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Puppeteer

I randomly picked this because it was a stream-only PS Now game to play for a bit while another game downloded overnight. I was massively impressed with it. It's a very solid 2D platformer (one of the better ones I've played) which introduces it's simple but effective mechanics throughout the game. The graphics are very charming in a way similar to Yoshi's Woolly World.

It's set in a Japanese puppet theatre, but it also styled a lot like a British pantomime. Lots of fun humour, and actors breaking the fourth wall, sometimes complaining about the story or other "actors". It feels like an unprofessional production, but is handled in a great way. 

Health is done in the form of "heads", as the main character, Kutaro, lost theirs at the beginning of the story and has to use other puppet heads. You can hold three at a time. They all have cute animations and can be used to unlock a secret somewhere or a bonus area, and some help out with bosses. When you get hit, the current head falls off - but you still have time to chase it to get it back. 

Levels feel very varied, with some different styles. The game focuses on each new ability as you get them before mixing them with previous ones. I quite like the "spiral" stages where you work upwards throughout the tower, with the stage "turning" as you progress (because it's a backdrop, the camera itself doesn't actually move, just the stage - there's lots of lovely transitions).

Overall, this is a massively overlooked platformer that ended up being released a couple of months before the PS4. It's a shame that a PS3 or PS Now are the only ways to play it, it really should have been re-released on PS4 at some point.

 

Jackbox Party Pack 7

A very solid selection of games.

Quiplash 3 - The first two were fun, this is just as good. This has newer prompts (and also a handy button to disable some of the very US-centric ones). The new end prompt I think is better than previous games as it's a three part one (three different answers, or an answer consisting of three parts). 


The Devils and the Details - A co-op game where you all paly as a family of devils. You pick and choose which tasks to complete. Some can be completed on your own, while others are group tasks. For these, you'll have to give instructions (to make food, one person will get a list of ingredients, other players have to select the ingredients). Not the easiest to do over zoom, but still good fun. I imagine it would be even better in person.

Champ’d Up - A drawing game, might be my favourite Jackbox drawing game. People will be given a subject (Champion of dorks, champion of cute, champion of flair, champion of realising they were beautiful all along) and have to draw a champion based on that, along with giving them a name. These drawings then get sent to other players, who have to design an "underdog" challenger without knowing the category they are competing for.

In the second round, the same thing happens, but after each match there's a second "surprise" round with a different category. Players can keep the same challenger or swap out with one of their own to try and win. Drawing ability isn't that important, it's all about the idea behind the drawing.

Talking Points - A "public speaking" game. I was initially against the idea of this game as it didn't sound particularly interesting at all. Surprisingly, I ended up really enjoying it. It starts of with filing in blanks for prompts for subjects of a presentation, these are sent to other players. You get to pick between three of these for what your subject is based on. 

To "help" you with your presentation is an assistant. These will select slides for you, picking from a few options of text followed by a picture (three of each in total). The presenter can talk at their own pace (within a comfortable time limit) and tries to fit in the images/text to their presentation. They can emphasise parts of the images by adding text or drawings to them. The scoring is kind of irrelevant for this one (people tap up/down arrows throughout), but it's still enjoyable.

Blather ‘Round - Sadly this only goes up to six players. You get to choose from a couple of prompts (objects, TV shows, characters, stuff like that). You are then given sentences with a couple of blanks for you to fill...but only using a small selection of pre-selected words. Sometimes it will take lots of sentences to describe something, but sometimes it can be done with just the first one (My fiancee started one with the sentence "it's about a series of metamorphosis mechanisms" which I got straight away). It's really good fun.

Overall, a great pack and the first one without a dud.

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Puppeteer is a very underrated little gem. Shame it came out on the PS3 at the very very tail end of its life; if it had been shifted to PS4, it would surely have garnered a much bigger audience.

Very cool little platforms that reminds me a lot of Dynamite Headdy, but with a neat Cut Out twist that is kind of reminiscent of Paper Mario Color Splash in some ways.

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Mainly been playing Ratchet & Clank (2016) this week. Made significant progress in the game and made it all the way from Gaspar to Kalebo III... which takes way fewer levels than the original. After Gaspar it was over to Batallia which is now an ice level? What? It wasn't ice in the original but then again they did cut the Ice level.

 

Then it was over to Pokitaru where I got the Rocket Pack, my favourite pack in the game. Then already over to Quartu which got a significant redesign to align more with the events of the film and that was pretty fun, complete with an all new boss fight against Mrs. Zurkon. Then it was over to the Deplanetizer, a brand new level for the game where you play as Ratchet and Clank seperately, I guess that creates something similar to the seemingly cut Oltanis level. I have to say though, the Clank section took me forever. Trying to use those Gadgebots in the right configurations to get them all over to the power nodes took absolutely forever, on multiple differnt puzzles, I was using Bridgebots over and over again trying to route them into a place where I could get them all on the same ledge and it was only by trial and error that I eventually got anywhere!

 

Then I did the whole Ratchet only section, then Novalis got destroyed. RIP any chances of getting the extra goodies on that level though I did to the optional mission not knowing they were going to blow it up in this remake.

 

Anyway, got a few tweet highlights from the game, including one VERY notable reference.

 

 

 

 

 

Also been on Soulcalibur VI making more Custom characters, and redesigning others:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finally, MTG Arena and I have a new video for that...

 

 

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Call of Duty: Black Ops III

An utterly terrible game. Level design is pretty bad (the levels are designed for co-op, even though the story treats all people as a single player), it introduces mechanics like wall running but there's no point in the game for using them, you get lots of cool abilities but the game finds reason for lots of them to not work at certain times as well.

The special abilities are also on L1 and R1. The same buttons as the grenades. So if you don't meet an unclear requirement for the ability, you'll lob a grenade. There's also another ability for taking control of robots that's also R1. You'll throw more grenades by mistake than actual intentional throws. 

The characters are dull. The only interesting thing about any of them is recognising them from somewhere else (Mitchell and Bra'tac from Stargate, Starbuck from BSG, The Doctor from Voyager). The player character has no name, characters get angry at some stuff but are fine with other things - US does shady stuff, accidentally kills hundreds of thousands of people, team finds out, goes to expose this terrible thing....then works alongside people who are executing any civilian that isn't part of their group (I presume they wanted the handing bodies and stuff for shock value and didn't know where to put it in).

There's some badly done Inception/robot mind control plot that's absolutely terribly done, so the last mission is just running though a chaotic jumbled mess with no idea why (supposedly, the actual plot of the game is buried in walls of text that scroll past in half a second in the loading screens).

Missions all feel mostly the shame, just shoot through lots of people, and the same robots and big vehicles. No stealth, no sniping mission, no other mission that focus on different gameplay. There's only one mission that's different, where you half fly a plane (your control over it is very limited) and then do escort missions in between plane segments, with an annoying character who nags if you step more than a tiny bit away form her (in order to kill enemies). If you stand close enough to not trigger her whining (which literally happens every 5 seconds), then a grenade will definitely be thrown towards you at some point and kill her. 

Lots of deaths just felt like random explosions that you have no control over, sometimes I had no idea why I died. A few times I died because I went too far into the level before the next "set piece" had loaded and died because of that. Other times I had to restart missions due to glitches, bugs and crashing. 

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Posted (edited)

Well I just finished my newest game; time to update my tally for this year so far...

New Super Mario Bros 2

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This game was always destined to not be as good as NSMB Wii; but that's a really frigging high bar to clear, so let's be fair here.

To be pithy about things? This game is basically a port/mod of NSMB Wii with a few new gameplay features thrown in and new levels made using the same base assets as in NSMB Wii.  There are very, VERY few new actual level mechanics that were not previously seen in NSMB Wii (I'm pretty sure it's literally just two new enemies, two new platform types and then the Raccoon Leaf, Mega Mushroom & Gold Mario stuff and that's it - everything else has been ripped out of NSMB Wii), and even the soundtrack has been recycled literally wholesale from NSMB Wii.

When Nintendo decided that they needed to pump out a new NSMB game for both the Wii U and 3DS at the same time? The 3DS game was always destined to be the one to draw the short straw in terms of allocated manpower & production values.  So it comes as no surprise that the developers had little scope for building any truly new gameplay mechanics or assets that weren't already in NSMB Wii or NSMB DS.

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Though of course that incredibly limited budget WOULD go towards a brand new type of Boo... Nintendo's Boo Bias shines through any budgetary limitations!

This gives NSMB2 a decidedly "ROM Hacky" feeling about itself.  Less of a true sequel to NSMB Wii and more of a remix of sorts.  Of course, as you all know, this game's main gimmick (and its main USP within the series) is the focus on coin collection... However, going back and playing through the main game? It really doesn't actually play into the coin aspect all that much at all! Coin counts aren't really that much higher than in any other Mario game throughout the main levels!

No, what really seperates NSMB 2's main game from NSMB Wii is the pacing of its level design.  Designed by younger staff members with Nintendo EAD, NSMB 2's levels are much more meandering, exploratory and contemplatentive than in the previous title.  That isn't necessarily a bad thing mind you, it actually feels a bit more like Super Mario Land 2 than perhaps any other mainline Mario game; and I quite enjoyed the change in pace.  That being said though? I wasn't able to stomach collecting every Star Coin this time around, as it ends up feeling like a bit of a slog here to find them all.  The slower pacing is naturally not going to be to everyone's taste, and it's very different from what you see in NSMB Wii, but I dug it.  It's a nice pallette clenser after the whiteknuckle action from the previous game.

