Games Beaten 2024

Anything that is gaming related that doesn't fit well anywhere else
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MrPopo
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Re: Games Beaten 2024

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A real trip is they spun off Arcomage into a standalone game.
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Re: Games Beaten 2024

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I think I owned a copy back in the day.
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Re: Games Beaten 2024

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Partridge Senpai's 2023 Beaten Games:
Previously: 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022 2023
* indicates a repeat
1. Terranigma (SFC)
2. Eastward (PC)
3. Pulse (PC)
4. Lost Ruins (PC)
5. Turnip Boy Commits Tax Evasion (PC)
6. Dropsy (PC)
7. Call of Juarez Gunslinger (PC)
8. Pokemon Ruby (GBA) *
9. Secret of Mana (SFC)
10. Fire Watch (PC)
11. Bokura (PC)
12. Romancing SaGa (SFC)
13. Trials of Mana (SFC)
14. Castlevania Legends (GB)
15. SaGa 2 (GB)
16. SaGa 3 (GB)
17. Celeste (PC)
18. Hell Yeah! Wrath of the Dead Rabbit (PC)
19. Celeste 64 (PC)
20. CB Chara Wars: Ushinawareta Gya~gu (SFC)
21. To The Moon (PC)
22. LOVE (PC)

23. Pikuniku (PC)

Another game I got free on the Epic Game Store at some point, I vaguely remembered hearing this was a fun game, and I needed something to fill the rest of my night because LOVE had been so short, so I ended up checking this out. I’d actually had no idea how long a game this was at the time, but I ended up beating it in about 3 hours after doing just about every side quest I could find.

Pikuniku is the story of a little island and the money man running rampant over it. Mr. Sunshine is here with his robots, and he’s gonna give you free money if you just let him take all that unimportant seeming stuff lying around! Just let his robots take what they want, and you’ll be flooded with free money! Its in the middle of all of this money giving that you, Piku, wake up in your cave. After escaping with the helpful advice of a random ghost, you emerge to a world that is certainly drowning in money, but it’s difficult to shake the feeling that Mr. Sunshine isn’t all he’s cracked up to be.

The writing in Pikuniku is really fun! I had no expectations going in, but it’s a game I found delightfully silly and funny, with some really fun dialogue writing in particular. The game also really wears its politics on its sleeve as well. It’s not exactly Disco Elysium, but it’s a pretty aggressive anti-capitalist work of satire, and it’s a very fun one at that. Perhaps it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea in regards to its humor, but I enjoyed it very much~.

The gameplay is a relatively linear side-scrolling action/adventure game. There are several large hub areas where you have a main objective to complete, and there are often some side quests you can engage with as well. Piku can jump and kick, and that’s about it, but the platforming in this game is quite satisfying, although it’s also thankfully usually optional if that sort of thing isn’t something you really enjoy. A lot of the adventure stuff and action too are really here to enhance the engagement of the story, and I’d say they do quite a good job of that.

Aesthetically, Pikuniku is as whimsical and weird as you’d expect a title published by Devolver Digital to be, really. Lots of bright colors, funky music, and strange yet simple characters populate the island, and they all have their own weird and funny ways of acting and moving. The weird silly walking style that just about everyone (especially Piku) have is one of the stand out highlights, as odd as that may sound. It’s a joke that could easily get worn out if the game were longer, but I think just how straight the game plays it makes it an enjoyable bit of fun that underscores every cutscene.


Verdict: Recommended. It might be a bit short for some, but this is a really good time! The writing is super fun, and the platforming is too (though it can perhaps be a bit too hard for its own good at times). If you want a weird and wacky action adventure game to spend an afternoon with, then this is an excellent choice for you~.


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24. Night in the Woods (PC)

This, much like Celeste and To The Moon, is another narrative-focused indie game that I’ve had on my radar for AGES. Tons of people I knew loved it, and I really didn’t have any reason to think I wouldn’t love it too, but it was still a task of getting off my butt and actually playing it XD. In my recent binge on a bunch of PC games, however, I finally made it to playing it (yet another game I got for free on the Epic Game Store at some point). It was a lot of fun playing it alongside my wife (for whom is this a favorite) over the course of a couple days off we both had~. It took me 10~12 hours (I had a lot of idle time, so hard to be sure exactly) to play through the English version of the game while doing every side activity I could possibly find.

