Julius

Your 2020 Gaming Diary

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Right, it's past time for my January Gaming Diary update! Didn't get as much playing in as I wanted this month, mainly due to coming down with an illness for about half of the month, but I did manage to get through two games after I had recovered, and I've got plenty to say about them, so let's get to it, shall we?

TITANFALL 2 | 2016

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With fast-paced action, tight gunplay, and quite possibly the best use of wall running I’ve experienced in a first-person game, it’s little wonder that the campaign of Titanfall 2 is adored as widely as it is.

And still, I can’t help but feel a little let down.

In the opening cutscene, an extravagant showcase of cinematics not seen anywhere else in the game has us follow a pilot in the distant future as we are told of their role in the universe of Titanfall: pilots serve a specialised role in the military as commanders of Titans, the game’s titular mechs, who more often than not find themselves turning the tide in battle with their wide array of arms at their disposal, ranging from targeting missiles to flamethrowers to chest laser cannons. In Titanfall 2’s campaign, you play as Rifleman Third Class Jack Cooper, voiced by the great Matthew Mercer, where, after a very predictable turn of opening events, you are honoured with a promotion to acting pilot of the Titan BT-7274, voiced by Glenn Steinbaum, as you traverse the dangers of the world en route to your commanding officer. Throughout the campaign, you find yourself facing off against other Titans, infantry, and, on occasion, alien lifeforms. Much of the campaign is split between playing in a traditional first-person shooter role (albeit with wall-running and a double jump for some interesting first-person platforming) as you infiltrate enemy lines to learn more about their true intentions, and commanding BT as you overpower enemy forces with brute force.

I think that the strongest reason I can give you to play the game is for its gunplay. First-person shooters have never been my cup of tea, but Respawn, as expected for a team with their experience and history, offers an evolution of the tried-and-true first-person shooter, and this is highlighted no better than in the game’s early tutorial. As is the case in many other games in the genre, you find yourself sprinting and sliding through a course pitted against times of other NPC characters, but it is the fluidity between the sprinting and sliding to the evolution of the expected gameplay with the double jump and wall-running which really brings this tutorial into its own. There are so many ways to approach the course, and I found myself shaving off seconds try after try by challenging myself as a gamer, whether it be wall-running into a jump which combines with a slide as I shoot while in a 180-spin, or sliding down a slope after a short spring as I shoot multiple targets before bounding over a large wall with a double jump as I 360-spin while shooting that one target that I missed. It sets an expectation that the game offers many different approaches to the same situations and is a sign of what is to come.

Unfortunately, as happened a lot in the first hour or so with this game, the promises made simply weren’t fulfilled.

There are so many interesting ideas introduced in the opening few hours, from a gameplay and story perspective, that I can’t help but ponder why the game, by its end, was boiled down into a game exactly like its peers, when the foundation is there for it to be head-and-shoulders above them. Ideas are introduced and then never built upon, with many being tossed aside in favour of level-specific ideas which almost always fell flat - and even the more interesting ones, specifically a mechanic introduced in the ruins of a now-deserted facility, hint at the team wanting to do more with this game but not getting the chance to do so. The faces of some of these characters are atrocious - and not in a good way! Villains are run-of-the mill Saturday morning cartoon affairs and are entirely forgettable, featuring, of course, the cameo of a first-person interrogation. Despite clashing with villains in boss fights, these were never as epic and varied as they could be, and certain Titan loadouts are clearly better than others - the sin here being that many of the best are unlocked very early on. Why couldn’t we see Titans of all shapes and sizes, with weaknesses to particular loadouts meaning we are in a position where we have to switch between them on the fly to ramp up the fights beyond what they boiled down to: dodge, shoot, hide behind pillar, super, and repeat? Much of the game is spent conversing with or standing by your faction’s allies, and yet I can’t recall a single one of their names, and all of the interactions I had with them were just as forgettable as those with the villains.

The greatest sins of all, though, are to be found in the relationship between Cooper and BT, and with the game’s score. Their relationship is just so bland and by-the-numbers, and the game constantly urges you to feel for them without giving you any real reason to want to do so. Until the moments you clamber up inside BT, it feels like the game wants to physically separate the two as much as possible, and so the weak dialogue over the comms is all you ever really have to flesh out their relationship. You never get those moments you’d expect where the two are fighting back-to-back before the fighting gets so intense that BT throws you inside before releasing a volley of missiles at enemies, or anything like that. It just feels so disjointed, and it makes it harder to buy into an already weak relationship and premise.

The story gets very predictable towards the end (side note: Respawn definitely has a thing for worlds falling apart around you in their final level, don’t they?) and it doesn’t help at all that the soundtrack is exactly what you’d expect from a sci-fi action anything. It’s incidental. It’s strokes of the piano when its sad, and ascending brass and strings when it’s almost anything else. The occasional harsh beat of a drum when things get dire. I mean, just listen to the main theme and you’ll get what I mean:

I just can’t help but feel let down. There are so many great little bursts of ideas in this game which could truly go some way to pushing the genre forward with the mainstream audience, but unfortunately, they just don’t seem to go anywhere. By all means play the game for one of the best feeling first-person shooters you’ll ever play, but don’t go into the campaign expecting a sweeping epic. I sincerely hope that Respawn can learn from this and move forward with the fulfilment of some of these ideas in Titanfall 3 and other future projects.

After not having the greatest of times with Titanfall 2, I craved something familiar but exciting to return to. Something which would raise my spirits and get this year of gaming back on track. And then I realised that there was a game I completed back towards the end of December 2018 which I never posted about here, a game which I'd been looking forward to playing again…

CHRONO TRIGGER | 1995

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The silent protagonist. The princess. The mechanic. The frog. The robot. The cave woman. And time travel.

