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On 9/25/2021 at 3:27 PM, Fabulously Olivier said:

Ys IX Monstrum Nox. It's a disappointing sequel after the masterpiece that was Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana. I actually preferred Memories of Celceta.

 

Monstrum Nox feels... slow and meandering. Padded out. Not the exciting, pulse-pounding adventure that the others were.

I know this review is a few months old, and I haven't played Ys IX, but I have played Ys VIII.

It was pretty good; I'm not sure about masterpiece, but there definitely was a lot to like: interesting plot, compelling characters, the island is fun to explore (and in fact the context of being stranded on a deserted island does justify a lot of tropes that JRPGs usually take for granted), and the combat is definitely one of the better action combat systems put in a JRPG; it's certainly a lot better than that of, for instance, the Xenoblade games. It did enough right and creatively that even I: someone who is not normally a fan of story-driven JRPGs, really liked it.

However, it and the first Xenoblade game share one major problem: they didn't know when to stop throwing in plot twists. Ys VIII is a fantastic game overall, but it's seriously brought down by what has to be one of the worst post-climax plot twists I have ever seen.

Spoiler

"It was all a dream" twists are already terrible 99% of the time, but the one at the very end of Ys VIII has to be the worst "it was all a dream" twists I've ever seen! In a game centered around stuff like evolution and working together to overcome the odds, with the central antagonist being a tree that drives entire civilizations to extinction to stimulate evolution, it turns out right at the very end, and completely out of nowhere, that their whole universe is just some random lady's dream (and yes, I did realize that the parrot was the lady) and killing the tree wakes her up? That has to be one of the most baffling plot twists I've ever seen!

Not confusing; baffling. Confusing is "What just happened? I don't understand what's going on?" Baffling is, "What just happened? I don't understand what the writers were thinking?"

 

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Tried to do the Legend of the Lake chapter in 3H.

This might genuienly be one of the most unfair bosses I've ever seen in a game, I wonder if they even properly play-tested this chapter.

 

(And the chapter up until you get to him sucks too.)

Edited by Samz707

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I just beat Pathfinder: Wrath of Righteous. internal save clock ticking around 5 days 15+ hours. But the amount of save scumming, load save and sometime jumping to 3-4 latest save , i believe the actual amount of playtime have additional 1-2 days (24 hour/day ofc) worth of time more. Easily best CRPG of last year imo if not because theres still some bug albeit not game-breaking left in the game. the amount of content, ambition, flexibility, and replay-ability is just sky high. CRPG or RPG in general like to give option when starting such as race, class, etc. but this one doesnt stop there, but also have "Mythic Path" that you can gain and choose which affect gameplay and alter the story, some in meaningful way, some just outright different. Think like what if FE3House doesnt force you to choose class at start. but much later if you meet requirement. and then you also had option to branch/betray that option you pick at start, when reaching 4/5 of the story, but with 10 option/classes/story branch.

Those option are more personal than other RPG where you pick faction,  because this also tied to your alignment. I pick Aeon Mythic Path. basically become part of cosmic order/consciousness - space Thanos that can snap evil creature to oblivion because they break taboos, law, and disrupt order in mortal world. also judge people because they break law of the world, you can actually see any NPC that has criminal record. which translate to story, gameplay and even see it in your companion. interestingly you also judge people for being too nice when in Abyss. because the nature of abyss is naturally evil. its Abyss, not heaven afterall so being too fair is no-no. so yes Its a first time i play role-play as an extremely Judgemental middle-ground higher beings in a RPG. Goody two shoes is standard, become evil is also becoming popular nowadays. being lawful middleman ? now thats something else.

i got the ending of "True" Aeon, something that i find endearing but some people will hate. A True Aeon can even break time-space to restore order. So by preventing the cataclysmic event by going to the far past, you prevent yourself from existing in the first place, and also judging someone before they did a crime is a violation of Aeon conduct. the ending is CHAD ending which the dialogue option literally says [cease to exist] as one of the option. its bittersweet since you can leave companion with your memory or not, which also change the ending slides.

and thats just one possible ending of Aeon, 1 out of 10 mythic path... oh theres a Mythic path which you actually become huge golden dragon and freely use that form in battle. also rare afaik

dunno what kind of headache a writer and developer goes to write that many variation of choice and make sure its working. thats where JRPG and CRPG differ i guess.

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Been playing Mario Party Superstars with my mother and brother lately. Making me real nostalgic for the N64 games. It's nice having a video game our mother can play with us, as she doesn't play a lot of video games.

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On 2/23/2022 at 1:36 AM, joevar said:

I just beat Pathfinder: Wrath of Righteous. internal save clock ticking around 5 days 15+ hours. But the amount of save scumming, load save and sometime jumping to 3-4 latest save , i believe the actual amount of playtime have additional 1-2 days (24 hour/day ofc) worth of time more. Easily best CRPG of last year imo if not because theres still some bug albeit not game-breaking left in the game. the amount of content, ambition, flexibility, and replay-ability is just sky high. CRPG or RPG in general like to give option when starting such as race, class, etc. but this one doesnt stop there, but also have "Mythic Path" that you can gain and choose which affect gameplay and alter the story, some in meaningful way, some just outright different. Think like what if FE3House doesnt force you to choose class at start. but much later if you meet requirement. and then you also had option to branch/betray that option you pick at start, when reaching 4/5 of the story, but with 10 option/classes/story branch.

