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  1. 10 points
    229 days sober today. I've told a few, but weirdly so many people close to me still don’t know, like my parents, or the majority of my friends really, but that’s because there’s so much shame around it. I wonder if and when I will eventually tell everyone, it was such a well kept secret for so long, it was like I was reliving my teen years of being in the closet. It’s like I’m coming out again in my 30s, which is interesting as my sexuality, the anxiety caused by it, the identity issues I’ve had with how I look and sound, are what caused my slowly burgeoning love of alcohol in the first place. Physically things are interesting. I lost weight, I lost a considerable amount of weight at one point, but the last month or so things are starting to even out, I’ve got bit of a belly back and my ribs aren’t uncomfortably on show, thanks to my mass intake of chocolate and biscuits to counter the Winter blues, but I’m not the mass bloated mess I was this time last year either. If ever I’m having a bad day and have mega cravings for junk food, I just lean into them and go to town, and tell myself these are calories I would have drank anyway. The really weird physical side effects that I used to have, but ignored, are now so wild looking back. Now that I’ve had 6 months of a normal functioning body, I do cringe at just how fucked certain things were. Mentally is the most confusing part of all this. I somehow feel more clarity but also much, much more vulnerable than when I was drinking. I used drinking to mask my emotions and to feel stable, to feel normal in social situations. Now that I don’t have evenings where I can drink the night away alone, having a fun solo rave, I have to actually face the demons waiting for me. I like my own company, but I have realised there are times I feel lonely, and that’s when I would drink. I only came to that realisation a few weeks ago. It’s like alcohol gave me such insane brain fog, that even after all these months I’m only just realising certain things. I also used to see my past self, my younger self, as ‘another person’. But I feel so connected with who I once was again. It’s really bizarre, quite a warm feeling but also quite emotional, as it’s like I’m also talking to some neglected 15 year old version of myself when I’m dealing with emotions now. None of this makes any sense, but it makes a little more sense than it does when it’s whirling around in my head. Perhaps one day I can parse through this and make it comprehensible, but that will likely take another 6 months of sobriety to figure out. The last month or so I’ve been more stable emotionally, I feel like I’m starting to reach a base level which is good. There were a few times over the last few months where I felt literal despair as I had no idea how to deal with fluctuating emotions, but those random days where I feel like I need to run out of the house, strip naked and howl at the moon are getting less and less. I travelled a few hours to meet the god-daughter of Scatman John this week. No alcohol to help my fear, but also extreme excitement as John Larkin is someone I held such a deep spiritual connection with since my first bout of suicidal ideation and anxiety at 15. It sounds super cringe I know, but I have genuinely felt so connected to him ever since then. But I finally felt very validated when meeting her, getting to wear one of his jackets, and listen to some music that I was previously unaware of, I felt the kind of joy and emotion I hadn’t felt since I first heard him as a teen, and it really felt like I had finally become a full person again, and wasn’t this disjoined mix of 3 or 4 different people that had reincarnated or reinvented themselves every 5 years to try to survive, but I’m the same person that I was at 15, and that kid is losing his fucking mind at some of the very awesome things I saw that day. Again, incomprehensible probably, but it’s been a good, exhausting and very emotional week. But I’m doing things I never thought I’d be able to do even when I was on the sauce, so I’m hoping I can remind myself of days like that when I’m having one of my drowning days.
  2. 9 points
    My wife gave birth to a healthy baby girl yesterday. Third child. Had anyone asked me 20 years ago if I'd ever get children, let a lone three, I'd laughed at them.
  3. 9 points
    I’m 92 days sober! Which feels really weird to say as I used to have a ‘rule’ that as long as I wasn’t drunk two days in a row I was ‘fine’. I had a lot of rules like that to justify things and prove to myself nothing was wrong. Another rule was, “don’t drink the day before work”. Given I work shifts, that was always quite doable. If I was on an early 6am shift till midday, and off the next day, I would nap as soon as I could when I got home, so that I’d be ready for a regular old binge until the early hours, and then spend my actual day off hungover. I probably had an average of 2 to 4 binges depending on the week, depending on when I could or could not adhere to my “rules”. The last few years I needed that “no work the next day” rule, as time stands still for no one, and I’m no longer in my early 20’s, so the following day after a binge would be a complete write off, and I’d be pretty much bed-ridden, just about able to mindlessly scroll TikTok or read Reddit, or of course, nap the day away. So the few occasions I did break my unbreakable rules, work was a mess, and I no doubt looked like an absolute monster (and probably smelt it too!), but generally I was able to stick to my rules, and keep things largely under wraps. I had got pretty good at being buzzed but functioning on my chilled out nights alone, my spelling/typing on the PC was impeccable, and I had gotten out of the habit of sending messages or stupid Snapchats after around 1am in a bid to not seem drunk, unless of course it was a socially acceptable day, like a Saturday, or if I’d been on a night out anyway, in which case I could let my drunk guard down. All of this is to say that for the past 8 years I haven’t had a healthy relationship with alcohol, but for the past 3 or 4 years especially, things had gotten bad, and I had somehow tricked myself into not seeing it for myself. Despite, in hindsight, so many OBVIOUS signs that things weren’t right and I was clearly lying to myself. I would hide empty cans and bottles under ‘normal’ recycling (juice cartons, butter, whatever), so that my mountain of cans wasn’t obvious. I would tear up and put at the bottom of the bin, or literally burn in the fire, the cardboard cases of my beer when I was done with them. I would cycle through various shops when buying alcohol because of the shame of seeing the same cashier too often – Though even while doing that it still felt like I saw the same people far too much, and despite looking young for my age and always getting ID’d at new places, these people would know not to bother and let me buy without question. I was a regular! How depressing, and how embarrassing. All of these things and yet, if a TV show had the trope of a cop coming home and starting a 6-pack, or a journalist in the city goes back to her apartment and opens a bottle of wine alone, I would point to the screen and say to myself, “look, everyone does it!”. I started properly drinking at around 17, but it was fine, the normal amount and normal situations for anyone that age, house parties, nights out with friends, and probably once a week, if that. And it was like that until probably my early to mid 20’s. Then in 2015 my nephew unexpectedly passed away shortly after being born. I was a heavy sleeper (note, was), so when I woke and saw missed calls from my brother and parents, multiple missed calls, I knew something was up, as we pretty much always communicate through text. It took me ages to get through to my brother. My brother couldn’t really talk, and obviously had a lot going on, so the call ended quick. This was about half 7 in the morning on a Sunday, he lives about a 15 minute walk from me, and I decided to just run to his house, because for some reason I thought everyone would just be at home? I don’t know what I was thinking really. I was running with tears coming down my face, I must have looked a bit insane, but being that early on a Sunday, I didn’t actually come across any other person. I got to the house and it was locked, obviously, because of course they weren’t home, and then I finally got through to my parents, and my dad came and picked me up and took me to the hospital. I went to the hospital, held my nephew, cried with the family, tried to deal with how surreal it all was, the fact that this family, my family, one that doesn’t really show true emotion often, were all crying in front of each other while taking turns to say goodbye to this tiny dead baby. I wish I had got there earlier, to see him for the half an hour he was alive, but I’m glad I at least got to see him at all. That was an odd time, and later that day, I absolutely did not want to face the reality when I got home. I had already, before this had happened, planned to have a night in with my friend, and had the alcohol waiting at home, but of course, given the circumstances, I cancelled, and to lift my mood on said night, I drank the wine by myself instead and listened to KPOP and weirdly enough, I was having a great time. I still had pangs of sadness every time I remembered my nephew, but also I would look at the clock, 11pm, 12am, 1am, and think, “damn, I could be in bed moping right now but instead I’m having a great time, jamming out, disco lights on, music on loud, who needs to feel SAD when you can MAKE yourself have a great time.” I guess that is the perfect example of toxic positivity lol, but at the time I thought I was cheating life and making lemonade out of lemons. At the same time, death had been a pretty big part of my life in 2015. I was working at a care home, the status of which had recently turned to nursing home/end of life care. I worked nights, often alone on my “side” of the building while one or two others worked on the other side. So I spent a lot of time walking corridors at night by myself on my 12 hour shifts, itself probably not healthy. I’d be helping dying people get up to the toilet, get a drink, tell me their dementia-fuelled delusions, or walking in to see that poor old John had breathed his last breath and I needed to get him looking presentable before his family arrived to say goodbye, and then I happily welcome in the men at 5am who take him out in a zipped up black bag. Honestly I thought that was a thing in movies, it was really odd to take them to his room and see it happen there and then. The fact I was working nights also helped to legitimise the fact that, on my days off, it wasn’t too weird that I would drink wine and beer until 4am. It was just like enjoying a beer in the garden on a sunny afternoon, right? But yeah, I could go into way more detail of that time of my life, but I will skip over it, as it’s a story for another time. But basically, that’s when it all started, when my fondness for drinking left the realm of social drinking and entered the realm of drinking alone. At the time, I didn’t see the drinking as a big deal. I decided for my own health it was best to leave the nursing home, as much as I cared for the people there and enjoyed the job, it obviously wasn’t helping my state of mind. It was 2017 when I finally changed jobs, lots. I went to therapy. I started on Sertraline. All of those changes were in 2017 and helped me to continue my life after a nervous breakdown saw me out of work for 6 months. Under all of this though, and what was quite honestly a great crutch at the time, was my constant alcohol use. 2018 saw me get the job I still have now, and it’s nothing great but not terrible either, in fact, it’s perfect for my anxiety riddled self as it’s busy, but not got the stakes of looking after someone in their final days, and the social life it gave me back has been great, as I was once again surrounded by people my own age, and working daylight hours. I continued to drink until the early hours on my days off, and over the years in the back of my mind it got more and more obvious to me that my drinking wasn’t normal. The Pandemic happened and, work being the only thing I had to leave the house for, suddenly I was able to have my night-time binges 4 times a week, every week. I put on more weight, I jokingly called it COVID weight. But someone mentioned a few months ago this year, in around February actually, that it’s crazy that COVID was 3 years ago now. And that’s when I thought about what I mentioned earlier: Time stands still for no one, and I’m no longer in my early 20’s. COVID was 3 years ago and I still hadn’t lost the COVID weight or the bad habits. My night shifts were 5 years ago yet I hadn’t stopped drinking until 3 or 4am. My nephew passed 8 years ago yet the one-off one-person party I had on the day of his death had now gone on for 8 years whenever I had the chance. Everyone has problems, everyone has had their own issues and losses with family and friends, their own work problems, their own mental or physical health problems, yet they didn’t all become secret drinkers. What’s my excuse? I don’t have one. I still couldn’t admit to it being a problem earlier this year, though in the back of my mind I knew it was. I know how I am all or nothing when it comes to a lot of things, so I told myself that I can’t drink anything for a month, as I knew that completely cutting it out was the only way, as when I ever tried to just have a few it would obviously always turn into more. Like how I wanted to cut back my meat consumption but had to just become a Vegetarian because I, for whatever reason, only work in absolutes, lol. The reason I couldn’t just listen to and enjoy Scatman John when I first found him in 2007 but instead had to find every single song, every unreleased morsel of footage, every promo event. The way that, after getting a GameCube at 12 years old, instead of playing it, enjoying it, and moving on with my life, I find myself on the same Nintendo forum that I joined back then to talk about the wonders of Donkey Konga, 20 years later, talking about my life’s problems. Anyway, it was SO hard starting that month of sobriety, especially the first week. I had genuine, physical issues, which thanks to reading the /r/StopDrinking subreddit on Reddit, I realised were actual physical withdrawals. I was told on there to consult a doctor, but being so ashamed and also doing this all in secret, I didn’t, which is stupid but, thankfully for me, the issues did resolve themselves after a few weeks. I had severe stomach pains, that made me cramp up, gave me chills while also making me sweaty, I had other really odd bodily functions do things that you probably don’t wish to read about. But all that is to say that they subsided. Then it was just the cravings, the mental NEEDS of wanting to hit ‘pause’ on life and take a chilled out evening without any thoughts, as I used to do. I got to one month sober and decided to do one more. Then two months sober I told myself I wouldn’t drink until my birthday, which was another 5 weeks away, and now next week as I write this. One sad thing is, and one thing I can’t relate to with the people on /r/StopDrinking, my anxiety never went away. In fact, anxiety is part of the reason I have always drank, drinking makes it disappear and makes me feel normal. I had anxiety for years prior to when I started drinking at age 17. But I also referred back to the passage of time recently when I was thinking about that, as for so long I told myself, “you’ll grow out of it, you’ll get more confidence, you’ll overcome it with therapy or tablets”, but the fact is, it’s now been over HALF of my life that I have had crippling anxiety, so it’s not something that I will grow out of – I’m already fully grown! That is another issue, clearly my anxiety is far from normal. I’m not sure how I will address it, I certainly don’t have the money to go to therapy, and I only managed to get NHS therapy back in 2017 because I was suicidal which, thankfully and thanks to that therapy, I do not have those thoughts any more. So obviously therapy worked, but didn’t fix the underlying anxiety issues I’ve had for years. But that’s another issue and something I will try to tackle now, in the coming months and years, instead of hiding from it in alcohol and pretending it doesn’t exist. All of this rambling is to say that I’m ashamed. I’m ashamed I let it get this bad, that I lived a kind of secret second life, that I had to cancel on friends, family and events at times because I was recovering from a binge. I haven’t told anyone close to me the extent of my issues (aside from one close friend) because I’m embarrassed and ashamed of it all. And I might never, I’m hoping that, now that 3 months have passed and I haven’t had alcohol in that time, I can continue to never have alcohol and leave this part of my life behind, keep it as a horrible skeleton in my closet. I mentioned to people I cut out alcohol and started eating healthy as a bid to lose weight, and that’s the extent of sharing about the issue I have done. And that’s stopped any further questioning when out with people and not going straight to ordering a pint. I couldn’t bring myself to tell them I had severe issues and actually quitting alcohol has been one of the biggest things I’ve had to do, and it has taken until now, writing this, after 3 months of sobriety, that I have finally accepted it myself that I did/do have a problem. But there have been some great benefits. One of which being TIME. I had no idea how much time I consumed buying alcohol, the evenings lost to drinking it, the days after that literally didn’t exist for me as I napped and TikTok’d the day away. To start with it was actually a bit overwhelming how much spare time I had. The first few weeks of sobriety genuinely made me feel so lost, and it took a lot to find purpose in day to day things and a reason to go on. But it has made my daily Instagram art posts much easier to achieve, it has allowed me to post regularly on the front page of this very website again, it has gave me time to help my friend edit his weekly newsletter and its given me my social life back. It took a while to get here, but slowly I built up a life again and made use of my time in a way for it to feel fulfilling and to not feel like I’m missing out on my poison fuelled evenings. All that is to say, I’m super happy to have got to 3 months sober but also have no one to celebrate with lol, so I’m happy to share it here. As I say, my plan was to abstain for a month to prove to myself I had no issue, and then to go on drinking in moderation. But as the weeks passed and the clouds lifted, I realised that of course it was a bigger issue than I was letting on, which is why I kept extending the dry spell. Now I feel as though I need to stay away for as long as I possibly can. I actually do feel as though at this stage I could drink in moderation, like at social events, but the horror stories I’ve read over on /r/StopDrinking about failed moderation attempts, and knowing how I am with being all or nothing with things, I think it’s best I just say no to the poison from now on, and live vicariously through Rare’s Conker. So I’m moving the goal posts again, and I won’t be drinking on my birthday, or for the foreseeable future!
