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Posted (edited)

Gonna dip my toes into the N-E world again.

Got my sister's boyfriend's old PC (which I still need to pay off but he's fine with waiting) so I decided to finally give some games I've wanted to play a go:

Dicey Dungeons

Brilliant roguelike with a great concept. However, it does suffer from more RNG than most of its genre-friends which can ruin your run and you can do nothing about it. Enjoyed my time with it, though. It gets proper difficult in later episodes which is always a plus. 8/10

The Stanley Parable

Interesting premise, boring game. 6/10

Loop Hero

Really interesting premise, boring game. :p On paper it might seem like a game I would love, but good lord it's tedious. 90% of the time you just watch the game play itself...
Anyways, it's the second game this year that I quit before finishing it. 5/10

Monster Train

On par with Slay the Spire. What a magnificent game this is. Managed to unlock a few higher covenants (difficulties that add things like enemies do more damage, gain random cards, etc.) and beat the game several times now. Will definitely come back to this more often than not. 10/10

Superliminal

Interesting premise, boring game the third. What's boring about this? Most puzzle kind of play out the same. There's potential here that's never fulfilled, sadly. 4/10.

Also finished one game on my PS5:

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order

Phew, this is a tough one to rate. Gotta give it a solid 6/10. The game tries too much and never reaches greatness in any of its parts. It tries to play similar to a Souls game, there's some Metroid-y exploration, of course some RPG-esque skills that you can acquire and puzzles and barebones platforming. It's a mess.
It is Star Wars, though, so the spectacle was alright.

 

Right now I'm waiting for the Splitgate servers to open again. The game is a mix of Halo and Portal and it plays so well. Lots of fun. Sadly the devs had to push back the release and now press pause on the beta 'cause the game got a huge influx of players and the servers couldn't handle it. It was a two-men dev team, though, so no big deal. They got some funding, are increasing server capacity and hired some more people to help.

Also playing Tribes of Midgard on PS5. Played it solo for a bit and it's a little janky, but quite fun. Pretty sure it excells at co-op. Two of my friends bought the game, too, and I can't wait to give it a proper go with them.

Speaking of co-op goodness: Some friends and I bought Overcooked: All You Can Eat. I played the first one with a mate a long time ago, but it's included in this version, too. WIth added online! We managed to get 3 stars in all levels, but man...some of my friends aren't...well...equipped to be good at this one :laughing:
Anyways, we need to get on with Overcooked 2 soon (which is, of course, also included in the All You Can Eat edition). Gonna be a lot of fun :D

Edited by drahkon
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Posted (edited)

Platinum'd Mass Effect 3 last night. What an incredible game. A stunning end to a brilliant trilogy. It was worth the wait to play all three for the first time.

Missions were epic and had variety, the character interactions were the best of the series, so was the gunplay. And the Leviathan and Citadel DLCs were fantastic. They had to tell new stories AND tie back to two previous games. The final choice was the best kind of moral dilemma, no right answer. 

I suppose a small negative would be that some of the bigger decisions in earlier games didn't really amount to that much, saving the council, saving the Rachni queen, destroying the Collector base. Then again the games juggle so many other decisions, it's a miracle we got what we did. It's also prob not a great use of resources to make entirely new bits of content with 90+% will have saved the queen and destroyed the base.

I feel like playing them for the first time, back to back made comparisons between them pretty easy. My personal ranking is easy: ME3 > ME2 > ME1.

ME1 was all about the lore for me. I could listen to Tali talk about the Quarians for hours. The mission design and gunplay haven't aged well. Most of the side missions were pretty much identical and a bit rubbish by modern standards. Though I did really enjoy the Bring Down the Sky DLC.

ME2 was fantastic and an enormous step up from 1. It was fun recruiting the team but I'd say half of those missions were pretty forgettable. The game does feel like a collection of side-quests tbh, mixed in with a few grander missions. The assault on the Collector Base was great though, really impressive how so many systems tie together.

ME3 does everything ME2 does but added better character relationships and grander, more epic story missions. Tchunka was incredible, as was Priority: Earth. Collecting war assets was great fun, especially reading all about them as you pick up new ones. The ending didn't bother me but maybe it's because I have the benefit of the extended cut.

I don't often feel down when I finish a game (in a good way), but this definitely makes me sad it's all over. I might replay Andromeda down the line, and hopefully ME4 isn't too far away.

I've a new entry in my Top 5 games (yes I'm counting the trilogy as one game!)

Edited by Ronnie
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Not played that much since my last post in here, thanks to Game Builder Garage. ;) But still have a few titles to add to my list... 

Little Nightmares:

 

I loved this, short but very sweet. The creepy vibe and super weird creature design is so good, and the atmosphere... wow! Absolutely superb. :cool: Control-wise it was a bit annoying, especially in the early stages where I would find myself falling off stuff at an alarming rate, but once I got used to how it played I started having a blast! Even the stealth gameplay was fun! :o I can see this becoming one of my traditional go-to games to play at Halloween. :grin: Definitely want to check out the sequel at some point too.

 

Part Time UFO:

 

This was a bit of a surprise for me, the surprise being that I didn't enjoy it anywhere near as much as I was expecting to. :hmm: I can tell it's a solid game and the presentation is also wonderful, but ultimately I found the gameplay increasingly frustrating. As a result I'm not that interested in returning to it for the additional challenges/content, which is a shame. Also disappointed that they didn't do much to distinguish/enhance it from the mobile version, thought they would've got HD Rumble in there at the very least. ::shrug: Pretty glad I got it on sale in the end.

 

Pokémon Unite:

Not really something that can be completed (I think :blank:) but I've put a few hours into it already and well, I haven't deleted it from my Switch yet. :heh: I imagine it'll end up being one of those games that I come back to every so often for a battle or two. I've never been into MOBAs (in fact this may be the first one I've ever played :hehe:) but they got my attention with this one due to the Pokémon skin. :grin: Also, Pikachu is an absolute beast in this, unlike the mainline Pokémon games. And finally, the game appears to be perfectly playable without making any purchases (I've been doing OK without them anyway) so that's good too.

 

I also put a couple of hours into Darkest Dungeon. Now there's a game that I really wanted to like as the presentation is super cool, but unfortunately the gameplay didn't click at all. It no doubt fits the style of the game very well, but it was just too confusing and monotonous for my liking. If they ever make a real-time game in this style though, I'm there!

Spoiler

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)
  18.     Little Nightmares (PC)
  19.     Part Time UFO (Switch)
  20.     Pokémon Unite (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)
  •     Darkest Dungeon (PC)

Older games that I'm still playing regularly:

  •     Mario Kart Tour (Mobile)
  •     Super Smash Bros. Ultimate (Switch)
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Most of my gaming lately has been solely dedicated to my Youtube series Gaming Anniversaries. For the Metroid series I added to my replay of Prime Hunters with some gameplay of Metroid: Other M and Metroid Fusion. Yes, I went through Other M again, at least up until the hell run. There was a fair bit I forgot about, such as the fact that the game locks the save room doors until you actually save and coming to the realisation that this game was trying to be like Metal Gear Solid. The game over screen reminds me so much of MGS.

 

I posed this video in the Metroid Dread thread but I figured since it covers the whole series and is relevant to what I'm doing here I might as well post it here too.

 

 

This does mean that actually playing new games or playing games I haven't finished yet has taken a backseat to playing games for these videos and I've still got three more planned. I will try and balance that with getting some more Switch games done and also playing that Ratchet & Clank demo I downloaded a while ago

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Posted (edited)

After finishing Kid Dracula in early July the next game I fired up with Metroid: Other M, it's one of only a couple of Metroid games I haven't played but technically my first experiences with the franchise came with the 2010 Wii entry - I bought it for £10 not long after launch and played the opening half hour or so but it didn't really click with me so I didn't play any more than that. Returning to it now I am much more familiar with the series and so things went much more smoothly this time and I very quickly progressed far beyond where I got on my first attempt. The cutscenes and dialogue were pretty jarring at first though, hearing Samus' flowery narration felt very alien for a Metroid game but I was pleasantly surprised to discover that despite a few lengthy cutscenes at the beginning of the game you are soon thrown into uninterrupted gameplay. Mechanically it feels very fluid although it is not very comfortable to play with the Wii remote in a sideways orientation, the controller just isn't built to held that way for long periods. It was always awkward when I had to switch to pointer mode to go first person too, the change in perspective is a nice idea but in practice it feels clunky - I don't know why they didn't give you the option to play it with a nunchuk connected, using the analog stick to move Samus around would have made the 3D environments easier to navigate and having the pointer easily accessible in your other hand (with a button press switching to first person) would have made things more enjoyable. Besides that though I don't have many complaints, I can understand why some people weren't happy with the narration and Samus' character development (and the way your abilities are locked out by Adam is pretty stupid) but in terms of gameplay its fantastic, really engaging combat and traversal - moving Samus around is a joy most of the time - the visuals really impressed me (and the music wasn't bad either) so I don't see why it gets so much flack, I'd very much like to see Nintendo try another Metroid in this style, the proto 3D side-scroller perspective seems like a natural progression for the series from its 2D roots and it'd be great to see them take it in that direction again after Dread. One gripe I had from playing it on original hardware though was with how bloody loud that Wii disc drive is - the constant seeking as it streamed in new data was very annoying, one of the plus points of a digital future (and the return of carts on Switch) is that that kind of noise isn't usually a concern these days. 

