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drahkon

Your Gaming Diary 2022

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Yeah, it's a lovely little game, @WackerJr. I played it a few years ago now back on my Vita and loved it. I also recommend Volume, which is by the same creator as TWA.

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Just like BotWHades gets a one way ticket to "overrated-junk-island" from me.

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I snapped up Trigger Witch in the recent PSN sale. I was a big fan of Reverie on the Vita and it's by the same guys who made that. It's essentially a 2D Zelda game but with guns. :D

Like Zelda, you have an overworld to explore and dungeons to conquer but the combat system is different to a Zelda game. Your character (a witch) uses a variety of guns and so the combat is more like Smash TV/twin stick shooter than it is an action RPG. It's very fun and hilariously violet for such a cutesy game.

The developers are obviously friends with the Sacred Symbols guys. One of the trophies is named this and where you unlock it, that dungeon features a character that says "Greetings and salutations" which is what Colin says at the start of every podcast.

It wasn't exactly a festive game but it was certainly a enjoyable one for the 7 or 8 hours I played it.

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A Short Hike

On 12/24/2022 at 12:27 PM, Hero-of-Time said:

Such and delightful and cozy game.

Enough said :D 

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Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II

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Finished the campaign.
It's CoD. It's fun. That's it :D 

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Just managed to squeeze in/complete one of my goals for the year and that was to finish all the Shantae games on the PS4. 

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This is certainly a step up in terms of production values when compared to the other games. Everything looked so crisp and there were loads of animated cutscenes. The game is also a lot longer than the previous entries. The speedrun trophy requires a time of under 4 hours and the 100% speedrun trophy a time of under 6 hours 30 minutes. Both are pretty lenient but the previous games had times of under 2-3 hours and that just goes to show how lengthy this is in comparison.

I did enjoy the monster card collecting aspect in this entry. Being able to equip 3 different cards to enhance your own abilities to suit your play style was a very welcome addition to the franchise. Finding them all was a bit of a pain, with some enemies only having drop rates of 3%. I got there in the end though.

I also think it is one of the easier Shantae games. I went through the whole game without upgrading my health ( needed to do this for a trophy ) and it wasn't really a struggle at all. A monster card that I obtained early on regenerated my MP and if you couple that with the dance that restores your health, it means you should never run out of HP.

I found the transformations much better in this game than in any other. Here, the abilities are automatic and so you don't have to do a genie dance to change into anything. This means the gameplay is pretty fast and doesn't let up for much. Instead, the dances here are reserved for 4 moves. These aren't used half as much as transformations and so it made sense to make them dances and the transformations automatic.

I'm a bit disappointed that the original game has yet to surface on PlayStation platforms. It's still on the cards but I guess it got pushed back until 2023 now. At least it gives me one more Shantae game to play next year.

Edited by Hero-of-Time
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Played through a few of the Mega Drive games on the Switch over the past couple of days, namely Alien Storm, Golden Axe 2 and Virtua Fighter 2.

Spoiler

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Alien Storm was fun enough. I especially liked how it switched to first person mode when you entered a building. The auto running sections were also a nice change of pace from the standard brawler stages. 

Golden Axe II is meh compared to the original. They play pretty much the same but because I have more nostalgia for the first game I would rather just play that one.

Virtua Fighter 2 is a baffling one. Why they decided to release a version of this on the Mega Drive is beyond me. It's absolute garbage. It doesn't even hold up to some of the other lesser fighters on the system. I would rather have played Eternal Champions than this. Yeah, that's how bad this is. Also, for some reason, the stage where you fight Dural turns into a slideshow. It's like you're fighting under water. :D 

I also played through Seasons after Fall.

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It's a nice and relaxing indie game where you control the spirit of a fox and you have the power to control the seasons. It's a platformer/puzzler game and kinda reminds me of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons, not in terms of visuals but how the game plays. You have to manipulate the 4 season in order to create platforms, solve puzzles and just generally make any headway through the game. It also reminded me of Click Clock Wood from Banjo Kazooie. :D The game is leaving the PS+ service next month and so I decided to give it a whirl before it left. 

 

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25 minutes ago, Hero-of-Time said:

It's a nice and relaxing indie game where you control the spirit of a fox and you have the power to control the seasons. It's a platformer/puzzler game and kinda reminds me of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons, not in terms of visuals but how the game plays. You have to manipulate the 4 season in order to create platforms, solve puzzles and just generally make any headway through the game.

Ohhh, sounds like a good time. Gonna give it a go once I'm back home in the new year :D

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5 minutes ago, drahkon said:

Ohhh, sounds like a good time. Gonna give it a go once I'm back home in the new year :D

It may be gone by then. I'm not sure when in January it leaves the service.

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6 minutes ago, Hero-of-Time said:

It may be gone by then. I'm not sure when in January it leaves the service.

Looks like it'll leave the sub on the 17th of January.
Won't have time to play until the 2nd so I hope that's true :D

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I probably won't get another game finished before 2023 and so I wanted to end it on a high and decided to finish off one of the greatest trilogies in gaming. Fantastic writing, amazing characters and tough choices to make. Fantastic game! :bowdown:

Spoiler

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:D

 

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Wow, left it until the last day to give this diary a much needed update huh?

 

So, uh, since September I have played CrossCode all the way to completion, I finished it some time in November I believe: I went and beat all the dungeons in Chapter 8, made my way through Chapter 9 and then did the parts that lead up to the finale. Then I found out that I missed the good ending so I went back to do that but thankfully the game lets you skip the final chapter events and go straight to the end of the game so that you don't have to redo the final fight which is an amazing quality of life feature.

 

 

 

 

So yeah, after finishing CrossCode I was playing eFootball for a bit but I have been on and off with the game as I am hoping that they add an Edit mode which still isn't in the game yet. Epic Fail Konami.

 

The next single player game I played was Pokemon Violet. I am happy to say that aside from briefly walking through a door I experienced very few technical issues. But I was mindful that they existed:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spoiler

 

 

I haven't touched the game much since beating it to be honest, haven't even tried to get the legendaries.

 

I have now started Super Mario RPG on Wii U. Had this game since the beginning of the year and I've finally got round to starting it, will finish it next year. It feels a bit unrefined compared to future Mario RPGs but since it was the first I can understand that. I haven't got Geno yet.

 

Also been doing a lot on Rivals of Aether in regards to modding and in spite of not having played the game yet I helped to make this:

 

https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=2894405278

 

2023 I plan to play a lot of Final Fantasy games, starting with the Crisis Core remake that's out next year.

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19 minutes ago, Aperson said:

2023 I plan to play a lot of Final Fantasy games, starting with the Crisis Core remake that's out next year.

That's been out for a couple of weeks now.

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I should probably rephrase it and say that I'm planning on getting it next year. I was aware that it's already out, I just want to get Mario RPG done first.

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On 24/12/2022 at 5:06 PM, Hero-of-Time said:

Yeah, it's a lovely little game, @WackerJr. I played it a few years ago now back on my Vita and loved it. I also recommend Volume, which is by the same creator as TWA.

