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Integrity

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About Integrity

  • Birthday 08/16/1991

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    always have high high hopes

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    He/Him
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    Free D, Lobby 3

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  • Favorite Fire Emblem Game
    Fates: Revelation

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  1. haha this one broke a four-way tie, my franchise tallies on steam on this roster are now cleanly Like A Dragon in first with ten, Final Fantasy with nine, and then Travellin Cats with six awesome the other three franchises that were tied up with five each were call of duty, dark souls, and sonic, for the curious
  2. CATS HIDDEN IN CHINA (TRAVELLIN CATS, 2024) Finished: 26/4/24. Playtime: 24 minutes. The cats - and please bear with me here - are in China. This one just got its profile features unlocked after hitting the mystical Steam threshold for "legitimacy", so into the thread it goes. Travellin Cats Guy continues to hone his craft. Everything's just a little shinier: nifty art, little interactions to click on, slightly better performance and improvements to the hint system, so on. China in particular is one of the better ones done so far, with only a few brutal cats in the obligatory hundred that got got me to use the hints. I had fun. I like clickin' this guy's cats. A cool thing they've started doing is offering the gameworld art as a high-resolution PDF for an extra less-than-a-dollar, either for export to a digital art program or printing to make a coloring book. I think that's cute.
  3. a sequel to the sequel to 1942 then GOSH
  4. well i manifested a game about dogs playing soccer the day i posted railbound, only fair i manifest some evil the day i post final fantasy 9
  5. absolutely adore the old dudes who are asking for a sequel to 1942 e: legit though both surprised and impressed that they just went out and published the data like this. hats off to you crapcom
  6. ff10 is my legacy second-favorite (only behind x-2) and i doubt that something earthshattering is going to happen and i end up hating it on the replay tbh
  7. FINAL FANTASY IX (SQUARE, 2000) Finished: 11/6/24. Playtime: 94.7 hours. Final Fantasy is no stranger to sweeping gestures and absolutely huffing its own grandiosity at this point. 2000 to 2002 was, without a doubt, the peak of Square high on its own supply, at the top of the world. Who could blame them? They built a respected reputation on the Famicom, shaped legendary masterpieces on the Super Famicom, and now were riding the unprecedented successes of Final Fantasies 7 and 8. In 2000, with all the money in the world and absolutely no chance of failure, Square decided to unveil all three of Final Fantasies 9, 10, and 11 in one fell swoop: the swansong of the Playstation, the clarinet call of the nascent Playstation 2, and the prospect of playing Final Fantasy with hundreds of others for the first time ever. Behind the scenes, a thousand people were hard at work rendering and animating The Spirits Within, breaking all sorts of new ground in the film industry in what would turn out to be a ruinous windmill tilt. That was for the future to worry about, though. Nobody did it like Square. Let me be frank with you: I found Final Fantasy 9 to be possibly the single worst JRPG I have ever played. If this is a game that holds deep and sincere memories for you, if you're one of the many people who consider it to be the peak of Final Fantasy or even among the best games ever made, maybe reconsider even bothering to read this. I am going to be unrelentingly negative for quite a long time from this point about something entirely out of your control and largely subjective, and you might not need that negativity in your day. Go pet a cat instead. With that caveat out of the way, let's sink our teeth into it. I'm not going to make an element-by-element takedown post like I did with Ishin! or the as-yet unposted Monster Hunter Rise, but I am going to be a little more comprehensive than I've been. It's a lot easier for me to write about something I hated than something I loved, for whatever reason. First up is the cast and plot of Final Fantasy 9. Bluntly, it's the weakest it's been since the Famicom on both points, and the cast in particular holds it back in multiple ways. This is one of the few points I will concede to the game: Freya was beyond reproach, as was Amarant largely, and Vivi deserved to be in a different game. None of the rest of the cast even broke the "would take begrudgingly" Mendoza line of RPG companions, and this regrettably includes always-forced Zidane. Zidane and Garnet's romance is a place imitation of any of its forebears, and is played with an absolutely aching lack of charm from both parties. Quina drags