Next up I downloaded Sky: Children of the Light after it was released on the Switch eShop, I had been interested in trying it out as soon as it was revealed at an Apple event a couple of years back but playing it without traditional controls put me off picking it up on iPad so I was pleased to see it come to console. It is definitely going for the same vibe as thatgamecompany's earlier smash hit Journey but it never grabbed me like that game did, its weirdly contradictory in that it explains too much and too little at the same time and despite being beautiful to look at it didn't seem to hold much depth for me. Traversal was nowhere near as enjoyable as it was in Journey, so severely limiting your options in the beginning made it a bit of a chore to explore the environments and I never felt that curious about the world - I was always moving on to the next objective, the game didn't do enough to make me want to take a knee and become immersed in its world and lore. While the visuals of the actual game are lovely to look at, the user interface on top of it looks very cheap - belying its mobile roots. In fact one of the things that put me off most about Sky was the perception of it as a free to play mobile title, one that is not helped by seeing so many other people running around or all the messages that other players have left - the online functionality in Journey seemed restrained and mysterious, as if you had happened upon others by chance, but in this it is far too busy and ruins the immersion. I had some fun playing through Sky but it is not a game I will look back on fondly. 

I got Mario Golf: Super Rush for my birthday a few weeks back, I did the same with Mario Tennis Aces but found the single player a bit lacking - the heavy emphasis on the adventure mode for Super Rush made me more hopeful it would be an engaging story mode but unfortunately it still feels pretty cheap. It is immediately disheartening to see the limited animations during conversation, the characters aren't very expressive at all and the dialogue isn't atrocious but its basically just passable. The actual golf side of things is pretty fun, I found it much less frustrating than some of the matches in Aces (apart from that fucking XC course you need to complete to get a bronze badge) and if I regularly had people over to play games then I'm sure I would get more mileage out of it but playing it just for the single player I found it pretty underwhelming. 

Lastly for this entry I just completed The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD on Switch, I absolutely adored the original when it came out but, despite meaning to go back through it again, I never got around to playing it more than once. I never really expected them to port it to Switch so I was intending to either pick up the digital release on Wii U or fire up my original 2011 copy but for whatever reason I dragged my feet for a while and before I got around to playing it Nintendo kindly announced the remaster was coming to Switch and I pre-ordered it as soon as it was available (for continuity's sake I ordered the new limited edition joy con's to play it with too - my bank account was not pleased). I think this is the first 3D Zelda that I've played through since BOTW so it was pretty jarring to go back to something so restrictive, Link's movement was the first thing I noticed - he isn't exactly fluid in BOTW but here he feels positively wooden - but the charm of the visuals, characters and dialogue affords the game more time to bed in. One of the most impressive aspects back in 2011 were the motion controls and I was excited to try them out again here but they don't seem as reliable as they did back then - I had to recalibrate frequently, I think the size and shape of the joy con makes it harder to orient it in the same way consistently (but it could also be down to me playing while laying down on Switch rather than in a chair back in the day) - and there was a bit more waggle than I remember but for the most part the controls were engaging and enjoyable. On the topic of stiff movement one of the things that is hardest to get used coming off BOTW is how useless the sailcloth is in SS by comparison, in BOTW it is one of the most useful tools available - offering up so many more options for traversal - but in SS it pretty much only exists to negate fall damage, even towards the end of the game I still felt frustrated that I couldn't steer when falling. The sailcloth isn't the only mechanic that is affected by the more restrictive design, there is a lack of options in how to solve puzzles at times (nothing specific comes to mind now but I definitely remember two or three moments where more creative solutions occurred to me), and there must be a technical reason why you can't jump off Skyloft and summon your Loftwing from anywhere but it is undeniably dumb that you can only do so by jumping from a wooden platform. Skyloft itself is a wonderful place to spend time in though, and its residents offer charming dialogue along with compelling stories that build as you progress through the game, Gratitude Crystals are wonderfully stupid but collecting them rarely feels like a chore because the interesting tidbits you discover about the people of Skyloft always make it worth the effort. 

The flow of the game definitely suffers with how sectioned off every area is, aside from Skyloft it doesn't feel like you are exploring a persistent and immersive world - a problem that is exemplified by the facts that you can't travel directly between regions on the ground, you always have to take a detour to the sky first. One thing that is more noticeable due to the higher resolution is the gulf between the texture quality of Skyloft when exploring on foot compared to when flying above - today the transition between flight and on foot sections would be seamless, with the models and textures scaling depending on the players distance, but while flying above the town you can see just how much lower res the models and textures for the buildings are (something that probably wasn't an issue when playing on a CRT or a lower resolution digital monitor). It probably seems like I'm being quite negative about the game but in actuality I was having a blast playing through it, some of the dungeons and boss battles are among the best in the series (if BOTW 2 can include traditional intricate dungeons and more unique bosses then it could be nigh on perfect) while the narrative and lore are brilliant too. Groose is obviously a stand out character, his initial arrogance disguising his better qualities that come out as the story progresses its still disappointing that Zelda is somewhat reduced to the 'damsel in distress' but from early on it is clear that she is very much on her own adventure that is as vital to the narrative as Link's heroics. The finale doesn't disappoint, offering up two stunning boss battles that go some way to make up for all of those Imprisoned battles, Ghirahim is a really interesting villain while Demise seems genuinely intimidating, both of which provide the sort of compelling antagonist that BOTW was sorely missing. 

There are definitely issues with pacing (collecting the constituent parts of the final song is the most egregious bit of padding in the game) and things do feel a bit dated at times but for the most part it's still a joyous experience, one that I would be happy to play through all over again at some point down the line. 

I will probably dig into to some PS5 stuff next, I still haven't really played much in the way of 'next gen' stuff on it so I think it's high time I sunk my teeth into one of the titles that came in my bundle.

Edited by killthenet
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Posted (edited)
8 hours ago, killthenet said:

Besides that though I don't have many complaints, I can understand why some people weren't happy with the narration and Samus' character development (and the way your abilities are locked out by Adam is pretty stupid) but in terms of gameplay its fantastic, really engaging combat and traversal - moving Samus around is a joy most of the time - the visuals really impressed me (and the music wasn't bad either) so I don't see why it gets so much flack, I'd very much like to see Nintendo try another Metroid in this style, the proto 3D side-scroller perspective seems like a natural progression for the series from its 2D roots and it'd be great to see them take it in that direction again after Dread.

I'm in a similar boat with you there. Other M does have it's flaws, but they are comically inflated when the game gets discussed on the internet.

The problem this game has to deal with is that a lot of the Metroid die-hards had this idealised view of what Samus should be, a silent badass bounty hunter that always works alone and never has any qualms about exploding everything in her way.

So seeing her interacting with a group of Federation soldiers and having to deal with their protocol BS to reach a common goal really annoyed some people, because it wasn't "their Samus". Samus doesn't listen to authority, she takes directions from no-one! (That thinking conveniently ignores Prime 2, 3, and Fusion, but sure, Other M is the only game that does that, because Other M is the worst)

But I actually think it's an interesting way of having Samus start off with none of her upgrades. It makes sense that she'd have to rein in her Power Bombs and Super Missiles, so she doesn't accidentally vaporise any Federation members unlucky enough to be in the same room as her. Unfortunately, that idea falls apart once it starts stupidly preventing completely non-offensive stuff like the Varia Suit or the Space Jump.

But the one thing that really ticks people off?

Spoiler

It's the cutscene right before the Ridley fight.

I don't think any single cutscene has single-handedly driven so much hatred at a game. (Well, except maybe Mass Effect 3's ending)

For those of you reading this, but haven't actually played Other M, it's set right after Super Metroid, a game where Samus makes Ridley explode.

The problem is he somehow manages to show up here (It's not actually Ridley, it's actually the frozen corpse you see in Fusion before the X parasite copy it. Legit talk, that's the coolest reveal in Other M), anyway, this causes Samus to have a panic attack until Ridley slaps Anthony into a lava pit, (he survives, because Anthony is the best side character in that game) prompting Samus to deliver a swift butt-kicking.

