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drahkon

Your Gaming Diary 2022

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War of the Monsters

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Like Ape Escape and Syphon Filter, this is a game I played via a demo but never actually played the full version. I got the demo with one of the PS2 magazines back in the day and I remember me and my friends playing the hell out of it at one of our gaming nights. I remember this having a really low print when it was first released and the price went through the roof on eBay not long after it's release. The price did eventually come down though but I still never bought it. 

The game has you pick a giant monster or robot, much like what you would see in a Godzilla movie, and battle it out in a one on one battle across cities and other landscapes, with you smashing up buildings as you go. It kinda reminds me of a 3D version of Rampage but with a B-Movie feel to it all. You have an adventure mode to go through which is a pretty short affair, as well as an endurance mode which pits you against waves of enemies. Playing each of these modes nets you with some currency for you to spend to unlock new characters and costumes. Remember when this was a thing in games? You know, where you could earn them buy playing the game instead of having them dished out to you over the course of the year or having to buy them via DLC packs. Happier and simpler times. 

The game isn't going to win any awards but it was a nice distraction for the evening. Shame about the lack of platinum though. There are a few PS2 games that are on the PS4 that don't have one. What a crazy world we live in. :D 

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Posted (edited)

Hotshot Racing

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Fun arcade-drifting-racer.
A little light on content, so if I hadn't gone for the trophies I would've thought it was a bit lacking. But most of the trophies were fun and quite a challenge. What I didn't enjoy was the grind for the last two trophies in the end. But that's my own fault for going for these :p 

Anyway, mostly had fun and PS+ Mega Ultra Chicken Edition keeps on giving.

Edited by drahkon
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Squeezed 3 more games in before the end of the month. 

Telling Lies

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A few years back a played a game called Late Shift. It's an interactive FMV game that I really enjoyed. This game is the same and I heard good things about the story. Sadly, this game wasn't great at all.

You are sat at a computer and have to go through all of the files in order to view videos that piece together the story. The way this plays out is rather disjointed and I found it hard to keep track of what was going on. Instead of watching a linear story play out, it's more like a puzzle and you have to keep track of the conversations so that it all comes together in the end. Honestly, the best part of the game for me was going for a trophy where you need to play a perfect game of Solitaire. Like on a normal computer, you load the card game up from the desktop and away you go. Loved playing this. :D 

The Artful Escape

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This is a game I remember seeing during some indie showcase a while back. It looked pretty unique and it did interest me but I never got around to playing it. From the trailer it looked like a platform game but I was surprised to see that it was pretty narrative driven, with a bit of platforming in between. You play as a struggling musician who lives in the shadow of another family member and the story is about how this character finds himself and his own sound.

In terms of gameplay, the story segments have you interact with various characters and you get to pick a selection of dialogue options to continue the conversation and move the narrative forward. The platforming sections are pretty straight forward, with you essentially just move right, doing a few jumps here and there. What makes it unique is that during these segments you can hold a button down which makes the main character play his guitar. Doing so makes the world around him light up and change, making everything more colourful and vibrant. It also creates a fantastic electric guitar sounding riff as you move along. It's a weird one because it doesn't play an actually song but it still sound amazing. It was like playing a game that constantly used the glorious Steve Vai solo piece from Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey.  

 

During the platforming segments you will also have Simon Says style mini games to play. These just consist of playing the guitar and copying what the enemy is doing. It's nothing too taxing but it does add a little variety to everything else.

Yeah, I enjoyed my time with this one and my first impression from seeing the trailer was right. It's not only a unique indie game but it's also quite the looker.

Spoiler

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Shadow Warrior 3

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I've never played any of the Shadow Warrior games but with this leaving PS+ next week, I figured I would give it a whirl. I was VERY surprised just how much I enjoyed this. It's a FPS that has the fast and smooth gameplay of Doom 2016 but also has the same type of humour and kill styles of Bulletstorm.

Traversing through the levels was so much fun and this was down to how fluid everything was. You can chain double jumps, wall running and the use of a hookshot to make quick progress through the stages. Not many FPS get platforming right but this one really nails it. The battles usually consist of you being in an arena type area and having to kill waves of enemies. This is where the Bulletstorm gameplay comes into play. There are a variety of environmental objects that can be used to kill enemies and if timed correctly, these can wipe out huge amounts of them in a single use.

The weapons are so much fun to use and upgrading them adds things like elemental damage or a faster firing rate to them. Like the rest of the game, switching between them is pretty smooth which is just as well because you will need to use them all when dealing with the different enemies as some are more useful than others. Different weapon use is also encouraged thanks to the in game challenges. Killing enemies in different ways will complete these challenges and award you with upgrade points.

The series has a bit of a cult following and after playing this I can see why. For those wanting a fast, hectic but stupidly fun FPS that last around 8-10 hours, you could do a lot worse than this.

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Dead Cells

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This is a game that I tried to play a few years back on my Switch. I loved the artstyle, the combat and the platforming but I really disliked the rogue-like nature of the game. It just didn't gel with me at all and as such I ended up dropping it and eventually selling my copy. Fast forward to now and it seems that the developers listened to some of the feedback from gamers and recently added an assist mode. This means you can knock off the rogue-like style of the game and instead when you die you respawn at the start of the dungeon you were in. This had a great appeal to me and I decided to fire the game up on the PS4 and try it again. Loved it!

Having the respawning option completely changed the game for me and I was able to take risks and experiment a bit more with weapon types and special items. It also took away the fear of exploration. When I first played the game I was trying my best to get to the exit ASAP because I didn't want to lose my progress but now I was free to explore a lot more. This paid off in the long run because I was able to power up the main character a lot more.

I completed a few runs and finally landed on what my setup should be. I used the Electric Whip as my main weapon and the Wolf Trap and Sinew Slicer as my traps. The wolf and sinew combo was great and the whip was just the icing on the cake. I didn't realise until late on that I was actually building my character wrong in that when I found stat increases I was spreading them out evenly. I watched a video about character builds and once I'd seen that you should funnel all of your stats into what you are actually using, things became a whole lot more fun. :D 

Despite taking away the rogue-like nature of the game, the trophies were still very challenging to get. You have to beat each of the boss without taking a hit, finish the game with the Cursed Sword (while you carry it 1 hit and you're dead) and complete the game with 4 difficulty multipliers on. All of these took some doing and it's because of these why I researched into how to improve damage output and stat distribution. The difficulty multiplier trophies required careful planning.

The first run you complete you are awarded with an orb. This orb makes the game harder, with enemies doing more damage and being more aggressive. If you complete the game again with the orb activated you will then get another. You need to do this 4 times, with each orb making the game even more difficult to the point where you have no healing top ups after each dungeon. My heart was racing on the final run against the last boss as I only had 1 potion left going into the fight. Going after these trophies was just like when I played Hades earlier in the year and had to do something similar on that game with its difficulty modifiers.

There is a bunch of DLC for the game and some of it is free. I didn't realise this until I warped to an area called The Bank and a trophy popped. I ended up completing this DLC as well.

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Up To The Eyeball In Debt trophy was tricky. In the bank you can take out a loan and when you leave you can either pay it back or simply smash the door down. Smashing the door down means you get a curse put on you. You will die in one hit but you can get rid of the curse by defeating 100 enemies. Having to go from The Bank all the way to the end of the game without taking a hit was pretty brutal, hence the low percentage of the trophy. Seeing as I was needing to defeat the final boss without being hit anyway, I paired both of these trophies together. 