Thanks, I hadn't heard of this before, but will try to give it a go over the next couple of months.  How would you rate the difficulty (if you can remember!)?  Thomas Was Alone was a good difficulty to play alongside my wife, so I'm wondering whether it would be a good game for us to try together.

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Tunic (Switch)

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One of the last games I finished in 2022, and a wonderful and perplexing game!

I'll keep my brief thoughts spoiler-free.  I can only add to the accolades that it's received.  It took me a while to actually get into, and I wasn't sure about the lack of obvious map to begin with, but once it clicked and I understood (or at least thought I understood) what was happening it was great!

The boss battles were tough, and I wish I had discovered the penalty-free "No Fail" option before completing it!  I admit to looking online for a little assistance as got stuck on a few bits, but overall a very clever and enjoyable title.

 

Spoiler

 

 

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53 minutes ago, WackerJr said:

Tunic (Switch)

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One of the last games I finished in 2022, and a wonderful and perplexing game!

I'll keep my brief thoughts spoiler-free.  I can only add to the accolades that it's received.  It took me a while to actually get into, and I wasn't sure about the lack of obvious map to begin with, but once it clicked and I understood (or at least thought I understood) what was happening it was great!

The boss battles were tough, and I wish I had discovered the penalty-free "No Fail" option before completing it!  I admit to looking online for a little assistance as got stuck on a few bits, but overall a very clever and enjoyable title.

 

  My 40-second(...ish) review of Tunic (Reveal hidden contents)

 

 

Did you open the big door in the snowy mountain? The solution to that blew my mind.

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The last game I finished last year.

Pentiment

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It's a very solid point and click mystery game. There are a few mysteries throughout the game, but there's no "right" answer. You can only do a limited amount of things in a day (luckily, only certain actions trigger the passage of time, you can take as long as you like to look at everything), so you only get access to parts of the information. You can only make your assessment based on what you know. 

Part of these limitations will be the different knowledge sets you can pick, these will help with some situations while others may be inaccessible (you're never stuck in the game, though).

The story is interesting, although the final mystery (which pretty much reveals itself with no investigation) is a bit disappointing. 

I was kind of expecting the game to be a bit more unique (and use the "book" styling a lot more), but it's still a solid point and click game. 

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Posted (edited)
On 05/01/2023 at 11:23 AM, Ronnie said:

Did you open the big door in the snowy mountain? The solution to that blew my mind.

Yep, well kind of.  I did finally manage to open it, although I did get a little help.  Like you, when I discovered what you were supposed to do I was flabbergasted (in the best possible way!).

Spoiler

Once it was revealed what to do, which itself was amazing, I figured out around 3/4 of the solution, but I'm happy to admit that I looked online for help with the rest.  The 'loading' part I don't know if I ever would've solved!

 

Edited by WackerJr
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So it's 2023... meaning that I've gotten in just in time to post about the games I played and finished since June 2022! Yes, really.  Yes I am really that slow with updating this thread.

Righto! Lets start this epic post with the most verbose of reviews!

 

The Stanley Parable: Ultra Deluxe

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It's brilliant. Why?
That would spoil it. You'll just have to trust me.

 


Portal

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The surprise release of Portal on Switch was a surprise! Coming out of absolutely nowhere, this is the first new console release of Portal since 2007 and it's easily the best version of the game outside of its original PC release.  Now running at a solid 1080p/60FPS (a huge upgrade over the 720p/30FPS of the PS3 and 360 versions), and armed with excellent gyro controls, this is an excellent version of the modern classic first-person puzzler.

Based on a simple concept, and on a Digipen student project called Narbarcular Drop, Portal instantly grabbed the attention and the imaginations of millions of players with its initial trailer.  The humble portal was a common gameplay mechanic that had appeared in countless games since the dawn of gaming, but allowing the player to make their own portals!?!? Absolutely insane!! Literally game changing!

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Now you're thinking with portals!

 

A brilliant concept in tow means nothing though without the gameplay mechanics and (most importantly) the level design to make the most of said concept however.  Thankfully, the bulk of the game's 2.5 year development cycle went into ensuring that the level design was absolutely top-shelf... and top-shelf it is!  Open to player interpretation, but with enough forethought to subtly guide the player in the right direction, Portal's level design is a triumph; I have to make a note here, it's a HUGE success! It's really hard to overstate my satisfaction with it in fact.

This is something that I feel that it's sequel (amazingly enough, titled Portal 2) actually didn't manage to recapture for various reasons.  The level design in Portal really is just superb, with most rooms offering multiple possible solutions; and none of the player funnelling that plagued its sequel.  And Portal also has the perfect runtime too, short n' sweet, with fresh mechanics all throughout that never overstay their welcome.  Super replayable, and the bonus challenge stages also add longevity with ever more devious puzzle designs.  A perfect example of how important and transformative hand-crafted level design really is to the gameplay experience.

Yes, the visual and sound design is exceptional and timeless, yes the dialogue and story is great, and yes that ending song is still a banger; but the real secret ingredient is the quality of the game's level design.  Playing it again on Switch was an absolute pleasure, and if you somehow haven't played Portal or Portal 2 before? Do yourself a favour and pick up the collection on Switch ASAP.  You'll thank yourself for doing so.

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No lies detected

 


Pokemon Mystery Dungeon Rescue Team DX

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Yeah, this one is really late; but very welcome all the same.  Pokemon Mystery Dungeon Rescue Team DX is, shockingly, a remake of Pokemon Rescue Team Red/Blue!  Nobody on planet Earth expected it to be the next remake after Let's Go (except for me) and less still could ever have expected it to be so shockingly gorgeous to boot! Now rendered in beautiful HD, with a watercolour art style that somehow actually manages to capture the look & feel of the game's concept art (and inspired more than a little by Valkyria Chronicles), it's a hell of a glow-up from the GBA original!  But there's far more to this remake than just a very pretty new coat of paint, because unlike a certain other "brilliant" remake that shall not be named, the gameplay has also been given a hell of a glow-up; with gameplay mechanics taken from Super Pokemon Mystery Dungeon and even Etrian Odyssey Mystery Dungeon! (Wait, what!?).

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Holy shit though! This might well be the best looking 3D game ever made though!

 

The original Pokemon Mystery Dungeon Rescue Team was an offshoot of Chunsoft's long-running Mystery Dungeon series; known for its brutal difficulty and owing to its roots in Rogue (the progenitor of the Roguelike genre, shocking I know).  The Mystery Dungeon series (particularily the Shiren branch of the series) are stoic and direct descendents of the original Rogue, created after Koichi Nakamura (one of the co-creators of the original Dragon Quest) played and fell in love with the original PC version of Rogue.  Starting with Torneko no Daibōken, the Mystery Dungeon series would continue expanding on the original Rogue gameplay concept, while sticking reletively close to the original PC game's core gameplay.  While the Roguelike (and Roguelite) genre is now a modern mainstay, particular amongst the indie development scene, pure Roguelikes are actually not all that common; meaning that the Mystery Dungeon series still remains fairly novel in today's modern gaming landscape.