Now, if you asked yourself "Wait, Samus had a panic attack? But why?" Congratulations! You've stumbled upon the problem most people have with that scene. They're wrong. That's not the problem with that scene.

You see, Samus has PTSD when it comes to Ridley. A massive, space dragon eating your parents when you were a kid would no doubt do that to most people. So seeing Ridley somehow come back from the dead triggers that PTSD (Again, not actually Ridley, but Samus didn't know that at the time) The actual problem with this scene is that it expects everyone playing the game to know this fact. And unfortunately, the only way you'd ever know that Samus has PTSD is if you read that Metroid Manga that only came out in Japan. (BTW, Ridley is capable of talking English in that manga, who knew? He's delightfully sadistic too!)

If you haven't read it, then Samus' reaction to Ridley in that scene just looks completely ridiculous. Which is a shame, because it's a neat idea, executed so very poorly!

The actual Ridley fight afterwards is the best boss fight in the entire series, and I will fight you on that!

Anyway, I too would like to see another Metroid game take Other M's gameplay and fine tune it to be more fun, but I doubt Nintendo will ever allow anything like that to be done after the reception it got.

Oh well, it got into the Top 10 Wii games here. So at least we have taste.

Edited by Glen-i
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I pretty much detailed my entire thoughts on Other M in the video I posted further up this page. Metroid Other M is about an hour into the video.

 

Basically I don't think the story is that great... in the English language version because Sakamoto insisted on being the one in charge of localisation. But his original Japanese script was incredibly nuanced and was meant to have Samus growing as a character throughout the entire thing. What Sakamoto didn't realise was that the English language doesn't have the same kind of nuance that the Japanese language does considering they have multiple words for what we in English would have as one word and the words are meant to express the intent (Ore-sama for instance is considered offensive as it indicates a seflish character). I do go into full detail in the video and playing the game reminded me of a few things I'd forgotten about. I still think its the weakest entry in the Metroid series but its far from the turd the internet makes it out to be as the gameplay is solid overall. It would be even better if it had a more traditional control system but I think that says something about what Team Ninja did that the game feels good to play in spite of a bad control system. You can also tell a ton of budget was pumped into this game given how graphically impressive some of those cutscenes look (space vistas are stunning).

 

Anyway, I've found something to play, Super Castlevania IV. I finally continued my playthrough of that game and have reached Stage 3-2. Curiously Stage 2-2 had a boss but not Stage 3. Odd....

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I've written up a review for the main site. So, gonna post it here.

Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin  

content-2-36540-monsterhunterstories2sidebox.jpg

 N-Europe Review 

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Well I finished Skyward Sword a few days ago (if I haven't mentioned it yet I loved it xD), but am still in a Zelda mood, so I've returned to Breath of the Wild.

I originally bought it physical, and couldn't remember where I put it. I also generally dislike switching carts. I had a voucher left over from when I bought SS, so I used that and rebought it digital lol xD. Plus I bought the DLC. So at some point I'll sell my physical copy. Maybe I'll wait until they don't sell them anymore and make ONE HUNDRED BILLION DOLLARS!

Anywho, returning to Breath of the Wild was slightly overwhelming. I fired up my old 2019 save and had pretty much forgotten the controls. I definitely don't remember any recipes, and I was like uhhhh okay what shall I do first. xD I settled on looking at the new sidequests added by the DLC and decided to first get the horse teleporter. I rarely used the horse since receiving fast travel which I always thought was a shame. So I've done that and now my horse can help me find shrines. Next I did a few shrines I hadn't yet done. I ended up doing a combat one, a hey congrats for getting here one, and a puzzle one.

My plan now is to finish all the remaining shrines and complete all the quests added by the DLC. So hopefully that'll keep me a happy gamer for a while!

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Two more in the bag! Haven't played this many games in a long time! Feels good :D Speaking of feel good...

59234-killer7-gamecube-front-cover.jpg

 

Killer7 was Suda 51's big breakout success in the west, and is the game that made him a household name amongts ultra hardcore Nintendo diehards and hardcore gaming nutcases the world over.  The last of the illustrious and exclusive Capcom Five for the Gamecube, Killer 7 is a game that absolutely should not exist.  It is an aberrition in every sense and nothing about its existence makes any sense.

Killer7 is perhaps best described as an on rails, point n' click adventure light gun geopolitical visual novel... what the fuck!?

536035-AAV1.jpg

Master. There has been a twist!

 

At a time where the traditional video game industry was starting to lean towards blockbuster AAA Hollywood style movie wannabe experiences, with ballooning budgets that pushed out everything that didn't fit into that "safe" mold (remember that this was just about 6 months before the Xbox 360 launched); Killer7 was pushed as a mainstream action shooter by Capcom.  In reality, it is an arthouse experiment made by Grasshopper Manufacture with the financial backing of a AAA publisher that allowed and pushed Suda51 to do whatever the fuck he wanted.  I cannot even fathom this kind of game being allowed to exist in the modern era, it is an absolute miracle this game was made!

You play as an assassin with 7 different personalities and unique combat & traversal abilities (which basically act as glorified keys); however, each one is usually locked off at the start of each chapter, and you have to kill a certain number of enemies (Heaven Smiles) in order to wake them all up.  All movement is handled on-rails, as holding the A button moves you forward, B turns you around and then you select which path to go down when you reach a junction.  Level design is labyrynthian in nature, and the included map is basically completely useless; but luckily stages aren't so large as to be impossible to memorise and figure out where you need to go.  Each stage is designed in much the same way, enter stage, kill the Smiles to wake up your personalities, find puzzles, find solutions to said puzzles, collect the Soul Shells, then cash-in the Soul Shells at the local rave club (yes, really) to go and fight one new Smile and then the boss of each stage.  Despite the repetitive nature of the game design, it doesn't actually feel all that repetitive throughout, as there is enough variety in enemy types and set-pieces to keep things feeling fresh throughout; and the puzzles are just engaging enough to get you thinking, without being overly complex & pace breaking.

Combat plays out much like a light gun game, where you must stop, stand still, scan for invisible enemies and then start shooting in first person.  Most enemies will have a particular weakspot for you to hit, and it's not usually easy as the game features realistic recoil and demands light gun style precision!  Depending on how you manage to dispatch the Smiles, you are granted a combination of Thin Blood (used for healing & powering up certain attacks) and Thick Blood (used for upgrading your Personality's skills).  There's an impressive variety in enemy types throughout the game that never lets up throughout its running time, and each personality's unique attributes are put to good use, as certain enemies are usually weak to specific characters (though Coyote was always my personal fave!).

It's a bizzare deconstruction of the action adventure genre that breaks its interconnected gameplay up into constituant parts and presents them as distinct genres; and yet it all somehow comes together to create that cohesive hardboiled feeling that this game is going for.  The absurdity of all of these disparate elements perhaps shows us how nonsensical the action adventure genre really is, as this ridiculous cocktail ends up making for a surprisingly compelling gameplay experience.

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You're... FUCKED!

 

The plot is near indecipherable, but involves a dude who wants to take down the US Government by creating Heaven Smiles; invisible monsters that glomp you and explode on contact.  Along the way you fight the power rangers, become mexican wrestlers, meet the head of the US Education Guidance Council (who happens to be an anime magical girl), get involved with a religious cult of chronic masturbators and play russian roulette with the US Secretary of Defence; oh yeah, and people also start a nuclear war with Japan for reasons.  Needless to say, Killer7 is batshit insane! And I fucking LOVE it! :D 

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I think that sums things up nicely

 

I'm loathe to go in depth with the insanity that happens throughout, because it really does need to be experienced in person.  It is a glorious mindfuck of biblical proportions that combines the sensibilities of Quentin Tarantino with French Art-House, mixed with anime, mixed with horror, mixed with Lucho Libre, mixed with some of the nastiest LSD you could possibly take.  It is perhaps the most Punk video game ever made, and it begs to be experienced.  Go and play it already!

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Punk's Not Dead!

 

After that? How about something a bit more "normal"...

 

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Finishing off the original GBA trilogy is Ace Attorney: Trials and Tribulations.  Released in 2004, this game had an extra 6 months or so of development compared to Justice for All and the results speak for themselves.  Trials and Tribulations has, by a clear margin, the most well written and well designed story in the series (with perhaps only Spirit of Justice coming close).  This game was originally supposed to mark the end of Phoenix's story, according to series original director Shu Takumi, and it shows; with a satisfying end to the story of the Fey Clan and a wonderfully complete exploration of Phoenix Wright as a character.

Every single case is solid gold, not an ounce of fluff to be found here (even the typical "silly filler case" ends up wonderfully expanding the overarching plot and bringing forth some brilliant character development).  Coming off the second game, which had some pretty flimsy logic that lead to some pretty frustrating moments, this tribulation is more like a revelation! It's not flawless mind you, there's a couple of moments that do have some annoyingly restrictive logic behind them...