But of course... that's only half the game's tale.  There's a reason why I've been specifying "main game" after all... And that's because Coin Rush is the REAL NSMB2 as far as I'm concerned.  THIS is where the coin collecting gimmick really starts to shine, as every Coin Rush stage pack becomes a super fun high score challenge where you have to milk as many coins as possible out of each level! Personally? I kind of wish that they didn't really bother with the main game so much and instead focused on fleshing out Coin Rush with more level packs, as this is the best bit of the game for sure.

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Oh!!! Is it another Coin Rush Pack!?!?! Oh... never mind...

Overall, NSMB2 is a strange little game.  Like Super Mario Bros: The Lost Levels, it kind of feels like a mod of the previous title that shrewdly remixes existing mechanics to give a bit of a different experience; but it doesn't really feel like a new Mario game.  Kind of ironic, considering the name! But I enjoyed it anyway.  I just wish that they had really dug deep into Coin Rush, even if it came at the expense of the main game, because it's definitely the game's standout mode.  However, I think it's a great example of how to make something out of very little; as it's a much better 2D Mario game than it's much more lavishly produced Wii U counterpart.  NSMB U might have had all the budget and manpower in the world, and tons of new gameplay mechanics and features thrown its way; but quite frankly? NSMB2 just has much more interesting & intricate level design, and that is what is truly king in a 2D platformer.

 

The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening (MSU-1 Mod)

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Take the original Link's Awakening for Game Boy, chuck in the soundtrack from the Switch remake, and you get this...

  Yes it works! On real SNES hardware!

Despite how surreal it feels to see it all actually work for realsies, and hear the soundtrack of the Switch remake injected into the original GB version? It's otherwise still the good ol' Link's Awakening that you know and love.

This was a time long before the idea of what Zelda is was codified into immutable canon, and it arguably errs closer to the original NES Zelda than any other in terms of structure, as you are tasked with completing 8 dungeons and collecting their respective Plot Souvenirs to open up the way to the final dungeon and defeat the Big Bad.  However, it's also the first Zelda game that does NOT allow you to complete its dungeons out of order, being decidedly linear in nature; something that would go on to become a series standard until A Link Between Worlds would challenge what would become the norm.

Lots of other things introduced by this game would also go on to become series staples moving forward, such as the numerous songs that you learn throughout your adventure quest (sure, you had the Recorder in Zelda 1&2 and the Flute/Ocarina in ALTTP, but they never actually had different songs for you to learn & play!), the famous Trading Quest, Fishing and things like Bomb Arrows would all become recurring features in future titles.

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Good thing this guy didn't come back though!

The dungeons throughout the game are all reletively simple.  While much more complex than what you see in Zelda 1 or 2, they are a far cry from the complex architecture that you saw in ALTTP, or in future titles; really, only the last two dungeons begin to approach something comparable to what you saw in ALTTP in terms of their complexity.  But then again, this was a handheld game, designed for play in short bursts; the dungeons needed to be completable in a bus or train ride's time.  The notion of a game being specifically designed to be palletable to handheld play in short bursts might be a foreign concept to us in the modern era, but back then? It was absolutely a worthwhile design consideration.  In return for this reduction in dungeon complexity and overall game scope though? You get a game that feels much more intimate and "alive".  More slice of life than grand epic.  And really, Link's Awakening is a very "considerate" game that does a great job of tackling the challenge of offering a real "adventure", while not allowing the player to get too lost at any point.  It's the perfect train ride companion!

While I loved what the Switch remake did with Link's sleepy adventure? I would probably argue that it feels more at home on the humble Game Boy than on the mighty Switch.  Link's Awakening is fundamentaly a small scale adventure that doesn't quite feel right when blown out to a big, lavish HD production.  As such? I'll probably always prefer the original GB version to the Switch remake.

Pilotwings 64

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It's the most stressful chill game you've ever played.  It's Pilotwings 64!

Much like its original SNES counterpart, you're tasked with completing various missions and achieving the best scores possible while doing so.  Unlike its original SNES counterpart however, progression is no longer gated with score threasholds across each rank.  Here you merely need to pass at the most basic level and then it's onto the next mission; so victory comes as an inevitablity this time around.

While some will no doubt appreciate this change, it no doubt takes away from the challenge that made the original game what it was.  Still, grinding for those top scores is still an option for those that want to put the elbow grease in in order to achieve perfection.

Otherwise, it's a perfectly fine sequel to the original that basically anyone can enjoy.  The controls perfectly walk that fine line inbetween super realistic simulation and arcade fun; offering up a gameplay experience that feels like a realistic sim, but really plays like an arcade score attack game.  It's great fun!

Oh and the soundtrack is absolute tops! Hard to believe that it came from someone who had previously never composed any music before, and would only ever go on to compose one other soundtrack in his entire career! (That's F1 Grand Prix for N64 BTW).  Real shame that he didn't stick around in the industry, he had some real talent...

Porn for the ears

Brilliant sequel to the SNES original, sadly forgotten to the mists of time.  How bizzare that it's one of the very few 1st party N64 games to never get a re-release of any kind! Come on Nintendo!! Get with it! (And bring back the Virtual Console!)

 

Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon & The Blade of Light

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Fire Emblem's humble beginnings, officially released in English at long, long last! Finally! The world can enjoy the adventures of the man who wears the shortest skirt in video game history (No, seriously; it really is outrageous!)

While I have already made my thoughts known in the game's official thread, suffice to say that I loved my time with this NES strategy RPG.  Yes it's slow and clunky by today's standards, but it was also incredibly far ahead of its time.  It's shocking just how much is already codified here that would go on to define the series, right from the get-go.  The huge & varied cast of characters (52!!), the basic unit movement mechanics, the various weapon types, the arenas, the permadeath mechanic, it's all here already! The game even has a suspend save feature! In 1990!! That's basically unthinkable! NO other game had a save anywhere feature for YEARS after this game came out!  It's also a very lengthy adventure at a whopping 25 chapters long; it's quite frankly unbelievable that they squashed this game into a mere 3 megabit NES cartridge!

The story is very simplistic, but it is told in such a way that it gives the impression of a grander tale that takes place off screen.  It's a very clever choice that makes the game feel much more epic and its story more complex & interwoven than what is actually presented in game (Its DS remake would go on to fill in those gaps left throughout the story; arguably taking a bit of the mystery away in the process).  This is helped by some absolutely A-grade localisation work presented in this modern Switch release; absolutely no way would we have ever gotten anything even remotely comparable if this game was released in western territories 30 years ago.

Playing this game actually revived my love for the Fire Emblem series.  For a good few years, I've just been completely turned off the series by the way in which it has been warped & distorted by Fire Emblem Fates and Fire Emblem Three Houses; now resembling a dating simulator more than an actual Strategy RPG.  But this humble little NES game rekindled those fiery flames that used to burn so emblematically in my heart.  I needed to follow up with another classic Fire Emblem; and @Glen-i was having a pop at me for not yet playing through Fire Emblem Gaiden's remake on the 3DS (Shadows of Valentia), so naturally my next choice of game would be...

 

Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance

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I started playing this game again because I got pissed off when continuing to suck at Tony Hawks Pro Skater 3 on Gamecube.  True story.

Anywho, I haven't played POR in years and was really in the mood for a good, proper old fashioned FE game.  I previously wanted to do a playthrough of it again a few years back, but I couldn't stomach making the committment to what would ostenebly be a 50+ hour game... Well, 50+ hours later, I emerge victorious on Hard Mode; with nary a single character lost! Perfection (No! I did NOT reset as soon as one of my units died! How dare you insinuate that I really spent probably 150+ hours playing this game because I had to keep resetting! I did everything perfect first time!!).

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Seen it, done it, bought the T-shirt

 

Gone are the outrageously short skirts of the NES game, and in comes fancy 3D graphics, tons of fancy new gameplay subsystems, fancy cutscenes & intricate storylines on the fanciest cube to ever play games.  How far the series has come from its humble beginnings and yet how much it stays true to the roots of the original NES game.  Despite all the modern embelishments, this is classic Fire Emblem through and through; including its absolutely brutal difficulty!

Going through Path of Radiance's myriad of gameplay systems & subsystems would simply take far too long, and would probably bore most of you to death; so I'll stick with the short & skinny of it all.  It's an expertly crafted Strategy RPG with perhaps the best map design in the series (contentiously contested with its sequel, Radiant Dawn, on that front), polished to near perfection; alongside complex new gameplay mechanics that are all interwoven in a way that presents each map as an elaborate puzzle for you to solve.

Within the grander context of the series, I think the biggest standout feature of Path of Radiance is in its map design; and in the sheer variety of gameplay scenarios that Intelligent Systems managed to wring out of the base gameplay mechanics.  Unlike most of the newer games, the mission objectives are wildly varied here.  You have your standard Rout win condition of course, but you also have maps where you have to escape, escort missions, defence missions, timed challenges, boss killing missions; hell, there's even a legitimate MGS style stealth mission! Yes, really! A STEALTH mission, in Fire Emblem!!