down every scene the game remembers they're supposed to be in, which is fortunately very few. Steiner is capable of being enjoyable when he's not being played as a joke, and the game plays him as a joke 70% of the time. Eiko is six years old and is defined entirely by yelling about how adult she is and how in love with Zidane she is. It's a crap cast. I could probably come up with two or three guests from Final Fantasy 2 I would take over the lower half of the party in this game. The weak links of 7 and 8 would still slot in as my fourth over all five others, were Zidane replaceable. The plot they all slot into doesn't help matters at all. Final Fantasy 9's plot is extremely by-the-numbers but, crucially, fails to establish any momentum at any point. Being derivative or predictable is not at all a sin - I still like Eddings' Belgariad, for Christ's sake - but the complete lack of momentum crushes it completely. The early game commits the deep sin of simply giving the bad guys no limits on what they can accomplish, and then later giving them an explicit Star Trek transporter. Your opposition simply is wherever they need to be, in whatever quantities they need to be, and this extends to a comical party split sequence where the same three guys are the menacing parties for both halves of the split simultaneously. Things just happen, with no real setup and no real payoff, just another country gone poof and another force-loss boss battle and another plot reset, as the villains aren't particularly closer to realizing their nebulous goals and you're not particularly set back over it except for the unfathomable and kind of brushed-off loss of civilian life. It's war with stakes and without consequences. That brings the spotlight onto the antagonist corps of Final Fantasy 9. It's worse than it's ever been, and I'm confident in saying it's worse than it will yet be. Kuja headlines, all bishonen and really badly dressed, and I want to stress that I mean this sincerely: he's just Kefka without any of the charm. I do mean the same Kefka who I found to be an incredibly poor villain. Kuja has multiple of his own Joker moments as he orchestrates the entire plot, beats you several times after beating him, is eventually killed in battle and completely repents offscreen before you see him next, which is its own can of worms. Suffice it to say that I thought Zidane's Final Decision was one of the single stupidest and self-fellating scenes in all of Final Fantasy. Kuja's only the helm of a squad of secondary villains, and they're also the worst the franchise has been. The standout positive is probably Beatrix, who commits the sin of only being boring and having multiple boss fights where you have to lose to her, but not too fast, you know, if you lose to her like for real you game over, but if you do enough damage to her to lose to her the way the game wants then you can move on. Then, on a dime, she flips over and is a good guy for the rest of the game. Garland, Kuja's boss, shows up very late in the game to posture himself as the true final boss, the man behind the man, and then he's unceremoniously killed by Kuja in a cutscene not unlike Gestahl by Kefka, setting up Kuja as the true final boss. Then, after you kill Kefka, you're informed for the first time ever of the existence of Necron and thrust into a boss battle against him, and killing him ends the game. I cannot stress how nowhere Necron comes from. Fucking Zeromus was more telegraphed than Necron was. The crown jewel of the Final Fantasy 9 Antagonist Squad is, of course, the clowns Zorn and Thorn. Final Fantasy, at this point, had fallen into a pattern of having recurring miniboss squads that you beat repeatedly - the Turks in 7, Seifer's cronies and Biggs & Wedge in 8, so on. Ignoring the subjective judgment that those were cool and Zorn and Thorn are, by far, the worst part of this entire game, my big beef with Zorn and Thorn is that they're the biggest narrative shit that the game serves up. The thing with the Turks and the other miniboss squads is that you repeatedly beat them and you never really had a reason to finish the job. The Turks explicitly run away when low on health and, on top of that, they're inherently replaceable; they're literally faceless goons in black suits. Fujin and Raijin stick around because Squall doesn't actually want to kill fellow students if he can help it, and their relationship is far more complicated than simple antagonism. Biggs and Wedge are a comedic beat, a standin for all the guys you cut through. Zorn and Thorn, critically, beat you all the time with tricks and traps. They cause multiple problems by kidnapping and thwarting your party and commit explicit atrocities in front of you, and you beat them in multiple fights (leaving them helpless) without ever finishing the job. They are threats to you, unlike the previous listed. They are monsters, unlike the previous listed. There's no reason actual hardened warriors