Spoiler

Case 5:  Where you have to point out that Iris couldn't have possibly carried the body across the bridge due to the lightning strike.  For some dumb reason, you can't post the Weather Report on the part where she says that the snow had already stopped when the murder took place! You have to choose the previous statement, but only AFTER you have made the new statement appear where she says that the snow had already stopped.  It's dumb, it's stupid.  You should really be able to present the Weather Report on either statement; was stuck on that one for quite a while!

... but thankfully these are very rare.  For the most part, all the logic makes sense; a far cry from Justice for All.  Every mystery is well written and genuinely compelling, the characters are all brilliantly written and lovable... and also tragic too...

Spoiler

Terry's story in particular is really crushing... And you can really feel how his tragic end leaves a permanant scar on Mia.

This game also has perhaps the best villain in the entire series...

Spoiler

The way in which Dahlia Hawthorne comes back is absolutely brilliant and her presence as a villain from beyond the grave really sells her as a purely evil monster!

 While the game doesn't really introduce any new mechanics (making it the only game in the series to not introduce a major new gameplay mechanic), it takes what was added with Justice for All and really makes the most of it in a way that that game arguably didn't.

That's all to really be said about Trials and Tribulations.  It's the best game in the series, elegently refining what was done in the prior two games; wrapped up in the most well-written and satisfying story ever to grace the series.

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WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!

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

Castlevania: Circle of the Moon

Sabrewulf (GBA)

Actraiser

Sonic Delta (Sonic 1,2 and 3&K Combined!)

Bowser's Fury

Tales of Game's Presents Chef Boyardee's Barkley, Shut Up and Jam: Gaiden, Chapter 1 of the Hoopz Barkley SaGa

Terranigma

Metroid II: Return of Samus

Famicom Detective Club: The Missing Heir

Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney

Ace Attorney: Justice for All

Dicey Dungeons

Killer 7

Ace Attorney: Trials & Tribulations

 

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Posted (edited)
15 minutes ago, nekunando said:

Killer7 needs to be on Switch :love:

I’m sure it will be soon enough.  The Silver Case came out on Switch just recently, and they have the HD remaster on PC just waiting to get the same port treatment.  Would be shocked if it didn’t happen!

Edited by Dcubed

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4 minutes ago, Dcubed said:

I’m sure it will be soon enough.  The Silver Case came out on Switch just recently, and they have the HD remaster on PC just waiting to get the same port treatment.  Would be shocked if it didn’t happen!

I hope you're right :grin:

I played it not that long ago again and it holds up as one of my favourite games of that generation!

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Twelve Minutes

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Everyone’s first “loop” in twelve minutes will be similar: you get home to your small apartment and your wife has prepared a surprise dessert for you (I’m not quite sure what happened to the main meal, I guess he eats at work?), along with some news. As you both enjoy this excitement, a cop knocks on the door and a series of events ensue, resulting in you getting knocked out. 

You then start again having just entered your flat. This is a time loop game. Your goal isn’t quite clear, but you know you have to get out of your current situation, solving the mystery of the situation you are in, one loop at a time. Twelve Minutes takes place entirely in the apartment, so there’s only a limited amount of things to interact with. This helps narrow down what you can interact with, so for the most part there’s always something to try. 

One problem with the mechanics is that it’s not just about what you know, it’s about what the main character (unnamed, played by James McAvoy) knows, in order for him to try and convince his Wife (also unnamed, played by Daisy Ridley) or the Cop (played by Willem Dafoe). At various points in the game, you as a player know what’s happening, but you need to figure out what to do so that the correct dialogue options will appear. 

Some of working this out I do enjoy, and learning how each loop works and how to interact with everyone is really nice. The point and click side of things is quite well done, and apart from a couple of moments, I never felt completely lost in terms of not having any ideas to try out. What is very frustrating, however, is the dialogue options with the Wife. So many ideas will pop into your head on what you and the wife could attempt, but because there are a very limited options of dialogue choices, so most of your ideas you won’t be able to try out. It feels like you’re working out what the game wants you to do. It’s very different to The Outer Wilds (another time loop game) where if you have an idea, you can try it out. It means that in The Outer Wilds, it feels like you’re finding out how the world of the game works, while in Twelve Minutes, you’re figuring out what the code wants you to do. It’s not very immersive.

Twelve Minutes has a top-down perspective, but the aesthetics are quite nice. What is disappointing is that the animation is very wonky, right from the very first interaction (you and the wife interacting), it comes across very unnatural. It’s not helped with how a lot of the time, when you choose to talk to each other, your character will walk right to them in order to do so. It’s a strange complaint because I wouldn’t care about this in an older Point & Click game, but the style of Twelve Minutes, plus it happening in one apartment, just comes across as unrealistic. It’s a bit of an uncanny valley – because it has a realistic style, these flaws are much harder to dismiss.

Mild Spoilers about the beginning of the game from this point

Spoiler

Now, I love a good time loop story, and two parts in particular I love a lot: one is the characters slowly figuring it out, the other is the “fun” part where they realise they can do whatever to relax a bit before carrying on. Sadly, this game doesn’t really do well at either of those. After the first “reset”, I talked to my wife and immediately I was able to go into a rant about how the day keeps repeating. It’s like the main character already knew what the main concept of the game was. There’s no thinking it was possibly a daydream, just straight “this is a time loop!” before he had even seen anything repeat. The Wife didn’t even have a chance to say her opening lines at this point.

For having fun, there are a few things you can do, but they mainly involve just being cruel to your wife, so it isn’t very satisfying. The main thing left is the mystery of the game.

Lots of people hate finding out about some stuff relating to how the story as a whole works, so I will issue a spoiler warning for this as well. I will not be giving any details, purely my opinion on the quality of the story and its resolution (again, no details, just talking about its quality)

Warning Story Structure Spoilers from this point

Spoiler

So, as you unravel the mystery I really enjoyed figuring it all out. It got to a point where I was satisfied with how the game seemed to be turning out, but I was wrong and there was more. This is the point where the game just seems to be shocking for the point of being shocking, introducing a scenario which makes no sense whatsoever, it really, really sours the game when the simpler explanation would have been great. You can find out more and explore different endings, but the more you find out, it just seems to introduce worse tropes. Of course, with the multiple possible endings there’s also an element of “interpret it in your own way”, but when what you have to work with is so bad, there’s no motivation to do so.

I love time loop games, and point and click adventures, but unfortunately this is missing the vital elements of both. 

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Psychonauts 

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Originally released in 2005, Psychonauts is an action platformer all about people with psychic abilities. Despite it’s cute graphics, the world of Phychonauts is surprisingly dark, but deservingly so because it’s entwined into the game and doesn’t feel like it’s there for shock value.

You play as Raz, a circus runaway who infiltrates a psychic summer camp. The teachers (who are part of a group of psychic secret agents) are impressed by his abilities, so let him tag along until his dad can collect him. He makes friends (and enemies) and uncovered a nefarious plot.
While the designs of all the characters are cartoony and colourful, they feel very real. I was very surprised by the kids in the game, as they do somewhat understand adult things (just like real kids), some of them just care about making out while others even struggle with deep things like suicide – the latter of which is only something you find out by talking to them, not paraded out in the open to go “look how edgy the game is”. It feels like Psychonauts tackles real trauma, from the perspective of kids and adults.

One key element of Psychonauts is entering the minds of other people, starting with the teachers, who will teach you abilities. You start off being able to perform acrobatics and a double jump (learnt from being in a circus), and learn some attacks like a pyrotechnic attack and a shooting attack, along with other abilities like a shield, invisibility and telekinesis. One key power is levitation, where you move around on top of a ball, letting you jump higher and slow down your descent by using it as a balloon.

Later on, you’ll be entering the minds of other people, including patients of a mental asylum, and helping them out with their issues. This setup means that Phyconauts has very unique and creative levels, all with their own style. The objective isn’t as much as getting from A to B, but to solve the objective of the level. One level lets you be a giant monster, smashing buildings, while another has you help someone play a board game, interacting with it at three different scales.

One level that does need a specific mention is the Meat Circus, the last level. Here, the difficulty ramps up massively, as the game has you playing timed segments while introducing new platforming tricks that are either new, or were barely used apart from the tutorial. One segment has you racing up to protect someone (who is constantly yelling for help with an annoying voice), so you’re trying to figure out what to do and failing means you start at the beginning of the segment. This is the only notable place where the camera was an issue. This version is also the “easier” version, so I can’t imagine the frustration playing the original version of it.