  4. 8 points
    Absolutely baffling that this wasn't an official thing by Nintendo.
  5. 8 points
    Lol, yeah sorry. Not sure what's wrong to be honest, an issue with a particular database table has occurred more than once. Luckily a quick reboot fixes it, but it looks like that fix might be temporary. Will hopefully get time to look at it at the weekend.
  6. 8 points
    Well that took a while. Better late than never though! Advance Wars 1 Remake Speaking of late, Advance Wars 1 + 2 Reboot Camp finally got released! I honestly thought that it was going to end up becoming the Switch's very own Starfox 2 but no! Against all odds, Wayforward's remake of the GBA classics actually came out... three years after the announcement of this collection. Thank goodness all that nonsense with that silly Ukranian war is all done and dusted with and now we never have to worry about real life war ever agai... oh... wait... Don't tell Nintendo that... You can take pretty much everything I said about Advance Wars when I last wrote up about it back in 2020 and apply it here, so let's go over the remake's quality by itself. Quite simply, Wayforward did a superb job. While there was some initial controversy over the decision to go with 3D polygon graphics? In practice, I think it works fine. While I'd say that the original sprite graphics probably look better overall? I don't mind the shift, as the new visuals look fine to my eye. The only real complaint that I have is that the MD Tanks look a bit too similar to standard tanks, making me have to sometimes do a double take to make sure which units are which. Bit annoying, but nothing gamebreaking. The 2D art though? Bloody gorgeous! They use traditional handdrawn cel-animation for the FMV cutscenes and interstitial CO Power animations, and it all looks brill. Like a proper Saturday morning cartoon, perfectly in-line with what the original game was always going for. What's also interesting is that Wayforward decided to completely rewrite the game's dialogue from scratch. Bit of an odd decision, as Nintendo's remakes usually reuse the original English scripts mostly untouched, and the original Advance Wars already had some excellent dialogue anyway; but thankfully, the new dialogue feels perfectly natural, and perfectly captures the tone and spirit of the original. Meet your peerless strategic leader who is in charge of your lives! The presentation is also bolstered by some rather brilliant voice acting... including the utterly inspired decision to choose Veronica Taylor as Andy... yes, the original Ash Ketchum. You literally could not have picked a better voice actor for the role. So meta, on so many levels... What's even more impressive than the visual presentation is the audio. Maddie Lim, Micaela Nachigall and Tommy Pedrini turned out some utterly incredible arrangements of the classic soundtrack. Every single song is a certified banger, but I'll just leave you with a couple... Special shoutout the the excellent sound design as well, as there are no less than five, yes FIVE, versions of every single theme that change as you go in and out of various menus and battle scenes. Brilliant stuff. Oh! Yeah. And I know I've said this before in the game's official thread? But really, I didn't expect this game to be a showcase for the Switch's HD Rumble. It's not gameplay changing or anything, but the game is full of brilliant little HD Rumble touches, like the clicks of the cursor, or Andy's cranking of his bike wheel in the opening FMV cutscene, or being able to feel each individual rocket being fired when you're using... err... Rockets... it's all so well done. Wayforward put the effort in and it really shows. There are some minor gameplay tweaks here and there, most notably the ability to select whatever stage you want in the Campaign after you finish it the first time, meaning that you no longer have to perform multiple playthroughs to unlock all the stages; while Rivals! is now unlocked by beating every stage instead of the rather obtuse way of finding it in the original... though it's still every bit as utterly brutal as it used to be! Also, since you can now replay past stages, The Final Battle now just straight up allows you to select whichever COs you want from each army; meaning that your team composition is no longer dependent on your route through the Campaign. While this does technically make that stage a bit easier than the original, the actual level design have thankfully not been touched. Finally, Drake's CO Power no longer shows the location of enemy units during Fog of War as they're being hit; a significant nerf on FOW maps, that I suppose gives Sonja a little bit of a bump by proxy? (She still sucks though). Otherwise, the gameplay is the Advance Wars you know and love... dodgy CO balancing and all. Still every bit as satisfying 22 years on! Gee! Wonder what game I'm gonna play next! Bet you'll never guess... Advance Wars 2 Remake Officially the greatest GBA game ever made, Advance Wars 1+2 Reboot Camp: Advance Wars 2: Black Hole Rising: Colon Cancer is next on our list here. Take everything I said about the remake of AW1 and apply it here pretty much. This is the bigger & better sequel with a new cast of Saturday Morning Cartoon Monster Of The Week villains, and they're all great! AW2 largely assumes that you've already played the first, in fact AW2 is locked by by default unless you finish AW1 or bypass the in-game warning, and has you assume the battle hardened role of Andy once again; grizzled war veteran who is now a true grandmaster of war strateg... OH COME ON!!!! The sequel offers a more freeform Campaign this time around, allowing the player to choose what stages they play and in what order. In fact, you don't actually have to play every stage to progress the story, but of course, you're gonna do it anyway because it's so much fun (and you're gonna want those Neotanks and hidden character unlocks ). The overall difficulty is higher, and the level design is every bit as superb if not even moreso. Wayforward didn't mess with a good thing here, and it's a brilliant remake of an amazing game. Yes Lash. I completely agree with you Superior CO balancing, peerless level design... this game has it all. It won the N-Europe poll for a damn good reason. It's one of the best games that Nintendo has ever developed/published, and Wayforward's remake absolutely does the game justice. I'm just gonna end this point on a couple more choice songs from the remake... Metal Slug 3 I love arcade games. However, I rarely end up finishing them proper because I prefer to try 1ccing them (or in the case of Neo Geo titles, at least under the standard 4 credits of an AES release). I hate the idea of credit pumping your way to victory because it robs them of their intended challenge and game design, and Metal Slug 3 is way, way too hard for any normal human being to beat with only 4 credits (let alone one!). So why is it here then? Well... I played this game at The Heart of Gaming arcade here in London and I was here with my sister, so we decided to sit down at the cabinet and credit pump the crap out of this game! Never thought I'd ever see this screen! After playing through the whole game now? I can safely say that this game is absolutely not balanced for a potential 1cc. It fully expects you to credit pump your way to the end. Beating Metal Slug 1, 2 and X with 1-4 credits is a tough but at least reasonable challenge, but MS3? Nah. Not gonna happen. This is perhaps best exemplified by the end screen, which tallies up the amount of credits each player used to reach the end of the game... (was around 56 credits in total... that's a lotta moola!). Game is still a ton of fun though! Best homeless bum in gaming history The Metal Slug series began in 1996 and picked up the baton that Contra had dropped onto the floor in spectacular fashion with its failed attempts at bringing the series into 3D. It's a natural evolution of Konami's 2D run-n'-gun action with crazy action, ridiculously amazing 2D pixel art visuals, bopping soundtracks and a sharp sense of humour. Each entry in the series largely plays similarily, being pumped out much like the Mega Man series, but each one introduces new gameplay gimmicks and a ton of reused art assets along the way. Metal Slug 3 is the final game in the series developed by the original development team (Nazca; who also made the superb Neo Turf Masters; as well as many other arcade classics when they used to work at Irem), and they pulled out all the stops. Every stage is packed with a ridiculous amount of enemies, setpieces, animation and balls-to-the-wall action... arguably too much even; as this game commits a bit of an arcade game sin... it's too long. Metal Slug 1 & 2 can comfortably be beaten within 20-30 mins, but MS3? You're talking at least an hour at the minimum for someone who isn't an inhuman speedrunner; with the final stage literally being at least 50% of the entire game's runtime. It all starts to feel a bit exhausting towards the end, as the finale begins to wear out its welcome. This is just the first boss! Still, being too much of a good thing is hardly the worst thing in the world. The game is still a hell of a ride from start to finish, with enough insane action setpieces to make even Platinum Games blush. There's even a bunch of branching paths that lead to different areas, so each playthrough can be a bit different. Nazca certainly went out with a bang, and even though it's not my favourite in the series (I still prefer MS1 and MS2/X for their superior pacing), I can't help but admire the sheer ambition on display here. An arcade classic for a good reason. Lucky & Wild Continuing my arcade adventures, I was incredibly lucky to get to play Lucky & Wild on its original arcade cabinet. If you know anything about arcade history, you'll know that L&W cabinets are incredibly rare finds, and to find one in fully working order!? Like literal golddust. On top of that? This game has never been re-released in any official capacity, making original cabinets and MAME your only options. I couldn't let the opportunity pass me by to get to play the game in its original form. And you really can't talk about this game without talking about its original cabinet. Sporting a rather odd control setup, the cabinet features a steering wheel and TWO light guns! What the heck? How does this work then? I hear you ask. Is it a light gun game? Or a driving game? The answer is... both! Lucky & Wild. Running over children since 1993 This is a 2 player game where Player 1 gets to steer the car and shoot baddies at the same time, while Player 2 merely gets to shoot because Wild is a loser. Clearly inspired by Starsky & Hutch, you play as reckless bounty hunters who will happily drive through heaps of innocents as they shoot to kill in the name of justice and sweet sweet money. It's a short & breezy affair that also happens to be a massive quarter muncher. Namco clearly designed the game with spectacle in mind first, as the super scaler visuals certainly make quite the impression for a vintage 1993 title. Unfortunately, the game is so hectic and fast paced that it's virtually impossible to complete without credit pumping your way to the end; with each player constantly taking virtually unavoidable damage, the Continue screen is an inevitability. Ultimately, I appreciate the spectacle on display here, but I don't think it quite comes together as a whole. It's more of a glorified rollercoaster ride than an enjoyable video game, but it's such a unique novelty that it's probably worth giving it a go if you're ever lucky enough to see a cabinet out there in the wild. Let's Go Jungle! Lost on the Island of Spice This is a closed booth, 2 player mounted light gun game released in 2008. You're a nerdy scientist who is trapped on an island with your girlfriend and you need to somehow escape alive. This game is like a stupid version of Jurassic Park on rails, filled with lovingly awful voice acting, over-the-top setpieces and thousands of bugs (the insect kind) & mutant sea monsters. It's designed as a "couples" game, with the game tallying up you and your partner's compatibility at the end based on how well you both perform team actions throughout the game (essentially, timed and button mashy QTEs, alongside shooting targets together). There isn't a whole lot of strategy involved, as the gameplay remains rather simple throughout; but the sheer absurdist spectacle of it all makes for a fun time with a buddy. This screenshot sets the game's tone rather well Jurassic Park: The Lost World (Model 3) Jumping off the Island of Spice, we enter Jurassic Park. And as it turns out, Let's Go Jungle is essentially a sequel to The Lost World, sharing remarkably similar mechanics, alongside its remarkably similar setting and remarkably awful voice acting. Though The Lost World isn't set up as a couples game, it's still best played with a friend; as a fast-paced rollercoaster ride of a light gun title. Like the other titles mentioned earlier in this post? It has never seen a re-release of any kind, not even in the recent Jurassic Park collection for modern consoles (no, really, WHY!?). Are you a bad enough dude to stop this crisis of dinosaurs? Puzzle Bobble 2x Finishing off my arcade gaming binge is Puzzle Bobble 2x. Unlike the other arcade games I previously mentioned however, I played through this one on my Egret 2 Mini. And also unlike those other games, I actually did 1cc this bad boy Shockingly, Puzzle Bobble 2 is the sequel to Puzzle Bobble. I know, crazy right? But this isn't Puzzle Bobble 2, this is Puzzle Bobble 2x; the minorly upgraded version! (The best kind of upgrade!). Compared to the crappy vanilla Puzzle Bobble 2, 2x includes an additional Puzzle Edit mode that lets you make your own custom puzzle boards (yes, even in the arcade version; can't imagine arcade operators being happy about this mode!), slightly better graphics (woohoo), an additional set of single player puzzle mode stages called X mode (try to sound surprised), and... best of all... a Happy New Year screen! Yippee!! More Puzzle Bobble is always fine by me So what's new with Puzzle Bobble 2 over the original game? Well, there's a proper VS CPU mode now, that's a nice start! But also, the single player mode is way better, with more interesting puzzles and a new branching path map screen that lets you choose what stages you want to tackle on the way to one of several endings... What Puzzle Bobble learnt from Darius Otherwise, you have better music and graphics, and that's Puzzle Bobble 2. This is my favourite game in the series, with plenty of content and my favourite overall presentation and game feel. It just feels good to play. It's also rock hard if you're trying to 1cc the game... which I managed in both Puzzle Mode and VS CPU. What else can I say? It's really good, go play it! Pokemon Trading Card Game In this latest episode of WHY THE HELL HAVEN'T THEY MADE A SEQUEL!? (we'll get to those later), we have Pokemon TCG for the original Gameboy (yes, it's a hybrid GB/GBC cartridge, not a GBC exclusive game; sorry @Glen-i but it's not a GBC game, no matter what you try to argue). It got re-released for the Switch NSO service and I went apeshit over it! Oh... my God... Pokemon TCG Online, at last! (no! not now...). This is an RPG take on the real-life Pokemon Trading Card game and even comes with a free Pokemon card! (Not on Switch though... they robbed us... cheapskates...). But really, it's only an RPG in the loosest sense of the term, as the RPG trappings basically amount to a level select with some optional battles and a few roundabout fetch quests/trades. It's very basic stuff... but it's enough to make the game a pretty compelling experience. Pretty much the entire game summarised in two screenshots This Gameboy game features all of the cards found throughout the three initial real-life TCG sets (Base, Jungle, Fossil), along with a few extras and a handful of GB exclusive cards that make use of randomisation attacks that are impossible to replicate in real-life. If you haven't played the game before, you've probably already figured out the story. Kill all 8 gym leaders, steal their cards and become the champion who nicks the Legendary Cards; or something like that. Anyway, this game is all about collecting cards, beating up kids and stealing their most prized posessions; just like the real-life TCG! Capitalism Ho! The real-life Pokemon TCG is was a very well balanced and enjoyable card game in its own right, so naturally that means that the core gameplay here kicks arse. But the light RPG elements and awesome music are enough to elevate the game from mere TCG simulator to essential Gameboy game in its own right. There isn't really much to say about the game world or structure, because there really isn't much to it at all (it really is just a glorified menu screen), but it goes to show how a quality presentation and charming RPG trappings can elevate what would otherwise be a fairly rote card game. And this game still remains the most accessible way of experiencing the Pokemon TCG's gameplay, even some 25 years on. So go play some children's card games! I'll be waiting for you on Switch NSO to do battle, as we never got a proper sequel... and certainly never an online version of the TCG before... no, never... shut up! Vampire Survivors Vampire Survivors Vampire Survivors... doesn't truly have an ending... but it does have a credits sequence so it counts! This is the best slot machine I've ever played. It's just the perfect down-time game and I find myself continuing to come back to it again and again (do the new stages count as post-game!? Honestly, @Glen-i @RedShell, I have no idea! Help me out here!). Described by slot-machine maker extrodanare Luca Galante (AKA "poncle") as a "reverse bullet hell" game, it was a side project that was slowly developed over many years during his down-time while working for various online gambling websites. The gameplay is ridiculously simple, you walk... and that's it! But unless your idea of walking involves being constantly attacked by literally thousands of on-screen monsters