Julius

Your 2020 Gaming Diary

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33 minutes ago, Glen-i said:

Final Fantasy VI is the epitome of old school Final Fantasy. Well ahead of it's time and holds up remarkably well.

Went with Final Fantasy VI because Half Minute Hero gets old pretty quickly...in like...30 seconds.

2 hours into FFVI and yeah...it's old school, alright :D
The sprite work is amazing. It looks really good.

Battles are quite slow, but that's what the speed-up function is for.

Looks like I've found my game for the next few weeks.

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I hate myself and I never want to play Crash Bandicoot 2 ever again...

Now to do the exact same thing over again in Crash 3.

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4 minutes ago, martinist said:

Now to do the exact same thing over again in Crash 3.

It's by far the easiest to get the Platinum out of the three.

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The start of my complete playthrough of Paper Mario: The Origami King.  Won't be putting these every day, but about 2-3 a week.

[Lee Plays] Paper Mario: The Origami King (Part 1)

Old Nintendo Gamer starts the adventure of a lifetime. Does he fold over and die, or triumphantly stick-out. Find out in Part 1.
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Been playing Mark of The Ninja: Remastered on PS4 for a few days now. I needed something in-between the FFVI sessions.

Turns out that the 2D side-scrolling stealth game is pretty great. In fact, it's so great that it pulled me away from the JRPG classic.
Will definitely go for the Platinum trophy. :peace:

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[Lee Plays] Lonely Mountains: Downhill (First Look)

Old Nintendo Gamer peruses all that Lonely Mountains has to offer a potential purchase. He checks out all the modes, unlockables, and most importantly a few tracks to see the core game in action.

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Just finished Mark of the Ninja: Remastered.

Such a good game. Can't believe I haven't played it earlier, given that I bought it a year ago (also bought the original on Steam 8 years ago...).

Only have a few trophies to clean up, one of which is a New Game+ playthrough. Already looking forward to it :D

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23 minutes ago, drahkon said:

Only have a few trophies to clean up, one of which is a New Game+ playthrough. Already looking forward to it :D

If you haven't done so already, do that run on Hard Mode. It legitimately makes every level feel fresh again.

The extra DLC mission is also pretty fun. Remastered comes with that one, right?

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6 minutes ago, Jonnas said:

If you haven't done so already, do that run on Hard Mode. It legitimately makes every level feel fresh again.

There's a hard mode?
New Game+ is more difficult than the normal play through, apparently.

9 minutes ago, Jonnas said:

The extra DLC mission is also pretty fun. Remastered comes with that one, right?

It does. Played it and it's great.

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Just now, drahkon said:

There's a hard mode?
New Game+ is more difficult than the normal play through, apparently.

Just checked it and... they're the same thing. I thought it was called "Hard Mode", but it's actually "New Game Plus".

So nevermind, then! :heh: Enjoy it when you get to it, it's good.

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Drageus Games gave me an eShop code for their upcoming side scrolling shoot'em up 'GROOD'.  They said share some videos of the game, so here's the first, a first look at what the early game has to offer.

[Lee Plays] Grood (First Look)

Old Nintendo Gamer takes a first look at what the upcoming game Grood has to offer. Heavy Metal, side-scrolling shooting action, in a retro or modern flavour.

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Just now, martinist said:

All 3 Crash Bandicoot games platinumed.

So...? The 3rd game was the easiest Platinum, wasn't it? :p

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Just now, drahkon said:

So...? The 3rd game was the easiest Platinum, wasn't it? :p

Pretty much. Most difficult part was probably the Hot Coco relic. The rest was pretty standard.

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OK, quick question for the Final Fantasy 12 players... No spoilers please, but...

Does Vaan do anything meaningful in the plot? Because I've got the second Esper, and I can't see the point of him. You could probably replace him with one of those Bangaa species and he'd be infinitely more interesting just for being a lizard dude.

The fact that the party consists of 5 people and a Playboy Bunny is a bit of a missed opportunity, I quite like the designs of the species this game introduces. Could've made the party more visually diverse.

Edited by Glen-i

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1 hour ago, Glen-i said:

OK, quick question for the Final Fantasy 12 players... No spoilers please, but...

Does Vaan do anything meaningful in the plot? Because I've got the second Esper, and I can't see the point of him. You could probably replace him with one of those Bangaa species and he'd be infinitely more interesting just for being a lizard dude.

The fact that the party consists of 5 people and a Playboy Bunny is a bit of a missed opportunity, I quite like the designs of the species this game introduces. Could've made the party more visually diverse.