I'm very tempted to buy all of the DLC at some point as I would love to see what other boss battles and dungeons have been created. Like Hades, I finally see why the game is praised so much. I will say that if you were put off by the rogue-like style of Dead Cells then you should fire the game back up and give it another whirl. @Cube I think you'll like the game a lot more now. 

Absolutely cracking game and one that I'm happy to have finally played through and enjoy. Great start to the second half of the year!:bowdown:

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder's Revenge

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A new classic arcade beat-em-up. Played through it in local co-op and it was a ton of fun. Enemy variety was great and had their own tactics to figure out - although flying enemies are as frustrating as ever. Even with two people, I did think the screen got a bit busy at times, I can’t really imagine it with the full six.

 

Assassin's Creed Unity

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The Paris in the game is stunning to look at, even now. Unfortunately, that’s the best thing about the game. The climbing/parkour is one of the worst in the Assassin’s Creed games. You would think that having the “up” and “down” buttons would make it easier, but I was constantly fighting the controls. It was especially bad near water or hay carts, as Arno would jump off the building at the slightest touch.

The amount of interior sections was great (even if building layouts made no sense), but the process of getting into a window was painful at times. Combat was simple, but enemies with guns just made it annoying. Stealth also seemed very broken, with lots of enemies that spot you no matter what. The ending is also hilariously bad.
 

Spoiler

The end of the game is literally saying that everything we with was completely pointless. 

Sonic Origins

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Three great games and Sonic CD. These versions are wonderful to play - bringing the mobile versions to new platforms while giving the same treatment to Sonic 3 & Knuckles. The mission mode was a lot of fun, too. 

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim 

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First playthough in a while. It’s great that you can get some mods on console now (most important to me was a music replacement mod), although I didn’t go too crazy with them. You can definitely feel the age of the game, but it’s still mostly good. 
 

House Flipper

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Saw it on Game Pass and figured “why not?”. It’s a game where you buy houses, do them up and sell them, along with completing jobs for other people. It’s surprisingly very relaxing, even doing basic tasks like cleaning and painting. A few of the properties are pop culture references (my girlfriend liked the amount of detail in the Friends apartments). I would have liked the ability to build more of a house (you can modify internal walls, but that’s it, but I still liked my time with this game.
 

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Very fun sequel.
Cool story, awesome Nexomon, challenging free DLC that I probably won't finish for a while, 'cause there's sooooo many games to play :D 

A few things are a little annoying, though, mainly the menu navigation for certain mechanics and the horrible legendary spawn rates. It's the reason why I most likely won't bother with the Platinum ::shrug: 
Still, both Nexomon titles further prove that I don't need Nintendo devices anymore. Their games are just irrelevant to me, both because I don't enjoy them and because there are better alternatives everywhere else.

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Posted (edited)

The Artful Escape

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A boring 2D walking/jumping simulator with the occasional round of piss easy Simon Says. The game's only redeeming features are its gorgeous graphics and slick soundtrack.

Edited by drahkon
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Posted (edited)

We're at the halfway point of 2022, and I just completed a big one, so now it's time for me to finally catch up on this year's thread...

Super Monkey Ball 2 (Story Mode)

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Now, last year, I played that awesome Super Monkey Ball Deluxe mod for the Gamecube.  This time however, I decided I felt like playing the vanilla experience, so I fired up the Story Mode for Super Monkey Ball 2.

Unlike the main Challenge Mode, Story Mode grants you unlimited lives and has you play through 100 stages of progressive difficulty, with your progress saved throughout.  It’s probably the first thing you fired up when you first played this game all the way back in 2002, so you’ve probably forgotten its specific intricacies; but needless to say, the most obvious change is the addition of story cutscenes…

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What a riveting tale!

 

… thankfully, the story doesn’t take itself too seriously (a problem that plagued the Sonic series around this time), it’s all thoroughly silly, lighthearted stuff that got me to crack a smile or two.  BTW, here’s something you might well not know… Turns out that Dr Badboon’s voice samples are actually reversed, and you can hear what the voice actor actually sounds like if you play his voice clips backwards! Check out the clip below…

Two pints of Erskib please!

 

Story Mode breaks up the game’s 100 stages into bunches of 10, and lets you tackle said 10 in any order you like… though this doesn’t really change all that much, since you have to complete them all anyway.  In that sense, Story Mode is actually secretly a giant practice mode for the game’s main arcade game Challenge Mode; giving you a chance to acclimatise yourself to each of the game’s stages in a safe environment.  While you may be thinking that the challenge of learning the game’s stages in an arcade-like context is now lost as a result… you would be wrong! As, and I had completely forgotten about this, Story Mode actually features quite a few unique stages that don’t appear in Challenge Mode at all; including the infuriating Invisible (which features… you guessed it, invisible platforms!) and the utterly maddening Labyrinth, pictured below…

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Good luck beating this behemoth in just 60 seconds!

 

It’s clear that Challenge Mode was the main mode that the game was designed around, however, Story Mode allowed the developers to chuck in level ideas that would otherwise have felt unfair with limited lives in place.  It’s clear that they had levels that were up for the chopping block that they decided to plonk into Story Mode, rather than let them go to waste… It’s quite baffling then that the likes of Switch Inferno made the cut for Challenge Mode then, when it’s so luck-based that it might as well be a dice roll unless you know the solution beforehand.

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This one is very much borderline too… I’m onto you…

 

Not every stage that appears in Challenge Mode makes an appearance in Story Mode, meaning that Challenge Mode retains the surprise (and wonderful masochistic infuriation) of having to learn new stages in its original arcade context, a good decision that allows the game to retain its signature arcade game design, while making the game more approachable and learnable for a casual audience, by allowing them to acclimatise themselves in Story Mode beforehand.

As for Super Monkey Ball 2 itself? It’s probably the best console-exclusive sequel to an arcade game I’ve ever played.  Most of the time, whenever an arcade game gets a console sequel, it inevitably loses that tight, lean design of its predecessor; and ends up getting bogged down with padding & guff to help pad out the playtime.  Look at say, House of the Dead 2 compared to House of the Dead Overkill for example; the latter has a running time that’s around 3-4 times longer, but it ends up suffering like G did for it, with incredibly slow and dull pacing that repeats the same content over and over.  I get that it’s a hard sell to release a game at full price that only lasts around an hour, which makes it a delicate balancing act when making a sequel to an arcade hit, but very few games get this right.  Super Monkey Ball 2 absolutely succeeds in this context, you could take Challenge Mode, chuck it into an arcade cabinet and it would fit in absolutely perfectly; and a big part of that success comes down to the inclusion of the ancillary modes, such as Story Mode and the 12 (excellent) additional minigames.  Do yourself a favour and revisit this one, you’ll learn a lot about good game design in the process.

 

Paper Mario Sticker Star

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The game that “killed” the Paper Mario series.  Few other Nintendo games garner as much online vitriol as this one.  How dare Nintendo change up what Paper Mario is! It’s not even an RPG anymore!!!

And yes, it’s true.  Paper Mario Sticker Star is not an RPG.  There are no RPG mechanics in place here, there is no levelling up, there are no partners; everything except the core movement mechanics and demarcation between overworld gameplay and turn-based battles has been completely jettisoned.  So what exactly is this game then? To fully answer that question, I think we need to look back at the context surrounding the game to fully understand it.