I really like the abundance of class options, but later on I feel like many of them just fall back to the same mechanics/feats selection. But I never play any DnD before so this might be the norm in games like these or I am missing out.

Story and dialogues are great, I went with Trickster for my 1st route. Currently stopped playing at Act 3 cuz every time I booted it up it would overheat my laptop, but I like the options so far.

Have you tried Baldur's Gate 3 then? Based on the gameplay footage on youtube I think the combat has much more dynamics, and classes has bigger impact since the choices are smaller than Pathfinder.

On 2/9/2022 at 9:00 AM, vanguard333 said:

I have finished Valkyria Chronicles 4, I enjoyed it a lot (though part of that may be bias from it being the first VC game I've played), and I can say that I can understand not wanting to finish it, for one specific reason: the final mission. I don't think they really finished (or at least polished) the final mission: it's a large icy map where you fight a giant amphibious tank, and it's rather buggy and just bad.

I got this game on switch when I was quarantined in a hotel. Absolutely love it, but then I hit the level where there is this icy mountain and the parachute-soldier falling from the sky, and I just stuck there for the whole day (which feels really long when you're stuck in a hotel with no laptop). After that I just stopped trying and forgot about it when quarantine ends and started working. Is the parachute-soldier gonna be appearing much more frequently from there on out? Cuz if not I might switch to easy mode and force through it someday.

 

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2 hours ago, MagicCanonBalls said:

I got this game on switch when I was quarantined in a hotel. Absolutely love it, but then I hit the level where there is this icy mountain and the parachute-soldier falling from the sky, and I just stuck there for the whole day (which feels really long when you're stuck in a hotel with no laptop). After that I just stopped trying and forgot about it when quarantine ends and started working. Is the parachute-soldier gonna be appearing much more frequently from there on out? Cuz if not I might switch to easy mode and force through it someday.

If I recall correctly, the mission where you protect the ship from paratroopers and bombs is the only mission with paratroopers.

I don't remember minding the paratroopers that much, though that's mainly because I had multiple snipers on that map specifically to shoot down both them and the bombs. I do, however, remember those assassin girls that eventually appear on the map being annoying to try to bring down, but they're always annoying unless you bring the smokescreen.

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4 hours ago, MagicCanonBalls said:

I really like the abundance of class options, but later on I feel like many of them just fall back to the same mechanics/feats selection. But I never play any DnD before so this might be the norm in games like these or I am missing out.

Story and dialogues are great, I went with Trickster for my 1st route. Currently stopped playing at Act 3 cuz every time I booted it up it would overheat my laptop, but I like the options so far.

Have you tried Baldur's Gate 3 then? Based on the gameplay footage on youtube I think the combat has much more dynamics, and classes has bigger impact since the choices are smaller than Pathfinder.

the feat selection definitely overlap with other class when reaching higher lvl since we can easily meet its requirement at that point. but i think thats also very intentional since its there so people wont feel locked out/can pick almost whatever they want in whatever class. especially when you want to min-maxing. the gap between min-maxer and casual player is huge due to its flexibility. (i just pick whichever i like)

about overheating, i guess any unity engine game are like that, using so much CPU to the point its heating up more than usual in gaming. unless they extensively optimized it. hopefully bigger patch will ease that a bit. and sadly, if you overheat in act 3, you wont survive in act 4. lol

im really planning to play BG3. since i play Divinity by the same studio before and i know their quality. but i dont want to play Early access where things and rules may changes so many times until release. in fact i was checking BG3 before i found about pathfinder. classes have bigger impact, yes. but i cant say which one is better. both has its pros and cons imo. as for combat, its designed around turn based with environmental hazard in mind. while Pathfinder use classic Real time pause combat. pathfinder in turn based feels weird, while divinity or BG3 in real time also feels wrong to me

 

4 hours ago, MagicCanonBalls said:

I got this game on switch when I was quarantined in a hotel. Absolutely love it, but then I hit the level where there is this icy mountain and the parachute-soldier falling from the sky, and I just stuck there for the whole day (which feels really long when you're stuck in a hotel with no laptop). After that I just stopped trying and forgot about it when quarantine ends and started working. Is the parachute-soldier gonna be appearing much more frequently from there on out? Cuz if not I might switch to easy mode and force through it someday.

cant answer, only manage to reach one or two chapter after that parachute drop. but i bring all sniper iirc

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4 hours ago, vanguard333 said:

If I recall correctly, the mission where you protect the ship from paratroopers and bombs is the only mission with paratroopers.

I don't remember minding the paratroopers that much, though that's mainly because I had multiple snipers on that map specifically to shoot down both them and the bombs. I do, however, remember those assassin girls that eventually appear on the map being annoying to try to bring down, but they're always annoying unless you bring the smokescreen.

That's really good to hear. I usually only bring 1 or 2 snipers but will try to bring more. 

I replayed the mission those assassin girls 1st appeared just so I can defeat them again in much more satisfying way (bullet to the face, and explosion, so much explosion).

3 hours ago, joevar said:

im really planning to play BG3. since i play Divinity by the same studio before and i know their quality. but i dont want to play Early access where things and rules may changes so many times until release. in fact i was checking BG3 before i found about pathfinder. classes have bigger impact, yes. but i cant say which one is better. both has its pros and cons imo. as for combat, its designed around turn based with environmental hazard in mind. while Pathfinder use classic Real time pause combat. pathfinder in turn based feels weird, while divinity or BG3 in real time also feels wrong to me

I actually have lagging issues with Divinity 2 too, which I liked more than the 1st one so it really sucks. Still saving/waiting for BG3 final specs to get a new pc/laptop. 

