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Your 2021 Gaming Diary

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9 hours ago, Jonnas said:

Sonic 4: Episode I

250px-Sonic_4_Logo.png

God, I hate this stupid face

 

 

Sonic 4: Episode II

Sonic_the_Hedgehog_4_Episode_2_capa.png

The face somehow got worse!

 

  My 2021 log (Reveal hidden 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)

-Huniepop 2: Double Date (2021) Completed (April 13th)

-Horned Knight (2021) Completed (April 14th)

-Inspector Zé e Robot Palhaço em: Crime no Hotel Lisboa (2013) Completed (April 18th)

-Munin (2014) Completed (April 25th)

-As Aventuras Interactivas de Dog Mendonça e Pizzaboy (2016) Completed (April 27th)

-Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light (1990) Completed (May 8th)

-Castlevania II Belmont's Revenge (1991) Completed (May 20th)

-Beautiful Desolation (2020) Beat (May 30th)

-Kid Dracula (1990) Completed (June 5th)

-Castlevania Bloodlines (1993) Beat (June 5th)

-Dr.Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine (1993) Completed (June 6th)

-Ristar (1995) Beat (June 13th)

-Nights into Dreams (1996) Beat (June 20th)

 

Dropped:

-Perfect Angle (2015) (January 20th)

-Codename S.T.E.A.M. (2015) (May 16th)

-Castlevania - The Adventure (1989) (May 19th)

-Sonic 4: Episode I (2010) (June 7th)

-Sonic 4: Episode II (2012) (June 7th)

-Puzzle & Dragons Z + Puzzle & Dragons: Super Mario Bros. Edition (2015) (June 10th)

 

I've always found this art hilarious, with that really nervous side mouth smile there as if Sonic's thinking "uh-oh.  I don't want them to see me in a pile of shite like this..."

The second game's art is even better, with Sonic gesturing "Look elsewhere for a good game dude".

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Posted (edited)
10 hours ago, Jonnas said:

Ristar

Ristar_cover_EU.jpg

"I'm gonna RIS for the stars...

Now here we have a game I had the opportunity to play only once before in my life. The game was striking and memorable enough for it to stick in my mind for years to come. Imagine my surprise when I found out it was made by Sonic Team! That's right, after finishing Sonic 3 & Knuckles, Sonic Team decided to dial it back a bit and make something completely different. And so, in 1995, they released their last hurrah for the Mega Drive: a cute, slower platformer featuring a star-shaped protagonist.

I thought it was pretty good. The main mechanic here is that Ristar can stretch his arms to interact with stage elements (kill enemies, ram into walls to climb them, swing from pillars, etc.), and the mileage they got out of that mechanic was great. Without spoiling levels, I can confidently say that no two worlds (or even two levels) feel the same. Same thing with bosses and mini-bosses, with creative battles all around, and no battle ever felt too obtuse to figure out.

Ristar himself is adorable as well. The spritework is extensive (kinda needs to be for so many interactive elements) and gives him a lot of personality, to the point that he has a different idle animation per world (I kid you not, one of them is even used to defeat a mini-boss). Small touches like him twitching his arms and shivering when you try to grab a icy wall are also great.

The stages are friendly to explorers, as it's one of those games that invite players to try to find alternative paths, or explore as many nooks and crannies as you can. Indeed, there is one bonus stage per level, and you need to find the entrance yourself (a lot like the Donkey Kong Country series, though here it's just the one per level). Unfortunately, the most you'll find when exploring are health pickups, extra lives, and...points. You know, for those high scores. On a console game. In 1995. I really wish there were more collectibles to this game, because it's sad to see so much compelling level design wasted on...points.

I played through the whole thing on Normal Mode (Hard Mode is exactly the same, but you start with half the health. Bad way to play the game blind). I first tried to keep to the game's OG design, and accepted to restart the whole game from the beginning once I ran out of Continues (using save states only to "pause" the game between sessions. There are no passwords, you see). However, the second time I ran out of Continues, I was already figuring out the final boss, and so I succumbed to loading a save state just to finish that final stretch. The kid in me is disappointed by the adult in me.

So yeah, not much else to say on the old-school platformer, I just had a grand old time with it. Much like with Castlevania Bloodlines, I got swept with a heavy dose of nostalgia, feeling the typical music, sounds, visuals, and even game-feel of the Mega Drive, with a brand new experience.

Good game, very underrated.  Some very clever mechanics wrapped up in great presentation and good level design.  Ristar was clearly a passion project and it's a shame that it never caught on... (Fun fact: Ristar is actually based off a gameplay concept that was originally intended for Sonic 1!)

Quote

 

Nights into Dreams

capsule_616x353.jpg?t=1580989721

...even if the Nights look pretty far...

I only looked at this 1996 game a couple of times before, in my cousin's Sega Saturn. He said at the time that this game was too complicated for me. But in the following years I kept hearing about how this game was a classic, a magic experience that needs to be played to be believed. I understand my country is a bunch of Sega fanboys, but I was still curious. So I eventually got the 2012 Steam release, and chose to play the original "Sega Saturn" version. I eventually switched to the HD remaster (more like a faithful remake, it looks a lot like Ocarina of Time 3D) because the Saturn version was chugging tremendously on my computer. Thankfully, this release considers both to be interchangeable for the purposes of saved games.

...And I do feel it's a bit complicated! At first, at least. It's unique, it's pretty, it's lovely. But expect it to be a tad obtuse.