It's 2004, Nintendo & Intelligent Systems just released Paper Mario The Thousand Year Door to critical acclaim and commercial success.  It’s a relatively straightforward sequel to the 2001 original N64 game, powered up with additional battle and world traversal mechanics, wacky characters, new quest ideas and various fun tweaks to the badge system.  However, there’s a sense of déjà vu about the whole thing if you look very closely… The hub structure is more or less the same as the N64 game, the first chapter is structurally identical to the original game’s opener, the third chapter is a glorified enemy gauntlet, the fourth chapter is oddly similar to the N64 game’s third chapter, the sixth chapter is… wait… a murder mystery again?

Fast forward to 2007 and Super Paper Mario comes out as an early Wii title (originally shown off as a late GCN release back at E3 2006).  The series takes its first dramatic shift, now being a sidescrolling platformer based off of the 2D Bowser Bros stages from TTYD, but still retaining the series signature RPG mechanics and partner mechanics trappings.  The game launched to huge commercial success (still the best selling game in the entire series), but critical reception was rather mixed.  Some appreciated the shift to something different, recognising that even TTYD was starting to show signs of series fatigue with its reused ideas, while some just wanted more of the same gameplay as first seen in the N64 title.  An even bigger contingent bought the game expecting a traditional 2D Super Mario Bros style platformer and found themselves utterly baffled by the onslaught of unending dialogue and off-brand characters.

Super Paper Mario itself was also significant for being one of the first commercial games to be built around game industry metacommentary, and if you look at that game’s subtext, there’s a really interesting and rather telling narrative that spurs forth.  Throughout that game, there’s a number of sequences that are purposely designed to frustrate and demean the player, such as the famous Hamster Gem Wheel and of course, ol’ Francis; the chameleon nerd who represents all of the online obsessed forum dwellers who demand all their RPGs to be 100 hours long and who love going online to complain about games they never played.  In short, Super Paper Mario is a statement against both online social games and the RPG genre as a whole.  It pulls no punches about how RPGs are specifically engineered to waste the player’s time in order to pump up their running time, in an attempt to falsely promote “value for money”.  It’s a strong statement of intent, that Intelligent Systems would do good by when it came time to reinvent Paper Mario once more…

Meanwhile, throughout the rest of Nintendo, another battle lay on the horizon.  Throughout the GCN & Wii eras, a growing discourse spoke of how Nintendo’s games grew ever more tutorialised and handholdy; as they struggled to walk the tightrope between the veteran and inexperienced player.  In 2009, Nintendo finally found their solution in the form of the Super Guide; a gameplay system first introduced in New Super Mario Bros Wii that would allow their designers to build games with the more challenging difficulty that both their designers and the veteran players craved, while keeping their games accessible for newcomers.  Variants of this system would eventually find their way into subsequent Nintendo releases, but it would take time for Nintendo to find the right balance.  This whole issue perhaps came to its most obvious head with the release of 2011’s The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, which was panned by players for its overzealous hint system which spoilt many of the game’s more interesting puzzles (Thankfully the 2021 HD remaster solved this issue).

So, most likely in direct response to the reception of Skyward Sword, Paper Mario Sticker Star went in the complete opposite direction.  Hints would be almost entirely absent, and what little hints were provided would prove to be of little practical use. 

With that context now behind us, it becomes crystal clear why Paper Mario Sticker Star was designed the way it was.  Intelligent Systems were done with the cynical traditional RPG systems of the genre, they had worn out the original N64 Paper Mario gameplay format, they wanted to re-invent the series, Super Paper Mario had proved a divisive release for its overwhelming dialogue, off-brand characters & audience mismatch, and Nintendo as a whole wanted to address the issue of overtutorialisation of their games.  These reasons and concepts directly lead to the game design of Paper Mario Sticker Star, and are also the reasons why the game was received so poorly by the online Paper Mario community; it was a direct attack on those people who just wanted more of the same.

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Thousands of fans, brought down by a humble sticker

 

Paper Mario Sticker Star is an action adventure game; emphasis on the latter.  Much like point n’ click adventure games such as Monkey Island, the objective is to reach the end of each area through the use of lateral thinking with the abilities and items you have on you.  Areas are divided up into individual levels, not unlike the original Super Mario Bros; a smart concession for the handheld nature of the game.  Also like those classic point n’ click adventure games, the logic used throughout this game is… often quite obtuse; and on some occasions presents with multiple available solutions.  What demarcates Sticker Star from classic adventure games however, is the use of the core Paper Mario overworld action gameplay; but then that encroaches on the gameplay of the Legend of Zelda series! What to do? We can’t be having another series that apes the already existing Zelda titles! The answer, as it turns out, was lying in plain sight from the beginning… the use of turn-based battles.  Here though, the goal is to avoid RPG mechanics and genre trappings however… so this battle system would have to tie into the core adventure gameplay element of this action/adventure game.  In that respect, I feel that Sticker Star only half achieves its goal.

Much discourse runs rampant online about how battles are now “pointless”, and to some extent there’s some truth in that.  It’s absolutely possible to avoid most encounters and still complete the game, but doing so would also rob you of the valuable currency that you need to buy the stickers that you need to complete each stage.  While I admire the attempt to marry the adventure gameplay with a turn-based battle system, I feel that the battle system itself comes across as half-baked; and this comes down to two key factors.  Firstly, the combat is too simple; lacking the complexity and variety of previous titles, as almost every action command is executed in the same fashion, and the game lacks an overarching system to provide a layer of strategy to the mix… well, I mean, there is the Battle Spin, but ultimately this is a weak mechanic that allows the player to… use two or three stickers in one turn? That’s it? That’s the best wrinkle you could come up with?

Secondly? And most damning of all?  The variety of stickers is outright poor.  There are shockingly few non-Thing stickers actually present within the game, meaning that there just isn’t enough scope to make for interesting enemy encounters throughout the game’s running time.  Most stickers throughout the game are just mild variants on a base set; so you have 5 variants of the Jump command, 6 variants of Hammer, a Throwing command with various items, a Tail attack, a spike hat, a POW Block, and then a couple of healing items/dodging moves and that’s it.  That’s all you get throughout the whole game! Without the addition of partners, the battles feel rather one-note, and it’s a bit of shame.

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So much variety! Look at all the nearly identical hammers & jumps!

 

The game attempts to mitigate this issue with its other big gimmick, the Things.  Unfortunately, these items suffer from the perennial RPG problem (oh the irony!) of being far too precious to ever use in anything other than a boss encounter.  As such, you will inevitably end up sticking with the basic stickers for 95% of the game.

Not all is bad though, because I like the concept of having to think laterally about how to beat each boss; as they all have a weakness to particular Things.  And while there is some truth to the frustration of essentially not being able to beat it until you trial and error your way through the fight with each available Thing; you can easily flee from any boss fight and typically it doesn’t take long to get back to each boss to have another crack at it.  It only really becomes a significant issue during the final boss; where there is literally no way to tell what you’re going to need in advance, and it becomes an exercise in sheer frustration that’ll almost certainly lead you to reaching for an online guide.

While the battles are certainly controversial, so too is the overworld portion of the game; but it is here that I feel that the game shows its best hand.  The game’s puzzles are genuinely well designed and are married to very clever level design that tasks you to think laterally.  Most levels are filled with branching paths and secret exits that lead to optional Things, secret HP-up items and alternative levels, this game does a great job of rewarding exploration and experimentation; but it also suffers from some obtuse design that really could’ve done with a more helpful hint system in place.  This game does almost nothing to help the player when they inevitably get stuck, and Kersti is about as useless as a flaming snowball.  Still, there’s a good amount of variety with the level mechanics and design; which is very impressive when you consider how simple the base movement mechanics of Paper Mario really are.