Released in 1995 for the SNES, Chrono Trigger is the unlikely brainchild of three of the greatest minds to grace and influence Japanese popular culture: Yuji Horii, the creator of Dragon Quest; Akira Toriyama, the creator of Dragon Ball; and Hironobu Sakaguchi, the creator of Final Fantasy.

After meeting Marle after bumping into her for the first time at the Millennial Fair, the game’s silent protagonist, Crono, watches on as she volunteers to take part in a public display of his mechanic friend Lucca’s newest invention, which aims to teleport Marle from one platform to another. With the crowd cheering on, Marle’s pendant causes the machine to falter, which results in her vanishing into a mysterious portal. Being the strong and silent type, Crono gives chase, blindly diving into the portal with his guilt-ridden friend Lucca, arriving…400 years earlier, during their continent’s medieval past.

What follows is an epic yet simple tale which spans the ages as our heroes traverse the curves of time in order to put a stop to the calamitous entity Lavos from destroying their world’s future. Along the way, we meet Frog, a frog man from that medieval time with a mysterious past, devoid of all sense of honour; Robo, an innocent and carefree robot from the doomed future; and Ayla, the confident and hot-headed chief of a small tribe of cave people from prehistory. The evil fiendlord, Magus, also plays a major role, as we meet him time and time again playing a major part in Lavos’ impending return.

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Even after my second playthrough of the game, it still astonishes me just how much charm and character could be packed into the game’s timeless 16-bit pixel art sprites, and the depth which it brings to these characters cannot be understated. It makes use of arguably the greatest utilisation of Active Time Battle-style turn-based combat (where the turn order is determined by the speed at which a character’s time gauge is refilled, which is in turn determined by the speed of that character), with excellent animations and spritework bringing the battles to life in a way which seems like it could be impossible in a 2D-game sprite-based game. The seamless transitions from the overworld into battle only enhance your immersion in the game’s world, and that each encounter in the overworld is individually crafted gives the game a sense of polish which is very rare to come by. The exploration of the world map isn’t filled with random encounters, but instead allows you to go wherever you can feasibly reach without much interruption, allowing the game to find its own pace. It also opens up the possibilities for interesting New Game+ scenarios, and because Lavos can be fought at almost any point in the game, there are as many as 13 endings available depending on the actions you take prior to challenging it.

Although its story is short compared to its JRPG contemporaries (my second playthrough, including all optional side quests and the optional final dungeon, came in just a little shy of 20 hours) and simple, it is by all means a masterclass in videogame storytelling; it is saturated with nuance and silliness balanced only by its willingness to not shy away from being dark and serious when its story calls for it. Thanks to its time travel elements, side quests are available which are largely contingent on the decisions you make in certain eras and how they carry through to other time periods, and that level of player choice impacting the world on a large and noticeable scale is something which, to this day, isn’t seen as often as it perhaps could be. With a plot which is extremely well-paced, thanks in large parts to the timing of its time travel elements being introduced and reintroduced at pivotal moments, and constantly driving forwards, it should be no great surprise that this game is as widely loved as it is.

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This is in large part thanks to its great cast of characters. There is a depth and motivation to every playable cast member, sure, but there are also motivations and quirks to find in almost every NPC you come across, whether they be a fiendish pudgy villain who constantly overestimates himself going by Ozzie in the medieval era, to the sense of melancholic acceptance at the loss and despair which has disparaged the humans of the future from doing the thing which I think is most human: hoping. Hoping that tomorrow will come along; hoping to be there to fight for that future when the time comes; and hoping, above all else, that there is a reason to all of this. Some characters are aloof with childish whimsy while others are stone cold serious, and the game manages to encapsulate every human emotion in a way which is wholly relatable and reliable as motivation for these characters.

However, as much as I love this game’s story, it’s characters, its quirks, and its time travel nuances, there is one aspect above all else which I think this game owes its being elevated to a legendary status to, and that is, of course, its masterfully composed soundtrack.

In 1994, after years of struggling to find his footing at Square and serving more as a sound engineer than as a composer, a 22 year old Yasunori Mitsuda confronted the legendary creator of Final Fantasy, the aforementioned Hironobu Sakaguchi, with an ultimatum: allow him to compose, or he would quit. I imagine that Sakaguchi must have seen the fire in Mitsuda’s eyes, because after assigning him to the role of sole composer of Chrono Trigger, he teased that after the soundtrack was completed, maybe Mitsuda’s pay would go up.

Determined to prove himself, Mitsuda often worked to the point of passing out, only to awake with new ideas for songs, such as the game’s wonderful ending theme. Compared with other videogame soundtracks of the time, perhaps something which helps Chrono Trigger to stand out to this day is that it leans more towards atypical genres for its sound, such as jazz and folk music, as opposed to the sweeping epic orchestrations which were commonplace at the time. In the end, Mitsuda composed 54 of the 59 soundtracks included in Chrono Trigger, before succumbing to stomach ulcers which resulted in him being hospitalized. And you can really tell: the emotion and depth poured into each track makes this, inarguably, one of the greatest soundtracks I've ever heard. It's spellbinding yet comforting, melancholic but charming, and the hard work and emotion Mitsuda poured into it still bleeds through to this day. And stepping into his place to complete the soundtrack? Only the greatest video game composer of all-time, Nobuo Uematsu himself.