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5 minutes ago, MagicCanonBalls said:

That's really good to hear. I usually only bring 1 or 2 snipers but will try to bring more. 

I replayed the mission those assassin girls 1st appeared just so I can defeat them again in much more satisfying way (bullet to the face, and explosion, so much explosion).

Sounds good. I can't remember how many snipers I had; I think I put four on the map and quickly found that many to be overkill, so 2-3 should be enough.

I see. Since explosions only ever seem to scratch them, I ended up resorting to having one person shoot at them to get their attention, then have someone get right behind them and shoot them, repeating multiple times until they were both defeated.

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I've been playing both Hades and Hollow Knight a lot. Exploring is pretty fun, but I have bad luck with floor spikes.

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On 2/24/2022 at 12:46 PM, MagicCanonBalls said:

I actually have lagging issues with Divinity 2 too, which I liked more than the 1st one so it really sucks. Still saving/waiting for BG3 final specs to get a new pc/laptop. 

Divinity 2 problem i think lies in too much effect that stay active (due to turn-based) which can overlap each other and stack the burden on lower end VGA card. every effect and element matter and synergies or obstruct each other and its become major part of gameplay especially later on. hands down divinity 2 win in that gameplay feature.

personally i like pathfinder:wotr more in terms of story tho. its one of the best power trip story in last decade for CRPG i've ever played or maybe also RPG as general (again, limited in which i've played & beat). because power trip directly proportionate to balancing. and the moment you become OP it become unbalanced, its also the moment the game gets criticized, which other devs usually avoid. also in Divinity both in 1 and 2 it play out like more modern rpg ala dragon age which only deviates slightly in terms of characterization regarding choices but not the whole story. you pick who to spare, who to bang, and who to slay, but still save the day in the end almost exact same way.

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On 2/12/2022 at 12:06 AM, vanguard333 said:

I know this review is a few months old, and I haven't played Ys IX, but I have played Ys VIII.

It was pretty good; I'm not sure about masterpiece, but there definitely was a lot to like: interesting plot, compelling characters, the island is fun to explore (and in fact the context of being stranded on a deserted island does justify a lot of tropes that JRPGs usually take for granted), and the combat is definitely one of the better action combat systems put in a JRPG; it's certainly a lot better than that of, for instance, the Xenoblade games. It did enough right and creatively that even I: someone who is not normally a fan of story-driven JRPGs, really liked it.

However, it and the first Xenoblade game share one major problem: they didn't know when to stop throwing in plot twists. Ys VIII is a fantastic game overall, but it's seriously brought down by what has to be one of the worst post-climax plot twists I have ever seen.

  Reveal hidden contents

"It was all a dream" twists are already terrible 99% of the time, but the one at the very end of Ys VIII has to be the worst "it was all a dream" twists I've ever seen! In a game centered around stuff like evolution and working together to overcome the odds, with the central antagonist being a tree that drives entire civilizations to extinction to stimulate evolution, it turns out right at the very end, and completely out of nowhere, that their whole universe is just some random lady's dream (and yes, I did realize that the parrot was the lady) and killing the tree wakes her up? That has to be one of the most baffling plot twists I've ever seen!

Not confusing; baffling. Confusing is "What just happened? I don't understand what's going on?" Baffling is, "What just happened? I don't understand what the writers were thinking?"

 

I disagree.

 

Spoiler

The reason why "it was all a dream" plot twists are traditionally insulting is that it undoes the entire plot as not real. The nature of Ys VIII's plot is that everything, everywhere is a dream, and yet that doesn't take away the real-ness of their existence.

 

It's the Matrix. It's an interesting exploration of the consequences of an absentee creator - one who sets the rules of life and evolution and leaves it to fend for itself. And ultimately, the choices your party makes have real consequences in breaking the cycle. You've effectively ended all existence as it was in ending the dream.

 

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35 minutes ago, Fabulously Olivier said:

I disagree.

 

  Reveal hidden contents

The reason why "it was all a dream" plot twists are traditionally insulting is that it undoes the entire plot as not real. The nature of Ys VIII's plot is that everything, everywhere is a dream, and yet that doesn't take away the real-ness of their existence.

 

It's the Matrix. It's an interesting exploration of the consequences of an absentee creator - one who sets the rules of life and evolution and leaves it to fend for itself. And ultimately, the choices your party makes have real consequences in breaking the cycle. You've effectively ended all existence as it was in ending the dream.

 

I understand that. My main problem with the twist is that it comes completely out of nowhere right at the very end, far too abruptly for it to actually work as an "exploration", and that it honestly runs at least somewhat contrary to a lot of what had been the game's focus up to that point.

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17 hours ago, vanguard333 said:

I understand that. My main problem with the twist is that it comes completely out of nowhere right at the very end, far too abruptly for it to actually work as an "exploration", and that it honestly runs at least somewhat contrary to a lot of what had been the game's focus up to that point.

 

18 hours ago, Fabulously Olivier said:

I disagree.

so uhh,... similar situation to Star ocean 3 ending?

either way thanks, now i know i dont need to play it XD

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On 2/27/2022 at 4:33 AM, joevar said:

so uhh,... similar situation to Star ocean 3 ending?

either way thanks, now i know i dont need to play it XD

I wouldn't know; I know nothing about the star ocean series.