like you explicitly have are simply knocking them out and letting them go free to do it again, repeatedly. But they do, until they don't, for plot reasons. I will highlight a single element of the plot for praise, but it's a mixed bag. Vivi's subplot, reckoning with mortality and discussing the meaning of existence with the other Black Mages, is generally fantastic. Hell, on top of that, it somehow drags Zidane up to par whenever he's acting as an older brother to Vivi. I honestly don't have a bad thing to say about it. The problem is, tonally, it's a completely different game. It had absolutely nothing to do with the tone of the rest of Final Fantasy 9, and it's only peripherally related to the themes of the game through 9 itself being tenuously about forging one's own way irregardless of the circumstances from which they came. It's a theme that drags the game down all over the place when they try to get into it, and it's always discussed in a completely different tone from Vivi's bits, and it leads to Vivi's story feeling cannibalized from an entirely new story. Still, I can't deny that it hit well before going right back into Eiko's bullshit. Final Fantasy 9's failure to establish momentum carries over completely into the gameplay. I groused about 4's seeming unwillingness to let you build on foundations and have a consistent way to approach problems, with a toolkit that felt perpetually half-empty, but I underestimated how far they'd go. 9's party is a complete revolving door for the first fifteen or twenty hours, adding and subtracting from a pile of four or five guest characters in addition to the actual cast while flitting between up to three different parties. You never build a rhythm, characters leave with kit you might want for indefinite periods all the time, and you're frequently left without any access to fundamental things like "any healing". I burned through more potions in the first half of Final Fantasy 9 than I have in the sum total of the franchise to date. It never cools down, either; the split and forced party loadouts don't stop fully until the final dungeon, where you're finally even allowed to shrug off Zidane himself. A particular highlight was a boss fight where you're forced to use, exclusively, Zidane and Quina. It wasn't terribly hard, but Quina was literally oneshot before even acting on my first attempt, and I was able to win on my second attempt when the boss hit Zidane first and Quina could spend an action to chip in 1,000 damage via 1,000 Needles before dropping an Elixir on Zidane and then dying. The problem is compounded by the fact that, when Final Fantasy 9 is firing on all cylinders, it's a genuinely shit game. It's the worst implementation of ATB, a system I've already railed at for too many paragraphs, and it isn't even close. The times ATB has approached being good have been due to two factors: being largely invisible (5) and doing something with the format (7 via Limit Breaks). 9's ATB is front and center, unignorable, and you can do nothing to interact with it while several bosses get ways to bypass it entirely. Second-to-chief among my complaints is the speed: the ATB bars themselves are notably slower and almost all animations are significantly slower than previous incarnations. Everything just plods along, which is deeply exacerbated by my chief complaint: you remember that thing I've mentioned before where, with ATB on Wait, you could "freeze" time by sitting in a submenu and letting the action queue clear itself out? This is no longer possible. A single ATB tick must occur between any two actions. This means that the ATB Action Queue is always a black box, with absolutely zero way to slow things down and guarantee or even gain confidence in your actions. If a boss can swap to a counter stance, you cannot freeze and let your spells play out before sending an action command, because the boss could have it queued up on the next tick and you won't find out until you resume time, losing the entire point. It's easy to characterize the time freeze as a mild exploit, but it was the only thing that made ATB an actual tactical system where the player could read and adapt rather than a system based on foreknowledge, vibes, or simple out-numbering of the enemy. That's hardly even getting into the boss design. Final Fantasy 9 leans heavily into bosses acting quickly and getting significant counters and status applications, which isn't necessarily a sin except for the lengths they go to and the tools the game gives you to respond. At the absolute top end, this quite literally means a boss who has a 50% chance to counter any attack on him with Curaga, or a boss who gets a nearly-fixed first turn casting Meteor on the entire party, which can do anywhere between a stiff tickle and 4,500 damage in a game where you're overleveled to have 4,000 HP. The optional boss, Ozma, has a special script that if you target him with any attack that isn't during a