Presentiment. Chrono Trigger. Morning Sunlight. Peaceful Days. Memories of Green. Guardia Millennial Fair. Gato’s Song. A Strange Happening. Wind Scene. Secret of The Forest. Battle Theme 1. Courage and Pride. Manoria Cathedral. Silent Night. Boss Battle Theme 1. Frog’s Theme. Fanfare 1. Kingdom Trial. The Hidden Truth. A Shot of Crises. Ruined World. Lab 16’s Ruin. People Without Hope. Lavos’ Theme. The Day The World Revived. Robo Gang Johnny. Bike Chase. Robo’s Theme. Remains of The Factory. Fanfare 2. Brink of Time. Delightful Spekkio. Fanfare 3. Underground Sewer. Boss Battle Theme 2. Primitive Mountain. Ayla’s Theme. Rhythm of Sky, Wind, and Earth. Burn! Bobonga. Magus’ Castle. Confusing Melody. Battle with Magus. Singing Mountain. Tyran Castle. At The Bottom of Night. Corridors of Time. Zeal Palace. Schala’s Theme. Sealed Door. Undersea Palace. Far Off Promise. Wings That Cross Time. Black Omen. Determination. World Revolution. Last Battle. First Festival of Stars. Epilogue - To Good Friends. To Far Away Times

Every single track in this soundtrack is worthy of mention and praise, and I’ve hyperlinked every single one of them to a corresponding YouTube video, so if you’ve played the game before, I ask that you click any one of them at random - or not, choose one you know you love, it’s up to you! - so that you can be transported back into the world of Chrono Trigger; I imagine you probably even know whereabouts in the game the song plays in many cases, as the identity of many of these songs are so strongly woven into the fabric of the game’s story. And if you haven’t played the game? Give it a listen anyways - it’s a great soundtrack, and there’s no reason that you should be missing out. My favourites are the ones I’d recommend, and those are Chrono Trigger, Secret of The Forest, Frog’s Theme, The Hidden Truth, Robo Gang Johnny, Battle with Magus, Wings That Cross Time, World Revolution, First Festival Of Stars, and To Far Away Times.

However, if you are one of the fortunate few that haven’t played or completed this game, then I implore you to do so. I feel like there’s a lot to be gained from playing this game, not just as gamers, but as people. A lot of the messages in Chrono Trigger are those which I think we could benefit from by spreading them to the wider world, whether it be hope or happiness or even just honesty or a humbling sense of innocence. I do feel like this game has had a great impact on myself, as I’m sure it has many others.

It's a game in a league of its own in many ways, and is worthy of much more praise than that which I've heaped on it.

I implore you to play this game. 

 

Edited by Julius
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Finished Jedi Fallen Order and 1000'd it on Xbox. It's made me glad Nintendo seem to be staying well away from an achievement system. I think it's absolutely the right decision, especially if they're meaningless like on PS4/XBO and just a bunch of tick boxes beside your name. I just think it turns every game into a slog if you feel compelled to 100% it. Jedi had a good trophy list overall but I certainly wouldn't say I was having much fun collecting those last few force echoes. Hopefully next gen can come up with some interesting spin on achievements that make them worth the time and effort.  

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Cracking write up, @Julius. It's funny how I was singing the praises of Titanfall 2 on the previous page and then you come on here and say you didn't care for it. :D Shame it didn't do it for you but at least you gave it a try.

Chrono Trigger is such an easy game to play through. It's pacing and length are perfect which means you can happily play the game without it feeling like it's dragging on.

9 hours ago, Ronnie said:

Finished Jedi Fallen Order and 1000'd it on Xbox. It's made me glad Nintendo seem to be staying well away from an achievement system. I think it's absolutely the right decision, especially if they're meaningless like on PS4/XBO and just a bunch of tick boxes beside your name. I just think it turns every game into a slog if you feel compelled to 100% it. Jedi had a good trophy list overall but I certainly wouldn't say I was having much fun collecting those last few force echoes. Hopefully next gen can come up with some interesting spin on achievements that make them worth the time and effort.  

Did you read my post in the N-E Cafe thread? Both trophies and achievements did get something more meaningful attached to them  this generation, where players would earn points/cash to spend on the relevant stores if platinums were collected or Xbox challenges achieved. It was only in the US for the PlayStation and Sony pulled it last year for some reason but as far as I know the Xbox one is still going to this day.

As for being compelled to complete a game 100% then that's simply on the player. I probably know better than anyone on here how hard it is to walk away and when I do go for achievements/trophies then I know fine well that's an issue within me. Ultimately if you aren't having fun or if it will spoil the experience then learn to walk away. I do this with the Yakuza games. Anyway, it shouldn't matter whether you get them or not, as you said, they are pointless to you. ::shrug:

It's actually ironic you brought this up because I just finished....

Resogun (PS4)

I was looking for my next game to play on the PS4 and once again I decided to dive deep into the backlog. I have no idea why I picked this to play. Maybe it was the news of them working on something new that lingered in my mind? I added the game to my downloads when it was first released on PS+, around 8 months before I got my PS4, and it's been waiting to be played ever since.

Why in the blue hell did I wait so long to play this game?! It's amazing. Rescuing the humans, trying to keep your combo going, timing your usage of speed boosts and bombs...everything just flows so well. After all this time I can now see and understand why the praise was heaped on this game.

The trophy list for the game is one that is done very well. It encourages you to play through the game with the different ships ( the ship with the Nemesis weapon was my fav ), play through the entire game without using a continue, rescuing every human and reaching a x15 combo. The no continue run took some doing and I had to replay the game multiple times in order to learn enemy patterns and where humans were. The x15 combo one was probably the hardest. Having to play it on Veteran difficulty and then pretty much play a level perfectly for around 5-6 mins really took some serious concentration levels. One wrong move and the run was ruined.

This is another example of a trophy/achievement list pushing me to become better at the game. I love the genre but I'm generally not that good at SHUMPs. Sitting down and getting to grips and learning the patterns to enable me to do what needed to be done was very satisfying.

The only criticism I have was the whole rescuing humans mechanic wasn't explained that well in the game. It wasn't until my second run where I figured out what activated the release of them and allowed the secret ones to show up.