The plot concerns a couple of insecure kids who have a heck of a shared nightmare. Their wits and hopes get literally taken away from them (in the form of colourful gems) by imps, leaving only the red gem of courage. Nights is a mysterious androgynous figure that takes their hand and goes off to take them back.

It's basically an auto-running platformer in 2.5D. Except there are no platforms, it's just flying, and you control Nights' direction as they fly around, collecting all sorts of bells, jewels, and such. You can press a button to give you a speed boost (and in some instances, another to "perform acrobatics", which is basically a stunt that increases score). You're stuck in a racing game style "circuit" until you can gather enough orbs to break a prison somewhere on the course, which contains the gems you need.

I find that the "circle" system is genius, and a key component of what made me enjoy the game. Basically, since Nights turns around in a somewhat stiff manner, you won't easily grab what you're aiming for... but if you circle around the desired objects once, they'll gravitate towards you without issue. Clever way to avoid frustration, and makes the experience much smoother.

Each level has four courses that take place all over a single 3D environment, which is interesting, adds some depth to the world, and you keep seeing these gems you can't reach yet, but you know you can by the end of the stage. There's a time limit for each course, and if you can't finish in time, Nights clumsily turns back into one of the kids, who must then walk back to the starting line, as a long-winded way to reset the stage (or even walk directly to the cage, and then the finish line, as it happened once with me). Interesting, it's like letting you finish the race even if the car breaks down. There are also cool secrets scattered through the courses (like a cave underneath a tomb that opens if you hit a few switches in quick succession). It's classic Sonic Team, and it shows.

At the end of the level, you face a boss using similar mechanics. These encounters tend to be creative about it, and the boss designs are interesting (though that cat with the mouse missiles can go fuck itself).

The main aspect that people praise is presentation and... yeah, it's marvelous. Even as a Sega Saturn game, the art direction in Nights is beautiful, moody, and trippy. I don't think there was one bad-looking environment in this game (and at least one that I adored). The soundtrack is fantastic as well, with a consistent leitmotif of the beautiful main theme scattered through the game. As said... it's better to see and hear these for yourself. Hard to believe that a Sega Saturn game has aged so well visually, but it's true.

My main issue... you can't see the course that well. The perspective is 2D and Nights is fast, so my first time around is more confusing than anything (plenty of times, you don't know if Nights' path is aiming for certain background elements or not). I think you're meant to memorize these levels and replay it a lot (the game is very short). Nothing wrong with that, but the system needs some consistency, I think. Interestingly, the way this game is designed reminded me a lot of modern 3D Sonic games, what with the grade you're given at the end of each course (and level) depending on how well you did.

Another issue is the controls for this version. I'm stuck using WASD and J for boosting, with no remapping. Not compatible with a controller, either. It's a shame, I wish I could experience this with a joystick, even if buttons/d-pad also work fine.

So yeah, enjoyed it a lot. I unlocked Christmas Nights (one of those DLCs from before the concept existed) by the end, and beat that one as well. Though I won't stick around to find all the eggs (a permanent collectible of sorts), I'm open to replay this in the future. Lovely game, and I can see why it was important in legitimizing videogames as an art form in the eyes of so many.

  My 2021 log (Reveal hidden 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)

-Huniepop 2: Double Date (2021) Completed (April 13th)

-Horned Knight (2021) Completed (April 14th)

-Inspector Zé e Robot Palhaço em: Crime no Hotel Lisboa (2013) Completed (April 18th)

-Munin (2014) Completed (April 25th)

-As Aventuras Interactivas de Dog Mendonça e Pizzaboy (2016) Completed (April 27th)

-Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light (1990) Completed (May 8th)

-Castlevania II Belmont's Revenge (1991) Completed (May 20th)

-Beautiful Desolation (2020) Beat (May 30th)

-Kid Dracula (1990) Completed (June 5th)

-Castlevania Bloodlines (1993) Beat (June 5th)

-Dr.Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine (1993) Completed (June 6th)

-Ristar (1995) Beat (June 13th)

-Nights into Dreams (1996) Beat (June 20th)

 

Dropped:

-Perfect Angle (2015) (January 20th)

-Codename S.T.E.A.M. (2015) (May 16th)

-Castlevania - The Adventure (1989) (May 19th)

-Sonic 4: Episode I (2010) (June 7th)

-Sonic 4: Episode II (2012) (June 7th)

-Puzzle & Dragons Z + Puzzle & Dragons: Super Mario Bros. Edition (2015) (June 10th)

 

Damn shame that you played the PC version instead of the Saturn original... The controls are an absolute travesty in the HD remaster, let alone the HD remaster when you're stuck with a keyboard! (Even with a controller, the HD version is baffilingly only limited to around 48 degrees of analog movement on all platforms; compared to the 360 degrees of freedom the original Saturn version offered with the Saturn 3D controller - and that's after the update that improved things, it was even worse on its original release!)

That being said? I think Nights is really misunderstood by a lot of people (like you yourself said, the game is somewhat obtuse about its goals and overall game design), because it's really an arcade score attack game in disguise.  The goal isn't to finish each stage per-say, it's actually to rack up as high a score as possible by going round and round as much as possible and squeezing every last drop of points you can from each level.  An outdated concept in 1996? Absolutely.  Is it fun? Oh hell yes!

I do agree about the field of view though.  Even though the original Saturn version supported 16:9 widescreen (back in 1996! Impressive!), it still feels too cramped and you can never quite see as far ahead as you'd like; but you do eventually learn the stage layouts over time if you do get hooked on high score chasing!