OK so Vaan was made to be the main character because higher ups at Square didn't think anything but a shonen young protagonist would be marketable at the time. Which obviously causes problems which I think the game is self aware of when Balthier refers to himself as the "leading man" and yet you could argue that Basch and Ashe carry the plot more often than not. Then again, the plot ends up being one of the weaker elements of this game imo, though I can see it was going for a different style of story telling.

 

Also this game's world was originally introduced in Final Fantasy Tactics. They then made Vagrant Story and Tactics Advance which also take place in Ivalice before this game came out. Personally exploring this world was one of the more enjoyable parts of the game for me and I kind of set it up so that my party members had Gambits on but I had to do it manually so that the game just didn't play itself.

 

Except for when the monsters killed each other...

 

 

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[Lee Plays] Paper Mario: The Origami King (Part 2)

Old Nintendo Gamer gets in his first fight and learns the battle mechanics from Olivia.

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Man, I just took a hiatus from beating games, didn't I? I played Smash Bros and FE Heroes a lot lately, which kinda consumed my time (FEH has a lot of legit interesting stuff to do/build these days). Plus, Atomicrops got a massive update, so I've been checking that occasionally.

But I did finish stuff, regardless:

Projection: First Light

MtSdUOj.jpg

...We're gonna need a bigger light

Projection released on the Switch eShop a couple of weeks ago, but I only finished writing the review now. it's a puzzle platformer about using light to navigate a world of shadow puppetry.

I'm not going to post my impressions here, since I wrote a review for the main site. Click the pic above to check out my thoughts.

 

Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga (Remake)

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One of those few times where the boxart is the best choice to showcase the game

Yeah, I bought this about a year ago, there was a major discount on it, less than 10€. I had played the 2003 original, so I knew this 2017 remake would be good.

First, some background: Mario & Luigi Superstar Saga was the game that kickstarted this little spinoff RPG series on handhelds. The developers at Alphadream (RIP) took inspiration from several aspects of Super Mario RPG (timed hits, silly self-aware writing, zany spins on traditional Mario enemies) and turned them all up to eleven, adding their own flair to the mix.

The result was a game that looked unique (the original characters look wild and new, while the usual Mario characters definitely had unique proportions there, compared to the main series), moved really fluidly, brought a distinct style to turn-based battles (even moreso than SMRPG), as well as several ideas for overworld exploration/navigation, and had excellent, memorable, light-hearted writing. I definitely remember being flabbergasted at the wild directions the game kept taking, even compared to other spin-offs.

Even the way the plot starts is fresh: an evil wizard from the neighbouring country of Beanbean Kingdom decides to steal Peach's voice, and now the Mushroom Kingdom Bros decide to go there and retrieve it, getting into all sorts of wacky cartoony adventures as they explore this foreign land.

From Bowser confirming that he doesn't know Luigi's name, to the Mario Bros using traditional jumps (as well as creative combo moves) to explore dungeons and fields, to highly-interactive and strategic battles, to meeting and talking to a slew of new characters and enemies, and even seeing unexpected cameos and references all over the place... This game was a high-octane hilarious adventure from beginning to end, oozing with charm and creativity.

This game was a highlight of the GBA for me (a legit feat, considering that console's library) for a very long time. It eventually lead to me getting Partners in Time and Bowser's Inside Story for the DS (though I still don't have the 3DS games) and confirm that Alphadream's creativity knew very few bounds. This is a series I cherished and respected, even if I kinda stopped playing it around the 3DS era (and to be fair, I entered a bit of a Nintendo hiatus around that time).

It's with these rose-tinted glasses that I entered this remake. Not knowing if I would love it all over again, or play something that felt dated. And it was... a bit of both, I guess?

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Graphically, the Mario characters look great in this new polished style (especially Bowser), while the original characters kinda look muted (I think the old sprites highlighted their distorted proportions better). I love the new backgrounds and lighting though, places like Chucklehuck Woods and Hoohoo Hooniversity feel completely different now. The Bro moves have a lot more punch to them in both battle and overworld, while the cutscene animations kinda lost some of theirs. In fact, many sprites feel less expressive than they did before, which is quite disappointing.

Music-wise, I think every music sounds a lot better now, the soundtrack took a legit revamp. It was already good to begin with, so no complaints from me. Shout-out to Popple's Battle Theme still bopping all these years later.