Fantastic game that I'm very happy I finally played. Ended last month with a platinum and started this month with one. Great start to Feb. :) 

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Damn it, @Julius. I've got other RPG's to play and you're just making me want to boot up my SNES Mini and play Chrono Trigger.

Frog is the best character because he can heal everyone by himself and also, he's an effing frog with an effing huge sword.

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So my 100% LP of Metroid Prime 2 Echoes is no longer a 100% LP as it turns out I missed a one time scan back in Part 9 :hmm:

 

I'll cover that in a later part, for now here is Part 12 after finishing Agon Wastes:

 

 

In terms of recording now I have just recorded up to Part 20. Coming towards the end of Torvus Bog now, all I need to do is get all the power-ups and the last Temple Key before I can finish the area. Oh, and I can guarantee at least one on screen Game Over.

Edited by GenericAperson

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6 hours ago, Hero-of-Time said:

Did you read my post in the N-E Cafe thread? Both trophies and achievements did get something more meaningful attached to them  this generation, where players would earn points/cash to spend on the relevant stores if platinums were collected or Xbox challenges achieved. It was only in the US for the PlayStation and Sony pulled it last year for some reason but as far as I know the Xbox one is still going to this day.

As for being compelled to complete a game 100% then that's simply on the player. I probably know better than anyone on here how hard it is to walk away and when I do go for achievements/trophies then I know fine well that's an issue within me. Ultimately if you aren't having fun or if it will spoil the experience then learn to walk away. I do this with the Yakuza games. Anyway, it shouldn't matter whether you get them or not, as you said, they are pointless to you. ::shrug:

Wow that's the first I've heard of Playstation giving you points to spend on their store in exchange for trophies, they obviously don't shout about it. Weird that it's US only, and that they stopped it last year. Xbox seems to have it tied to GamePass games only I think. Much as I loved Fallen Order I just got the 1000/1000 on it and I was like... "Cool? :blank:"

Sure it's on players to walk away from trophies if they hamper a games enjoyment but it's easier said than done if your screen keeps popping up saying you accomplished something. 

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2 hours ago, Ronnie said:

Sure it's on players to walk away from trophies if they hamper a games enjoyment but it's easier said than done if your screen keeps popping up saying you accomplished something. 

Unless they changed something, you can disable notifications. This will stop achievements popping up on the screen. Same goes for trophies.

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(@Ike, you were right, the FighterZ story mode is a slog of easy matches and repetitive tutorials. The character conversations are really good though. That and the Zeni are the only reasons I choose to power through)

Since Three Houses is what I'm playing right now, I decided to tackle some DS&3DS games from my backlog to chill during my downtime. Turns out, the first one I picked was really short! My first physical game of the year is:

Mr.Driller: Drill Spirits

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Already on their last life by 200m? This player sucks!

A DS game from 2004. I originally bought it used for 10€ back when I took the subway to work (having played the GBA game, I knew this was a decent time-waster), but then I kinda... didn't play it. Other games took priority at the time. Only now did I properly dig into this title. Drill Spirits. That's it, that's the title.

This series is a bit underground, but I already knew the drill: you control Susumu, this little spelunker who has to dig through a mountain of colourful blocks. These blocks fall if there's nothing underneath, and will clear up, puzzle game style, if it's made up of 4 squares or more. You have to do it fast, or you run out of oxygen. You have to do it carefully, or some block you left up there will fall upon your head. Layouts get trickier the deeper you go, especially when those Xes block your path. There are other modes to keep things fresh (like a mode with power-ups, or another one where you're being chased by a monstrous digging machine, so you need to occasionally fire back to defeat it), but the core gameplay stays the same.

Honestly, it's kinda frustrating. The rhythm to the falling blocks gets so fast, you can just die to a random block you overlooked. It's much better to play this on the DS than the GBA, I'll give it that much (there's a lot more verticality to the screen for sure), but that still wasn't enough. The extra modes didn't do much for me, either. On the hole, I got tired really fast.

There's a story mode, but it amounts to "Susumu goes around the world digging up increasingly deeper holes", and then you meet some other cute characters that you can play as (not too different from the presentation from Puyo Puyo games). It never goes that deep. The only interesting part is that Susumu's father... is Dig Dug! That's a twist that will pierce the heavens!

So yeah, I beat the story mode and then I was done with it. I might sell it. Maybe I'm just shallow, but I guess the fun I could have with this game was living on burrowed time.

--

Next on the list... Advance Wars: Dark Conflict
 
  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)

 

Currently Playing:

-Fire Emblem: Three Houses (2019)

-Advance Wars: Dark Conflict (2008)

-Dragon Ball Fighterz (2018) Casually

 
Edited by Jonnas
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I planned on starting and playing Anthem a lot over the weekend. Yeah, that didn't happen. Over the course of 2 days I only managed to complete 2 missions in the game and the other times I tried to play it I was constantly being kicked off the servers. What an absolute mess. The game has been out nearly a year now, with the user base being a fraction of what it was, and yet the servers are still broken. I played the opening mission without any issues but after that it was disconnect after disconnect. When I did finally get to do another mission the game then disconnected just as I completed it. I've not been able to get back on the game since so I have no idea if my progress was saved or whether I have to do the whole thing again.

There is zero reason why I need to be logged into the servers for the way I want to play the game. All I wanted to do was play through the story and call it a day. I even set the game as private so I could just play the game on my own and at my own pace. If you want to play like this then the game should offer some kind of offline mode. This right here is a prime example of why I hate these types of games. You are at the mercy of the developer/publisher as to whether you can actually play the game or not. Capcom have shown the way for years on how to do this type of thing with the Monster Hunter games and yet Western developers continue to make it so you have to sign in and be connected at all times.

