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Your Gaming Diary 2022

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45 minutes ago, Hero-of-Time said:

I believe in you, drahkon.

I'm gonna say I achieved the following thanks to you :p 

20220328174115.jpg

:D 

Here's how it went down:

  1. Have a 5 card deck with Bash and two Dropkicks
  2. Bash to make boss vulnerable
  3. Dropkick the boss --> gain 1 Energy and draw a card (happens when the enemy is vulnerable)
  4. Dropkick the boss again --> gain 1 Energy and draw a card, which is Dropkick
  5. Dropkick the boss EVEN MORE --> gain 1 Energy and draw a motherfucking DROPKICK
  6. DROPKICK OVER AND OVER AGAIN

giphy.gif?cid=790b7611f9087208f9f570286f

It's a lot less exciting when you see what it actually was like:

Yeah, so that's another RNG heavy trophy down. :peace: 

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17 hours ago, drahkon said:

Yeah, so that's another RNG heavy trophy down. :peace: 

And one more:

20220329110320.jpg

One final very RNG heavy trophy left: Kill a certain boss (1/3 chance to fight it in the last act) with a certain card (which shows up quite regularly). 
Other than that it's just a matter of beating the true ending with all characters and create certain types of decks with each (e.g. a deck which lets you get 999 block in one turn).

:bouncy: 

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Posted (edited)

capsule_616x353.jpg?t=1569016017

Thanks @Happenstance for making me start this again and go through with it.

I'll put my final thoughts in spoilers, just in case.

Spoiler

First of all: I've streamed this via PS Now and it was flawless. I'm still not a fan of streaming games in general, but it truly was like playing the game on a PS3. Impressive.

Anyways. I've mentioned that the gameplay is kind of ass. It is. But that's the point. Not even once are you supposed to feel like a Call of Duty awesome super pro military dude. You are supposed to feel like war is hell and that everything is horrible. 

From a technical standpoint: It's a PS3 game from 2012. That's literally what you get :p 

Nolan North gave a great performance as the protagonist. Gotta give him credit. He's a good voice actor.

Ok, now that that's out of the way: The narrative.

I expected a lot thanks to reading about this game being a hidden gem and having an incredible narrative. And it delivered.

I posted some of my predictions in the General Retro Discussion:

5 hours ago, drahkon said:
  Just in case (Reveal hidden contents)
  1. Lugo and Adams (your two squad mates) are a figment of your Imagination - basically acting as your/Walker's conscience while you/Walker descend into madness
  2. there's a 4th person always around - there are some weird camera angles/movements in cutscenes; just now the camera focused on a dead body - it was like a first person view of someone looking at him; now who that person is or what he does? no idea :D then again...you never see another guy during gameplay ::shrug: 

Well, I was mostly wrong. :D 
At least one part was right:

"Figment of imagination"

There were a lot of those. And my goodness the story and the fact that from the get-go you only have part of the picture are perfectly intertwined with Walker's choices and hallucinations. You/he can never make a fully educated choice. 

It's brilliant. Every faction is displayed as the enemy and you only realize later that this isn't true at all. Walker makes choices based on what he thinks is right. He always had good intentions but everything he's done led to death and destruction. And you had to know exactly what Walker knows, otherwise the effect would've been lost. I'll say it again: It's brilliant.

The White Phosphorous attack made me stop playing for a while. I just sat there staring. It was kind of a choice ingrained into my brain from video games I've played. "Clearly they're the bad guys, gotta kill 'em, it's the only way...the only choice". And then you walk through a sea of dead civilian bodies. It was harrowing.

Here's an excerpt of a Polygon article 

Quote

Richard Pearsey describes one such moment, where the team had created a scene in which the player would be encouraged to pick up and use a massively destructive weapon against his enemies, and then learn of unexpected consequences by literally wading through the aftermath of destruction.

"I think that's a huge breaking point for Walker," Pearsey said. "A lot of [players] at that point - they can't watch what they're seeing ... which puts [the player] and [Walker] in an identical psychological state ... because that's what you're doing and that's what the player is dealing with to a degree. The city is burning and you're the ones who burned it."

"People were focus testing [that scene] and ... they were pausing the game and they were leaving the room," said Williams. "Some people were playing through it, waiting for it to be over and they were being very, kind of, upset that this had happened. That we had put them through this particular moment. It was affecting people very emotionally."

Seeing players put down their controllers, get up and walk away from the game raised alarms with 2K producers. They were signed on to creating a powerful experience, but how powerful is too powerful? Someone asked "Are we comfortable with this?"

"This is where the characters have to look at the consequences of their actions and say: 'Should we have gone further? Should we have left? Should we leave now? Is it right to keep going?'" Williams answered. "And if the player is thinking about seriously putting down the controller at this point, then that's exactly where we want them to be emotionally.