Battle-wise... I definitely remember the timed hits being straightforward, the enemy "tells" being obvious, and the Bro moves being a bit complicated to perform. This time around, timed hits cause a LOT more damage (since jumps evolved into double jumps in later games), enemy tells are harder to notice (might be the colours and lighting), and Bro moves are much easier to get right (circle timing will do that). There's also a "Defend" option that wasn't there in the original game, and it's not required for any enemy, so I refused to use it. I have the inkling of a feeling that enemies cause more damage too, but it's hard to say, it's been a long time since I played the original... but it is true that everybody feels like a glass cannon in the remake, whereas I didn't feel that way in the original. The game feels easier too, but that might just be my much-improved skill.

Overworld exploration had a big let down for me. In the original, there was this intuitive system where you could switch position between the bros, and a move would do something different depending on whether a bro was front or back. Plus, if you just felt like having Luigi at the front, you could do it, Beanbean is a free country. But the remake replaced this with a strict list of actions you can perform in the overworld, and as you switch between them, Mario&Luigi just automatically swap places for some of them. Feels a lot more arbitrary, with the natural actions of the original being replaced with a strict, "gamey" list of options, and you can tell things weren't originally designed this way (this is so obvious when Luigi gets into a barrel: originally, Mario's unique moves in that situation were a natural extension of the usual control scheme, but now it's literally the only situation where Mario can jump from the back, so nothing to do with the new system). This might all sound like a nitpicky rant, I just feel like the fine bro control from the original was one of the things I really loved there, and they took it away.

It should be noted, overworld design is as great now as it was back then, with shortcuts, secret passageways, collectibles and secrets in every nook and cranny... It's a very well designed world for an adventure game. Plus, they added map markers, which I love. It's only the way you perform bro moves that disappointed me.

Story-wise... It's the same wit and clever writing, and that's a bit weird for me. I remember most of this dialogue, I don't think anything's changed, it's just that the material doesn't land for me as well as it did back then. I chalk this one up to me growing up, changing tastes. Superstar Saga felt super subversive back then, and now I feel like I've seen this self-awareness dozens of times. Plus, like I said, animations in cutscenes aren't as noticeable as before, and they added a lot to a scene's tone. Regardless, story scenarios are really good and creative (like the solo Luigi segment). I had no idea where the plot was heading in the original, and even now, the narrative still felt unpredictable, in the best of ways. I also appreciate how alive Beanbean feels, as characters come and go and return, and they do feel like a lived-in part of the world. Shout-out to Prince Peasly, always a cool dude whenever he appears, and the only NPC to consistently respect Luigi.

I also should say, I'm surprised at the amount of things I didn't remember. It's one thing to recall moments, but not how, why, or when they happen. It's another to excise the entirety of Chucklehuck Woods from my memory (I remembered Popple and Rookie's debuts, and literally nothing else from that part of the world). I also blanked on stuff like Joke's End, or at one point asking myself "Where was that factory-looking mechanical dungeon with the cranes and the lasers? Is it after this university they're telling me to visit? I don't remember a university...". Man, time does things to us.

Sprites............3/5
Backgrounds..5/5
Exploration.....5/5
Writing......,.....4/5
Creativity........5/5

Despite my gripes, I think it's fair to say that, overall, this version is an improvement over the original. If you haven't gotten into this series - or if you have, but skipped the first game - do yourselves a favour and play Superstar Saga. it's a legitimately great RPG that pushed boundaries in its time, and it's still super fun to revisit today.

 

Bowser's Minions

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This is not a good picture... but then again, it's also not a good game

Right, the remake came with this as an extra side game. Entirely optional, it features a lone goomba taking up the initiative to unite the remnants of a scattered Bowser army.

I say "lone", but Captain Goomba (as his allies appoint him) does command an army, and he even gets the help of three other captains. There's no overworld to explore, just a series of missions to complete. In each one, your chosen army faces off against Beanbean armies, with the soldiers acting on their own, the only player input being the occasional special moves, as well as limited-use Captain Commands that affect the battle.

Look, it's not a bad idea, and I want to give it a fair shake. Allowing armies to fight on their own - with sole player input being strategic decisions and occasional orders - is a staple of many strategy games (and even RPGs) both real-time and turn-based, so there's merit in the idea. There is some depth to this system too, with a triangle of type advantages (Melee > Ranged > Flying > Melee), various different types of units to recruit (Boos and Koopas have defensive utility, Goombas activate their specials often, various units simply have game-changing specials, etc.), bonuses for particularly gimmicky and/or flavour-appropriate teams (which encourages experimentation), plus the Captain Commands can change a lot of battles if you apply them properly (pro-tip, don't Halt every enemy special move you see).

So where does this game go wrong? In many ways, actually. For starters, the menus are needlessly confusing. You can choose formation, but can't actually check what that formation looks like in practice (leading to a lot of confusion when you have a mixed team). You can check special moves, but you can't check what they do or how to activate them without retreating to the main menu and reading the tutorial/guide.