Edited by Dcubed
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58 minutes ago, Dcubed said:

I've always found this art hilarious, with that really nervous side mouth smile there as if Sonic's thinking "uh-oh.  I don't want them to see me in a pile of shite like this..."

He needs to take a leaf from Vector's book. That guy has a knack for showing up in an awful Sonic game, putting in the bare minimum appearance to fulfill a contract, and then skedaddling before too many people realise he was in it in the first place.

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11 hours ago, Jonnas said:

 

Ristar

Ristar_cover_EU.jpg

"I'm gonna RIS for the stars...

 

Nights into Dreams

capsule_616x353.jpg?t=1580989721

...even if the Nights look pretty far...

 

  My 2021 log (Reveal hidden 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)

-Huniepop 2: Double Date (2021) Completed (April 13th)

-Horned Knight (2021) Completed (April 14th)

-Inspector Zé e Robot Palhaço em: Crime no Hotel Lisboa (2013) Completed (April 18th)

-Munin (2014) Completed (April 25th)

-As Aventuras Interactivas de Dog Mendonça e Pizzaboy (2016) Completed (April 27th)

-Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light (1990) Completed (May 8th)

-Castlevania II Belmont's Revenge (1991) Completed (May 20th)

-Beautiful Desolation (2020) Beat (May 30th)

-Kid Dracula (1990) Completed (June 5th)

-Castlevania Bloodlines (1993) Beat (June 5th)

-Dr.Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine (1993) Completed (June 6th)

-Ristar (1995) Beat (June 13th)

-Nights into Dreams (1996) Beat (June 20th)

 

Dropped:

-Perfect Angle (2015) (January 20th)

-Codename S.T.E.A.M. (2015) (May 16th)

-Castlevania - The Adventure (1989) (May 19th)

-Sonic 4: Episode I (2010) (June 7th)

-Sonic 4: Episode II (2012) (June 7th)

-Puzzle & Dragons Z + Puzzle & Dragons: Super Mario Bros. Edition (2015) (June 10th)

 

Ristar is my favourite Mega Drive game. I first played it on Wii VC and went in completely blind. Very solid platformer with great visuals, music and level design. Glad you enjoyed it.

I've played Nights briefly on PC and enjoyed what I've played of it. I know it's not the Saturn version, but you can definitely appreciate what it was doing at the time. Will need to go back. 

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16 hours ago, Dcubed said:

Damn shame that you played the PC version instead of the Saturn original... The controls are an absolute travesty in the HD remaster, let alone the HD remaster when you're stuck with a keyboard! (Even with a controller, the HD version is baffilingly only limited to around 48 degrees of analog movement on all platforms; compared to the 360 degrees of freedom the original Saturn version offered with the Saturn 3D controller - and that's after the update that improved things, it was even worse on its original release!)

Huh, the movement did feel a tad stiff, but I thought it was just the keyboard layout I was forced into. So, does that 48º limitation go for the port of the original too, or just the "remake" part?

15 hours ago, Glen-i said:

He needs to take a leaf from Vector's book. That guy has a knack for showing up in an awful Sonic game, putting in the bare minimum appearance to fulfill a contract, and then skedaddling before too many people realise he was in it in the first place.

That's VectorDev for ya! Seriously, the people working on the Sonic Boom cartoon had Vector appear in an episode because someone from Sega specifically asked them to. That croc's got friends in high places, I'm telling you.

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7 hours ago, Jonnas said:

Huh, the movement did feel a tad stiff, but I thought it was just the keyboard layout I was forced into. So, does that 48º limitation go for the port of the original too, or just the "remake" part?

That's VectorDev for ya! Seriously, the people working on the Sonic Boom cartoon had Vector appear in an episode because someone from Sega specifically asked them to. That croc's got friends in high places, I'm telling you.

It’s the same in both the Saturn and the Modern modes.  It’s a holdover from the JPN only PS2 version (of which, the HD version is a direct port of).

Why they made this change originally? I have no idea, but it has unfortunately stuck ever since the PS2 version.

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Posted (edited)
8 hours ago, Jonnas said:

That's VectorDev for ya! Seriously, the people working on the Sonic Boom cartoon had Vector appear in an episode because someone from Sega specifically asked them to. That croc's got friends in high places, I'm telling you.

Curiosity got the better of me here. I googled that, fully expecting some dodgy redesign, and...

rqjqK1j_d.webp?maxwidth=640&shape=thumb&

How the hell did he end up looking cooler!? Sonic and his friends get their body proportions all messed up, yet Vector keeps his proportions, slaps on a leather jacket and a tat(!), and gets away with it!

Can we just have Vector be the star from now on? He'd probably make the games better just from being the protagonist!

Edited by Glen-i
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So I realise I haven't updated here for a while in terms of gaming diary.

 

The main thing I've been doing is working on a massive video for the 35th anniversary of The Legend of Zelda. So naturally I have been playing a lot of Zelda games. Mostly the home console games for recording footage, I pretty much played every 3D Zelda in some capacity after playing Ocarina of Time, Majora's Mask, Wind Waker, Twilight Princess, Skyward Sword and finally Breath of the Wild.

 

When coming back to Breath of the Wild I realised that I was taking massive damage towards the end as I didn't bother to find all the Great Fairies Fountains and upgrade all my equipment. So I was losing about half my health from a single hit from Guardians. However I managed to get some Guardian Armour upon returning to the game and after extensively foraging for Guardian tools I upgraded my armour to the point where my total defence is now 61 from the 12 it was previously.