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So near, yet so far

 

As for the ancillary elements of the game, such as story/characters/graphics/dialogue/sound etc go? Amazingly enough, this part is controversial too!  In direct response to the criticism surrounding Super Paper Mario, all of the off-brand Mario characters were stripped completely, and the story takes a backseat to a stronger focus on pure gameplay.  Personally? I don’t really mind this change at all, because the best bit about Paper Mario’s “story” was never the story itself, it was the dialogue; and the dialogue is absolutely on point throughout this game!  There are plenty of absolutely laugh-out-loud moments that had me reeling.  And while I don’t think that the dialogue here is quite as strong as its two sequels (Color Splash and Origami King), it certainly holds its own.  It’s a bit of a shame then that your main buddy throughout the game (Kersti) is a bit of a wet blanket that doesn’t have much to say; because the rest of the cast are great.  Thankfully, this is something that the two sequels would end up rectifying big time.

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This is one of those rare exceptions for Kersti though

 

As you have no doubt noticed by now, Sticker Star’s art style is a dramatic shift away from previous entries in the series, as it finally fully embraces the papercraft look that the series is now known for.  The game looks utterly gorgeous on the 3DS’ stereoscopic display and it’s a great showpiece for the S3D tech.  Everything has a tangible quality that almost feels real, like you can reach out and touch it.  It looks superb, and the papercraft style is also maximised for comedic purposes to great effect.  It’s obvious why Nintendo & Intelligent Systems would go on to double-down on the aesthetic for future titles, as it’s an absolute winner.

The music on the other hand I feel is a bit of a mixed bag.  It’s very jazz, for better and worse.  While certain tracks stand out as being exceptional, there isn’t much musical variety; as everything is rendered with a jazz ensemble of trumpets and sax.  As such, the soundtrack can start to feel somewhat samey, and even obnoxious in some places.  Still, when it hits, it hits hard.  Ultimately though, I feel that Color Splash and Origami King do a much better job in this regard; even with the Sticker Star tunes that get rearranged in those later games.

Ultimately I like Sticker Star, I feel that it gets an unfair bad-rap from the Francis’ of the internet.  But that being said, there is a grain of truth in the complaints surrounding the game.  Yes, the puzzles are obtuse and could really do with a better hint system in place, the battle system lacks the variety of stickers and systems really needed to bring out the best in it, and there are some structural issues that hold the game back.  But there’s also a lot to like about the game too.  I do feel that Color Splash is a far better realisation of the ideas & concepts that Sticker Star brought to the table, as it addresses almost all of the issues I have with this game, but at the very least; Sticker Star is a fascinating look into Nintendo’s history at the turn of the decade, and is perhaps the best example of the threshold between the GCN/GBA/Wii/DS eras and the modern Wii U/3DS/Switch Nintendo that we have today.

 

Super Mario Land 3: Wario Land

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A beautiful example of colon cancer at its finest, Super Mario Land 3: Wario Land 1: Adrian’s Revenge is the last Super Mario Land game and the first Wario Land game, all at the same time! Oh my!

Wario Land is the game that Nintendo R&D1 wanted to make when the Game Boy first came out… well, almost.  We’re not quite there just yet, that would eventually come with Wario Land 2, but for now? Well, this game is still a bit of a mutant hybrid of sensibilities.  The original Super Mario Land was a game that Nintendo R&D 1 made out of obligation, it was never a passion project for its designers.  They had a different vision for a 2D platformer that went against the template laid out by EAD with the Super Mario Bros series; and you can see this develop over time.  Follow the lineage from Super Mario Land 1 to 3 and you can see how the Mario Land series gradually warps and morphs into a glorious Wario-shaped mound.  Wario Land 2 was the point where Nintendo’s anti-hero really, truly found his footing and had grown into the unique character and puzzle platformer series that we know today.  In that sense, Wario Land 3 is still built with some of that same mould as seen in Super Mario Land 2.  Not quite there yet, but a weird hybrid of Mario and Wario that isn’t quite one or the other.

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Hello Not-Thwomp!

 

This is the game that gave Wario his signature butt stomp and shoulder barge moves, his variety of different forms that grant access to specific parts of each level, the stronger focus on more exploratory gameplay and even the changing level layouts depending on what is done in other levels!  But the game is still ultimately a linear, action focused platformer with a distinct beginning and end to each stage.  Clearly running on a modified Super Mario Land 2 engine, Wario Land is a bit of an awkward middle ground that doesn’t quite know if it wants to be action focused or exploration & puzzle focused.  The pacing is… odd; you have moments of speedy platforming, but then you have secret paths that the game wants you to stop and explore… it’s very stop n’ start in that regard.

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Wario is still a greedy bastard here though, as he should be

 

Ultimately though, the exploration elements feel somewhat half baked, and this is reflected in the reward that you get for completion; which is basically just a different ending screen and that’s it.  But this is the element that makes Wario Land stand out from his M-shaped contemporaries, and it’s worth celebrating a somewhat different take on the 2D action platformer, even if it’s somewhat of an awkward start for the Wario Land series.  Some of these elements would go on to inspire Yoshi’s Island, including the mix of athletic and exploration focused platforming and that famous butt stomp move; so everything kind of came full circle in the end really.  But Wario Land is perhaps more notable for its place in Nintendo history moreso than as a standalone game; that awkward growth period where it isn’t quite Wario but not quite Mario either.  In that sense? Perhaps the colon cancer title is actually pretty fitting after all?

 

Kirby & The Forgotten Land

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Click me to read the N-E Website Review

Also click me for further thoughts on the game... warning! Spoilers beyond the jump!

 

Metal Gear: Ghost Babel

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The first non-canon MGS game since Snake’s Revenge, Metal Gear Ghost Babel (to give it its proper title), is a spinoff entry in the series that was made largely without Kojima’s involvement, but this time with his blessing.  Thankfully, Ghost Babel is a far better game than the NES travesties; and is honestly one of the better games available for the GB/GBC.  One of the few 3rd party GB/GBC games that are actually worth playing in fact!

Ghost Babel is an interesting hybrid of Metal Gear Solid and Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake (MSX) in terms of gameplay.  It returns to the 2D pixel art, fully top-down perspective of the original MSX games, but integrates several new mechanics taken from the PS1 sequel; including wall hugging & punching, sound propagation, crawling and more.  This ends up working really well, as the PS1 game didn’t really stray very far from the old school top-down perspective to begin with, meaning that the PS1 game’s unique mechanics end up translating very well to the GBC.  What doesn’t work as well however is the inventory system, which jettisons the MSX games’ classic inventory pause screen in favour of emulating the PS1 game’s double-shoulder button item selection mechanic.  Quite frankly, this ends up feeling somewhat awkward on the GBC with its mere two action buttons + start & select, and I think that the game would’ve been better off just sticking with the classic inventory screen.  A bigger issue however is the utterly puny radar map in the top right corner, which renders Snake and foes as literally but a single pixel; this is hard enough to read on a backlit IPS modded GBA! I can’t even imagine how ridiculously hard it would be to see on an original un-backlit GBC!

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A Soliton Radar for ants!