However, when it came time to marry the Mystery Dungeon series with Pokemon? That brutalistic difficulty had to change.  There was no way that permadeath was going to fly with the Pokemon audience (yes I know about the Nuzlocke challenge, you're not slick!), so compromises had to be made in that regard.  The original Rescue Team Red/Blue was not what I would consider an especially easy game, but compared to the previous Mystery Dungeon series entries? And to the genre as a whole? Rescue Team Red/Blue is much more welcoming, forgiving and approachable than its Mystery Dungeon predecessors.

So then it's quite surprising that this remake completely throws that out of the window and proceeds to utterly brutalise you!

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Be prepared to see this message.  A lot.

 

Each subsequent PKMD entry has continued to raise the difficulty, culminating in the utterly soul melting difficulty seen in Super Pokemon Mystery Dungeon.  And this remake thoroughly deletes the original game's kiddy gloves, because its received a humongous difficulty spike in all respects! Not only are the Pokemon you encounter far stronger than in the GBA original, but the mechanics have also been brought in line with Super Pokemon Mystery Dungeon.  That means that Belly now depletes at a lightning pace, Apples don't fully restore Hunger, enemies will now happily throw screen clearing moves at you, Poison damage now hits you for 40HP each time and more! Oh joy! Oh, and that forgiveness from the original game? Where you only lose half your money and some of your items? Nah, you lose EVERYTHING you take in with you now.

The gameplay is also significantly more complex than the original game too, with mechanics such as the Wands, items and Mega Evolution now brought over from Super PKMD; while moves and Pokemon typing have been brought up to Gen 7 standards (the latest at the time of PKMD's development; fun fact! This was the last game to have Mega Evolutions!).  Don't worry, it's not all stacked against you though! They've also greatly increased your bag's item capacity, and you can now switch out Pokemon while in the middle of a dungeon even!  You also now have the new Rare Qualities mechanic, which is a pretty obvious analog to the mainline series' Abilities mechanic.  There's also mechanics that are new to the series too, such as the Invitations, and the revamped Makuhita Dojo; it feels like a natural step forward for the series in that regard.

Also new to the Pokemon Mystery Dungeon series is the introduction of Powerful Pokemon... Oh boy... If you've played Etrian Odyssey Mystery Dungeon, you'll instantly know what these nightmares are... They're straight up FOEs.  No ifs, no buts, they're flat out FOEs.  They can and will appear randomly throughout a dungeon.  They are level 100 and will utterly annihilate you at the very sight of them... Still, at least you have that extra bag space!

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And they were never heard from again...

 

Everything that was great about the original game is still great here.  The music is superb, the marriage of Pokemon battle mechanics and Roguelike gameplay is the most holy of matrimony, the story is great, and the pacing is lightning fast.  The new mechanics gel just as perfectly as they did in Super PKMD, and it's a real treat for any fan of the series.  My only real complaint is that I wish they introduced more Pokemon from beyond Gen 3.  While you do get some additional Pokemon evolutions that debuted in Gen 4? And a few extras? It doesn't go as far as I was hoping, bit of a missed opportunity really.  Still, this is a cracking game, an excellent remake of a fantastic game that brings it up to date with all of the latest mechanics the series has to offer.  It's the kind of remake that Game Freak used to make in fact, and while there's something to be said for how it loses the approachability that the original GBA game was designed to offer?  It's exactly the kind of remake I love, and as a fan of the series? It was an absolute blast!

 

 

No More Heroes 3

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No More Heroes 3 is the 4th entry in the No More Heroes series.  That's the most sensible thing that you will hear about this game.

Following on from Travis Strikes Again, this game goes completely off the rails immediately and becomes BAT SHIT INSANE, even by Suda 51 standards!  Space aliens have taken over the Earth, Bad Girl is no longer a dog & is now your friend, Shinobu gets her arms chopped off and is chucked into cryogenic storage; Jeane is now comically overweight, can fly and now speaks with a thick black african male accent (despite being previously female) and Travis is now a gundam robot that can fly into space.  And this is just in the first five minutes!

 

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Yes it is

 

If you are coming into No More Heroes 3 without having played any of the previous entries and are expecting to understand anything that's going on? Forget it.  If you are coming into No More Heroes 3 having played all of the previous entries and are expecting to understand anything that's going on? Also forget it.

I don't really want to speak about anything that happens in terms of the game's story, because it really does just need to be experienced in all of its mindfuckery glory.  It is a WILD ride of pure insanity that I absolutely loved from start to finish.  If that doesn't sell it for you? Then how about this non-spoilery clip starring Gold Joe?

 

Snap crackle & pippity pop!

 

All of the characters in this game are just amazing.  They're over-the-top in the best way possible and it's a hugely entertaining garden of madness from beginning to end.

Now for the gameplay.  The combat is actually quite a nice step up from NMH 1 & 2 in terms of complexity, while maintaining the same visceral quality that made the original Wii games so fun to play; with the same motion controls intact while using the Joy-cons.  There's a much increased focus on combos and while it's still far from the depth of something like Bayonetta or Devil May Cry? It's complex enough to stay engaging throughout the game's run-time.  There's also a good variety of enemies on offer, with some being outright infuriating to deal with; and crowd control is a big part of the game's core combat loop.  It's not an easy game either, and NMH3 has no issues with killing you on a dime if you can't keep the crowd in check.  Now, one umberage that many people have taken with this game is that it lacks the lengthy stages that took place prior to boss fights as seen in NMH1 & 2; with you now instead being placed straight into boss fights once the entry fee has been paid.  Personally I didn't really miss their absence all that much, because the boss fights were always the best part of NMH anyway, and this just removes the preamble that dragged things out.  As a result, NMH3 maintains a brisk pace that doesn't leave you hanging.

What hasn't been removed however are the gloriously stupid minigames that litter Santa Destroy's open world map.  And thankfully they're dumber than ever before! From scouring the desert for scorpions, to unclogging pixellated toilets, to collecting garbage cans while avoiding alligators (yes, really), NMH3 revels in throwing middle fingers at the player; and you're either in on the joke and you're howling with laughter, or you have no sense of humour and you're cursing the game's existence.  There is no in-between.

 

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Only the coolest and most badass jobs await the otaku loser!

 

I was surprised at how solid the game's combat is this time around.  Grasshopper clearly put a lot of time and effort into the combat gameplay and it shows; solid 60FPS performance during combat gameplay too! I enjoyed the combat gameplay way more than I was expecting to, it's solid in its own right as an action game; even without the Suda51 flavoured trappings that come along with it.  But at the end of the day, you're playing NMH3 for Suda51's trademark madness, and this is Suda51 at his most utterly unhinged.  If you are hoping for a true Suda51 experience? You will be absolutely satisfied with NMH3.  It is the sequel to NMH1 that NMH2 wishes it was.

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Save often.  Save your sanity.

 

 

Wario Land 2

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THIS is the game that defined both the Wario series, and Wario as a character.  You'll notice that my last writeup spoke of the original Wario Land, where I discussed how Nintendo R&D morphed the Mario Land series into what became Wario Land; but this is the big inflection point where it recognisably became the series we know today.  Wario Land 2 is the definitive puzzle platformer.  Wario is now invincible, lives and health are gone; and the level design is now decidedly non-linear in nature (though Wario Land 3 would take this a step further still, into outright Metroidvania territory).  Gone are the Super Mario style powerups in favour of a new Transformations system, where Wario can be squashed, burnt, smooshed and mangled in all manner of horrific ways into mostly helpful new forms that allow him to navigate the world.