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Solid Snake would be proud

Every map is intricately designed and meticulously crafted to make you really have to think about what's the best way to proceed (and not get your comrades killed).  There's a myriad of things to carefully consider (skills, biorhythm, the weapon & magic triangle, character weaknesses & strengths, items, weapon types; the list goes on and on) and every single map introduces new concepts and gameplay gimmicks that force you to rethink and change up your strategy; it's almost like the Mario Galaxy of Fire Emblem in that new gameplay mechanics are introduced and discarded at an incredible pace (even Fog of War only appears in one chapter!).  For instance, one chapter sees Ike and co attempting to climb up a mountain, while the Daein army attempt to block your advance by using boulders that roll down the mountain when you are unlucky (or stupid!) enough to place yourself in their path; while another chapter sees your army attempt to cross a giant bridge... only that it is laid with invisible pitfall traps that stun your unlucky unit for that turn, should you fall afoul of one.  Interesting gimmicks are sprinkled throughout each and every chapter, with none playing quite like the last.

Another key new feature is the new Bonus Experience system.. By fulfilling certain hidden criteria in each chapter, you can earn Bonus EXP that you can then later freely distribute amongst your characters at your base.  You can use this BEXP however you like; however, it's often a good idea to use it in small amounts to guarantee good growths from each character and to use it to power up benched characters that may otherwise fall behind the rest of your army (neatly solving a problem that has persisted within the series up until this point).

The story is also far more intricate than most previous titles, and many will likely enjoy the political and racial overtones woven throughout (I know I sure did at least!), while characterisation is much more fleshed out; particularily with the support conversations.  While the overall story beats aren't particularily complex, there are some neat surprises & twists along the way, and each character feels nicely fleshed out and memorable.

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Ike, ever the eloquent hero

I love this game.  While I'm not sure if I prefer this game over its Wii sequel, it no doubt stands as amongst the finest in the entire Fire Emblem series.  It's the series' trademark tactical gameplay polished to near perfection.  A shame that it came out so late in the Gamecube's lifecycle, when the console was already dead & buried, largely dooming this game to reletive obscurity (and high eBay prices these days), but between this game and its sequel? You are unlikely to find a better duo of strategy RPGs anywhere else.  Despite the incredible frustration involved in trying to achieve a perfect Hard Mode run? I had a blast revisiting this gem of a game.  Oh, and BTW, pro-tip for anyone attempting Hard Mode? Soren is an absolute monstrous BEAST!  He is the best character in the game, and I have the stats to prove it!

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On paper? It's a tie, but in your heart? You know that Soren is No1


And that's my list so far.  Had to put SM3DW/BF, THPS3 and Gn'GR on hold due to FE:POR taking over; but with my journey at its end? It's time to head back to the grinds!

Spoiler

New Super Mario Bros 2

The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening DX (MSU-1 Switch Remake Music Edition)

Pilotwings 64

Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon & The Blade of Light

Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance

 

Edited by Dcubed
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Yeah, yeah, good for you, @Dcubed, but you listen to me.

If the next Fire Emblem game you tackle isn't Shadows of Valentia, I will punch you.

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10 hours ago, Dcubed said:

perhaps the best map design in the series

I personally disagree on this front. Many of these levels feel like they weren't designed with fliers in mind, so they're easy to break with Marcia or Jill. Plus, the lategame maps in Crimea feel empty and forgettable to me (and don't get me started on the horrible swamp levels). That said, it is true that they did a lot with gimmicks, and that's valuable in itself.

10 hours ago, Dcubed said:

Soren is an absolute monstrous BEAST!

Ironic statement, considering his racism

10 hours ago, Dcubed said:

For instance, one chapter sees Ike and co attempting to climb up a mountain, while the Daein army attempt to block your advance by using boulders that roll down the mountain when you are unlucky (or stupid!) enough to place yourself in their path;

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11 hours ago, Dcubed said:

 

The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening (MSU-1 Mod)

SGBFXPakThumbnail.jpg

 

Take the original Link's Awakening for Game Boy, chuck in the soundtrack from the Switch remake, and you get this...

  Yes it works! On real SNES hardware!

Despite how surreal it feels to see it all actually work for realsies, and hear the soundtrack of the Switch remake injected into the original GB version? It's otherwise still the good ol' Link's Awakening that you know and love.

This is just wrong.

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, Jonnas said:

I personally disagree on this front. Many of these levels feel like they weren't designed with fliers in mind, so they're easy to break with Marcia or Jill.
 

See, they balance that out with the copious use of archers & ballistas though (at least in Hard mode; can’t remember what the easier modes are like on that front).  Half the challenge of each map is finding ways to take out the archers and other risks to your flying characters, before you can safely get them to swoop in and wreck house.  Going in gung ho with your fliers all guns blazing is a very quick way of getting them killed in this game.

Quote

Plus, the lategame maps in Crimea feel empty and forgettable to me (and don't get me started on the horrible swamp levels).

Thing is though, the really wide open Crimean maps towards the end present an interesting challenge in of themselves though because they leave you wide open to attack.  Like, take chapter 26 (Clash!) for instance...

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Unlike your typical FE map, there are very few places where you can hole up and there are basically no choke points that you can take advantage of.  Meanwhile, you are hopelessly outnumbered in virtually every direction.  So my key strategy here was to form a line going vertically & laterally, using the few trees available for cover; while having my fliers jump in and out of enemy lines (thanks Canto!) to perform hit & run tactics, particularly in getting rid of the long-range magic users.  I hold the line with my bulkier characters while waiting for my foes to come towards me; while the frailer ones pelt them from behind the line with ranged attacks.

There aren’t really any other maps like it throughout the game, but even these so called “empty” maps offer unique challenges that precipitate unique strategies!
 

Quote

Ironic statement, considering his racism

Heh, glad you caught that one ;) It’s even more ironic considering the A Rank support conversation reveal...

 

2 hours ago, Ike said:

This is just wrong.

I don’t disagree, but it was pretty neat to play it again for the millionth time with a bit of a twist this time :) 

Edited by Dcubed

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2 hours ago, Ike said:

This is just wrong.

I do disagree. I can't go back to old Game Boy Face Shrine without being reminded of the infinitely superior Switch version.

Because holy crap, that remix is something special!

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Well...I got the Platinum trophy for Remnant: From the Ashes, one of the most recent additions to the PS+ library.

No idea why I did it :laughing:
It's not a very good game...janky, clunky, not very creative and yet I played it for 26 hours and got the Platinum :D Played most of it with mates so that probably helped.

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1 hour ago, Dcubed said:

See, they balance that out with the copious use of archers & ballistas though (at least in Hard mode; can’t remember what the easier modes are like on that front).  Half the challenge of each map is finding ways to take out the archers and other risks to your flying characters, before you can safely get them to swoop in and wreck house.  Going in gung ho with your fliers all guns blazing is a very quick way of getting them killed in this game.

It's been a good while since I played this game, so you might be right (I definitely remember that boat-to-boat chapter having too many archers for comfort), but I do remember that the anti-arrow item is equippable and comes halfway through the game. I have vivid memories of Jill seeing arrows "ting" off of her.

2 hours ago, Dcubed said:

Unlike your typical FE map, there are very few places where you can hole up and there are basically no choke points that you can take advantage of.  Meanwhile, you are hopelessly outnumbered in virtually every direction.  So my key strategy here was to form a line going vertically & laterally, using the few trees available for cover; while having my fliers jump in and out of enemy lines (thanks Canto!) to perform hit & run tactics, particularly in getting rid of the long-range magic users.  I hold the line with my bulkier characters while waiting for my foes to come towards me; while the frailer ones pelt them from behind the line with ranged attacks.

There aren’t really any other maps like it throughout the game, but even these so called “empty” maps offer unique challenges that precipitate unique strategies!

Honestly, that map is the sort where I feel like putting my units on a decent formation will carry the day. It might be because PoR allows units to get OP by the end (meaning a handful of powerful units can break enemy lines easily), but I feel like lategame maps should be forcing me to split my army, which that map doesn't do. The previous one where you must rescue Geoffrey at least forces you to move quickly.

I see where you're coming from though, I just think that Chapter 4 (Roadside Battle) accomplishes that better, with a head-on clash on a narrow road with barely any cover, and you're forced to deploy Rhys and Soren. Turtling in that chapter needs to be done carefully.

...

I'm curious to hear what you'll think of Shadows of Valentia's map design, by the way.

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Time to update my list. Also going to add stuff that I've played for a short amount of time (or in some cases quite a lot) but didn't complete, plus previously completed games that are still getting played. :)

Levelhead:

I initially dismissed this as a Super Mario Maker knock-off, but it's actually amazing and in some ways superior! :eek: While I've not spent much time with the editor, even after a quick look it's clear just how much more flexible and powerful it is compared to Mario Maker. There are options for creating all sorts of complex events, camera controls, even true secret areas (something I would've loved in SMM for hiding Baby Face MPface.gif) and items which reveal themselves based on player proximity or other customisable actions.