Night in the Woods is the story of Mae, a 20 year-old on her way home from university. She’s not sure university is actually for her, so she’s decided to come back to her home town for a bit to clear her head about things and hang out around old familiar faces, and there are a lot of old familiar faces to see! Her best friend Gregg and his boyfriend Angus, her friend Beatrice, her parents, and a whole community await her in the sleepy Appalachian town of Possum Springs.

This is another game where I honestly hesitate to give much more plot summary than that (at the risk of making the game sound a bit boring), because so much of NitW’s appeal is just how well done the writing is and how well paced the story is. NitW is a story about individual issues, but about communities big and small too. It’s a story about how life just kind of sucks, that no matter how ready or unready you are, at any moment you can just get thrown a curve ball that throws everything into disarray, and you’re just expected to deal with that. From Mae herself to her friends to people she barely knows, NitW is very concerned with showing tons of different angles of how people deal with how things change, and especially how things just kinda keep getting worse. And why are things getting worse? Capitalism.

I had no idea about it going in, but I was very delightfully surprised at just how fiercely anti-capitalist this game’s narrative is. It does an incredible job of painting a picture, from a single person up to the entirety of the town, of how our modern society simply does not care about those not immediately valuable to the almighty dollar, and will readily leave behind in the dirt those who cannot fend for themselves. This is a story with a lot going on and a lot of layers to dig through, and I’m sure people much smarter than me have already spilled tens of thousands of words on the larger and smaller themes of this game, and honestly it’s not hard to see why. It’s honestly hard to only write about the story this little myself XD. At any rate, I’d heard this game was written super well, and it absolutely lived up to the hype for me in that regard.

The gameplay is a side-scrolling action/adventure game, but it’s far more on the adventure side of things. You go around town day to day, ending every day sleeping at your house, and you can platform around town as well as side activities with Mae’s super jumping powers. The general way you make days progress is by picking either Gregg or Beatrice to hang out with, but there are times that you need to engage in other things as well when the plot needs it. In the meanwhile, you can do all sorts of other activities with the denizens of Possum Springs if you take the time to get to know them. Walking past the same familiar faces and striking up conversations slowly helps bring Possum Springs to life for the player as Mae is filled in on the two-ish years of stuff that’s happened while she’s been gone. You don’t have to do most of that stuff, of course, but I’d certainly argue that exploring around town day to day is one of the most fun parts of the adventure, or at least it was for me~.

While I honestly have no complaints anywhere about the writing, I have some very minor complaints with the gameplay design, and its largely in the more game-y parts of things. This is a game that loves dark environments, like in the dream sequences, and on both my monitors (but especially my main one) there were lots of times where I could genuinely not see anything beneath me and I was platforming in effective total darkness. That won’t be a problem for everyone, sure, but given that the game has no internal gamma adjustments and changing the brightness of either monitor did nothing, it made already kinda pointless-feeling platforming segments feel even more frustrating.

Another thing to that point is the game’s insistence on a diegetic pause menu. Mae’s journal will fill up as she does various activities, and of course she can’t pull it out in her dreams or in a cutscene because that makes no sense. However, your options menu is reached via that journal, so if you’re trying to say, put the game back in windowed mode so you can drag it to your other monitor to make this dream sequence perhaps easier to see in, you’ll need to quit out of the game back to the main menu (resetting all your current progress in the area) to do it. Again, that’s a very me-issue, but it was enough of a problem that it’s hard to just completely pass it by here.

The aesthetics of NitW are very pretty. The colorful shapes and styles that the world and characters are drawn with almost give the game the look of a picture book come to life. Characters are delightfully expressive in both gestures and facial expressions, and it was very easy to see how so many of my friends love the cast of this game so much. The music is also very good too. Whether it’s the music underscoring a dream sequence or the song played during one of your band practice mini-games, all the music is fantastic, and it underscores the action at hand beautifully.

Verdict: Highly Recommended. While I may’ve had a couple small issues with how the game itself is designed, that didn’t stop me from enjoying the hell out of the final product. From its setting to its characters to its themes, this is a story that encapsulates so well so much of the struggle of the times we live in, and it does it masterfully. This is absolutely not a game you can afford to miss out on if you’re a fan of narrative-driven games.