 

Outside of these issues, the core gameplay feels perfectly at home on the GBC.  Snake feels fun to sneak around with, and the mechanics gel well to create solid sneaky fun.  The level design is also (mostly) very good, with interesting wrinkles and set pieces thrown in all throughout its running time.  From underground sewers with giant waves of water to avoid, to burning buildings collapsing around you, to cardboard box conveyor belt mazes (oh wait, actually, fuck this part!); there’s no shortage of interesting gameplay ideas being bandied around, even if they’re based on other games in the series.  Unfortunately, there are a few stages that suffer from being rather confusing to navigate; and I had to consult an online map to get through a few of them… yes I’m looking at YOU chapter 9 and your cardboard box maze! This game could’ve done with an unlockable map to help you keep track of where you’re going, especially within the interior areas that can look a bit samey.

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No, really.  Screw this maze!

 

The stealth action is surprisingly robust, and the boss battles are a ton of fun! It feels like a good old school Konami game that I’m shocked we didn’t see more of on the platform.  And while the story is decidedly non-canon, it’s entertaining in its own right with twists & turns that feel just like a Metal Gear game should… even if those twists end up being somewhat predictable if you’re a series veteran.  The visuals and music are also excellent too, top-shelf stuff for the GBC for sure!  Really, the only thing that drags the game down is the somewhat convoluted maze-like design of the later chapters that basically mandate the use of an online map to not get yourself lost.  Otherwise, it’s probably the best non-Nintendo published game on the GBC.  Really goes to show what could’ve been on the GB/GBC had 3rd parties actually gave a shit about the platform… how we never got an original Castlevania, Mega Man or Contra for the GBC? I will never know!  Still, Snake’s solo GBC outing is well worth tracking down.

 

Timesplitters 2

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Heir apparent to Goldeneye, the magazines of the day proclaimed, and there is certainly an element of truth in that.  As I’m sure you’re all aware, Timesplitters (and its subsequent sequels) were made by Free Radical, a development studio formed out of ex-Rare staff who left the company halfway through the development of Perfect Dark; including Goldeneye and Perfect Dark director, David Doak.

The original Timesplitters was a launch-title for PS2 in the US and Europe, and it was little more than a glorified tech demo.  It had no single player mode to speak of and was purely a multiplayer shooter; more or less bereft of interesting gameplay content.  In that regard, the original Timesplitters was just a demo for the real first Timesplitters game, Timesplitters 2.  Released just one year after the original, Timesplitters 2 is overflowing with gameplay modes and content, and it’s even fully multiplatform this time! It’s even got a proper single player mode! Cor blimey!

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Though multiplayer is still perhaps the biggest draw here

 

The dry run of the original Timesplitters meant that the developers at Free Radical could focus purely on developing gameplay content for the real first game; and it shows in the wealth of content at hand.  A full 10 story mode stages, with 3 difficulty settings that introduce additional mission objectives (just like in Goldeneye & Perfect Dark), an Arcade Mode that offers up a couple dozen single player challenges to complete, dozens of characters, weapons and multiplayer stages, a map editor and more!  However, 12 months is still a really short amount of development time for a game made in this era, and it kinda shows in the final product.

The level design throughout Timesplitters 2 is very good.  The levels aren’t too large, they’re paced very well, they have just the right amount of alternative paths and dead-ends, the difficulty curve is just about right; it feels like a sequel to Goldeneye and Perfect Dark.  This is a very good thing.  What’s also impressive is the sheer variety of stages and environments on offer.  From the frozen wastes of Siberia, to the seafaring island of the World War 2 level, to the distant space station of 2042, to 1930’s Chicago? There’s a huge variety on offer that makes each level feel distinctive and interesting.

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You can’t fault the variety of settings on offer here

 

The gunplay is also satisfying, with each stage coming with a lovely variety of weaponry befitting each time period, from laser guns, to tommy guns and flintlock pistols.  And each character feels distinctive to play as too, each having differing stats, heights and speeds.  Variety is the spice of life, and it’s the lifeblood of Timesplitters 2.

Not everything is rosy though, as the game ultimately lacks the polish that its N64 predecessors did.  Outside of the cutscenes, which are surprisingly well done, the rest of the game feels a bit janky; with stiff and basic animation that doesn’t match up to Perfect Dark or even Goldeneye.  The game also has a few sound and clipping bugs in some places that expose the swift development cycle; while the menus and UI also feel rather workmanship esc, lacking the flair and pizzaz of its N64 forebearers.

While Timesplitters 2 doesn’t quite match up to Goldeneye or Perfect Dark, I would still say that it’s probably my 3rd favourite FPS game.  That’s no small feat! A relic of a bygone era, where FPS games were allowed to experiment and reach beyond the boundaries of the basic core elements of its genre.

 

TMNT: Shredder’s Revenge

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This game is COWABUNGA! I played this in multiplayer with @Glen-i, @dazzybee and @BowserBasher and we had an absolute blast from start to finish!

This is one of those rare beat ‘em ups that has enough variety and depth to keep providing interesting new mechanics all the way throughout, without running out of steam before the end of its running time.  The combat system is much more in-depth than in Konami’s original titles, featuring a combo system that is more in-line with games like Devil May Cry, or Streets of Rage 4.  While each character shares the same basic set of controls, each one feels distinct with their own sets of special moves; they’re not just stat swaps here!

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Though come on, why would you choose anyone other than Mikey? Just look at his running animation! It’s amazing!

 

The enemy variety is also impressive; pulling some deep cuts from the original 80’s TMNT cartoon, alongside a good number of mooks that each have distinctive attacks, tells and different methods of dispatch.  The animation design is excellent, with each enemy having just the right amount of windup and “tell” before their attacks to grant the player enough of a heads-up to properly read what is happening onscreen.  It’s expertly crafted combat design that even the likes of Platinum Games would be proud of.

Unfortunately, there is one issue with the combat design of this game… and it’s kind of an issue that stems from the Toitles themselves… The Green Team just look too similar to each other; and when you’re in the midst of a 4 or 6 player game? It’s pretty easy to lose track of yourself in the fray.  The Konami titles got around this problem by having an option to give each Turtle a slightly different shade of green… but for whatever reason (I presume modern branding and licensing guidelines are at fault here), they instead make each of the four the same lime green shade.  It’s not a game breaker, but it can be annoying when the action gets hectic.

Despite that issue however, this is a top-shelf beat ‘em up from top to bottom.  If you like fun, and 80’s TMNT (actually, scratch that, I’d recommend it even if you’re not an 80’s TMNT fan), you need to play this game!

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You know it’s a great game when it has a Hi-5 button

 

Octopath Traveller

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I have been putting off playing this game for a good few years now.  It came out at a time when I was just absolutely burnt out on the RPG genre.  I always knew that I wanted to play through it eventually, but the idea of chucking away 100+ hours of my life on yet another RPG? Nah, I just couldn’t stomach it.