The included tutorial/story levels are also a blast to play and feature a huge variety of game mechanics, pretty much every level introduces a new concept or power-up, or even just creative and super challenging ways to use existing ones. The gameplay is incredibly fine-tuned too, it plays really, really well. I had loads of fun going through all of the included levels anyway and would definitely recommend it to anyone with even the slightest interest in the 2D platform genre.

 

Superhot: Mind Control Delete:

Not much to say about this one really, went into it completely blind (and never played the first game either) so wasn't aware of its unique movement system/gameplay, thought my controller wasn't working properly at first! :hehe: But yeah, very cool mechanics in this game with time only flowing while you move around yourself. :cool:

 

Sea of Thieves:

While this game doesn't really have an end on the PvP side of things, I finally reached the conclusion of the main PvE content in the form of the Tall Tales! Man, I just love Sea of Thieves! :love: And even though it's clearly designed around multiplayer I actually found it to be a fantastic single player experience. In a way it felt kind of similar to BotW whereby you're thrown into a giant adventure with little to no instruction whatsoever and free to explore the world however you like.

Don't think I've ever played a game that could be so relaxing (almost meditative) yet also so unbelievably stressful, but this is exactly what you get (and especially as a solo player) in SoT. One moment you're sailing the seas enjoying the beautiful scenery and sounds, the next you're under attack by a giant shark, or ghost ship, or worst of all a group of player controlled pirates! :hehe:

Yeah, this is probably the biggest complaint the game receives from most people that choose to play it solo, the fact that at any time you could potentially be attacked by other players. While there's no doubt it's a frustrating aspect, it's also one that I actually grew to enjoy. The penalty for losing an encounter can be severe, with large amounts of treasure or progress in a Tall Tale being lost, but this also teaches you to play the game smarter and become a better pirate! ;)

Definitely have to mention the presentation of the game, it's an absolute stunner! It merges a cartoony look with super realistic materials and lighting effects and the results are fantastic. The star of the show is definitely the water, which looks so good and moves so convincingly you'd swear it was real! :o Not only that, but the wave simulation of this gigantic sea is perfectly synchronised online for all players, making it a phenomenal technical achievement too.

Sound effects and music are spot-on as well, the music in particular (while kind of sparse) really has that Rare signature style to it, and it made the game feel very much like a Nintendo era Rare title to me, which is something I wasn't expecting but obviously really enjoyed. Have since learnt that Robin Beanland was composer on the project though, so that explains that one. And Gregg Mayles (who's been at Rare since forever) was director, so yeah, although Rare may have lost some key staff during the transition to Microsoft, several veterans remain and the teams are undoubtedly still able to produce games with that unique Rare vibe. Ok, I'll stop saying Rare now. :heh:

Anyway, superb game. And definitely one that I'll return to occasionally, as it just keeps on evolving. :cool:

 

Doom:

uxkmJHJ.jpg

I've played the first level of this game so many times over the years, but somehow never much more than that. With the majority of the Doom franchise suddenly available on Game Pass I decided to finally play through all of the this classic game. I have to say that I enjoyed it a lot more than Doom Eternal! Probably because I could actually keep up with what was going on in this. :grin: Imagine it was seen as crazy fast when played back in 1993 (like Eternal is now) but it's got just the right level of speed/action for me and my ageing reflexes today. :laughing:

 

Quick mention on Wreckfest, which I spent a substantial amount of time playing but didn't finish. Was a lot of fun initially, in fact I couldn't stop laughing when I first started it. The game rewards driving like a total idiot and causing as much chaos and destruction as possible, and the way the cars spectacularly crash and fall to bits over the course of a race is really impressive! The problem was that it suffers from what I like to call, Project X Zone-itis :p i.e. it's simply waaaaaaay too long for the amount of content included. So yeah, the career mode eventually became unbearably repetitive.  :zzz: Cool game though.


Completed:

  1.     Tetris Effect: Connected (PC)
  2.     Doom Eternal (PC)
  3.     Dragon Quest XI (PC)
  4.     The Medium (PC)
  5.     Yakuza 3 Remastered (PC)
  6.     UnderMine (PC)
  7.     Ring Fit Adventure (Switch)
  8.     Levelhead (PC)
  9.     Superhot: Mind Control Delete (PC)
  10.     Sea of Thieves (PC)
  11.     Doom (PC)

Played for a while:

  •     Cyber Shadow (PC)
  •     Control (PC)
  •     Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair (PC)
  •     Yakuza 4 Remastered (PC)
  •     Wreckfest (PC)

Older games that I'm still playing regularly:

  •     Mario Kart Tour (Mobile)
  •     Animal Crossing: New Horizons (Switch)
  •     Super Smash Bros. Ultimate (Switch)
  •     Rocket League (Switch/PC)
  •     Super Mario Maker 2 (Switch)
  •     Tetris 99 (Switch)
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38 minutes ago, RedShell said:

Sea of Thieves:

While this game doesn't really have an end on the PvP side of things, I finally reached the conclusion of the main PvE content in the form of the Tall Tales! Man, I just love Sea of Thieves! :love: And even though it's clearly designed around multiplayer I actually found it to be a fantastic single player experience. In a way it felt kind of similar to BotW whereby you're thrown into a giant adventure with little to no instruction whatsoever and free to explore the world however you like.

Don't think I've ever played a game that could be so relaxing (almost meditative) yet also so unbelievably stressful, but this is exactly what you get (and especially as a solo player) in SoT. One moment you're sailing the seas enjoying the beautiful scenery and sounds, the next you're under attack by a giant shark, or ghost ship, or worst of all a group of player controlled pirates! :hehe:

Yeah, this is probably the biggest complaint the game receives from most people that choose to play it solo, the fact that at any time you could potentially be attacked by other players. While there's no doubt it's a frustrating aspect, it's also one that I actually grew to enjoy. The penalty for losing an encounter can be severe, with large amounts of treasure or progress in a Tall Tale being lost, but this also teaches you to play the game smarter and become a better pirate! ;)

Definitely have to mention the presentation of the game, it's an absolute stunner! It merges a cartoony look with super realistic materials and lighting effects and the results are fantastic. The star of the show is definitely the water, which looks so good and moves so convincingly you'd swear it was real! :o Not only that, but the wave simulation of this gigantic sea is perfectly synchronised online for all players, making it a phenomenal technical achievement too.

Sound effects and music are spot-on as well, the music in particular (while kind of sparse) really has that Rare signature style to it, and it made the game feel very much like a Nintendo era Rare title to me, which is something I wasn't expecting but obviously really enjoyed. Have since learnt that Robin Beanland was composer on the project though, so that explains that one. And Gregg Mayles (who's been at Rare since forever) was director, so yeah, although Rare may have lost some key staff during the transition to Microsoft, several veterans remain and the teams are undoubtedly still able to produce games with that unique Rare vibe. Ok, I'll stop saying Rare now. :heh:

Anyway, superb game. And definitely one that I'll return to occasionally, as it just keeps on evolving. :cool:

Thanks for the great mini-review!
I really need to get around to playing this. Had it on my PC since it launched and just haven't put the time into it. 

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Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that I got a 7 day free trial for Nintendo Switch Online. This was to be able to play Smash Bros. online. I've been playing it to get a bit of practise in as I found myself up against some people who are way better than me at the game (not that that's saying much). Been having a great time so far and I feel like I've gotten a bit better at the game, though at the same time I think I tailed off someone as people started to be able to predict my strategies a bit more...

 

Still, managed to clear more Classic mode campaigns on Smash Bros. Ultimate so that's good.

 

While I was on SCVI earlier this week I also recorded this:

 

 

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2 hours ago, Nicktendo said:

Thanks for the great mini-review!
I really need to get around to playing this. Had it on my PC since it launched and just haven't put the time into it. 

From what I understand the game is massively different and improved compared to how it was at launch, and they keep on adding to it all the time. I only started playing it last year in August, and even in that time have seen loads of improvements and new content arrive. Definitely give it another go if you only ever played it at launch. :)

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It seems, as ever, that starting games I haven't is kinda for me but completing them is a very rare event. Literally not sure what game I've 'completed' recently that wasn't a replay. Having said that I still dip a few Overwatch matches most day; check in on my gem apple tree on Super Kirby Clash and dip a bit into Gems of War(freemium match 3 style, ala Puzzle Quest etc) on my Switch. Got a very rare/mythic card/troop this week by chance om that so it's made me end up playing that even more :p

 

HOWEVER. I mentioned completion of replays. Decided to crack old school All-Stars for SNES on Switch. Did some cheely warps for SMB3 to get to W8 and just complete it(been co-opping with a mate for a few months and we left it at World 6 last but I got itchy to play myself :p) and after that - and absolute classic I haven't played maybe since its GBA incarnation - and that was Super Mario Bros 2. No warps; try to play every level as it is. I'm decidedly quicker now than as a kid lol.

 

But man....what a game. I forgot how much it both techinically kinda wasn't/isn't Mario but then also how much it is. First things ofc are all the enemies now canon - but even stuff on its mechanics. Some bottom to top progressions or vice versa over just left to right. Being able to 'ride' on top of enemies and to pick them up. The choice of 4 characters with differing abilities(classic luigi jumps and toadstool floats too), the whole idea/system of vegetables/plants hidden in the ground. Then the potion and subspace twist - the finding of mushrooms through trial and error but also just the coded freedom of throwing a subspace potion/door almost pretty much ANYWHERE and even using it to dupe items etc. It's small in essence; but surprisingly free for weird experimentation. Add to that also the biggest and possibly weirdest of all Mario twists - finding a pipe you CANT enter in SMB2 is very rare. It flips the whole SMB1 paradigm on its head in that imo.