It's a shame that the servers are completely borked because what little I did get to play of the game seem to be half decent. Flying around felt great and the combat, whilst mindless, was quite frantic and fun. I'll keep trying this week to see if the situation improves. If not it's not a huge loss as I only paid a fiver for it. Still, it's annoying that you pay for a game, no matter the price, only to be blocked from playing the thing.

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I just want @Julius to know that I've started a fresh file on Chrono Trigger.

You jerk. I've got other games to play!

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10 minutes ago, Glen-i said:

I just want @Julius to know that I've started a fresh file on Chrono Trigger.

You jerk. I've got other games to play!

Haha. I was thinking of doing the same or rather fire up my last file and go for a different ending.

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On 01/02/2020 at 6:29 PM, Hero-of-Time said:

Cracking write up, @Julius. It's funny how I was singing the praises of Titanfall 2 on the previous page and then you come on here and say you didn't care for it. :D Shame it didn't do it for you but at least you gave it a try.

Thanks :D and yeah, it just didn't stick with me in the end - which is a shame, because I thought it started out really strong! Glad to read that you enjoyed it though, hopefully they can tweak things a bit so I find more joy with Titanfall 3, when that eventually rolls around.

On 01/02/2020 at 6:53 PM, Glen-i said:

Frog is the best character because he can heal everyone by himself and also, he's an effing frog with an effing huge sword.

Haha, whoops :laughing: Frog was definitely my favourite character, and it definitely helps that he has my favourite character arc and back story in the game. My team configuration rarely changed from Chrono, Frog and Marle because of that :p also, he maybe has the best character theme, weapon, and cutscene in the game too? 

Yeah, Frog is the best.

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1 hour ago, Glen-i said:

I just want @Julius to know that I've started a fresh file on Chrono Trigger.

You jerk. I've got other games to play!

 

On 02/02/2020 at 3:45 AM, Hero-of-Time said:

Unless they changed something, you can disable notifications. This will stop achievements popping up on the screen. Same goes for trophies.

Yeah, @Ronnie I think I get where you're coming from - congrats on the 1000 in that game by the way! I ended up dropping my Platinum hunt for that game in the end because it just became more tedious for me than it was fun. 

I always leave trophy notifications off for my first playthrough for games I've been looking forward to playing; most of the time, they have an emphasis on story, because it's definitely immersion-breaking in some cases.

I'm very glad that I turned them off when playing through Shadow of the Colossus for the first time, as by the time the game came out I was well aware of trophies popping up at the worst possible points in the context of that game. 

Normally turn them back on after finishing the game if I'm going for a Platinum, or if for some reason there's a particular reason that I'm going for. 

I'm curious now, @Hero-of-Time, knowing that you're something of a trophy connoisseur: do you leave trophy notifications on all the time? Or does it change on a game by game basis?

Edited by Julius
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20 minutes ago, Julius said:

I'm curious now, @Hero-of-Time, knowing that you're something of a trophy connoisseur: do you leave trophy notifications on all the time? Or does it change on a game by game basis?

I've always left them on. Even during my achievement hunting days on the 360 I left them on. I've never really been fussed by them popping up but I know it does bother a lot of people, which is why having the option to turn them off is a good thing.

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2 hours ago, Hero-of-Time said:

I planned on starting and playing Anthem a lot over the weekend. Yeah, that didn't happen. Over the course of 2 days I only managed to complete 2 missions in the game and the other times I tried to play it I was constantly being kicked off the servers. What an absolute mess. The game has been out nearly a year now, with the user base being a fraction of what it was, and yet the servers are still broken. I played the opening mission without any issues but after that it was disconnect after disconnect. When I did finally get to do another mission the game then disconnected just as I completed it. I've not been able to get back on the game since so I have no idea if my progress was saved or whether I have to do the whole thing again.

There is zero reason why I need to be logged into the servers for the way I want to play the game. All I wanted to do was play through the story and call it a day. I even set the game as private so I could just play the game on my own and at my own pace. If you want to play like this then the game should offer some kind of offline mode. This right here is a prime example of why I hate these types of games. You are at the mercy of the developer/publisher as to whether you can actually play the game or not. Capcom have shown the way for years on how to do this type of thing with the Monster Hunter games and yet Western developers continue to make it so you have to sign in and be connected at all times.

It's a shame that the servers are completely borked because what little I did get to play of the game seem to be half decent. Flying around felt great and the combat, whilst mindless, was quite frantic and fun. I'll keep trying this week to see if the situation improves. If not it's not a huge loss as I only paid a fiver for it. Still, it's annoying that you pay for a game, no matter the price, only to be blocked from playing the thing.

I tried Anthem back in December thinking that given that it had been 10 months, things would have improved but like you, I was appalled at the amount of times I disconnected from players leaving during missions to just generally not being able to log in. It's a shocking state of affairs for the game, especially one from Bioware of all developers (regardless of the fact that the quality of their games has dropped).

At this point, I genuinely don't believe they've got it in themselves to sort the game out, with Bioware Austin being the only team working on it (and they're still plugging away with Star Wars The Old Republic and the small dedicated player base there) and the main team at Bioware working on Dragon Age 4 (which is itself going through troubles with overhauls too). The execution was off from the get go and not having an idea of what the product would be till the E3 before launch (a whole 8 months) was a big enough warning sign for me to jump out after the beta. I liked the flying and the gameplay was decent enough but everything else just felt hollow and didn't come together at all.

There was rumblings that EA was hoping to soft reboot the game but given it's a year on from release almost and the road map came and went without much of the content, that updates have been few and far between and that even EA seem to be quiet in the game as a whole, I think it'll be taken offline and given the bullet sooner rather than later. We may see something at EA Play prior to E3 but I just don't see how they can turn it around as there was just so many glaring issues beyond connectivity issues (writing, for example, was one of the highlights of a Bioware game previously but in Anthem it was good awful).