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25. The Beginner's Guide (PC)

After finishing Night in the Woods, my wife and I still wanted to play some games together, so we decided to hit this up. A shorter game we’ve had on our list to play together for a while (as we’re both big Stanley Parable fans), this made for a great end for the evening on a cozy Saturday. It took us about 80 minutes or so to play through the whole game.

The Beginner’s Guide is a story about video games. Narrated by Davey Wreden, the creator of The Stanley Parable (which this was released a couple years after, he leads you through a series of short games made by a friend of his, Coda. Coda was a game creator that Davey knew years back, and he’s showcasing their library of work in hopes to show them that people do like it, and that they should come back to making video games again.

Much more linear and straightforward than The Stanley Parable, this game is undeniably less memorable than that, but it’s still absolutely cut from the same cloth. Seeing the lengths our fictionalized version of Davey Wreden goes to try and reach out to this friend of his is an interesting look into the creative process of video games, sure, but it’s simultaneously a strange and often surreal experience that at times borders on outright horror. I don’t really want to give away any more than that, really, as it’s something much better experienced yourself than simply told to you, but if you enjoyed The Stanley Parable, you’re bound to enjoy this too.

The gameplay and aesthetics are pretty straightforward too. The gameplay is all simple walking simulators put together with Source Engine (as the narrator himself is quite frank about), and the aesthetics are similarly very Source Engine in flavor. It’s not entirely default assets or anything, and the game does a good job of working with both level design and environmental design to really aid in its storytelling, but this is nonetheless a game whose gameplay and aesthetic features are more functional than standout in any other way (and that’s just fine with me).

Verdict: Recommended. If you’re into narrative-focused walking simulators, then this is a fun one! It’s super short, sure, and I don’t really think it can hold a candle to how novel and clever its big brother The Stanley Parable is, but if you can pick it up on sale, it’s an interesting and funny time you’ll probably enjoy~.
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Re: Games Beaten 2024

Post by Note »

1. Lufia & the Fortress of Doom (SNES)
2. OutRun 2 SP (PS2)
3. Dynamite Cop (DC)*
4. Soul Calibur (DC)*
5. Melfand Stories (SFC)

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6. Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals (SNES)

My experience with Lufia II dates back to the summer of 1996, around the time the game came out in the States. Thinking back on it, I'm pretty certain it was one of the last SNES games I would purchase at retail, as the release of the N64 was drawing close. I purchased it at a Toys 'R Us location using their famous paper slip system. At the time, I wasn't familiar with the game, but the box art looked great and I enjoyed a good RPG adventure. This may have been my best random purchase made due to box art. Although, I really enjoyed the game, I had a tough time with some of the puzzles back then, and I got stuck at the color block puzzles at the Treasure Sword Shrine. I even recruited my friend to help me with it, and we managed to get a bit further but then got stuck in another section. All these years later, the game was high on my list of childhood games that I really wanted to beat, so I consider this is a big accomplishment in my gaming hobby!

Lufia II has an interesting mix of turn based combat along with the need to solve puzzles in dungeons, which are somewhat similar to what you would find in A Link to the Past, except some of them are quite challenging, IMO. Unlike, the first Lufia game, you do not have random encounters in dungeons here, only on the world map. In the dungeons, you can see the enemies roaming about, and they only move when you do, so you can potentially avoid certain enemies if you prefer. I tend to enjoy grinding though, so I tried to take on as many enemies as possible. In regards to the storyline, I think the plot starts out pretty strong, suffers a bit in the middle of the game, and picks up again towards the end. I really enjoyed the cast of characters and the arcs of each, with Dekar's dialogue being especially funny.

Outside of the main quest, there is a lot to explore and put time into. A new system in this sequel is the addition of capsule monsters. There are eight monsters you can find throughout the game, and by feeding them specific inventory items, you can evolve each monster five times, in an attempt to reach their strongest form, which you'll need a special fruit item, depending on the monster. I also spent time grinding to get the funds necessary to purchase the items the monsters needed at that particular level, and made sure the monsters learned all their techniques in that particular form as well. For the first four evolutions, you can switch back to previous ones if you prefer an ability they had at an earlier stage. However, once the monster reaches its final form, you can not switch it back whenever you want, but I believe with the use of a fruit, you can devolve it. For this playthrough, I made an effort to find all seven monsters and evolve them all to their final stage. I liked to use Blaze or Jelze for much of the game, but I also found Flash useful in the early floors of the Ancient Cave for their healing ability. Darbi seemed pretty powerful as well.