That level is really the only main negative of the game, the rest of it is wonderful, with great humour alongside the dark themes. It’s still very fun to play. I’ve played A Hat In Time before and I see now that it got a lot of inspiration from Psychonauts.

If you like platform games, I highly recommend giving Phyconauts a go.

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Rage 2:

 

Enough time had passed since the traumatic experience of playing Doom Eternal :heh: for me to want to check out another FPS, and this was it. Didn't realise it was also an open world game, which felt a bit weird at first, but I really grew to enjoy it. The combat in this game is just ludicrously fun! And it manages to be fast-paced, exciting and challenging without being completely OTT (i.e. Doom Eternal :heh:) so I was actually able to keep up with everything that was going on. Traversing the world outside of missions was a nice change of pace too, and the environment (despite being mostly wasteland) is really beautiful. Game has an absolutely insane colour scheme though, at times it was like watching old American TV with how oversaturated it can be. :laughing: Certainly gives it a unique look though.

 

Control:

 

I actually started playing this earlier in the year, but was so unbelievably confused by literally everything that I dropped it after a couple of hours. :blank: Decided I would give it another chance though, and this time around (while still very confused :hehe:) I managed to delve deeper into the game and eventually it kind of clicked. I still found myself getting lost a lot (this game has one of the most unhelpful maps :shakehead) but as I progressed and unlocked more fast travel points it got easier to figure out where I was or where I needed to be going. One thing that didn't get much easier to understand was the story, it was confusing at the beginning and it was still confusing at the end. :grin: But I'm still very glad that I came back to Control, some of the stuff in it (especially towards the end of the game) is really impressive...
 

Spoiler

I particularly enjoyed the trippy parts where the building became all contorted, and of course this spectacle:

 

 

Yeah, the visuals were a big help in keeping me interested, there are some amazing sights to behold in this one, particularity with ray tracing enabled. :cool: Not to mention how cool the environment destruction system is, the attention to detail there is just crazy! :o Thankful for the inclusion of DLSS though, no way my PC could run the game at that quality level+60fps without it.

 

Quick mention on A Plague Tale: Innocence, I gave this game a really good go and wanted to see it through, but the "paint by numbers" stealth gameplay is just so rigid and unforgiving that I simply do not have the patience for it. :( A shame, as everything else was very cool indeed.

Anyway, that's my diary up to date. Next update with probably only feature 1 game as what I'm currently playing is, a biggie... ;)

 

Spoiler

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)
  18.     Little Nightmares (PC)
  19.     Part Time UFO (Switch)
  20.     Pokémon Unite (Switch)
  21.     Rage 2 (PC)
  22.     Control (PC)

Played for a while:

  •     Cyber Shadow (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)
  •     Darkest Dungeon (PC)
  •     A Plague Tale: Innocence (PC)

Older games that I'm still playing regularly:

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

 

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Posted (edited)

3 more in the bag! One I wasn't expecting to find myself playing right away... speaking of which, that one's...

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Twelve Minutes is an interactive thriller about a man trapped in a time loop.  It was released on Game Pass Day 1 and I figured I'd give it a quick go to see what it was like... I ended up playing it for what seemed like twelve hours rather than twelve minutes!

I'm a sucker for a game with a genuinely novel concept, and this game certainly fit the bill.  The basic idea is that you are stuck in a 12 minute loop (real-time) and you have to piece together the mystery behind what's happening.  Naturally, you'll find yourself repeating the loop over and over; and each time, you pick up new pieces of information along the way that you can then use to question the game's cast and advance the story forward.

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Ahh don't worry, she'll be back in a few minutes, no biggie.

 

The entire game takes place in a single apartment, consisting of just three rooms.  It's a micro world with a limited cast of characters; but what this world lacks in breadth, it makes up for in depth.  This little apartment is impressively dense in how it can be interacted with; as you can mess around with all the objects scattered throughout each room.  The game then becomes somewhat of a puzzle box, where you have to figure out what items to use at what given time in order to trigger something new and figure out a new lead in moving the story forward.  At the start, I found myself really enjoying messing around with all of the various things and seeing what I could do with them and what interactions I could trigger; almost like a micro Metal Gear Solid.

Not every object is absolutely needed to advance the story however, as some end up being red herrings and some are just there for fun...

Spoiler

Yes you can choose to stab yourself with the knife.  No it serves no purpose.  Yes it is always funny.

I found myself drawn into the mystery and having a lot of fun experimenting with the myriad of interactions and conversation possibilities... however, this does eventually lead to some frustration as you reach the latter half of the story, as you start hitting roadblocks because you aren't triggering JUST the right flags to get the game to do what you want... In general, I feel that the game kind of falls apart towards the latter half of its running time...

Spoiler

Eventually, as a player, you figure out that there are only two real branches to how the interactive story plays out.  One where you electrocute the Cop and interregate him; and the other where the Cop busts in and kills you.

Once you're past the initial few loops, the whole story (and gameplay loop) devolves into revolving around jumping back and forth between these two branches.  You get one piece of information from one branch, then you reset the timeloop, then you do the other branch & trigger some new dialogue to get new information; then you reset the timeloop and go back to do the other branch to trigger new information and... Yeah, you get the idea.  It becomes a bit robotic and repetitive after a while, and it can be frustrating once you realise that you're going through the motions of doing the same actions again and again to just push each branch forward a tiny bit each time.

Eventually it can start to feel monotonous, especially once you figure out the game structure.

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Sigh... time to grab the sleeping pills yet again...

And in terms of the story? Well it certainly starts off interesting enough...

Spoiler

What starts off as a mystery to figure out why you're stuck in a time loop ends up turning into a mystery about who killed your wife's father.  Ok, so far so good... Then it ends up going completely off the rails and becomes an entierly different story that isn't even a murder mystery anymore...

Spoiler

... as it turns out.  You're actually your wife's brother, and you had wonderful incest that got your sister pregnant with a freak baby.  Oh, and this whole 12 minute long scenario is a figment of your imagination where the true ending is about having your father hypnotise you so that you forget everything and go back to banging your sister!?

What the actual fuck!?

Honestly? I would've preferred it if they stuck with keeping this game as a whodunnit murder mystery.  I found that concept much more interesting than what it actually turned out as.  The game should've ended when you managed to convince the cop to not kill you and you gave him the pocket watch; that would've been much more satisfying.

Also...

Spoiler

Like... COME ON!!! How the hell did neither you or your sister recognise that the "cop" was actually your father!? Like, even with the absolutely groan inducing unreliable narrator trope being used here for the main character (How very Heavy Rain), there's no excuse for the sister not recognising him! Or the sister not knowing that the person she's sleeping with is her brother! Like... HOW!? How does this make any sense!?

It's a shame as well, because I still really like the concept and how the story is told, but when it goes off the rails, it never manages to get back on them.  I suppose the game's scope is too limited for it to remain as a straight whodunnit as it is though, as there just aren't enough characters within the story for there to be any real mystery (I mean, if it wasn't the wife whodunnit, then who was it ever going to be other than you!?).

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A Freudian Slip in more ways than one

Overall, I enjoyed my time with Twelve Minutes; despite my grievances with the latter half of the gameplay loop and the story.  I like the way that the story is told, even though the story doesn't really hold up to scrutiny with even a very basic analytical eye.  It probably needed to be larger in scope with its environments & cast of characters for it to really flourish, but I appreciate the attempt to tell a story in such a unique way.  Much like Heavy Rain, I feel that Twelve Minutes actually does largely succeed in providing a genuinely novel form of storytelling that can only really be done in the form of a interactive game; and for that alone, I recommend giving it a go (hey! It's on Game Pass for nothing! You might as well!).  The novelty of the experience within this neat little puzzle box outweighs my overarching greivances with the game; and in an industry where novel concepts are becoming increasingly rare? Take them when you get them!

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It's worth the time you spend

 

Next...

93966-metroid-zero-mission-game-boy-adva

 

So my sister played through Metroid Zero Mission recently and it got me in the mood to play it again myself (and no, it's not because I'm stupidly hyped up for Metroid Dread, no! Absolutely not!!).  This was just a basic Any% run through on Normal difficulty, no 100% completion or Low% Hard Mode this time around; just a casual playthrough with no sequence breaking... (though I did find myself trying the Early Super Missiles skip, I couldn't help myself!).

Anywho, you likely all know the score with Metroid Zero Mission.  It's a very loose re-telling of the original NES Metroid, essentially a brand new game that only shares the general location, story and cast of characters and that's about it.  The entire gameplay structure and level design is completely new; and it's an absolute blast!

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Hang on... I DON'T remember you!