spellcasting animation, it fills his ATB bar and puts his next action on top of the queue. The game has comprehensively moved away from the previous PSX games playing around with the idea of the player playing around with ATB and mastering it and gone full-bore into ATB being a hateful system that you can never quite grok how the AI uses it, while you are a mere minnow. You can never influence the queue. What you can do, however, is prepare, and this is yet another way in which Final Fantasy 9 drops the ball. You learn abilities by having equipment, uh, equipped. Each piece of kit has certain skills that certain characters can learn by gaining AP after battle. This is the only way to learn new spells, skills, and passives, which leads to it doing double duty: it cheapens getting upgrades because you might need to sandbag for a while to get abilities off old gear or the new upgrade might come with skills you already got, and it also fucks progression because you might miss out on completely critical skills. I chose to use Garnet as my healer for the game because the other choice was fucking Eiko; Garnet doesn't get Curaga access until Disc 4 through a shop you aren't told has changed stock, or slightly earlier if you go through the entire Chocobo Treasure Hunt. Status prevention skills are all over equipment, but they don't exist for some of the most devastating and common statuses like Mini. Hell, the statuses of 9 deserve a whole paragraph of their own, including such awful specimens as "you don't earn EXP after this fight until you die or use the item that only exists to cure this ailment" and "if you act, you die, in this game where your action might have been queued up an entire minute ago". This also creates a horrible imbalance in your characters in various and weird ways. Steiner is double disadvantaged by his poor availability by constantly lagging in levels and completely lacking in skills by the time you get reliable access to him. Your choice of healers between Garnet and Eiko is defined largely by the fact that the game never tells you that Eiko learns Holy and Esuna (Esuna!!!) and Garnet never will. You gotta look this up or fill out her whole White Magic sheet and then go "wait, hang on". Hell, Garnet as a unit could fill out a whole paragraph, given as she's a summoner whose summons scale up in power by how many of their summon gems you find, meaning that if you don't engage in the Chocobo Treasure Hunt she's a worse summoner than Eiko and a worse healer than Eiko. On the flip side, you have Freya who does high melee DPS on solid durability and has a party-wide mana restoration spell that restores more than its casting cost to her, turning your casters of choice infinite on her own; or Amarant who is a hellish what-if EdGe had had solid support abilities instead of mediocre nuking abilities, as well as a shitload of health. Vivi is absolutely gutted early on if you don't steal the first staff that gets him a tier 2 spell, since it's something to the tune of eight times the damage for twice the mana. Zidane is going to run completely out of things to spend AP on, while Garnet is never going to finish learning support abilities because they share the single equipment slot she needs to use to learn summons. It's a bad dance, poorly realized, and never benefits the game at all. I'm not even sure it's better than a hypothetical Junction that got a real interface. Ultimately, what ruins Final Fantasy 9 is how in-love it is with completely wasting your time. You cannot see what skills are on equipment without going into the Equip screen. You cannot see what skills on equipment do without equipping them and then going into the Abilities screen. You cannot see what skills are on equipment in the shop until you buy them and then go through the above. Save points are moogles now, and have a complete animation and dialogue they have to play out to let you save. To save on the world map, you have to press the Summon Moogle button, wait for him to arrive, wait for him to talk, and then go to save. To swap party members, you have to go back to your airship, enter, take off, go back to the bridge, swap party members, return to flying, and land. The fight transition screen is glacial, animations are glacial, towns are laid out to maximize your screen transitions from entrance to any services, innumerable plot beats consist of walking from A to B to A to B in the vein of the worst vices of the later 14, the list goes on. Final Fantasy 9 hates you, and by God, the feeling is mutual. I haven't even gotten into the achievements. I think 9's achievement set is even more unreasonable than 8's. Beating the game is, of course, one. One, mind, of eighty-five, plus the mandatory one for getting the airship. Along the way, you have to gather a significant majority of the treasure in the game, including many missable elements, untelegraphed hidden treasures that aren't in boxes, boxes that respawn their