Yeah, they achieved what they set out to do.

What a game :bowdown: 

@Julius Play it sooner rather than later!

Edit: Just realized, I basically played this for 6 hours (almost) straight. :o Yeah...what a game :D 

Edited by drahkon
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Yeah, I had a feeling your opinion on it would turn around, @drahkon.

Spoiler

You might have noticed this, but during the aftermath of that scene, when Lugo is shouting in anger, the moment he says this is your fault, he actually points at the camera, not Walker. It's such a subtle detail. I believe that also marks the point where the game starts not so subtlely calling you out during the loading screens.

Specops3-e1402068189598-768x476.jpg?stri

There are loads of them! Obviously, "Do you feel like a hero yet?" is the most infamous one. But the pic I posted is a particularly cruel one.

It certainly was a brave move to release a game that calls out the power fantasy of CoD-like games while also disguising itself as exactly that kind of game before becoming a psychological horror of sorts. (With a few Eternal Darkness style sanity effects of all things!) The problem is, it disguised itself too well, and no-one bought it. Because they saw a CoD clone that didn't play as well as you'd expect.

It's a fascinating game. Not a fun one, but as you said, that kinda works in its favour.

Oh well, the real question I have to ask is who did you shoot at the end?

 

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8 hours ago, Glen-i said:

Yeah, I had a feeling your opinion on it would turn around, @drahkon.

  Spec Ops: The Line spoilers (Reveal hidden contents)

You might have noticed this, but during the aftermath of that scene, when Lugo is shouting in anger, the moment he says this is your fault, he actually points at the camera, not Walker. It's such a subtle detail. I believe that also marks the point where the game starts not so subtlely calling you out during the loading screens.

Specops3-e1402068189598-768x476.jpg?stri

There are loads of them! Obviously, "Do you feel like a hero yet?" is the most infamous one. But the pic I posted is a particularly cruel one.

It certainly was a brave move to release a game that calls out the power fantasy of CoD-like games while also disguising itself as exactly that kind of game before becoming a psychological horror of sorts. (With a few Eternal Darkness style sanity effects of all things!) The problem is, it disguised itself too well, and no-one bought it. Because they saw a CoD clone that didn't play as well as you'd expect.

It's a fascinating game. Not a fun one, but as you said, that kinda works in its favour.

Oh well, the real question I have to ask is who did you shoot at the end?

 

Spoiler

Yeah, I noticed that.
The loading screens "turning on you" was very obvious eventually. I don't know when exactly it started but I swear the following quote was thrown at me quite early:

"To kill for yourself is murder. To kill for your government is heroic. To kill for entertainment is harmless."
That was a "wait, what?" moment for me.

 

I ended up shooting Konrad. I figured if he was a hallucination I'd actually be shooting myself/Walker and end it all (now the easiest way to "achieve that" would've been to actually shoot myself/Walker, but I kind of also wanted to see how the story ends with my first decision). Turns out I miscalculated.
It did give me a pretty tough to watch ending, though...I laid down my arms when the evacuation team rescued me and got asked "How did you survive?"...the answer "Who says I did?" made me tear up.

 

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, drahkon said:
  Spec Ops: The Line spoilers (Reveal hidden contents)

Yeah, I noticed that.
The loading screens "turning on you" was very obvious eventually. I don't know when exactly it started but I swear the following quote was thrown at me quite early:

"To kill for yourself is murder. To kill for your government is heroic. To kill for entertainment is harmless."
That was a "wait, what?" moment for me.

 

I ended up shooting Konrad. I figured if he was a hallucination I'd actually be shooting myself/Walker and end it all (now the easiest way to "achieve that" would've been to actually shoot myself/Walker, but I kind of also wanted to see how the story ends with my first decision). Turns out I miscalculated.
It did give me a pretty tough to watch ending, though...I laid down my arms when the evacuation team rescued me and got asked "How did you survive?"...the answer "Who says I did?" made me tear up.

 

Spoiler

Yeah, given the way you wrote about the tragic situation Walker finds himself in, I had a feeling you'd shoot Konrad. I guess it all boils down to two things. Whether Walker can be truly blamed for everything he did, and whether he can be redeemed.

Of course, Walker's insistence on trying to fix everything makes things multiple times worse. But, as you said, lack of information plays a big part in this. I can imagine the developers being curious about the split on who the players shot. (Or if they even shot anyone and let "Konrad" make the choice for them, which ends up being the same as shooting yourself)

Normally, with games that have multiple endings, I find it a bit of a cop-out when what ending you get hinges on one choice right near the end. But with this game? It works well, because it's kind of a case study of the road to hell and what it's paved with, which then asks the player their stance on one person's actions in an ethical conundrum.