Fast forward to 2022 however, and I had finally overcome that duck.  I was finally ready to tackle another big RPG again; and I had to make it this one.  In short? Yeah, it’s one of the best RPGs I’ve ever played; it is quite frankly shocking that it came from modern-day Square Enix of all developers (though the actual programming/art production development work was handled by external developer Acquire; famous for the What Did I Do To Deserve This My Lord!? Series).  With generous funding, localisation, QA and publishing duties being handled by Nintendo; the game was produced by a small team of just 6 people from the Enix side of Square Enix (Tomoya Asano, Masashi Takahashi, Masaaki Hayasaka, Kakunoshin Futsuzawa, Shizuka Morimoto and Naoki Ikushima).  In many respects, Octopath Traveller was produced much like the Enix titles of old; with a small team within Enix providing overall game design direction, and the actual bulk of the development being handled by an outside studio.  This is the game development model that produced titles such as Dragon Quest, Valkyrie Profile, Terranigma and many more.  Despite taking clear inspiration from the classic 2D Final Fantasy titles, Octopath Traveller is fundamentally an Enix title; and it shows in every aspect of the final product.

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I know this game doesn’t have the biggest budget and all… but dude! Frigging OUCH!

 

Octopath Traveller tells eight individual stories, with eight different characters that each come equipped with specific jobs (more on that later)… yeah, the number 8 is gonna be showing up a lot here.  Unlike your typical Save The World JRPG, you aren’t a group of chosen heroes out to destroy a big bad and save the universe; no, you’re a bunch of randos who have their own individual stories to tell, and their own individual goals & quests to complete.  While some characters hail from noble lineage, most are generally nobodies, who just happen to get roped into adventure.  From here, each character has their own individual storyline, separated into distinct chapters that you can dip in and out of at your leisure.  Want to follow one character’s story straight to its conclusion? Go right ahead! Want to dip out of one character’s tale and follow someone else for a while? Sure! You can do that! Want to ignore the stories altogether and just focus on the myriad of sidequests available to you? That option is also available to you.

The game’s structure is not too dissimilar from the likes of Dragon Quest 7, in that it’s made up of a series of individual vignettes.  Each character’s chapter tells a segregated part of each tale that then opens up corresponding sidequests that also tell their own little vignettes unrelated to the main characters.  This results in a world that feels very much alive, filled with people who have their own little stories going on around you to tell; and there are more than one hundred of these little sidequest stories scattered throughout the continent of Orsterra!  Even these little stories are well written and well told; though optional, they’re generally well worth seeking out, not just for the rewards, but for the lovely little stories that you get to experience too.

Each character’s story is well written and interesting, but they are also entirely segregated from each other.  Never do the main cast actually come across each other throughout their respective tales, nor do they really interact with each other outside of some optional skit dialogue.  This vignette structure is something that is rather divisive amongst online discourse, with just as many bemoaning the lack of connection between the main characters as those who enjoy the individual character stories (well… there’s more to be said on this matter, but that will have to wait until the end of this writeup; you’ll see why later on…).  Personally? I love the story and game structure, and I love that each character gets an equal spotlight; it’s so refreshing to play an RPG that doesn’t have one big overarching plot that involves saving the world, instead focusing on smaller character driven tales.

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Those looking for a Save The World plot can suck it

 

This vignette structure segues into another very important aspect of Octopath Traveller’s gameplay structure… Fundamentally, Octopath Traveller is an open world game.  The entire world map is technically open to you from the moment you complete the first chapter of any of the eight characters.  If you have the mad skillz, you can see the credits in less than an hour.  

Of course, the first time you play the game, you’re not going to be doing that, because you will be getting bodied.  Hard.

Unlike most open world games, Octopath Traveller is lovingly handcrafted with a specific intended difficulty curve in mind.  You could technically go to towns & dungeons out of order and get your hands on late game items early on, but the game is still built like a traditional RPG in that you are expected to complete things in a certain order; and later parts of the game build on the knowledge and skills you have gained from earlier on.  Though the game allows you to tackle it however you please, there is still an intended structure that isn’t compromised by the freedom offered to the player; a design feat that very very few open world games manage.  And this is enabled through level and dungeon design that is fundamentally small-scale and linear, like the best SNES-era RPGs that inspired the game.  Though the dungeons are all short (typically 5-10 minutes long), they’re filled with secret paths and hidden chests that will bring to mind the likes of Final Fantasy 4 and 6.

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I’m sure you’ll figure this one out.  Just walk to… VWOOM! Oh no! Fight time!

 

The overworld gameplay doesn’t end there, as each of the eight characters have their own unique out-of-battle skills that allow you to interact with the game’s myriad of NPCs in various ways.  Olberic can challenge enemies to a duel, while Thereon can steal items, Primrose can allure NPCs and turn them into battle companions and so on.  You will need to use these abilities to complete various sidequests and bolster your performance in battle.  It’s a brilliant way of grounding gameplay mechanics into the world and its story, and it only adds even further into how interactive the game feels to play.  It can also get horrendously addictive as you attempt that steal on a late-game item that has a mere 3% chance to succeed… Go on… you know you want it…

Ok, we need to get into the battle system now, because this is the real star of the show here.  Quite simply, it’s amongst the best battle systems I have ever seen in an RPG.  It is absolutely SENSATIONAL! The sheer depth on offer is quite frankly, ridiculous, as it offers a mind-boggling range of ways you can absolutely tear this game apart!

Coming from the lineage set by Bravely Default & Bravely Second? This shouldn’t be too surprising to anyone familiar to Team Asano’s previous works, but while those games were clear evolutions of the Final Fantasy job system (as seen in Final Fantasies 3 & 5), Octopath Traveller is more of its own thing.  The Break & Boost system builds upon the Brave & Default actions as seen in Team Asano’s previous works, but rather than sacrifice turns to take more actions; you instead have a set of BP that defines either how many actions you can take in one turn, or how strong your attacks are.  Meanwhile, enemies all come with a shield that must be broken before you can really start wailing the big damage on them, which is done by attacking the enemy with specific magic/weapon weaknesses.  Doing so will cause a Break, where the enemy will miss their next turn (potentially two if you’re clever…) and be vulnerable to attack.  There’s also a system in place that controls the order of turns, that can also be bent and twisted depending on specific battle actions taken (and you will definitely need to abuse this!).

That is the basic core outlined above, but this is also combined with a myriad of sub systems, status effects, and a streamlined Job System that allows characters to equip two jobs at once.  Then there are skills and passive skills that can be learnt with JP earned through battles that can be combined with each other to boost stats, create combined effects and generate some outright broken setups that can literally make you invincible against certain bosses!  There are skills and abilities that affect the amount of EXP & JP that you earn from battles (This game gave me a gambling problem…), there are ways to infuse characters with certain elements, there are buffs within buffs, there are ways to gain additional turns and rob enemies of their own, there are ways to bypass battles completely; the rabbit hole just gets deeper and deeper…

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The most hype inducing moment in RPG history!

 

But all that gameplay depth wouldn’t mean anything if the game wasn’t built for you to take advantage of it… and I am very pleased to be able to say that this game has the best boss design I have ever seen in a traditional JRPG.  Every single boss in the entire game has a unique gameplay gimmick attached to it; and that also includes the optional bosses… there are more than 50 bosses throughout the game! And ALL of them have bespoke gameplay mechanics and gimmicks that task you with plumbing the depths of the battle system to its fullest! It’s absolutely top-shelf gameplay that is second to none within the genre.  I cannot sing the praises of the battle system enough, it really is that good.  In fact, I would liken the gameplay to Dicey Dungeons with just how much the game can be bent, broken and twisted to do what you want it to do.  Chances are that if you have a crazy strategy in mind, it will probably work!

And this is not a game that you can power through by grinding.  You HAVE to learn the ins and outs of the intricacies of the battle system in order to succeed; as blind brute force will deal you a swift and merciless game over… even at level 99, as I’m sure that @Glen-i will attest to… No.  You must become a master strategist in the way that very few RPGs truly demand from you.