Lufia II also contains a dragon egg sidequest, except in the second title, there are four sets instead of three, and the location of each set after the first is completely randomized. It helps to just complete this sidequest as early as possible, as the eggs can only appear in chests you opened already. To help you achieve this, you can purchase a device that will make a beep if there's a chest with an item available in the dungeon you're currently in. The other major difference, is that once you find the four sets of eggs, you fight the dragon in a battle, which I believe is the toughest in the game. If you defeat him, you get two pretty great pieces of equipment though, so it's worth sticking with it. There is also a casino area containing different mini-games, that could potentially lead to other powerful items. And, there is also the infamous Ancient Cave sidequest, which is a randomized 99 floor dungeon, and is pretty much it's own game within the game. I put about ten hours into the Ancient Cave, but I didn't feel up to putting in the additional hours to make it through at the time. Maybe in a year or two, I'll revisit the game to knock this out. While playing through the main story and the various optional quests, I managed to grind three of the characters up to level 98 (with 99 being the max), and Artea being a few levels behind, in the low 90s.

Regarding the graphics, they are a big step up from the first game, with improvements on character sprites, backgrounds, spell animations, enemy designs, and boss sprites. Also, the menu looks much nicer and is easier to navigate. I was especially impressed by some of the spell animations from later in the game, such as the Firebird, Ice Valk, or Zap spells. They all have great animation sequences in battle, but move pretty fast, so the sequences are not drawn out. If I can nitpick on the graphics, I wish that when you changed a weapon type, the change would appear in the battle screens. For example, with the character Artea, you can use a few different kinds of weapons, such as a bow, a rapier, or a rod; but no matter what he has equipped, his animation will show him using a sword. The music is also a step up, as the game has some pretty catchy, powerful, and atmospheric tunes throughout. The battle music is a favorite of mine and some of the songs towards the end of the game are especially energetic and evoking of emotion. I also really liked the theme of the final town in the game, Narvick, and the tune that plays during the ending sequence.

I have a few other criticisms that I'd like to mention. I have to point out that there are some bugs in the NA release. I've read these issues were cleaned up in the PAL release, but since I played through it on my retail NA cartridge, I can't confirm. None of the bugs are game breaking, but in one of the pivotal moments of the game when you find an important weapon, the shrine has a graphical glitch that makes it tough to navigate. I've heard this also affects the final floor of the Ancient Cave which uses the same graphic elements. The other bugs that come up are text based and not as big of a deal, but still a bit odd. One has to do with item names in the menu, when you remove or equip something, sometimes extra letters are added to the weapon or accessory name. Also, a few locations will come up with strange names, for example when you arrive at the Graetze Kingdom later in the game, it will appear as the " '3y Kingdom". I wish these things were cleaned up for the North American release!

Overall, even with the flaws mentioned, I think Lufia II is one of the best RPGs on the SNES, which is high praise, considering the strength of the console's library. My playtime was about 47 hours, with 10 of those being in the Ancient Cave. I have a reason to revisit the game down the line, to try to max out all the characters to level 99 and to finish the Ancient Cave. I don't think this game gets the attention it deserves, and I consider myself lucky to have stumbled across it all those years ago. I really wish we got a 32-bit sequel to this. How awesome would a sequel featuring Dekar have been? I highly encourage any fan of the SNES or RPGs in general to play this one! It might just be my favorite RPG on the console.
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Re: Games Beaten 2024

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Previous Years: 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022 2023

1. Tormented Souls - Switch
2. Battlefleet Gothic: Armada II - PC
3. Fantasy Empires - PC
4. Vagrant Story - PS1
5. Might and Magic 7: For Blood and Honor - PC
6. Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown - Switch
7. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: The Manhattan Project - NES
8. Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth - PS5
9. Tomb Raider Remastered - PC

Recently they released a remaster of the first three Tomb Raider games, and I decided to pick them up since I've played the two more recent trilogies but never game the original games a chance. The remaster is a minor upgrade; all the models have more polygons (while maintaining the feel of the original) and the lighting is a big more advanced, but they didn't adjust the game balance or anything around the controls. Well, that last one isn't quite true; there's an option for modern controls, but I didn't try them out. And having finished I suspect I wouldn't have liked them.