Anyway, for what it's worth, the ending you got is easily the best. Of course, best in this game means least horrible, but still. Thanks to Walker doing what he should've done in the first place when his squad was attacked at the start, and calling reinforcements, it's possible some people could be evacuated.

Silver linings, I guess.

 

Edited by Glen-i
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Posted (edited)

I remember listening to the Giant Bombcast back when Spec Ops came out and there was definitely a big shift in opinion from one week to the next on the quality of the game. Basically the same as reading @drahkon's posts in the retro thread. It was a hard game to show without being able to explain why it was worth sticking with it. A lot of the advertising at the beginning if I remember right was to do with the sand physics when you shoot windows etc 😆

Edited by Happenstance

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Posted (edited)

Two more trophies down in Slay the Spire.

20220331232359-Copy.jpg

This one was a bit of a nightmare...had a lot of runs powerful enough to complete Act 3. Most of them I had either no Feed or no Donu boss fight. 
But it had to happen eventually: A ridiculously powerful run and I got both the necessary card and the required boss fight in Act 3 :D Funnily enough I managed to win this run in under 20 minutes. This actually has happened many times while hunting other trophies...shouldn't have specifically gone for the speedrun trophy earlier :laughing: 

Also did this:

20220331232359.jpg

Two more achievements to go: Complete the ending with The Silent and with The Defect.

:bouncy: 

Edit:

First run with The Silent in ages:

20220401085733.jpg

 

Edited by drahkon
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Posted (edited)

And after 140 hours, there it is:

20220401100347.jpg

Slay the Spire is a mechanically perfect masterpiece. That's the highest praise I can give to game. :bowdown: 

A few days ago, Elden Ring tied the #1 spot on drahkon's magnificent favourite games of all time list but playing Slay the Spire again just made me realize that the deck-building rogue-lite has no flaws (aside from some RNG heavy trophies, but as I said: I despise the persons who decided on those, not the game itself :p) and needs to be at the top alone.

@Hero-of-Time before you try out this game: I remember one of your goals this year was to get the Platinum in every game you play. Keep in mind that there's almost no way to cheese the Platinum. You actually have to learn the game and play perfectly on the highest difficulties (not that this would be a problem for you, but it is a time sink and could take away a lot of time you'd otherwise have allocated to other games).

Edited by drahkon
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Kena_Bridge_of_Spirits_key_art.jpg

Just finished it after a 7 hour long journey. Had a lot of fun with it. It's such a gorgeous and entertaining action-adventure.
Ember Lab shows a lot of promise as a game developer.

I wanna see them go for a game that has a larger scale. Their character and environmental design is top notch. I'd love for them to try an action-adventure or RPG with different tribes and various regions. I think they could pull it of, at least artistically.

Anyways, Kena: Bridge of Spirits was great. A little jank here and there, but it's really good for Ember Lab's first game.

 

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Posted (edited)

Due to a very cheap sale from a few weeks back, I purchased and visited a certain fighting game series on the Switch.

Guilty Gear

ss_393036f80a48b4206e5b0c6a13f134b371a79

Gotta be Hell. I know it wasn't a question, but...

So yeah, I had known about this series (the signature Arc Systems Works fighting game) for a while, and admired the character designs, but beyond a brief experience with a Guilty Gear X Advance rom, I can't say I had played this series proper.

And so I went for it. Let me tell you, the 1998 original is super janky. Characters pull super jumps very easily, the regular jumping arcs are weird, the air dashes are tough to pull off... It's like wading through water, these primordial seas of the "Anime fighter" style.

Furthermore, once you start attacking, combos and strings come off very easily, which is plenty fun for sure... but also, I found an infinite right away with Sol Badguy, the first character I picked up. Dash Kick into Dash Kick into Dash Kick into... you get it. Crazier even, I could insert Volcanic Viper (his anti-air) into the combo at any point and just continue it. Sometimes, I could combo VV into VV. The kind of wild stuff only a high-paced, late 90s fighting game would allow us to do.

I could look into this as an unbalanced, but cheesy and fun classic, but... there is a dark cog - a not very innocent gear of sorts - in this game that ruins it. There are these "Destroyer" moves baked into the game, that allow you to win a round instantly, almost like a Fatality that you can pull off at any time. And I do mean at any time, they require no meter whatsoever. The enemy CPU would sometimes parry one of my moves into a Destroyer and - did I say "win a Round"? It's actually the entire match. I could be dominating the entire time, drop the infinite near the end, and while trying to finish the match, they'd Destroy me and win both rounds. Or maybe they'd open the match with it. Horrible, it's just not fun.

There's only one character to unlock in the entire game (beat the Arcade mode without using continues) and I literally couldn't make it, despite having an infinite. So I didn't. A shame, because she (Baiken) looked cool.