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Don't worry, he's fine

 

The core platforming gameplay is decidedly faster paced than the original Wario Land, though Wario is perhaps not the most graceful of creatures; despite this however, action platforming gameplay takes a bit of a back seat to puzzle solving, as the goal is now to figure out HOW to get through each stage.  Wario can now carry & throw enemies around in order to break walls & blocks and manipulate the environment around him; switches and gadgets litter each stage that impede and grant progress.  And now the game challenges you to explore stages in all 8 directions in order to find doors, keys and coins (ohhhhhhh yyyyyeeeesssss! COINS!!!) that you'll need to progress.  Wario's transformations challenge you to rethink the space around you in order to figure out how to proceed.  Stages will also have hidden exits that lead to alternative paths and different endings, and the level design here is strong.  Look, these guys make Metroid, they KNOW how to make well designed and interesting levels; and that pedigree is absolutely evident here.  Some of the secret exits are utterly devious and will have you feeling like a genius when you figure it out.  The level design quality is second to none, and it's the secret sauce that makes the game come together.

 

Add a healthy dose of silly enemies, silly bosses, silly music and you have a sillily good game.

 

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Sometimes? You just need to sleep on it...

 

 

Super Mario Advance 2: Super Mario World (Race with Glen-i)

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So I got my fancy new MiSTer Multisystem which has an incredible, amazing feature.  It allows you to play GBA multiplayer games in two player splitscreen! So of course me and @Glen-i had to try this out... by playing a game that doesn't actually support multiplayer!

We decided to have a race through Super Mario Advance 2: Super Mario World: Electric Boogaloo.  No Warp Zones allowed.  So it starts off with me pulling ahead pretty soon as Glen decides to take the safety strat of going for the Yellow Switch Palace, while I like to live dangerously and decide to skip it in favour of going straight to Yoshi's Island 2 instead.  We come to Vanilla Dome and I have a comfortable lead... so I get the bright idea of going for the Red Switch Palace for some godforsaken reason; and then I decide to take the alternate route out of Vanilla Dome and onto Butter Bridge 1.  Thinking that I was super smart, I ploughed through the levels on top of Vanilla Dome and head onto Butter Bridge 1...

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NOOOO!!! I FORGOT!!! IT'S A BLOODY AUTOSCROLLER!!!

So now I'm pretty boned, Glen catches up and eventually passes me.  We have a close call though in Forest of Illusion however, as Glen forgets the correct path through the Forest Ghost House and Forest of Illusion 3! Allowing me to make up some lost ground.

We're coming into Choco Mountain, and naturally we both take the short route through the world map pipe, but tragically I take a death in the Choco Mountain Valley of Bowser level and Glen gains some significant ground.  In desperation, I start taking risky strats, taking advantage of the Red Switch Palace blocks in Choco Mountain 4, but alas... another death! All seems lost as Glen moves into Valley of Bowser...

Glen goes for the Back Door entrance by going through Valley of Bowser 2, while I decide to take a risk by exiting the level early with the Yoshi Wings and going for the VOB Ghost House secret exit by spin jumping on Boos... But it's not enough.  Sadly Glen emerges victorious.

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All that work and all the Mario bros get is a crappy photo

 


Kirby Nightmare in Dreamland (2 Player with Glen-i)

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Ok, so this time we decided to play an actual 2 player multiplayer game to test out the splitscreen multiplayer feature of the MiSTer Multisystem and we've never actually played through this one in 2 player before... so we had to give it a go!  And it worked perfectly all throughout! The link cable co-op multiplayer works exactly as you'd expect on the MiSTer and it's awesome!

The game itself is a 32bit remake of the original NES Kirby's Adventure.  It features mostly the same level design, albeit with some minor changes to make things a bit easier here and there, but with vastly improved visuals, and much smoother & faster-paced gameplay.  The minigames have all also been replaced with brand new ones, but generally speaking? The remake is pretty faithful to the NES original.  It's fast-paced High NRG action from start to finish.

So what's different in multiplayer then? Well... you now have multiple Kirbies! (Yes, thanks genius), and that means that the action is even more hectic than ever before! Surprisingly though, despite granting each player a seperate display, both players still need to remain within the same screen's worth of distance; as if both players were playing on one display... Can't help but feel that this defeats much of the benefit of having seperate displays in the first place to be honest...

Both players can also hygienically share health through lip locking, and all of the minigames switch to being competitive affairs.  Finally, when one Kirby kicks the bucket, they can be brought back to life on the spot by the other player when they move into the next area.  Otherwise, it's pretty much the same as the single player mode.

Nightmare in Dreamland is a short n' sweet affair that you can blast through with 100% completion in less than an hour; making it a great co-op game!

 


Kirby & The Amazing Mirror (2 Player with Glen-i)

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Now this one is the big kahuna! Kirby & The Amazing Mirror is fundamentally a 2-4 player co-op Metroidvania game, to the point where even in single player mode you get lumped with 3 (incredibly stupid) AI companions.  Me and Glen have played this in multiplayer before, but we had to play through this one again and yes, it's an absolute blast!

Unlike Nightmare in Dreamland, this is not a remake of a previous game, but rather a brand new entry in the series.  Also unlike Nightmare in Dreamland, Amazing Mirror is not a typical linear Kirby title, but is rather a fully open world Metroidvania game! And even MORE unlike Nightmare in Dreamland, Amazing Mirror allows each player to travel across the world completely unrestricted! The two Kirbies can go to completely opposite ends of the world map and the game keeps track of each player's position in real time! Very very impressive stuff!

As far as Metroidvania titles go, Amazing Mirror is a bit of an oddball in that there are NO permanant powerups; in fact, it is entierly possible to go to any location of the world map right at the start of the game.  The only restriction in place is the particular copy power that you need to get through any particular puzzle or roadblock that impedes your progress; but as long as you can find the pre-requisite copy power? Yup, you can go anywhere you want, beat the 8 bosses in any order you like, and collect the mirror shard in any order you want.  It's a very unusual gameplay structure that manages to eschew the typical linear progression of a Metroidvania game, while maintaining the genre's signature lock-and-key design.  This setup just so happens to work really well for a co-op metroidvania title however!

We had a lot of fun playing through this one again.

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Spoilers: He doesn't

 


Pokémon Emerald Rogue

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This is an incredible ROM hack of Pokemon Emerald that transforms the game into a Roguelite! No, I don't mean Pokemon Mystery Dungeon, I mean a Roguelite!

Currently on Version 1.31, this is an amazing mod that takes the core Pokemon Emerald gameplay and has you travel through randomly generated routes, with a limited selection of Pokemon being made available along the way.  The goal is to survive through each of the various routes, catching Pokemon and gathering items & money along the way; as you tackle the 8 gym leaders and the Elite Four.  Nuzlocke rules are in effect, so if your Pokemon faints at any point? It is dead and it is NOT coming back!