The game starts with Lara being hired to retrieve an artifact for a rich businesswoman. She goes to a remote part of Peru, fights some dinosaurs, and gets the artifact. But then one of the businesswoman's henchmen pulls a double cross, and now Lara decides she's going to collect the other artifacts first. So yeah, the big bad's plans are foiled because she acts too much like a big bad. You go hop the globe a few times to shoot wildlife, solve puzzles, and yell at deathtraps.

The best way to describe the original Tomb Raider is it's Prince of Persia in 3D. And by that, I mean the original Price from the Apple II. Lara has a wide range of intricate animations, all calibrated to live within the confines of the block-based levels. As a result, you need to get a feel for Lara's moves. For example, her running jump only fires off at a specific point in her run cycle and allows you to heavily buffer the input. Many jumps require you to jump at the very edge of a platform, which lines up with the jump point of her run animation. If you're going from a long run you need to pay attention to her animation to know the right time (and not jump too early), but you can alternatively walk to the edge (which keeps you from falling), then do a single back scoot which puts you the perfect distance away that as soon as you start running and buffer a jump you'll make it every time. So you have this weird combination of it looking very fluid when someone knows the game well but is extremely stop and go if you don't have that confidence.

The game is a mixture of platforming to find switches or push blocks to progress and then dealing with wildlife. The combat is pretty balls. Lara will auto aim on enemies in her field of view, and then holding down attack means she will continuously fire as long as she has the angle. This means you don't waste ammo if enemies are behind you, which is nice. The default pistols are infinite ammo, while everything else takes pickups. The enemies are mostly melee and are faster than Lara, so you get into this realm of jumping around and hoping you're in the right spot in the room to not get caught on geometry. Most of the bosses are hitscan ranged, so you just need to have enough health and can sometimes do some dancing to get behind them and get the AI to run around a bit while you shoot. It's never satisfying, and some enemy placements are an exercise in face tanking.

The actual environments are quite nice, with a good sense of level design that never gets too obscure in terms of what you need to do next. There are hidden areas in each level to give you some extra supplies, though the supplies you get on the main route are usually enough to get you through. There's a variety of environments and puzzles, so you'll never get bored with moving through the levels.

Overall, Tomb Raider is a very foundational game. While the Super Mario 64 style of movement ended up winning out overall, Tomb Raider helped codify much of the environmental interactions we see in modern games. It still plays reasonably well today, though you need to be prepared to learn to fit in with the game's block-based movement.
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Re: Games Beaten 2024

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Markies' Games Beat List Of 2024!
***Denotes Replay For Completion***

1. Mario Kart Wii (Wii)
2. Jackal (NES)
***3. Evolution: The World Of Sacred Device (SDC)***
4. Skies Of Arcadia Legends (GCN)

5. Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando (PS2)

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I beat Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando on the Sony Playstation 2 this evening!

Way back in 2012, I beat the original Ratchet & Clank. It was a game I had picked up on a whim cause it was relatively cheap and I wanted something to break up all of the RPG's I had for the system. Well, my PS2 backlog never diminished and picking up the sequel was never high on my list until I beat my Backlog. While at my Board Game Convention, somebody was selling this and Jak & Daxter for a very cheap price. It soon became some of the first games I ever bought after beating my Backlog. Well, a few years later, I was looking for something simple to play after Skies of Arcadia and this would fit perfectly.

Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando is everything a video game sequel should be. It takes what made the original so great and increases it along with adding new additions or fixing any problems. The game play doesn't change as it is still a mixture of hopping and bopping while also using different guns to blow up enemies. There are some mixtures in there as well in the form of mini games, space shooting segements, driving segments or rail riding, but that is the main aspect of the game. One of the neat new features is that your weapons can be upgraded over time with significant usage. Having them become more powerful is really a nice touch. The weapons are mostly standard, but some of them can be unique and have their quirks. It is fun to try them out, but it is also very easy to stick to your favorites. The story is mostly silly with some quirky characters. I did chuckle at a few lines, so that was a plus. It's a very small aspect of the game, but what is there is really good.