 

Srsly; ofc it was Doki Doki and got taken into the Mario series - it may actually be one of the best and most unique of the marios out there. Of all the things it did - how much stuff has ever really been re-utilsed gameplay-wise? Only ever really been lore/characters - but I'd be fascinated in seeing what a Doki Doki Panic 2 might have ever looked like - even if we'll never see it because of the Mario connection now.

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Slight bit of progress made in Ratchet & Clank 2016 where I went through Kalebo III. It looks like I'm getting towards the end of the game now as this next act looks like its going to be the end.

 

Spoiler

Though Doctor Neferious turning Drek into a Sheep was kind of an unceremonious way to get rid of him. Oh well, the original Drek was WAY better. That being said, I'm not quite sure about organic Neferious, robotic Neferious with Lawrence is amazing!

I also came across this unfortunate quip...

 

 

Most of my gaming this week has however been done doing the Soulcalibur VI DLC storylines. I have finished Hilde's and Setsuka's storylines and they were decent enough, the latter also spiralled into a side-story for Mitsurugi's campaign who got extra missions to do:

 

 

I must admit I did feel like Setsuka's storyline was awkwardly localised though I can understand given that she as a character is half Japanese so it probably flows a lot better in the original Japanese script rather than having some of these really long phrases awkwardly inserted into the English script.

 

I'm at last tackling the DLC Spirits in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate as well as trying to clear Classic Mode with every character.

 

 

Finally I'm still at the grind on Magic Arena because I guess I have at least one Live Service game that I want to play. I'm mainly doing it for Youtube content now although I'm only releasing one video a week. Here is the latest video, a CatDog deck.

 

 

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Completed Shovel Knight last night, becoming the first game in a while I’ve actually seen to the end. Maybe it was just the old school simplicity, or the charm, but I really enjoyed it. I thought the final boss in particular was clever, in the way it kinda turns the tendency to shovel bounce all the time against you. Some really tough sections, and I rage quit once after accidentally breaking two lamps in a row. 
 

I’d tried Kentucky Route Zero, which was dumb of me because I rarely take to interactive stories. Got bored watching a section that was just a theatre piece and gave up. May go back to it but I’m in no rush.

The one I was really disappointed in was Persona 5. I had been sick of JRPGs for a while, but my understanding was that this was different. And I get why - unique setting, deep characterisation, style - but it solved none of the problems I had. Nothing particularly innovative about the battles, endless clicking through dialogues, seemingly endless waiting until you get to do something. And I hate the music. 
 

Hopefully Monster Hunter arrives today 

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Went back to Castlevania Anniversary Collection with the intention to try and finish Castlevania, thought it would be good to do before starting Symphony of the Night.

 

Castlevania however is an NES game and I've now hit the part where it gets really hard. I'm on the level with the boss battle agaisnt Death. Death is proving to be extremely tricky right now to defeat... will try again at some point though!

 

 

 

Also made progress with doing more Classic Mode campaigns in Smash Bros. Ultimate. In the process, I downloaded a few stages while I have Nintendo Switch Online (it has now run out as I was only on free trial)

 

 

Finally, can post the last episode of the Soulcalibur VI Custom Character Tournament as I was technically "playing" the game. Got some Indie Game characters featuring this time around, half the roster is Indie!

 

 

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On 21/02/2021 at 2:32 AM, Jonnas said:

I was planning on doing some games from Capcom Arcade Museum for March, but considering how that release actually turned out to be, I'll need to find another theme...

Indeed, for March, my monthly selection of games (which I'll call a "picnic", considering March's batch) ended up kind of falling into my lap. I somehow won a A Short Hike code on the N-Europe Café podcast (thank you once again @Londragon, @Nicktendo, @nekunando), and I decided to play it alongside some other games that fit the theme. That theme was something like "short relaxing games", which felt loose, until Brandon Jones of EZA dropped some new terminology on me a few days ago: Mindful Games.

So all pieces fell just right, a Mindful March was the right choice. Considering the slow-paced nature of such games, I decided to forgo the time limit at least this once, since the point is to relax, after all. If I was doing them as quickly as possible, I probably could've done them in a week, but it took me two instead.

A Short Hike

ss_a22817e259c4220cad0c25db315f417b6d364

Paradoxically, fishing is neither short, nor a hike

An indie game from 2019, mostly made by one Adam Robinson-Yu (and a handful of artists and composers). I'm pretty sure this game has a appeared in a couple of Directs before, and is the title I won on the N-E Café.

(I was supposed to get it on the Switch, but the eShop somehow does not allow gift purchases. I thought this was Nintendo being backwards about something again, but then I learned the PS Store doesn't allow it either. What is the deal with this? Do PC digital stores own the copyright to the concept? Get your shit together, console giants. Anyway, I got the Steam code instead)

I first expected this to be a slow game about walking, but it actually resembles a 3D Platformer. Scratch that, it really is a 3D Platformer. You're on an island with a rocky mountain, and you can explore it at your leisure. There are NPCs to talk to, sidequests to do, objects and secrets to find, a few minigames... There's a lot of content in a seemingly small package.

You play as Claire, an anthropomorphic bird who's vacationing in this island with her aunt (a park ranger). Claire decides to hike to the top of the mountain to get some phone signal, and that's all it takes to kickstart the exploration trip around the island. The dialogue in this game is short, lighthearted, and pretty quirky, in a somewhat intentionally silly kind of way. As has been happening lately, my game defaulted to Brazillian Portuguese, but I decided to keep it this time around, because the translation seemed pretty well done to me.

For available moves, there's jumping (as well as mid-air jumping), climbing, gliding (also known as falling with style), and some moves depending on whichever item you have, like digging or fishing. All of these moves feel really smooth, and it's very pleasant to just explore everything. The gliding mechanic in particular is delightful, and there's something magical about simply descending the island while gliding slowly down. You can also dive bomb to gain some speed, if it suits your fancy. The game-feel is pure joy.

Some of the collectibles are fetch quests, and others are specific items, but the one collectible you want to be on the lookout for are Golden Feathers. Each one gives you more stamina, so that you may climb higher, or mid-air jump more times. You definitely need a set number to reach the peak, but nothing's stopping you from finding them all. I know I wanted to get all 20.

As you can tell, the graphics are DS reminiscent, with its blocky models and simplistic style. It's not my favourite 3D art style, but when coupled with the cel-shading, it works really well with the colourful, cartoony ambiance this game's going for. Plus, I think the animations are smoother than what the DS used to have, which helped me ease into it. The music is lovely as well, with pleasant tunes and ambient sounds accompanying your journey.

The game's quite short if you race to the top (about one hour) and not that much longer if you try to find everything (that's around 2 more hours), but this game isn't about reaching the top, it's about the sidetracking and enjoying the journey. Highly recommended.

ABZÛ

Abzu_jogabilidade.png

What an abzûrd title

Diving into ABZÛ, I knew this 2016 game was going to be different, and I knew it was made by staff that also worked on Journey (Giant Squid Games, made up of former thatgamecompany employees). I bought it cheap on the eShop a while back, and this was an opportunity to check how I feel about this type of game.

First of all, I should say ABZÛ is about a swimmer/diver exploring the sea, interacting with maritime lifeforms, and having a chill time. There's a plot and a progression, but it's all wordless, and open to interpretation. The meat of the game is the aesthetic, the environment, the flow of it all.

...Can't say I liked it, though. For starters, the diving controls are weird and unintuitive, the camera gives me a smidge of vertigo, and movement is a tad too slow for me. Secondly, this type of game seems to be designed with the idea that aesthetic and backgrounds are the main event, and I don't think that's enough to carry it for me. It's a swimming simulator with not much to do.

It's weird, because I actually really like sealife. It was fun to see representation of real animals, both the famous and unknown (it's one thing to see sharks and orcas, but manatees were a surprise), the living and the extinct (there are coelacanth and plesiosaurs!), but that's really all it had, and the potential interaction with them is very limited.

There are collectibles over the course of this 2 hour game (glowing shells) and though they're well hidden, the game isn't fun enough to motivate me to search for them. Also, this is yet another game set to Portuguese by default, and I couldn't change it. I didn't mind it too much this time around (the animal names were in my language, and I appreciated it), I'm more bothered by the fact that, in a game with so little text to begin with, they still somehow left some parts in English (what is it with bad translations as of late?).

On the positive side, I think I can now say with some certainty that I don't think I'd enjoy the likes of Flower or Journey. I can see how others would, but I don't think they're for me.

Silence

1479207043silence1.jpg

Besides the main character, there's another 3D element in this screenshot. How obvious is it?

For a more unconventional choice of a "mindful game", I checked what sort of short unplayed games I had on the Switch, and to my surprise, Silence was supposed to be shorter than I anticipated. This 2016 game, made by Daedalic, is actually a sequel to another game of theirs, The Whispered World (in fact, when they first announced it, it was tentatively called Silence - Whispered World 2). I remember being very surprised, as TWW ended pretty decisively. Furthermore, that game had a very 2D Disney-esque look to it, and this one looked rounder, grittier, and a lot more 3D. But since it was made by the same people, I trusted the bold new direction and eventually got it on the Switch.