 

Such a massive improvement, I can now take on some of the tougher enemies in the game without getting completely wiped out in one hit. Wish I'd known about all this sooner!

 

That being said, I'm going to be focusing on finishing the video as it's in the home stretch now!

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Rain on Your Parade:

A very silly game (just how I like 'em :hehe:) where you take control of a cloud, fly around raining on various people/stuff and causing as much mayhem as possible. Super simple idea but it's well executed and there's lots of variety to keep it entertaining throughout, including many subtle (and not so subtle :D) nods to other games. I particularly enjoyed the Metal Gear and Zelda inspired stages.

You can customise your cloud by drawing a new face for it (naturally I turned mine into Baby Face MPface.gif) and also equip various accessories which are unlocked as you clear stages. It doesn't take too long to get through the game and it never gets particularly challenging either, but it was certainly an enjoyable experience which provided many laughs along the way. :)

 

Game Builder Garage:

Once I'd fully completed all of the tutorials, puzzles and additional lessons, I was excited to start messing around with this software and make my own stuff, but truth is the sheer complexity of it all has been somewhat off-putting. :hmm: Unlike WarioWare D.I.Y or Super Mario Maker, where there is more of an emphasis on the creative/artistic side of things, Game Builder Garage is very much focused on the programming and mathematical aspects of game creation. Of course I was well aware of this fact going into it, but figured that with Nintendo's user-friendly approach it wouldn't be too bad. However, I'm still incredibly confused by many of the Nodon in the software, especially the ones which never actually got any form of explanation throughout the tutorials! :o

As a result I'm not really sure how much I'll end up getting out of this in terms of creating. :blank: Hopefully I can get my head around it enough to at least put something together, but chances are I'll mainly end up playing other people's stuff instead. Some of the early examples I've checked out have already been incredibly impressive, so I have no doubt there's going to be some really cool things eventually made with this. Played a perfect recreation of the Karate Man game from Rhythm Tengoku the other day, it mainly used the built-in GBG assets, but the gameplay was absolutely spot-on!  :cool: Taking a look at the "code" for that one had my jaw on the floor. :eek:

So yeah, while GBG is an extremely powerful tool, it's definitely nowhere near as accessible as Nintendo's other creation titles, particularly for anyone that is more about art than numbers, or you know, just old. :heh: Yep, would've been nice to have this 30 years ago... Oh no, I've turned into the Grumpy old man "N-E logo" Nodon!:

bckw6OT.png

:laughing:

 

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)
  12.     Monster Hunter Rise (Switch)
  13.     World of Demons (Apple TV)
  14.     The Wild at Heart (PC)
  15.     Just Cause 4 (PC)
  16.     Rain on Your Parade (PC)
  17.     Game Builder Garage (Switch)

Played for a while:

  •     Cyber Shadow (PC)
  •     Control (PC)
  •     Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair (PC)
  •     Yakuza 4 Remastered (PC)
  •     Wreckfest (PC)
  •     Taiko no Tatsujin Pop Tap Beat (Apple TV)
  •     Wonderbox: The Adventure Maker (Apple TV/Mobile)
  •     Clap Hanz Golf (Apple TV)
  •     Dragon Quest Builders 2 (PC)
  •     The Swords of Ditto: Mormo's Curse (PC)

Older games that I'm still playing regularly:

  •     Mario Kart Tour (Mobile)
  •     Super Smash Bros. Ultimate (Switch)
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Posted (edited)

You've pretty much summarised why I haven't picked up Game Builder Garage myself, @RedShell

I have a level of programming knowledge from my time at University so I sort of feel like what's available here may be too limiting with regards to what I would maybe hope to create and yet be too complex to warrant the time investment to create something mildly amusing!

I think we would both have benefitted more from a port or new entry of WarioWare D.I.Y. and, in fact, I think the release of Game Builder Garage is encouraging me to think about going back to the DS title to create many of the microgames I never gave myself the time to create all those years ago :grin:

 

Edited by nekunando
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Played and Platinum'd Mass Effect 2, absolutely fantastic. Such a huge step up from ME1 in terms of gameplay. 

I do think it could have done with a few more main storyline missions interspersed with all the recruitment ones, but that's a small nitpick. Also weird how few side missions there were but I guess you have to scan a lot of planets to uncover those.

Tali's loyalty mission was my favourite, Katsumi's was great too. Jacob's was terrible :blank:. He started strong as a character but then didn't really go anywhere. 

Lair of the Shadow Broker was a fantastic mission, easily the best in the game, though the Suicide Mission is a close second, such a complex system determining success, really great job Bioware did with it.

I'll give Ratchet Rift Apart a go and then jump into ME3, I've really fond memories of that game from the Wii U days :peace:

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A big update for me:

 

Mass Effect Legendary Edition

Three brilliant games, in one package. The first game is considerably improved and is far more enjoyable to play, while the other two have all the DLC built in. A wonderful package.

E4-RTm-W7-WYAcbaud.jpg

Outer Wilds

Absolutely phenomenal. I don’t want to say much about this because discovering everything for yourself is the jot of the game. There’s a wonderful puzzle you solve by figuring out what is happening piece by piece, using a mechanic from some of my favourite sci-fi show episodes. It’s a fascinating game that doesn’t tell you where to go, and different parts can be discovered in different orders, and some depend on you learning how the game works and trying different ideas. 

E4-RVFB4-X0-AMZi-Pk.jpg

Rain On Your Parade

A game where you’re a cloud and want to ruin people’s fun by raining on them. I didn’t think a lot could be done with this concept, but the game really surprised me. Instead of trying to be a deep or difficult game, it just goes for pure fun. 