My only minor complaints is that the game is a bit harder than the previous one. Nothing too frustrating, but there are multiple areas where you will die and have to do it over again. Also, the bolt currency compared to the pricing is insane. Some of the final guns are so expensive and it is so hard to collect enough bolts to afford more than half of them.

Overall, I really enjoyed Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando. It has been so long since I played the first one, so it is hard to compare them. But, I really liked the improvements in the game as it made it easier and the challenge was a bit more fair. The game is nothing ground breaking, but if you enjoyed the first game or the series, this is a good one to pick up.
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Re: Games Beaten 2024

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MrPopo wrote:Overall, Tomb Raider is a very foundational game. While the Super Mario 64 style of movement ended up winning out overall, Tomb Raider helped codify much of the environmental interactions we see in modern games. It still plays reasonably well today, though you need to be prepared to learn to fit in with the game's block-based movement.

Your description matches my memory, I so enjoyed those games when they came out. I really need to pick up this trilogy!
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Re: Games Beaten 2024

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Markies wrote:Overall, I really enjoyed Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando. It has been so long since I played the first one, so it is hard to compare them. But, I really liked the improvements in the game as it made it easier and the challenge was a bit more fair. The game is nothing ground breaking, but if you enjoyed the first game or the series, this is a good one to pick up.


Appreciate the review, Markies! Glad to hear the game left a good impression. I played the first game on PS2 about two years ago and really enjoyed it, and I'd like to give the sequels on the console a go as well.
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Re: Games Beaten 2024

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Markies' Games Beat List Of 2024!
***Denotes Replay For Completion***

1. Mario Kart Wii (Wii)
2. Jackal (NES)
***3. Evolution: The World Of Sacred Device (SDC)***
4. Skies Of Arcadia Legends (GCN)
5. Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando (PS2)

6. Sunset Riders (GEN)

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I beat Sunset Riders on the Sega Genesis this afternoon.

Back in 2013, I completed Sunset Riders on the Super Nintendo. I enjoyed the game, but it was also incredibly difficult and could be a bit frustrating. It was an arcade port that was very faithful to the original. Much like many Konami games during that generation, the Sega Genesis also got a version, but this one was a little bit different. I was a little hesitant to pick it up, but recently I had heard that the game was quite good. So, looking for a new Genesis game, I decided to pick it up last year and I figured it would be a rather simple game to play after my longer games recently.

The Genesis version shares many similarities to the Super Nintendo game, but it also shares the same format as Hyperstone Heist with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. It loses many of its features, but it also something unique to the game. The levels are a bit longer and feel a bit different, but they also don't have as many bosses or characters. But, overall, the game still shares many aspects of the arcade original. It is still a Western style run and gun. You still only die with one hit and have some power ups to increase your firepower. To be honest, the Genesis version is much easier than the SNES version that I almost prefer it. The Genesis is much more forgiving as the bosses are the hardest part of the game and it only has 4 of them. Also, the game is a bit less hectic so it is easier to go through levels and not just lose guy after guy.

However, I would say that Graphics and Sound is better on the SNES version. The game looks and sounds just muted while much brighter on the SNES version. Even though there are fewer bosses in the Genesis version, the final boss is absolutely horrendous. He is hardest to hit and he has two full life bars to beat. You waste so many continues on him compared to the other ones that he is beyond cheap. Once you get him down, then the rest of the game can be just a breeze.