contents between discs, and treasure gained from events and sidequests. Speaking of things which are missable, you have to max out four minigames that only appear during a single sequence of gameplay and then go away: to perfectly perform an random series of QTEs, to level a guy up to 99 in a button mashing minigame, to beat 9 straight iterations of a cup shuffling game that is itself a bluntly unreasonable achievement, and to mine a special ring at a tiny drop rate out of a rock. There's a festival that you have to rig for Vivi to win and a few True Run things to do like escorting all the civilians to safety successfully. A special camo moogle can show up eight times across the game, you have to buy his stuff every time. Topping off the missables is the Active Time Event (ATE) system, which I didn't harp on in the main paragraphs to save for here. At certain points in gameplay, you'll get a noise and a popup to say that an ATE is available, which you can press Select to watch and is invariably a short vignette of what someone else is up to right now. I don't like these. I think they break up the flow of story badly and are often offered too densely that they end up, well, preventing 9's story from building momentum. Towns become time sinks where you get to watch two other party members go through a short comedy routine in three acts, but it's not one scene, it's consecutive scenes that pop up as you transition areas. Many of these are missable and many are missable if you don't watch the previous ones in the right order, or if you don't hit insane criteria like "having less than 100 gil". There's an achievement to watch all of them. It is completely infeasible to find them all without a guide. Outside of missable stuff, there's a pile of achievements to interact with everything in battle. A hundred Blue, Black, and White magics, summon every eidolon. Fifty Steals, fifty Defends, thirty times ambushed, stuff like that. There's a handful for relatively trivial stuff, like getting each character's ultimate weapon, calling your overworld moogle seventeen times without asking him to do anything, winning ten auctions, or making a party with all men and a party with no men. There's a handful of non-trivial ones, such as meeting the Gameshow Host Rat seventeen times and answering his question right every time, or meeting all eight friendly monsters and feeding them what they want, or learning all 63 support abilities available on at least one character each. Much of the achievement grind is tied up in the major minigames. Macrogames? Something like that. First among those is the Chocobo Treasure Hunt. You aren't ever diverted into this, and the rewards are mostly crap until the late stages when you get Garnet's ultimate weapon. The actual gameplay of it is just ass. You get on a chocobo and you press square to peck the ground. You get a box telling you how close you are to a treasure. You move and do it again. You move and do it again. If you get onto the exact spot where a treasure is, you get to dig it up by mashing square. It's the worst kind of minigame, the kind that requires both hands and both eyes and does not require your brain. It might be entertaining for like four or five rounds of about a minute each. You have to dig up thirty Chocographs from it, across three locations, and you aren't close to guaranteed to get one each round. Twenty-four of the Chocographs turn into treasure maps on the overworld where you have to bring a chocobo to the location and then play the game on the overworld as well to get the treasure. Once your chocobo is leveled, you can also access hidden treasures that are marked by a slight foam in the ocean or a slight crack in a mountain. You need to get everything listed, and on top of that also get the Ultima Weapon, which is in a completely unmarked square of ocean - I literally had to pull up two screenshots and triangulate the position by comparing the reptetition of the ocean textures until I got it. Doing this all finishes the Chocobo Treasure Hunt, and leads to three more achievements. Oh, by the way, once it's done you also have to grind your chocobo to level 99, which is about 15,000 points. You'll get to about 5-6,000 after the main quest, and after that you get them in packets of 200-400 if you're playing perfectly. Enjoy the hour or two minimum of just grinding Chocobo Hot and Cold! That "four or five rounds" has now seamlessly stretched into the plural hundreds of rounds. The first of these is that, on completion of the Chocobo Treasure Hunt, the Fat Chocobo tasks you with visiting every beach in the world. This is tedious, but not difficult. Opening all of the cracks in the walls also unlocks a full other sidequest that I'll get to in a moment. Third, and finally, this is all required to fight the superboss, Ozma. Ozma is a complete piece of shit fight, with an aforementioned script that just lets him cheat ATB completely unless you know what to