As a port... there's a lot to be desired. The upscaled graphics into HD don't look good. Most ports of this era either have CRT filters or anti-aliasing features to make them more palatable in modern TVs, but Guilty Gear had nothing. But I'll give it a point for giving us a somewhat comprehensive tutorial (well, more like a manual) in there, which is already better than what most fighting games do. At the end of the day, the music was still pretty good, especially the themes of Millia and Chipp.

Might be a good time to bring up the general aesthetic and themes in this series... it's all Rock&Roll culture. There's some Metal, Grunge, and so on mixed in there, but you can see the general sources of inspiration everywhere. Sol Badguy carries a lot of Queen references, Millia was designed to look like an edgy groupie, Testament was taken straight from a Death Metal CD cover, and Axl Low couldn't be more obvious even if he carried around guns&flowers. This is because series creator Daisuke Ishiwatari is a huge fan of all this.

The plot at this point was still easy enough to follow. The setting is Sci-fi, there's basic lore about a dormant superweapon about to be revived, and a tournament designed to bring it back. Simple stuff, even when the character endings are elaborate (for example, Sol's ending drops a lot of exposition that's surprisingly easy to follow).

My rating: would be fun dumb kitsch if not for the Destroyer moves. They severely dampered the experience for sure.

After this, Daisuke worked on a sequel called Guilty Gear X, which refined the fast-paced fights, improved visuals, added new characters, and continued the plot. But it did not come out on Switch. After that, the next game on the series was Guilty Gear XX, which kept moving things forward. But that game, much like Street Fighter 2, kept getting rereleased with slightly improved version after slightly improved version until it culminated on:

Guilty Gear XX

Accent Core Plus R

ss_d8e1385e71995dd3e8aa4281bbde8933ae04b

What we lose in simplicity, we gain in aesthetics

Guilty Gear XX was originally released in 2002 for the PS2, and ever since then, due to patches not existing, it kept getting updated via multiple rereleases (there's a wikipedia article just to list them, jesus). The final one - Guilty Gear XX Accent Core Plus R - was released at last in 2012. This is the version present on Switch.

From what I understand, there are gameplay systems here that weren't present in the original GGXX, as well as some extra characters. Furthermore, the plot itself is not the same as the first GGXX, but is rather a continuation of it. ArcSys likely decided during one of these rereleases that the plot would just progress like this (maybe the writers, or Daisuke himself, were getting antsy to continue the story, but they couldn't work on a full sequel?). Whatever, I'll judge the game on its own.

First of all, game looks excellent. I can't believe this was first made in 2002, this spritework puts the likes of Marvel vs Capcom to shame. The backgrounds are a nice detailed 2D, which are a far better fit than the 3D backgrounds of Marvel 2 or CvS2, and each character has a crazier moveset than the last (which means they're doing cool, creative stuff with their impressive assets). I'd say the only contemporary with better animation is Street Fighter III.

ino-stance1.gif

Y'know, I-no knows her stuff

Anyway, gameplay-wise, Guilty Gear stuck to easy-to-make combos, but this time actually put failsafes to prevent infinites (can't launch an enemy twice in the same combo, for example). Movement is much more polished, easier to grasp, and very similar to the Marvel vs. Capcom series. There's also more complex stuff like Roman Cancels, Bursts, and Faultless Defense for those who want to go deeper (I can definitely see the beginnings of the mechanics that Tatsunoko vs Capcom had). And on top of that, it feels like half of the characters in this game have to deal with a mechanic or two that's exclusive to them (like how Johnny has these coin projectiles that enhance his special moves, or Venom can only throw his pool balls after leaving them around the field). It's got a lot of fun stuff to explore.

In comparison with the previous game, this one's tutorials don't really help you in anything. They tell you about the different game modes, and little else. This is particularly bad when dealing with the more gimmicky characters (still haven't figured out how the heck to A.B.A. and Zappa work), who very much would love to have a "Sakurai presents" type of video. The most egregious flaw in all of this is that you need to use Faultless Defense to defeat the final boss of Arcade Mode (the most basic of modes), but the game doesn't tell you it even exists.

Despite that, if you just want to play this game for some dumb fun, it's all good. Heck, even Destroyer moves are much harder to pull off now (you need full meter, then activate hyper-tension mode, and then try to land a super move), and they don't take both rounds anymore, so they're very unlikely to piss players off.

Roster-wise, this is pretty much an "Everybody's here" scenario. Even Kliff and Justice, who hadn't been seen since the original, are here just to round out the roster. I guess the developers realized at some point that this would be the definite stop for the series for a while.