You start out in a central hub where you can go out on adventures.  Here you can buy permanant upgrades and stuff with the money that you earn from adventures, like... well... a Roguelike!  As you venture out on an adventure, you are placed into a world map of sorts, where you are given a selection of potential encounters to choose from; based on vague descriptions of what you might find.

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The Adventure Map

 

In this pictured example.  You have a selection of 5 paths to choose from (This is a VERY generous example! You'll almost certainly never get this in an actual run!).  The rock represents a route taken from the main game, where you need to survive through to the end, but you can catch Pokemon, find items and earn money from trainer battles along the way; while the NPCs represent various rest stops that can offer you the chance to heal, buy items etc.  The goal is to get to the tile at the end, where you fight the gym leader.  Beat them and then you move onto the next Adventure Map.  Repeat until you either die, or beat the Elite Four and complete the run!

Each Adventure Map has a level cap in place, and Pokemon level up incredibly fast; so there's no real grinding needed, but you also can't over-level.  You'll always be at the same level as the gym leader by the end of each Adventure Map.  It is very well balanced! And a TON of fun!

Each route grants you differing arrays of Pokemon chosen at random; with a hint given on the Adventure Map as to what Pokemon types will appear in each one.  Once you're on the route, you're given between 2-6 Pokemon that can potentially appear; depending on the difficulty of each route.  A visual indicator is shown on the pause screen, so you can keep track of what Pokemon can be encountered in each route...

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Here, you can see that three Pokemon have been found, and you are more likely to find Poison Pokemon on this route

 

Each rest stop also stocks different kinds of items.  Mart Rest Stops grant things like Pokeballs, Potions, TMs etc that you can buy with the money that you earn from trainer battles and item sales, while Battle Prep Rest Stops sell Hold Items and Mints... wait... WAIT! WHAT THE FUCK!?!? MINTS AREN'T IN GEN 3!!!!!

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OH HOHOHOHO!!!

 

Oh? Did I not mention? THIS GAME BRINGS GEN 8 MECHANICS INTO POKEMON EMERALD!!! Yes! That means that fairy types are in, Heavy Duty Boots are in, Hidden Abilities are in, Physical/Special split is in! It's all IN!!!

Oh, but that's just the tip of the iceburg... This mod is so incredibly polished that you even have the ability to put in specific seeds for races! You can set the difficulty.  You can set the level of randomisation.  You even have tons of unlockable modes and different types of runs! Your hub ever expands as you unlock more and more additional content! This is a complete game in its own right!

And the unlockable stuff? Oh man... Holy fucking shit! I have to mention this one... but if you have any intention on playing it? I strongly recommend that you don't read it...

Spoiler

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AFTER YOUR FIRST SUCCESSFUL RUN, YOU UNLOCK ALL POKEMON FROM GENS 4-8!!! YES!!! EVERYONE IS HERE!!!!!!!

Oh... and also Mega Evolutions and Z-Moves too! Yes, I really did mean that Everyone is here!

This is the best Pokemon ROM hack I have ever played.  It's a completely new kind of Pokemon game that is so incredibly polished that it could easily be a retail title, and it's the most fun I've had with mainline Pokemon since Black/White 2.  I cannot recommend it enough to everyone! It's an incredibly piece of work! SO much fun!

 


Super Smash Bros Brawl: The Subspace Emissary

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The Subspace Emissary is the single player adventure mode of Super Smash Bros Brawl.  It is a complete game in its own right, entierly seperate from the rest of Brawl, and I decided to play through the whole thing again.

This is essentially a Kirby 2D platformer but with the characters and mechanics of Super Smash Bros Brawl.  Based on Kirby Superstar, The Subspace Emissary tasks you to traverse linear stages to progress the story.  Most stages are linear affairs that have you jump and fight your way from point A to point B, though some stages are more open in nature and require you to navigate through a maze with minor puzzles to solve.  This makes perfect sense, since the original Super Smash Bros for N64 was built on top of the mechanics first founded by Kirby Superstar on SNES anyway, so in essence? This is that influence coming full circle.

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Yes, Kirby Superstar.  NOT Donkey Kong Country!

 

While Super Smash Bros Brawl is a fighting game, it's also a game that has Kirby esc platforming mechanics in place; if not perhaps the most graceful of platforming gameplay mechanics.  As such, this combination actually works out surprisingly well! It's not the most complex platformer ever, but it's fun to traverse your way through the differing environments with the varied cast of characters that you find along the way.  And the fact that everyone has wildly differing movesets and movement mechanics means that the gameplay remains fresh throughout the adventure; you're never stuck with one character for very long.  The level design is functional, if fairly unremarkable, but there's enough variety in characters and enemies that you fight in order to make things fun all throughout.

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A very unlikely pairing... oh God please kill that thing!

 

The story is basically an excuse plot to justify the fangasm on display here, but it's fun to see the likes of Bowser and Ganondorf working together to take over the world... also Wario is oddly super evil in this game for some reason? It's totally out of character for him! Even though the story is rather trite overall, I can't help but crack a smile at seeing these characters all interact with each other; and it does make me yearn for a proper Nintendo cross-over movie of sorts some day.

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Be honest, this tickles you in all the right places

 

The boss battles are also really fun, they make the most of the fighting mechanics of Brawl really nicely (I mean, it IS a fighting game after all!); and the unlockable Boss Battles mode was always a mainstay for a good reason.  Overall, I had a lot of fun revisiting The Subspace Emissary, it's better than I remember it being.

 


Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia

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I finally did it.  I finally played through Fire Emblem Shadows of Valentia! Been meaning to do it for years and now I finally got round to playing it.   The verdict? This game is weird...

Fire Emblem Gaiden for the NES is the second game in the series.  And while that game was never released outside of Japan? It remains notorious for being a bit of a Black Sheep within the series.  Nintendo seemed to have a thing for wild experiments with their NES sequels, Super Mario Bros 2/USA, Zelda 2 etc; and Fire Emblem Gaiden is no different in that regard.  As you are probably aware, Fire Emblem: Shadows of Valentia is a loose remake of Fire Emblem Gaiden, much like Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon on the DS.  As such, Shadows of Valentia builds upon the original Fire Emblem Gaiden and inherits all of its... esoteric mechanics.

In that sense, Shadows of Valentia is an interesting look into the road not travelled by the Fire Emblem series.  While the original Shadow Dragon & The Blade of Light was strictly a linear affair that pushed you forward from one strategy RPG map to the next, Fire Emblem Gaiden instead decided to reduce the focus on strategy gameplay and double down on RPG mechanics.  Here? You now have a world map, not that dissimilar from other NES RPGs such as Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest, as well as full-blown dungeons! Yes! Top-down RPG dungeons! With random encounters even! And these encounters play out as stripped down Fire Emblem strategy RPG battles!  Naturally, Shadows of Valentia inherits this rather unusual focus from its NES counterpart; only now the dungeons play out in full 3D, with Zelda style traversal and visible encounters in favour of the random encounters of the NES original.

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Dungeons? In a Fire Emblem game!? It's more likely than you think!