Honestly, the other 99% of Ys VIII is still really good. Can a bad ending ruin a game? Sure, but I don't think that's necessarily the case with this game. Ys VIII is still really good overall and I don't regret playing it. But, I also bought it when it was on sale.

 

Anyway, I recently tried the demos for the upcoming Kirby game and for Terrible Name (Triangle Strategy). My thoughts can be summed up like this: "Kirby? Ah... Terrible Name? Gr..."

The Kirby demo was great; my only problem with it was Kirby can take forever to land sometimes (I know he's a puffball, but how floaty he is can be a bit excessive considering he already has multiple jumps and a hover), while my time with Terrible Name was a mess of annoyance and confusion.

Edited by vanguard333

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Yakuza 0

Spoiler

 

I decided to end my Yakuza binge with a Legend difficulty replay of 0, the first game in the series I had played. Now that I've wrapped back around from the first five games I can see why 0 is the one that caught on. The production values aren't quite as high as 5, there's some particularly low budge, still image cutscenes taking the place of dialogue scenes in the main story. But otherwise this is a strong showing for the series. In particular the storytelling is very compelling, focused, and nuanced. I really like the tweaks to the battle system here, particularly regarding heat management. As your heat raises, your basic attacks become faster. Performing most heat actions at higher bars will consume more Heat, but also reward you with more damage. However, heat moves on the same target has diminishing returns, so as the fight goes on, basic attack strings at high Heat are more viable. So long as the boss isn't loaded with passive armor. Meanwhile there are benefits to being at low heat depending on your current Style. You can even stomp on enemies now by not doing a heat action. Google tells me that feature was added in Yakuza 5 but I don't believe it, since that's the same game with Climax Heat actions that get in the way of whatever you're doing.

There are some overpowering elements of the battle system. The loadout of weapons you can pull out in a fight is still ridiculous. Yakuza 0 attempts to rebalance fights, but the only major changes are that throws no longer have I frames (making them very bad outside of a 1v1), and parries are much harder to perform. Of course a game like Yakuza doesn't need perfect balance of its moves and mechanics. As long as the player can express themselves with a wealth of relevant options, then that's enough for any 3D action game. But there are some options that do seem to dominate all the others. With Majima I found him too reliant on the Slugger style. All of Slugger's moves are pretty much there from the beginning of the game, with upgrades only providing passive bonuses. There's a heat action with no requirement other than walk up to the enemy and press Triangle. And it's the only style (before the Ultimate one) that allows you to block bladed weapons. Yakuza 0 is constantly throwing Majima boss fights with knife wielding enemies. And better yet, Slugger has omnidirectional blocking. Furthermore his third combo on Breaker just knocks down and stun locks almost every enemy in the game for better damage than anything else. Thankfully Kiryu's styles are extremely well considered and balanced. And even if they weren't it wouldn't meaningfully impact my enjoyment of the game - since it was never a deal breaker for previous Yakuza games.

No the biggest issue with Yakuza 0 is the same as any previous entry - the slow start. 0's opening chapters have so many red lights that it'd make your favorite modern JRPG blush. The early plot beats for both Kiryu and Majima are compelling enough to get into, but they come to an (often literal) halt whenever it's time to introduce a new style. Thankfully it's only the opening that has such pacing issues, but Chapter 1 I can see turning off new players. The fight at the end is so unbelievably difficult, that it wasn't until Chapter 13 (of 17) when I felt like the game threw that many threatening goons and bosses at you in one sequence with no break. In my Legend replay, I was fine since I took the first opportunity to stuff my inventory of health drinks. Only my ego was bruised at seeing I burned through nearly 10 of them. But a new player on Normal mode with an understandably empty inventory might have trudged through that slow opening, and is hammering Retry after each death, thinking to themselves "is the entire game like this?" before putting the series down entirely. I'd be curious to know if anybody had that experience, because every Yakuza fan will tell you to start at 0. 

The main focus of this replay was attaining 100% completion. I'm not the biggest trophy hunter in the world, but I feel pretty proud to count myself among the 0.8% of players that did everything. Regarding the Completion Checklist, it occasionally got tedious, but could have been much worse. There are two playable characters, yet they don't make you repeat tasks as each character. There are sub menus that keep meticulous track of all you've done. So in most games if you know you're missing one part of the checklist, you'd redo the entire list to eventually reach the thing you missed, but in Yakuza 0 you can always look it up. Even if it's an item that's not tracked for any CP point or achievement. It's a very completionist friendly game, despite all the hours you need to put in. Most of Yakuza 0's side content is all bangers. The substories are consistently entertaining and self-aware of their ridiculousness. And the Real Estate and Cabaret Club minigames fill you full of cash that is immediately tied to your character's progression. That's what previous games were missing - a reason to engage in side content beyond mild curiosity. 

For me, the worst part of Completion was Mahjong. I  don't like this game. Not only does it take careful study and hours of practice to truly understand, simply understanding the mechanics is not good enough. It's still a game about luck. For the CP checklist, it's not enough to simply win at Mahjong. You need to win with good, mathematically unlikely hands that force you to strategize like a madman rather than as somebody with money on the line. You could be in the middle of the most incredible hand only for the round to end early - through no fault of the player, since somebody called Ron on an anticlimactic set. There is also an infamous trophy in which you need to win 10 tournaments at the Catfight Club, which is a rock paper scissors style minigame with a ton of RNG involved. That trophy alone seems to have ended the journey of most would-be Platinum owners. But thankfully it was the sort of task where I can kind of let the game run its course as I do other things. Overall I think I grinded less on that than Mahjong which required my full attention as I shift strategies based on what I draw.