do. Nominally, you can slightly depower him, making him not heal himself with his map-wide AoE and making him damagable by autoattacks, by completing the friendly monster sidequest. This didn't work for me, for some reason, and I ended up fighting him at full power. Even at level 99, it took me five or six tries to get the RNG needed to beat him, because he still has the tools in his completely randomly selected kit to oneshot multiple party members from full or apply completely unresistable statuses to you. Or he won't, he just will decide not to, and you'll win the DPS race. Either way. That other mentioned sidequest is the Mognet sidequest. Across the entire game, moogles will give you letters to deliver to other moogles. You have to deliver all of these as you go, just tediously checking each one as you go including some hidden moogles (or using a guide) until you get to Disc 4. At that point, you can get a final flurry of letters, run them around the world, and turn the Mognet Central machine back online for no payoff whatsoever. I only even devote a whole paragraph to this because moogles make fucking everything worse. There's still two more minigames to get to! Frog catching requires Quina in your party, and is played at four marshes across the world. You go in, Quina asks if they can catch frogs, and you say yes. Frogs jump randomly and are easy to catch. You have to catch 99 of them. This sounds simple, but the frogs have a population mechanic. Each marsh has its own population of up to 8 frogs and repopulates in real time depending on what you leave caught. Catching everything means the marsh will be very slow to repopulate, while leaving a breeding pair of a male and female frog speeds things along. Practically, you can catch six frogs per marsh per visit, and it takes a few in-game hours to repopulate each marsh. It's tedious more than difficult, and takes more real time than it needs to. It's also three achievements for some reason: to catch a rare golden frog, to catch 99 total frogs, and to get Quina's ultimate weapon, which comes from an easy battle you fight after catching your 99th frog. The final macrogame to address is Tetra Master. Tetra Master is the game's answer to Triple Triad, and it's worse than its predecessor in basically every imaginable way. You get five cards to place on a 4x4 grid, and the cards can attack enemy cards in directions based on what arrows are on the card. Winning a Card Fight can cause a cascade based on those arrows. Fights are based on the card's stats, which are based on the card type but can be randomly assigned and can grow with time and the arrows aren't fixed either and actually the numbers aren't stats they're a stat range and combat is random actually, basically anyone can fuck up against basically anyone randomly and you can only mostly plan for anything. Also, when the board is generated, it has a series of random blockers every time so a rematch might play out totally different and might completely favor an offensive or defensive deck and there's no way at all to plan for this, Anyway. Tetra Master sucks. You have to track down 100 different people to fight and beat each one. If you save this for endgame, there's at least 105 guys to play against. You get nothing from beating them as you go, unlike 8 where you could turn cards into spells and suchlike. On top of that, you can only hold onto 100 cards at a time, so even without interacting with the game at all you're going to max out on cards and then every single time you play you'll have to pick something to discard. It's shit all the way down. It's a genuinely deplorable game, and I had to get good at it for this stupid game which I already hated. A special shoutout goes to a stupid little minigame that wasn't actually hard: jump rope. This isn't missable, fortunately. The final achievement is to successfully jump rope one thousand consecutive times. On console, or with a controller, you have to play a rhythmic one-button tapping game for seven consecutive minutes. Someone forgot to turn on the "rhythm" part for mouse and keyboard, so you can simply spam the left mouse button with no respect for rhythm. I got an autoclicker. Get an autoclicker. Likely you will now say "Isaac, that's eleven paragraphs about the achievements alone." Bear with me for two more, and then I promise that we'll wrap it up. The last major task to get out and do is Excalibur II. Excalibur II is the legendary secret hidden weapon, received by going through the entire game to the point of no return within 12 hours of game clock time. It's an obscene challenge run, only accomplishable by the very top echelon of Final Fantasy 9 players and only with significant planning and foreknowledge and a bit of luck. I'm not gonna lie: I abused the shit out of the boosters on this one. The turbo mode speeds you up by five times without actually making the clock tick faster. Another makes you invincible as long as you're