Anyway, I finished up a play through of A Short Hike on PC the other day and absolutely loved every second of it. It was already in my GOTY list but sitting down and playing more of it just made me appreciate more how much a smaller, simple game like that is needed on the industry. I loved the visual style, the music is beautiful and the freedom to just go and do whatever you please was a big factor in how good the game was. The cast of characters as well were great and the story was really touching. Just a brilliant little game that while short, has surprising depth with numerous side quests and just hiking round the island to discover things.

I can't recommend it enough, especially at such a low price (£5.79 on Steam and about the same on Itch.io, where the dev gets a better cut of the revenue and I believe you also get a steam key as well). I'm curious of it'll come to consoles, particularly the Switch, as I think it'd do really well on the platform. We'll see. But yeah, even if you've got a potato of a PC like me, give it a go. It's the game I wish Animal Crossing was, more meaningful and far more engaging with the focus on single player rather than social experience.

Also currently working through Journey to the Savage Planet and enjoying it. Very reminiscent of Metroid Prime in terms of how it plays. Could perhaps do with a map for keeping track of where I'm heading but by and large, it's a more laidback Metroid Prime and pretty good so far. I'm also playing through Lego Harry Potter Collection with the missus and we've finished up Years 1 and 2. I'm not a massive fan of either Harry Potter or the Lego games and at times this has been a slog because of how buggy the game is on the PS4 but it's been fun having some coop time with her as we tend to sit playing different things.

Edited by Ganepark32
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10 minutes ago, Ganepark32 said:

I tried Anthem back in December thinking that given that it had been 10 months, things would have improved but like you, I was appalled at the amount of times I disconnected from players leaving during missions to just generally not being able to log in. It's a shocking state of affairs for the game, especially one from Bioware of all developers (regardless of the fact that the quality of their games has dropped).

Yeah, it really is a sad state of affairs. The game should really be playable at this point. Not being able to log in/being disconnected constantly means the game is pretty much worthless in it's current state. I honestly thought it may have been my internet connection but looking around at various sites it just seems that this is how the game is and you saying that you had the same experience pretty much solidifies that. By all accounts the connection issues actually got worse as more patches were introduced. One of my mates played it not long after launch and found it to be fine but he tried playing it late last year and he just couldn't connect on a regular basis for the game to be worth him playing anymore.

 

16 minutes ago, Ganepark32 said:

I'm also playing through Lego Harry Potter Collection with the missus and we've finished up Years 1 and 2. I'm not a massive fan of either Harry Potter or the Lego games and at times this has been a slog because of how buggy the game is on the PS4 but it's been fun having some coop time with her as we tend to sit playing different things.

I used to love these games but as they got bigger and bigger in scope they became more and more of a chore to play. Like you mentioned, they are all pretty buggy now and it's why i've stopped playing them. It was a classic case of a game going open world when they really didn't need to. I found the older games to be far superior experiences.

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I fired up Anthem again yesterday evening and managed to get 2 more missions done before the game decided I wasn't allowed to play anymore. I tried a couple more times during the course of the evening to get back online but was unsuccessful. It's pretty annoying because I do think I would really enjoy the game if I was allowed to play it. The gameplay loop seems something I would like to do for long periods of time. Flying around and gunning down mobs is very satisfying. Such a shame. :( 

I finished another game last night.

Super Ghouls n Ghosts (Switch)

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It's funny playing this so close to playing the NES version. There is a MASSIVE difference in quality between the two of them. The game is still pretty challenging but nowhere near as hard as the NES game. I made sure to get he knife weapon early on because it was pretty OP in the NES game and it served me well here. In my second run through the game I nabbed the bracelet as soon as I could and then just hadokened my way to victory. :D  Also, I was looking through the credits and i'm not sure if this is actually the name of the developer or if he just wants to brag. :laughing:

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The game is much more enjoyable than the NES version but I still think that the Mega Drive version of the game is the king of the castle. Although, I have never played the GBA version of it. I think it's on the Wii U Virtual Console. I may have to pick it up at some point.

Strangely, despite it's cartoony graphics, this game caused me to have nightmare last night. I was stuck in a large hotel, climbing huge staircases while trying to avoid coffins that were raising out of the ground and skeletons attacking me. Someone needs to slap an 18 rating on this game. :shakehead

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Forgot to post this last night, but the newest episode of Metroid Prime 2 Echoes went up last night:

 

 

I've also been playing more of Hollow Knight but I think I may need to change my setup to beat the Soul Tyrant.

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I’m up to the final world in Graceful Explosion Machine and it’s proving to be quite tough. Managed the third world without having to start over and even managed to ace stage 3 of world 4 😎. It’s 4-4 I can’t beat, died a few times now and not having any luck. Game feels so good when you pull off a good run though, and especially when you get the balance between weapons just right. 

I powered up Mario and Rabbids for the first time in over two years last night. Forgot how gorgeous this game looks. Also forgot how to play as I got my arse handed to me on stage 3-1. I went back through the first two worlds and collected some stuff I missed. I do enjoy the puzzle-solving and collectable nature of the overworld. Quite simplified, in reality, but still hits the spot. Needless to say I picked up the Donkey Kong DLC in the Ubisoft sale that went live today. Can’t bloody help myself sometime. 

These two games and Kirby’s Dreamland 3 (which I have started and am REALLY not feeling) are now on my February to-do list before I inevitably get sidetracked by Animal Crossing. 