Overall, I really enjoyed the Genesis version of Sunset Riders. It wasn't as punishing and was just much easier to play. I do think the SNES is the better version, but the Genesis version is worth owning and worth playing. It is a calmer experience and one that was very enjoyable. If you are a fan of the Arcade or SNES port, then give this one a try. Or, if you just like good Arcade style Run and Guns, this version is also a great way to enjoy the game.
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Re: Games Beaten 2024

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Partridge Senpai's 2024 Beaten Games:
Previously: 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022 2023
* indicates a repeat
1. Terranigma (SFC)
2. Eastward (PC)
3. Pulse (PC)
4. Lost Ruins (PC)
5. Turnip Boy Commits Tax Evasion (PC)
6. Dropsy (PC)
7. Call of Juarez Gunslinger (PC)
8. Pokemon Ruby (GBA) *
9. Secret of Mana (SFC)
10. Fire Watch (PC)
11. Bokura (PC)
12. Romancing SaGa (SFC)
13. Trials of Mana (SFC)
14. Castlevania Legends (GB)
15. SaGa 2 (GB)
16. SaGa 3 (GB)
17. Celeste (PC)
18. Hell Yeah! Wrath of the Dead Rabbit (PC)
19. Celeste 64 (PC)
20. CB Chara Wars: Ushinawareta Gya~gu (SFC)
21. To The Moon (PC)
22. LOVE (PC)
23. Pikuniku (PC)
24. Night in the Woods (PC)
25. The Beginner's Guide (PC)

26. Suikoden (PS1)

This is a series I’ve heard praise for for almost as long as I’ve been actively looking into retro gaming stuff online. The steep price of the English copies combined with so many other RPGs to play had always kept me away from actually starting them, but the creator’s recent passing got me thinking it was about time I finally get around to seeing just what all the fuss is with this Suikoden stuff. It took me about 30-ish hours to get the best ending (collecting all 108 Stars of Destiny) in the Japanese version of the game on real hardware.

Suikoden is the story of Tir, the son of one of the five great generals of the imperial army. After joining up with the military and just starting out on doing missions for them, his childhood friend’s great secret is revealed. As it turns out, he controls a powerful and ancient magic that the empire’s high sorceress is hell bent on getting her hands on, and he gives it to you for safe keeping before he’s carried off by troops. Fleeing the capital, you eventually end up joining and leading the resistance army against the empire! Such is Tir’s quest to stop the empire and keep the Soul Eater rune out of the sorceress’s hands.

Suikoden’s writing is a very mixed bag. On one hand, their opting to focus on side characters rather than a main character means that we get a remarkable amount of great vignettes along our journey to topple the empire. The game is loaded with great dialogue writing and memorable side characters, even if not all 108 of the Stars of Destiny (the guys you’re recruiting) have terribly big roles unto themselves. On the other hand, the story is very badly focused, and not for the obvious reasons you might think a game with 108 recruit-able party members would be.

The biggest issue comes down to the whole “topple the empire, stop the sorceress” conceit of the thing. This isn’t so much a story of getting rid of a corrupt, evil government so much as it is a story about stopping the big bad wizard behind it all. The resistance army is really just a means to an end to keep her from getting the Soul Eater rune, and the game spends precious little time actually focusing on *any* sort of political or systemic bent as to why people would want to get rid of the empire. People offhandedly mention how the empire has “changed” in the past few years and that it is cruel *now*, but the whole empire thing seemingly worked out just fine until the sorceress started using it as a means to chase down ultimate power.

However, the game still has TONS of moments that are like “so what IS your justice, main character!? Are you even sure you’re on the right side of this war!?”, and they hit really weak when you know for a fact that you’re fighting on the good side, because you’re not the side with the world-destroying sorceress on it. It makes for some very confused larger themes, as it almost seems like the game is going out of its way to exonerate virtually anyone but the sorceress and her most comically evil henchmen as ultimately just good people caught (i.e. mind controlled) in an actually good system that happens to be corrupted by one big bad actor.

There are some other pretty significant problems around Tir himself not really being a real character (him being a silent protagonist makes the larger moments of pathos surrounding him pretty weak), but the big thing is just how bad the narrative’s indecision is about how bad the empire is vs. how bad the sorceress is. The moment to moment writing is still fun and I enjoyed it, but the ending was decidedly weak compared to how good that earlier stuff was. I can very easily believe that the games after this are much better (as I’ve always heard that Suikoden 2 is the realization of everything Suikoden 1 was trying to do), but that doesn’t really change how the original Suikoden is an impressive but still decidedly rough first try.