For Single-player, you have Arcade Mode (usual stuff), Survival Mode (usual stuff), Team Battle (3v3, KoF style), Mission Mode (win a tough battle under specific circumstances. 25 of them. Think of Event Mode from Smash), M.O.M. Mode (like Survival Mode mixed with Coin Battle from Smash. It's weird), and Story Mode.

Yeah, Story Mode. This last one varies from character to character, each one facing a specific series of characters, each battle separated by Visual Novel cutscenes. It's nice, you know, to have context for the fights, see how each character acts and reacts to one another, get a grasp of their personality and place in the world. These also have branching paths, sometimes determined by picking a specific dialogue choice ("Do I stay out of Ky's business, or do I confront him?"), but can also be made by fulfilling certain conditions, like Destroying a specific enemy, or reaching the end without using continues.

As for the Story itself, the setting has gotten a bit more complicated since the first Guilty Gear, involving newly-made factions, non-playable characters (one of which is called "That Man", no fucking joke), and time travel, because why not? If you don't want to go down the rabbit hole, at least each individual character's story is coherent enough to follow.

It's a nice system, but it could've been better executed, because it's not obvious at all what you need to do to unlock each path (Sol's Good Ending can only be unlocked by not using Continues, but it's not obvious that this is the trigger), and due to poor writing, it can be downright misleading. As an example, Baiken has a Good Path/Ending where she teams up with a friend who urges her to abandon revenge, and a Bad Path/Ending where she becomes a bloodthirsty serial killer. The trigger that decides it is a dialogue choice where she can tell Johnny (a casanova who's trying to seduce her) to either "Fuck off, I'm leaving" or "Fuck off, I'm kicking your ass". You'd think "I'm leaving" would lead to the least violent path... but no, that leads to the bloodthirsty one. And this is the only choice she gets in her story.

baiken-smokinitup.gif

Healing only begins after beating the shit out of potential suitors

Also, there's a lot of profanity in the script. Justified for most cases, but it can go overboard. It's hilarious to see the cute, bubbly May call her boss/crush an "Asshole" (her voice actor is clearly saying "Baka", which is as innocent as it gets). I suppose it was the mid-2000s, this game's aesthetics did lean more into "edgy", and that was the style of the time.

Music-wise the soundtrack still uses the themes it always has, with some better quality, better arrangements, always with a rock&roll focus. I still think the best ones are Chipp's and Milla's, but for the newcomers, I'm partial to Zappa's once that gets going (just like the character, funnily enough), and I think May actually has a new, better theme.

One relatively minor thing is that the Switch port is also kind of shoddy. Not from a visual standpoint (the graphics can handle themselves well in HD), but there's QoL optimization that wasn't properly done. For starters, it uses the Playstation control scheme, that is, use "B" to confirm and "A" to cancel (because they were "X" and "O" originally, right?), when they could've just... remapped things a bit. Also, everytime you beat Arcade Mode or achieve any kind of score, the game immediately tries to post it into the online rankings (no question, it just jumps straight into "Connection failed, wanna subscribe to the NSO?"). Finally, and most Guilty of all, the game does not actually suspend when you hit the Home button, it just keeps going while you're on the Menu (I lost a round like this once). Other such rereleases simply have the game interpret the Home button as Pause (so it doesn't Sleep, it's just paused in the background), but GGXXAC+R decided it didn't want to do even that.

Despite the multiple rereleases, the series would be dormant for a while as ArcSys' new darling Blazblue made waves in the PS3/X360 space. Guilty Gear eventually came back with a severe aesthetic overhaul with Guilty Gear Xrd (someone must've told them to not call it XXX) in 2014... but that's another story, and not one I think I'll be visiting. Besides, while I respect the series, I can't say I've fallen in love with it. The character designs are strong (hey there, Baiken, Sol, I-No, and Faust), but the aesthetic can get messy and overdesigned. And I prefer more grounded fighting games anyway, when you have too many systems and mechanics, it becomes legitimately hard to follow for outsiders.

My rating: super fun and schlocky, but not one I'd want to dive deep into. Still, major respect to those who stuck with it through the 2000s.

(As is usual, sprites were taken from Fightersgeneration.com)

  My 2022 log (Hide contents)

Played/Beat/Completed:

-Steamworld Dig 2 (2017) Completed (January 6th)

-Bit.Trip Saga (2009-2011) No Goal (January 15th)

-Ever Oasis (2017) Beat (February 25th)

-Guilty Gear (1998) No Goal (March 19th)

-Flashback (1992) Completed (March 19th)

-Guilty Gear XX Accent Core Plus R (2002-2012) Beat (March 30th)

 

Replays:

-Kirby's Dream Land 2 (1995) (March 20th)

-Wario Land 3 (2000) (Still playn' it!)