Gameplay is relatively simple: move around and press A to rain on people. Other powers are unlocked throughout the game to change things up. Each level has some mandatory objectives, some optional ones and sometimes some hidden objectives. One thing that really surprised me is that there’s no time limit. You’re free to mess around until you decide to finish (for a few levels you have a limited amount of rain, but most have ways to refill).

The great thing about the game are all the wonderful scenarios that they’ve come up with, lots of fun silly ideas, with parodies of games and films, and filled with (mostly) great humour. 

Rain On Your Parade is just pure fun, it has the spark that some might call “Nintendo magic” and is just a joy all the way through.

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Maneater


An open world Shark game. Gameplay is simple but quite good fun, and the documentary style narration helps to keep things entertaining. I had a lot of fun with Maneater. 

Sadly, despite the unique differences due to being an underwater game (well, except for when you jump along beaches, across golf courses or over bridges munching on many, many humans), the structure of the game is a fairly generic “open world”: head to location, kill lots of things, repeat. I feel like it could have done with some exciting chase scenes - open world games still need some set piece missions. Maneater is entirely in the open world, you can swim away from any mission and continue it later.

One thing that the game does great (particularly at the start) is a sense of growth. You start off as a newborn bull shark and are quite small. The starting area has massive crocodiles which you have no hope against, so will have to flee. By the time you’re finished with the starting area, crocodiles are still a challenge, but one that can be overcome. When you visit the area later on, you can just see the crocodiles whole.

The mutations aspect, however, is not that well done. You have a very limited selection unless you do a colossal amount of grinding or spend ages looking for collectibles. There’s only a few different sets. There could have been a lot more variety and creativity here. The final “evolution” to mega shark also feels fairly underwhelming.

But overall, it was a fun experience and the crazy world they built for the game is rather entertaining, as it goes out of its way to explain that you’re eating elite rich people, that pollution is the cause for mutations and stuff like that, so you can feel good about eating all the nasty humans. 
 

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The Falconeer

A flight combat game where you fly a giant Falcon. And it’s just really tedious. Controls feel wonky and unresponsive and the combat is simple to the point it’s not fun. You have a standard gun and a missile type thing which is just “press Y to hit a few random nearby targets”. There’s no exciting chases to get a lock-on for missiles like most games of this type, and there’s no melee attack utilising the massive talons of the falcon.

This is also an open world game, where you fly between small islands and shoot stuff. Most of the open world is ocean and the only interesting feature on the map is a sort of “canyon” in the water (which they call “the maw” and nobody knows why it exists). There’s no interesting set pieces or mission variety (the most interesting thing I experienced was one mission where you had to wait for two people to fight before joining in, but it just meant twiddling your thumbs for 5 minutes).

The story is fairly light, you pick a character out of a bunch of options, but you have to do this for each chapter, as each chapter follows a different faction. It’s difficult to get invested when your generic chosen character gets replaced - and especially as chapters and with a mission where you face an unbeatable enemy and it doesn’t finish until you die. And because you only ever see people on the giant birds, there’s no sense of scale - it comes across as tiny people riding regular birds.
 

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Genesis Noir

An extremely strange game. It has a really stylish noir setting, and really fascinating visuals. The story is fairly nonsensical with lots of science terms around. Essentially, the entities that make up the universe are noir figures and due to an act of cheating, Miss Mass gets shot at by Golden Boy (causing the Big Bang) and No Man is trying to save her. It’s a very abstract game.

The game is described as a “point and click adventure” but is more of a visual novel, most of the game is pushing random buttons or walking to the right. There are three sections where you have to hold A and spin the analogue stick for around 2 minutes, times where you just have to tap A constantly to make things progress. The “point and click” sections (which are literally just point and click, with two sections where you use the only items you have on something) could do with better controls on a controller - Using the right stick and trigger would feel more natural than using the left stick and A button.

It felt like there were two actual puzzles in the game. One of them has you do random things until you figure out the trick, then repeat that trick. The other one has you setting dials based on instructions, then introduces unknown quantities so you just mess with them until it works.

The visuals and music are magnificent, but the gameplay mostly amounts to “tap random buttons until the game proceeds”.
 

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Halo

I’ve only played 3, ODST and Reach before, so this is the first time playing the first one (Anniversary edition). I played it in the only way Halo should be played: splitscreen. It was a lot of fun, and I understand more why people like Cortana (in Halo 3 she’s just utterly annoying). Will be going through all of them (except Halo 5, which we can’t play together).

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What Remains of Edith Finch

A wonderful “walking simulator” type game. It presents a great mystery with multiple interpretations (but not massively open ended). I personally have my take on the story. 

You’re exploring the wonderfully strange (but still somewhat realistic) Finch house, a family that preserves the bedrooms of the family members who die. Due to a curse, the Finch family suffer a lot of tragic deaths.

As you explore and find your way into each room (they’ve all been sealed shut by a paranoid family member), you learn the stories of each. Most of these are played out in short gameplay segments, with some unique styles and some creative ideas.  The dialogue text showing up in the game world is something I love seeing in games.


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Call to the Sea

Another mystery game, this one with more focus on puzzles. Each area has puzzles to solve, with clues given via notes you can find. They did a good job making the puzzles feel like part of the environment rather than just being puzzles for the sake of puzzles. 

