transformations felt pretty epic at the time when this game came out. Reminds me of a similar mechanic in Jeanne D'Arc on the PSP. I remember I also really had a thing for Rose back then :lol:
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Re: Games Beaten 2023

Post by Note »

1. Kirby's Dream Land (GB)
2. River City Girls (Switch)
3. Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest (SNES)
4. The Simpsons (Arcade)
5. Illusion of Gaia (SNES)
6. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder's Revenge (Switch)
7. Shining Force III [Scenario 1] (SAT)
8. Mighty Morphin Power Rangers (SNES)
9. Klonoa: Door to Phantomile (PS1)
10. Sonic the Hedgehog 3 (GEN)
11. X-Men Legends (PS2)
12. Snatcher (SCD)
13. Smash Remix (N64)
14. Golden Axe III (GEN)
15. Iridion II (GBA)
16. Fatal Fury Special (SNES)
17. Harmful Park (PS1)
18. Gunbird (SAT)
19. DoDonPachi (SAT)
20. Gley Lancer (GEN)

Image

21. Streets of Rage 4 (Switch)*

(As this is a replay and I've already reviewed Streets of Rage 4, I'll keep this write up brief.)

After my partner finally finished Tears of the Kingdom, she was ready to swap out the cartridge to another game in her Switch. We ended up playing some co-op Streets of Rage 4, as we hadn't played the game in probably close to a year. For this particular playthrough, I played as Axel and my partner (who usually likes to play as Adam) selected Blaze this time around. Just a FYI, we do not have the extra DLC that was released for the game and are playing the original release.

Our first gaming session got us through to about level 10 in the game, and we finished off the final two stages the next morning. I'm still so glad this game became a success story and sparked other companies to release beat 'em ups in a similar style. There are still a bunch we need to check out!

If you're a fan of beat 'em ups, give this one a go! I was skeptical this game would live up to my expectations of the series, but I think the developers did a great job with it.
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Re: Games Beaten 2023

Post by PartridgeSenpai »

Partridge Senpai's 2023 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)
29. From TV Animation One Piece Tobidase Kaizokudan! (PS1)
30. One Piece Pirate Warriors 3 (Vita)
31. Atelier Iris: Grand Phantasm (PS2)
32. Mana Khemia: Alchemists of Al-Revis (PS2)
33. Mana Khemia 2: Fall of Alchemy (PS2)
34. Crusader of Centy (Genesis)
35. Shadow Hearts (PS2)
36. White Album (PS3)
37. Shadow Hearts 2 (PS2)
38. Shadow Hearts: From the New World (PS2)
39. The Hunt for the Red October (GB)
40. Wild Arms (PS1)
41. Wild Arms 2 (PS1)
42. Custom Robo V2 (N64)
43. Mischief Makers (N64)
44. Quest 64 (N64)
45. Maximo Vs. Army of Zin (PS2)
46. Klonoa 2: Lunatea's Veil (PS2)
47. Moguuru Dabas (PocketStation)
48. Legend of Dragoon (PS1)

49. Gyakuten Saiban (GBA) *

I last played through the original Ace Attorney trilogy (plus a handful of the other ones) back in 2015, a bit before I started writing reviews or properly cataloguing what I played in any respect. My partner, however, has never played them before. She loves visual novels, and she’s really wanted to play more of them together, so we decided to play through the original Ace Attorney trilogy together~. However, while she’s playing the trilogy via her 3DS, I opted to take the weirder route and play the GBA originals, and this is the first of those~. There are some meaningful differences between this original version and its DS counterpart, so I opted to title it with the Japanese title here rather than the English port’s title for the sake of clarity. I really have to just guess at how long it took me to beat it, as this game doesn’t keep track of playtime at all, but I reckon it took me about 15 or so hours to play through all four cases. I played the Japanese version of the game on real hardware, but via my GameCube’s GameBoy Player rather than a normal GameBoy Advance.