The Dragon and Tiger weapon searches are also a pretty obnoxious grind. I guess they wanted an activity like Real Estate for Majima where you can have it running as you do other stuff, but the stuff you get is so RNG dependent, and you end up sinking money just to make every search instant. Overall the Dragon and Tiger and Real Estate businesses would be much more convenient to do during normal play if you didn't need to walk into a specific point of the map just to interact with it. The loading screens alone on my PS4 Pro probably added up to more than a few minutes of cumulative playtime. If it had it's own part of the pause menu, everything would be more convenient. I know this game takes place in the late 80s where cell phones don't exist, but you do have a pager, so maybe you'd use that to summon your assistant over to conduct business.

 

Mighty Switch Force! 1 & 2

Spoiler

 

Mighty Switch Force! was an original game put out by WayForward on the 3DS over ten years ago. Technically a followup of the Mighty series of DSIware games, but Switch Force was enough of a breakout hit to be considered its own series. It's still great! The soundtrack and overly hyped main character grant a sugar rush vibe to what you'd expect to be a slow paced puzzle platformer. Each obstacle takes just seconds to figure out, and each level is just a few minutes in length. There's no story beyond what's implied in still images which aren't in any sort of chronological order. Only via wikipedia do I learn these characters even have names. 

Beating the game is easy, but going for a clear time under Par is where the real challenge is. Once you beat the game you can replay levels with a powered up blaster that one shots enemies and breaks obstacles you normally can't shoot open. It helps with getting Par times for most of the stages, but if you find it's too overpowered, you don't have to toggle it on. I like that compromise. 

The sequel is a game I had not played before. The only real change is that your blaster is swapped out for a fire hose. Less lethal but it opens up new types of puzzles. Apparently the Hooligan Sisters have joined the Fire Department with us, but we still have to rescue them and only them in each stage. There's also an Ugly Secret Baby in each stage. Watching our character punt him across the stage to safety makes me think we're causing more problems than we actually solve. Mighty Switch Force is not in danger of being lost with the closure of the 3DS eshop. WayForward has ported these games to pretty much everything since in a bundled Collection. However the next game I played will be lost to time.

 

Dillon's Rolling Western

Spoiler

 

Everything conceptually about this game is great. Blending Action with tower defense/RTS strategy. Wild West, but it's anthropomorphic animals. And each of the game's ten levels introduce new mechanics or enemy types. All the pieces are here, but then there's that one design choice that threatens to ruin everything. The gosh darned ranking system. You're ranked based on clear time and whether you managed to clear all three side quests. And if you haven't cleared the level fast enough, you won't have the ranking stars necessary to play the next stage. You'd have to play a level again for a higher score. And that's a big commitment since they are 30-60 minutes in length even when skipping cutscenes. Thankfully replaying levels is far easier, since they allow you to bring as much money as you want, and set up the most powerful towers you'd want from the very first day. That's a huge advantage that is absolutely necessary for the highest rankings.

To reach the final level, you need 28 stars from the previous nine levels. That means you need to average no less than 3 out of 5 stars on each stage preceding it. Bear in mind that it is not possible to get a particularly high rank on that first attempt. Is it possible to beat this game without ever having to replay a level? I wondered this as I played. Watching a speedrun is the quickest way to answer that, but there exists no speedrun of this game. Understandable, being a 3DS exclusive title (3DS is difficult to record footage from) that's at least 15 hours if you theoretically had no levels to replay. In my own playthrough, I had to do three replays, padding the playtime by a considerable amount. Since there exists no evidence of anybody ever having pulled it off, I feel pretty confident in guessing no blind player has gotten through this game without being walled from progress by the ranking system. And the game was plenty long already without the extra padding. Dillon goes down with Rayman 1 and Tembo the Badass Elephant as great games that suddenly demand completionism from the player in order to reach the end. 

There are more bizarre design choices than The Big One. I really don't like that you need to build the Gun Tower first before you can even see what its range is with the various weapons. That really stunts the long term planning in what towers to prioritize. Repair costs for turrets equate to buying that turret again, and it seems especially ludicrous that watchtowers costs just as much as towers that use weapons. Quests can only be taken on and be completed after the first day of three. So if you don't finish a quest at the earliest opportunity, its monetary reward won't impact your current run. Gear breaks down after extended use, but you can't swap out to weaker gear that you own if you're replaying a map. You might want weaker gear for higher combos and more chances at item drops even on later stages. And why do I have to physically go to towers to spend the money to build them? It would be more convenient if I could do this from the town preparations screen.

 

Rygar & Rygar The Legendary Adventure

Spoiler

 

Rygar on the NES is a game I've seen referenced over the years and am glad to have finally played. It's pretty cool. Like Zelda 2 it's an action platformer with an open world and character progression via experience points. I suppose Rygar would join Zelda 2, Castlevania 2, and Blaster Master as "technically metroidvanias" before such a genre existed in the hearts of anybody. Pretty generous continue system too. There are no extra lives to worry about, and dying just starts you at the beginning of that room. You can grind your health and attack stats off random enemies anywhere. Unfortunately it feels like you have no choice but to grind at the start. The first boss was just too powerful, while later ones hardly put up a fight by comparison. I was annoyed at how low the drop rates are for magic and especially health. There's only one place you can go for a refill for most of the game. Also the Wind Pulley ability is extremely finnicky to get working. You need to walk into the right pixel, and failure can spell instant death. 