Edited by Nicktendo
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9 hours ago, Nicktendo said:

I powered up Mario and Rabbids for the first time in over two years last night. Forgot how gorgeous this game looks. Also forgot how to play as I got my arse handed to me on stage 3-1. I went back through the first two worlds and collected some stuff I missed. I do enjoy the puzzle-solving and collectable nature of the overworld. Quite simplified, in reality, but still hits the spot. Needless to say I picked up the Donkey Kong DLC in the Ubisoft sale that went live today. Can’t bloody help myself sometime. 

I went through a similar thing when I bought the DK DLC last year. I fired the game up and was excited to revisit the world of Mario & Rabbids only to find that I had completely forgotten how to play the game. Needless to say I never did play through the DLC. :p It's a big reason why I try to concentrate on playing a game to completion before moving on to the next. You often tend to forget about story beats or gameplay mechanics. I did finish Mario & Rabbids when it was first released but it took so long for me to pick up the DLC that the game felt completely foreign to me. 

I continued playing through the SNES catalogue yesterday evening.

Pilotwings

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I had this game as a youngster but it never pulled me in. My parents bought us a second hand SNES with a bunch of games and this was one of them that came with it. I never really warmed to the game and it ended up not getting played that much, which is understandable when I had games like Super Mario World, A Link to the Past and Mortal Kombat waiting to be played. :D Fast forward to now and I decided to give the game another go.

I quite enjoyed the game but I did find the controls for some of the events quite fiddly. There aren't many button presses needed but the way the plane controlled did take some getting used to. At the start of the game I felt like I was constantly at odds with the plane and a lot of the manoeuvres I was trying to make weren't going how I wanted them to. It took a lot of trial and error but I eventually got the hang of how to fly the thing. I think the plane was actually my least favourite event out of the whole game. I loved the jet pack and parachute events, although with the parachute did take a little time to figure out how to correctly position myself when flying through the rings.

I was VERY surprised with the secret missions that you have to do. At this point in the game everything was all colourful and light-hearted and then all of a sudden things take a dark turn and end up going all Desert/Jungle Strike. It's such a weird turn and doesn't really fit with the whole theme and feel of the main game. That's not to say I didn't enjoy these missions. It was a nice change of pace going from casually flying a plane to firing missiles in a helicopter. 

It's quite a relaxing and charming game but it's not one I would rant and rave about. Still, i'm happy to have finally played through it.

Oh, I also managed to do another mission on Anthem as well before getting kicked off again. At this point I'm going to assume that Bioware wanted the game to be like Animal Crossing and only allow for you to do a set number of things in one day. :p 

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Another game was completed last night.

Super Punch-Out

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Spoiler

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It's been a few years since I played this game. I never played the game when it was first released on the SNES and it wasn't until the Wii U Virtual Console release where I finally played the game. I enjoyed it back then and I enjoyed playing it now. 

I do enjoy the trail and error gameplay that the series offers. It's funny, I was thinking how the series actually shares a lot of similarities with Monster Hunter. They are both essentially boss fight games, you have to have patience, you need to learn the attack patterns and then wait for an opening to launch your counter attack. Strange comparison but I feel it's quite fitting.

I do find it weird that this game always gets over shadowed by the original game. I find this one to be a much better game than the NES original. The characters are great and are full of personality, the animations are lively and sometimes hilarious and the game just plays better, IMO. I guess because the original game was such a big thing back in the day that nostalgia pulls people more towards that rather than it's sequel.

I also find it weird that the series didn't make it's way to the 3DS. I think the 3D effect could have been put to good use, with opponents punches feeling like they are coming at you and the effect of having Little Mac in the foreground and the opponent at the back would have been fun to see. Shame.

Playing this was enjoyable and it also got me itching to break out the Wii version, which I also loved. I haven't played it since it was originally released so maybe it's time to revisit that one. I need more hours in the day. :( 

Another update on Anthem. I actually managed to get a solid 3 hours into the game yesterday evening! As expected, I did enjoy my time with the game once I was able to actually play it. I would have kept on playing (need to grab what time I can on the game while it's working) but I got some weird message/countdown whilst playing saying that the server I was playing on would close in a set period of time. What the hell? So I finally manage to connect for a long period of time and then the server I play on decides it's shutting down. This game, man. If all goes to plan I should have the game finished by 2022. :D 

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I'm intending to post in this thread regularly throughout the year so first I'll give a summary of what I played through in January. I've been on a bit of a Switch binge, I received Pokemon Shield for Christmas so the year started out with me finishing my playthrough of that. It's the first brand new Pokemon game I've played since Sapphire so I wasn't entirely sure how much was new but I mostly enjoyed my time with the game, although the presentation does feel a bit lacklustre at times. The core loop is still engaging and there is plenty of charm peppered throughout but it does feel a bit lifeless compared to other big franchises.

After that I finally played through SUPERHOT, also on Switch, it didn't last long obviously but it was a great experience. I posted about it in the eShop thread saying how impressed I was with the mechanics, that it was more of a puzzle game than a shooter and the port is really solid too. I bought Bayonetta a while ago with my gold points but the time never felt right to start playing it, I remember the praise that it got when it first came out on 360 and PS3 but I never had those consoles at the time so it was only when it came to Wii U that I considered playing it. I think the only other Platinum game that I've played was Star Fox Zero (and the demo for Nier Automata) so the frantic style of their usual fare seemed intimidating to me but actually playing Bayonetta I immediately felt comfortable with it - I well and truly suck at the game, don't get me wrong - but it was such a joyous experience. It's a completely bonkers and over the top game but it has so much charm and style, I'm very much looking forward to playing through Bayonetta 2 and delving into Platinum's other fast paced action games. 