As for the art and music? Well, they really speak for themselves… The art style was so striking and influential that Square-Enix literally set up an entire development division for Team Asano to make HD-2D an entire pillar of their company; even other developers are scrambling to get in on the signature look as defined by Octopath Traveller.  So I’m just going to leave this little section here to gush over how utterly drop dead gorgeous this game looks…

Spoiler

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PHWOAR!!!

But the soundtrack is every bit as impressive as the visuals, perhaps even moreso.  In fact, I think it may well be the best soundtrack I have ever heard composed for an RPG, period.  It really is that good!  I would kill for a Theatrhythm: Octopath Traveller; it’s outright criminal that the only Theatrhythm game to have any music from Octopath Traveller is the arcade-only Theatrhythm: All Star Carnival (I’ve played it! It’s at Freeplay City in London! It’s a ton of fun, go there and play it!).  Square-Enix? We need a home port with more Octopath music, stat!

I’ll just leave a couple of tracks here… (Conveniently, the two tracks that also appear in All Star Carnival ;))

 

Almost 100 hours later, I am confident in saying that Octopath is one of the finest RPGs ever made.  It’s something that I thought could never be made in the modern HD era, but it really does stand up against the likes of Xenoblade Chronicles 1 and the great 16-bit RPGs of the genre’s golden age.  It’s not perfect though, in particular there’s one major flaw that I need to highlight that pertains to the game’s story and end-game… spoilers of course!

Spoiler

It is almost impossible to figure out how to get to the True Final Boss without a guide.  It involves doing three seemingly unrelated sets of three sidequests, of which you are given no clue whatsoever that it opens up the final area… and on top of that, the sidequests themselves are ridiculously obtuse to figure out.  I mean, one particular one involves you finding some random NPC in the middle of a forest that the game fails to signpost whatsoever! How the hell is anyone supposed to figure this out without a guide? (I’m not even ashamed to admit that I totally used a guide to figure this out; no shame whatsoever).

And it’s a real shame, because doing what is said in that spoiler actually addresses most people’s main concern with the game’s overall story…

Spoiler

So get this.  As it turns out, all eight character’s individual tales ARE connected together after all! At the very very end of the game, in Wily’s Castle the final dungeon, you’re suddenly given a massive lore dump that completes the stories of several characters you meet throughout the game, and tells you exactly how all eight characters’ stories tie into the resurrection of Galdera.  Oh! Speaking of which…

All that effort is totally worth it though, as it leads to one of the best boss fights I’ve ever experienced in an RPG…

Spoiler

HOLY FUCKING SHIT! GALDERA IS INSANE! It makes FF3 DS’ final boss look like a piece of piss!  It requires absolute mastery of the game and is such an utterly incredible difficulty spike that it’s madness! As if beating 8 bosses beforehand isn’t enough, good fucking luck killing this guy!

Unless you have a full compliment of Antidote Stones, Saving Grace, Surpassing Power, the 4 super jobs etc, and you aren’t at least level 75-80? Forget it.  You aren’t coming even close to beating this maniac.

I only just beat it by the skin of my teeth, and I threw absolutely everything I had at it! Fucking amazing boss! What an ending! And THAT MUSIC!! FUCKING WOW!

But did it I did.  And I have the Pimp Crown to prove it too…

 

Overall? This is an incredible RPG, and it doesn’t rely on its story, art or music as a crutch.  For all the hubbub about its iconic art style and its luscious soundtrack? It is the excellent gameplay that really makes this game.  Octopath Traveller may be inspired by 16-bit glory day RPGs, but it is absolutely not bound by them.  It is not beholden to nostalgia, instead it uses what worked with those games to build something entirely new and unique.  It is a perfect blend of new and old that deserves to stand toe to toe with the very best of the genre’s golden age.  This game is a miracle, in every respect of the word.  It should not be possible for a game like this to exist in the modern era, and yet it does.  Cherish it.

And with that?

Spoiler

Super Monkey Ball 2 (Story Mode)

Paper Mario Sticker Star

Super Mario Land 3: Wario Land

Kirby & The Forgotten Land

Metal Gear: Ghost Babel

Timesplitters 2

TMNT: Shredder’s Revenge

Octopath Traveller

 

Edited by Dcubed
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Did you accidentally delete some of your post, or is it just not showing up on Tapatalk?

It just goes from Kirby straight to TMNT.

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29 minutes ago, bob said:

Did you accidentally delete some of your post, or is it just not showing up on Tapatalk?

It just goes from Kirby straight to TMNT.

Nope.  It's all there, in all its 7,500 word glory.

Maybe it's just too much for Tapatalk to handle?

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Posted (edited)
23 hours ago, Dcubed said:

As for Super Monkey Ball 2 itself? It’s probably the best console-exclusive sequel to an arcade game I’ve ever played. 

I haven't read every word of your mammoth post but this absolutely stood out to me as I just can't agree at all.

For years, many people seemed to hold Super Monkey Ball and Super Monkey Ball 2 up as the pinnacles of the series and the gold standard by which SEGA could never replicate with each disappointing sequel.

In truth, Super Monkey Ball 2 is where it all started to fall apart :nono:

In my head, with the gameplay of the original it doesn't seem like it would be that difficult to come up with dozens of fun and challenging obstacle courses to test your skills with the analogue stick without having to constantly resort to cheap scenarios and frustrating gimmicks. There's way too much of that in Super Monkey Ball 2 and these feelings of apathy were further amplified when I played the already disappointing Banana Mania on Switch last year :hmm:

I genuinely can't understand why SEGA have such trouble with this!

Edited by nekunando

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Posted (edited)
43 minutes ago, nekunando said:

I haven't read every word of your mammoth post but this absolutely stood out to me as I just can't agree at all.

For years, many people seemed to hold Super Monkey Ball and Super Monkey Ball 2 up as the pinnacles of the series and the gold standard by which SEGA could never replicate with each disappointing sequel.

In truth, Super Monkey Ball 2 is where it all started to fall apart :nono:

In my head, with the gameplay of the original it doesn't seem like it would be that difficult to come up with dozens of fun and challenging obstacle courses to test your skills with the analogue stick without having to constantly resort to cheap scenarios and frustrating gimmicks. There's way too much of that in Super Monkey Ball 2 and these feelings of apathy were further amplified when I played the already disappointing Banana Mania on Switch last year :hmm:

I genuinely can't understand why SEGA have such trouble with this!

The only stage that I actually feel is cheap in SMB 2 is Switch Inferno.  The rest are completely fair, even if they are incredibly hard.

Even the likes of Arthropod, Skater and Triangle Holes have 100% consistent strategies that will always work.

Banana Mania is complete shite; the physics are totally wrong.  Don’t use that crappy remaster to judge the original game.

Edited by Dcubed

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29 minutes ago, Dcubed said:

The only stage that I actually feel is cheap in SMB 2 is Switch Inferno.  The rest are completely fair, even if they are incredibly hard.

Even the likes of Arthropod, Skater and Triangle Holes have 100% consistent strategies that will always work.

Banana Mania is complete shite; the physics are totally wrong.  Don’t use that crappy remaster to judge the original game.

I played the original only a couple of years ago. The physics were obviously much better but I still hated it, for the most part!

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Posted (edited)

Ape Escape

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I was craving an RPG but couldn't settle on one so I decided to give the game that let's you catch apes a go.