I followed up my journey through Rygar with its 2002 reboot on PS2. Picture this: A 3D hack and slash set in Ancient Greece. Fixed camera angles. And a main character that swings his weapon on a chain. Sound like God of War? This actually predates that game. I wish I could say this was as good as God of War. Rygar's attacks have inaccurate hitboxes and are quite laggy. Really everything felt sluggish to the point where I could never seem to avoid or block attacks in time. There are a couple of bonus combos by combining light and heavy attacks, but the basic light attack spam combo tended to be the best DPS anyway. Magic is kind of frustrating because it's supposed to be a screen clear, yet it missed half the time on boss fights for seemingly no reason. There is a ranking system similar to Devil May Cry, however you are only told your ranks and clear times for each stage at the end of the game. So those going for the perfect run will not know if they're really on pace until it's too late to improve their rank. 

You know how in most games if a part of the environment can be broken by your attacks, there's some audio visual feedback when you make an attempt? Thus confirming that you have the right idea. Sometimes that's a little too game design-y for Rygar. There might be a tuft of dust - in addition to the usual sparks when hitting something breakable, but it's difficult to notice. The player won't have any issues walking into a room and wailing on every thing in it once they know this is a game about breaking stuff for pickups. But when the path forward is breaking down solid looking walls of a crypt, we've entered Metroid logic of needing to attack every floor, wall, and ceiling tile. And since hit detection is so off, the game may even fail to register that you hit a breakable thing. It takes just 2-3 hits to break down a wall in Rygar, but I'm pulling full combos to make absolutely certain - considering 1 out of every four attacks seems to miss something that's right in front of me. Other than shenanigans regarding breakable walls, the game is rather straightforward and you'll be unlikely to get lost in its open world.

 

 

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I finally 100% completed Pokémon Legends: Arceus... sort-of.

Since this game revolves around the exploring, finding and catching rather than the battling, I figured I would do what you're told to do at the very beginning of the game: seek out all Pokémon. So, I did; I set out to complete the Pokedex. I tracked down all 107 wisps and got Spiritomb, I did all the postgame stuff, and finally, when I was told that my Pokedex was complete, I faced off against Arceus and won.

…And then I looked at my pokedex and noticed that, while I had managed to catch a Cleffa, I never completed the Pokedex entry for it. I spent the whole game thinking that you had to complete the Pokedex to obtain the final challenge (Arceus), but it turns out that you just have to catch every Pokemon, so why fill in the Pokedex then?!

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I've been playing Octopath Traveler. Really like the art style, and the music is pretty.

Exploring is most fun. 

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Octopath Traveler is where I'd have liked to see Final Fantasy go. What's funny is how it feels like one of those "spiritual successor" games that a fan would create a la 20XX or Rogue Heroes, but it was made by Square themselves. Primrose is my favorite of the eight heroes, hands down.

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I've been playing Triangle Strategy. There's another thread specifically for that game, so I won't say too much here. I'll sum up how I feel about the game like so:

+ I like the strategic combat; it's very different from other strategy RPGs I've played, so it took some getting used to, but once I did, it has become rather fun.

+ I like the story and the characters so far.

-- I don't like the conviction system; moral-choice systems that assign numerical values to your choices are dumb.

-- I really don't like its name, so I simply refer to the game as "Terrible Name".

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Just got Metroid Dread after playing through Zero Mission, Samus Returns, Super Metroid and Fusion in that order. I have a fairly poor view of the series, and ironically the controversial Fusion was the closest one to being good for me.

Haven't played enough of Dread to form a full opinion on it yet, but it's the only Metroidvania I've ever played where the more powerups I get, the less of the map I have access to.

Metroid has only now discovered the existence of slide kick doors and how if only one side of the tunnel is on the ground, you can make them one way, and it loooooves using them to keep you from going back into old areas to use the powerups you just got to explore. I think it's doing it to keep me in enclosed areas as training wheels to get used to its habit of concealing passageways that I have to expose, which I frankly never found particularly fun. It would be fine if it were kept to optional exploration, but Metroid insists on hiding the actual way forward behind hidden passageways and secret breakable walls, which is just an invitation for getting frustrated and lost.

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Started Samurai Warriors 5 a couple weeks ago. Been a lot of fun. I love the Warriors games in general, but the new visual style and story presentation coupled with the incredibly smooth engine make it probably my favorite entry yet.

Rune Factory 5 just released, and given how much I adore 4, I fully expect to enjoy 5 once I start it later today.

Edited by twilitfalchion

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anno: mutationem released not too long ago so ive been playing that a bit. also been playing gran turismo 7 but its pretty grindy. besides that, i finally got fates to work on citrra so ive finallly gotten around to playing randomized fates

anything that im missing... OH YEAH, i bought elden ring a couple of weeks ago. havent made too much progress but its fun 

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Been playing a lot of Overboss lately. It's a spinoff of the Boss Monsters series where you and 1-3 other players take turns drafting tiles and tokens to build up a miniature overworld. Once everyone's map is complete, it's time to tally up points based on terrain bonuses, token bands, and other scoring factors.