not hit for more than your max health, and a third makes you hit for all 9999s all the time. Final Fantasy 9 was not getting the time of day from me at this point. I abstained from the boosters for all of the games up to this point outside of taking out some tedium walking around and the final postgame grinds, but 9's challenge run finally broke my resolve. I finished the 12 hour challenge run in under 3 hours on the clock. I have no regrets. Speaking of postgame grinds, 10,000 kills is back. Good news: enemy pods are generally larger than in 8 and the turbo is smoother and faster. Bad news: you still only rack up about 400 kills over the course of the entire game, and the achievement is still per-file so it's not like you can rack it up by just playing the game 20 times or something. Worse news: Final Fantasy 9 is prone to crashing when left on for hours, losing you any kill progress since the last save you manually made if you leave it to grind. I didn't experience any crashes once I switched to the Steam Deck, weirdly, but before that I lost an easy twelve or so hours of kills to overnight crashes on the PC. And that's Final Fantasy 9 wrapped up. Genuinely, honestly, an awful experience which I never enjoyed and a real candidate to end at the bottom of all the Final Fantasies I plan to log in this thread - and that list is gonna include The After Years. I have neither an earthly nor heavenly idea why this game is held in such high acclaim by critics or fans or, hell, anyone. In good news, next isn't 10, but rather I'm participating in the Four Job Fiesta this year! That's unrelated to this thread, but 5 will make a fantastic palate cleanser after this storm. There'll be a pretty big gap to the next Final Fantasy post in this one, since the next game is the absurdly huge X + X-2 International HD Remaster, requiring 100%ing both games. Look forward to that one.
  8. the dredge dlc is coming out the day before my birthday i am the happiest guy in the fuckin world right now
  9. AEGIS DESCENT (TRAEGA, 2022) Finished: 3/6/24. Playtime: 30.5 hours. Here's a weird one. It's pretty common to have games that have major issues or even are pretty objectively terrible, but which get propped up in the mind, or even on the replay, because you played it as a kid when you were significantly more resilient against that kind of bullshit. It's far less common to play a game for the first time after one's awakening of the knowledge of good and bad things and to spend the entire time going "this is kinda bad... but why does it work for me?" Aegis Descent sits in that weird armpit of games design; it's got a load of problems, it was abandoned by the developers basically instantly, and I wouldn't recommend it to anyone... but I really liked it, and I don't really know why. Aegis Descent is fairly basic as far as post-2020 game concepts go. It claims to be a roguelite (we'll get to that) arena shooter (it is this) with significant replayability (this is a lie) centered on vehicular combat (it mostly nails this). The core gameplay loop is familiar: you outfit your Aegis with a pilot, a gun, a cannon, and an artillery piece, and then you are thrown into an arena with robo-bug enemies in it. You kill them, two doors unlock; you pick one to proceed down the Slay the Spire map. There's a few different kinds of rooms that amount to three different kinds of combat rooms and three different kinds of shopping rooms. After each combat room, you get to pick a perk. At the end of each map, you fight a boss. At the end of the third boss, you win, unlocking a new incremental difficulty tier. Every time you die, you get certain currencies that unlock new options or level up the options you got. You've played this game before, in all except the first-person vehicular combat sense, from a systems perspective. The problem crops up immediately: it flubs basically all of that. For each kind of room, there's only a handful of variations, even if those variations are stretched a little further by starting you on different edges. Enemies are just a little too spongy and spawn in as you progress physically into the room, unfairly trapping you into taking free damage a nontrivial amount of the time. Incoming damage feedback is atrocious, even worse than in Boltgun, and doubly worse because two enemy types do hefty damage and also disable your mobility options if they backstab you. Your perk pool has terrible balancing issues, and the between-run perk leveling runs hard into the Rogue Legacy issue of "you're worthless until you start dying a bit". Hell, the game starts you out without your third weapon, and locks you into by a distance the worst options for your first two for several deaths. There's only one version of each act boss (and all three of them are easy to stall out to catch your breath), there's only about 1.5 aesthetics for rooms to take on, there's a tiny pool of (terribly-acted) voice lines, and a bunch of other things