Gyakuten Saiban is the first story of the now famous video game lawyer, Phoenix Wright (or, as he’s known in Japanese, Naruhodo Ryuuichi). This game follows him through his first six months or so as a lawyer along with his assistant Ayasato Mayoi (aka Maya Fey) and his rival Mitsurugi Reiji (aka Miles Edgeworth), and the trials and tribulations (pun intended :b) that ensue as a result. As far as its greater themes go, the ones more delivered in the game’s text revolve around never giving up and believing in yourself regardless of how desperate your situation is. Then there’s also the overriding theme of the setting, which is one very heavily inspired by the real life realities of the justice system in Japan, that being that the justice system is one nigh explicitly constructed as a system of performative punishment and cruelty rather than one concerned with finding any modicum of “truth” or “justice”.

Even beyond more narrative analysis-type stuff like that, it’s a really exceptionally written game! This is a series rightfully famous for the excellent quality of its English localization, and the original Japanese works fantastically too. Fun and funny characters carrying out genuinely touching and dramatic stories. It’s kinda nuts to even think that this is the main writer’s first go at game writing simply because it’s *such* a well put together and paced story. It’s a very cold take to say that the Ace Attorney series is really well written, of course, but it’s something that’s absolutely worth repeating due to the sheer quality of the text at hand. Ace Attorney is a really well written series, and this first entry really knocks it out of the park as a great story-focused adventure game.

As far as the mechanics go, there are likely few people who’d be reading this who would be unfamiliar with them, but such assumptions are never how I try to write these little essays. The gameplay of the game’s four cases (five cases in later releases) is roughly divided into two sections. First, you have the investigation sections. These are somewhat adventure game puzzle-type sections where you go around crime scenes and talk to characters to gather information and evidence. Sometimes you’ll need to use the cursor to investigate bits of the background or present evidence to characters to get them to comment on them, but these are sections that are ultimately linear in their design. There’s a right way to do them, and all doing things the “wrong” way will accomplish is getting you stuck until you find the right way forward.

The other half of the game are the courtroom trials, where you’ll cross examine witnesses and present evidence to try and catch the contradictions in their statements to help prove your client innocent. This is where you could say the real “gameplay” of the series comes in. Keeping everything that’s happened in the case, or at least that which relates to the testimony at hand, will be invaluable in these sections, as the game isn’t terribly hard overall, but getting good at seeing the logical connections between the evidence and testimony is a skill that you’ll develop over time nonetheless. It’s great fun if you’re a fan of logic puzzles, and they’re very fun stories even if you just look up all the solutions online.

Presenting evidence that doesn’t actually prove anything will earn you a penalty, and it’s five strikes and you’re out. A really nasty feature of this GBA original is that, should you run out of penalties and game over, you don’t return back to the start of the current trial as you do in later versions of the game. If your client is found guilty, you start the WHOLE case over from the start. These are not very short trials, with the later two being quite long even if you know exactly what to do, so that’s a pretty brutal penalty, and I’m glad this game is the only one in the series to do it. These games have really fun pacing and well written stories, and needing to button mash your way through potentially literally hours of prior investigations and trials just to get back to the third day’s trial you game over’d on REALLY sours that experience.

Presentation-wise, this is another factor that the game absolutely gets a slam dunk on. This is a quite early GBA game, coming out roughly half a year after the console itself did, so the music, while good in this original iteration (especially the Tonosaman (aka the Steel Samurai) theme~), is clearly limited by the GBA’s own hardware as well as the industry’s general unfamiliarity with it at this early stage in the GBA’s life. The graphics, on the other hand, kick absolute butt. Being a visual novel, the presentation is kind half the game here, and it’s a factor that this game does not neglect the slightest bit. From main characters to minor characters, from the investigation field to the court room, everyone you meet is brought to life with larger than life expressions that make the whole cast a really memorable one. The way the game delivers text is also very clever, utilizing text size, scroll speed, occasional auto-progression, and even screen shaking to compensate just about as well as you possibly could for a lack of voice acting. If anyone would ever need evidence of how visual novels can be meaningfully different from just reading a book or watching an anime, this is a very stellar example of just how well you can deliver a narrative like only a VN (i.e. an interactive experience) can.