So what is it about? Daedalic specializes in traditional Point&Click games, and that's exactly what TWW was. It told the story of Sadwick, a cynical clown boy in a colourful fairytale world, going on a journey to save it. Silence goes on a different direction, with two siblings - Noah and Renie - from the real world (or a real-ish world, at least) being magically transported into Silence - the same world from the first game, now with a name - and trying to find a way home.

While the plot of this game can be easily enjoyed on its own (returning elements and characters don't really need any introduction beyond what this game tells us), it starts by spoiling the entire ending segment of Whispered World (as a story that Noah tells Renie), which is a bummer. I personally recommend playing TWW first, not because you need it to enjoy Silence, but because that game is best enjoyed blind.

With that out of the way, Silence is a Point&Click game as well, hence why I consider it "Mindful", the genre is always a chill experience. There's a drastic change in that there's no longer an inventory (or rather, there is, but there's no point in opening it), because you're not expected to carry more than one item at once. Despite this, the game is very intuitive, and the way you interact with the environments still leaves room for various puzzles, plenty of which aren't immediately obvious, and that's kind of impressive. Plus, the way this genre was translated into console controls is also way more intuitive than I thought, as even the UI is expressive enough to tell you what clicking on an object will do (though for whatever reason, you can't use the Joy-Cons as a pointer, which I thought would be a no-brainer? Maybe they designed this UI with the other consoles in mind)

I figure the reason for the inventory change has to do with the art style, which I must say, looks excellent. I had my doubts at first, but the 2D backgrounds and 3D models blend in perfectly. Furthermore, you can tell the developers can now do a lot more animation work with the main characters, because they almost never put items in their pouch, they carry things around and interact with other elements this way. Noah and Renie may actually have different walk cycles depending on which item they're carrying (whether it's a bucket or a bunch of apples). It adds a lot of character, especially Renie's haughty walk cycle, and speaking of that, the models have super expressive faces as well.

Like I said, you play as either Noah and Renie depending on the story beat, but there's a 3rd character: their pet Spot. Spot is a shapeshifting caterpillar that was Sadwick's pet in the previous game, and now he's back (thankfully, as Spot was one of the best parts of the previous game as well). As in the previous game, he can shapeshift into various forms depending on environmental interactions, and essentially functions as a swiss army knife. Or the inventory that this game otherwise does not have. His presence can make puzzles trickier than they initially seemed, which is a good thing for me. Plus, he's even cuter here than he was in the previous game (the top row shows the "before" and "after"). Maybe you can't tell from still shots, but he's much more expressive now too.

The game is only about 5-6 hours, which is shorter than Daedalic's usual offerings. I figure this is in part because puzzles are easier to figure out this time around (the lack of a large inventory with useless junk on it does streamline thought processes), and the more detailed animations likely mean a reduction of elements to interact with as well (there are segments here that feel like they were cut shorter than they were originally meant to be). What we do have here looks and sounds pretty good, but it does feel more like a cinematic experience than a world to explore (and to their credit, there are no QTEs in sight, relying on more creative minigames to keep cutscenes engaging)

This game booted up in Portuguese (again!), but I quickly changed it to German voices and English text. This has been how I've been playing Daedalic games, but it may have been a mistake this time around, because the game feels like it was written primarily in English. Plus, the dialogue was cut really weirdly, with characters speaking before the other one was done talking. Makes me think that the elaborate cutscenes were paced with English voice acting in mind.

As for the plot... it's actually really engaging. It's easy to like our main characters, and even some of the minor ones (like Sam, the big gruff adventurer with a surprising amount of scientific knowledge in his brain). There are dialogue options, but they don't amount to any significant change, since the plot's pretty linear (some moments might weigh or hit differently depending on specific choices you made, but the journey provides the same beats). The main exception is one tough choice that defines which ending you get (you'll know when you see it), and both of them are quite emotional. I'd say it was a journey worth experiencing.

So yeah, it's coincidental that @Vileplume2000 said not long ago that you don't see many Point&Clicks these days, but I already had this one lined up on the Switch to be played soon. I do recommend checking Daedalic's games if you're looking to get reacquainted with the genre (maybe even this one, despite me recommending The Whispered World first), because they always get creative with it, whether it be with puzzles, writing, or just the aesthetic.

  My 2021 log (Hide contents)

Played/Beat/Completed:

-Fire Emblem: Three Houses (2019) Beat (January 9th)

-Fatal Fury Special (1993) No Goal (January 17th)

-Art of Fighting 2 (1994) No Goal (January 19th)

-Samurai Shodown II (1994) No Goal (January 20th)

-The Last Blade (1997) No Goal (January 22nd)

-Real Bout Fatal Fury 2 - The Newcomers (1998) No Goal (January 22nd)

-King of Fighters 2000 (2000) No Goal (January 23rd)

-King of Fighters 2002 (2002) No Goal (January 23rd)

-Samurai Shodown V Special (2004) No Goal (January 23rd)

-Harmo Knight (2012) Beat (January 25th)

-Furi (2016) Completed (January 31st)

-Life is Strange (Episode 1) (2015) Beat (February 13th)

-The Stanley Parable (2013) Completed (February 14th)

-1979 Revolution: Black Friday (2016) Beat (February 17th)

-Azure Striker Gunvolt (2014) Beat (March 6th)

-Hitman: Blood Money (2006) Completed (March 10th)

-A Short Hike (2019) Completed (March 16th)

-ABZÛ (2016) Beat (March 20th)

-Silence (2016) Completed (March 27th)

 

Dropped:

-Perfect Angle (2015) (January 20th)

And that's the March picnic out of the way. April may get weird, though...

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I kicked off March by finishing up Super Mario 3D World. I had played it and completed it on Wii U but only as far as beating Bowser - I don't think I did very much of the post game content at all so I was keen to finally conquer Champion's Road this time. Just getting there took a while, I didn't know that you had to get all the green stars, stamps and yellow flags so there was a lot of back tracking to levels I'd already completed to tidy things up. On the main game I don't have much to say really, it's mostly fantastic but the physics are a bit floaty at times, it feels as if you have less control over movement in the air than in other 3D entries, but yeah for the most part it is still a joy to play through. Champion's Road was a real slog at times though, I must have spent as much time on that one level as I did on the rest of the game - I managed to grind my way through the first few sections but kept messing up on the final speed boost part, it was only through dumb luck that I finally did it (that journey through the 'Thank You' pipes was such a relief). It was definitely the toughest challenge I've faced in a Mario game but I'm not sure it's worth all the hoops you have to jump through to get to it, though I am really glad I did it.

With that out of the way it was time to tackled Bowser's Fury. It looks gorgeous and its a good evolution of the 3D World mechanics but I felt it was too open most of the time - it was a little overwhelming, feels like Mario needs a bit of focus and direction. The Fury moments are imposing at first but eventually they become more of an irritation, just a rocky few minutes to wait out before you can continue exploring the islands at your own pace. It's an interesting experiment, I wouldn't be opposed to Mario going in this more open direction in the future but it would certainly benefit from a less gimmicky premise. 

I bought Gone Home a while ago in an eShop sale and got around to playing it one evening a few weeks back. I am a big fan of 'walking simulator' type experiences so I knew I was going to enjoy it but the storytelling in this is so masterfully done, it was so engaging exploring this quirky & unfamiliar house, with the inclusion of riot grrrl themed cassette tapes and notes laying around really helping to anchor us in the early 90's setting. I'm not sure if it has toppled What Remains of Edith Finch as my favourite in the genre just yet, but it definitely left a big impression on me.

After a few months of following stock trackers I finally nabbed a PS5 and my first port of call was to play Astro's Playroom and try out all the features of the dualsense controller. I've never had a VR so wasn't that familiar with the character but he seems charming enough, it was fun to explore the different levels and mess around with all the different gimmicks but it wasn't as revelatory as I had been lead to believe. The only moment that really impressed me was in one of the later areas when Astro picks up a gun item, the adaptive triggers genuinely come into their own in that section, you feel every bullet as it leaves the barrel - I can imagine it being super impactful in a stealth game. It was a fun distraction at least, it's a pretty cool thing to have built in to a new system. 

I picked up Astral Chain the day it came out but only just got around to playing it. Given I hadn't played any other Platinum action games I wanted to play through at least the Bayonetta titles first and with them out of the way it was time to give this a whirl. It was really overwhelming at first, I was convinced that I would never be able to juggle a legion in all out combat but I was really impressed by the world, it was such a joy to explore the environments that I spent most of my time in the beginning just strolling around the various locales. Combat clicked eventually, the training room at HQ definitely helped me to understand the nuances of the system and I was soon thrashing chimeras like it was nothing - in fact it felt altogether easier than the other Platinum games, it was only the final few bosses that gave me much trouble. Before I started it, the length seemed daunting to me but it never felt like it dragged too much, even if it is longer than the two Bayonetta games combined. The biggest complaint has to be with the story and characters, it is all so rote and predictable, just anime nonsense most of the time - the length of the missions certainly feels bloated by cutscenes and dialogue but it was entertaining enough that it didn't detract too much from my enjoyment. Overall a really solid action title, solidifying Platinum's reputation - I'll have to pick up Metal Gear Rising next.