The majority of the puzzles had “a-ha” moments and are quite good at using logic instead of just trying to guess (although you may start out by guessing, looking around more and finding something helpful). One puzzle was dreadful, though, a Simon-says that relies on very slightly different musical notes (I couldn’t tell two of them apart at all). It’s split into stages (one note, two notes, three notes, four notes, six notes) however for some unknown it resets the entire thing if you make a single mistake. It’s not a thoughtful puzzle in any way, brings the game to a halt and is an accessibility issue.

The story behind it is intriguing, although the main twist is pretty obvious long, long before the main character realises it. It’s a pretty interesting game with some puzzles that are fun to solve.

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Going Under

I’m not a fan of roguelikes or dungeon crawler games, but I ended up really enjoying this (admittedly with accessibility settings on as I’m awful at games like this). The style and humour makes it a very enjoyable experience.

It’s a future where not-Amazon practically rules the world, and are constantly buying startup companies. You join one of these start up companies and are sent to clean out monsters from other floors - only it turns out the monsters are other failed startup companies.

Each start-up company consists of four floors, three with random rooms and the final with a boss. You gather upgrades (you start off fresh each time), although after you use one enough you can select it as a permanent one (but only one selected at a time). Side quests can be done for other permanent bonuses (such as stealing a random item from a shop).

Pretty much everything is a weapon - the computers, keyboards, pencils, staplers, along with more traditional weapons like crossbows and swords. They all feel satisfying to use and the more mundane items (pencils, styluses) are comically oversized. 

The dialogue is also a lot of fun, and even the style of the text boxes (bubbles from a phone messaging service) adds to the wonderful style of the game.

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Technically Little Nightmares II was the first game I completed in June but I talked about that in my post for May instead, so I'll skip straight to talking about Heavy Rain. I bought it along with Beyond: Two Souls ages ago but only just got around to starting it and first impressions were pretty bad - the voice acting was wooden, the movement stiff and the whole thing just generally very boring in the beginning. It felt so dated, it's over reliance on QTE's and the laboriously slow pace of the thing - I have nothing against walking simulators or narrative driven games but this seemed to have nothing redeeming about it. Thankfully as it went on it did get better, some of the performances are actually quite good and some of the bad ones are quite entertaining (Norman Jayden channelling Tommy Wiseau especially), the story does grow more interesting (and I like that if you screw up you have to live with the consequences of main characters dying) too but most of my enjoyment came out of the clunky movement - rudely walking into people at the police station never got old but overall it was well below average. Hopefully Quantic Dreams subsequent games fared better.

I bought the Labo VR set when it came out and had fun building a few of the toys and playing around with them but I had always intended to play through all of the levels in the Labo VR: Blaster game (and any of the other more fully formed experiences) so I finally did that a couple of weeks back. Re-adjusting to the low resolution was definitely a challenge, couldn't really stand it for longer than 10 or 20 minutes, and in the interim one of the elastic bands in the blaster broke so I had to do running repairs to it but it was a fun little distraction to play through. It's spread across 6 separate courses, each with 3 distinct on rails sections or boss fights within them and in total it probably takes less than half an hour to complete, there is a lot of charm to it but it is very much a novelty or proof of concept, I can't imagine I'll ever go back to it - Labo is cool but it is a bit of a faff, and it takes up so much bloody space!

Another game I bought a while back is Deadly Premonition Origins on the Switch and after I played and adored Swery's The Missing recently I thought it was high time I tried it out. I'm a huge Twin Peaks fan and I knew this was supposed to be inspired by the series but it wears it's influences loud and proud on its sleeves - the entire set up is an homage to David Lynch's masterpiece, the murder of a popular high school girl in a rural logging town in the State of Washington is investigated by an agent from the FBI and the town holds all sorts of spooky mysteries and eccentric characters. I was worried that it was taking too much inspiration and wouldn't have it's own voice but as it unfolds it's clear that Deadly Premonition is very much telling its own story. Like Heavy Rain it does suffer from an over reliance on QTE's (those chase sequences with the Raincoat Killer are pretty tedious to play through) but it is much more interesting from the get go and offers the player many more options for interacting with the world. I have no idea why they made it an open world game though, the town is practically empty and given that everywhere shuts when it rains you can't even go into shops, bars or diners very often at all and the driving controls are laughably sensitive, combing with the terrible map to make navigation a real chore at the beginning (I definitely got better at it as the game progressed but I still found myself getting lost even during the later chapters). Technical performance isn't fantastic either, it is framey and stuttery at times and there is a weird screen tearing effect that regularly crops up but all of it's shortcomings can be forgiven because of the impactful story that it tells - a real 7/10 sort of a game (at least it was for me). I'm very glad to have finally played it and I will be checking out the sequel at some point in the future, not expecting that to knock my socks off (I know it received a pretty lukewarm reception) but Swery has certainly earned my attention after how much I enjoyed both Origins and The Missing.

Finally I just finished Kid Dracula on the Switch. I bought the Castlevania Collection in a recent sale and wanted to play something short before pushing on with some of the longer games on my backlog. As Jonnas mentioned it doesn't really crib much from the main series, besides featuring Dracula and some of his cronies, but it's a really fun addition to the series. What surprised me most, apart from some surprisingly tough moments, was how pretty it is - the large sprites and cartoony aesthetic are really nice to look at. It is par for the course as far as NES platform games go but it mixes things up in a couple of the boss fights. The settings make absolutely no sense in the context of Castlevania though, especially modern New York City showing up - isn't Dracula supposed to be hundreds of years old? Why is he a child in New York City? One thing that annoyed me though was that final boss, why on earth did they give him so many hit points? It takes forever to beat him! I've played most of the other games in the Collection but I will probably dip into Bloodlines in the near future and I'm very excited by the prospect of a collection of the GBA games that is rumoured to be on the way. 