while filling the screen with seizure inducing fireworks, this is the worst Walking Simulator I've ever played! Don't mind me, just on my morning constitutional The goal of the game is to live... to thrive... to... not die! Well, for at least 30 minutes anyway. Your chosen character (usually) starts out with a weapon, and said weapon fires automatically. You just have to move and try not to walk into baddies, while your weapon attacks the nasties automatically. When the villains are vanquished, they drop gems! And gems make level go up! Level go up means you get to choose a new weapon or passive ability (or you can level up an already collected weapon/passive to make it stronger), which lets you make more dead! Which makes level go up and make more dead! Which makes level go up... Well that escelated quickly! Number go up make me happy. There's something oddly satisfying to my lizard brain as you start becoming a God of destruction, literally thousands of enemies start flooding the screen and the screen turns into a flashing seizure of colours and explosions as you continue to try not to die. But of course, nothing lasts forever... as death inevitably comes for us all. No stage ever lasts longer than 30 minutes, as the grim reaper himself always puts an end to your rampage... if only there were a way to cheat death itself... What does it meeeeeeeeeaaaaannnnn!?!?!? Oh the secrets... oh the rabbit hole goes deep... The game just keeps throwing more and more hidden things, new gameplay mechanics, new weapons, new... stuff, at you! All the time! The roguelike elements really start to come into play after your first few runs and you unlock the second stage, as the mechanics really start to snowball wildly out of control... There are well over 100 weapons and passive items to collect, dozens upon dozens of characters to find and unlock, so many hidden things and surprises. And so much pointless deep lore! For such a ridiculously simple game, there's a ridiculously huge amount of things to do and see. You're (usually) limited to only carrying 6 weapons and 6 passive items, so you have to start getting creative with your builds, and as you delve deeper and deeper down the rabbit hole, you start to find some utterly broken combinations of items and weapons that can make you nigh-on invincible. There's an immense satisfaction that comes with developing unstoppable builds, as you start to min-max and game the system to make yourself as broken as possible. Oh and the music... oh wow, the music. It has no right being as good as it is! Belieing the cheap & cheerful graphics on display, the music is a tour-de-force of near copyright infringement and genuinely beautiful orchestral soundscape. Here's a bit of mood whiplash to set the mood for you... In case you haven't figured it out yet. The game doesn't exactly take itself seriously. It's downright hilarious, with some of the most ridiculous Italian puns you'll ever see in a video game, and some riotously funny bestiary descriptions, written by none other than James Stephanie Sterling (Of Jimquisition fame). Thank God for them, because the descriptions are worth the price of admission alone. 10/10 With a ridiculous number of stages, each with their own unique mechanics, literally hundreds of unlockable characters, weapons, items, gameplay features and mechanics, I'm still not done seeing everything this game has to offer... and there's MORE to come!? Oh come on!!! But still. I saw the credits. It counts. Kirby & The Amazing Mirror The Legend Of Kirby Four Swords is a GBA game released in 2004. It pretends to be a four player co-op game, but after the absolutely shambolic play from @Glen-i, @S.C.G and . @BowserBasher, no. This is a VS fighting game. What this game actually IS though, is a four-player Metroidvania game where each player is free to wander off and explore the fully open-world map in any direction they like. There are 8 bosses with 8 plot souvenirs that need to be collected to unlock the final boss. You are free to tackle these bosses in any order you like, so long as you can find the copy abilities you need to get to them. Along the way, there are dozens of treasure chests with all sorts of unlockable goodies to find... with of course, the most important one being... CHERRY KIRBY!!!! This is still pretty unique as far as multiplayer games go. I can't really think of any other multiplayer Metroidvania titles that give each player complete free reign to go off and individually explore the map at their leisure in entierly different directions with zero restrictions in play. And HAL/Flagship did this on the GBA back in 2004!? Nuts! Now, in theory, you're supposed to work together to explore the world, open up various paths & shortcuts and pass obstacles that require multiple players to work in harmony... but in reality? I'M SURROUNDED BY MORONS!!! Despite our best efforts to sabotage each other, we somehow overcame the odds and succeeded at bringing an end to Dark Mind's desires within the Mirror Realm. Twas great fun! While this game is still tons of fun for one player, it really does shine in multiplayer as was originally intended. And now with the game being available to play via local wireless and online multiplayer via NSO? It really is a killer app for the service. A must play with some buds, and still a must play in single player if you have no friends. Starfox 64 When was the last time I spoke about Starfox 64 in one of these gaming diary threads, it can't be that long ago surel... HOLY CRAP! I'VE NEVER WRITTEN ABOUT THIS GAME BEFORE!? No!!! Don't look at me... DON'T LOOK AT ME!!! Well, if you've ever read a single one of my posts on this forum, you've probably figured out that I'm a bit of a fan of the series (I will defend my 9/10 Starfox Zero review to my grave!), and this game is the biggest reason why. It's one of my favourite games of all time for a damn good reason, and it's because it's a perfectly paced, high-score chasing arcade powerhouse of a game. I decided to do yet another quick run of the game for the hell of it (and to try out the N64 core on MiSTer), this time across the Easy path (don't find myself running that one as often as Normal/Hard). What a game! A masterclass of pacing, with just the right peaks & valleys of action to set the mood. Each stage featuring the perfect silence, followed by the perfect crescendo; knowing exactly when to leap forward towards the player and knowing when to pull back to allow breathing room. The stages not being mere placid backdrops or relentless bombardment, but encouraging and rewarding experimentation, ducking & weaving with hidden paths, secrets and higher scores. An endlessly replayable high-score chasing thrill that encourages the player to forever improve their skills. Though Pepper's army never seems to improve... forever bested by just 4 ships. Starfox 64 is one of the first games to ever feature full voice acting (and certainly the first to come from Nintendo), and I don't really need to say anything else, because its voice acting is legendary (and for once, for all the right reasons! Not sarcastically!). Likewise, its presentation is stellar, from the Thunderbirds inspired visuals & characters, to the beautiful music (both bombastic and haunting in equal harmony), to the pitch perfect controls, to the perfectly tuned gameplay. To the literal introduction of Rumble! Yes! THIS is the game to thank for your modern controllers vibrating your hands off today. This was a revolutionary title that truely defined what it meant to be a "cinematic" game, before the term became corrupted and warped into meaning a game that plays itself. Pure chills... The scoring system is full of endless depth, and it gives the game its endless replayability. What would be simple and easy to maximise is elevated by one massive addition... the Hit + system. Shoot down multiple enemies with a single charged shot and you get +1 added onto your score for each additional enemy caught in the blast. This is the core mechanic that makes the whole scoring system shine, and it makes some utterly ludicrious scores possible... Just to give an idea as to how high the skill ceiling can go with this game. My best score is somewhere within the 1,500-1,600 range after like 20 years of playing on & off... The current WR is a whopping 3,085! ... and what's even more nuts? The theoretical maximum goes well beyond even this! With the current TAS climbing as high as 4,191! There is still so much depth yet to be plumbed, and for a high-score focused game like this to still be so untapped? That's basically unheard of outside of the CAVE shooter realm! Starfox 64 is one of the greatest games Nintendo has ever made. And it'll probably forever remain the finest moment in Fox McCloud's career. Mario Party 3 (Story Mode) This is my favourite Mario Party game, but it's a multiplayer game! So why is it on this list then? Well that's because it just came out on the Switch NSO service... and there are several modes and boards that need to be unlocked by playing through the game's Story Mode. So with me needing to finish off a fresh file to get it fully ready for multiplayer shenanegans? Yup, it's time to knuckle down and play through this epic tale of love, alliances and... actually no, it's mostly just backstabbing and revenge. Story Mode involves you playing through every single board (both Battle Royale and Duel) back to back in single player mode against 3 other CPUs. It is a miserable experience, as you are subjected to endless BS plays on your lonesome, with none of the dynamic fun that comes with playing against other people. But if you want to unlock the two hidden boards (Waluigi's Island & Backtrack), the Super Hard CPU difficulty and the hidden Game Guy's Room and Mario's Puzzle Party Pro? It has to be done... and on Hard difficulty to boot. So I had to endure and take one for the team. Below is an accurate summary of what I had to deal with on my journey... But fear not! I got my revenge... ... and eventually emerged victorious! Waluigi's Island, Backtrack and Super Hard CPU difficulty unlocked! My journey's over... wait... what do you mean that Game Guy's Room hasn't been unlocked!? What do you mean that you have to achieve Miracle Star rank in Story Mode to unlock it!?!? ARE YOU TELLING ME THAT I NEED TO PLAY THROUGH STORY MODE ALL OVER AGAIN!?!?!? YOU MOTHER FUC... ... I did it. I played through Story Mode twice just to unlock Game Guy's Room... Granted I played on Easy difficulty the second time around and with Luigi in order to give me better odds of winning the Duel Boards (He starts with Goomba, probably the best Partner to start with), but considering that achieving Miracle Star requires the player to not only win every board, but achieve S-Rank on every stage (which requires you to win with at least a two star or 3 HP advantage over second place... as difficult as it sounds!), I needed to stack the deck in my favour as best as I could... ... but many hours of torture later and... ... never again!!! This was torture. But it is done, and the file is now fully ready for multiplayer fun. And in the end? Anyway. One of the best multiplayer games ever made, and an utterly tortuous single player experience. But here's some more choice clips taken from my Story Mode adventure to close things out here with... Castlevania Legends The one and only 2D Castlevania game I have never played. A surprise Halloween addition to the Switch NSO library, and a very welcome one, considering the insane prices that it commands on eBay, and the fact that this is the first time it has ever been re-released. It doesn't exactly hold a stellar reputation, and it was famously written out of the series canon by series producer Koji Igarashi due to it's supposed poor quality. Well I've played and beaten Haunted Castle. If I can suffer that travesty of a game, I can get through anything! There's no way that Castlevania Legends can even be remotely as bad as that tirefire... ... and I was right! Still looks better than Haunted Castle Better than Haunted Castle is not exactly glowing praise... or praise of any kind. But I can't quite bring myself to call Castlevania Legends a bad game. Developed by KCE Nagoya, a short-lived Konami studio that focused largely on cheap ports and licensed Gameboy titles, Castlevania Legends is their sole original Castlevania credit. And while it's clearly based on the two Gameboy Castlevania titles that came before? It is their inferior in virtually every respect. From visuals, to level design, to game feel, to audio, it is a huge step back from Belmont's Revenge in every respect, and I'd argue that The Adventure is the better game too. It's hard to believe that it came out so late into the Gameboy's lifecycle in 1997, but there ya go. Outside of the novel inclusion of a female Belmont protagonist, the gameplay setup is pretty standard fare. You have a whip, you've got the standard assortment of subweapons, and the level design is pretty simplistic from start to finish, bereft of noteworthy setpieces. The only real wrinkle in place are these seemingly random Trap Rooms that you can fall into, where you're forced to fight a set of enemies before you can escape (You earn nothing from them except a chunk of your healthbar lost, so avoid these as much as possible). Nothing ventured, everything gained The only other real wrinkle in play are the Soul Weapons (which are so situational that they're basically completely useless) and the Burning Mode, which a temporary invincibility that is utterly broken and should be spammed liberally against every boss you see. Otherwise? This is really as vanilla as it gets. But the level design is just really poor, with awful pacing and infuriating enemy placement that leaves you open to taking basically mandatory damage. The music is also... strange. It's not bad by any means, but it often sounds like a Silvagunner remix of other tunes... Tetris called, it wants its Type C music back It all contributes to this feeling of this being a Bootleg Castlevania of sorts. I don't think this game quite deserves its scathing reputation, but it's certainly amongst the lowest tier within the series. I'm glad I got the chance to play it, but it's certainly not a must-play by any means. Vampire: Master of Darkness Speaking of Bootleg Castlevania. Welcome to Vampire: Master of Darkness! A Game Gear title originally released in 1992 (which later got a port to the European Master System in 1993), developed by SEGA and SIMS. This is literally SEGA looking at Nintendo's stranglehold on Castlevania exclusivity and saying "We have Castlevania at home!". It's about as brazen a knockoff as you can get in terms of core gameplay. But the setting is admittedly pretty unique. You play as a psychologist called Dr Ferdinand Social (Yes... really, Dr Social... no I am not making this up), who for some reason is really into Ouija boards bigtime and hears about some nasties roaming around the streets of London and killing people in the service of Jack The Ripper and later Count Dracula. So he does the only sensible thing... and that is pick up his closest baselard sword, head out into the streets of London AND KNIFE EVERY LIVING THING THAT STANDS IN HIS WAY!!! That'll learn you some psychology! Aside from the surprisingly non-Engrishy dialogue and Victorian London setting & (slightly incomprehensible) story? This is a Castlevania knockoff through and through. Knives and axes replace your whip, and your selection of subweapons range from boomerangs, to bombs, to guns, to... throwable fangs? The candles get replaced with floating masks? They at least tried to vary the iconography a bit here, but the core gameplay is vanilla Castlevania, right down to the use of stairs that work in exactly the same manner. They tried to hide it, they really did But unlike the real Castlevania games, Master of Darkness doesn't seem to understand the guiding principles that made Konami's series so beloved. The level design is nonsensical, filled with stop/start pacing, iffy hit detection and enemies literally everywhere across the screen; placed completely haphazardly. The enemies also don't follow set attack patterns, and can seemingly move however the designers felt like at the time. In a normal Castlevania game for instance, bats always move in a particular arc, in a particular way. Here in Master of Darkness though? They might move in a Z shape pattern, they might move in a sine wave (like a Medusa Head), they might just lunge straight in your direction, or they may move up and down in an S shape; who knows? It's infuriating because the enemies have no consistency to them, and their haphazard placement makes the game an exercise in trial & error attrition. To make up for this, the designers decided to give the player a crapton of health; allowing you to tank at least a dozen hits before you kick the bucket, while also generously handing out health potions. They knew that their level & enemy design sucked, so they clearly made this change at the last minute as a band-aid solution. Clearly the only sensible reason behind the killings, he would know, he's a social dude Another significant problem is that the game is way too long for a Game Gear portable title... and there is NO SAVE FEATURE of any kind, not even Password saves! Thank Christ I was playing this on my 3DS, where I could put it in Sleep Mode, because it took me a good solid 4-5 hours to finish the game; there's no way that your Game Gear's batteries would've lasted that long! The bootleg nature of the gameplay also extends to the game's music... which sounds like a bargain basement Shinobi. Not exactly very gothic, but not offensively bad or anything... kind of like the rest of the game really. Overall? I think I slightly preferred Castlevania Legends to this one. It's... ok. It's not a terrible attempt to rip off Castlevania, but Legends is the better knockoff. And... we're all caught up! So? How did we do... Ok. This... didn't go so well in the end. At least I'm currently playing through Octopath Traveller 2 though (and in THREEEEEEEE DEEEEEE no less!). Next update coming... eventually. And with that?