 

Dropped:

-Dicey Dungeons (2019) (January 3rd)

-The Room (2012) (January 8th)

-This War of Mine (2014) (March 18th)

 

Edited by Jonnas
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Posted (edited)

It's been a while since my last update so time to catch up with two games I finished recently (next to Pokémon Legends Arceus which I discussed in its own thread).

Dawn of the Monsters (Google Stadia)

With my Google Stadia trial expiring early April, I figured I should try to play another game while the service lasts. Dawn of the Monsters was one of the free Pro games, and it ticked the right boxes for me to give it a try: published by WayForward, giant Godzilla-like beasts and it’s a beat-em-up so probably not too long.

 

In Dawn of the Monsters you (and if available a local friend) control one of four behemoths in order to save Earth from the Nephilim, equally large enemies who are invading our Earth. You can choose from a Godzilla-like monster, a giant Crab-like monster and two giant mechs/robots (think Mobile Suit Gundam or Pacific Rim). Each character plays differently and has its own unique moves available. There are three rage attacks (your rage meter builds by taking damage) and a Cataclysm attack which is basically an ultimate move. Crab-girl Ganira for example summons a massive tsunami. 

 

You can further customize your character with three equip slots, which can do stuff like heal more from executions, increase the building of the rage meter or more advanced stuff like cut your defense in half but double damage. After every level you receive new and higher level equippables.

 

The game starts off a bit bland, with a not so inspiring city to plow through, and a low variety of enemies. As the game progresses though it gets better. Environments are more varied, and the list of different types of enemies grows as well. That’s when this game starts to shine. Because it is fun! Stampeding around, picking up whole buildings to whack the Nephilim on the head with, unleashing rage attacks and an ultimate Cataclsym attack from time to time is pretty satisfying. I was also pretty happy to see Foz do Iguacu was a level, a beautiful place I visited myself and not something I would expect to show up in a game! 

 

The game is presented in a charming comic-book style, and there is voice acting aplenty. I like how you feel that you are controlling a big behemoth, as there is a sluggish feel to it but in a good way. I’m not the biggest fan of beat-em-ups but I really enjoyed Dawn of the Monsters. If you enjoy beat-em-ups and kaiju this is a no-brainer.

 

Earthworm Jim 2 (Switch, SNES Online)

I have played this game before as I borrowed it from a friend back in the day a couple of times. In retrospect, I think I never got past Puppy Love 2, but thanks to save states I finally got to finish this game!

 

It’s weird. The whole game is like a weird blend of concepts (as @Hero-of-Time has pointed out in the SNES online thread). From platforming to Fireman-like levels, and from being an axolotl to having your head inflated, meanwhile avoiding grannies, carrying cows and for some reason there’s also a flying level.

 

Without save states this would have been hell, especially taking Puppy Love 1, 2 and 3 in regard. But there is plenty going on in other levels that would have made the game hard. But, with save states it is fun to (re)visit this for the absurd humour, and for me nostalgia played a role as well. Is it worth playing? It depends, purely as platform game no, better to skip it. If you like the character, the humour and the experimental nature of this game? Go ahead, it’ll be groovy!

Edited by Dufniall
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Finally picked up COVID-19 this week after hearing so much about it. I put it off for a long time because I'd heard bad things about it, but I read that if you have the latest three patches installed, it's not as bad as at launch.

Well, despite being fully patched, the experience was a total nightmare. I'm not one for hyperbole, but it made me ill. It was that bad.

I've not completed it yet; I've still got a few lingering elements here and there, but on what I've seen, I really wouldn't recommend it to anyone. Probably best to skip it and wait for COVID-22.

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N-Europe Review

Spoiler

I am Setsuna
Metroid Dread, minus the Dread
Banjo-Kazooie (One hundred and Tooie %)
Banjo-Kazooie (100%, but faster)
Final Fantasy XIII-2
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
EarthBound Beginnings
EarthBound
Hades
The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask
Ys Origin
Triangle Strategy (All Endings)

 

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I've been ploughing through Uncharted 2: Amongus Among Thieves and finally reached the end yesterday. The game just keeps getting better and better as it goes on, with bigger and more elaborate set pieces, and more stunning levels and scenery. It's amazing to think it was released two generations ago. 

Spoiler

The last 20% of the story mirrors the first, in that it suddenly goes a bit batshit and supernatural, with those weird Guardian things. It wasn't quite as bad as the first game, where the addition of zombies completely changed the tone and turned it into a horror game, but having magical elements in the story never really sat right with me, especially when they only squeeze them into the last fifth of the game, which makes them seem even more out of place. I guess it makes it a bit Indiana Jones-like, which kept things normal until the last few scenes of each film, where it would throw in a weird supernatural bit.