The mechanics and combat are overall pretty darn good, or at least satisfying in a way I really enjoy games like this being. It’s a turn-based RPG with a party of six, and a back row and a front row for both you and your enemies. Dungeon design tends to be short and sweet, and it’s really good at not letting the narrative pace get dragged down by overly long dungeons with billions of random encounters. Though all 108 Stars of Destiny aren’t actually usable party members (some of them just provide services for you back at base like adding a weapon shop, for example), there are still a LOT of potential party members for you to use if you so wish. While on that topic, finding the Stars of Destiny is actually a lot more reasonable than I would’ve thought it’d be. Almost (but crucially, not actually) all of them are signposted very well, and it’s actually not that difficult to get nearly all of them without the use of a guide. Three or four of them ARE unreasonable enough to stumble across that I’d still recommend a guide to find them if you’re keen to (it changes the ending a little, though not super meaningfully, imo), but I was very happily surprised at just how easy to stumble across most of the optional characters were.

On another very thankful note, the game’s EXP curve is also completely designed around just how massive a potential character pool you’re drawing from. Party members below the current level of an area level up EXTREMELY fast, often getting to rough parity with your other party members in the course of five for ten battles. Additionally, the large party combined with the safety of the back row means you have very safe and efficient way to include weaker guys in your party so they can still level up, which is also a very nice and well thought out gameplay feature.

The bigger issue with keeping your party equipped is money. Up until about the halfway point, getting more money is tough, and that can be an issue with how often you’re forced to have certain party members come along with you. Armor costs a boat load if you want the good stuff, and while each party member doesn’t have interchangeable weapons, their respective forever weapon can be upgrade for (a lot of) cash at a blacksmith, which thankfully cuts down on inventory clutter. Magic is a bit of a weird one, as you equip runes on characters at magic shops, and then that character can use the different levels of magic from that rune via a sort of universal spell charge system tied to their character and level (not unlike how spell charges work in early DND or Final Fantasy 1). Magic is both very limited but incredibly powerful, and it’s a similarly nice blend of “simple but learnable” like the rest of the combat is. It’s an overall quite easy game, but it still manages to feel challenging, which is exactly the kind of combat design I like in one of these games.

There are two other minor gameplay modes, and they’re duels and army battles. At certain parts of the story, your army will need to fight another army, and sometimes two characters will have a one-on-one duel with bespoke mechanics. Both of these systems, however, are just glorified rock-paper-scissors matches, with the duels in particular being extremely easy if you just spam the defend command (as defending also counters their power attacks to deal massive damage). The army battles are pretty and cool, but being RPS doesn’t make it terribly fun if you’re struggling with one. They’re not too hard, but that doesn’t change how it just sucks to lose when the only real reason you’re losing is just being too unlucky. Getting more Stars of Destiny will give you more and more powerful options in those army fights, so you can tilt the odds in your favor at least a bit, but it’s still something that I wish either had a bit more skill involved or were a bit more difficult to lose outside of just getting lucky enough (as there’s no cutscene skip option, and this game has some lengthy cutscenes at times that you’ll need to button-mash through to get another try at a hard fight).

The game’s aesthetics are quite impressive for one of the earliest RPGs on the PS1. Being from December 1995, it’s no great surprised that some of the character models and such don’t have a ton of animation to them, and that the graphics do look a bit muddy in places. Be that as it may, this is still a very pretty 2D game on the PS1. Monster design is fantastic and varied, character portraits are detailed and expressive, and environments are well put together and hard to lose your way in with how both brief and detailed they so often are. The music isn’t *quite* on the level of a SquareSoft game, imo, but it’s *damn* close, and this game has no shortage of really good music tracks, even if the actual track list isn’t too terribly long.

Verdict: Recommended. Though it’s certainly not without its flaws, Suikoden 1 is a really quality RPG on the PS1. It’s a bit mechanically bare for those who love really mechanically complex games, and the writing is a bit on the weak side for folks who prefer a better written story, but it does both well enough that I think it’s still a very easy game to have a good time with as long as you’re not demanding perfection from everything you play. If you’re in the mood for a good PS1 RPG, you can certainly do better, but you can do a lot worse too, and I’ve no doubt in my mind that, at the very least, Suikoden 1 will serve as an excellent spring board for its far improved sequel.
I identify everyone via avatar, so if you change your avatar, I genuinely might completely forget who you are. -- Me
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