Instead of cracking on with brand new PS5 games, most of my time with the new console so far has been taken up by playing Resident Evil 3 Remake. I bought it a couple of months ago but wanted to wait until I'd got the PS5 to play it, given the bump in resolution. At first it was quite a frustrating experience, Nemesis seemed like too much of an inconvenience in the first couple of encounters, Jill was too slow to run away from him so I ended up getting quite annoyed with how OP he was. Fortunately he isn't tracking you constantly like Mr X was in RE2 so once I made it to the sewers I started to enjoy the experience a bit more. It's definitely a shorter game than RE2 but it feels like an improvement because of it, RE2 repeated too much content between the different scenarios which is not a problem that RE3 suffers from due to it being a one and done style experience but RE2 felt more intense and scary, there wasn't often that I felt in jeopardy during my six hours or so of playtime. I can certainly see why some people felt short changed but I was happy enough with the amount of content on offer.

Finally I played through Sam Barlow's latest title Telling Lies on Switch. I played Her Story a few years back and I could see why it was praised but it never really clicked with me but I felt much more engaged with the structure of Telling Lies. It is such an interesting narrative device, searching for keywords and scanning through limited results and listening out for more intriguing words and phrases really makes you feel like you're falling down a rabbit hole of information. Often times I would come to a dead end and find no relevant clips when another idea would spark and I would happen upon a rich vein of new info. I think it helped that we were ostensibly playing as one of the concerned parties, it added another layer of mystery that kept the search intriguing. On the whole the performances were great too, though I was disappointed that the route I took seemed a little light on Kerry Bishé - I'm a big fan of her work on Halt and Catch Fire so her being cast in this was one of the main draws for me, but overall it was a satisfying few hours.

Currently dipping my toes into the world of Monster Hunter for the first time with Rise on Switch, it was certainly overwhelming to start off with but I think I'm getting the hang of things now - I can see why people find it so addictive...

 

Edited by killthenet
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2018: Gets Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

2018: Winds up playing Simon and Richter

2018: Is impressed by the sheer range of Castlevania music in the game

2019: Becomes interested in wanting to play Castlevania games with a desire to get Symphony of the Night

2020: Still hasn't got Symphony of the Night

2020: Plays the Castlevania Anniversary Collection

2021: FINALLY buys Symphony of the Night but doesn't start it as I'm still playing Dark Souls

2021: Finish Dark Souls, Ratchet & Clank 2016 and finally beat the original Castlevania

 

So yeah, the original Castlevania is finally over. I ended up using a lot of save states after every hit to help me beat Dracula but I think that makes it the first NES game I've actually beaten! I'm not even joking about that.

 

I wasted no time jumping on the PS3 to finally get into an all time classic that has eluded me for over 20 years of gaming. I can't believe I haven't played any Castelvania games until the last few months...

 

...especially considering Symphony of the Night is amazing. Really enjoying it so far. I've got as far as being able to open blue doors and I eventually found myself in the Underground Caverns, taking on what turned out to be optional bosses. Something I am surprised about however is how comparitively fewer upgrades Alucard has compared to Samus in Metroid games. As a counterpoint to that however I forgot to take into account this game is actually more of an action RPG. I will now compare Dark Souls more to Castlevania than Metroid in terms of map design inspiration especially given that both SOTN and Dark Souls have level up systems and currency along with merchants. SOTN definitely showing its the older game as its more traditional with its approach.

 

I should probably mention that I went Underground because I hit a dead end in the Royal area... or so I thought. I didn't realise that some of the sprites there were actually platforms I could climb on. Makes sense then because I thought the powerups I needed to progress were in Underground Caverns but I was relatively surprised to find out that SOTN has entire areas of the game that have no purpose other than to flesh out the castle and have optional upgrades and bosses. Wow!

 

Also how has most of this soundtrack gone unheard by myself? Thought I would have heard more than this by now but until I played the game Dracula's Castle and Master Librarian were the only tunes I was familiar. Now, Festival of Servants, Marble Gallery and Crystal Teardrops are also among my favourite tunes.

 

I've taken a bit of a break from the game due to Youtube but will dive back in at some point...

 

 

... One of the reasons I've been taking a break is that this Youtube video took a really long time and its because of the song I put at the beginning of this video....

 

 

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Posted (edited)

Time for a mini (not mini) update from me. 

I've played through and beaten a couple of games in the past couple of days:

Streets of Rage 4 (again)

In celebration of buying myself an Xbox Series S and subbing to the evils of Game Pass, I decided to test out SoR4 on the new hardware. The shocking thing was that it is basically identical to the Switch version! No noticeable improvements in visuals or performance. I beat the game on Normal difficulty as Axel, taking a whopping 2 hours 40 mins to do it, and dying on numerous occasions, damn I'm rusty. I played through the entire game as Blaze on easy in about an hour this morning and managed a couple of solid S ranks, so I'm getting my groove back. The game is still superb, and arguably the best release of 2020. I could play this for hours. The added bonus of achievements has sunk its hooks into me, and I'm tempted to 1000G it. I'm already on 300+ in a couple of days, but beating the game with every character and *shudder* arcade mode is quite daunting. Sans what looks like HDR (could just be my TV emulating it), the game is identical to the Switch version, which is mighty impressive for Nintendo's little handheld. 

Tetris Effect 

Boy, was I not ready for this! A truly mesmerising experience. It's classic Tetris but the music and the visuals are on another level. I could only describe this as a psychedelic experience. I beat the Journey mode and had an absolute blast. I love Tetris 99 and Puyo Puyo Tetris, but this is truly something different. Amazing what simply adjusting the visuals can do completely change the atmosphere of a game. I thoroughly enjoyed the single player campaign and have a couple of levels to get an A rank in before I move on to the harder difficulty. I haven't ventured online yet, but it seems like the game has a decent amount of content. I've flicked it on for 10-15 mins since starting it, it's very addictive even though it's the same core game I played back in 1992. Superb.

----

Some other bits and bobs - I'm up to Click Clock Wood on Banjo-Kazooie. It's been 15 or so odd years since I played this and my memory has well and truly failed me. I've died countless times, which is annoying. I've got 4 notes to find in the haunted mansion and have no idea where they are. I've missed a honeycomb piece in Clanker's Cavern, Bubblegloop Swamp, Gobi Desert and said Mansion. I'm missing a Jinjo in Rusty Bucket Bay, can't find him for the life of me... I beat this game in 6hrs 3min in 1999 or somewhere in that ballpark. Remember it like it was yesterday, and I'm already up to 7 hours this time round. The game is just a masterpiece though. I've had a constant smile on my face. I think it's up there for the best OST in gaming history. It's a joy playing it free of the N64 hardware and with a smooth framerate. I've also booted up Perfect Dark and have reached Chicago. Again, it's just pure joy. I'm so glad this game got a HD remaster, it looks and run sublimely. I'm playing through on Secret Agent against my better judgement. Why? Because I beat the game 100 times on agent and I have no idea what to do for the majority of these extra objectives. I've failed Chicago a couple of times because I keep "raising the alarm" and can't figure out how to do the objectives without doing it. Gonna jump into the multiplayer mode with bots soon and go for those extra gamerscore points. 

Disappointingly, Halo: Master Chief Collection is only 1080p on Series S, and my PC runs it in 4K. On top of that, there's a mandatory 100gb install, whereas on PC, you can install the single player and multiplayer of each game individually, so it looks like I'll be sticking to the Steam version, really was not expecting that as even Series S is quite a step up from my PC. I downloaded Microsoft Flight Simulator on Game Pass for PC but it crashes every time I start a flight :cry:Desperate to play this, but it's not complying. I've started Conker's Bad Fur Day, but will leave it til Banjo is done. I've dabbled in a little bit of Forza Horizon 4 and it seems to be packed with content. Hard to say after only an hour of game time, but I've got a Subaru Impreza and am able to powerslide to my heart's content. The handling in this game is absolutely top-tier. It also looks incredible. Look forward to bombing round the English countryside, time permitting. I played a bit of Skate 3 and remembered fondly back to when EA were a half decent company (Burnout Paradise was episode 1 of the redemption arc). Loved the original, never played the other 2. I can already see I'm gonna love this game. Historians of N-E will also be repulsed by the fact I've downloaded Star Wars - Jedi: Fallen Order and Star Wars: Squadrons, but I need to put my new hardware though its paces and these both seem like well-received games. 

Plans to play Madden '21, Outriders and Sea of Thieves with my buddy back in the U.K. over the next couple of days. Honestly loving my Series S. Game Pass is just just astonishing value. I have 81 games downloaded, will probably not even touch half of them, but I can't argue against the choice I have at my fingertips. I've bought a 12-month sub to Ultimate on hotukdeals for £102. The price of a couple of Nintendo first party releases. Yes, I'm aware I don't own anything, but I'm still having a lot of fun! Not downloaded Monster Hunter Rise on day 1, but I do have World ready to go on my Series S, so it looks like I'll have a proper go at that first, free of 900p and 30fps on the PC. 

Edited by Nicktendo
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So I've got another two games done and under my belt now...