 

Metroid Fusion received unanimous critical acclaim when it released in 2002, bringing back 2D Metroid in style on Nintendo's shiny new 32 bit portable powerhouse.  However, it also received a lot of critisism from the fanbase for turning its back on the open-ended structure of its SNES predecessor, in favour of a much more linear and narrative focused gameplay structure.  While Super Metroid was well known for being highly pilable, where its intended sequence of events could easily be broken and completed well out of the order that its designers originally intended; the same designers decided that Metroid Fusion would take a firm stance against this, in favour of a tightly scripted and focused horror-inspired adventure.  To this very day (20 years later!), there is still no known way (outside of memory corruption) to sequence break Metroid Fusion in any form.

Metroid Zero Mission is a direct response to the critisism received by Metroid Fusion.  In fact, Metroid Zero Mission would go beyond even Super Metroid in terms of sequence breaking, as it is intentionally designed to be broken.  Virtually every single item is skippable (the only ones you absolutely need are the morph ball, the bombs, one missile tank, one super missile tank, the power grip and the three unknown items for a whopping 9% completion!), and bosses can be completed in basically any order you like (and some can be ignored entierly!).  The game even rewards you with unique gallery images for completing a low% run on both Normal & Hard mode! Yeah, this game was designed for those that loved breaking Super Metroid!

However, even when completing the game in the "intended" way, Metroid Zero Mission is still a far more open game than Metroid Fusion was; with Chozo Statues largely only offering vague hints as to where to go.  The world is significantly smaller than in Super Metroid, so you aren't all that likely to get too lost regardless though.  As such, Metroid Zero Mission has a very fast-paced and breezy feel to its gameplay, where you are constantly making rapid progress; rarely do you go five minutes without coming across some sort of significant upgrade, or stumbling onto a new route, which makes it a great fit for handheld play.

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Oh yes! I can hear the item acquisition sound in this picture right now!

 

However, despite this being a re-telling of NES Metroid, that doesn't mean that it isn't chock full of new ideas and gameplay concepts... because it is! Ziplines, morph ball cannons, multi-stage bosses, unknown items... This game is a non-stop barrage of brilliant new gameplay ideas and concepts.  It's all killer and no filler.  This also extends to the presentation as well, as the game incorporates some pretty nifty cutscenes that give the game a pensive atmosphere; something not seen in previous entries in the series.

The bosses are also a major highlight, as to be expected from a post Super Metroid Metroid game; they're all really fun to fight and look great on the GBA.  I do have to say though that they're all kind of a pushover though; unless you're doing a low% run, you're very unlikely to find yourself really challenged by them (though if you ARE doing a low% run? Oh man... you're in for a ROUGH time!).

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When did you get so big!?

 

Of course, the biggest new addition to the game is the introduction of Chozodia, an all new stealth section that introduces Zero Suit Samus as a bounty to be hunted.  It's a genuinely tense sequence that I absolutely adore, though it ends all too soon... That being said though? The feeling of sheer, overwhelming POWER that you feel when Samus gets all her gear back and starts literally blowing the Space Pirate Ship apart is just amazing! So it's all good.  Nintendo have already said that Metroid Dread will be taking specific inspiration from the Chozodia sequence of Metroid Zero Mission; so naturally, that has me hyped to high heaven! :D 

That fast-paced breezy feeling I mentioned earlier also applies to the core gameplay controls too; Samus moves like greased lightning in this game, and so too do the enemies.  It feels great to play, and as a result? This game is just a blast to play through in a short timeframe (my casual playthrough was around 1 hour 40 mins; which is not a fantastic time by any means BTW!).

About the only real critique I have regarding Metroid Zero Mission is that the game kind of ends on a bit of an unsatisfying note.  Mecha Ridley is a pretty lame final boss who doesn't put up a tremendous fight (again, unless you're doing a low% Hard Mode run!), and the resulting end-game escape sequence is far from the most dramatic in the series; even the final cutscene feels a bit rushed and unsatisfying.  Especially after the absolute rush of getting your equipment back and storming your way through the ship to get the power bombs, Mecha Ridley is a right pushover!

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Sorry Mecha Ridley, you tried.  I'm sure that Nintendo will find better ways to shoe-horn you into future games though.

 

Anyway, that sums up my feelings of Metroid Zero Mission.  It's one of the best, perhaps even THE best, classic 2D Metroid games in the series.  A casual playthrough doesn't really do the game justice though, as the real fun is to be had when you start experimenting with sequence breaks, 100% completion and low% runs.  I'm not up for that kind of challenge right now though; but perhaps I'll return to it for another crack at a low% run some time soon?

See you next mission!

 

Finally...

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So I'm pretty late with this one (no it's not a replay! It's my first time playing through Travis Strikes Again!).  I got this game all the way back in 2019, but I never got round to playing it.  With the constant barrage of updates, bug fix patches and DLC? I figured it was probably best to just wait until the dust had settled, everything had been released and the game was in a "finished" state before bothering to play it.  And with No More Heroes 3 just releasing now? Well, it seemed like the perfect time to finally play through Travis Strikes Again.

And right from the bat... HOLY SHIT!!

Spoiler

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HOLY FUCK! IT'S DAN SMITH!!! I'M GOING TO CUM, JESUS CHRIST!!!!

So... yeah! Good thing I played through Killer7 recently! I had NO idea this was added in post-launch and it absolutely blew my tiny little mind! This certainly has some huge ramifications for Suda51's games going forward! :o 

Travis Strikes Again is a bit of a love letter to Grasshopper Manufacture's history and to the world of indie games in general.  It's a decidedly smaller budget title in comparison to Suda51's previous works, but it had to be... This was the first game that Grasshopper Manufacture made after they bought back their independence from GungHo Online Entertainment, and naturally, they had to make this game with a much downsized team and without the financial backing of Puzzle & Dragons money.  Grasshopper Manufacture had to convince Marvelous to not only give them the rights to make a new No More Heroes game, but also get funding for its creation.  And it was always obvious from the outset that Travis Strikes Again was an "interim" game of sorts, a test-run to get the go-ahead for a true No More Heroes 3; something that even Suda51 himself admitted was the case.  So I went into this game with tempered expectations, knowing full well that it was a much smaller scale title than the previous No More Heroes games.  However, what is also important to keep in mind is that Travis Strikes Again marks not only the return of Travis Touchdown... but also the return of Suda51 in the director's chair!

No More Heroes 1 from 2007 was the last time that Suda51 had directed a game himself, following which he stepped into an executive producer role in order to allow younger members of Grasshopper Manufacture to take the reins... and his absence has been sorely felt ever since.  Even No More Heroes 2, despite being a much more polished title, lacked that insane spark that made the original game so memorable; and instead felt like a contemporary sequel.  And the same is true of every single Grasshopper game since the release of No More Heroes back in 2007; despite putting out some perfectly fine games, they have all lacked that off kilter quality that is so uniquely "Suda51".

And I am pleased to report that this game absolutely succeeds at bringing back that epherial "Suda51" quality that we have so sorely missed!

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Fuck yes!! Let's get smelly!

 

After TWO lavish CG intros, you are greeted with seeing Travis shoved into a trailer where he's been bumming it in the woods & wasting his life with video games since the end of No More Heroes 2.  Badman is drunk off his rocker, and Jeane the cat has basically doubled in body size since No More Heroes 2; seriously! She is really out of shape!  The basic premise sees Travis get sucked into various games for the cancelled Death Drive Mark II console; banned for being known for killing people and doing other nasty things that are spoilers.  The presentation immediately gives off a vaguely 60s drug fuelled vibe that is absolutely lovely; and you quickly realise that this game is essentially No More Heroes distilled into a top-down/isometric co-op beat 'em up.

The combat has been heavily simplified here from the mainline titles.  You've got a light attack (that's essentially an auto attack as you hold down the button), a heavy attack and then a jumping variation of each attack... and that's about it! There's also some equippable skills that add some much needed variety to the combat, each with a cooldown inbetween uses.  However, I found that only a real handful of skills were of any real use; so inevitably I stuck with the same 4 skills throughout the whole game more or less, as they were just clearly better than whatever else I was getting.

While Travis Strikes Again bills itself as having a collection of 6 unlockable "games", they're not really individual games.  Rather they're just stages, which have different theming and some differing mechanics, but generally all play in much the same fashion.  You jump in, you beat up bad guys through various waves, you might have the occassional switch to hit or so, you run around to find some sort of object, you bring it to where it needs to go to, you beat up more bad guys, you eventually get to the boss, you kill them and get a new skill chip.  Rinse and repeat.

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DAH NAH NAH NAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!

 

Breaking up each stage is a sequence of visual novel chapters called Travis Strikes Back.  These chapters give some context to the story and show how Travis gets his hands on each death ball.  They're very entertaining and very well written in that signature Suda51 style that brings to mind the writing of The Silver Case; oh! speaking of which...