Then there's the level up system... like, in a mission-based game? With literally dozens-to-hundreds of cannon fodder? So, it's not really worth it to mix, match, or experiment with your team, because underleveled soldiers won't help you much. You can grind missions, but that's an awfully boring thing to do. The game kinda recognizes this and often rewards you with "Experience Beans" to feed your army, but A. They're not nearly enough; and B. it's such a patchwork solution for a highly flawed system in the first place! To make matters worse, enemy levels inflate super quickly, meaning grinding can be a necessity just to progress normally.

Now, you CAN change teams and formations to help you turn the tides and overcome a tougher challenge, but even that might not be enough. Since you can't change formation mid battle, nor give direct orders (the Captain Commands can only do so much), you might find that, regardless of how you change units around, there's nothing you can do to stop flying enemies from honing in on your captain. Furthermore, there is this infuriating tendency that units will match up in a way that will benefit the enemy (for example, let's say one melee minion and three flying minions against a ranged Captain. Suddenly, a flying enemy arrives as reinforcement and, arbitrarily, the one melee minion changes focus to fight him. The flying minions keep fighting the ranged captain), and there's very little you can do about it. I keep thinking, why can't I just adjust the AI to say "This minion will never attack the enemy Captain, they will only interject enemies gunning for their own captain"? Hell, merely giving them priorities would go a long way.

Plot-wise, I actually enjoyed it quite a bit, and I admit it was the main thing propelling me forward. It's inconsequential to the main quest, but Captain Goomba and his wacky band go on a personal journey to validate themselves, and that was nice to follow. The script doesn't feel like it was written by the same people that wrote Superstar Saga (and it probably wasn't), so it brings a different kind of humour than the main game. It's silly and endearing, and my only complaint is that the ending's kind of shitty.

But it's not enough to save this mode. And did I mention the music's super forgettable?

Potential...........4/5
Execution.........2/5
Writing.............4/5
Overall Score...2/5

Unfortunately, the mode as a whole is too limited to be satisfactory. The ideas are there, but those who designed it should learn a bit more on how other strategy games keep their battles engaging.

  My 2020 log (Hide contents)

Played/Beat/Completed:

-Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon (2018) Completed (January 13th)

-Mr.Driller: Drill Spirits (2004) Beat (January 30th)

-Dragon Ball Fighterz (2018) Beat (February 22nd)

-Advance Wars: Dark Conflict (2008) Completed (February 25th)

-Capcom Beat'em Up Bundle (2018) No Goal (March 13th)

-Professor Layton and the Curious Village (2008) Completed (March 23rd)

-Kirby's Pinball Land (1993) Completed (March 28th)

-Pikuniku (2019) Beat (March 31st)

-Ori and the Blind Forest (2015) Completed (April 18th)

-Atomicrops (2020) Beat (May 24th)

-Infliction: Extended Cut (2020) Beat (June 28th)

-Bravely Default (2013) Beat (June 28th)

-Super Mario Land 2 (1992) Completed (July 13th)

-Pokémon Puzzle Challenge (2000) Beat (July 19th)

-Snipperclips (2017) Beat (August 15th)

-Yoku's Island Express (2018) Completed (August 18th)

-Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga + Bowser's Minions (2017) Beat (October 4th)

-Projection: First Light (2019) Completed (October 7th)

 

Currently Playing:

-Fire Emblem: Three Houses (2019)

-Dandara (2018)

-Sushi Striker: The Way of Sushido (2018)

 

Edited by Jonnas
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[Together] Grood (Part 1)

Old Nintendo Gamer & Son blast through a few games of GROOD to see if the smooth framerate holds up under local co-op conditions. Spoiler: it does!
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So it turns out rendering a 1 hour and 20 minutes video in Movie Maker is hard. I've had to render 4 parts individually and then move it all into one single video.

 

In the meantime I've been playing a lot of Super Mario Galaxy 2 (Wii). In my hunt for the Green Stars I have got towards the end of World 4 with over 190 stars in total. Just need to do the second major Bowser level and it's on to World 5. The Grandmaster Galaxy is getting ever nearer...

 

Also made a bit more progress on Super Mario 3D World (Wii U) after finally finishing the 7th level on World Flower. Though at this point finishing levels is not enough, I need to get all the Green Stars, all the stamps and I believe you need to hit the top of the flagpole in every level, which I think put me off trying to finish this game. Got to save those Cat Suits I guess...

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[Lee Plays] Paper Mario: The Origami King (Part 3)

Old Nintendo Gamer delves further into the Whispering Woods, and comes across Grandsappy.

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