  7. 7 points
    Polished this off the other night. I'll pay the game a bit more attentive lip service when I get around to updating my Gaming Diary, but for now: • I loved the ending. • I really, really enjoyed the penultimate dungeon (or what I'm counting as the penultimate dungeon), Eagle's Tower. Did get a little lost once or twice, and not leaving the heavy ball in the right spot only added to a little bit of confusion, but I think it's incredibly well designed and forward thinking. Crazy how many ideas - and well executed ones at that - were packed into a GB game. • what I'm calling the final dungeon (the one after Eagle's Tower)...eh. It was pretty good, but felt like a step down for me from Eagle's Tower, and also just wasn't as interesting mechanically. • final boss fight was awesome. Lastly, this has to be one of the best credits medleys I've heard in a minute: Hit me hard, surprisingly so for a game as short as this, and made me nostalgic for the original game – which I've never played. Wonderful and charming little game
  8. 7 points
    Totodile will always be my boy because I'm a water Pokémon fan. I'm glad we got another water himbo starter in the new generation too. However, I'll always feel a kinship with Cyndaquil because we have the same eyes.
  9. 7 points
  10. 7 points
  11. 7 points
    While looking back through notes to update my gaming log in the 2023 thread, I came across my notes for 2022 and realised I never spoke about these games in this thread...and in the case of many of them, anywhere on N-E. It's been doing my head in ever since I realised to think that there's a massive gap and lack of context that I'd personally like to refer back to, so here we are, necro'ing a thread for games played in 2022 close to the end of 2023. Sorry Oh well. I'll try to keep it succinct, just a couples of paragraphs or so for every game...but no promises Mass Effect | 2007 Playing through 2021's Legendary Edition release of Mass Effect was, for me, a very mixed bag. It was just a rough experience overall: I never really loved the combat and gunplay (despite updates for this edition of the game being widely touted); the sound mixing was absolutely atrocious, for some reason the atmospheric sound effects and gunfire were both tied to the same slider, so wanting to set the tone I turned it up... and it sounded like there were live rounds going off in my apartment; the music needed to be way louder, even at max on the slider it was so easily crowded out by dialogue and sound effects; the map was terrible; and no controller feedback during combat meant it just felt so...lifeless; and poor dialogue options and not successfully characterising what the character will actually say in response. The first half of the game was just so middling for me. Areas felt too big in a way which was overwhelming early on - and this was only made worse by a terrible map - but were relatively empty, making traversal feel like a slog, and the combat not being great just meant even the action stitching these parts together were super forgettable. The story hints at where it's going in its first half but doesn't really go anywhere interesting, and certainly nowhere that'd get me hooked. However, the game turned on its head around the midway mark, and the second half felt like it was genuinely made by a different team. Spaces are designed with more of a focus and purpose, combat zones aren't stupidly wide in scale, and this all manages to help shift the pacing up several notches and catapult you towards the end of the game with much more interesting encounters, dialogue options, and story moments, so much so that I can say that, damn, Mass Effect is a pretty damn good video game. It's just a shame about its first half. Pokémon Legends: Arceus | 2022 I absolutely adored my time with this game. It's absolutely the Monkey Lizard Brain Dopamine Edition of core series Pokémon games with just how much you can chain together between material gathering and tossing out a zillion Poké Balls at a time - perhaps the only way I'd trust Game Freak to handle an open world, because it was an extremely addicting feedback loop that they cooked up here - and by the end it offers a few rewarding battles on the level of Cynthia in Diamond & Pearl (and their remakes). While I'm still gutted that we received such a hollowed out take on the Gen IV remakes compared to the love and care earlier remakes and the series seemingly at the cost of this game getting made, the animated characters, Pokémon, and the beautiful musical callbacks and ancient versions on Sinnoh tracks makes it a game that just tugged at my nostalgic strings a bit harder than Brilliant Diamond managed just a few months prior. Still patiently waiting for the next Legends game, Game Freak. Give me another one of these, please! The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time | 1998 This is the only game I played last year that I have zero notes on. None - and I mean that in the sense that there's so little to discuss without getting into the nitty gritty, because the broader picture is crystal clear: it is a game that is very rightly heralded as a classic, pioneered the industry and has influenced some of my favourite games of all time, and has a majestic soundtrack to boot. I think I ended up overthinking the solution to a puzzle or two by virtue of the game being so old but coming to it after the games it influenced have taken some of its ideas further, and the framerate noticeably dropped in the 2011 3DS version I played during one of the bigger boss fights. I think that's it? It's rare that I have so little to say about a game after beating it, especially one which I thoroughly enjoyed from start to finish. Unquestionably a masterpiece. Elden Ring | 2022 My GOTY last year, and I still can't believe how great a job this game did at balancing the dungeons and locales of modern From Software titles with the scale and explorability of something like Breath of the Wild - all while giving you clear guidance (very cheekily taking some inspiration from Shadow of the Colossus in the way it did so) on where to go next if that's not your cup of tea. The main bosses, legacy dungeons, and a smattering of the smaller dungeons were the highlights for me. This all being said, it's not flawless, because as you'd expect, a game of this scale breeds a lot of repeated ideas - be it bosses or mini dungeon designs (which are very clearly a 2.0 take on Bloodborne's Chalice Dungeons, in my opinion). Also the soundtrack, while great at moments and for one or two bosses, pales in comparision to the breadth and depth of other From Software soundtracks I've encountered. Still just patiently waiting on an update on the DLC, because I'm very much looking forward to returning to the Lands Between! Spec Ops: The Line | 2012 This one's a rough gameplay experience but - if you stick it out - a wondrous and twisting narrative which absolutely wears its inspirations on its sleeve, and I love it for it. I really don't want to say much else, to be honest, because I think it's a really unique narrative take on what was - maybe still is? - an oversatured shooter market: just play it from beginning to end and enjoy the ride, if you haven't already. Gran Turismo 7 | 2022 Staying on with friends until stupid o'clock competing in races and License Tests, diving through the pages of customisability, zoning out while grinding for credits listening to podcasts and soundtracks to chill out....GT7 was one of my favourite gaming experiences of 2022, period. Sony were stupid enough to not be upfront about their microtransactions in a game that launched at £70, but that whole controversy aside, I really, really loved playing through this, and my time with Elden Ring was slashed apart by how hopelessly addicted I ended up getting to this game. That Tokyo Expressway grind I had going in a car capable of 300+ mph was stupid and will forever be burned into my mind. Banger OST, great haptic and adaptive trigger utilisation, absurdly beautiful to just stare at. And it recently got a new sizeable update, too, with new License Tests to boot, so maybe I'll dive back in yet Judgment | 2018 Pretty typical RGG affair wrapped in the skin of a detective game and not a Yakuza title...kind of this is all to say that I loved my time with the game, as I have every other RGG game, so if you know my thoughts on those...yeah, this isn't such a leap from 6 outside of minute details and new ideas they played around with for the first time, so I'm sure you already know how I feel about this one. Might be my favourite substory culmination of any of the games, honestly. Those stupid tailing missions can absolutely do one, though. Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order | 2019 On this rare replay (heh) I found that this game and its story is paced exponentially better if you don't do any side content and lower the difficulty to carry out some Jedi wish fulfilment Star Wars: Republic Commando | 2005 Still probably my favourite campaign of any Star Wars game I've gone through alongside Battlefront II, it was awesome to return to the role of Boss over a decade after I picked this game up for the first time and assume command of Delta Squad once more. Very archaic by today's standards, so, uh, give me a remake or a spiritual successor already please Respawn Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith | 2005 A third Star Wars-related replay in a row, Revenge of the Sith golds a very special place in my heart as a film, and so does its game. I remember sneaking the instructions manual into school just to look at some of the cool art during breaks and lunch time! The animations have aged superbly (pretty sure Christensen did mo-cap for this), the unlockable content is superb - duels, concept art, bonus missions (including an alternative ending to Revenge of the Sith) - and the game just remains such a joy to play to this day. You're treated to James Arnold Taylor as Obi-Wan, too, so that was awesome, but Anakin...well, let's just say I can see why Obi-Wan ended up making him a paraplegic oh, the soundtrack for ROTS not being completed by the time this was gearing up for release was hilarious too - it's a bunch of reused music from the older films and nothing from ROTS The Last of Us | 2013 I've talked about TLOU here before, and spoke about how much I loved it. And this playthrough - coupled with a playthrough of both the main game and Left Behind on the hardest difficulty, and a few playthroughs of Factions, which is an incredible and underrated multiplayer experience - really just drove home to me what a well-paced masterpiece of a narrative this game is and clarifies for me some of the decisions Naughty Dog made while designing this game (or how many bricks and bottles there are lying around seeming superfluous in lower difficulties). Remains one of my favourites. Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King | 2005 Nothing quite as charming as a Dragon Quest game, and that soundtrack is to die for. Excellent cast, gripping story, awesome mechanics (love the risk/reward of Tension!), a wonderful world and one of the few truly open worlds worth a damn in a JRPG that I've come across, and it's an absolutely brilliant time - improved in a lot of ways with the 2016 3DS version with the portable alchemy pot, ability to speed up battles, and so on. Unfortunately: it's not quite Dragon Quest XI Live A Live | 2022 A beautiful remake both in appearance and in its soundtrack, with a great variety of ideas on show...which the game never once really manages to commit to. What you end up with are a bunch of splintered experiences, which while charming at times in their own right, I think really fails to stick the landing as a cohesive and worthwhile experience. Star Wars: Battlefront II | 2005 Another Star Wars replay, but this time of my favourite Star Wars game that I've played through. This is easily the game I've sunk the most time into across all platforms in my life - we're talking thousands of hours; I was still playing this up to getting a PS4 and EA's Battlefront (bleh) in 2015! - and I still eagerly await the day it comes to more modern consoles (potentially with online? Pretty please?). The campaign is S-tier Legends content for someone like me, all of the maps are terrific, Galactic Conquest is one of the best modes in a Star Wars game ever...man, if I were ever stuck on an island with just one game for the rest of my life, I seriously think this would be the one I'd choose to play until the end of my days. Aperture Desk Job | 2022 Look, it's just a Steam Deck demo in all practicality, but it's such a fun one at that hearty recommend for anyone with a Steam Deck who has an hour free to just chuckle at themselves and the nonsense of it all! God of War | 2005 QTEs and puzzles galore? Maybe, but man is this game just stupid fun. Wonderful animated attacks result in some really wild combos, there are a few standout bosses (that Minotaur fight!), yeah the camera has aged pretty woefully in certain sections of this game, but honestly? It's still absolutely worth checking out the start to the God of War series today. Super Mario Sunshine | 2002 Man, I'm so torn on Sunshine. Isle Delfino? Excellent place to hang out in the summer, loved having a continuous locale in a 3D Mario like this. Some of the levels? Awesome. Soundtrack? It's 3D Mario, of course it's S-tier. It's weirdly handled at times but FLUDD is a novel way to shake up the 3D formula, too. But it feels like such a jumbled mess of a game at times, and there's some weird jank to it that I've not come across in other Mario games...ever? The camera is its own living entity with its own mood swings to go alone with it, you can never quite tell what it's going to do. There is so much repetition with red coin levels and fighting the piranha plants, and I got bored of chasing blue coins pretty quickly after a few hidden levels, because they're just so hit and miss in terms of quality. And why are they taking place in another dimension entirely on toy blocks? It's just bizarre, and feels so separate from the main experience. It's the only Mario game I've played that feels rushed and cobbled together - and it was such a shame, because I had (and still have) such great early memories of spending time in Nottingham with family playing this game on my cousin's GameCube when I was little, which maybe just compounds some of the issues I have with it to an unfair degree. Shadow of the Colossus | 2005 Having first played through Shadow of the Colossus years ago with its 2018 remake by Bluepoint, I decided to boot up their 2011 PS3 remaster of the game to experience the definitive version of the PS2 original...and I'm so happy that I did. The PS4 remake, while absolutely dropdead gorgeous, just feels so at odds with itself: while, yes, it's pulling off crazy technical tricks, it really does feel like a PS2 husk painted with a PS4 skin, and this results in an odd dissonance between how the game feels and how it looks; it feels substantially older than it looks, whether it be the weightlessness of Wander's jumps, some of the jank you'll experience from time to time with the bosses, or just the moment-to-moment framing and feel of wandering around this world. Despite thoroughly enjoying the experience, something just felt off about experiencing the game that way, and at times it just felt frustrating. I also loved their take on Demon's Souls when I played through it shortly after the PS5 launch, but that also suffers from the exact same issues for me. This is all to say that this version of the game just looks and feels right - it's easier to forgive the jank in a HD-ified PS2-looking game, and the game just feels so much more full of life when it comes to Wander in particular because of this. With the rest of the game otherwise being virtually the same - the ethereal and weighty OST, the excellent fights with the Colossi, and the game's atmosphere being captured much more honestly and earnestly with a slight green haze - I came away from this replay having not just enjoyed this version more, but having the experience cement Shadow of the Colossus on my list of favourite games of all time. Maybe I should take the hint and boot up the PS3 version of Demon's Souls, huh? The Last of Us Part I | 2022 This game was over much, much faster than the original. Definitely one of the funniest clips I've ever captured - can you imagine if that was a permadeath run? Anyways, having talked about TLOU to death already, to talk about this remake: it's a totally unnecessary but gorgeous remake of an existing masterpiece which does nothing noteworthy enough to differentiate it from the game that it's a remake of. Worse yet? I'd say that some parts of the game looking different - namely: Joel's hair being more coloured, or the subway having a hole punched into the ceiling to show off Naughty Dog's awesome light effects but sucking out the atmosphere it had in the first game almost completely and thus providing a completely different tone to that conveyed in the original - actually works against it. If it's not a question of money and you've yet to experience the first game, by all means, play it this way. But if money is a factor? Just play Remastered. It's always a pleasure to play through The Last of Us, but honestly, I'd much rather the game had got a Final Fantasy XV-like Pocket Edition than this remake. I suppose it tides Naughty Dog over while Factions goes up in flames, but that we haven't had a single new and original experience from them on the PS5 yet but have had 4 and Lost Legacy PS5-ified and TLOU remade seems like such a waste of immense talent. God of War Ragnarök | 2022 There were times during Ragnarök that it very seriously entered the conversation for me as a serious contender to Elden Ring for 2022's GOTY: its soundtrack, its performances, its new and updated mechanics and ideas, it all just comes together in a sweeping and emotional epic of a tale which means you find yourself somewhere else completely at the end than where you were at the start of the game. Now, I could wax lyrical about Ragnarök for pages on end, but we don't have that kind of time, so I want to bring up one what I think is one of its few weaknesses, and that is giving into a growing trend in tighter AAA experiences giving way to bloat (other recent AAA games I can think of like it were The Last of Us Part II and Jedi Survivor). However, whereas in other games I think that this bloat comes from a scale creep in how wide areas have become and the number of available side activities and areas to explore, I think for this game, it really impacted its narrative quite a bit. At some point in this game's development, for whatever reason - almost certainly money and wanting to wrap this story up to have another God of War 2018 moment with the next entry, I'm sure - this story went from seemingly being a trilogy to a duology, which was announced out of the blue in the build-up to the game's release. And I found that as the game darted towards the end, it wrapped things up almost at a faster pace as the end neared, with hinted at story beats and the promise of certain rivalries and ideas never truly feeling like they were fully ripened and explored, thrown aside in favour of an ever-escalating conflict. What I found that this game ended up feeling like the last two parts of a trilogy glued together into one and a half game's worth of content, which just hurts to realise - but then, also, perhaps that is part of the point. For what there is to be critical of, I struggle to want to be critical of this game, and more than ramble on about its shortcomings, I want to take a moment to talk about what this game means to me personally. I found that I played this game at a very personally difficult and sensitive time, and for so many personal reasons, this game came to mean so much to me that I don't know if I'll ever be able to quite capture what that was in written form: it delivered a simultaneous personal recognition of loss, grief, challenges overcome and yet to come, and a lasting glimmer of hope. It is games like this that makes me feel sorry for anyone who hasn't yet come to recognise the greatest gaming narratives for what they are capable of, and that is to guide, challenge, and empower you in overcoming whatever you're going through, or relating to new perspectives, in the safety of assuming the role of another. The beauty of a narrative is never determined by its medium, but its ability to transcend it. And Ragnarök, thankfully, did that for me.