Verdict: Highly Recommended. While I might not necessarily recommend *this* particular version quite as highly as other versions (due to just how nasty that aforementioned game over mechanic is), this is a really stellar visual novel/adventure game. While Capcom certainly does love porting games simply for the sake of it, this is a game that has absolutely deserved to have been ported to death and back. It’s as stellar now as it was when it came out over 20 years ago, and it’ still a load of fun to play even if you’re like me and you aren’t generally a huge fan of visual novels.
I identify everyone via avatar, so if you change your avatar, I genuinely might completely forget who you are. -- Me
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Re: Games Beaten 2023

Post by Ack »

First 50:
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)
25. WW2 Rebuilder (PC)(Simulation)
26. Rogue Heroes: Ruins of Tasos (PC)(Action-Adventure)
27. The Ascent: Cyber Heist (PC)(Top-Down Shooter)
28. Bright Memory Infinite (PC)(FPS)

29. Tuin (PC)(Farming Sim)
30. Warhammer 40,000: Boltgun (PC)(FPS)
31. Warhammer 40,000: Shootas, Blood & Teef (PC)(Run and Gun)

32. Dark Messiah of Might and Magic (PC)(RPG)
33. Subnautica (PC)(Action-Adventure)
34. Frog Detective 3: Corruption in Cowboy County (PC)(Adventure)
35. The Shore (PC)(Horror Adventure)
36. Embr (PC)(Action)
37. That Which Gave Chase (PC)(Horror Adventure)
38. Witch Hunt (PC)(Horror FPS)

39. Amanda the Adventurer (PC)(Horror Adventure)
40. Shadows Peak (PC)(Horror FPS)
41. Berserk Mode (PC)(FPS)
42. Soul Calibur 2 (Arcade)(Fighting)

43. Zortch (PC)(FPS)
44. Bloodhound (PC)(FPS)
45. Poker Night at the Inventory (PC)(Traditional)
46. Ghostlore (PC)(Action RPG)

47. TimeShifters (PC)(FPS)
48. Beacon Pines (PC)(Narrative Adventure)

49. Amid Evil: The Black Labyrinth (PC)(FPS)
50. LEGO Brick Tales (PC)(Adventure)

51. Contraband Police (PC)(FPS)
52. Quake II (PC)(FPS)
53. Quake II: The Reckoning (PC)(FPS)
54. Quake II: Ground Zero (PC)(FPS)
55. Quake II 64 (PC)(FPS)
56. Quake II: Call of the Machine (PC)(FPS)

57. Chernobylite (PC)(FPS/RPG)
58. Pedro's Adventures in Spanish (PC)(Point-and-Click Adventure)

59. CULTIC: Interlude (PC)(FPS)
60. Station to Station (PC)(Puzzle)

Station to Station is a game about train tracks. Industries need resources, and cities need those industries, so you have to construct a rail system in a way to keep costs down and generate revenue. You do this through a combination of physical placement of stations and rails as well as card selections. For instance, bridges are expensive to build, so a Cheap Bridge card that reduces cost by 66% maybe worthwhile...or it may be better used elsewhere if you can route your tracks a different way that is a little more expensive but frees bit potential options. Crossing tracks is expensive. So is crossing water. But with the right cards and build plan, you can wrack up huge bonuses to keep going and meet challenges in each level.

Yeah, there are challenges beyond just beating a level, such as finishing with a certain out of funds or performing a level-specific task like not building any bridges or earning certain kinds of bonuses. Each level offers unique terrain to contend with, and as you build, additional buildings will pop up in the area, so it's a good idea to plan ahead with potential track layouts. Nothing sucks more than getting to your last rail line, only to discover you put in a bend too sharply and can't access the station you need. You can always go back one rail construction in case you have a quick mishap, but beyond that stuff is set. Thankfully levels are generally pretty short, and you can easily restart from the menu.

The levels are composed of 3D voxels which give the world a LEGO-like quality, if it were seen through the lens of one of those adorable Christmas porcelain villages. You have a fully array of camera manipulation tools to be able to get the perfect angle for construction, but also, it's just quaint to look at. The music is also soothing, so even if you screw up, you're still relaxed. Add in simple controls, and things progress quite smoothly. There are a couple of bugs that have popped up concerning certain cards, but the devs are also actively looking into them as well as planning additional content, so if you like trains and planning ahead, you have even more content on the way.