Spoiler

The connection is made pretty overt here, as Kamui from The Silver Case actually appears as a key character within the story! While it's unclear exactly how much these visual novel sequences actually take place in the real world, the idea of an interconnected Suda51 universe is now established with the introduction of Dan Smith; so I'm inclined to believe that it's all canonical!

I really loved the VN sequences, the writing is excellent and I found myself always looking forward to reading more about what's going on here.  The amount of mindbendingly insane meta bullshit going on as well is staggering! And I loved every moment of it! THIS is the good shit that I miss so dearly from Grasshopper Manufacture/Suda51's earlier works!

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Warning.  This is canon.

 

While Suda51's games are known for being obtuse and obnoxious when it comes to their gameplay (usually intentionally), I usually enjoy their mechanics for their esoteric nature and over-the-top insanity that keeps driving me forward.  Here though? The gameplay really is just too basic to keep my interest throughout... and combined with stages that are obnoxiously long (often for comedic effect), it does start to feel like a right slog.  While the combat mechanics work fine enough, they just lack the complexity needed to keep things interesting throughout the game's overall length, and end up feeling monotonous; as there just isn't enough gameplay variety here (only Golden Dragon GP really adds some real change-up with the gameplay, and that's still as basic as basic gets).  Most stages simply go on far too long, and there just isn't enough variety with the gameplay mechanics or enemy types to keep my interest.  As such, I found myself begging for stages to end; as they wore out their welcome well before the end of their running time.  The bosses are pretty good, but you'll have to suffer the long slog of standard mooks before you get there.  Quite frankly, this game would've been far better if each stage was cut in length by about 75%; get rid of all this fat that bogs down the game and it'd be a MUCH better experience for it.

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The good bits are worth trudging through the chaff however

 

Travis Strikes Again is absolutely an interim game.  It serves its purpose as a revival of Suda51 within the directorial role and a successful prelude to the real No More Heroes 3.  It's an absolutely bonkers mindfuck that contains all of the elements that I missed so dearly from Suda51's previous works; and it sets up a bright future for both the series, and Grasshopper Manufacture as a developer.  However, it is a pretty weak action game taken out of context; and I can't deny that while it can be fun in small doses, the repetition sinks in quickly and the game does end up feeling like a slog to get through.  But it's still absolutely worth dealing with the weak parts to get to the good stuff.  I'm really glad to have Suda51 back in the director's seat where he belongs, and to see Grasshopper go back to making smaller and more focused titles again.  I just hope that the real No More Heroes 3 does a better job with its combat and gameplay variety than Travis Strikes Again managed.

 

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

Castlevania: Circle of the Moon

Sabrewulf (GBA)

Actraiser

Sonic Delta (Sonic 1,2 and 3&K Combined!)

Bowser's Fury

Tales of Game's Presents Chef Boyardee's Barkley, Shut Up and Jam: Gaiden, Chapter 1 of the Hoopz Barkley SaGa

Terranigma

Metroid II: Return of Samus

Famicom Detective Club: The Missing Heir

Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney

Ace Attorney: Justice for All

Dicey Dungeons

Killer 7

Ace Attorney: Trials & Tribulations

Twelve Minutes

Metroid Zero Mission (Normal Difficulty, Any % casual playthrough)

Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes

 

Edited by Dcubed
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On 20/06/2021 at 8:15 PM, Jonnas said:

Gotta rethink how to do this on my way forward.

I said it right there! Was I too obvious?

Indeed, I wanted to pay homage to my favourite E3 announcements in years, but wasn't sure if I could pull off a Metroidvania month (and it turns out, I couldn't pull off "a month", even)... But I did have a few WayForward games on my backlog (one of which is a Metroidvania!), so it was time to check out the pedigree of the people in charge of the Advance Wars revival.

 

Shantae: Risky's Revenge

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More like... risqué revenge

Originally released in 2010 for the DSiWare (and considered to be pretty much the only must-have title from that store), Risky's Revenge was the first ever sequel to the GBC original. The game that made Shantae a franchise. And at the time it was considered the revival of an obscure old title (likely because said old title was two generations old at that point). It's a bit of an unusually slow start for a videogame mascot and icon, you could say Shantae really had to earn her fame. And now I'm experiencing this on Steam.

So, WayForward's own original character was to star in a much improved version of the original: Risky attacks the town, Shantae travels around a world map and a few dungeons to make things right. It's good to have a workable status quo like this. Through her journey, Shantae (re)learns how to turn into animals, and gains new spells and abilities.

Compared to the first game, I'd say level design and playability are much improved: no more obtuse shortcuts, no weird niggles with the dancing mechanics, and no waiting around for day/night mechanics. Furthermore, the new spells/items make combat considerably more engaging, and the difficulty curve works wonders. And maybe it's because I haven't played a sprite-intensive game in a while, but I love the animations! So charming, so detailed, so fluid, so full of character.

I confess this was a shorter game than I was expecting (roughly 4 hours), but it's in line with the Metroid franchise. Plus, they pack those 4 hours with quality time, varied levels and challenges, and plenty of nooks and crannies to explore. There are only 3 Zelda-style dungeons in the game, but they're all memorable.

Plot and writing-wise, it's all humorous in the best possible way. NPCs lampshade some silly aspects of how "gamey" the town is, major events happen and characters are weirdly chill with it, and nobody knows that a genie can get trapped in a lamp. The main flaw in this game's writing... the font. Feels like such a cheap, default settings kind of choice.

Overall, I feel like this was a 4.5/5 game. Short and sweet, and really good at being... good. I was on the fence after the rough GBC game, but this sequel, I can see why people fawned all over Shantae after this. Pirate's Curse is supposed to be even better, right? That one shot up on my consideration.

I should mention, I beat the game once, collected 100% items, and then unlocked Magic Mode, which should spice things up, but I'll leave that for a future replay.

 

Double Dragon Neon

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"Hole in One!" -Billy Lee, as he hits someone with a baseball bat

Oh hey, a franchise revival. Radical!

Double Dragon has always been a franchise I respected a lot. When I was a kid, that was THE Beat'em Up franchise. Contrary to what you may think, I'm not the biggest expert on this genre, so I didn't exactly keep up with it either... So imagine my surprise when I'm browsing SupraDarky's "Best VGMs" playlists, and this pops up. Is this Double Dragon? What? How? When? And where? As I would come to learn: There was a wild '80s style reimagining of the franchise, WayForward did it, 2012, and on Steam. So I got it at some point.

First of all, the '80s aesthetic is totally out of this world. Bodacious babes, tubular levels, and humongozoid bosses. Heavy. With a rocking soundtrack and a spiffy sense of humour, I was smiling the whole way through. There are even plenty of references to other '80s pop culture stuff, like He-Man, TMNT, or Jurassic Park. Did I mention the humour? Because it's great, I'll say it again. Between the main villain's puns, the scientists with thick New Jersey accents, and Billy's rad 'tude, this is all very wacky. And the soundtrack is totally rocking, pretty much all of it 80s-style music (both pop and rock). It's amazing how much range Jake Kaufman has.

Gameplay-wise... totally Double Dragon! Not that I remember much from the original games, but I do remember the opening, Abobo (the first boss), and the following warehouse stage with the rolling carpet and the pit. The game gets wilder from there, but there's still references here and there (like the Dragon Palace aesthetic, and even a reference to "Bimmy Lee", an infamous typo).

What I figure is new is the "mixtape" (or cassette) mechanic. There are two slots for mixtapes, one relating to permanent stat changes, and another one that defines your super move. You can switch these freely on the fly according to what you want to do at that moment. I usually had "Training Wheels" equipped (ups defensive stats), but would often switch to "Power Gambit" (ups offensive stats) and "Desperation" (ups every stat during low health). My usual super move was Hurricane Kick (great for crowd control), but would sometimes use Fireball (ranged attack) or One-Inch Punch (close-range high-damage move). With 10 different mixtapes for each slot, I'm sure there's a lot of gameplay variety.

I eventually figured out how to do proper combos, but the game never lost its challenge. I doubt it ever would, considering there were higher difficulty levels to unlock. There's also a very healthy variety of great bosses, it's a really fun game, potentially the best Beat'em Up I've ever played (though do remember I'm not that deep into the genre, haven't played Streets of Rage yet). I only played through it once, but I'm sure this is one I'll revisit in the future.

(Sadly, I didn't get to play this in co-op. Don't know anybody who'd be up for it, anyway)

 

A Boy and His Blob

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"Now who is the Boy,
and who is his Blooooob"

Originally released for the NES in 1989, A Boy and His Blob was a creative game about a boy with limited movement, solving puzzles with the help of his shapeshifting pet buddy, but its reception was lukewarm at best... It nevertheless captured the imagination of one Sean Velasco, and when he became a Game Director for WayForward in late 2000s, he chose to produce a high quality re-imagining of a childhood favourite. And thus, this lovely title got made for the Wii in 2009. And eventually made its way to the PC, where I now played it (on GOG).