 

The weirdness doesn't stop there though, because Intelligent Systems were determined to reinvent everything about the original Shadow Dragon & The Blade of Light with Fire Emblem Gaiden.  Gone is the weapon triangle (though to be fair, this had yet to become the series staple that it eventually became) and gone is weapon degredation! Now each character can only hold one item at a time (this includes weapons & healing items! You only get one!), and magic uses up HP upon use! (What the fuck?).  Magic is no longer equippable, but instead it's learnt as your magic characters level up.  Weapons now grant skills with continued use (Hey! It did Final Fantasy 9 a decade before Final Fantasy 9!).  Archers can now directly attack enemies next to them, and also don't do extra damage to Pegasus Knights unless they have the anti-fliers skill... and that's just the tip of the iceburg! Like the original NES game, Shadows of Valentia has some VERY strange design choices in play here, that make the game play out like no other game in the Fire Emblem series.  Oh yeah, did I mention that there's also a stamina meter in place for each character that depletes as they travel through dungeons? (Now THAT one is new for the remake at least, so you can't blame Gaiden for that one!).

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Mmm, tasty Raw Meat! Who needs a weapon?

 

Another hold-over from the original Fire Emblem Gaiden is the use of True Hit Percentage... If you're not familiar with this particular quirk of the Fire Emblem series, then I'm about to blow your mind.  From the GBA Fire Emblem games and onwards? The percentage chance to hit that the game shows you is a LIE!

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LIES!!!!!!!!!!

 

That 94%/45% chance to hit that you see in that screenshot above? It's bullshit.  Total bullshit.  But wait! I hear you say! "I've played modern Fire Emblem games, and the hit percentage feels totally accurate!", and you would be absolutely correct! A 94% percent chance to hit feels absolutely correct, it SHOULD hit basically all the time, while that 45% chance SHOULD result in a miss.  But is that really the case? That's basically a coin flip for that enemy to hit you.  While it feels like it SHOULD miss... going by raw numbers? It should actually hit you half the time, but it doesn't! Why is that?

The answer lies in the RNG which, believe it or not, is actually rigged in favour of the player!  From the GBA Fire Emblems onwards they use a double roll system, whereby the game rolls a 0-100 dice twice.  For the enemy attack, the game takes both rolls and then averages them against each other; if the average of the two rolls is below the displayed Hit percentage? Only then does the game register a hit.  The end result is that low percentage Hits will connect less often, and high percentage Hits connect more often.  This has the odd side effect of making the game feel more "fair".

Shadows of Valentia however? Nah, it goes by the old True Hit Percentage system, just like the original Fire Emblem Gaiden.  This means that a Hit of 50% really is a Hit of 50%; meaning that low percentage Hits will connect far more often than you'd expect, while the opposite is true of high percentage Hits (Those 80% Hit chances? Yeah, they're gonna miss all the time!).  This also has the weird side effect of making Crits activate ALL THE TIME! Both for you AND your enemies!  You will rage as your enemies continuously nail jammy crits on you!  NOW all of a sudden the controversial Mila's Turnwheel system makes perfect sense!

Mila's Turnwheel you say? What's that? Basically it's a mulligan.  In each battle, you have a limited number of times that you can rewind the battle and undo turns! While at first I considered this blasphamous, completely destroying the spirit of Fire Emblem? It becomes a godsend when the game is throwing out random crits at you like it's going out of style! Thankfully dungeons put a hard limit on how many times it can be used throughout the entierty of said dungeon too, so it doesn't destroy the careful balance in place there either.  It's a surprisingly well thought out concession to the player; far better than either Casual Mode or the utterly dreadful Pheonix Mode of Fire Emblem Fates.  And it's one that I wouldn't mind seeing return in future Fire Emblem games, assuming that it's carefully balanced enough.

Oh and speaking of odd RNG mechanics? This game is SUPER stingy with growth rates...

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This is not uncommon.  At all.

 

On top of that? This game is SUPER grindy! It actively encourages and requires you to go out of your way to grind your characters and level them up... Yet bizarrely, the game uses an EXP system that exponentially reduces the amount of experience that you can earn past a certain point... making 20/20ing any character an exercise in pure misery.  Unlike most FE games? You do NOT want to attempt 20/20ing anyone, unless you want to spend the rest of your life grinding! Instead, you should be promoting your non-Lord units ASAP; very strange for a FE game! (Also, those promotion items that you usually need? Nope, not here buddy).  I told you this game is strange!

The map design is also odd.  This game LOVES wide open areas with not much inbetween, and you get some outright odd map designs, like one that's basically one big long corridor, and another that's a series of boxes that parts of your army are trapped in.  It's... experimental.

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What IS this!?

 

I haven't even mentioned the Famicom Detective Club style point n' click town sections yet! Yes! Really! This game is bizzare!

And yet... I LOVED this game! It's so weird and unusual... and yet it feels distinctly like classic Fire Emblem! I actually think it's a bit of a shame that the series never really explored Fire Emblem Gaiden's more esoteric mechanics further until Shadows of Valentia.  It's like a bizzare hybrid of Dragon Quest and Fire Emblem, mixed in with a bit of Famicom Detective Club and Shining Force.  It's a game where archers can have a range of 1-8! Where mages can kill themselves by attacking and where Crit rates can totally nullify reduced Hit percentages! While it emphasises the RPG mechanics moreso than the strategy? I feel that the bizzare nature of said mechanics does still lead to strong strategy gameplay here.  You can absolutely abuse the crap out of Warp & Rescue to perform hit & run bombing tactics on bosses, you can force enemies to deplete their own HP with magic spells, you can manipulate the AI to come into range of your archers... the essence of Fire Emblem is still here; even in this bizzare and twisted form!

And outside of the gameplay? The presentation really is just top-notch.  This is the first Fire Emblem game to feature full voice acting across the entire game, and it is SUPERB voice acting to boot!  Berkut in particular? CHEF'S KISS!!!

Berkut's reaction when he finds out about how True Hit percentage works in modern Fire Emblem

 

The story is fairly simple overall, but all of the characters are just superb, with fantastic dialogue that is massively entertaining all throughout.  They do expand on the story of Fire Emblem Gaiden, much like they did with Shadow Dragon, but it's the characters and dialogue that you're really here for; rather than the plot itself.

The music as well? HOLY SHIT!! It is fucking amazing!!! I'm just gonna post one piece... the best version of the Fire Emblem theme I have ever heard! (The rest of the soundtrack is just as good, but this gets the point across nicely!)

 

I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Shadows of Valentia, warts & all.  I'm glad that they stuck to their guns and kept all of the weirdness that defined the original Fire Emblem Gaiden.  It was a real treat to discover this alternate timeline Fire Emblem; where the series decided to focus on the RPG elements of its gameplay.  However, we're not done yet... as I also bought and played through all of the game's DLC too!

In a word? Disappointing.  The DLC is absolutely NOT worth it.  It is basically all just pay-to-win crap that honestly left me with a bit of a sour taste in my mouth.  I'm glad I decided to save it until after I had already finished the main game, because the DLC basically consists purely of maps to grind money & EXP, as well as the ability to Overclass each character (a new thing where you can Class Up a character beyond the maximum normally offered by the main game).  There are also four maps that offer a little bit of backstory before the game's main story started, which actually introduce some varied mission objectives not normally found in the main game, which is neat; but these maps are so slight that I honestly can't recommend the purchase.  Sure, it's fun to obtain a super broken character that you can use in the game's final Super Dungeon (a post-game thing that wasn't in the original Fire Emblem Gaiden), but it's not worth the ridiculous £40 price!