I absolutely love Overboss' pixel aesthetic, which inspired me to come up with a board game of my own that's basically The Legend of Zelda as a tile-based adventure game.

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I just started Xenogears the other night and it's freaking fascinating. Definitely going to have a lot to say on that one. Haven't been making as much time for games in the last month, as two of these three I've been working on since February. And the fourth one, Kirby and the ForGOTY Land I've already written about in the official thread.

Elden Ring

Spoiler

 

When Elden Ring got its first trailer, I was left with two questions. Can the Horse Dodge Roll, and will the level design reach the standards set by previous Souls games despite the Open World setting? That's a No to both. Elden Ring's individual dungeons can be tightly designed, but the world connecting them is spacious and non threatening. Especially when the Stake of Maraka takes you to the area's boss fight and you can just fast travel out of a dangerous spot in no time at all. The Metroid-esque nature of shortcuts is notably impacted by both those decisions. The Capital city region gave me a good laugh when I opened up shortcuts from one bonfire to a previous one, but it was so pointless. Probably a level design artifact from an earlier state of development when the game did not feature such a free fast travel system. By the way, the Stake of Maraka is a wonderful addition. I don't disagree with this game's choices regarding fast travel, just pointing out that such decisions come at necessary costs. Elden Ring mostly lacks good interconnected level design because such efforts would be wasted in practice. 

As for the open world itself, sure, each individual enemy out there can kill the player in mere seconds, but you are too free to just ride your horse around them. You don't even need to dismount for fighting, or even picking up most items. It felt almost cheap, how much I got done from horseback that would have taken hours and dozens of deaths on foot. But on the other hand I really like that you can explore more than half the game world at your leisure just by carving a path straight there from the bonfire where you get the horse. In particular, it feels so refreshing to have a go at a tough boss and just decide "I'll come back later" when it seems a touch too difficult with your equipment and stats. Whereas in previous Souls games you have one, two, if you're lucky five paths to progression, each leading to bosses that have the potential to roadblock you. In Elden Ring, if you don't want to grind out the dodge timings for a boss fight, there are countless things you could be doing that will make you stronger. Coming back to a roadblock fight ten hours later can feel like a power trip. Revenge is so sweet.

When GOTY season rolls around at the end of the year, Elden Ring will be the game to beat. I think a lot of us saw that coming as far back as the game's initial trailers. It's got the critical darling advantage and the "everybody is playing this months after release" advantage. But like any of the Greats, it has its share of indisputable (though not necessarily deal breaking for most players) flaws. For instance, whenever I pick up a new item, why do I have to search my bloated inventory screen to find it? Can't they program it so that I go straight to that item's description when I launch my inventory after picking it up? They went through the trouble of writing much more straightforward item descriptions this time around, and I want to spend less than ten seconds getting there. And then there's the damned camera. If the game doesn't know what you're trying to lock on to, perhaps because the enemy is on the other side of a waist high rock or thin pillar, it will whip the camera around to face whatever direction your character is facing in that moment. Big budget 2022 game with the same lock on issues as 1997's Ocarina of Time? I also find it very annoying that we don't have Sekiro's stagger gauge on display under an enemy's health bar, when I know it's there as a major facet of gameplay. Finally, and this is a decade old complaint, but why can you not pause the game while playing entirely offline? Previous Souls games had the excuse of Invasions, but in Elden Ring you can only be invaded while playing co op. Is the problem not solved by this change?

It's fun to watch Elden Ring's biggest fans and biggest detractors arrive at the same conclusions for the game. "It's just Dark Souls with a map." Or "It's just Dark Souls 4". Yeah, that's kind of what everybody wants to play these days right? The Souls formula has been copied to varying degrees of success, and here's FromSoft raising the standard yet again. The fact that a game like this can release with this much content and be relatively stable despite the pandemic is frankly hard to believe. Horseback combat adds another style of fighting to your arsenal regardless of build. I absolutely love how viable it is to stagger every enemy in the game with heavy hits and jump attacks. The Stake of Maraka is a brilliant addition, cutting down on backtracking to the boss, yet also maintaining the value of the proper bonfires when you do find one. Personally I found Sekiro to be the more enjoyable game by ditching the RPG character progression in favor of tightly scripted action, but I can't deny that the proper Souls game brings in such fun multiplayer possibilities and replayability as you try out different builds and discover more things you missed in previous playthroughs. And I will never get enough of the messages written by other players. Sure a lot of them are low effort memes, but occasionally you read one that is exactly what you're thinking and it's funnier than any joke a writer can slip into a video game script. I'm not as captivated by Elden Ring as six of my friends with hundreds of hours into the game, but the fact that this game exists for us to experience together feels like a rare treat.

 

Rhythm Thief & The Emperor's Treasure

Spoiler

I don't know when or how this game found itself onto my 3DS, but I know I've been anticipating it in the years since. Rhythm Thief was a delightful adventure. Just your average detective novel story but instead you're playing the role of the notorious thief escaping the detectives via rhythm based minigames and uncovering a dark mystery underneath Paris. There's a wide variety of challenges that aren't repeated often, but they typically challenge only one facet of your brain, that is your sense of timing and rhythm. I mostly breezed through the game but I feel like the only game overs I got weren't totally my fault. When I miss one input it often felt like my other inputs immediately after were not read by the game. Like my controls were being arbitrarily locked out for a second, resulting in two or three mistakes when I factually made one. Thankfully the game ramps up in difficulty very gradually so only the last hour or so is particularly difficult. Only one challenge really got on my nerves where you have to put scraps of sheet music in order based on what you hear. But make one mistake and all of the correct pieces will be tossed out alongside the wrong ones, starting you over from scratch. And the scraps of paper have gibberish written on them so even people who can read music can't gleam the correct answer that way. What a waste of time. 