  12. 7 points
    Front page news! https://www.n-europe.com/news/charles-martinet-steps-down-as-super-mario-voice-actor/
  13. 7 points
  14. 6 points
    Yup, I'm bored! And when I'm bored, I tend to go on about stuff that really doesn't matter. After 9 generations of Pokémon, there are 30 different starter Pokémon (33 if you count a certain trio, 34 if you're an idiot). The majority of them serve as solid Pokémon that help to introduce the type matchups with one of the most simple triangle of weaknesses. I'm not gonna explain that, because I hope you're smart enough to already know that particular type trio off by heart. But let's face it, not all starters are created equal, and nothing demonstrates that unfortunate truth more then the Kanto trio. Bulbasaur, weirdly enough, is a Grass/Poison type (Actually, all of this family are), so it's already doing a terrible job of demonstrating type matchups. Real talk, it's why I thought Grass types were weak to Psychic until the third generation. In the original games, Bulbasaur is normally the Pokémon recommended for beginners, mostly because the first two Gym Leaders use types that are weak to Grass. Normally, middle evolutions of starters are not note worthy. Always overshadowed by the two forms it's in between. However, there are precisely three exceptions, and Ivysaur is one of them. And it's all because of Smash Bros. That Ivysaur is the luckiest Pokémon ever In Smash Bros. Brawl, one of the newcomers was "Pokémon Trainer", an interesting character that doesn't actually directly take part in fights, but sends his three Pokémon to fight on his behalf. The player controls the Pokémon themselves, so functionally, it was just a cosmetic flourish of a transformation character that Zelda introduced to the series in Melee. But it was a cool way to represent the gameplay of Pokémon games in Smash. Squirtle was the fast, but weak, Pokémon, while Charizard is the slow, heavy hitter. This meant that Ivysaur was the choice for the one that's average, despite Bulbasaur and Venusaur being far more popular. Only Charizard returned in the fourth Smash entry, because, well, more on why in a bit. But with Smash Ultimate's "Everyone is Here!" megaton, Ivysaur's managed to worm it's way back into relevance. Real talk, in Smash Bros, I think Ivysaur is the best Pokémon character in the game, it's anti-air game is insane! It's so good, I barely use the other two, they just get in the way! Also helps that Ivysaur's current anime voice is hilarious! Venusaur is the final evolution, and by the time most players get one, they'll probably start realising that the Bulbasaur line is a bit of a noob trap in the Gen 1 games. It's useful at the start, but Grass/Poison is a terrible typing. Psychic Pokémon are way overpowered in Gen 1, and Venusaur's movepool is woeful. There aren't any good Poison attacks, and as for Grass, your best option is Razor Leaf, a 55 power, 95% accuracy grass move. Technically, it learns Solar Beam, but Solar Beam sucks because you have to spend a turn to charge it up. It does get Sleep Powder, but that doesn't save it. I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the two form changes that Venusaur got, starting with it's Mega Evolution in Generation 6. Mega Venusaur is a prime example of why I love the Mega Evolution mechanic that is no longer seen in mainline games. It takes a mediocre Pokémon and transforms it into a very effective tank. The key difference between this and a certain lamer mechanic replacement is that it actually changes the Pokémon's ability. In Venusaur's case, it gains Thick Fat, eliminating it's Fire and Ice weakness. Also, one of the few Megas that doesn't add spikes to the design, thought that was worth mentioning. Come Generation 8, Megas were gone, but Venusaur is a generation 1 Pokémon, and as I have mentioned many times in the past, those Pokémon get mad preferential treatment, so it got a second form with Gigantamax Venusaur. Unlike Mega Evolutions, Gigantamax Pokémon barely differ from the normal version in battle. The only actual difference is that they get a unique attack only they can use while dynamaxed, and most of them are worse. It's such a downgrade. No-one will miss it. Gigantamax Venusaur wasn't even available at the launch of Sword and Shield. Which wouldn't be that noteworthy if it wasn't for a certain other starter. Speaking of... Charmander is the fire type starter, in case the tail didn't give it away. Being a fire type, it struggles against the first two gyms. So much so, that from Gen 3 onwards, it learns Metal Claw, so it has some sort of answer to rock types. For this reason, it's seen as the "expert" starter, because you'll likely need another Pokémon to deal with those gyms. Charmeleon is a middle evolution, and thus, has nothing to contribute to this thread (Get used to that being a thing). Charizard is, by far, one of the most popular Pokémon ever. Hell, I'd argue there are only two other Pokémon that are more popular. It gains the Flying type, which means it's not a dragon, despite looking about as "stereotypical dragon" as you could get in Pokémon. Fire/Flying is an unfortunate typing these days, because rock type attacks became quite good in later generations, and Charizard has a heart attack the moment you throw a pebble at it. It's pretty good in Gen 1 though, thanks to rock being kinda rubbish, and Charizard's respectable Speed stat giving it more then a few critical hits. It has a decent movepool, to boot. Definitely the starter that pays off the most there. Much like Venusaur, Charizard also gets a Mega Evolution in the 3DS games. Oh, but Game Freak absolutely adore Charizard. If Gen 1 Pokémon got preferential treatment during this time, then Charizard might as well be the freaking Pope with how much attention it got. Charizard got two Mega Evolutions. Yes, two. Venusaur and Blastoise fans can go ahead and suck Charizard's nonexistent balls. The black one is Mega Charizard X. It's Fire/Dragon type (Yes, this one is an actual dragon), and has stats that focus more on Physical attacks. The ability it gets is Tough Claws, which powers up contact moves by 30%. The orange one is Mega Charizard Y. It's still Fire/Flying (So... not a dragon), and has more special inclined stats. The ability it gets here is Drought, which changes the weather to intense sunlight whenever it enters battle. Charizard Y is the one to go for, Drought is a very powerful ability, and Charizard naturally does better with Special attacks. Also it's a better design, so there. It also got a Gigantamax form, and even that got more attention then it's Gen 1 brethren. Because unlike Venusaur and Blastoise, you could actually get one in Sword and Shield. In fact, you got one for free! Venusaur and Blastoise fans can continue to suck Charizard's nonexsistant balls. It's rubbish though, you're better off using a normal Charizard. Seriously, the Charizard favouritism is really bad, even the champion of Sword and Shield uses a Charizard as his "ace", instead of a Pokémon introduced in that generation like almost every other champion. Still not a dragon though. And to further prove that point, Charizard was playable in Pokkén. It's got pecs in that game, and it's forever weird. Actually, it features in a lot of spin-off's, we'll be here all day if I go through them. Let's move on. Squirtle kicks off the water starter family in Kanto. It's a turtle. It is not inspired by a squirrel, no matter what some people would have you believe, it's just a turtle. Don't be dumb. Squirtle performs well against Gen 1's first gym, but can struggle against the second one, it's really good in the last two gyms though! And it can learn Surf, which you need to finish the game, and is a very good attack to boot. You can't go wrong really, but there are a few better water types in Gen 1, including Lapras, which you can get a free one of. So Squirtle loses out to Charizard in most playthroughs. Squirtle could totally beat Charmander up in Gen 1 though, so if you're playing multiplayer with big Charizard fans, Squirtle might be the way to go. Wartortle is a middle evolution, so it exists, I guess. Blastoise is the only Gen 1 starter final evolution that doesn't have a second type. Hard to say if that's a blessing or a curse, but it can learn Ice moves. Water and Ice is a great combo for coverage, but Blastoise is actually slower then Venusaur, which is a big oof in Gen 1 where Speed is OP. Well, more OP then usual. By the way, this is a good opportunity for a confession. I genuinely think Blastoise is one of the worst designs in all of Pokémon. Squirtle and Wartortle are fine, but Blastoise is a crap design. The tail doesn't follow the increasing elaborateness that the other two do, and, well, the cannons are absolutely dumb. Blastoise is not a mechanical Pokémon, why the hell does it have cannons!? I hate it, no thought put into the evolutionary theming what-so-ever! And it's alternate forms only get worse. 50% more cannon, 300% stupider! Mega Blastoise is still a water type, but gets the ability, "Mega Launcher", which increases the power of any move that has "Aura", or "Pulse" in the name. Blastoise learns quite a few of those moves in Gen 6, so it's a solid Mega that can punch holes in a lot of Pokémon. Gigantamax Blastoise, much like the other Gigantamax starters, is not as good as just using the normal version. But, I mean, look at it. It's so incredibly dumb. Like, I'm talking "Gundramon from Digimon" dumb! Sword and Shield has amazing Pokémon designs, but this is a real blemish on that record. Btw, amazingly enough, Blastoise beat the odds, and got into Pokkén! ...Eventually, it was in the Switch version. So Venusaur fans can suck Blastoise's nonexisistant balls when they're finished with Charizard! That said, maybe Venusaur fans got lucky, because... Someone here accurately described it as "A guy in a Blastoise costume" There is actually one more starter. Pokémon Yellow didn't have any of the three starters above as your first Pokémon, instead it had one of the two Pokémon more popular then Charizard. Do I need to explain Pikachu? It's the mascot! Pokémon Yellow took a few nods from the anime and gave you a Pikachu with incredibly staticy voice samples. It wasn't very good though. It is Pikachu, after all. Despite popular belief, you can actually evolve the Pikachu in Pokémon Yellow! It involves trading it to another cartridge and evolving it there. It stops following you though, and loses all the perks that particular Pikachu gets. And Raichu still kinda sucks, anyway, so why bother? I'm not gonna go into all the different forms and appearances of Pikachu! Screw that! I've already spent 2 hours on this post! Anyway, that's all for now. We're thankfully done with the longest post because of Gen 1 favouritism, but what's your favourite Generation 1 starter Pokémon? I know what you're going to think, but for me, it's Charizard. Yes, I'm part of the problem. But dragons are bloody cool! Even when they're not actually dragons. I've still got a Charizard from Fire Red in the latest games! It's nicknamed Draco. No, he's not named after the Harry Potter character, it's a Dragonheart reference. Got a soft spot for that movie.
  15. 6 points
    After doing a few franchise playthroughs (Sonic, Star Trek and James Bond), I decided to pick something that would be a bit more varied by focusing on a console. I picked the N64 as I remember loving it, and I read about so many games in N64 Magazine that I never got to play. The number of games (419, including some prototypes) also makes it a reasonable endevour. For playing the games, I'll be using different ways to play. I'll mainly be emulating (using different emulators, as some work better in particular ones), plus using some ports/remasters. The ports/remasters are on a case-by-case basis and the game as a whole needs to have the same vibes as the N64 version, as sometimes the N64 versions had different level designs (and features) to other versions that remasters are based on. That said, some of those do kindly include the N64 mode as well. Some ports will be fan made and I will be allowing some graphical and QoL enhancements (mainly widescreen, textures that keep the right vibe and camera control). There was one game where I felt I went a bit too far on the graphical department, but a bit too late for that (it wasn't a big N64-specific one anyway). In the case of sports games, I'll be mainly getting a feel for them by playing a few matches rather than going insane while playing an entire season of each one. I also won't be shy in using cheats, mainly extra lives (they were pointless in most games of this era and losing them just wasted time as you walk back to where you were) and for games of genres I completely suck at - such as 1-on-1 fighters (I had no idea the N64 had so many). Some games only came out in Japan. I don't read or speak Japanese and I'm dreadful at understanding Japanese. For some games, there are fan-made translations that I will be using, for others, I'm relying on Google Lens (which, while some results are a big mangles, has been fairly successful and I get the gist of what things mean) . My reasoning for all of this is that this is for fun, not a serious challenge. For ordering the games, I've gone by the first release in any region, it seemed like the most logical way to do things. I've also inserted a few prototypes of games into the mix for checking out unfinished (or in a few cases, completely finished but unreleased) games. I'm already a fair amount of time into playing the games, up to number 150 on my list (an obscure game called Ocarina of Time). Out of the three Japanese launch titles, It would be rude to not start with: Super Mario 64 JP release: 23rd June 1996 NA release: 29th September 1996 PAL release: 1st March 1997 Developer: Nintendo Publisher: Nintendo N64 Magazine Score: 96% Starting off with a bang, one of the Nintendo 64’s launch titles just happens to be a revolutionary game that’s one of the best games on the system. It didn’t just show the world how platform games could work in 3D, but it set the standard for movement in 3D as well. Despite its legendary status, Nintendo have never given us the port that this game deserves. Super Mario 64 doesn’t need a full remake, just a little bit of sprucing, widescreen and an updated camera. Luckily, fans of the game have done this themselves by fully recreating the game’s engine on PC, with lots of options to set it up the way you want. There are some much more graphically impressive options than what I chose, but I wanted it to look similar to the original game, with just crisper textures and some of the 2D objects replaced with 3D ones. The movement of Mario still feels amazing all these years later. His move set is brilliant with all of his moves (minus the special hats) available from the get-go, it’s just a case of learning it and figuring out the best way to move. Most people will start off doing taller jumps by doing the backflip, but then transition to the quick turn jump to get up to the tall platforms. Even now, it’s an absolute joy to control. The camera from the original game is the main part of the game that now feels clunky. It was pretty amazing when the game came out, but it’s one aspect of games that has improved over time. Luckily, the version I played lets you turn on a more modern analogue camera, which (along with widescreen) is really all Super Mario 64 needs to feel modern. The levels are small, but it’s a style that really suits the game. They’re packed full of secrets, with six stars to find in each one (plus an extra star for collecting 100 coins). Once you collect a star, you’re thrown out of the level, which does mean you have to re-do parts of levels multiple times, but there are sometimes changes to the level depending on which star you collect. There is a mod that lets you remain in levels, but I feel like this alters the game too much, and is itself fiddly as you need to work out when you need to manually leave the level. Each level has a very distinct feel to it and I enjoyed every level in the game, except for two of the water levels. While some have generic themes (lava, water and ice), the levels are still built in unique ways, and even matching themes (like the two snow levels) don’t feel like a reuse due to the level design. Other than a couple of stars that include the wing, metal and invisible caps, you can also complete levels before moving on, or just do a couple of stars and try somewhere else. You only need 70 out of 120 stars to complete the game (far fewer if you choose to do glitches), but it’s enjoyable collecting them all. To unlock different sections of the castle (and access more levels), you need to complete Bowser’s levels. There are three in total (the last one being to save Peach) and these are much more linear platform challenges, which creates a nice change of pace. At the end of these you have to face off against Bowser, grabbing his tail and spinning him to throw him into bombs, and I’m still absolutely dreadful at aiming my throws. The final section of the game has some outstanding levels. Wet-Dry World is the third water level of the game, but this one stands out much more due to the mechanic of raising and lowering the water levels. There are different ways to move upwards depending on the water level, and you’ll need to make use of these to collect all the stars. Tiny-Huge Island has you using pipes to swap between a giant Mario and a mini Mario. You get to see cute tiny goombas or have to fight ones that are much larger than Mario. It’s not Mario’s size that actually changes, but the level itself. It’s an absolutely adorable level full of joy. Tick Tock Clock is actually a lot smaller than I remember, but is focused on well timed jumps. The unique aspect of this level is that the level entrance is itself a clockface, and where the minute hand points alters the speed of the objects in the level, or even stops them completely. I have quite strong memories of trying to figure out what was happening when this happened as a kid. The final main level, Rainbow Ride, is more linear than most levels, with different segments connected via magic carpets. You’ll need to jump off the carpets to avoid obstacles, but if you take too long, the carpets will vanish. This level requires you to have learnt how to master Mario’s moveset. Super Mario 64 is still an absolute joy to play, especially so with an updated camera. I think a full remake would alter the game too much, as the level design and movement is integral to its identity. It just needs a bit of sprucing up, and I really hope we get an official version that does this at some point. This was an amazing start for the Nintendo 64. Not only was this game integral to the development of 3D games as a whole, but the gameplay and levels still hold up today. Games keep trying to be bigger and better, but smaller and varies levels are also a great approach. Remake or Remaster? As the fan-made PC version shows, Super Mario 64 still holds up really well and just needs some basic improvements. A remastered Super Mario 64 would be perfect. Official Ways to get the game There is no way to buy a new copy of Super Mario 64, the only official way to play is to rent it via the Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pak. Re-releases 1997: Super Mario 64 Rumple Pak Version (Japan Only) 2003: iQue (China Only) 2006: Wii Virtual Console 2015: Wii U Virtual Console 2020: Super Mario 3D All Stars (Switch, temporary release) 2021: Nintendo Switch Online (subscription only) Other versions 2004: Super Mario 64 DS. This version featured altered levels, more stars and extra playable characters. The extra content was well received, but forcing previous stars to certain characters was frustrating. The controls also don’t work very well on the DS. The touch screen minigames were a brand-new addition and were well liked.