Super Mario 3D World (Switch version)

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Before talking about my thoughts on the game itself, I want to address the changes made to the Switch version in particular...

The first, and most obvious one, is the replacement of Gamepad features with the onscreen pointer motion controls.  Personally? I think that the pointer is a perfectly fine substitute for the touchscreen really, but the way that the pointer has been implemented here isn't as seamless as it is in Captain Toad (co-incidentally, also ported to Switch by NST).  Having to press a button to make the cursor appear feels a bit clunky; especially when it doesn't autocentre the cursor when making it first appear (you kind of just have to guess where on screen it's gonna appear).  I think it would've been much better if they just had the cursor onscreen at all times, ALA Captain Toad Switch.  But it's not game breaking or anything, just a bit clunkier than it needed to be.

The loss of the microphone however, has not been compensated for in any meaningful way.  As such, the microphone controlled platforms are just exorcised from the game entierly; replaced by standard, boring lift platforms.  Bit of a shame really, takes away from the uniqueness of some of the game's stages.

The loss of Miiverse is also a real shame, as I really enjoyed seeing everyone's stupid messages scattered throughout the world map.  Some sections of the map just feel a bit pointless & empty now as a result.  Thankfully they've managed to find a decent use for the original game's collectable stamps with the new Photo Mode (It's basically the same as the one in Mario Odyssey; but with a couple of extra filters added and the ability to place stamps within the scene for stupid photos); a nice compromise to an unavoidable issue.  Hopefully they do something similar with Twilight Princess HD when it inevitably gets ported to the Switch.

And of course... the big one.  For some very strange reason, NST/EPD Tokyo felt the need to increase the running speed of every character by around 30% or so.  This has some pretty big ramifications on the core gameplay; which I have semi-jokingly referred to as 200cc mode.  Outside of a couple of particular things (most notably, the Rabbits that you can chase), the stages & enemies haven't been altered in any way to compensate for this new increased speed; quite literally making it the SM3DW equivilent to MK8's 200cc mode!  Toad now absolutely blitzes through stages like he's in a Sonic game; and because of this? Each character is now much harder to control at high speeds; braking literally becomes crucial here as you now actually have to let go of the run button to not go flying off everywhere! (Letting go of the run button? In a Mario game!?!? Unthinkable!!).

The increased running speed also has other ramifications... as all new sequence breaks are now made possible thanks to each character now being able to jump further than ever before!

... while certain parts of the game have now been rendered largely trivial... The Great Goal Pole? Finished it in less than 7 seconds as Toad now literally outruns the goal poal!

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200cc Toad laughs at Wii U Peach's pathetic attempt to catch the Goal Pole

Another controversial change is the new rules behind Green Star collection; which NST/EPD Tokyo decided to change in the Switch version for goodnessknows what reason.  In the original Wii U version? You had to survive to the end of the level (or reach the next checkpoint) for a Green Star/Stamp to be counted as "collected", where deaths would reset which Green Stars/Stamp you have.  In the Switch version however, Green Stars/Stamps now stay collected as soon as you touch them; even if you die.  This ends up trivialising MANY of the Green Stars/Stamps throughout the game as a result; as you can now happily suicide jump to get any of the Green Stars/Stamps that float over a pit/lava/poison/whatever...

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Who needs friends? Or Propeller Boxes?

While I appreciate the boost in speed; and actually enjoy being able to sequence break parts of the levels in ways that were never originally intended.  I do feel really split about this decision because there's no option to play the game as it was originally designed.  I think it would've been much better if they had made 200cc an unlockable feature for beating Champion's Road.  That would've been an amazing unlockable, and it would've meant that you could still play the game as it was originally intended.

As things currently stand? It's kind of a bastardised rendition of the original game.  That's both a good thing and a bad thing, but it's a real shame that the original game design is doomed to be forgotten and left in the dust of history; as the Switch version inevitably replaces the original Wii U version in the minds of the general populace.

That being said though? Online multiplayer is an excellent addition, and it works shockingly well in my experience! It's certainly not gonna replace the couch experience, but it's surprisingly playable.

As for the game itself as a whole? It's a real good time, with some incredibly creative level design and gameplay concepts.  The Cat Suit is a brilliant addition that literally adds an extra dimension to each level and each level is bursting with new ideas & concepts, delivered at a blistering cadence that even puts Super Mario Galaxy to shame by comparison.  There are some significant problems with the game though, that are perhaps made even more obvious when looking at it in comparison with its direct predecessor, Super Mario 3D Land.

Quite frankly, this game's camera perspective is a problem... a BIG problem.  It features the same kind of orthographic projection as in the 3DS title, but without stereoscopic 3D support? This game becomes a depth perspective nightmare! I can't even tell you the amount of times where I literally had absolutely no bloody idea where my character was in 3D space! SO many deaths that came from not knowing where I was in relation to objects/ground! It actually does become pretty infuriating after a while (and this is even worse in stages that are filled with pits where you can't see your shadow).  It feels like I've had one eye poked out of me while playing this game, and it never really gets any easier; even right at the end.  Hell, I'm just gonna refer you back to that last screenshot I just posted; where the hell is the Green Star in relation to Mario? Is it in front of him? Is it behind him? Who the fuck knows!?

Another problem is that the game doesn't really put up much of a fight until the post-game.  It's fun all throughout, but it doesn't put up much a fight until right near the end of all things.  While the Green Stars & Stamps did provide some additional challenge? That of course, has been significantly nerfed in the Switch version.

Thankfully the post-game puts up a healthy challenge... and that's mostly intact in the Switch version.  If anything? Champion's Road is harder than ever before, as 200cc only serves to make your character harder to control and doesn't actually help in any way throughout this hell gauntlet...

Naturally I did it again with 200cc Toad & no items, of course :cool:

So yeah.  Super Mario 3D World is still great.  Killer level design, killer soundtrack, killer everything; but good lord does the camera make things incredibly frustrating! It's not the best 3D Mario, but it's a great time!

 

So after playing a great game? I felt it was time to take on a shit game to wash the good taste of Mario out of my mouth...

 

Perfect Dark Zero

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Fuck this utter fucking shitheap and everything it represents!

Shit gameplay, shit music, shit visuals, shit characters, shit everything! It's a truly rare combination from Rare.  Yeah, this is definitely the moment where it became crystal clear that the Rare we used to know and love was gone forever.

Now I have actually played this game before, but never to completion.  So I have Xbox Gamepass, I figured... ahh go on.  It can't be AS bad as you remember, surely? Oh I was right alright... it was even worse!

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Hey look! It's Discount Masterchief in Discount Halo

This is NOT a Perfect Dark game, make no mistake.  This is Halo mixed in with every single early 2000s wannabe Halo/COD clone.  Gone is the intricate level design of the original game, the remarkable array of weapons & satisfying gun play, the huge variety of mission objectives & ways you can interact wiith the world, the legendary soundtrack, the tightly designed pacing & thoughtful puzzle-like gameplay in favour of completely braindead Flavour Of The Month early 2000s FPS shlock and perhaps the absolute worst level design I have ever seen in a FPS game.  It is outright OFFENSIVE in how poorly designed it is, especially when following up from the greatest FPS ever made! I shit you not, about 70-80% of my total playtime was spent running around in circles with absolutely no fucking clue where to go or what I was supposed to be doing.  It's all of the worst elements of Halo shoved into what is trying to be a linear corridor shooter; and the resulting mess is a complete fucksquaddle!  The level design is SO fucking bad, that even the game itself acknowledges this, by having arrows appear across the ground after you've spent too long running around in circles like a lost cat that point your dumbarse in the direction that the game wants you to go...

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An outright failure in level design, where the level designers actually gave up partway through.  I like to call them the Ahh Fuck It Arrows

 

The story is, I have no fucking clue.

The music is a total joke.  Obnoxious sandpaper for your ear holes.  About the only good thing I can say about the sound is that it nicks a few sound effects from the N64 game.  At least they reminded me of a better game.

Even something as fucking basic as shooting your weapon feels wrong in this trashfire.  The gunplay feels fucking awful! Joanna feels like a broken robot in desperate need of WD40 that can't move her arms properly; and enemies turn into string & paper as soon as they die (Oh, they take a billion hits to kill too; even if you get them with headshots.  Perhaps they're all made of Nintendium?).

And WHAT DID THEY DO TO JOANNA!? WHY IS SHE AN ANGSTY AMERICAN TEEN!? WHO THE FUCK APPROVED OF THIS SHIT!?!?

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JINO - Not my Joanna

Fuck this game.  Fuck what Microsoft did to Rare.  Fuck what Rare became! I hate this game.  It's absolutely the worst game in Rare's history (save for perhaps their licensed LJN games, but those don't really count).  I played this chucklefuck to the end this time and don't regret doing so; but oh man... I haven't been this angry at a game in a long time; as it opens some real old wounds!  There is a VERY good reason why modern Rare isn't being let anywhere near their old franchises anymore; and thank God they're not trying to chase their old glory anymore.

 

And with that?

Spoiler

New Super Mario Bros 2

The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening DX (MSU-1 Switch Remake Music Edition)

Pilotwings 64

Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon & The Blade of Light

Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance

Super Mario 3D World (Switch Version)

Perfect Dark Zero

 
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