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Horse Armor in Fire Emblem form

 

Thankfully the DLC doesn't take away the great time I had with Shadows of Valentia.  As someone who has been left feeling cold by the more modern FE entries? Shadows of Valentia was a much needed breath of fresh air that I massively enjoyed.  Well worth the 65 hours I poured into this gem.

And with that? We're done for 2022! Roll on 2023... wait? We're already here!? Crud... I need to get a move on in the new thread!

Spoiler

Super Monkey Ball 2 (Story Mode)
Paper Mario Sticker Star
Super Mario Land 3: Wario Land
Kirby & The Forgottten Land
Metal Gear: Ghost Babel
Timesplitters 2
Octopath Traveller
The Stanley Parable: Ultra Deluxe
Portal
Pokemon Mystery Dungeon Rescue Team DX
No More Heroes 3
Wario Land 2
Super Mario Advance 2: Super Mario World (Race with Glen-i)
Kirby Nightmare in Dreamland (2 Player with Glen-i)
Kirby & The Amazing Mirror (2 Player with Glen-i)
Pokémon Emerald Rogue
Super Smash Bros Brawl: The Subspace Emissary
Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia

 

Edited by Dcubed
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I’m once again late to the party with my monthly update but December was fairly productive for me, I managed to play a few more 2022 releases as well as some shorter titles to close out the year. The month started strong with Sam Barlow’s latest opus, Immortality - I had intended to play it on my Android tablet but had a couple of false starts, when I first fired it up, hoping to jump right into playing, the app needed to download another 12gb so I had to postpone starting it until the next night but even on the second attempt things weren’t going my way. My tablet isn’t exactly top of the line but it’s recent so I thought it would be able to handle a game about scrubbing through video clips but it was stuttering a tonne, making the video seem like it was more of a slideshow, so I knew it wouldn’t be doing the game justice to persevere with playing on tablet (and taking a glance at the reviews it seemed like the Android port wasn’t exactly stellar to begin with) so I borrowed my Mum’s Windows laptop and picked it up on Steam instead. It actually turned out to be a blessing in disguise that I couldn’t play it on my tablet, the touch interface seemed pretty unwieldy, I felt much more comfortable using my Switch pro-controller, scrubbing through the clips was easier and more organic, allowing me to focus on searching for clues and getting me more immersed in the narrative. For those unaware, the story concerns the mystery of what happened to an actress called Marisa Marcel who made 3 films before disappearing but it is presented in a non-linear fashion, tasking you with trawling through footage from her films in order to uncover the truth. Like Sam Barlow’s previous efforts Her Story and Telling Lies you can only access short, nonsequential, snippets which obfuscate the truth but rather than typing in prompts like Barlow’s past games you can access new clips by focusing on people or objects within a given scene, zooming in an transitioning to a related clip featuring the same actor or item. It makes for a much more tactile and immersive experience, seamlessly match cutting to another scene, dropping you in mid-sentence and keeping you on your toes - I felt engaged from the very start, constantly teasing out little tidbits of information about Marisa and her co-stars whilst also piecing together the plot of each film. There were some truly captivating moments throughout the 10 hours that I spent following the various threads, even if the illusion isn’t as convincing as it could be at times, it is clear that a lot of effort has gone into making the film feel like genuine artefacts, accurate to the period that they were purported to be produced in. It wasn’t all smooth sailing though, I did get stuck once or twice and wasn’t really sure what I had missed so I just started selecting things at random, hoping that I would happen upon a clip that I hadn’t seen before but that is to be expected with such an unconventional narrative structure - for the most part I was utterly captivated by the intricate story Barlow and his team have crafted, it really feels like a natural evolution of their particular brand of interactive storytelling. The real star of the show is Manon Gage though, her performance as Marisa Marcel is incredibly convincing, she feels like a genuine film starlet, but there are so many levels for her to navigate - she is essentially playing four parts, Marisa herself of course, but also each of the characters that Marisa inhabits, it’s really impressive and I’m happy to see that she’s getting the recognition she deserves from critics and awards shows. I can’t recommend it highly enough, it’s a fantastic advert for the unique capabilities of the medium, it really wouldn’t work as anything other than a video game, so if any of you are interested in trying it out I’d advise you not to read up on it, its best to just dive in and uncover the secrets yourself, definitely a landmark achievement that deserves all the plaudits its received.

As many others were, I was enamoured by A Little to the Left after seeing it in an indie presentation last summer so I was looking forward to picking it up when it released on Switch in December. It's of the same ilk as games like Unpacking, tasking you with organising household items in a variety of situations, things start out simply enough with objectives like putting pencils in height or colour order or neatening up loose papers on a desk, but as the game progresses the puzzles take on more abstract and outlandish set ups. At times I found it quite hypnotic, sucked into a trance of sorts as I worked my way through the puzzles but occasionally the flow was broken when I became frustrated by obtuse solutions, there is a hint system available to help you if you're stuck on a puzzle but it didn't really help with ones that I found the most irritating (the eyepiece one was particularly annoying). Visually it has quite a simple, hand drawn style but it really suits the gameplay and adds a lot of charm to proceedings, the music is also relatively simple, relaxing and slow paced tracks that change up at the beginning of every chapter but I found some of the audio design a little irritating at times, the sound of things sliding against the surface and the little click every time you pick something up could get really grating and somewhat diminished the otherwise relaxing rhythm of the game. All in all I think I enjoyed it more than Unpacking but it still wasn't quite what I had hoped it would be, at times proving a lot more challenging than I had expected, but I'm glad I checked it out and I would definitely recommend it to anyone who enjoys quirky, indie puzzle games.

Next up was another 2022 release and one I didn't really know too much about, SIGNALIS, also on the Switch. All I really knew was that it was a retro style sci-fi survival horror title that had been well received upon release in October so I took a look at the eShop listing and was immediately won over by the visual style - a top down, pixelated, PS1 aesthetic, so I picked it up without looking into it any further. Starting out the game immediately draws you in with its strong atmosphere, the palpable feeling of loneliness that is reminiscent of Super Metroid as you wake up and explore the tight confines of your spacecraft. The prologue on the ship is relatively short, only a few minutes, where you discover that the ship has crash landed on a mysterious planet and your partner is missing, after searching the ship and finding a pressure suit you head out to explore the unknown environment, determined to track her down. The gameplay follows the typical early survival horror formula, movement controls are quite sluggish, with combat being similarly slow and limited, exacerbated by limited resources and inventory slots - throughout the entire game you only get 6 item slots to play with, forcing you to think creatively about what you pick up and what you leave behind as you explore the unnerving environments, ensuring that you always have room to pick up access cards and other key items. The story is told mostly through text logs and other environmental clues, gradually building up your understanding of the outbreak that ravaged the remote mining colony and its place within a war torn solar system that is ruled by a totalitarian regime. There is so much to admire about what the small team at rose-engine have achieved with SIGNALIS, it feels like it takes place in such a dense and convincing world, there are so many interesting threads to follow, hints at what is going on in the wider society mixed in with a compelling narrative hook, but for me it's the atmosphere that really won me over - the sheer tension and terror as you explore the environments is as palpable here as it is in something like Alien Isolation but to pull it off with low-res graphics from a top down perspective is just ridiculous. Yes, the combat is a bit clunky and there isn't exactly much nuance to encounters but other than that it's hard to pick fault with anything else, the plot is engrossing and emotionally affecting, the music and sound design enhances the tone and atmosphere perfectly and it all combines to create a genuinely enthralling experience - one of the best games I've played all year, a must play for anyone who enjoys sci-fi survival horror.