I thought Baba is you would be a nice, short game but it ended up consuming all of my game time for practically a full week. Another one that I'm rubbish at but it's a genius concept that is always expanding on the mechanics in new and interesting ways. Followed it up with Donut County which absolutely was a short experience, it only took me a couple of hours to get through and was enjoyable enough but it doesn't hold much weight - the writing was pretty funny though. I remember ages ago seeing a Final Bosman about Riptide GP2 so had always been intrigued to try the series out so when Riptide GP Renegade was on offer for about £2 on the eShop I decided to take the plunge on it and first impressions were that it was pretty rough around the edges, it's origins as a mobile title absolutely noticeable but I soon got engrossed in the gameplay. It was more than worth the couple of quid it cost me, I got at least 20 hours out of it and practically completed it 100% (stats say 98% but I got 3 stars in every race so I don't know what I missed). 

For the last week I've been banging my head against Castlevania: Rondo of Blood on PS4 (part of the Requiem collection). I played Castlevania 1 -3 on the NES Classic & VC, then Super Castlevania IV on the SNES Classic which obviously allowed the use of save states so the challenge was lessened considerably - and I'm not against save states in the slightest so I used them pretty liberally - but being restricted to playing the old fashioned was in Rondo has definitely felt far more rewarding. Progress has been glacial at times and the challenge has at times seemed insurmountable but I've managed to get through all the stages so far, just got Dracula left to defeat. It is definitely more forgiving than earlier traditional Castlevania's (the whip always being full power helps a lot) but it still has some infuriating 8-bit nonsense like the knock back and awkward stair controls. Movement is still clunky and awkward but I feel like I have a lot more control than I did in the original Castlevania, allowing for more agile movement during tricky boss encounters.

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The launch of the new Sword & Shield set on Pokemon Trading Card Game Online (PC) last night meant I spent a lot of time playing that. I went to the prerelease so already had about 6 packs and a kit in terms of codes in order to start my collection of that particular set but the contents of said packs were far better than what I got in the real ones where I got the one solitary Keldeo V. In my PTCGO packs meanwhile I pulled Morpeko V, Sableye V, Indeedee V and the holo version of Stonjourner V! Crazy luck.

 

 

I decided however to en masse trade these cards to match the actual cards I got a prerelease. Well, most of them, there was one particular deck I wanted to build in the Sword and Shield era and after trading for Rowlet & Alolan Exeggutor I realised that the prerelease kit got was the Grookey-Pawniard one instead of Galarian Zigzagoon-Sobble which was the actual one I had. I did trade my Morpeko V for a Dhelmise V to use in my new Grass Deck. and I also traded Sableye V for Keldeo V since I actually have that card now. I am missing the Frosmoth that makes Water decks especially powerful in both Online and in real life however.

 

I tweaked my Grass deck with the new additions and Sword and Shield and wow, this deck suddenly became extremely good. Maybe not top tier by any means but I tested it and it's so fast and efficient at being able to stock up energy, only really lacking in the damage department but you can shuffle all your opponent's energies back into the deck in about 3 turns lol.

 

Racked up over 2000 coins now on the account so I should have enough money to buy all three Theme Decks and still have over 500 left which I might cash in on a few booster packs in an attempt to try and get Zacian V.

 

Oh, and the new episode of Let's Play Metroid Prime 2 Echoes dropped last night. It's one of the better ones I've made, mainly because of the inclusion of my own history with FPS cameos which ended in a quip that I still find amusing to listen to...

 

 

Edited by GenericAperson
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Decided to push through with Plague of Shadows to see if it gets any better.

No, it does not.

This has to be the least fun I've ever had with a 2D platformer. The game is inexcusably unbalanced. You can breeze through certain parts and all bosses but the majority of levels are just not suitable for Shadow Knight's "style of movement" and are difficult for all the wrong reasons.

Silver lining: I will start Specter of Torment soon.

In other news: Made some progress with The Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth+. Unlocked The Forgotten which is always a pain :D 
I'm always amazed how good this game is. It's pretty much the perfect rogue-like (sharing a place with Slay the Spire). Can't wait for the next expansion.

As some of you noticed: I bought Mario Kart 8. Aside from the NE league I've done some GPs against AI. 150cc is not that difficult. 200cc on the other hand can be a kick in the dick. Especially when the game just decides to fuck you over at the last second. But that's Mario Kart for ya :laughing: 

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On 04/02/2020 at 9:52 PM, Nicktendo said:

I powered up Mario and Rabbids for the first time in over two years last night. Forgot how gorgeous this game looks.

Yeah the visuals are really lovely, Nintendo but with a twist, and such a great game overall. Really, really hope Ubisoft announce a sequel in a few months :peace:

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47 minutes ago, drahkon said:

As some of you noticed: I bought Mario Kart 8. Aside from the NE league I've done some GPs against AI. 150cc is not that difficult. 200cc on the other hand can be a kick in the dick. Especially when the game just decides to fuck you over at the last second. But that's Mario Kart for ya :laughing: 

Mario Kart 9: Kick in the dick. 

Never a more apt subtitle for a Mario Kart game. The game is unfairness personified. Less a game, more an experience. An experience of torment and pain. :laughing:
I don't know how many times I've outraced the entire field in that game only to be blue-shelled, red-shelled, bloody green-shelled and fifth-positioned on the final corner. Sometimes I just really, really hate it. Still plays and looks nice at least. And that soundtrack :love:

30 minutes ago, Ronnie said:

Yeah the visuals are really lovely, Nintendo but with a twist, and such a great game overall. Really, really hope Ubisoft announce a sequel in a few months :peace:

Yeah, despite looking similar, it's so strikingly different from Nintendo's traditional Mario expression. I 100%'d the first world last night and I think it might be my favourite rendition of the Mushroom Kingdom. Borrows quite heavily from World, but that maze at the end where you have to go up the tower was incredible, even the second, third and fourth time. Huge respect for Ubisoft and Davide Soliani for pulling something so unique off with such an established franchise. Props also to Kirkhope for being awesome, as always. 

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