  16. 6 points
    Diddy Kong Racing PAL release: 21st November 1997 JP release: 21st November 1997 NA release: 24th November 1997 Developer: Rare Publisher: Nintendo N64 Magazine Score: 90% Pretty much all racing games on the N64 so far have the same problem: there’s not a lot of progression for a single player, and you can do everything in a couple of hours. Some of them focused on being great in multiplayer (like Mario Kart 64) but there wasn’t a lot of choice for singleplayer. Which is where Diddy Kong Racing comes in, as it has a very meaty singleplayer campaign with an adventure mode where you find tracks within its hub world. It’s a neat area to explore, although a lot smaller than I remember it being. You’ll find four doors with balloon requirements (which you get from winning races or finding them in the world), with a fifth world hidden until you defeat five bosses. They start out simple at first: you have to win each race individually then defeat the boss in a race. Do that, and it gets much more challenging. You’ll be tasked with finding 8 coins in each race. However, finding them isn’t enough as you still have to win, and then defeat a harder version of the boss. Diddy Kong Racing is a difficult and brutal game and you’ll need to learn its tricks (such as letting go of the accelerator just before boosting) to have a chance of winning. Once you defeat a boss a second time, you then complete in a tournament across the four tracks. There’s also a key hidden in one level of each world to unlock a battle mode challenge. Oh, and also time trail challenges. Once you’ve done all that and defeated the evil Wizpig, it’s time for Adventure Two. This is a mirror mode version of the game, although the silver coins are now in more difficult places. Of course, this amount of content wouldn’t be anything if the game wasn’t fun to play. And thankfully, it is fun. Levels use three vehicles: car, hovercraft and plane. The car and plane are very easy to use, while the hovercraft is more difficult. When you repeat tracks (or choose to play outside Adventure mode), some levels let you pick your vehicle – with some restrictions on a per-level basis – and it’s great having multiple types of vehicles racing alongside each other. One let-down in DKR are the characters. None of them are bad in terms of a design perspective – and this is the first appearance of Banjo (without Kazooie, although some of his voice clips sound like her) and Conker, but they’re a bit too varied in terms of ability, so the game’s difficulty will vary a lot based on who you pick, with Pipsy being the best for hitting boosts (plus the silver coins). The weapon system sets itself apart from other kart racers. Instead of giving you random items, the balloons providing items are colour coded for specific items. Collecting one of the same type you already have will also upgrade the item. Diddy Kong Racing is still a great game, and the only kart game that’s come close to it for single-player is Sonic Racing Transformed (which also had three vehicle types, but it was specific to the part of the track you were on). It set itself apart from Mario Kart 64 and I actually prefer this one. Remake or Remaster? If not a sequel, then Diddy Kong Racing deserves a remake. It would look gorgeous with a Mario Kart 8 style sheen to it and some updates to the control and balance would be great, with some additional options. While it would be nice for all characters to return, I’d still be very happy with the game even if they had to replace most of them. The Switch seemed perfect due to the system’s portability and how it doesn’t have its own Mario Kart. Official ways to get the game. There is no official way to get Diddy Kong Racing Re-releases 2007: Diddy Kong Racing DS (Banjo and Conker replaced with Dixie Kong and a tall, teenage Tiny Kong, coin challenges replaced with tapping balloons).
  17. 6 points
    So now we move on to Generation 2, better known as Pokémon Gold, Silver, and Crystal, which is set in the Johto region. Despite the box art for these games sporting the Game Boy Colour logo on it, these games were compatible with the standard Game Boy (Not Crystal, though). I don't know if that had an impact on actually designing the Pokémon, but it's worth keeping in mind. Chikorita kicks off the Johto Pokédex. Unlike it's Kanto counterpart, this Pokémon doesn't have a secondary type (actually, all the Johto starters only have one type), so it serves as a far better introduction to the concept of type matchups this time. That said, don't expect an easy time at the beginning if you go with the grass starter, Johto's first two gyms are Flying and Bug, which Grass performs terribly against! Bayleef still mostly falls in the catagory of "overshadowed middle evolution", but there is one notable time where a Bayleef features, it functions as one of the three Pokémon the player has a choice between in the Generation 3 game, "Pokémon Colosseum". No prizes for guessing what the other two choices are. But it's caught at level 30, so will quickly evolve before it makes an impression. And now we have to talk about Meganium, arguably the most cursed starter Pokémon ever. If you remember, I described Venusaur as a noob trap. In comparison, picking Meganium is the choice if you don't want to actually use your starter in Generation 2. The Johto region hates Grass types. Out of the 8 gyms there, Meganium is effective against precisely none of them. As well as that, Meganium matches up poorly against half of them. And if that wasn't enough, Meganium's movepool is awful! Ironically, if Meganium had the secondary Poison typing that Venusaur did, it could have at least learnt Sludge Bomb, which got introduced in this game. But instead it only gets Razor Leaf, and Body Slam (No, Solar Beam is forever crap). You could use TM's to give it Giga Drain, which has a mediocre 60 power in Gen 2, and Earthquake. There are many better candidates for a valuable TM like Earthquake, don't waste it on Meganium. This combination of awful movepool, and a region that is hostile to it, cements the Chikorita line as the least popular Gen 2 starter by far. And it only gets worse. A lot of early starters would get new tools over the generations that help them adapt to the ever changing mechanics, but not Meganium. Other then getting Energy Ball in Gen 4, nothing of real use was given to Meganium. Truly a forgotten Pokémon. You know it's bad when False Swipe Gaming, a channel that focuses on the competitive side of Pokémon, made no attempt whatsoever to hide how utterly rubbish it is. Still, Namco decided to put Meganium as one of the Pokémon that's on the cover of New Pokémon Snap. That's it's biggest claim to fame as far the games go, and it only appears in one stage. So yeah, if you think your favourite starter is overlooked, well, at least it's not Meganium. Unless it is, then it sucks to be you. The Fire starter is Cyndaquil. I keep thinking it's meant to be some kind of hedgehog, but it's Pokédex classification is "Fire Mouse". ...OK, sure. Anyway, Cyndaquil's performance in the early game of Gold and Silver is quite haphazard, it shreds the Bug gym, but then gets absolutely demolished by the Normal one. Yes, Normal is neutral against Fire, but you can tell which player chose Cyndaquil as their starter by asking how difficult Whitney's Miltank was. If their answer is "The hardest gym in the history of Pokémon", then they likely chose Cyndaquil. Whitney ain't all that, guys. Basic strategy will take you far. Quilava, middle evolution, not much else to say. Although, now it looks like some kind of badger. This evolution line has a real identity crisis. Typhlosion is the final evolution, and by far the most popular of the Johto trio. It's stat spread is truly excellent for a Fire type, Special Attack and Speed are both at least base 100. This would be let down by it's natural movepool, which only has Flamethrower as a viable attack. This would be disastrous, if it wasn't for the fact that for some bizarre reason, Typhlosion can learn Thunder Punch, one of the most excellent TM's in Gen 2. Thunder Punch can be bought in Goldenrod, the town with the third gym, so there's no reason to not teach it that. Fire and Electric is excellent coverage for a special attacker in Gen 2. Yes, Thunder Punch is not a physical attack, don't question it. That said, Typhlosion would not fare well in future generations. Specifically, the Generation 4 remakes of Gold and Silver, HeartGold and SoulSilver, were not kind to it. It can't learn Thunder Punch easily anymore, and even if it could, Thunder Punch is a physical move now. Oh right, yeah. Suppose I should explain the Physical-Special Split. It's important. Typhlosion doesn't do well with Physical attacks, so it now only has Focus Blast (120 Power, 70 accuracy, which might as well be 0 accuracy) as a non-Fire option. As an aside, some Pokémon fans get really annoyed with Typhlosion's depiciton in more modern titles, they get really angsty about Typhlosion's Fire effect not being seen all the time. This is stupid, because if those people ever read Typhlosion's Pokédex entries, or even watched the anime, they'd know that Typhlosion has always been able to turn it's fire off at will. Basic Pokémon knowledge, guys. So, in conclusion, if you're playing the Game Boy versions, Typhlosion's great! If you're playing the DS remakes, you might want to consider something else, something that I'm about to talk about. (Yes, I know about Typhlosion's other form, I've decided to cover that in a future post. Because it's weird) Totodile is the Water starter of Johto, and the only Pokémon I can do a decent impression of. Is it a crocodile, or an alligator? I'll never tell. It's very bitey, according to the Pokédex, which is a problem, because biting is how it plays. I wonder how many people in the world of Pokémon have had to take a sudden trip to a hospital due to overexcited Totodile? So normally, I don't really mention the anime, but Totodile is a special case, because it's hilarious! Ash's Totodile is something I remember quite fondly as a constant source of comedy. That's pretty much how I react when a CPU tries Scary Face on me, actually. Anyway, Totodile performs perfectly average in the early game. Not much to note here. Croconaw is yet another middle evolution, and yet another Pokémon that has no interesting things to talk about here. Feraligatr is a Pokémon that has had a mispelt name throughout it's entire life. The Game Boy games have a 10 character limit on Pokémon names, and they've never bothered to fix this in later games. The letter "O" is for losers anyway. But that's not all that's weird. Croconaw is the only starter Pokémon that evolves at level 30. To this day, I have no clue why this is the case. Level 36 is the standard, but there are some that evolve at level 32, but not this line. Still, early evolution is very much a plus in Feraligatr's favour. Feraligatr is a physical juggernaut, with great Attack and Defense, it also has a diverse moveset with no less then 4 easily accessible type options for attacks (Water, Normal and Dark, through level ups, and Ice through a purchasable TM, Ice Punch). This actually sort of works against it in Gen 2, because most of those options are classified as Special attacks. Yes, even Bite is a Special attack. Feraligatr doesn't have great Special Attack, so it's bad at biting... Yes, that sounds completely ridiculous. But despite that shortcoming, Feraligatr is still an excellent starter in Gen 2. That kind of type coverage is extremely rare in the Game Boy games, and you need Surf anyway, so it can't hurt. Ice Punch is still a fantastic move because of the abundance of Dragon Pokémon at the end. Feraligatr's great Attack stat also makes it an excellent candidate for the Earthquake TM for even better coverage. It can also learn Iron Tail, but Steel is a pretty rubbish offensive type, so I don't recommend that. Unlike Typhlosion, future generations would serve Feraligatr very well. The Physical-Special split helps it massively, and makes it by far, the best choice of starter in the DS remakes. But it got even better in the fifth generation. Which means I need to talk about "Hidden abilities". Feraligatr's hidden ability is "Sheer Force". It powers up moves that have secondary effects by 33%, at the cost of removing those secondary effects. Most of Feraligatr's best moves have secondary effects, so it uses this to great effect! Sheer Force also prevents the Life Orb item from damaging Feraligatr. Anyway, that's about everything with the Gen 2 starters. What's your favourite? So, surprise, surprise. Mine's Feraligatr. All the crocodilian Pokémon are great, to be fair. Just like Charizard, I still have the Feraligatr I caught on the DS remake. It's nicknamed Dalbert. In fact, I like Totodile a lot as well. Especially the anime depiction. Little dude likes to spin. Honestly, I'm baffled at how RedShell can discount all water starters when Totodile exists!
  18. 6 points
  19. 6 points
    This gave me a chuckle:
  20. 6 points
    One game about pirates and one game made by pirates.
  21. 6 points
    Hey N-E, here's to another year of great gaming! Just realised that I didn't actually finish updating my 2023 gaming diary oh well, here's my first games of 2024... Bramble: The Mountain King: Wow, what a messed up game. Really cool though, if you can stomach the content. It starts out like a nice fairy tale and then all of a sudden transforms into a absolute nightmare! Awesome way to enhance the horror though. It also has that kind of weird/creepy old European film vibe going for it, you know, the kind of stuff that'd be on late night TV back in the 80s. So yeah, the concept is spot-on. Unfortunately aspects of the presentation (and more importantly, the gameplay) are a little bit rough around the edges, it's mostly fine, but there are several moments (mainly insta-death stealth based sections ) where it felt like it could've done with a bit more polish. But I did enjoy the game, it's not that long (only around 5 hours) so the bits I wasn't that keen on didn't detract too much from the overall experience. Next up, a game that I should've played a long time ago, but inexplicably have waited until now to play. Yep I finally got around to playing... Stray: Mind-blowing! OK, I'm one of those crazy cat people, so obviously I was always going to adore that aspect of the game no matter what, but I wasn't prepared for just how much I would love it. I cannot believe how accurately the developers have managed to portray the movement and more amazingly the behaviours of a cat! That is no mean feat but they've done such an amazing job, it's crazy how good it all is. I was completely enthralled by the main character from the very second it first appeared on screen, all the way through until the credits rolled. I've heard comments about how if you were to remove the cat from this game it wouldn't be anything particularly special, and honestly there's some truth to that, but doing so would also require the entire game to be drastically different. I mean, everything has been so meticulously designed around the limitations and advantages of being a cat... the need to often move vertically, or to squeeze through small gaps, even the way the cat jumps. I recall being disappointed when I first discovered that jumping was context sensitive in this game, but it makes perfect sense for animation purposes and also maintaining that illusion of authenticity around the cat's behaviour. The game is very linear as a result of the level design and constrained jumping mechanics, but the atmosphere and visuals are so stunning that you just get sucked right into the world and it feels like a much bigger adventure than it actually is. I was especially amazed by the quality of the lighting in this game, absolutely phenomenal considering it's not utilising ray tracing. Soundtrack is awesome as well, fits the setting perfectly, but what I probably loved the most concerning audio in this (apart from being able to make the cat meow at any time, even during cut-scenes ) were the little ditties that play on the radios! If there was anything I found disappointing about Stray, it would be that outside of going through the story there isn't more to do. With such a cool playable cat to control it would've been great if they added some extra modes or something to be able to mess about with after completing the game. Anyway, glad I eventually played it. And finally, a game that I started playing in 2023, but continue to play every night. In fact I've clocked almost 800 hours now and I'm still nowhere close to completing it! This might just be the most epic and hardcore game I've ever attempted, I am of course referring to the one and only...