Spent about 3 1/2 hours with it over the course of yesterday and, as you can see, managed to get the Platinum right before today arrived :D 

It's a game that definitely shows its age and has quit a bit of jank, but it is a fantastic showcase of the classic DualShock which revolutionized video game controllers (and in turn video games as a whole) by introducing a second analog stick.
In this game you don't use the right analog stick for camera movement - thankfully, this has changed and camera movement on the right stick has become the norm. Instead, it functions as a means to use several gadgets. You can swing a net around to catch those stupid little apes, you smack stuff with a stick, control an RC car and more.
And with all that at your disposal you go through a few levels, beat a few bosses and eventually watch the credits.

Enjoyed my time with it, even though it was sometimes a little annoying thanks to weird camera movements and imprecise platforming.

Definitely a much better escape than the artful one. :p 

Edited by drahkon
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Telling Lies

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An enjoyable, I'm gonna call it "interactive movie". Good acting and narrative.

That's it :p 

Oh and Angela Sarafyan was a surprise. Haven only seen her in Westworld but she's in Telling Lies, too :D 

 

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So after being unable to get Omori on PS5, I could have possibly got it on Switch, but for various reasons decided not to.

 

After running into a dead end with Meat Boy, I decided to forgo putting it off and went and swapped one precision platformer for another, starting Celeste.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I should be able to finish this game pretty soon to be honest, not sure if I'm going to do the extra levels or the additional chapters but I might do. In terms of progress, I have just finished The Mirror Temple, so next up is Chapter 6.

 

After that is finished I have also bought another indie game (really on the indie train now). I have purchased the RPG CrossCode which is supposed to be really good, has some Zelda elements to it too.

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Another World: 20th Anniversary Edition (PS4)

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Well this has not aged well!  A big deal back when it was released, as a cinematic 2D platformer with it’s animation, and leading the way for the likes of Flashback, Abe’s Odyssey, etc.

I died over and over and over and over again!  The animation actually became a huge source of frustration for me, as you can’t jump or fire you weapon until your stepping animation has finished, and so often this will result in missed jumps, or the quick reflexes or your enemies to decimate you!

It cemented it’s place in gaming history back in 1991, but that’s where I’d leave it.

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Posted (edited)

I'm really enjoying my time gaming at the minute. Trying to make more time for it and I'm taking a new approach. Rather than play games that I've played before on other consoles, or remakes etc, I've looked to play games I haven't experienced before. 

 

Started with A Plague Tale - Innocence. I won't detail my feelings on it here, as did that in the specific thread for the game. 9/10 though. Much enjoyed. 

On Sunday, I finished The Quarry. Until Dawn remains a favourite PS4 experience in my mind. I absolutely loved it. 

The Quarry is up there with that game, although doesn't quite reach the heights that that did. 

I got to the last chapter and had somehow managed to keep all of the characters alive! And then two died... :p

I didn't read that you shouldn't use a feature this game offers called "death rewind", that rewinds the game to the point before a character dies to allow you to make another choice or take another path. I replayed the final chapter with this option on and had to use it, but when I then reached the end with  eryone alive the achievement didn't pop. I played it again without Death Rewind on and it still didn't pop, so maybe I need to go back to chapter 9 and play the last two again in case the game knows I've done a replay of chapter 10 with that option enabled. 

The game was really great though. I liked the story, liked the characters and got quite invested in a lot of them. I intend to play again and have everyone killed so I can get the alternative ending :D. 

In between that, I picked up Kaze and the Wild Masks for my Xbox. In hindsight, better suited to Switch, but nevermind. 

It's quite clear that this has taken many prompts from the Donkey Kong series. There are collectibles in each level (golden letters to spell KAZE), as well as two bonus stages per level that sees you having to collect all the crystals in the time limit, or kill all the enemies etc. 

Gameplay is simple, but some elements of the gameplay are really intuitive, like lights you trigger which enable or disable enemies, or slingshots that catapult you around levels. 

In addition, there are 'masks' (hence the name) in each world that give Kaze new move sets, or abilities. For example the ability to climb walls or swim and attack underwater. 

Its early days into this one, but so far I'm really enjoying it. 

I feel like the last few weeks I've committed to gaming a lot more and I've really enjoyed my time with these games. I definitely think playing something new and varying the types of games I'm playing has been the key to it! :D

 

 

Edited by Aneres11
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Thanks for the impressions on The Quarry, @Aneres11. Like you, I loved Until Dawn and was curious to see how this game compares. I probably would have picked it up straight away if not for the stupidly high price tag. 

 

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23 minutes ago, Hero-of-Time said:

Thanks for the impressions on The Quarry, @Aneres11. Like you, I loved Until Dawn and was curious to see how this game compares. I probably would have picked it up straight away if not for the stupidly high price tag. 

 

Agreed. I ended up paying £49.99 from GAME with a view to trade it in soon after playing it. 

I highly recommend it though if you enjoyed Until Dawn. The first chapter is so good and then it kind of dips a bit before ramping up again. 

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Currently ploughing through KAZE. 

Has anyone played this game? I've never known a difficulty spoke quite like it. It starts off like a traditonal Nintendo cake walk but 3 world's in and I'm now replaying the same level I've been stuck on for the past 40 minutes. Essentially an on rails level where the character is running and you just have to jump and dive at the right time. 

 

Basically having to memorize the path which I'm doing a terrible job of. The world 3 boss before this was also extremely frustrating. I was loving the game, but the challenge it's presenting now is making me hate the damn thing! 

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Posted (edited)

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Sorry, @Hero-of-Time and @darksnowman, no Platinum for me. Completing the Bestiary is way too tedious for me right now (maybe ever). :p 

Anyways, what a wonderful game this is. One of my favourite Final Fantasy games and with the Zodiac Age treatment it's gotten even better. 

My three favourites of the series:

  1. Final Fantasy IX
  2. Final Fantasy X / Final Fantasy XII

The Zodiac Age remaster adds a few much needed features like resetting the license boards. But the one thing that the game desperately needs, the remaster didn't provide: A better fast travel system :D 

I very much enjoyed playing this version. 
The Gambit system can be beautifully abused to the point where you don't have to touch the controller during a fight. There's some insanely OP gear making this even better. Once you got the grind done, you'll be able to breeze through the game. That's my kind of JRPG :laughing: 

"But the story sucks."

People spit on the story, I spit on those people. :p I love the story. Political, fantastical, character driven. I enjoyed it from start to finish. :) 

FFXII also has some incredible artwork. The world, character and enemy design is drop dead gorgeous.

10/10 

Edited by drahkon
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4 minutes ago, drahkon said:

Sorry, @Hero-of-Time and @darksnowman, no Platinum for me. Completing the Bestiary is way too tedious for me right now (maybe ever). :p 

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Did you at least fight Yiazmat and do the 100th trail?

:( 

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3 minutes ago, Hero-of-Time said:

Did you at least fight Yiazmat and do the 100th trail?

Nope.

I fought Yiazmat in the original and the Trial Mode doesn't really appeal to me :p 

I unlocked the Yiazmat Hunt, though :D 

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1 minute ago, drahkon said:

Nope.

I fought Yiazmat in the original and the Trial Mode doesn't really appeal to me :p 

I unlocked the Yiazmat Hunt, though :D 

But that's where the best boss battle is. Granted, you have to get all the way to level 100 but it's a cracking fight.  Watch a YouTube video on it or something.

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