to make even the limited content pool feel samey to repeat. On top of that, the game's pretty crashy - I'd say a good 6-8% of my runs ended in a hard Unreal Engine exception, complete exit. Yet, despite that, I played it for thirty hours. I stopped innovating my strategies basically at all after the third (of eleven) victories for achievements, and I still kept dropping in. I tallied up forty-five sallies of this genuinely pretty bad game. There's good games - there's generally-agreed-upon masterpieces - that I haven't given nearly this time of day. I didn't just do it out of obligation to fill it out for this thread, either. I kept enjoying myself. The little nuggets of game design, lifting the health system from Far Cry 2 or finding out another bit of the HUD (presented entirely as your machine's cockpit) was functional or hearing the singular good voice line (upon killing a miniboss, the smuggest fucking possible "Eight ball, corner pocket.") kept firing up the old dopamine factories. I really liked Aegis Descent, and I genuinely do not know why. There's a line that gets repeated in the Behind the Bastards podcast periodically, where Robert Evans says that everyone is susceptible to some kind of cult, conceptually, you just hope you never run into the right one for you. I think he's right in that, and I think it extends to more facets of life. I think if you put me in a first-person view, give me a walkin' mech with multiple integrated guns and functional dials and gauges and an overly-punishing multi-faceted resource management dance to play in combat, I'm just going to like your game as long as the fundamentals are even sort-of there. For all its issues, for all the lack of content and all the crashes and the shitty dev that dropped it half-baked and dashed instantly to the world of Unreal Engine 5 Open PvP Online Survival Crafting gamedom, the fundamentals of Aegis Descent are there. Weird philosophy aside, 100%ing Aegis Descent is both faintly psychotic and very straightforward. It's got several bugged achievements, but they're bugged in the "criteria lie to you" way rather than the "sometimes fails to fire" way so they're not too much trouble once you know. Beating the game unlocks Ascension 1, beating Ascension 1 unlocks Ascension 2, and so on. Basically everything is tied up in the amount of work it takes to beat Ascension 10, the top difficulty and top achievement. You have to engage with everything a certain amount - X kills with the nova attack, Y miniboss kills with your weak guns, Z spawner kills with the fire cannon in a single run, etc. - but all the racking up the numbers ones will come fairly naturally over the course of those eleven victories, and none of the "in a single run" ones are difficult to just grab on the way. There's a speedrun achievement - one of the bugged ones - that claims to require a victory in under an hour but requires one in under half an hour. One of my runs (Ascension 4, I think) accidentally clocked in at 29:36. This would have been easy as hell to get at the end, though, and the same with all the other ones. All of them except the final achievement: to spend 35,000 of the scrap you get from mulching bot-bugs. The single most expensive shop you can get can sometimes offer you a single item worth 350. Most shop purchases (and you only get one per shop) are in the 100-200 range, and you need to farm up the scrap in each run to buy things. I finished Ascension 10 at 17,000 and change scrap spent on my 45th run of the game, which is cute because the game nominally takes place in 1945. I finished the scrap run, diving through the first two acts to the fixed final shop on the easiest difficulty over and over again, midway through my 61st drop, with absolutely nothing left to accomplish. It took about fifteen minutes per run, I optimized my route to spend about 1,200 scrap, and I'd go again. Even despite that, I'm still walking away feeling positive, wishing I had a sequel or another game like it to move onto. I guess it's time to wait for the next Mechwarrior. At least someone's scratching that itch for me.
  10. fuck you're objectively slightly better at pool than i am. this sucks
  11. to wit, hugo's difficulty curve is about what you'd expect from a mage - he has a rough time with the second boss as i recall and then he just gets into gear and cruises. i had a pretty great time with him (i've been enjoying your little ys origin blog keep it up) e: i have not played ys origin in over ten years so if you do not find this to be the case it is entirely possible that you are either an ys god compared to me or that i misremembered
  12. godspeed.... you are truly the strongest soldier.............
  13. i fear balatro primally. i have not let myself buy it because i know it's going to go the slay the spire / shotgun king route where i bash my head into it for dozens of hours because i won't be beaten
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