So, getting the obvious out of the way: this game looks absolutely stunning. The backgrounds and characters look super cute and colourful, the animations are very elaborate, and the whole thing feels like a playable Ghibli film. It's been 12 years and this game still looks fabulous, once again confirming that a strong, well-executed art style is as timeless as it is memorable.

The game itself is a somewhat straightforward puzzle platformer. You control the boy as the blob follows you around. You always have a number of seemingly endless jellybeans on your backpack that you can throw onto the floor, platforms, and such. The blob will then rush to it and eat it, transforming into an object (depending on the colour of the jellybean) that can then be used to solve puzzles and overcome specific obstacles (for example, blob can turn into a ladder so the boy can reach higher platforms, or into a parachute to then navigate a perilous pit).

Which types of jellybean you have access to depend on the level you're at, but you always have access to the dark blue bean: the one that turns blob into a balloon that floats to your location. This is made to prevent unwinnable situations where blob can't reach the boy (though I somehow found myself in unwinnable situations at least twice).

The boy is very awkward and clunky to control, but this is clearly intentional. The boy is just a physically weak child, using clever solutions to avoid danger. Every hit is a kill in this game, and there's even fall damage for the boy. This isn't much of an issue until the final levels, which can get excessively dangerous. Nevertheless, there are bosses anyway, they're all just puzzle battles, is all.

Each level, besides the direct route to the end, also has 3 treasure chests to be found, and swallowed by the blob. Finding all 3 unlocks an extra bonus level, usually with intensive uses of a single blob form. So it's basically the DKC system, but with extra steps.

So the game is sweet, gorgeous, substantial, and perfectly playable. The puzzles are fine, creative, and consistently throw new concepts at the player. Is there any significant flaw? Well, yes. For starters, the game is too beautiful for its own good, by which I mean, every animation takes a very detailed long time, which isn't much of an issue at first, but in trickier puzzles, if you need to get finicky with the blob's specific location, it can get infuriating. Plus, then the boy might die, which also takes time, and if you're fighting a boss, you'll need to see their introduction again, it's all a big bother.

Another big issue is that the last few levels are a bit worse than the rest oft he game. Besides the problem with a lot of enemies around to kill you, there's the issue that hitboxes aren't clear (I've gotten killed by explosions I swear weren't near me), and one of the levels somehow trapping blob in a visible room. But at least I could still die to restart from a checkpoint, a later situation literally had a checkpoint on a spot I literally could not escape nor survive from (so I had to manually exit the level). All of this is already annoying during regular levels, but bonus levels lack checkpoints entirely, so these problems get even further exacerbated there. In a nutshell, lategame level design gets annoying, on top of wasting your time.

But don't let these issues detract you, it's still a very delightful game. I just figure, it takes a certain level of patience for full enjoyment.

On a final note, I recall this game originally came out during an era where Indie titles were "supposed" to look budget and/or limited. Something that looked this good had to be a full-priced game, and I think that ultimately hurt its sales and visibility. I'm positive it would be 20-30€ if it had been released today.

-------------------------

So, I have two conclusions: the first is that WayForward is really good at not just remaking older titles, they're great at giving them new life, and a whole new identity of their own. They're also really good at coming up with memorable visual styles that are distinct in their own right.

The second conclusion is that... this monthly pot-pourri has run its course. It was getting stressful to play a handful of games in such a hurry, and I certainly wasn't fulfilling those deadlines) I mean, just look at the dates I completed these titles, they were meant to be for July! Plus, it's preventing me from playing bigger games I also want to play (like Bravely Default II). And with the further knowledge that Metroid and Advance Wars are coming, plus my Halloween weekend (the thing that gave me the idea in the first place) is likely busy this year, it's best to give the pot-pourri an official end.

I'm not discarding the idea of themed bundles/months/playthroughs, but they're likely to be more sporadic from now on.

  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)

-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)

-Shantae: Risky's Revenge (2010) Beat (July 4th)

-Double Dragon Neon (2012) Beat (July 18th)

-A Boy and His Blob (2009) Completed (August 19th)

 

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)

-Adventure Bar Story (2012) (July 20th)

 

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DsiWare is full of must-play gems! The Art-Style series, Mighty Flip Champs, Four Swords Anniversary, X-Scape/3D Space Tank, Face Pilot, Photo Dojo all immediately spring to mind as must-play exclusives.

You really should check out the DSiWare library.  The games might be small, but it’s home to some of the best games that the DS library has to offer!

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4 hours ago, Dcubed said:

You really should check out the DSiWare library.  The games might be small, but it’s home to some of the best games that the DS library has had to offer!

:(

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55 minutes ago, Sméagol said:

:(

They’re still available via the 3DS eShop!

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Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, Dcubed said:

They’re still available via the 3DS eShop!

It's too bad the 3DS shop isn't available on my DSi. ;)

I had a look recently coincidentally. It confirmed I had some points left, 720 I think. Unlike with the Wii, I wasn't on top of the news about that shop closing, so missed my chance to use the remaining points. Also, like the wii shop, there still 1 or 2 things available, but I forgot what they were, one was the browser I think, which is practically unusable of course at this point.

Edited by Sméagol

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Psychonauts 2

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Fifteen years after the first game (with a VR-only short game bridging the gap), Psychonauts 2 picks up the store a few days after the end of the first (it’s about the same gap I had between playing both games), with Raz joining the Psychonauts and trying to discover who hired Dr Lobotto, a villain from the previous adventures. The first game has a unique charm to it, with creative levels, wonderful humour but also tackling some deep subjects. And Psychonauts 2 just picks up exactly where it left off in terms of feel, but also still feels up-to-date in terms of controls and presentation.

The writing and voice acting are both top-notch. No returning character sounded “off” and it feels like the games could have been released shortly after each other. The humour returns as well, although while mental illness is still a big part of the game, the subject of mental illness is never a punchline for a joke, and is treated a bit more seriously. Despite this, Psychonauts 2 is still as funny as the first, finding other things to be humorous about.

Platforming in Psychonauts 2 feels very precise. The levitation is more predictable, but with the downside of being less useful than the first time. Instead, this leads to Mental Connection, a new ability where you can grapple between “stray thoughts”. This ability is introduced in a level where some of the connections list subjects and linking two together can change their thoughts on a subject. Throughout the level you have a horrible feeling that you’re doing something terrible (it shows what peer pressure can push people to do), and you feel the desperation when you have to fix it later on, seeing the damage you’ve done to this person’ mind. That said, there are some connections that don’t “work”, but I found myself trying all the wrong pens first to hear the dialogue.

The levels are all extremely varied again, with some utterly wonderful settings. And some downright disturbing imagery – the mouth/teeth stuff in the first level is horrific, in a good way, and it always looks detailed. It’s always a joy looking around each level, which makes hunting for the collectibles (which level you up, but aren’t required) nicer. You don’t have to collect these the first time in a level (and most likely can’t due to needing later powers), and can return to them even after the end of the game, although a lot of set-pieces are unavailable and you can teleport between the disconnected parts of a level. One clever thing is that any collectibles that were in these sections get relocated, so you can’t miss any.

Each mind depicts some form of mental issue, loss or regret. Some are caused by the psychic nature of the game, while others are just real issues, such as alcoholism. The journeys into people’s minds and helping them on their path makes every level wonderful to play though, and I really like how the real life issues aren’t always just an instant fix, but is just the start of their journeys, with them getting help from others outside of you entering their minds. It merges fictional settings and real life issues extremely well.

Outside of the main levels, you get to explore the headquarters of the Psychonauts, along with the surrounding areas. It’s quite large, lots to discover and a few side quests, as well as talking to the wonderful character, including Raz’s family, various agents and Raz’s fellow interns. I loved using clairvoyance – a power that lets you see the world from someone else’s perspective – and seeing how they view Raz, as his image changes to a drawing depicting him in a certain state, or as something else entirely. Some are obvious, while some I don’t quite know, such as one agent who sees Raz as a cigarette dispenser. These images, as well as “figments of imagination” in the levels can also provide some early hints about some of the revelations throughout the game.

On top of platforming, there will also be a lot of combat. You can assign up to four powers at once, quickly switching them out for other ones with a “power wheel”. I found myself trying different combinations, and there’s a lot of options you can do. The enemies are based on different sorts of ideas, such as bad moods, regrets, doubt and panic attacks, with quite a bit of variety for you to face. You can find ways to “chesse” the combat a bit, but I just found it fun trying different things.

Psychonauts 2 is an absolutely wonderful game. It works extremely well as both a sequel to a 15 year old game and something brand new, with the whole adventure being a marvel from start to finish.

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