I am really enjoying these "cozy" games lately; they're a different breed from my usual FPS stress tests and my RPG endurance gauntlets. In fact, they're rather relaxing ways to spend one's time. Station to Station certainly helped me relax. I recommend checking it out.
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Re: Games Beaten 2023

Post by Raging Justice »

Note wrote:1. Kirby's Dream Land (GB)
2. River City Girls (Switch)
3. Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest (SNES)
4. The Simpsons (Arcade)
5. Illusion of Gaia (SNES)
6. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder's Revenge (Switch)
7. Shining Force III [Scenario 1] (SAT)
8. Mighty Morphin Power Rangers (SNES)
9. Klonoa: Door to Phantomile (PS1)
10. Sonic the Hedgehog 3 (GEN)
11. X-Men Legends (PS2)
12. Snatcher (SCD)
13. Smash Remix (N64)
14. Golden Axe III (GEN)
15. Iridion II (GBA)
16. Fatal Fury Special (SNES)
17. Harmful Park (PS1)
18. Gunbird (SAT)
19. DoDonPachi (SAT)
20. Gley Lancer (GEN)

Image

21. Streets of Rage 4 (Switch)*

(As this is a replay and I've already reviewed Streets of Rage 4, I'll keep this write up brief.)

After my partner finally finished Tears of the Kingdom, she was ready to swap out the cartridge to another game in her Switch. We ended up playing some co-op Streets of Rage 4, as we hadn't played the game in probably close to a year. For this particular playthrough, I played as Axel and my partner (who usually likes to play as Adam) selected Blaze this time around. Just a FYI, we do not have the extra DLC that was released for the game and are playing the original release.

Our first gaming session got us through to about level 10 in the game, and we finished off the final two stages the next morning. I'm still so glad this game became a success story and sparked other companies to release beat 'em ups in a similar style. There are still a bunch we need to check out!

If you're a fan of beat 'em ups, give this one a go! I was skeptical this game would live up to my expectations of the series, but I think the developers did a great job with it.


Did the game feel any different? I remember people criticized various aspects of the game when it came out, so they eventually released an update with a number of balance changes. Ironically, they made the last stage HARDER, even though most of the other changes made the game a bit easier. With the DLCs I can only imagine there were even further balance changes

Incidentally, I used to enjoy playing as Floyd. Odd, given that I don't usually play games as slow characters. He was very effective though.
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Re: Games Beaten 2023

Post by Limewater »

Nerf N-Strike Elite (Nintendo Wii, 2009)

I noticed that my son seemed to like rail shooters in the arcade, and I have a Wii, so I got a selection of rail shooters based upon suggestions in the Racketboy article on the topic.
The first one I played was Nerf N-Strike Elite. I played a bit of co-op with my son, as well as playing through the campaign as all four players.

For a silly game about destroying robots by shooting them with nerf blasters, it's a lot of fun! There are eight stages, and each one is about 7-15 minutes long. With full gun upgrades you might be able to make it through the whole game in an hour, but typically it will be a little more.

You get to choose between four different characters. The game is almost exactly the same regardless of who you play as, minimizing the "team work" aspects you might hope for in a game about a team of four people. I had hoped that different players would provide a slightly different perspective on each engagement, but all your selection really does is change what guns you have access to and change which other characters you see standing in various positions on-screen.

Gun selection does really make a big difference and, unfortunately, the lone girl character is by far the worst. I'm not exactly super progressive, but that's just a bit disappointing. They made long-range shots her specialty, but during the normal campaign this is essentially useless and the trade-offs are not worth it. In fact, long-range shots are pretty frustrating. You press a button to zoom in, but then your character will likely move and adjust perspective, moving your scope completely off target. And most enemies don't even show up except at close range. I guess you could think of her as a "hard mode," but it's hard in annoying ways.

The game also has a gimmick called "red reveal." The game originally came with a nerf gun that could hold a wii-mote and had a flip-up red screen. Holding it in front of the TV on certain scenes can reveal secret codes or where to hit a particular enemy. It was a cool gimmick but, of course, my copy didn't come with the gun adapter. I made do with a bottle of red-dyed water we happened to have from an old craft project. I would really recommend some kind of actual red screen, though. Between the sub-optimal viewing accessory and red-green color blindness I did have occasional trouble with this, but only occasional.

I don't know why I felt like I needed to play as every character. I guess I hoped something would be different, other than gun selection. But four play-throughs was plenty. I think you could have a lot of fun playing through this a couple of times, or every few years. It is now the rail shooter i have played the most.

If you find it cheap it's a fun time, and very kid-friendly and appropriate for REPO's nieces and nephews.
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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