  22. 6 points
    Here's the only 2023 gaming list that matters.
  23. 6 points
    Not even a multiplatform one? Anyway, not important! Time for your yearly dose of "He plays way too much!" And none of them are Tears of the Kingdom! Me chasing 100% in Fire Emblem: Engage really starting to show here... Nothing strange in the stats, but they've used the wrong Mii three years in a row now! I changed my hair from that over a year ago! Between this and Theatrhythm, Square really smacked it out of the park this year!
  24. 6 points
    Happy birthday to the console that burned the brightest for the shortest time. Dreamcast was actually the first SEGA console I personally owned. Previously I was on the Nintendo side of the camp, where a friend of mine had the Mega Drive and I used to go round his to play, but the Dreamcast was the first time I actually went out and bought the console itself. What a console it was! Completely blew away the competition in terms of specs and production values; literally felt like a machine from the future took a time warp to 1999! (and even more insane to think that it actually came out in 1998 in Japan, at the same time as Zelda OOT!). For those of you in the room too young to remember, picture this... ... coming out at the same time as this... Perhaps the biggest quantum leap in technology the industry had ever seen. And in the span of just a hair over 2 years after the N64's release! And while in retrospect, the Dreamcast's western launch was a bit of a cheat when you consider that it came out about 9 months after its Japanese debut, its launch lineup was the stuff of legends. Just a massive library of heavy hitters right from day 1! And for fans of the arcades? The Dreamcast was literally more or less the same hardware as in the NAOMI arcade board. Outside of the NeoGeo (which wasn't even really a commercial piece of hardware that was viable for average consumers), this was the first time that you truly got "arcade perfect" games at home. It's crazy to think that the console only lasted a year and a half from its western debut to its official discontinuation, and yet it amassed a library of 620 officially released titles, more than double the N64! Yeah, it's sad, and a bit of an existential crisis for us oldies; but it does make sense when you realise that SEGA has been a software only 3rd party for longer than they were a console manufacturer now Nobody, for better or worse, would ever take the kinds of risks that SEGA did back in the 90 to early 2000s. Not even Nintendo would dare to put out official fishing controllers, games played with maraccas, mushroom shaped add-ons that would only last 6 months, or online games in the late 90s. God bless SEGA and their utter disregard for fiscal responsibility!
  25. 6 points
  26. 6 points
    First post here in a while and it's not quite the post that's going to bring me up-to-date on my Gaming Diary entries for the year, but with GOTY nominees recently released for TGAs and with me having played what I want to of most of this year's AAA offerings for now, I've gone ahead and am set to dive into indies between bigger games - some which were TGA nominees, but a good number of which I've gone out and researched to try and seek out any hidden gems that might have flown under the radar this year. I definitely think that the two I want to spend this post highlighting might grab the attention of some of the folks here, so let's dive in! Storyteller | 2023 Storyteller is an indie game developed by Daniel Benmergui and published by Annapurna Interactive in which players piece together characters, settings and panels to form a narrative laid out in the page title, and how these scenes are arranged and order impacts later scenes in the same scenario, which creates an easy to pick-up and charming little puzzle game. The game is highly stylised with the look of a simple storybook, and some pages come with sub-objectives, such as completing the puzzle without having any characters die, having a character perform a certain action, and so on, which adds welcome depth to the game, and while the game is mostly an easygoing time with its puzzles, some of which feel incredibly satisfying to complete, there were one or two where I certainly found myself a little bit stumped, and felt that page was a bit at odds with the simplicity and craftsmanship of other solutions in the game, but I think those instances were simply down to not having to try out those particular types of solutions up to that point. I did really appreciate that there were multiple ways in which to complete a fair few of the puzzles here - I'm not really a fan of when a puzzle only has one solution, as you can often find yourself banging your head against the wall, but for the most part I thought thse were pretty breezy, and again, very satisfying to solve on some of the more complex pages. I had good fun with Storyteller, its chilled out vibe and charming art style, and it definitely felt like the type of game you could just pick up for a page or two and come back to; what's more, it's a very tight experience, only taking me a couple of hours to complete every page and sub-objective. There are stamps made available to earn, too, which can be collected by going back through the game if you don't want to let the experience end, but I skipped out on this as I thought its length was just perfect for what it was. I also really enjoyed the occasional use of well-known classical music, too For those curious about where you can play it, right now Storyteller is currently available on Nintendo Switch, PC, Android and iOS. SANABI | 2023 The first game developed by Korea-based studio Wonder Potion and published by Neowiz Games (who recently published Lies of P), SANABI is a story-driven action-platformer set in a dystopian future. Following the re-emergence of the titular terrorist SANABI the entire population of Mago City disappeared in the span of 30 minutes without leaving a trace, and so you fill the pixel-art shoes of a retired veteran soldier pulled back into the mix of things for one last job; with SANABI providing you with a clear motive for seeking vengeance, and your trusty grapple hook chain arm in tow, you'll find yourself blazing towards the centre of an industrial conspiracy. I thought this game had some great gameplay ideas, the grapple hook obviously has a long and storied history in gaming, but it being the centre of attention here in momentum-driven swings, zipping around from platform to ceiling to wall, and some short but snappy combat encounters felt awesome. What mixes this up as the game goes on is new platform types, new ways to interact with them, and unlocking new abilities, which leads to moments where you are just zipping through areas, and when this game is flying in these moments where everything is coming together, it feels absolutely incredible. Unfortunately, there are a few moments where I think the game spikes in difficulty which get in the way of this, and these are typically coupled with less generous checkpoints than the game has been leading you to expect by the time that you get to them - a few times this would be down to wall-/ceiling-zips just not working at the right time for me - and there were a few times where I found myself being buffered along inside of a deadly laser field' you know, the type where you're kind of just stuck bopping around as your health chips away because you're too deep into that terrain to escape. Some of the gameplay elements introduced later on I also feel could have been introduced quite a bit earlier, as you don't really get a good chance to make full use of them other than the final stretch of the game. One thing that I think this game absolutely nails, though, is its boss fights. There are one or two of these which I really just love, and though I don't want to get into them too much, I'm just so happy that they come with such a heavy emphasis on actual platforming during a boss fight in an action-platformer, rather than what I find some other games in the genre do, which is suddenly become an action-lite game. I mentioned before that this game was story-driven, and I want to emphasise this fact: this game has more story than any other 2D platformer that I've played. Period. It's not got stages to access from a world map, nor is it a Metroidvania with backtracking, meaning that it is a very linear experience; there are straight-up multiple cutscenes in the game, which are highly effective and very easy on the eye; and there is an overarching narrative and one or two subplots to pay attention to throughout. I think there are a few instances in the game where these cutscenes go on a beat too long, and coupled with a general heightening in difficulty, the middle 20% of this game and probably the penultimate 15% too are really poorly paced, meaning I was definitely ready tp see credits roll by the time they come around. It's a shame, too, because this game pulls no punches and I think has an extremely well-delivered story and some very interesting characters, it just needed some tightening up in spots for me which I feel would have really allowed the story to shine through even more effectively than it did. There are beats towards the end of this game that, for me, made the moments of struggle worth it, because it was so satisfying to see the attention the folks over at Wonder Potion were paying to so many of their lines of dialogue, and I think the story payoff alone is enough of a reason to pick this game up and see it through to the end. I was left with chills when I realised what a certain object truly represented. Would this be a diary entry from me if I didn't mention a game's music? Of course not! And SANABI has one hell of an OST, ranging from cuter and upbeat, innocent pieces to punchy electronic and punding drums which really rubber stamps the oftentimes frenetic nature of this game. Some of my favourite tracks that I could find are the title screen theme, the first boss fight (11/10 and probably my joint favourite - listen to this one!), one of the many Mago City themes, and one of the later boss fights (another 11/10 and my other joint favourite - please listen to this one too!). Wonderful OST that'll definitely have you bobbing your head along to most of its songs. The other thing to highlight - which hopefully I've been doing a decent job at in this post - is the game's atmosphere and style. Every pixel is perfectly placed when it comes to this game's look, and whether it be the bright neon lights of Mago City or the powdery orange hue of a single bulb, this game has some excellent framing and cinematography which really heightens its appeal for me. There are also several times throughout the game where the developer toys with colour-graded looks, and I found that they worked really effectively for the scenes that they were used for. The world feels surprisingly fleshed out, as do its characters, and so when you throw some really solid sound design into the mix, too, this game just finds itself dripping neon and grunge in all the best ways. Despite some worrying pacing for a few stretches of its story and a handful of frustrating gameplay moments littered throughout the game, SANABI lives up to its style and narrative with some excellent ideas shown off in its mechanics, fun level design, great bosses, interesting characters, and awesome music. There is room for improvement, though, and so I seriously hope that this game gets a sequel/successor, because its base mechanics, story, world and characters all more than deserve it. If you're wondering where you can play this, SANABI is currently available on Nintendo Switch and PC.
  27. 6 points
    A new Wednesday, a new game announcement – and a pretty neat one at that! Here's a bit more of an overview from Modus Games:
  28. 6 points
    They said it couldn't be done. They said you shouldn't even try it. Yeah, that was a toughie. Lots of reloading, changing teams and generally grinding wins was the name of the game in order to bring home the win. Still, I did find it strangely fun. I have to say, Pokemon Stadium is nearly 25 years old now and yet some of the animations look better than what Game Freak are putting out today. Nintendo really put a lot of care and attention into each of the animations and it shows. It gives the Pokemon a lot of personality when they pop out of the Pokeball or pull off a move. It's such a shame that the original GB games are part of the online service yet so that they could connect to this. Saying that, even if they were I doubt they would go through the hassle of making them so they could be used on this. It would definitely make things so much easier than having to use the rentals.
  29. 6 points
    So Starfield was looking all set to be the game for September, and while I did complete a playthrough, it ended up being quite the disappointment and also got massively overshadowed by several surprise games. I just found the pace of it to be way too slow, things took absolutely ages to get going and once they finally did, the story was over! Having to do so much via the menus was also a real chore as they were badly designed, sluggish and needlessly confusing. Didn't think much of the gameplay either, it was all super generic stuff and basically consists of following waypoints to collect items, shoot some enemies (in often very flaky action sequences) rinse and repeat. There were many issues with bugs as well, like NPCs randomly freaking out and clipping through terrain, or casually trying to converse with you during combat, it all felt incredibly unpolished. Perhaps in the future (with lots of patches and mods) it could potentially be a great game, but for now it's nothing that special unfortunately. F-Zero 99: This was the first nail in Starfield's coffin a surprise announcement from a Nintendo Direct that couldn't have been any more tailor-made for me. All of the 99 (oh- and a 35 ) Switch Online titles have been fun, but this one is extra special for being based on a franchise that I love and my favourite entry in the series, but it also just feels a lot more like you're in an actual battle royale than any of the others, what with all players being plonked on a single racetrack. That also makes it ludicrously chaotic, distractingly so at times, but every race is exhilarating as a result. Anyway, It's fantastic to see F-Zero finally making a return in some form, it's probably not in the way most people were expecting or wanting, but I personally think this was a good initial step in bringing it back and hopefully one that will create some brand new fans and helps pave the way for more F-Zero games going forward. Lies of P: OK, this one came out of nowhere and really took me by surprise, a Dark Souls/Bloodborne-esque game, by a Korean developer that I'd never heard of, based on... The Adventures of Pinocchio!? Yep, and you know what? It's phenomenal! While the gameplay is hugely inspired by From Software's established action-RPG style, it is so unbelievably well made that had I played it without knowing the developer beforehand I would've sworn it was done by Fromsoft! Usually these type of blatant imitations have that cheap knockoff vibe going on, but there is absolutely none of that here, Neowiz Games and Round8 Studio really did their homework, and then some. That applies to the look, sound and feel of the game, and also (unsurprisingly) to its difficulty. The presentation is fantastic, I love the dark atmosphere with the whole creepy puppets thing and early 1900s style they've got going on, and having played suffered through several titles of this gameplay style previously I felt at home with the controls and game mechanics very quickly. That didn't make things any easier though, as in this game your only assistance comes in the form of CPU controlled summons and only for boss battles, no online coop at all, which combined with lots of bosses that have a 2nd phase, let's just say it was a very tough journey for me. But I stuck with it, I had no choice, everything about the game was just so amazing that I simply had to "git gud" and see it through to the end! And in a very unusual twist when it comes to these kind of brutally difficult games, I'm even feeling compelled to torture myself some more and check out NG+ on this! That's how good it is. So yeah, to anyone who's a fan of the souls formula I simply cannot recommend Lies of P enough, and honestly at the moment it's all set to be my game of 2023, in the same year as Zelda TotK! Cocoon: Yet another surprise gem, a very short but oh so sweet puzzle-adventure game. Now I'm not the biggest fan of puzzles, mainly because I'm a bit thick at solving them but this game and all of its challenges are so well designed that I think playing it actually made me a little bit smarter! Every aspect of Cocoon is beautifully designed, there's no HUD, no dialogue, no instruction whatsoever, yet you just grab the controller start playing and it all falls into place. I love that. The game's main feature, and what makes it a lot of fun, is how you can pick up and carry the worlds (in the form of a coloured sphere) around with you, even into other spheres/worlds. Where things get really interesting (not to mention mental) is when the actions you perform inside one world will effect another, and the further you progress the more complex these interactions become. The end-game involves such a crazy amount of jumping between spheres and interplanetary mechanics that it's almost too much to get your head around! But it feels incredible once you figure it all out (pretty sure I had to use parts of my brain that are usually dormant in order to do so ) it's definitely the most mind-blowing gaming experience I've ever had! For anyone that hasn't played it (especially if you've become bored or disillusioned with video games) do yourself a favour and play Cocoon.
  30. 6 points
    Words cannot describe how much I love this!!! As a big fan of the F-Zero series (but especially the SNES version ) this is just a dream come true! The steering doesn't feel completely authentic to the original, but it's definitely close enough. They have absolutely nailed the look and sound though. The use of the comic book artwork, that font, those tunes... man, nostalgia is off the charts for me with this game! And I'm really impressed by how fluid it is, the sight of so many F-Zero racers on screen simultaneously is mind-blowing! I knew there had to be a bigger reason as to why I suddenly felt compelled to resubscribe to Switch Online a while back, my subconscious mind must have predicted that this game was on the way. I'm actually thinking it could even mean that a new F-Zero is already in development and this is a way of getting the series back in the limelight before its reveal, although I'm probably slightly delirious from all the excitement of F-Zero 99.