The game draws more parallels with Indiana Jones in that Drake is basically a archaeologist like IJ, and both seem intent on preventing the bad guys from reaching the treasure first, but never really explain why what they're doing is morally right, but the bad guy is baaaaad. At least in IJ's case, he claims he is putting the treasure in a museum, but Drake confesses he's in it for the money from the beginning. He's even labelled a thief in the title! Lazarevic calls him out right at the end, when he points out how many people Drake killed to get there (729 in my case), but Drake just makes a charming quip and leaves Lazarevic to get ripped apart by blue yeti people.

Anyway, everything about the game is an improvement on the first. The graphics, the music, the characters, the plot; if the first game is a 7/10, the second one is ten times better.

I'm not sure if i'll continue on with the third game straight away. I might have a break and play something else in the middle, because I'm a bit Uncharted out.

I'll give Uncharted 2 a score of 7

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1 hour ago, bob said:

if the first game is a 7/10, the second one is ten times better.

 

1 hour ago, bob said:

I'll give Uncharted 2 a score of 7

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48 minutes ago, Glen-i said:

 

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Think he meant 70.

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Both of you suck at maths.

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Dear Diary, 

Today I was disappointed to see the simple calculation of (7/10)*10 is beyond the modern generation. I hope @Glen-i and @Ike resume with Brain Training soon.

That's all for today.

 

 

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24 minutes ago, bob said:

Both of you suck at maths.

Ah, you tricky git! You counted on people assuming it was a 7, didn't you?

Well played.

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Virtue's Last Reward

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The second Zero escape games. I enjoyed the structure of this much more than the first, and jumping around the different timelines felt like you were more in control of it. One flaw is that you do encounter the same conversations a lot of times, so there’s a lot of repetition (you can skip, but it skips so fast that you can miss new stuff). The puzzles were mostly great, but unfortunately there were a fair few colour-based ones that I couldn’t see, so I had to look the answer up.

 

Weird West

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This game has a lot of ambition, a lot of great ideas. It’s set in the wild west, but with supernatural creatures running amok. It promises the “immersive sim” experience where you can approach situations in any way you desire and the game won’t stop you, this includes killing vital NPCs. The story is spread across five characters with a decent amount of side quests, with abilities to unlock and weapons and equipment you can upgrade. Weird West has a lot of potential.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t manage to live up to its potential. It seems the simple solution to being able to kill any NPC is that looting them will get you what you want. Some moments will also lock you into conversations before you can fight, which prevents you from doing it in your own way if you just want to shoot someone. Dialogue options are very limited, especially considering that there’s no voice acting (other than a narrator). 

The main “do it your own way” seems to be more with how you deal with each area - each one being a small self-contained square You can be stealthy, go in all guns blazing or a bit of both. The stealth mechanics feel fairly awkward, and the game encourages you to use quicksave to help get your dresigned outcome - although one big issue is that enemy locations are sometimes not saved, so you can reload and have no option but to fight everyone.The combat itself is like a twin stick shooter, but with the rate the guns fire and the controls, it’s very difficult to be accurate. A lock on system instead would have been much better. Instead, I focused on melee because using guns was so unintuitive. 

The biggest issues with Weird West, however, are the bugs. Your companions - which can either be random goons or previous characters you’ve played - will often just stop moving, sometimes they can just vanish from the game completely. Things will count as crimes for no reason. I had one side mission where you have to let someone out of jail. I paid their fine, and when the sheriff opened the cell, the whole town opened fire on me. When I reloaded, I couldn’t even talk to the sheriff anymore. I’ve encountered other quests with no way to progress and some I couldn’t even trigger. In one of the chapters, people talk about a character going missing, but there’s no way to investigate. At the end of the chapter, it berates you for not investigating it. 

The fourth chapter feels the most broken. There’s two routes through it, and the one I took ended up feeling like I wasn’t supposed to do it (even though that, logically, it seems the “correct” method). The game also bigs up the connection between all five characters and the end is just…underwhelming. One of the characters even comments on this - lampshading that the game’s big mystery just fizzles out does not make it any better.

It’s a shame, because Weird West really did have a lot of ambition, but it really feels like it needed another few years of development. 
 

A Memoir Blue

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This is sort of a short film (it’s less than an hour long) with some slight interactivity. The “game” part is really not much more than clicking/moving things to continue. The visuals are rather lovely, with some unique sights and a hybrid of 3D and 2D animation. The story is about a swimmer remembering how her mother was never there for her. There’s no voice or dialogue, it’s all delivered by animation. The ending is just…odd. The game acts like there’s some big emotional moment but doesn’t get the point of why across. 
 

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12 minutes ago, Cube said:

One flaw is that you do encounter the same conversations a lot of times, so there’s a lot of repetition (you can skip, but it skips so fast that you can miss new stuff).