With Metroid Dread on the horizon I think it's time for me to tackle one of the few games in the series I haven't got around to playing yet in Metroid: Other M on the Wii before I finally delve into a big budget PS5 game.  

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@killthenet you’re in for a treat with Other M. I’m not saying that sarcastically either. I love that game.

June is now over and I knocked out a few games at the back end of the month, most of which were indie games that I picked up during the crazy good sale on PSN.

PixelJunk Shooter Ultimate

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This was a complete surprise for me. I’ve never played any of the PixelJunk games and so I decided to try one out. This was on sale for a couple of quid and it’s probably the best £2.00 I’ve spent in a long time.

The game is a twin stick shooter that features environmental puzzles that require different weapons to complete. It’s really more about navigating your way through the stages and solving puzzles than it is about shooting down enemies.

The game is quite a lengthy affair and that is because this is the two previous games combined into one, hence the Ultimate in the title. I think I got a good 15 hours or so out of the game and I never got bored. This was due to the great amount of variety on offer with each of the stages.

I enjoyed the collectibles in this game. Far too many games these days feature things to collect but most can’t actually be found unless you have a guide. That’s not the case here, with each of them being cleverly found within the stages. It encourages you to explore that little bit further and check every nook and cranny.

I’d definitely recommend picking this up, especially for the price I got it for.

Abzu

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I played this back on the Xbox One a couple of years back and seeing as it was free on PSN, I figured I would give it another play through. I really enjoyed playing it again. The game is a perfect mix of Endless Ocean and Journey. There are so many indie games now that try to rip off Journey and very few of them pull it off. It’s certainly not the case with this game. So relaxing.

Gris

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I was very dubious about buying this game. A lot of indie titles are all style and no substance, with them being all about the look rather than the gameplay. This game screamed that to me but I was happy to find that I enjoyed both the gameplay and the visuals of the game. There’s no denying that this is a beautiful looking game but finding that there was some decent platforming to be had as well was a relief.

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A special mention goes to the OST of the game. There are some great tracks featured across the various stages and a couple have made it into my gaming playlist.

Solo: Islands of the Heart

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I had read good things about this game and decided to take a punt on it. The gameplay is nothing too fancy but it gets the job done. It’s essentially a puzzle game that has you manipulating blocks in order to proceed but it’s wrapped in this charming world that asks questions about your love life, both past and present, and then gives you meaning to what your answers were at the end of the game. It’s basically like you are creating the narrative of the game with your own experiences. Very unique.

Star Wars: Republic Commando

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I have fond memories of playing this on the original Xbox and was eager to see if those memories would hold up when playing the game again. They kinda did. For some reason I remember the game being more squad focused, like say Full Spectrum Warrior, but it was actually more run and gun than I remember it being.

I played through Jedi Knight II last year and that was an awful experience. The game hadn’t aged well at all but that wasn’t the case here. The game was still fun, if a little repetitive. It’s a shame the game didn’t get a sequel as I think there was real potential with it.

I had a little chuckle when I seen the trophy percentage I was on.

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Order 66 has never felt so meaningful. :D 

The Adventure Pals

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I actually bought this on my Switch a few years back but never finished it. Again, this was on sale for a couple of quid and so I picked it up on the PS4 in the hopes of actually completing it this time, which I did. Nothing much to say other than it’s a fun, 2D platformer that doesn’t overstay its welcome, is humorous in places and it managed to make me smile a few times in the 10 hours or so it took to see the credits roll.

Hollow Knight

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Right, I’m just gonna come out and say this from the start. Best get it out of the way and let the pitchforks come at me….this game is VERY overrated. I think it’s up there with BOTW in terms of how overrated it is. With that said, I’ll now talk about the game to the one remaining person who hasn’t gone off in a huff and is still reading this. :p 

It’s such a weird thing. When this game was first announced I was super excited for it and bought it straight away on the Switch. Sadly, the game did nothing for me and despite putting 5 hours or so into the game it just didn’t click with me. It was then deleted from my Switch and never played again.

I’m usually not one to give up on a game and I do like revisiting games that didn’t sit right with me the first time through. With the game being free on PSN, I decided to have another crack at it in the hopes that I would see it through to the end. The lure of trophies would certainly help with this. Once one pops on my profile I find it hard to walk away.

I found the game to once again be pretty slow at the start, with moves being very limited and environments looking very samey. Like any good Metroidvania game, once things open up a bit and you have more moves at your disposal then things became a little better. Things like the dash move certainly made traversal much more fun.

Visually, the game is absolutely stunning when it’s allowed to shine and show a bit of colour. I get that the art style used is a design choice and it goes for a more moody look but I really loved it when seeing colours pop from the screen. I guess the ratio between the light and dark sections made me appreciate the coloured sections a lot more when they did appear.

Where the game falls down for me is the map system and how it is used. It reminds me very much of Super Metroid in that you only get a vague idea about the area you are in, rather than it being spelled out for you. It’s why I much prefer the latter Metroid games that address this issue. It’s a preference of mine when playing a Metroidvania in that I like to see glimpses of hidden areas or items on the map as I’m making my way through the areas. Looking at a map, knowing I’ve missed something and then searching for it is something I enjoy in these types of games.