  31. 6 points
    The DLC has a release date now: August 31st
  32. 6 points
    Yesterday I mived the goal posts of my lingest swim from 8km to 10km All the extra swimming I been doing this year been working towards this goal. Delighted to have done it. Been trying to do it the last 6 weeks but weather on weekends haven't been great. Yesterday I knew the forecast wasn't going to be 100% what I would want but I also knew it would be within my tolerance for choppy water. I had a kayaker on standby and he was cool with the conditions too. Though it did slow me down more than I thought it would. There was a section I'd say between 5 and 6km that was really tough. Both mentally and physically. I had to breaststroke more than I would like as I found it hard to keep rhythm for the front crawl. Then I came round a corner and saw a landmark (the pillars in the Twitter post) that I was worried might be further away, once I saw that my mental confidence picked back up as that landmark I knew exactly where I was and exactly how far I had left to go. Didn't start to feel cold till I was about 1km from the finish but at that point I just hand to get my head down and power through it to get to land 😎
  33. 6 points
    I couldn't wait any longer. Played about an hour of 1 so far and loved every second. How is this game 22 years old? It still looks frickin' gorgeous. The Forest of Hope music still makes me teary eyed, and I kind of love the dumb details they have in 1, such as Pikmin falling flat on their faces and getting left out of the herd, or being dumb and just getting stuck on corners, and thus sitting down and chilling by themselves. Stuff that obviously for the benefit of the gameplay was fixed in later titles, but weirdly gives the Pikmin themselves a bit more personality early on. I'm heading into the caves now, which I remember really struggling with when I was younger, because my dumb ass took far too long to realise red Pikmin are immune to fire. Honestly, how I survived up to this point of my life while being this dense I don't know lol.
  34. 6 points
    So I bought this joblot earlier this afternoon for £90 off facebook marketplace. I did not know about the Grape Purple N64 until he passed me the bags as he only mentioned it having an N64 and controllers without including any of them in the photos. Most of the N64 boxes are in fantastic condition as they had been stored flatpacked. Only 1 internal tray sadly but a few come with cartridge trays as part of the box. That is an authentic pokemon yellow, red (no cover) and the NTSC version of Crystal which i thought was a fake. I am still taking it all in.
  35. 6 points
    I've been going back and forth on doing this topic for a while now, but after playing most of Returns to Dream Land Deluxe and being, quite frankly, astonished at the amount of impact it has on it, I'm taking the plunge and writing the topic on Deep Kirby Lore. To this day, you can still find people online who think the concept that, out of all the Nintendo franchises out there, it's Kirby that has the most intriguing and most developed universe, completely laughable. It sounds like a joke, probably not helped by actual hilarious jokes about Mario having a timeline, or Donkey Kong having anything more complex then DK punching bad guys. But trust me, Kirby lore is legit, and it's kept me captivated for years now. It hasn't always been like this, mind. There's a point in time when Kirby games were nothing more then fun, easy going, platform games designed for beginners with little hints of challenge for the more experienced gamer. I will mostly be overlooking these and jumping to the focal point when things started changing. From there, I'll go through each game in release order, looking at the subtle developments, implications, and reveals that each title has bought to the series. Fair warning. Massive spoilers ahead! I won't be mentioning future games until I get to them, so don't worry if you haven't finished the likes of Forgotten Land, or RtDL Deluxe. I won't be covering those for a couple of months. But before we dive in, there are a handful of games we need to look at first. They are three games collectively referred to as... The Dark Matter Trilogy Now, make no mistake, when these games first came out. The idea of underlying lore just wasn't a thing in the Kirby series, the only true connection between these three games was that they had a recurring villain (Kinda) throughout. That thing on the left is Dark Matter Blade, some kind of malevolent force that continuously shows up in some way throughout the three games pictured above. In Kirby's Dream Land 2, it's posessing King Dedede, and only reveals itself if you collect all of the Rainbow Drops before hand. In typical 90's final boss fashion, it has a true form. Pictured on the right is Real Dark Matter. In Dream Land 3, Dark Matter returns as the main villain, and again, it's posessing King Dedede. Collecting all the Heart Stars unlocks the true final boss, Zero. Jesus Christ, how horrifying! Ignoring the obvious of there being blood in a SNES Kirby game of all things, to this day, we still don't know a lot about Zero, what we can learn from that game is that it seems to be a source of Dark Matter. Simply put, Dark Matter isn't just one entity, and thanks to Zero, there are likely loads of them all over the place. What's their goal? No idea, but they seem to be somewhat parasitic in nature. That's unnerving to say the least, considering that being possessed by Dark Matter can't be a pleasant experience. Seriously, Dream Land 3, WTF? Zero would show up again as the true final boss of Kirby 64. Maybe... All I can say is that something looking a lot like Zero shows up. It's called 02, whether it's a reincarnated Zero, or a seperate thing altogether is unclear, but either way, there's a clear recurring thing going on between these three games, and it's worth remembering, because the implications of what this entails will be explored in much later games. But that would be getting way ahead of myself at this point. Anyway, next week, I'll be getting into the first game that started properly developing the world of Kirby. Weirdly enough, of all things, it was an enhanced port.
  36. 6 points
    If others are curious and/or oblivious: He's a composer at Nintendo and has worked on Mario, Mario Kart and 2D Legend of Zelda.
  37. 5 points
    Wayford has announced they are resuming development of a canceled Shantae game for the GBA, coming to... the GBA? https://wayforward.com/wayforward-announces-shantae-advance/
  38. 5 points
    Tommy Thunder (Prototype) NA release: N/A PAL release: N/A JP release: N/A Developer: Player 1 Publisher: Player 1 N64 Magazine Score: N/A Tommy Thunder was a game in development by Player 1. It eventually moved to the PlayStation before getting cancelled. A fan or Robotron happened upon an open FPT while trying to find out when Robotron 64 was released and found some files, eventually cracking them 10 years later and discovering this very early prototype of Tommy Thunder. This prototype mainly seems to be a test of the level design, as you can just move around and enemies don’t harm you – you also walk on water. That said, the level itself is very impressive in scope, with a few underground areas. This map was also just one “block” and the developers were trying to figure out a way to load new chunks of the level on the fly – this is something open world games do now, but was extremely ambitious for the early N64. From the very few quotes about the game, it seems like this game was going to be a 3D, open world Metroidvania. You would find weapons as you explored, and equipment (such as anti-grav boots) would alter how you can move throughout the environment, opening up new areas in previous sections. The game never made it past prototyping stages and the company eventually closed down after putting all of their eggs into the Sega Dreamcast. Should it be finished? With retro-inspired games for this era gaining popularity, it would definitely be interesting to see a “what if” take on if the developers could pull off what they wanted with Tommy Thunder.
  39. 5 points
    And it's how you should know it as an adult too, you goddamm heathen.
  40. 5 points
    Same energy Geoff is such a cunt. Hope he gets told to Please Wrap It Up himself this year.
  41. 5 points
    New games from SEGA, with a hint of Lou Bega: A little bit of Hatcher in my life A little bit of Gum Gum by my side A little Burnin' Rangers all I need A little bit of MeeMee's all I see A little bit of AIAI in the sun A little Reala, all NiGHT long A little bit of Irving, here I am A little Shenmue makes me your man
  42. 5 points
    The following is a game I picked up earlier this week. It had been on my radar ever since it was announced at the Nintendo Direct earlier in the year. I think it's still a console exclusive on the Switch. Having now finished it, I will give my thoughts. When the game was announced I was very excited about it. I have fond memories of playing both Castle of Illusion and World of Illusion on my Mega Drive as a kid. Both games, as well as Quackshot, were premium Disney games back then and all of which hold a special place in people's hearts. I think with the game having Illusion in the title that there is definitely a lot of weight and expectation with this game. Does it live up to legacy of the other games? Finding all of the Glimts will take some time The game starts with some cutscenes that set the tone for narrative. Mickey, Minnie, Donald and Goofy were each sent letters that told them to come to the island but it turns out that they have been lured there by a fuzzy little creature that is in need of heroes. That's were you come in. You are tasked with retrieving 3 books and doing so will bring order back to the island. The whole thing is animated stupidly well, as are the rest of the animated cutscenes that are sprinkled throughout the game. There is a lot of humour to each of them and at times they are brilliantly self aware. Putting all of the cutscenes together would make for a decent length episode of a cartoon show. Quality cutscenes can be seen throughout the game After the opening, you get to pick one of the 4 characters. There is no difference between them other than how the upgrades look (more on that later). Personally, I've always been a fan of Donald Duck over Mickey Mouse, who I find to be too clean cut. Donald has an edge to him and is often sarcastic and critical, something that is also seen here. With the game being multiplayer it means that there is a different character for everyone to use. You also get to pick a difficulty level for your character. This will give you more or less hearts to play with. The harder the the difficulty, the less health you will have. The default starts you off with 3 which is more than enough to deal with what's ahead. Pick your player The gameplay in the previous Illusion games were standard platform games. You went from left to right, battled some enemies as you went and then fought a boss at the end of the stage. This game is very different. You see, there is no combat in this game at all. Not jumping on enemies heads, no using magic capes to turn enemies into flowers. Nothing like that. Make no mistake, there are still some boss fights here but the damage that you do comes from indirect attacks due to platforming. So what is the game then? It's actually platforming Mickeyvania. Shades of Quackshot The game is one massive map that you get to explore with your character of choice. Like other games in the genre, you will be presented with various roadblocks and areas that can't be explored yet and you will need to find upgrades for your characters for you to access these areas. When you are handed these abilities they all do the same for each of the characters but they all come in different forms. Usually Donald gets the short end of the stick, with his items being quite comical in comparison to the others. It's all in good fun and adds more humour to an already funny game. There's also no need to worry about forgetting about these areas that you see. Once found, they will be presented on your map with a question mark and then when you find the item that will give you access, these question marks will be replaced with a new sign that highlights what item to use. Stuff like this had me laughing as I played The other gameplay aspect of this game is the platforming. This is done very well and everything feels very tight and fluid. At the start of the adventure everything is very basic. Veteran gamers won't be very challenged by it at all. However, as the game progresses the difficulty does ramp up quite a bit and by the end of the game you will need to string together various moves in order to reach a lot of the areas. Just a taste of the hilarious animations that feature in the game Going from A to B throughout the game is fine but what is there to encourage exploration? The game meets these demands with a few things. First up are the Glimts. These are blue orbs that are scattered around the place. Collecting enough of these will unlock artwork and if you unlock a full picture you will be rewarded with an extra heart. Another collectable to find is something called Mickey Memorabilia. These are great to pick up and look at, with many of them being from past Disney movies/cartoons that featured Mickey and his friends. Tokuns are cards that you can find that show characters and enemies that are in the game and give a few details about each of them. Finally, there are Mickey symbols that are very well hidden on the map. If you find them you have to snap a photograph of them. These kinda remind me of the Mickey symbols you have to find in Kingdom Hearts. Phew! There's a lot to keep you busy. Smile for the camera Adding to the collectables are some in game achievements to unlock. Obviously this is something I appreciate and I really enjoyed trying to unlock them all. A lot of them are standard stuff that simply get unlocked by playing the game but there are some that will require you to collect everything and gain 100% in the game. Not one for the faint of heart but something to aim for if you have a completionist mindset. Nostalgia filled fun When making a game for various demographics, not to mention one that includes 4 player local co-op, it can be hard to judge how difficult to actually make the game. This game will have pull over people like myself who have fond memories of older Disney games and also young kids you are more familiar with the iteration of the characters that feature here. Balancing this wouldn't have been an easy job and I think they pull it off for the most part. I do think the platforming sections near the end could be a little difficult for young kids but I imagine the multiplayer aspect of the game would help with this, with a parent being able to help them along the way. The game is also very generous with the checkpoints. There is one placed near the start of every new section and so failing means you won't be needing to trek a long way back. Can you find all of the Mickey symbols? I really enjoyed my time with the game. Was it challenging? Not at all but it was a blast to play from start to end. Tight platforming, genuinely funny dialogue, lots to explore, lots to collect and fantastic character animations. The game will certainly go down as a bit of a underrated game on the Switch. It seemed to release with little fanfare and zero discussion. It's a shame because the game is very polished, which is something of a rare thing these days. If you are a Disney fan, have young kids or just enjoy platforming or Metroid type games, I can highly recommend this game. Certainly one that should be on a few Christmas lists.
  43. 5 points
    Yeah what the title says. It feels like forums might have had it right all along we should never have been mixing with people on mass via twitter etc... So does anyone remember me and how's everyone been? Also what was the name of that nutter here who used to rant about Doctor Who and got banned lol
  44. 5 points
    The Mighty Bowser Done This may now be my favourite build and set I now have and that's saying something as I have some really lovely sets. However this just looks and feels like a lot of love went into making him look as great and true to form as they could have. And they have done a great job too He's one heavy fella too. Great size piece and just looks awesome. If anyone was only going to get one of the Nintendo pieces, I would encourage them to get this one. Yes that's even over the NES set. Here's a larger photo of the completed set.
  45. 5 points
    CARD POP WORKS!!!!!!! IR PORT SUPPORT IS IN!!!!!!!!! Genuinely didn't expect them to support the feature. That's a very nice surprise! It means that, unlike the 3DS release, it's actually possible to achieve 100% completion this time around So that means that so far, the only missing feature from the GB/GBC NSO is Game Boy Printer support (which you can simulate using screenshots anyway I suppose). Not that the IR port was the most critical feature or anything, but it's really nice to have a complete experience this time around. There's a fair few games that did support it on the GBC for sharing data and unlockable stuff... Will look forward to playing some online TCG matches with you guys. This game is awesome!
  46. 5 points
    Err... does it count as an April Fools if it's actually real?
  47. 5 points
    Nice surprise! Shame it was only in the Japanese Direct, but it's still great to see that the project hasn't been cancelled. Wonder if there's any chance this might also release on Steam/Epic, similar to how Monkey Barrels was initially revealed and released on Switch but then later arrived on PC. I don't reckon it's very likely to make it out of Japan though which is unfortunate, but there's always the option of getting it from their eShop I suppose. Although I've not imported/played a Japanese exclusive title for a long time... think the last one was actually Captain Rainbow on Wii! Anyway, here's hoping this game does well. It might convince Konami to offer Good Feel use of the Goemon IP for a remake, or better yet, an original (official ) Mystical Ninja game! Yep, same.
  48. 5 points
    The EU version has some content cut, so best to play the US version.
  49. 5 points
    ShopTo, you brilliant bastards, it's turned up a day early! (and yes I did finally break the Skyward Sword Joy-Cons out of their box just for this game ) Looks like my amiibo isn't arriving until tomorrow, but other than that, think I'll take my leave from this thread until the end of the weekend (in terms of talking about my time with the game) so that I can share some more cohesive thoughts once a few more of us are playing, and not to fill the thread up with spoiler tags and me going "OHMUHGOSH DID THEY DO IT DID THEY OR DID THEY NOT GO ALL THE WAY AND FIX THE PRO HUD?!" (also don't want to hint at anything else I might find) Hope everyone has a great first experience with the game!
  50. 5 points
    Well played IGN. This is actually legit funny.