Pretty sure this game has an option to only have the skip function work on dialogue you've seen before. If you turned that on, it would stop if new dialogue came up.

Too little, too late now, I know. But something to keep in mind if you move on to Zero Time Dilemma.

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Posted (edited)

New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe (Nintendo Switch)

Around Mar10 day I finally saw a decent price drop for this game, the last 2D Mario title that I hadn't played yet. I finished the main game this week, that is, I defeated Bowser. To be honest I kind of rushed through it, not doing every world and not going for all the Star Coins. I think the main reason is that I’m kind of done with the “New” series. All titles blend into each other in my head, taking New Super Mario Bros. 1 and 2, plus the Wii one and this one into account.

 

The graphical style feels outdated, and I really hope Nintendo freshens it up with the next 2D Mario title. Level-wise it is a bit the same old desert world, ice world, water world that we have seen numerous times before. But previous 2D Marios didn’t suffer from the similarity. Mario Bros. 1, 2 and 3 all are very different, and Super Mario World even more so. But all the New Super Mario Bros. games are too similar in style, despite the graphical jump per title.

 

One thing that I also didn’t really enjoy in this game was the focus on moving platforms, and of elements jumping or moving into place. It felt unnecessary and chaotic. The gimmick power-up in this game (the super acorn) also didn’t work that great, although I do prefer it over the helicopter hat.

 

While I’m nit-picking, I also got frustrated about dying and getting kicked back to the overworld map. I generally dislike the “New” ghost houses as well. And while it was fun in the earlier titles, the enemies doing a little move when the sound goes “ah!” got old quite fast as well. Man, I never have been this negative about a Mario game!

 

There are some interesting levels though, such as Painted Swampland. Furthermore, I’m glad to see that Yoshi made a return! It also looks like some of the Star Coins are a proper challenge to get. 

 

I’ll probably dive back in for some more completion and to try Luigi U, but I think the main conclusion is that I’m finished with the “New” series. (maybe I should have waited a bit longer after finishing NSMB2 on 3DS not too long ago). I hope we get a nice, fresh, maybe hand-drawn or something 2D Mario soon, shaking things up again.

Edited by Dufniall
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Between Uncharted games, I thought i'd play a game I got for Christmas - Assassin's Creed Unity

I've had my eye on this one for while now, as the setting seemed perfect for a AC game; running around revolution era Paris? Amazing. However, at the time, it was getting terrible reviews, and I was a bit fatigued with AC games after playing Black Flag and Syndicate very close together. I'd heard that they'd managed to fix most of the bugs in this, and seeing as it was very cheap now, I thought i'd go for it, as I'd had a hankering to play another AC game, and the more modern ones don't interest me. 

First impressions aren't great, it has to be said. There are still a lot of glitches and bugs in it. Nothing game breaking so far, but i don't think i've played a mission yet where something wasn't where it was supposed to be, or a button didn't register when it was suppose to. You can tell they cut a lot of corners on the side quests as well. There aren't any cut scenes when meeting with Madame Tussaude or Vidocq, and sometimes their mouths don't even move when speaking, which is a bit disappointing. 

The other downside to this game (which possible is the root cause of the rest of the game being a bit unfinished) is the sheer volume of extraneous shit they've put in it. Main missions, side missions, coop missions, heist missions, collectables (many different ones), chests (four different types),  skill points, assassin points, money, helix points(?), multiple different weapon types, to name a few. There's just so much clutter, and it's all so confusing trying to remember how to access all the different menus, and where to go. It doesn't help that a lot of the stuff refers to features that aren't available any more, like all the online stuff. 

HOWEVER, once you open up the main city of Paris, and start exploring, i was reminded about why I love these games. Just running around real-life historical places, and seeing famous landmarks, and occasionally killing people. It's fantastic. And clutter aside, there are some seriously impressive elements to this game, like the crowd scenes, which are way better that the previous ones. The first time I stumbled into one of the packed squares, and there are hundreds, if not thousands of people there, all jostling and shouting, it really adds to the feeling of a revolution. Sure, some of them spazz out if you watch them for too long, and the textures sometimes take a while to load in on a few of the people, but having that many people on screen at once, all doing their own thing, is incredibly impressive, and I don't think i've seen anything in any game since. 

I'm only a few hours into the game, so i've only just gotten my Assassin status and had a bit of a roam around, but i've discovered they have a 'property management' mini-game of sorts, where you can find and buy 'Cafe's' which give you an income. Also, all the weapon and armour upgrades are purchasable with money alone...I think you can see where this is going.

I've found and bought 6 of the 7 cafe's, and upgraded the Cafe storyline a fair amount to the point where i'm getting 5000 lires every 20 minutes or so. Soon I will have amassed enough money to buy the best kit in the game, which should help cheese the rest of the game. Love it.

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