When the game is being a rhythm game, it's pretty fun. Sega published a lot of novelty rhythm-based games back in the day. There's probably a ton of references in here, but the one I immediately got was Space Channel 5. This optional challenge is a loving nod to that game. Outside of the rhythm challenges you're exploring Paris and tapping the screen for secrets, not unlike hunting for hint coins in a Professor Layton game. There are occasional puzzles in which you need to find the right sound in the environment, record it, then play it back elsewhere to fool an NPC, but the game is extremely transparent about what you need and where to get it, so it doesn't feel like much of a puzzle. And some challenges require you to physically tilt the 3DS. The 3DS' gyroscope simply isn't up to the task of being used in a precise rhythm game, but thankfully the developers noticed and made those challenges mercifully easy to compensate. 

Unfortunately the game ends on a sequel tease involving the last major, unsolved mystery. It's been over a decade by now and all that Sega has managed to do with Rhythm Thief is port the game to IOS with some compromises in quality. And I read one source claim that it was delisted some years later, leaving only the 3DS version. Rhythm Thief's developer seems to have only made one game since and that was the Trials of Mana remake. The 3DS eshop is of course beginning the process of shutting down next month, so this may be the last bastion for Phantom R beyond the overpriced second hand cartridge market. Currently it's part of a major Sega/Atlus sale for eight dollars, I'd say it's worth it for that price. 

Need For Speed Underground 2

Spoiler

Need For Speed Underground 2 was one of ten games randomly selected among my backlog by a computer. I was not about to protest, as I think I gained a much greater appreciation for driving/racing games as I got older. Racing game enthusiasts like to differentiate titles into two camps: Arcade racing, and Simulation racing, with the latter implying that the cars handle more 'realistically'. While I do see some merit in making such distinctions - judging how well a game's cars adhere to real world physics and limitations, I've always seen it as a means for Gran Turismo fans to differentiate their series from the others as the superior "simulation racing" subgenre. See also Silent Hill fans referring to their games as Psychological Horror compared to Resident Evil's Action Horror. Anybody can tell you that games shouldn't be judged primarily on how realistic their systems are. Most of us play games to get away from the real world's restrictions. Anyway the cars in this game all have about the same feel to them. Drifting in particular feels quite fruitless compared to standard braking before a turn. Drag races place your car in a manual transmission mode to test how well you can time shifting gears, but that's about as far as the game gets in exploring the simulation aspect of driving cars. The X button accelerates, but if you want to go as fast as possible, you need to press down hard. Damn the PS2 and its analog face buttons, what a stupid idea. My thumb got pretty tired after enough races. What possible reason do I have to accelerate slower in a race? That's the sort of "simulation" aspect that racing games do not benefit from.

The game's career mode is about twenty hours of the same five events. Circuit, Sprint, and Street Cross are all different flavors of racing to get from point A to Point B however you want. Drag races have you go in a straight line, and instead of being able to steer you can only change lanes to avoid oncoming cars as you focus on shifting gears manually and using your nitrous at the right moment - straight out of Fast and Furious. And finally there's drifting events, which are scoring events based on how long your drift is on a standard Street Cross race track. Maintaining a drift depends on you keeping your speed. I quickly discovered that the best way to rack up points is on the straightaways, turning back and forth like a maniac who can't keep his steering wheel straight. For some reason it counts, and since the "drift" is over such a long distance it scores much more than you could on the turns.

The career campaign is long. Longer than it needs to be since it has so many reused races. I don't mean the usual padding of a race in hour 1 is remixed to be harder in the last hour. I mean a race in hour 4 is repeated with no alterations in hour 5, and again at least once every four hours from there with the AI given higher stats to compete with your current stats. I'm pretty confident there are no races that aren't repeated. And I wouldn't harp on this so much if the game didn't try to pass off each event as a new race. It's kind of like running the same objectives on the same maps of Hyrule Warrior's Adventure Mode, only at least Hyrule Warriors has an actual Story Mode campaign with unique elements of its own. To make matters worse, in order to progress in the campaign, you need to guss up your car with aesthetic elements to increase its Visual Rating. In order to do so you must discover the hidden shops in the open world and meticulously figure out which item ups your rating the most. In googling to figure this stuff out, I discovered that the PC version has a very popular mod that patches out this aspect of the campaign mode since nobody likes it. Even if you are into car customization, you probably don't like having all this flashy crap on your vehicle to begin with and having the game arbitrarily decide which stickers, spoilers, and brand logos "look the best". 

Yes this game's career mode features an open world. The fictional California city of Bayview. This was quite unique for its time. Most driving games today have open worlds that connect the individual racing routes they were going to make anyway. Making space that connects them all shouldn't take too long from a development perspective and sometimes you just want to enjoy driving in an open space between races. What does take a long time is having to drive to these events rather than being able to merely select them from a menu. Still I like that there are bonus events and shops not marked on the map that you can only discover by keeping your eyes open. Traffic is also relatively light both in and out of races. If it weren't for the repeated races, this career mode would have been great for its time.

 

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