Another thing I was disappointed in was the difficulty level. After reading countless stories about how hard the game was I was expecting a decent challenge but that wasn’t the case at all. Outside of the final Pantheon level ( that took some doing!), the game wasn’t too difficult at all. One of my favourite sections of the whole game was the White Palace and yet many people were fuming about how hard to was but for me it was one of the best areas in the whole gaming due to its platforming. I’m kinda baffled as to why the game has a reputation for its difficulty level.

Trophy wise, I kinda wish I had checked them a little more closely before starting the game. There was one that required you fill the journal but I wasn’t aware that I had to kill a certain amount of enemies in order to get the full entry. This meant I had to go farm some kills for a few hours, which was tricky as I had to navigate through past sections all over again.

Despite my criticisms, I did actually like the game but I just think it’s been massively overhyped. This hype certainly did have a negative effect on my feelings about it. Looking back at some of the other Metroidvania games I’ve played over the past couple of years I think the likes of Monster Boy, Bloodstained and Timespinner were far better games and much more enjoyable to me. Gameplay, music and level designs were better in each of these, IMO.

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6 minutes ago, Hero-of-Time said:

@killthenet you’re in for a treat with Other M. I’m not saying that sarcastically either. I love that game.

This is one of those rare times where we actually agree. As far as gameplay goes, no Metroid has yet to match the feeling of just being badass Samus like Other M does.

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Posted (edited)

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Managed to win a SNKRX run last night.

Such a weird game :D There's two stages to it:

#1) Shopping

You buy units which are then part of the snake and have different abilities. If you have a certain amount of units from one class, you get a bonus (like crit-chance, for example). You can also spend your money on upgrading the shop or items (passives) you acquire after a few levels.

#2) Playing

This is the snaking stage. You use your snake to snake around and snakily kill enemies that come in waves. The only influence you have in this stage is: Moving around. The snake parts attack automatically.

Here's a trailer if you prefer visuals (by the way, the music is AWESOME).

It might not seem like a fun game. You spend lots of time on a menu and then just move around and try not to die...but I love it :D Trying to build that perfect snake with awesome synergies is very enjoyable to me.

SNKRX is up there on my GOTY list.

Edited by drahkon
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With June over I figured I would go back and look at what games I’ve played and completed during the first half of the year.

Spoiler
  1. Cyber Shadow
  2. Marvel’s Avengers
  3. Habroxia 2
  4. Mark of the Ninja Remastered
  5. Habroxia 2 (Vita version)
  6. Salt & Sanctuary
  7. Grand Theft Auto 3
  8. Worms Rumble
  9. DeBlob
  10. Deponia Doomsday
  11. Resident Evil 5
  12. The Last Campfire
  13. Undertale
  14. The Gardens Between
  15. River City Girls
  16. Gal Gunvolt Burst
  17. Cat Quest
  18. Gorogoa
  19. Dark Souls II
  20. Hyper Sentinel
  21. Subnatica
  22. Persona 4 Golden
  23. Castle Crashers Remastered
  24. Spider-Man: Miles Morales
  25. PixelJunk Shooter Ultimate
  26. Gris
  27. Solo
  28. Abzu
  29. Star Wars: Republic Commando
  30. The Adventure Pals
  31. Hollow Knight
  32. Final Fantasy II
  33. The Legend of Zelda
  34. The Adventure of Link
  35. A Link to the Past
  36. Link’s Awakening
  37. Pikmin 3 Deluxe
  38. Monster Hunter Rise
  39. A Short Hike
  40. Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury

I knew this year would be slow in terms of new releases and looking at the list of games I’ve played that has certainly been the case. I think there’s only 3 on there that were released this year. Still, it has given me time to catch up on games that I have missed out on playing over the years. Finally playing and finishing the likes of Persona 4, Dark Souls II and Hollow Knight feels great but for the most part it’s been a pretty meh first six months.

Again, looking at the list, I do really need to play on my Switch a lot more. I’ve got games like New Pokemon Snap, Xenoblade Chronicles:DE, Tokyo Mirage Sessions and Bravely Default II just sat waiting to be played but the lure of my PS4 is too great, especially when I’ve got a massive backlog waiting on that console. It also doesn’t help that 3 of those Switch games are long JRPGs.

The next half of the year I wouldn’t mind knocking out a few more Zelda games to celebrate its anniversary. I started strong but quickly burnt out on them. I’d also like to get through Dark Souls 3, possibly before September. If I do that it would mean I’ve gone through Dark Souls 1-3 and Sekiro in under a year. Plus, getting it out of the way before Elden Ring arrives would be a plus. 

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13 minutes ago, Hero-of-Time said:
  • The Legend of Zelda
  • The Adventure of Link
  • A Link to the Past
  • Link’s Awakening

If you're gonna play 4 of the worst games in the franchise, I'm not surprised you got burnt out..

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5 minutes ago, nekunando said:

If you're gonna play 4 of the worst games in the franchise, I'm not surprised you got burnt out..

Punch him @Hero-of-Time! Punch him right in the arm!

LttP and Link's Awakening are solid entries!

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4 minutes ago, Glen-i said:

Punch him @Hero-of-Time! Punch him right in the arm!

LttP and Link's Awakening are solid entries!

Greg has shocking taste in games. At this point I’ve learnt just just ignore his mindless rants and baffling opinions. :laughing:

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4 minutes ago, Hero-of-Time said:

Greg has shocking taste in games. At this point I’ve learnt just just ignore his mindless rants and baffling opinions. :laughing:

You can't ride a jet ski in any of those.. ::shrug:

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Yeah... I would never subject myself to that torture of 100% completion ever again.

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