Wanting to pad out my numbers a bit at the end of the year I finished up by played through some shorter games, starting out with Wario Land II. I'm not sure if I played it when I was a kid, I definitely have fond memories of playing the original entry my brother's original Game Boy but I'm blanking on whether or not we owned the follow up so I was intrigued to see how it played. Unfortunately it didn't quite live up to my expectations, one of the things I really loved about the original when I played it on the 3DS a few years ago was how enjoyable it was to use the power ups so I was dismayed to discover that Wario Land II practically does away with them entirely, replacing the traditional power ups with more environmental transformations. It's an interesting change but it makes the game much more frustrating than it otherwise could have been, meaning you're often left relying on random factors in order to progress within a level, there were multiple occasions when I knew what I needed to do to move forward but actually executing it proved quite challenging. Visually it's pretty impressive and there are a great deal of alternate routes and hidden levels to uncover but for me it felt like a step backwards in a lot of ways, I just didn't click with it in the same way I did with the original, sucking some of the fun out of the game. I'll still get through the rest of the series eventually but it's definitely dampened my enthusiasm for playing the next in line, hopefully it's more to my liking.

Finally I closed out 2022 by dusting off my Wii U to play Year Walk. I wasn't familiar with the work of Simogo until a few years ago when they released the wonderful Sayonara Wild Hearts so I was surprised to discover when reading up on their history that they released a game for Nintendo's failed experiment so I set up my Wii U and logged onto the eShop to download it while I still can. Ostensibly its an educational walking simulator, using as it's premise the Swedish tradition of a year walk - a sort of spiritual ceremony in which villagers would undertake a walk through the forest in order to discover what the year ahead had in store for them. Starting out at a log cabin you walk through several interconnected areas, presented in a side scroll first person view of 2D hand drawn art, solving cryptic puzzles in order to find a way into the locked church to conclude the ritual. The use of the Gamepad isn't particularly unique, it serves as a map but also as a crude notepad, allowing you to keep track of important clues such as the particular patterns on a series of stones, but my favourite implementation of the dual screen interface was the inclusion of an encyclopaedia that offers more in-depth information about the folklore that inspired the game - it was really interesting to learn about and definitely enhanced my enjoyment of the game significantly. It's hardly the most challenging or groundbreaking game, but it's the kind of short, sweet and eye opening experience I really enjoy, it is available on mobile, having released on iOS first,  but for anyone looking to get more out of their Wii U before the servers shut down it's well worth checking out.

And that concludes my 2022 diary, I ended up playing 40 games in all, 13 of those were brand new releases, but when it comes down to picking the best of the bunch it’s hard to look past Xenoblade Chronicles 3 - even though I personally scored Poinpy and SIGNALIS a little higher - the sheer consistency over the 100+ hour journey means that Xenoblade takes top spot for me. Of the other new releases and older titles I played through in the last 12 months my favourites were Elden Ring, Kirby & The Forgotten Land, Pokemon Legends Arceus, Zelda II, Deadly Premonition 2 and Desert Child.

Alongside playing a few more games in 2023 I would also like to start making notes on games while I’m playing through them, the way I do it at the moment makes it a bit daunting to bundle them all together in one post at the end of the month, which I think goes some way to explain why it’s taken me to the middle of January to get around to writing the December update. Belated Happy New Year everyone, and sorry for dredging up an out of date thread!

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I'm pretty late to respond, but I'm glad to see you finally gave SOVa shot! Knew you'd love it.

On 10/01/2023 at 3:44 AM, Dcubed said:

Weapons now grant skills with continued use (Hey! It did Final Fantasy 9 a decade before Final Fantasy 9!)

To my knowledge, the original Gaiden did not have this. I'd be mighty surprised if Swap, Reposition, etc. already existed in Gaiden, but I don't think they did. Whatever abilities items gave, they already came with them.

On 10/01/2023 at 3:44 AM, Dcubed said:

This also has the weird side effect of making Crits activate ALL THE TIME! Both for you AND your enemies!

A side-note regarding this: the battle preview in this game still lies a little. The displayed percentages don't take supports in consideration (or even innate supports bonuses, which are invisible), and because of those, the battles tend to work out in your favour more often than not. This is more relevant in the late-game though, as early-to-mid don't feature enough supports for this to make much of a difference.

Also, I think FE Fates Conquest also decided to use True Hit... But don't quote me on that.

On 10/01/2023 at 3:44 AM, Dcubed said:

The DLC is absolutely NOT worth it.

Dammit, man, I could've told you that. The grinding maps are the same as in other 3DS FEs, with the maps themselves being fairly boring. But grinding has miniscule returns in this game, so it's extra pointless. The rest of the DLC was at least more experimental, with all of the overclasses bringing new, fun animations, and the extra characters from Cipher... but those are very niche extras.

The story DLC was better, I found. The maps themselves were fine (not excellent, but fine), but it's the extra cutscenes and supports that contain the most value (Lukas being a cold badass in one chapter, and Fernand being a thicc lover, were definite highlights). Still, 20€ is a considerable asking price.

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4 hours ago, Jonnas said:

A side-note regarding this: the battle preview in this game still lies a little. The displayed percentages don't take supports in consideration (or even innate supports bonuses, which are invisible), and because of those, the battles tend to work out in your favour more often than not. This is more relevant in the late-game though, as early-to-mid don't feature enough supports for this to make much of a difference.

I think you're mistaken on that. The battle preview adds an extra orange section to the hit rate/crit bar if a support bonus is affecting it. In the case of a support bonus raising your evasion or critical evasion, it represents this by having the enemy bars flicker.

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That's a beta screenshot, but the same thing happens in the actual game.

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On 21/01/2023 at 3:36 PM, Glen-i said:

I think you're mistaken on that. The battle preview adds an extra orange section to the hit rate/crit bar if a support bonus is affecting it. In the case of a support bonus raising your evasion or critical evasion, it represents this by having the enemy bars flicker.

Yeah, but the numbers on display don't change, right? Because we don't know the exact bonus, the actual hitrate is often more generous than the concrete number you're given.

Though granted, it is obvious that this is the case. For some reason, I remember it being subtler.

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11 hours ago, Jonnas said:

Yeah, but the numbers on display don't change, right? Because we don't know the exact bonus, the actual hitrate is often more generous than the concrete number you're given.

Oh, they definitely change. I checked myself.

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